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Apple iMac review (21.5-inch, 27-inch)

£949 inc VAT (21.5in)

Manufacturer: Apple

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

The new Apple iMac design lends itself more towards use as central part of a home entertainment centre, as well as boasting top-end performance. [Updated with Quad-Core i5 and i7 speed tests, November 20, 2009. See LATEST 2012 iMAC REVIEWS link below]

The new Apple iMac design lends itself more towards use as central part of a home entertainment centre, as well as boasting top-end performance.

Basic iMac specs

iMac processors

The 21.5-inch and 27-inch models, one of the following:

  • 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 3MB shared L2 cache.
  • 3.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 6MB shared L2 cache.

The 27-inch models only, one of the following:

  • 2.66GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor with 8MB shared L3 cache; Turbo Boost dynamic performance up to 3.2GHz.
  • 2.8GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor with 8MB shared L3 cache; Turbo Boost dynamic performance up to 3.46GHz; Hyper-Threading for up to eight virtual.

iMac memory

4GB (two 2GB SO-DIMMs) of 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; four SO-DIMM slots support up to 16GB.

iMac 2009 specs

iMac graphics

The 21.5-inch models feature one of the following: NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics processor with 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main memory, or ATI Radeon HD 4670 graphics processor with 256MB of GDDR3 memory.

The 27-inch model with dual-core processor feature one of the following: ATI Radeon HD 4670 graphics processor with 256MB of GDDR3 memory, or ATI Radeon HD 4850 graphics processor with 512MB of GDDR3 memory.

The 27-inch model with quad-core processor features an ATI Radeon HD 4850 graphics processor with 512MB of GDDR3 memory.

iMac connections and expansion

  • One FireWire 800 port; 7 watts
  • Four USB 2.0 ports
  • SD card slot

iMac communications

  • Built-in AirPort Extreme 802.11n Wi-Fi wireless networking;2 IEEE 802.11a/b/g compatible
  • BluetoothBuilt-in Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate)
  • Built-in 10/100/1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet (RJ-45 connector)

iMac dimensions

21.5-inch iMac
Height: 45.1 cm (17.75 inches)
Width: 52.8 cm (20.8 inches)
Depth: 18.85 cm (7.42 inches)
Weight: 9.3 kg (20.5 pounds)

27-inch iMac
Height: 51.7 cm (20.4 inches)
Width: 65.0 cm (25.6 inches)
Depth: 20.7 cm (8.15 inches)
Weight: 13.8 kg (30.5 pounds)

NEXT: Apple iMac review verdict

PREVIOUS: iMac vs Cinema Display - the Apple iMac media centre

PREVIOUS: iMac case design and iMac memory

PREVIOUS: iMac performance

PREVIOUS: iMac customisation

PREVIOUS: iMac screen

Apple iMac (2009) Expert Verdict »
Apple iMac MB950B/A (Late 2009) Scores 9.3 out of 10 based on 55 reviews
21.5-inch iMacs: 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
1920 x 1080 resolution
4GB memory (16GB max)
500GB-1TB hard drive
NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics or ATI Radeon HD 4670 graphics (256MB). 27-inch iMacs: 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, or 2.66GHz Intel Core i5, or 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7
2560 x 1440 resolution
4GB memory (16GB max)
1TB hard drive
ATI Radeon HD 4670 graphics (256MB) or ATI Radeon HD 4850 graphics (512MB).
  • Build Quality: We give this item 8 of 10 for build quality
  • Features: We give this item 8 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 8 of 10 for value for money
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

Apple's flagship iMac comes in a variety of flavours and two sizes, with the £1,349 model we've been using being the sweet spot. It offers the most value for the price and could spur desktop sales. In recent years, more and more Mac buyers have opted for Apple's popular line of laptops. Desktops, in some ways, have fallen out of favour, given the prevalence of wireless connections and the public's desire for mobility.
However, if performance is your top priority save up for the new £1,599 quad-core, 27-inch Intel i5-based iMac or £1,759 i7-based iMac.

With the new 2.66GHz Core i5 iMac and the 2.8GHz Core i7 iMac, Apple has not only blurred the line between consumer and professional systems, it's darn near erased it. The 2.66GHz Core i5 iMac offers faster performance at most tasks than the 2.66GHz Quad-Core Mac Pro. The Core i5 iMac also has more memory and more storage space than the 2.66GHz Quad-Core Mac Pro, while being £300 less (plus you get a 27-inch screen with the iMac). Unless you absolutely require additional PCI cards, multiple internal hard drives, or a lot of RAM, the Core i5 iMac makes a strong case for the being the go-to system for most Mac professionals.

But with an absolutely stunning screen, a lot of under-the-hood performance improvements, the wireless keyboard and the new mouse, and flexibility that makes it fit in at work or at home, this new iMac could lead to a resurgence in desktop sales for Apple.

Price comparison powered by Reevoo

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