Apple iMac review – 27″ 3.2GHz Quad-Core i5 | ME088HN/A
Apple’s iMac range needs little introduction. The first iMac was the beginning of a new era for Apple and it remains one of its most iconic products. These days it comes in 21.5-inch and 27-inch versions, and it’s the 2013 iMac update of the latter we’re looking at today. The 27-inch versions are really for power users. After last year’s breathtaking new design, however, the 2013 update deals with the insides only, with new Intel Haswell processors, updated graphics and faster flash memory being the key upgrades.
We won’t dwell too much on the design because: one, it hasn’t changed; and two, it speaks for itself. The slim body, flawless aluminium finish and effortlessly smooth hinge talk both to its beauty and its quality. The most controversial issue is the lack of any optical drive, but this is 2013 and we’ve got quite used to this now. Any holdouts may want to stick with what they’ve got, or buy an external drive if needed.
Elsewhere the features are typical of Apple, minimal but just enough for the great majority of people. There are four USB ports, two Thunderbolt ports (which double as mini-Display Port outputs), an SD card slot, Gigabit Ethernet and a single combination audio in/out jack. Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11ac Wi-Fi round-up the connectivity such as it is, the latter being a small upgrade on the Apple iMac 27-inch (2012) model.
Those two Thunderbolt ports are pretty important, partly because you can daisy chain numerous peripherals on the same port, partly because of Thunderbolt’s breathtaking speed (double USB 3.0 in ‘theoretical’ terms), but mainly because they mean you could drive two further monitors at up to 2,560 x 1,600 – a prospect so tantalising our inner geek is doing somersaults at the very idea.
Sticking to more grounded items, our particular 2013 iMac came with a small standard keyboard and the Magic Mouse. The former is an excellent keyboard and there’s the option for a large one with a numeric keypad at no extra cost. The latter, however, is a mixed affair. It’s a reasonable compromise for anyone who can’t countenance the idea of using a trackpad, but we strongly prefer (and recommend) the Magic Trackpad (a wireless version of a MacBook trackpad) instead. It costs no more and works seamlessly with the various gestures supported in Mac OS.
The size of the 27-inch iMac means the screen is the first thing most people notice. Its 2,560 x 1,440 resolution is very high, not ‘retina’ high but that’s not a realistic expectation with a screen this size as making it ‘retina’ would be extortionately expensive. It might happen in future, but not right now.
Features & Performance:
The built-in Wi-Fi has been updated to the new 802.11ac standard, which offers faster data speeds when connected to a compatible 802.11ac router.
The SSD internal storage options are now connected via PCIe, which the company says increases drive performance if you order an iMac with either SSD storage or a fusion drive with both SSD and HDD components.
Taken together, these updates don’t radically change the iMac experience. But they do take an already excellent desktop and make it very up-to-date for the holiday season and beyond, and at this point, it’s hard to suggest any midprice or higher computer that doesn’t have Intel’s Haswell processors.
Like other Macs, the iMac comes preloaded with iPhoto, iTunes, Mail, etc. The iMac has a one-year warranty. One future-proofing plus is that the iMac can work as a monitor for a future Thunderbolt-equipped Mac. Using one of the two Thunderbolt ports, the iMac’s monitor can display video for a MacBook, Mac mini, or other future Mac. You can of course use the Thunderbolt ports and the four USB 3.0 ports for hard drive and peripheral expansion. This ability to use the iMac as a monitor almost makes up for the fact that you will need adapters for DVI, VGA, and HDMI displays in multi-monitor setups. Mini-DisplayPort, and Thunderbolt monitors will work natively, of course.
Apple’s single-cable strategy is evident here. For most users, you’ll simply need to connect a white power cable and that’s it and the included keyboard and mouse are wireless and arrive ready to use.
The standard Apple wireless keyboard and Magic Mouse have been static for a few generations of hardware now. The keyboard is still top-notch — compact, but with large, deep keys, and a logical layout. The mouse is certainly a widely used model, and has its fans, but it’s never been one of my favorites, perhaps because my reflexes are so tied into the physical click of separate left and right mouse buttons and a physical scroll wheel.
In a single row on the back of the display chassis, you’ll find four USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt/Mini DisplayPort connections, an SD card slot, Ethernet jack, and headphone plug. It’s hard to imagine you’d need much more, especially as the Thunderbolt ports can connect to two external monitors.
All in all, the newest iMac has enough extra performance make it our new Editors’ Choice for high-end, all-in-one desktops.
Where to buy: