CNET First Look
Apple 27-inch iMac, spring 2011We recommend Apple's new 27-inch iMac for its impressive speed, exciting connected device potential, and its large display, all of which are wrapped up in the industry's best design.
-Hi. I'm Rich Brown, senior editor for cnet.com. Today, we're gonna take a look at Apple's brand new 27-inch iMac. So we have here the 1999 version of Apple's new iMac and you might notice that this system looks basically the same as Apple's older iMac. Most of the changes are actually on the inside. It comes with Intel second-generation Sandy Bridge core CPU family. It comes with AMD Radeon 6000 Series graphics chips. Also has a support for FaceTime, which you may be familiar with from the iPhone. It also has brand-new Thunderbolt port, which we'll get to in a minute. So while the design of the iMac hasn't really changed so much, look at the front of the system, you can still see one of its biggest advantages. No other all-in-one on the market has a 27-inch display, much less a display that goes high resolution as this model. That's why for professionals in particular, this high-end iMac really is one of the best all-in-one options out there. As before, the iMac comes with Apple's wireless mouse and keyboard and as usual comes with a webcam on top which also enables FaceTime. Here on the side, there's a slot-loading DVD burner as well as the SDXC media card slot. The back of the iMac looks pretty much the same as before. The only change to the ports in the system are the two Thunderbolt ports down here. Thunderbolt is designed to eventually replace the USB and FireWire and the various sort of mess of ports that you get in the back of your system. So, Thunderbolt was actually developed by Apple and Intel. Eventually, it will trickle out to Windows systems, but for now, it remains exclusive to Apple systems. Now because Thunderbolt is a big wide data channel and supports bidirectional data flow, it can do both normal data as well as video. Now thanks to the AMD Radeon HD 6000 Series chip inside of this iMac, with 2 thunderbolt ports, it can actually support two extra monitors. Now, we actually have a couple of extra 27-inch iMacs in the lab from older reviews and because they can also work as standalone displays, we can actually show off the new iMac's ability to output the two older monitors. I actually have a couple of many display port cables here and that's compatible with Thunderbolt, so we connect these. iMac will detect the other two monitors automatically and stay on the screen across to give you a nice giant workspace. Once you have the screens all connected, you just open up system preferences and set the screens up in the order you'd like them to flow. For the rest of the ports on the system, it's pretty straightforward. You get a couple of audio ports, four USB 2.0 jacks, FireWire 800 as well as Ethernet. Of course, the system also comes with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support built-in. Now, with the new Intel Core i5 Sandy Bridge generation CPU, this iMac is one of the fastest one available. It also comes with a terabyte of hard drive storage and 8 gigabytes of memory. That makes the system pretty ideal for professionals with its fast performance, large screen, and the Thunderbolt ports which are gonna support a whole new generation of peripheral devices that are designed to support fast storage, multiple kinds of video outputs to really kind of gear towards to professionals though. We don't think most consumers particularly home users are gonna want a system that doesn't have, say, Blu-ray support, that's not great for gaming necessarily, and also no touchscreen here. Now, most Windows or all-in-ones in this price range do come with touchscreen and while it maybe not the most crucial feature, the fact is you can get it without paying too much more. Now, with the new Radeon HD 6000 Series graphic card, the system actually has a pretty decent gaming box. The only problem is, as always, the Mac gaming library is limited, so likely depends on your interest. If you want a great looking PC that's fast, the iMac is probably your best set. If you're looking for a more home-oriented system that can get the kids involved with the touchscreen and play some Blu-ray or maybe even integrate with other home media devices, a Windows all-in-one is probably your better bet. That's another thing we should mention about Thunderbolt. While it's a great feature, it needs adaptors if you wanna connect an external HDMI device, making it a little bit hard to integrate the system with your other home entertainment components. For all of that though, this iMac is one of the best systems on the market for professionals and we definitely recommend it for anybody looking for a great-looking system with a gigantic screen and fast performance. I'm Rich Brown. This is Apple's new 27-inch iMac.