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Apple iMac 27in (2012) - Performance and Verdict

By Edward Chester

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

Apple iMac 27in (2012) Performance

The other area where Apple leaves little to be desired is performance. All configurations of the 2012 27in iMac will have ample performance for most users, and there are enough upgrade options that power users shouldn’t be left wanting either, unlike with the 21in model. As ever with Apple products, you do pay for the upgrades, though.

2.9GHz system - £1,499

Processor: 2.9GHz quad-core Intel Core i5

Memory: 8GB

Storage: 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive

Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 660M

3.2GHz system - £1,699

Processor: 3.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i5

Memory: 8GB

Storage: 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive

Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 660M

Review system - £1,978.99

Processor: 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7

Memory: 8GB

Storage: 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive

Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 680MX

PCMark07

Trackmania Nations Forever

Stalker

Crucial to this machine’s performance advantage are its storage and graphics card options. By using full-size hard drives (3.5in) rather than laptop size drives (2.5in), hard disk performance is greater than on the 21in model and comparable to a typical desktop PC. Meanwhile the entry level Nvidia 660M graphics card, while hardly rocket-powered, will provide playable framerates on most 3D games.

As for our review system, its £120 graphics card upgrade delivered impressive performance results in our benchmarks, and will easily cope with most modern games (even if you do have to tweak the resolution or some of the graphics settings). We would, however, suggest that this machine’s £160 upgrade to a 3.4GHz CPU isn’t so necessary.

Further upgrade options include a 3TB hard drive, Apple’s so called Fusion drives (which are hard drives with a small portion of flash memory that provides speedy performance for certain core applications) and a 768GB SSD. The latter will offer blistering performance (super-speedy startup times, instant app loads, etc) but for £1,040 it is just a tad pricey.

Apple iMac 27in (2012) Value

The new 27in Apple iMac may offer good performance with the right configuration but, as we’ve established, it doesn’t come cheap. Indeed, whatever spec you choose, you can get a PC that will comfortably outperform it for half the price, and that’s including a screen, speakers, keyboard and mouse.

But, of course, it’s only really fair to compare to other all-in-ones where the competition is equally pricey. Rivals such as the Lenovo IdeaCentre A720 offer better screen adjustability, better connectivity, a Blu-ray drive and a touchscreen but doesn’t have quite as many upgrade options, with its graphics options in particular being somewhat lacking, and its screen is only 1920 x 1,200. But, it costs £1200.

27in Apple iMac 2012 4

For a bit more money (£1,399), Dell is offering the Dell XPS One 27, which again has better screen adjustability and connectivity, includes a Blu-ray drive and touchscreen, and has an iMac-matching 2,560 x 1,440 screen. Though, again, the graphics card options aren’t quite so good and it doesn’t ship until 18th February 2013.

With those systems and their prices taken into account, the 27in iMac doesn’t look like bad value; it’s pricey but not extortionate.

Verdict

The 27in Apple iMac 2012 is a bit of a luxury with you paying both a premium for the all-in-one form factor and for the Apple name, build quality and style. However, unlike the 21in iMac, which we felt was a bit underpowered, the 27in model makes a bit more sense. Its screen is large with a high resolution and it has enough grunt to satisfy power users and gamers, making it feel much less like a non-portable laptop (like the 21in model) and more like a viable complete replacement for a powerful desktop PC.

It’s probably overkill for more modest computer users and the most extreme gamers and power users – those that demand their games look the absolute best or spend all day rendering video edits – will find it lacking. But, for the rest of us, it’s a good buy, if you can afford.

Overall Score

8

Scores In Detail

  • Design 10
  • Features 8
  • Image Quality 8
  • Performance 8
  • Value 8

Calcifer

January 15, 2013, 3:50 am

Apple strikes again! No HDMI... for shame - and of course all the proprietary things that you can only buy from Apple are ever-present..

Genjutsushi

January 15, 2013, 10:45 am

Couple of points -

HDMI is possible with a minidisplay port to HDMI cable;

the peripherals are the default choice when ordering, but a trackpad and a large USB keyboard are both available;

it can be used as an extra monitor via Thunderbolt;

TV tuners are available for the mac (and will work with this);

no retina complaint is silly - the resolution would need to be over 5000 pixels (?) and would you be able to tell the difference at a normal seated distance vs a phone or ipad which is usually a lot closer to the user (ditto macbook);

one comment is that 'you could buy a really stellar PC for less' is misleading when later in the review a Dell (admittedly with a touchscreen) is stated as coming out that is the same price and a similar spec.

To intimate that performance is lacking, but then show performance across the board being excellent is misleading. Ditto 'you do pay for upgrades though'.. yes, you do. And? AND in the Verdict you state that 'it has enough grunt for most users'.

So why go so hard on the iMac? (And no, im not a fanboy, just think this review is poor)

Ed

January 15, 2013, 11:25 am

HDMI is possible with a minidisplay port to HDMI cable;

- "...connecting up a telly or extra monitor requires an extra adapter"

the peripherals are the default choice when ordering, but a trackpad and a large USB keyboard are both available;

- I did actually mean to make that point. Will amend.

it can be used as an extra monitor via Thunderbolt;

- Apologies, you are correct here, though the solution is a little clunky given there are no controls to switch inputs or display style. I'll take a second look at this to see exactly what devices do work in this way and amend accordingly.

TV tuners are available for the mac (and will work with this);

- The TV Tuner was an example. I could have said Sky box or Virgin Media box or Tivo or... The point was about the lack of connectivity, not accessories.

no retina complaint is silly - the resolution would need to be over 5000 pixels (?) and would you be able to tell the difference at a normal seated distance vs a phone or ipad which is usually a lot closer to the user (ditto macbook);

- Retina iPad's silly, Retina Macbook's silly... I don't know how you use your PC but generally I find a laptop and desktop monitor are about equidistant from me when sat at a desk.

one comment is that 'you could buy a really stellar PC for less' is misleading when later in the review a Dell (admittedly with a touchscreen) is stated as coming out that is the same price and a similar spec.

- Perhaps I should have been more specific, though I thought the point reasonably clear. I meant a PC in the broadest sense - i.e. a normal desktop with seperate monitor.

To intimate that performance is lacking, but then show performance across the board being excellent is misleading. Ditto 'you do pay for upgrades though'.. yes, you do. And? AND in the Verdict you state that 'it has enough grunt for most users'.

- When do I intimate performance is lacking? I say power users and hardcore gamers will find fault because, for all this machine's power, it still can't rival a Macpro or a full size desktop PC.

- Clearly you missed the intended emphasis of the upgrades line. It was meant to emphasise that the upgrades are expensive.

So why go so hard on the iMac? (And no, im not a fanboy, just think this review is poor)

- I gave it 8/10, that's not going hard. Moreover, it's a £2000 machine (in the configuration we reviewed) so I'd damn well expect us to be exacting in our critique.

SaneVoice

January 15, 2013, 4:47 pm

Its poor value for money & not having an optical drive has made my decision not to upgrade my 3 year old 27" iMac a good decision. The screen rez is the same as mine!

August Studios

January 16, 2013, 10:08 am

I'm also at a loss for retina complaint, I use a retina iPad for all my browsing (typing on it now) but text and everything looks great on my 2012 27" iMac. I'd say my iMac is about a couple of feet away from me but really a screen this large who can comfortable sit much closer and not wear your eyes out scanning around the screen I've used the Retina MBP and it sure is pretty but you sit much closer to your laptop screen (or I do). FW is a bummer but as a commenter has said £25 adaptor gets you going and everything daisy chains as it did before (4 FW800 drives and a FW400 capture deck at the end here) also if your considering this for Prem Pro CS6 I can confirm the CUDA video card hack works a treat and with 32gb RAM on board it flies.

I'd also noticed your 21" review complain of backlighting issues, I must have got lucky because mine is just fine but that's often the LCD lottery and have been stung before exchanging multiple 24" alu cinema displays until I got one that was acceptable several years back

Still nice to see a review calling out a few issues as most reviews I've read seem to heap blind praise on it, although to my mind a few were VERY nitpicky ha ha

Simon

January 18, 2013, 2:06 pm

These all-in-ones are a bit of a con really, whether made by apple or anyone else. My opinion, obviously. You're paying a premium for laptop hardware in a desktop pc, just for the sake of having everything neatly tidied away in a single box. Miniaturisation and ultra-portability are always costly propositions, but in the desktop use-case, these are surely misplaced goals. Do people really struggle to find room for a small tower in their home offices?

Personally, I could never bring myself to spend so much money on lesser hardware. I suppose if i lived in a bedsit and i had no space, compactness would be important to me. But then, I probably wouldn't be able to afford an iMac ;) And I'm a creative professional, so design is important to me, but it should never come at the cost of practicality, and it should never come at such a cost. Good design should be available to all, regardless of budget. It doesn't need to cost the earth.

I'd like to see performance figures for 2k's worth of conventional desktop included in these reviews. Indeed, 1k's worth as well, just so people get an idea of how much extra they're paying for the performance they're getting. Dell do some relatively compact desktop solutions, so i'm not especially talking about hardcore gaming rigs with big towers, though again, their inclusion for comparative purposes would be useful.

ukpm

January 20, 2013, 10:05 pm

Are you sure that your review machine didn't have a 1TB Fusion Drive? All the other 27" review machines had that specification (3.4GHz/1TB Fusion/8GB/680MX).

ukpm

January 20, 2013, 10:21 pm

P.S. I totally agree with you about the display. I was a little disappointed to see it hadn't moved on from the previous generation. However, I don't think Retina was really an option, 5120 x 2880? What would that have costed? Besides the PPI is 108, which is better than a lot of monitors you view from 18" away.

Bob

March 15, 2013, 4:55 pm

I am a converted PC guy (which seems to have an "abuse me" tag that goes with it). Macs are easy to use. I like their programs, they make pro style movies and are easy to use. You don't have to update the OS all the time. The all in one package looks great and works great. For me, it's a simpler and less complicated computer. I'm a teacher and this has everything I want and need. I'm not too concerned with the proprietary adapters and such; it isn't a deal killer. Why hate something because Steve Jobs was an ass and Apple genius' aren't really genius'. Do your research, buy what works for you, and be happy.

Derr

April 13, 2013, 12:35 am

They make it thinner just like television market is doing to their product even thought we don't really need televisions this slim.

JBingham

May 31, 2013, 3:30 am

I do find it funny that the lack of retina display is an 'issue'.

davewyman

June 18, 2013, 5:45 am

"design is important to me, but it should never come at the cost of practicality, and it should never come at such a cost."

No one is forcing you to purchase an iMac.

What would an acceptable cost be? Who gets to decide that?

Ron Tyler

September 16, 2013, 2:15 am

I have a new super 5mm thin iMac and love it. We use it our second new HD video editing suite and have had no problems what so ever. It was 1/3 the cost of a Mac Pro and has faster connections for Hard Drives and other needed external equipment We are going to order another new iMac for our third editing bay we are building at
A.F. productions/ AFP-HD here in Tyler, Texas. Apple does great on hardware but not so good on software. Keep up the great work Apple on your hardware. You need a little work on the software and a better understanding what professionals need in software.

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