Apple’s one-boxer was never going to disappoint on the style front. The boffins at Cupertino have managed to fit all the neccessaries into a rectangle only 5mm thick at the edges, which makes it thinner than even the skinniest smartphones.
The iMac has a quad-core i7 chip, dedicated graphics, a gorgeous 1080p, 102PPI screen and plenty of RAM. However, it’s also very expensive and not as fully featured as some of its rivals. The optical drive has been ditched for space reasons and connectivity is also limited, with an SD card slot, four tightly packed USB3.0 ports and two Thunderbolt sockets, but no HDMI.
Yes, sacrifices needed to be made in order to make it so skinny, but given that it sits on the same angled stand as the previous model, it takes up the same amount of desk space. Style over substance? Probably.
All of that negativity fades the moment you turn it on though. Mac OS X Mountain Lion is warm and cuddly after the hubbub of Win 8, and it purrs along on the crisp, vibrant screen. It was never going to beat the rest on value or features, but if you want a truly useful machine, the iMac still leads – albeit by a thinner margin than ever.
The Mac’s speakers aren’t the best but they’re serviceable. If you plan to use it for movies or music, pick up some externals. Apple’s Fusion Drive is an extra $350. It’s a combo hard disk and solid-state drive that shuffles your files around, giving you the fastest access to those you use the most.
There’s no touchscreen here but multi-touch gestures on Apple’s Magic Mouse ($98) might satisfy you just as much. It may be pancake-thin, but the iMac squeezes in a Core i7 chip and a dedicated graphics chip to deliver top performance. You can save up to $580 if you’re happy with an i5. In spite of the screen’s glossy look, new technology reduces the amount of reflections and delivers a wider viewing angle. The iMac screen is lusciously great.
Some high-end Windows machines easily beat the iMac on specs and value, but there's a lot to be said for the overall package that the iMac delivers. In our opinion, compared to Windows 8, OS X Mountain Lion is a far more intuitive, attractive and productive environment to be in, and that has a large bearing on our willingness to forgive some of the iMac's hardware compromises. However, if you prefer or need to be in the Windows camp there are more powerful and better value options.
Review by Tony Horgan.