Apple iMac (preview)
Apple turns to Fusion power for its desktop update
- Thinner design, better screen
- Update to Ivy Bridge processors
- Fusion Drive tech compromises speed and space
- As usual, pricy for an all-in-one
- Questionable upgradability
Apple’s reinvigorated iMac has the expected updates to processing and graphics performance, but the move to a hybrid flash- and traditional-disk hard drive is an interesting one. These class-leading all-in-ones are also predictably pricy.
Price$ 1,429.00 (AUD)
Apple has never had as much love for its desktop computers as it has for MacBooks, iPhones and iPads, but its venerable iMac has had an overall update, including changes to the screen, chassis, processing and storage hardware.
Apple iMac: the design
Five millimetres — that’s how thick Apple says the edge of its iMacs is. We’ll have to see it to believe it, but the company’s claim of 40 per cent less volume than the previous iMac seems more realistic.
The all-in-one, new 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMacs have always used a lot of notebook technology to cut down on bulk, and the most recent step is the iPhone-esque move to laminate the display’s glass cover to the LCD itself, bringing all the internal components much closer together and cutting down on reflections. Apple claims 75 per cent less reflectivity than the previous model, maintaining the 1920-by-1080-pixel and 2560-by-1440-pixel resolutions of the 21.5- and 27-inch screens respectively.
iMacs continue to get thinner, and their designs continue to look more space-age. We’re willing to bet the next iMac will see a departure from the current design language, but from the gallery photos we’ve seen this is one of the best-looking all-in-ones around.
Apple iMac: the hardware
Quad-core Intel Core i5 processors come as standard on the 21.5- and 27-inch iMacs, with two models available in each size and a further swathe of upgrades possible. The smaller model gets a base 2.7GHz and a step-up 2.9GHz quad-core i5, with an optional quad-core 3.1Ghz Core i7 on the more powerful of the two. The 27-incher has a base 2.9GHz and a step-up 3.2GHz quad-core i5, and an optional quad-core 3.4GHz i7, again on the more powerful of the two. All iMacs have 8GB of DDR3 RAM by default — the 21.5-inch can be upgraded to 16GB and the 27-inch can cram in 32GB.
Graphics processors get more powerful as you move up in price and size, going from a NVidia GeForce 640M to a 650M in the 21.5-inch, while the 27-inch models start with a GeForce GTX 660M to a 675MX, with the option to upgrade to a GTX 680MX in the most expensive model. The 21.5-inch model is probably going to struggle with graphics-intensive 3D gaming or rendering, but the 27-inch model has surprisingly powerful graphics processors that should stay cool handling even high-resolution gaming.
What’s most interesting about the new Apple iMac is its move from traditional spinning-disk hard drive options to what the company is calling its Fusion Drive. It combines 128GB of SSD-grade flash memory with a 1TB or 3TB hard drive (all depending on how much you want to spend on your iMac), transferring your most-used files to the high-speed flash component and storing lesser-used, less important files on the capacious magnetic disk.
For a great overview of the technology behind Fusion Drive, take a look at this Ars Technica article. It seems like it’s got the potential to combine a high-speed SSD and large-storage hard drive in a way that’s beneficial to the iMac and invisible to the end user.
All of these hardware changes are tied together with ancillary existing features like twin Thunderbolt ports, triple USB 3.0, SDXC, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11n Wi-Fi and so on.
Apple iMac: Conclusion
Packing all this technology into such a thin chassis must have been an ask for Apple’s engineers and designers. There’s a distinct power advantage moving up to the iMac from the company’s portable line, with the top models packing a lot of high-speed storage and graphics and processing.
The 21.5-inch iMac will be available in November, while the 27-inch will hit shelves in December. The 21.5-inch models start at $1429 and the 27-inch models start at $1999 — upgrades come at an extra cost.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Acer Swift 7
Google Daydream VR headset
Huawei Mate 9
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Lexar® Portable SSD
Surface Pro 4
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Dell XPS 13 laptop
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
- 2 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 3 Fetch TV Mighty review: Better than Foxtel
- 4 Fetch TV Mini review: Make your TV a smart TV
- 5 Panasonic Viera DX900U UHD 4K smart TV review
Latest News Articles
- Samsung Galaxy S7 hardware will come to the DragonBoard 820c computer
- Now you can try Microsoft's supersized Surface Hub before buying
- Samsung scraps a Raspberry Pi 3 competitor, shrinks Artik line
- Google wants to add AI to gadgets made using Raspberry Pi
- How to fix a limited connectivity problem on a Windows 7 PC
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
- Horizon Zero Dawn review
- How to quit Pokemon Go (or to start enjoying it again)
- Japan's pop culture, anime-friendly, J-Pop shrine, Kanda Myojin
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- CCDesktop Engineer l WollongongNSW
- TPProject Coordinator/Junior Project ManagerVIC
- CCDesktop Engineer l WollongongNSW
- CCSystems Engineer (Infra)NSW
- TPIT Project CoordinatorVIC
- TPAgile CoachNSW
- FTSenior Systems AdministratorWA
- FTTechnical Business AnalystNSW
- TPCrystal Reports DeveloperSA
- TPSenior Service Desk AnalystNSW
- FTData Conversion LeadNSW
- FTOnline Solutions AnalystNSW
- TPBusiness Process Analyst (Newcaslte Based)NSW
- CCTransport Planner - GIS SpecialistNSW
- TPOrganisational Change Manager | Enterprise Information SharingQLD
- CCInfrastructure Test AnalystACT
- CCERP Business Analyst (Time Capture/ Management) - Contract - Sydney CBDNSW
- FTSenior Network AdministratorNSW
- FT.net Developer (Front and Back end)QLD
- TPBI Commercial AnalystVIC
- CCDesktop Engineer l WollongongNSW
- FTAndroid DeveloperNSW
- TPProject Manager to manage two concurrent ProjectsQLD
- CCTechnical Consultant - ITSM/HP Service ManagerVIC
- CCSalesforce DeveloperNSW