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27-inch Apple iMac review

Apple's large-screen all-in-one desktop Mac gets some welcome late 2013 improvements

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Our Verdict

For

  • Haswell processors
  • 802.11ac
  • Beautiful slimline design
  • Nvidia 7 Series graphics
  • Good custom build options

Against

  • No optical drive
  • Limited upgrade options
  • £50 or £100 more expensive than last year
  • No Hyper Threading on standard processors
  • Didn't get a Retina screen option

The 2013 refresh comes less than a year after 2012's radical redesign. But while last year's iMacs brought us a new, ultra-slim form factor, this year's upgrades are all internal.

The Ivy Bridge processors are upgraded to Intel's new Haswell chips, the graphics chips have been upgraded to Nvidia 7-series GPUs and wireless connectivity has been boosted from Wi-Fi 802.11n to 802.11ac.

Scores

iMac 27 inch review
iMac 27 inch review
iMac 27 inch review
iMac 27 inch review
iMac 27 inch review

But on the outside, they remain exactly the same as last year's iMacs.

Not that this is a bad thing.

The 2012 redesign brought us a second Thunderbolt port and a redesigned screen that's fully laminated, losing the 2mm gab between the screen and its covering and an anti-reflective coating added using a new plasma deposition process, allowing it to be applied very thinly, for greatly reduced reflections without affecting color reproduction.

Audio was also improved, with omnidirectional speakers and dual beam-forming mics. Its new form factor meant the optical drive had to be dropped, though, and neither the 2012 redesign nor the 2013 refresh gave us a Retina screen.

Apple 27 inch iMac  late 2013

The 2013 refresh once again brings us four models, the two 27-inch iMacs reviewed here, and two 21.5-inch versions. All are upgradeable using the custom options on Apple's online store, but post-sale upgrade options are extremely limited.

Apple 27 inch iMac  late 2013

Naturally, the iMac isn't the only slimline all-in-one computer out there. The Scan 3XS Mirage AIO245 costs over £1,000 (about US$1,600, AU$1,600) for the entry-level model, which is not much cheaper than the cheapest 21-inch iMac, but it features a larger 23.46-inch screen and a wide range of configuration options.

Lenovo's IdeaCentre B540p starts at around £600 (about US$1,000, AU$1,000). It has a 23-inch touchscreen panel and 3D capabilities. The Acer Aspire 5600U costs a little more at just over £750 (about US$1,200, AU$1,200), but it's a great family media centre, and the Asus Transformer AiO P1801 is a hybrid tablet and desktop with two separate processors, one running Windows 8 and one running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.

For £600 (about US$1,000, AU$1,000), you could buy a Lenovo ThinkCentre M92p Tiny. It's not an all-in-one, but the PC is extremely small. If you prefer to stick with a Mac, Apple's other desktop option is the Mac mini. This small form factor machine is the cheapest way to own a Mac, though it doesn't come supplied with a display, a keyboard or a mouse.

The top-of-the-range Mac Pro isn't currently on sale in Europe and is about to be overhauled with a new release, so now is not the best time to invest in one.