When Apple updated its consumer Mac line in March, notably by revving up the evergreen Apple Mac mini, it also took the upgrade spanner to the iMac range. Top of that range of consumer all-in-ones stands the flagship model Apple iMac 3.06GHz, featuring an Intel Core 2 Duo processor running at 3.06GHz.

Where some brands, notable the Japanese and Far Eastern tech companies, will use cumbersome, geek-out names for their products and every subsequent update, Apple keeps its naming scheme simple. So rather than trip over Apple IM-306-GFGT130/MDP or some such tonguetwister, the new iMac is dubbed... the iMac.

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

Great for consumer awareness, not so good when you need to differentiate between models - after all, the all-in-one computer that Apple introduced in 1998 was also, simply, the iMac. But with 11 years between them, the iMac and the iMac have little in common apart from being a one-stop personal computer concept.

The iMac (Firebreathing Gamer Edition) is also hardly short on syllables, yet the Apple iMac 3.06GHz model we tested, outwardly identical to the Apple iMac we reviewed last August, could almost get away with that label.

That's in relative terms anyway, since Apple Macs are rarely renowned for cutting-edge graphics hardware. But this iMac does include the fastest processor ever to grace a consumer Macintosh, breaking the 3GHz barrier, ably supported with a newly designated nVidia discrete graphics card.

The card in question is a GeForce GT 130, supplied by nVidia only direct to manufacturers such as Apple. It's probably got more in common with an nVidia EN9600GT, which is how it was listed in our PC auditing program Everest.

Other changes from the previous generation include the exchange of a Mini DisplayPort for the former micro-DVI type, an extra USB port on the back, and the loss of a FireWire 400 interface, leaving just a single FireWire 800 port on the Apple iMac 3.06GHz.

The previous 2.8GHz model scored 101 points in WorldBench 6; this upgraded 24in machine pulled much further ahead with a brow-raising 115 points. And in our Windows graphics test, the new iMac hit 116 frames per second in FEAR (Max quality), while the more onerous Crysis test still saw the machine muster 26fps at 1440x960 in High quality mode. Moving to near-native resolution, the Apple iMac 3.06GHz could play 34fps at 1920x1080 resolution, with quality set to Medium.

24-inch iMac Core 2 Duo/3.06GHz: Specs

  • 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9900/E8435
  • 1066MHz FSB
  • Mac OS 10.5.6
  • 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB 7200rpm HDD
  • 24in (1920x1200) glossy widescreen display
  • nVidia GeForce GT 130 with 512MB GDDR3 memory
  • 4 x USB
  • 1 x FireWire 800
  • Mini DisplayPort
  • 802.11b/g/draft-n
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • built-in stereo speakers (24W amplifier)
  • iSight webcam
  • slot-load 8x SuperDrive
  • power consumption 108W (idle), 178W (load)
  • 520x569x207mm
  • 11.5kg
  • 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9900/E8435
  • 1066MHz FSB
  • Mac OS 10.5.6
  • 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB 7200rpm HDD
  • 24in (1920x1200) glossy widescreen display
  • nVidia GeForce GT 130 with 512MB GDDR3 memory
  • 4 x USB
  • 1 x FireWire 800
  • Mini DisplayPort
  • 802.11b/g/draft-n
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • built-in stereo speakers (24W amplifier)
  • iSight webcam
  • slot-load 8x SuperDrive
  • power consumption 108W (idle), 178W (load)
  • 520x569x207mm
  • 11.5kg

OUR VERDICT

If you have the budget there is now a version of Apple’s all-in-one that can take on the games-tuned PCs we see in our monthly Top 5 charts. Pay the premium for this Apple iMac 3.06GHz if you need quiet operation, unparalleled build quality and elegant styling – in both hardware and the robust operating system it’s designed to run.

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