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Apple iMac 21.5in (2010) - Specs, Performance and Verdict

By Hugo Jobling
Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Apple iMac 21.5in (2010)

Summary

Our Score

9/10

User Score

Review Price £926.31

In a similar vein, the graphics options of the iMac have received a boost. The entry-level system’s 256MB ATI Radeon HD 4670 isn’t going to be running StarCraft II at its highest quality, but it’ll happily play run any Steam game available for the Mac, World of Warcraft, Eve-Online and just about any other Mac-compatible title you care to name.

The step-up 512MB 5670 is a better option if you want your options open a year down the line, but the system it’s in pushes dangerously close to 27in iMac territory at £1249. It’s not like the 200MHz CPU speed bump and additional 500MB of hard drive capacity are compelling reasons to spend another £250 on a 21.5in iMac, either. The entry-level system even comes with 4GB of RAM so it’s literally just the GPU that’s worth improving - hopefully Apple will make this an option in the near future.

On the subject of upgrades, we have to once again point out that you’d be a fool to opt for any from Apple’s own configuration menu at purchase. Aside from mandating that you pick the more expensive iMac before allowing you to boost the provided RAM or hard drive, Apple still has the audacity to charge full price for upgrading components.

It’s likely that Apple is primarily trying to discourage people from deviating from the standard set-up so someone doesn't have to unpack, change the components of, and repackage a system before shipping. A logical endeavour but a tactic hardly likely to make your customers happy.

Fortunately when it comes to non-gaming performance, the base iMac configurations don’t particularly need messing with. The £999 model, especially, is plenty fast for anything you’re likely to throw at it day to day and has enough processing power to chew through a more intensive task if you throw one at it.

Verdict

The iMac isn’t a cheap system, but you certainly get what you pay for. The updates the latest refresh has added aren’t groundbreaking and the continued lack of Blu-ray is something of an annoyance but we can forgive the latter and on most other fronts the iMac was already the best all-in-one system you could buy. Now it still is; but it’s a little bit better than before.

Scores In Detail

Design
10/10
Features
8/10
Performance
9/10
Value
8/10

Our Score

9/10

User Score

Previous page

Jayboy

September 23, 2010, 2:19 pm

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

Pbryanw

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.

GoldenGuy

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.)

Keithe6e

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.

CSMR

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/2010/0...





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

scamevoli

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...

Hugo

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/install... 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.

Keithe6e

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!

noTHINGface

September 23, 2010, 10:57 pm

Seems to offer real good value... Hehe.

Jayboy

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.

Penguin

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 ;)

Penguin

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!!!





Paul

Jayboy

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

@Penguin,





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?

Moggy58

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?

Jayboy

September 24, 2010, 1:08 pm

@Moggy58





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.

Chris Beach

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?

GherkingTR

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!

lensmann

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.

Hugo

September 24, 2010, 9:02 pm

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

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