Among other all-in-ones, the Core i7 iMac posted convincing wins, particularly compared with the Sony, its closest competitor in our reviews database. The Core 2 Duo-based iMac with its 3.06GHz CPU edged the Core i7 model slightly on our iTunes test, which favors single-core clock speed, but otherwise the Core i7 iMac was untouchable. We're anxious to see how the Core i7-equipped Windows-based all-in-ones might perform, but even if they achieve some kind of performance parity, they'll still have to make up for their lack of a high-resolution 27-inch display. On balance, for the productivity minded, we've seen no better all-in-one than Apple's high-end iMac.
While we freely criticize the iMac for missing the home entertainment opportunities its Windows-based counterparts embrace, you might have noticed we didn't list the iMac's lack of touch input among them. We remain skeptical of touch input on all-in-ones, and though HP has done a good job of creating useful touch software for its line, even when done right touch is more of a novelty for a desktop. Thus, while the iMac still lacks touch-screen input, we don't find its absence a major liability.
As a final point about the iMac's screen, if you've followed Apple-related news, you may have heard reports from iMac customers about various problems with the 27-inch screen. Some users reported receiving cracked displays, while others reported an annoying flickering, or the screen taking on a yellowish tinge. Apple released a firmware update in January that seems to have addressed the flickering and yellowing, and we haven't heard of a cracked iMac showing up recently. Whether the cracks were systemic or a one-time issue we can't say (and Apple won't), but regardless of the cause, it seems to have been addressed. For a time in the beginning of the year, iMacs were also hard to come by, and Apple's Web site reported a two-to-three week delay for orders to ship. As of press time, Apple's site says it will ship an iMac out in 24 hours.
For the iMac's other features, the highlights to the new model include the long-awaited addition of an SD Card slot, as well as the aforementioned wireless keyboard and the awkward Magic Mouse. You get the standard Web cam, wireless networking and Bluetooth package as well, although Apple removed its Apple Remote from the standard iMac bundle, instead relegating it to a $19 option. As with previous versions of the iMac, the ports on the back panel include four USB 2.0 jacks, a FireWire 800 input, Gigabit Ethernet, the Mini DisplayPort jack, as well as audio in and out.
|Apple iMac 27-inch (Fall 2009, Core i7)|
|Raw (annual kWh)||266.70696|
|Annual operating cost (@$0.1135/kWh)||$30.27|
We expected the faster Core i7 iMac would draw more power than its Core 2 Duo-based counterpart, and by adding an estimated $30.27 a year to your power bill, the higher-end iMac does indeed require more energy. Still, even though it has a larger screen and a faster CPU, the Core i7 iMac isn't that far away from the other all-in-ones. Hopefully what you'll save in time from the iMac's faster performance will make up for a few extra bucks for power.
Lastly, though we hate to repeat ourselves, Apple remains an outlier in the PC industry for its support policies. You get 90-days of toll-free support and a year-long warranty by default. After that, you can either refer to Apple's Web site, a Genius Bar or an Apple-authorized service provider, or pony up $169 for a year of phone service via AppleCare, which also extends your warranty to three years. We have a feeling that Apple considers tying the warranty upsell to what other vendors would consider standard phone support a savvy business move. For the inconvenience this policy causes its customers who simply want to pick up the phone, we respectfully disagree.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Apple iMac 27-inch (27-inch, 2.8GHz Intel Core i7, fall 2009)
Apple OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.3; 2.8GHz Intel Core i7; 4GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 512MB ATI Radeon HD 4850; 1TB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive
Apple OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.1; 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E7600; 4GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 256MB ATI Radeon HD 4670; 1TB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive
HP TouchSmart 600
Windows 7 Home Premium; 2.13GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P7450; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 230; 750GB 7,200 rpm Seagate hard drive
Sony VAIO L117FX
Windows 7 Home Premium; 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q8400S; 6GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 240M; 1TB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive