Review Price £1,250.00
Apple iMac 21.5in - Specifications and Performance
Unsurprisingly, the processor speed in your iMac will depend on which model you decide to go for. In the 21.5in range, the £999 base model sports a quad-core Core i5 2.5GHz and AMD Radeon HD 6750M graphics. Our £1,249 review sample ups this to a 2.7GHz Core i5 and Radeon HD 6770M. Though Apple doesn't give out the specific CPU model names, we assume it's the i5-2500S, which has a Turbo Frequency (the maximum clock speed it can run at when not all of its cores are in use) of 3.7GHz. The system achieved an Xbench score of 271, which is not too shabby.
Quite frankly, any Intel Sandy Bridge quad core CPU should be perfectly adequate for even demanding users, especially as Mac OS tends to be a little more efficient than Windows 7. However, if you do regularly run CPU-intensive software such as video encoding solutions, there's the option to upgrade to a 2.8GHz Core i7 with up to eight virtual cores for an extra £160.
The graphics hardware is essentially mobile chip, as suggested by the 'M' behind the 6770 model number. It features 512MB of memory and is non-upgradeable – if you want better graphics, you'll have to plumb for the top-end, £1,650 27in iMac, which gets you a 6970M. Getting back to the 6770M in our review model, it should be just about adequate to play many of the games available for Mac at decent detail settings on the screen's native 1080p resolution. We tried a game of First Person Shooter CounterStrike: Source on maximum detail and got a silky 65 frames per second average, though newer and more demanding titles won't run as smoothly.
All iMac models come with 4GB of DDR3 RAM as standard, which should again be plenty for most consumers, though you can upgrade to 8GB or even a whopping 16GB for a frankly ridiculous £480. If you need lots of memory on a budget, Macs are not the way to go, as for that upgrade price alone you can buy an entire working PC with an equal amount of memory!
Permanent storage is more reasonable. On our high-end 21.5in iMac you get 1TB (1,000GB) as standard, with the option to upgrade to 2TB for £120 (only twice the 'regular' price), a 256GB SSD for a mere £400, or a combination of both for the bargain price of £600. To be fair though, 1TB should last most people quite a while.
Things are rounded off by a 720p webcam - or in Apple parlance, FaceTime HD Camera - to accompany the discreetly integrated microphone.