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Apple iMac 24in - 2009 Edition review

Andy Vandervell




  • Recommended by TR

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Apple iMac 24in - 2009 Edition
  • Apple iMac 24in - 2009 Edition
  • Apple iMac 24in - 2009 Edition
  • Apple iMac 24in - 2009 Edition
  • Apple iMac 24in - 2009 Edition
  • Apple iMac 24in - 2009 Edition
  • Apple iMac 24in - 2009 Edition
  • Apple iMac 24in - 2009 Edition
  • Apple iMac 24in - 2009 Edition
  • iMac Desktop (2.66GHz - 4GB DDR3 SDRAM - 640GB - 24" - Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard - All-in-One)


Our Score:


It's well over a year since we looked at the Apple iMac last. Back then it was the first outing of the current aluminium design and it received a glowing endorsement, bagging itself an Editor's Choice Award. It's a testament to the quality of that machine that it's taken so long for Apple to update the range, but it has done just that and we've got the 24in version here for your perusal.

Our version is only the entry-level 24in model, but even so its specification is very generous. Directing proceedings is an Intel Core 2 Duo processor running at 2.66GHz. This is backed by a capacious 7,200rpm, 640GB hard drive as well as 4GB of 1,066MHz DDR3 RAM. Both these parts can be upgraded, though Apple is up to its usual shenanigans here by making the 1TB hard drive an £80 upgrade (i.e. the cost of a single drive), while upgrading to 8GB of RAM costs an astonishing £800! It's just as well few people will need that much memory.

Other standard configurations include the 20in model, which sports the same processor as our version but has just 2GB RAM and a 320GB hard drive, while the other two 24in versions sport 2.93GHz and 3.06GHz CPUs, nVidia discrete graphics and, in the case of the top-of-the-range model, a 1TB hard drive.

At £949 it's worth noting that the 20in iMac is considerably more expensive than the old one, which started at just £799.99 at launch, but our entry-level 24in, which Apple sells for £1,199, actually looks like very good value given the lack of a cheaper 24in all-in-one - something you can't say about Apple too often. One can't help but feel, though, that Apple is trying to compel people to upgrade to the more expensive 24in version in pricing the 20in as it has.

Beyond these newly refreshed configurations the other big change for this year's iMac is the chipset which, like the new MacBook and Mac mini, is nVidia's 9400M integrated graphics effort. This is an obvious and positive move on Apple's part, since it's more than capable of dealing with most things that'll be thrown its way (including GPU accelerated applications) and for those that do need more grunt options are available.

Draft-N Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 also come as standard, but it's disappointing to see that wireless keyboards and mice aren't. We can see why some might prefer the wired variety, but it's hard to escape the allure of a system that would effectively have only one wire (that for power) protruding from it. As it is you have to pay extra for both, though at least neither is extortionately expensive, with the wireless mouse costing £14 and the keyboard £20.

One thing that is included in the price, however, is iLife '09. This has always been one of the highlights of the Mac experience and, as our iLife review pointed out, that remains the case. iPhoto is particularly useful thanks to the addition of a nifty new face recognition system and Facebook integration, but every element of the suite exudes the usual Apple ease-of-use and comfort. So, given most would probably want to get it with their iMac anyway, we're pleased to see it aboard.


March 25, 2009, 4:49 am

Sorry but the value just isn't an 8. More like 5 again.

� for a computer and what can it actually do? It has a 9400M graphics card, no integrated memory, therefore no (decent) games.

What can this actually do that the mac mini cant? An additional 𧽴 for some more memory, a faster CPU, a screen & a mouse and keyboard, plus a hard disk upgrade.

Nothing above actually makes it a must have, a mac mini is going to be plenty fast enough for anything that you might want to use this for.

I really don't understand why anybody would buy this over the mac mini!


March 25, 2009, 6:27 am

It's still not too late to remove the blasphemous comment, that this is a PC before the Apple crowd show up.


March 25, 2009, 7:29 am

Have to say, I almost got this over my Mac mini but didn't have the money or the space for it. It also stands up quite well price-wise to other Core 2 Duo All-in-ones like the Dell XPS One.

Anyway, two favourable Apple reviews in the space of two days - soon TR will be accused of having an Apple bias (to add to its Panasonic one) :)


March 25, 2009, 11:09 am

i'll be damned if that keyboard didn't come straight from a macbook.


March 25, 2009, 11:46 am

@xenos - value score is probably compared to other 24 inch all in ones. fair comparison, if you ask me.


March 25, 2009, 11:52 am

Andy - can you please confirm this value score is judged only against other Macs (as Hugo carefully explained in his Mac Mini review commentary)? Many thanks.

Lee Marshall

March 25, 2009, 12:44 pm

How can the overall score be a 9 when all the bits that really matter (features, performance and value) are all 8?

Andy Vandervell

March 25, 2009, 1:09 pm

@Petrov: As stated in the review more than once (and others above) the value score is based on the iMac's value compared to other manufacturers which, if you look around, is surprisingly good.

@Lee Marshall: That's one way of looking at it, but design is just as important as any other category in this regard as people who buy this product will buy it (in part) due to its design - or certainly as a large factor in their decision. I'm guessing from your tone you don't fit into this category, so the iMac probably isn't for you.

Regardless of this, though, any product that scores a 10 in one category and 8s in all the others stands a perfectly reasonable chance of getting a 9 overall. And, in case you were wondering, the overall score isn't an average - never has been.


March 25, 2009, 2:00 pm

@Xenos: Just wanted to add that with your spare $700, you can instantly cut that down to around 𧷤 or once you take into account a decent 24inch monitor. 𧷤 for the other bits and bobs seems reasonable.

Also, having initially baulked at the price of this system, just like you, I went about trying to spec up a comparible PC (not an all in one, just a normal PC) and got to about 𨀼 for the basics without any extra peripherals beyond a monitor. Factor in things like speakers, webcam, keyboard, and mouse and you're probably pushing �. Then take into account the all-in-one sleekness and you have a product that actually represents reasonable value.


March 25, 2009, 2:01 pm

*Just wanted to add that with your spare 𧽴, you can instantly cut that down to around 𧷤 or so...


March 25, 2009, 2:18 pm

Take that HP!

Take that Dell!

Take that PC Funboys

and Take that budget PC People

who else wants some:P


March 25, 2009, 2:25 pm

@Ed - out of interest, how did you reach that 𨀼 for a PC? I reckon it could be done much more cheaply:

* CPU - 𧴜 (and that's for a 2.8GHz Wolfdale - AFAIK 2.66GHz C2Ds can't be bought any more)

* Motherboard - 㿲

* GPU - 㿏

* RAM - 㿏

* Case & PSU - 㿲

* HDD - 㿞

* OS - 䀁 (Vista Home Premium 64-bit OEM)

That lot comes to 𧹵. You can get a 24 inch LCD for under 𧵬 so you'd be going well beyond that to hit 𨀼 overall.


March 25, 2009, 2:33 pm

That's why I said a decent 24inch monitor. You're looking at 𧹈+ for that alone.

You're also undervaluing some of the other components; 4GB DDR3 1056 is more like 㿞, HDD is more like 㿨. Add in the 㿨 for iLife (i know you can't get it for a PC and you can probably find free or cheap equivalents but to make it a fair comparison it has to be included) and you'll be pushing the figure I quote.


March 25, 2009, 2:34 pm

Ooooo. Looks like another PC v Mac fanboi war is about to break out.

I'll go get my popcorn ....... :)


March 25, 2009, 2:59 pm

Andy, many thanks for the confirmation that the value score is compared to other manufacturers - I think that's exactly the right approach. (By the way, I think your review is excellent!)

Still leaves me confused by Hugo's Mac Mini review - shouldn't TR/Chief Editor adjust Hugo's value score on that review to reflect a score vs other manufacturers as well (and not just other Macs)...? Anyway, no biggie.


March 25, 2009, 3:12 pm

Good review. The importance of the OS is not to be underestimated and contributes significantly to the efficiency/responsiveness of the end-product.

Hamish Campbell

March 25, 2009, 3:13 pm

Case? CASE? Are you mad? Who wants a case when you can have NO case. This is all in the monitor, looks stunning, and now I should buy a case?


March 25, 2009, 3:25 pm

Petrov - to clarify my point about the Mac mini: what I was saying was/is that there are no PC equivalents to compare it to. Nothing else is a small and yet manages to work as well. I thought I made that clear in the review but you've either not read it fully, misinterpreted, or I could have explained better.

The iMac is , arguably, less fortunate in that there are very clear systems to compare to. It's good for Apple that it's made this generation good value. I doubt we would have said the same of the last run, which was ludicrously overpriced if you ask me.


March 25, 2009, 3:27 pm

I don't know what brand of drive Apple uses, so a direct comparison is tough, but you can get a 640 GB Hitachi drive for 㿛.89 from scan (http://www.scan.co.uk/Produ.... Point taken re DDR3 - I was looking at DDR2 boards and matching RAM on the basis that there is little proven benefit as yet to DDR3. You could also save by taking a motherboard with integrated graphics, but I factored in a cheap discrete Nvidia GPU.

I wasn't criticising the value score - I think the design and integration of the iMac (+OSX) justifies the premium over an equally specced PC, so it is reasonable value if it fits your needs. I was just wondering where your 𨀼 came from.

Out of interest which 24 inch monitors would you consider "decent" enough to compete with the iMac?


March 25, 2009, 3:46 pm

Ed: "That's why I said a decent 24inch monitor. You're looking at 𧹈+ for that alone."

So it's an IPS-panel then? Because if it's a TN-panel as with the 20" version, that's not worth 400 GBP by a long shot -- you can get those for 200 GBP.


March 25, 2009, 4:10 pm

I want one. Sick of Vista.


March 25, 2009, 4:20 pm

@Ed - When I decide to change my PC I'm still going to have my BenQ FP241W sitting on my desk, something which you guys yourselves gave 10/10 for in every category.

Having to pass on the ENTIRE pc when you want one that can play a game is just a bit stupid tbh.


And that cost me 𧷸 delivered, brand new with dead pixel guarantee! Hearty S-PVA panel too.

(Seriously buy it now its SO DAMN GOOD)


March 25, 2009, 4:23 pm

@Ohmz - Give Windows 7 a spin, build 7000. Make a dualboot to XP and OS X. Then laugh at having saved yourself over � than buying a Mac with similar specs ;-)


March 25, 2009, 4:29 pm

BTW - I meant P-MVA not S-PVA. Its a fairly unique monitor as it has better motion performance (or as good as) TN but really good colours too.


March 25, 2009, 4:34 pm

Nothing like a good mac vs pc argument to make the work day pass.

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