The 27in all-in-one iMac is the first Apple machine to appear in our desktop PC charts, but its specification, performance and value make this power desktop PC impossible to ignore.

The 27in all-in-one iMac is the first Apple machine to appear in our desktop PC charts, but its specification, performance and value make it impossible to ignore. Value might not be an obvious asset for a power desktop PC costing nigh-on £3,000, but let us explain.

Latest (late 2012 models): Apple iMac 21.5-inch review and Apple iMac 27-inch review

The Apple iMac 27in (Mid-2010) power desktop PC is available with a Core i5-760 for £1,649. Our sample came with the Core i7-870, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, costing £2,849.

We’ve always maintained that the monitor is the item you’ll spend the longest looking at, so it’s worth investing in wisely. And the Apple iMac 27in (Mid-2010) power desktop PC has trumped the competition with a screen that’s not only larger, but has the finest image quality. To get a PC screen that matches the colour gamut and definition of this 27in in-plane switching (IPS) widescreen, expect to pay £1,000.

Whereas PC vendors usually supply tinny cases with wobbling ports, the Apple iMac 27in (Mid-2010) power desktop PC has a gorgeous satin aluminium frame. There are no gamer go-faster stripes or wedding-disco lights here. This all-in-one machine also includes a discreet webcam and microphone for effortless video chat.

A wireless keyboard and mouse are supplied, while connectivity options stretch to gigabit ethernet and dual-band 802.11n wireless. Good stereo speakers are built into the Apple iMac 27in (Mid-2010) power desktop PC. And the whole machine runs silently.

For the first time, the Apple iMac 27in (Mid-2010) power desktop PC is able to compete with Windows PCs on the performance front, too. It was right up there with the leaders in our speed tests – running Windows, not Mac OS X.

The Apple iMac 27in (Mid-2010) power desktop PC's Radeon HD 5750 is slower than the 5870 graphics card seen elsewhere, but still produced capable framerates in our tests.

Chart ranking: Power PCs

  1. Arbico Elite i7-9500 HSD
  2. Apple iMac 27in (Mid-2010)
  3. Eclipse Armageddon i795n460 SLi
  4. DinoPC Maxosaur 950
  5. CyberPower Infinity i7 Phoenix (repeat)

>> NEXT PAGE: Power PCs buying advice

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The 27in all-in-one iMac is the first Apple machine to appear in our desktop PC charts, but its specification, performance and value make this power desktop PC impossible to ignore.

Power PCs buying advice

Processor: Intel’s original Core i7 CPUs offer a number of speed boosts, although they require more expensive motherboards and memory than previous-generation chips. The Core i7-950 or -960 are good choices at this price, or you can save money by opting for an i7-930. Core i7-800-series chips are excellent value, delivering good performance while requiring less expensive motherboards.

Memory: A £1,001-plus Core i7 machine should come with at least 6GB of RAM, although 3GB may be acceptable if the manufacturer compensates with other extras. For dual-core machines, look for 4GB in two modules to allow expansion.

The triple-channel architecture of Core i7-900-based PCs requires you to install chips in threes. Core i7-800-series CPUs use a two-channel system.

A 64bit OS is essential to take full advantage of this memory, particularly if you’re running a dual-graphics setup.

Storage: Expect at least 1TB. Look for a pair or trio of drives to reduce the risk of total data loss, although noise levels will increase. Raid 0 setups boost speed at the expense of reliability.

Consider mirroring for added security. SSDs provide a speed boost, but offer limited capacity and are expensive. Go for an SSD with at least 60GB if you’re running Windows 7.

Dual-layer DVD+/-R capabilities are useful, preferably at eight-speed or above. Also look for eight-speed DVD+RW.

If you want Blu-ray playback, be prepared to compromise on DVD speeds or buy a dedicated Blu-ray drive.

Display: We’re seeing increasing numbers of 24in displays in our PC charts. This used to be the magic size at which 1080p (full-HD) playback became available, making these ideal partners for Blu-ray drives. However, some of the newest 22in (16:9) monitors can also display full-HD – and with a considerable saving.

Make sure you get a digital input for the best image quality, while an extra HDMI port is great for hooking up additional devices such as games consoles without having to switch cables.

Graphics card: For a thrilling gaming experience, choose between nVidia’s new GeForce GTX 480 and AMD’s ATI Radeon HD 5870. It’s a close call between the two, with nVidia’s newer card often offering a performance edge, but costing considerably more. nVidia’s cards offer support for PhysX in-game effects and stereoscopic 3D using special glasses.

Also look out for pre-overclocked graphics cards, which can deliver excellent value and are approved by chip manufacturers. Buying a single-card setup keeps your options open and leaves more space for sound cards or TV tuners.

Motherboard: If you’re considering any upgrades, check that the motherboard offers enough memory slots to support the chips. SLI or CrossFireX support will enable you to add extra graphics cards to boost your gaming performance. If you’re using an Intel CPU, a motherboard with an X58 chipset will give you better performance in multicard setups.

Power supply: The level of power you require will largely depend on the type of graphics card you expect to use. Look for a known and respected brand, and consider from 750W upwards if you have any thoughts of moving up to a dual-card setup later. Any form of overclocking will also demand a powerful PSU.

>> NEXT PAGE: Specification and our expert verdict

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Apple iMac 27in (Mid-2010): Specs

  • 2.93GHz Intel Core i7-870
  • Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • 2TB SATA
  • 256GB SSD
  • 4 x USB 2.0
  • 27in Apple IPS display (0.23mm pixel pitch
  • 2560x1440)
  • 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5750 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 59/20fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 85/39fps
  • onboard sound
  • two speakers
  • max DVD speeds: 8x/8x/4x/4x/6x/8x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW)
  • iLife 09
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 153
  • 2.93GHz Intel Core i7-870
  • Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • 2TB SATA
  • 256GB SSD
  • 4 x USB 2.0
  • 27in Apple IPS display (0.23mm pixel pitch
  • 2560x1440)
  • 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5750 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 59/20fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 85/39fps
  • onboard sound
  • two speakers
  • max DVD speeds: 8x/8x/4x/4x/6x/8x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW)
  • iLife 09
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 153

OUR VERDICT

Upgrades are off-limits and the Apple iMac 27in (Mid-2010) power desktop PC's screen would work even better without the gloss finish. But, given the carefully assembled components here, and provided that games aren’t your bag, there will be little reason to upgrade anything for a long time to come.

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