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Apple iMac 27in - Apple iMac 27in

By Hugo Jobling



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The components inside the iMac are hardly lightweight in this generation. Even the entry-level 21.5in model gets the same 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo processor and 4GB of RAM featured in the standard 27in system, although the graphics chip improves from the integrated nVidia GeForce 9400m in the entry-level system to a dedicated ATI Radeon HD 4670 in the step-up 21.5in and entry 27in iMac.

The real show stopper, however, is the top-end 27in iMac, which comes with a 2.66GHz Core i5 CPU and ATI Radeon HD 4850 graphics. If a mere quad-core CPU isn't good enough, you could even step up to a 2.8GHz Core i7 processor, which adds hyper threading to the mix although it will cost you £160 to do so. The other upgrade you might consider - moving to 8GB of RAM - is at least cheaper now as the new iMac has four slots (up from two) so you don't have to pay Apple's crazy 4GB DIMM prices.

Thanks to these new processor options, the hardware inside the iMac should no longer be a deterrent to those looking for a desktop system for image or video editing. Even if you are doing computationally intensive enough work to stress a Core i7 CPU, the use of a half-decent graphics chip means there's always the option of having OpenCL-based GPU-acceleration offload some of that pressure - just so long as the software you're using supports it.

Such spec boosts shouldn't be necessary for the overwhelming majority, however. The system I've been using, which 'only' has a Core 2 Duo CPU, doesn't exactly feel sluggish. Snow Leopard's speed enhancements make this system even more of a joy to use than the 24in iMac we looked at earlier this year, especially considering this system offers more than 60 per cent more desktop real estate for less than 13 per cent more money than its predecessor. It's certainly better value than a similarly-priced 2002 Chateau Haut Brion at any rate.

The package is better this time, too. A wireless keyboard and mouse are now included in the price, whereas before you'd have to pay to upgrade from the wired versions. Even more crucially, the mouse is petty special, being the Mighty Mouse's successor, the aptly named Magic Mouse.

In true Apple style, the Magic Mouse is a statement in minimalistic design. Gone are buttons and scroll wheels, replaced with a single, multi-touch sensing surface, in effect acting as one giant button. Not only does it look fantastic, it's also very comfortable to use after a few minutes adjustment to the idea of having no specific points to press on. And the shape makes it no less easy to use for left- or right-handers.

As you'd expect, left and right clicks are differentiated by which side of the mouse is clicked, and scrolling is simply a matter of moving a finger over the surface of the mouse but with the added bonus of there being no axis so, if a program supports it, you can scroll in absolutely any direction you like.

Those are all single finger actions, so what about multi-touch? Easy, swipe two fingers on the Magic Mouse to skip forwards or backwards in any program with those functions, be that Safari, Keynote, iPhoto or any other. At first I wasn't sure how much I liked the action - I kept on moving the mouse in the process - but after 20 minutes or so it became natural and I'm now loathe to go back to a 'normal' mouse. Best of all, there's absolutely nothing stopping Apple from adding more gestures (I outright begged two of Apple's product managers for pinch-to-zoom) in the future.


November 24, 2009, 5:27 am

I've always found my iMac to have an odd viewing angle. It's titled back very slightly, but no matter where I position it, unless it is titled right back light greys and blues are very barely visible. I notice this a lot as I work with WordPress quite a lot, which has greys and blues on the dashboard interface. Not sure if that applies to just my iMac/all iMacs, this new one.

I think 27" would be too big though. I've got the 20", and have a 24" Benq, which is great when you need all the space - but for general use it gets a bit over the top.

Nicholas Phan

November 24, 2009, 5:48 am

I think the newly announced VAIO L is the next closest thing to this. It comes in at 24inches, so its in between the two iMacs. The design on that is pretty neat as well. Differences are that this uses an LED IPS screen, whereas the Sony uses a multitouch screen.


November 24, 2009, 7:10 am

"The iMac has always been a thing of beauty; a shining beacon of what's possible when both form and function are allowed to combine in harmony"

.... if you're a fan of 70s sci-fi shows.

Digital Fury

November 24, 2009, 10:31 am

No height-adjustable screen = no thank you. No Steve, not all humans are the same height or have the same morphology.

Tilting, or using a mammoth (and ugly) VESA arm to hold the weight of the 27", are piss poor substitutes.


November 24, 2009, 2:05 pm

ruthless - Who doesn't love The Jetsons?


November 24, 2009, 2:14 pm

I think it shouldn't be a 10/10 overall.... Maybe 9/10.

Mark Booth

November 24, 2009, 2:17 pm

I think a few people will buy one not realising just how much desktop space this beast will take up. It looks a lot smaller in a huge open plan Apple Store! Having said that, the majority of us power users wanting immense screen resolution will have a ball. I have a 4 year old 20" iMac and it gets far more use than my newer PC Desktop (now just a development PC).

The new 27" model will suit a desk in a bedroom and double as an in bed TV and movie player. The missus has never liked nor wanted a mac but she has her eyes on this one so Apple must be doing something right.

Marcel 1

November 24, 2009, 2:19 pm

How can you rate this as 10/10 for value?


November 24, 2009, 2:31 pm

Who now can stand against the power of the iMac?

Core i5 Core i7 27" inches of lustful glory!

Smells like another steve Jobs Victory

/Fanboy rant over


November 24, 2009, 2:49 pm

@ Marcel

The sheer size, quality, and technology of the screen?

As said in the review, to match such a good screen with a similar spec'd windows PC would shave very little - if anything - off the price.

I've always hated Mac desktop's personally (due to the level of customisation with much cheaper windows machines) whilst liking their laptops, however this bad boy has most definitely changed my mind.

Shame I spent £450 on a windows desktop not long ago, though I haven't got the screen to go with it yet..

..Might be able to justify that as getting this for a new toy.


November 24, 2009, 3:06 pm

@ Marcel "How can you rate this as 10/10 for value?"

Yes, I must admit my eyebrows were raised a tad when I saw that rating. Although they were raised even higher when I read the line "27in iMac is that it quite literally has no rivals" which is a bit odd. But we all know Hugo is an Apple man, so lets let the guy enjoy it :P


November 24, 2009, 3:25 pm

My 2.8Ghz 24" Aluminium iMac is 2 years old now and I have to admit i'm extremely tempted by their new iMac with that lovely screen and design and a i7 quad core processor to boot. I have however decided to wait till next year when my AppleCare has expired with the hope that Apple may add USB3 and Blu-ray into the mix :)


November 24, 2009, 3:54 pm

Hugo, can SD cards fit all the way in this time? It's bad enough on the MacBook Pros but having them stick out the side of your iMac would quickly ruin those aesthetics.


November 24, 2009, 4:16 pm

Gormond - Apple will never add Blu-ray, Steve Jobs's got something against it.....


November 24, 2009, 4:16 pm

@Steve @Marcel

How much do you think a 27 inch H-IPS monitor (LED backlit) with the dot pitch of the iMac would cost? Between £1000 and £1200.


November 24, 2009, 4:31 pm

IMHO I could never say that something be it mac or pc over £1000 is a 10/10 on value. Whilst this is a great piece of technology its not flawless and thus should not be given a 10/10 overall.


November 24, 2009, 5:19 pm

I'm a PC (user) and I think these seems good value. Considering it has a top-drawer 27" IPS panel "included" I don't think there's much reason to complain. Dell's UltraSharp 2709W will set you back around £750 (Dell website price), has a lower resolution and I don't believe it's an IPS panel (forums would suggest PVA).

This is obviously for professional use - it's packing a great screen and enough power to run applications like Photoshop and Illustrator. It comes in a much neater package than any PC + screen bundle will and I'd bet it's pretty quiet, too. My only issue with it would be it's not customisable at all.

I'm going to pick up 2x Dell 22" IPS screens for my PC at about £400 together, but if I had the money available I'd consider just getting this! :s

Marcel 1

November 24, 2009, 5:33 pm


I see your point.

If you like a nice looking computer I can see the appeal. I think spending £1350 on a computer that has very little scope for upgrade which has over 50% of the value tied up in the display is madness but each to their own.

Nicholas Name

November 24, 2009, 5:43 pm

That is a very pretty computer. With the Apple fanbase it probably commands an excellent resale value. I suppose one buys it new and then ebays it before its value goes through the floor when the next model comes out. Then it probably is good value. Not so if one plans to keep it for any length of time.


November 24, 2009, 6:28 pm

@Marcel - you raise a good point. If Apple had only included an HDMI input this could have been used with a Blu-ray player, allowed you to connect a laptop or be usable as a screen if and when the computer dies or becomes too out-dated.


November 24, 2009, 6:46 pm

@Nicholas: Then it probably is good value. Not so if one plans to keep it for any length of time.

If you mean upgradable, then PC's are not that upgradable either really. Eg, going from say a DUO,QUAD to say I5/I7 you will need a new M/B, new Memory, new CPU/cooler. You could maybe keep your case/CD/DVD, but is that any big thing?, and this is not taking into account other changes like PCI/AGP/PCIe/USB/USB2/USB3,10/100/1000eth etc. And this has always been the case with PC's, there is this false belief that you can future-proof them.

The biggest problem I see with the IMac, is that the speed of tech between the monitor and the PC is substantially different. Eg, the PC will date much faster than the monitor. If these were separate, I can see the monitor being used for many more years than the PC part, eg, I'm still using the same monitor after having changed my PC 3 times.


November 24, 2009, 7:07 pm

of course 10/10. I have the very first Apple iMac and it's still totally functional. I have had it upgraded once for 250,- EURO's and now it still runs as fast as any PC I know. I think with the new iMacs the value has only increased.


November 24, 2009, 7:27 pm

@Keith - I consider upgrading the CPU, Mobo and sometimes RAM a "new PC". I've had my HHD, optical drive, PSU, case, screen and peripherals for a couple of overhauls. DDR2 lasted me two upgrades.


November 24, 2009, 8:04 pm

@Keith: as someone who has built a dozen PCs for myself and friends over the last 15 years, I totally agree with you on PC upgradeability or lack thereof. The most expensive components must be replaced with each CPU upgrade and only as a gamer, do I manage to squeeze a video upgrade in between those. The only upside of this upgrade cycle is that the old machine is virtually worthless so I always end up with a spare computer (minus case) to give to friends/family who need something that's still perfectly usable. They just won't be playing the latest games.


November 24, 2009, 8:35 pm

I've just bought an i7 version of this new iMac and having owned quite a few Macs and some PCs in the last 20 years or so, I have to say it is the best computer I have ever bought. Of course I would have liked Blu-ray, but getting a 27in 2560 x 1440 LED screen (something none of us expected)along with a fast quad-core processor has more than made up for this. I use a 2009 2.26ghz 8-core Mac Pro at work, and I have to say that I don't notice any major speed difference between this and the iMac, even on intense video encoding tasks.

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