Home / Computing / Desktop PC / Apple iMac 21.5in (2010) / Connectivity and New CPUs

Apple iMac 21.5in (2010) - Connectivity and New CPUs

By Hugo Jobling



  • Recommended by TR
Apple iMac 21.5in (2010)


Our Score:


We take umbrage with Apple’s decision to place all but one of the iMac’s inputs around the rear of the system - only the SD card reader is mounted at the side, under the slot-loading DVD drive (still no Blu-ray unfortunately). It’s incredibly annoying having to either spin the iMac around, or fumble about at its rear, just to plug in a USB drive. A USB hub would of course sort this but with the iMac being all about minimalist chic, it's hardly something we'd want to do.

There’s a good range of connectivity options, at least. As ever the 3.5mm headphone output and line-in double as optical connectors (for digital audio) and sit alongside four USB ports, a FireWire 800 port, a Mini DisplayPort output and a Gigabit Ethernet jack. We still think that Apple has missed a trick by not including at least one video input on the 21.5in iMac. Ideally this would be an HDMI connection as it's the most universal connector around at the moment but even the mini DisplayPort sported by the 27in iMac would be a start.

Although there’s no exterior change to this generation of iMac, the internals have had what we think is a much needed overhaul. The 21.5in model now comes with an Intel Core i3 CPU as standard, running at 3.06GHz in the base model and upgradable to a 3.2GHz unit or a 3.6GHz Core i5 CPU. All support hyper-threading and the latter also offers Turbo Boost technology, whereby unloaded cores are clocked down and loaded ones over-clocked to improve performance in un-threaded applications.

Admittedly neither OS X or any of the programs you can run in it feel noticeably faster in day to day tasks. However, if you do need to run CPU-intensive programs (say, Final Cut) while performing other tasks the improved multi-tasking enabled by the Core i3 and i5 processors’ hyper-threading does make itself known. It's also a generally more power efficient architecture so you may save yourself a few pennies on your electricity bill.


September 23, 2010, 2:19 pm

The upgraded 21.5" comes with an extra 500GB HD not MB :D


September 23, 2010, 2:32 pm

If I were to purchase a Mac, I would buy an iMac. I still think it's the best-looking all-in-one around. The only downside is the premium you pay for OS X and Apple engineering. Maybe I'll get one next year when the next minor update comes around.


September 23, 2010, 3:02 pm

Say, those Editor's Choice B&W speakers - would they be an appropriate alternative to a soundbar for attaching decent sound to a mid-size TV, while having little floor space to play with? Or is the lack of any kind of sub a dealbreaker? (I'm posting here because the other article's months old.)


September 23, 2010, 4:23 pm

@GoldenGuy: Say, those Editor's Choice B&W speakers - would they be an appropriate alternative to a soundbar

I use the B&W Zeppelin as a soundbar, just fits on the shelf underneath our 32in TV nicely. Also handy for charging/playing IPod/Iphone.


September 23, 2010, 5:24 pm

Too high a rating for a computer which doesn't run Windows. Mac OS is dominated in technology and compatibility.

You should look at Sony's offerings. I saw an all-in-one in their store with an outstanding screen. I've owned good screens as an amateur photographer but was very impressed with that one. Unfortunately I don't recall the product number.

David 46

September 23, 2010, 6:22 pm

@Keith: I have the MM-1's. They're great - but as USB connected best for near-field - no real option to use with TV (if that's what your getting at). I have used for both music and movie watching on workstation and would recommend them for sure.

@Hugo: Thanks for review. I'm keen on a all-in-one - but may wait till next year especially if iMac Touch that is rumored http://www.engadget.com/201...

Also - you mention folks would be foolish to choose the upgrade options from Apple directly - are the alternatives available?


September 23, 2010, 7:02 pm

I find that they make great facial solaria, but I think that the addition of a small fan at the top of the display would increase its appeal as a hair dryer. Maybe in the next version...


September 23, 2010, 8:12 pm

CMSR - You can run Windows on an iMac if you like; either with Boot Camp or just overwriting OS X.

David - DIY is the cheapest option.

Brian ONeill

September 23, 2010, 8:23 pm

Hi chaps, would there be an any chance of doing an article on installing osX on your pc on a virtual drive? I found this http://www.taranfx.com/inst... but it does seem all pretty complicated.

Would completly understand if you would not want to occur the wrath of apple as i know they hate this hack stuff.

I am happy enough with windows 7, would just like a play with OSX for fun.

I looked at a mac mini but £650 is pricy.


September 23, 2010, 8:51 pm

@David: The Zeppelin has Optical input so you can connect your TV to it, that's what I've done anyway..

Jim Fulton

September 23, 2010, 10:50 pm

@David - its ridiculously easy to upgrade an iMac - there are instructions on how to do it in the box. Having said that, when I bought my last one 3 years ago, I called Apple rather than order online, and they did a deal on the memory upgrade, so I was paying the same as ordering through Crucial or Kingston. Nothing to lose by asking!


September 23, 2010, 10:57 pm

Seems to offer real good value... Hehe.


September 23, 2010, 11:53 pm

I just wish they would offer a matte option. I love my 2007 Aluminium iMac band want to upgrade but those glossy screens put me off.


September 24, 2010, 1:20 am

well, I'm using one right now, and it's great! only I do agree wit the USB conections being stupidly placed, having them on the side really wouldnt destroy the design THAT much.

Only, this whole thing woth the superiority of the mac os, i've been using it for all my life, and I must say that recently Apple has gone more for the popular and shoney, than for the real useful and fast. There are a lot of things I love about OS X, but also a lot of things where I think they should be left out, or improved.

If you're going to buy a mac, you should definetely get a desktop version. the laptops are priced at around the same point, they offer less quality, and they stop working great after about two years, whereas the desktop version have so far always worked for up to 5 years for me (although the last year and a half was a pain, with iTunes and Safari not working at all)

wel,, that's my 2 cents ;)


September 24, 2010, 1:22 am

oh, and the glossy screen being a uisance, I couldn't disagree more, I think the screen is wonderfull, and I haven't ever had a problem with reflections or anything, and I use my computer from morning to midnight, so I've tried it in a lot of different light settings.

Good review TR!!!



September 24, 2010, 2:54 am

I have problems with reflections on both the iMac and the 13" MBPs we use at work

Kashif Bhatti

September 24, 2010, 5:33 am


2 desktops, and 4 laptops over a 5 year period - they all work as well as each other, wasted money getting Applecare, and laptop batteries as good as when bought first (admittedely, when laptops plugged in, battery always removed). Oh yeah all 6 running as fast as the day I got 'em.

Got rid of last windows computer 2 years ago - MS what?


September 24, 2010, 11:53 am

This size screen would suit me (27" is way to big) for giving Apple a try however the lack of configuration options on the entry level model is annoying particularly no choice of a processor upgrade.

Are components like the proccesor and graphics user upgradeable (as in easily removed, plug/slot in) if you have the machine stripped apart?


September 24, 2010, 1:08 pm


No. Only the Ram is easy to access. The hard drive can be reached but it involves removing the screen. I have done so myself and wouldn't recommend it to someone who isn't used to working on computers. The processor and graphics card you are stuck with. IMO the higher end 21.5: is the one to go for

Digital Fury

September 24, 2010, 3:36 pm

"height adjustment is conspicuous by its absence" - finally somebody says something about it !

I have the 27" model, but I had to buy a butt ugly (and expensive) Ergotron stand.

Overall it's a nice machine for the price, but I had to open it (voiding the warranty most probably) to put an SSD in mine, and the glossy finish is a problem during certain hours of the day.


September 24, 2010, 4:31 pm

I thought the mini display port was an in/out port? So with the appropiate overpriced adaptors you could input another source?


September 24, 2010, 4:41 pm

I'd say the USB ports are perfectly placed... if you use the apple wired keyboard.

I've gotten very used to plugging in temporary devices (USB keys etc.) into my keyboard's hub, and more permanent devices (printers, harddrives) into the rear of my 2009 Mac Mini.

People with the fancy Bluetooth keyboards are fresh out of USB ports though!


September 24, 2010, 4:54 pm

Good review, guys. On looks, though, I still think the G4 iMac with its fully articulating screen was the best combination of looks and functionality they made (and the ad!). I wouldn't mind seeing a return of something like that, but I guess I'm in the minority on this one.

@Kashif Bhatti: Removing the battery when plugging in the laptop isn't an option any more, unfortunately. I wonder how that'll affect battery life.

Mike B

September 24, 2010, 8:24 pm

I have now switched many family and friends to Apple Mac and none has regretted the decision! I use to get constant phone calls from them when they had MS windows based PCs but now I never hear from them, except socially. With advent of Windows 7 things have improved but overall I would suggest all who can afford the little extra stretch to an Apple.

An iMac is the ideal starting point to grow your Apple family followed by an iPod or iPhone and an iPad for use around the home or out and about. Most home users will need no further software purchases to enjoy their machine to the full.

There may be cheaper all-in-one Windows based PCs but none will be as cost effective in the long run. Also you don't need to over spec an Apple as OS X is much less demanding than Windows and does not slow down with age as MS based units.


September 24, 2010, 9:02 pm

I'd love to see a 27in G4-style iMac :)

comments powered by Disqus