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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.