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Apple iMac 21.5in (Late 2012) review

£1,099 inc VAT

Manufacturer: Apple

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

The new 21.5in Apple iMac is hard to beat as an all-round productivity, entertainment and multimedia PC. Here's our Apple iMac 21.5in (Late 2012) review – REVISED 12 MARCH 2013


We could go on at length about the superior design and build-quality of iMac, if we had space. Clearly in a league of its own iMac is the all-in-one to buy if quality, style and desirability are anywhere in your list of priorities. This new version is slimmer and more covetable than ever. See: more reviews of all-in-one PCs.

It may be the baby iMac, but the 21.5in model can certainly hold its own against the competition. Its IPS display delivers the same 1920 x 1080-pixel image as 23in models; and does so with far superior results and much more accurate colour reproduction.

It also features a 2.7GHz Intel Core i5-3335S low-power quad core processor which delivers excellent productivity and creativity results in the PCMark 7 benchmarks.

The nVidia GeForce GTX 640M graphics processor enables casual gaming at a much higher level to those systems relying on Intel’s graphics, although this can’t be upgraded to even gamer-friendlier levels like the 27in iMac.

Our review sample was the £1099 entry-level version. A faster version, featuring a 2.9GHz processor and faster graphics, will set you back £1249.

Both models can also be customised with increased memory or an external optical drive (there isn’t one fitted internally). The faster model can also accept an even quicker 3.1GHz processor.

Connectors include four USB 3.0 and a pair of Thunderbolt ports, along with an SDXC memory-card reader and a headphone jack. Apple’s built-in FaceTime HD webcam allows easy Skypeing and video conferencing.

For space reasons, the 21.5in Apple iMac (Late 2012) is fitted with a 2.5in notebook hard disk which is noticeably slower than the 3.5in version found in the 27in iMac, and this was reflected in our benchmark scores.It scored 3100 points in the PCMark 7 test this time.

But performance would be really improved by opting for the hybrid Fusion drive. This boosts storage performance by adding 128GB of flash memory, and an extra £200 to the asking price.

NEXT PAGE: iMac screen quality, Ivy Bridge and gaming performance, from our original review >>

Apple iMac 21.5in (Late 2012) Expert Verdict »

2.7GHz Intel Core i5-3335S
Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion)
8GB 1600MHz DDR3 RAM
1TB hard drive, 5400rpm
21.5in LED-backit IPS display, 1920 x 1080 resolution
nVidia GeForce GT 640M with 512MB GDDR5 VRAM
4x USB 3.0
2x Thunderbolt
1x SDXC slot
gigabit ethernet
headphone socket/optical digital audio output
stereo speakers
720p FaceTime HD webcam with twin microphones
Bluetooth 4.0, dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n
iLife software suite
450 x 528 x 175mm (hwd)
5.68 kg
  • Build Quality: We give this item 10 of 10 for build quality
  • Features: We give this item 8 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 7 of 10 for value for money
  • Performance: We give this item 8 of 10 for performance
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

The 21.5in Apple iMac of late 2012 delivers a great deal of performance while taking up very little space. It delivers excellent screen quality and of course that unrivalled Apple design and build-quality. It is more expensive than other small all-in-ones and performance is somewhat compromised by the size.

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