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Apple iMac 27-inch review: Apple iMac 27-inch

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The Good Stunning design; great performance; big, beautiful display.

The Bad Very expensive; no USB 3.0 port or Blu-ray player; awkward port placement; Thunderbolt ports aren't useful yet.

The Bottom Line Apple's refreshed iMac isn't very ambitious, but it's still the most attractive, elegant and eminently usable all-in-one computer out there. It's extremely expensive compared to its Windows rivals, but the iMac is great fun to use.

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8.3 Overall

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These days, Apple might be best known for its mobile gadgets, with iPhones and iPads flying off the shelves at a ludicrous pace, but the Cupertino company's not forgotten about its luxurious desktop range. Apple's spruced up its iMac line for summer, adding Thunderbolt ports and the latest quad-core Intel Core i series processors. They're no less expensive than before, however, with the 27-inch model starting at £1,400. The 21.5-inch model starts at £1,000.

Hi ho, silver!

The iMac's iconic aluminium construction is pure tech luxury -- smooth, cool metal curves and a minimalist aesthetic mean it looks simply fantastic. This is the kind of kit that you'll spend a moment lovingly running your fingers over once it's out of the packaging, before you switch it on.

The face of the iMac is completely sheer, while the back is gently curved. All the ports and sockets sit on the rear of the machine, but are neatly arranged in a line. The only decoration on the front of the iMac is a glossy black Apple logo. The build quality feels as sturdy as ever.

Although we're just as enamoured with the design as we were last time we saw an iMac, we can't help yearning for something slightly different. If this is your first iMac, you'll find it a great addition to your home or office, but, if you're upgrading, there's not a huge amount of new stuff to get excited about.

In fact, while the iMac's still a great machine, the newest iteration feels slightly unambitious all round. It's clear that Apple's mainly focused on keeping its mobile devices ahead of the curve, and not on reinventing the all-in-one computer.

Twenty-seventh heaven

The iMac's 27-inch display is eye-explodingly vast if you're sat close to the screen. It has a very high resolution of 2,560x1,440 pixels, so Web pages are rendered very clearly, and you'll have plenty of on-screen real estate for running different programs at the same time.

The display is glossy and, as such, picks up plenty of reflections. Happily, the screen is sufficiently bright and colourful to cancel out most of that irritating bouncy light, but you might still find yourself drawing the curtains in a huff on especially sunny days.


The new iMacs are the first to pack Apple's Thunderbolt input/output port. Developed by Intel, Thunderbolt offers white-knuckle data-transfer speeds of up to 10Gbps. Thunderbolt first appeared earlier in the year, wedged into the side of the new MacBook Pro laptops.

The ports have formed a civilised queue on the back of the iMac.

We've seen Thunderbolt at work, and the speed at which it transfers data could indeed knock the socks off a hare. The trouble is that, because it's new, you'll have a hard time finding anything to actually plug into this intriguing new socket -- manufacturers are taking their time to release storage devices that use Thunderbolt.

Thunderbolt is essentially a PCI Express port and DisplayPort in one. As it will accept DisplayPort inputs, it's more immediately useful on a MacBook Pro, as you may need to hook the laptop up to an external monitor. We can't see you needing to export the display from a mammoth 27-inch iMac very often, however, so the two Thunderbolt ports feel rather useless for now.

If you're a video pro and crave rapid data-transfer speeds, Thunderbolt is worth getting excited about. It will make the new iMac a worthy addition to your professional life. If you just want this machine for casual home use, however, you could feasibly go years without ever using these two ports.

Port ability

The slot selection elsewhere is rather paltry. Apple's not keen on overloading its devices with unnecessary ports but, even so, the line-up here is quite sparse. Audio line in and out sockets, four USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire port, the aforementioned Thunderbolt connections, and an Ethernet jack are all you'll find around the back. Down the right, you'll spy an SDXC card slot and a DVD rewritable drive. Sadly, there's still no Blu-ray option.

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