Apple iMac 27-inch 2010 review

Full review: The largest iMac gets a new Core-i processor and graphics card

Image 1 of 2 Apple iMac 27 inch front
Apple iMac 27-inch front
Image 2 of 2 Apple iMac 27 inch slant
Apple iMac 27-inch slant

Same form factor, but the entire iMac range has moved to Core-i CPUs

Apple’s computer range refreshes don’t have to be radical to be significant. Take this mid-2010 iMac update. They boast the same brushed aluminium construction, same edge-to-edge glass screen, same built-in iSight webcam, same 27-inch and 21.5-inch form factors and the same connectivity options.

But under the hood, component improvements give the new iMacs a very welcome power boost that sees the range retain its position as the best-quality all-in-one computers currently available. We reviewed the 21.5-inch here, and now we’re looking at the 27-inch.

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Apple iMac 21.5-inch 2010 review

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The entire iMac range has now gone over to Intel’s Core i-series processors, dropping the ageing Core 2 Duo CPUs. The high-end 27-inch iMac retains its Core i5 Quad Core, with everything else getting a Core i3 Dual Core chip.

Apple iMac 27-inch 2010: Processor and memory

Here we’re looking at the cheaper of the two 27-inch iMacs (£1400 and £1650), which has a Core i3 processor running at 3.2GHz, it’s Core i5 stable mate benefitting from a speed boost to 2.8GHz, up from 2.66GHz. That’s not to say the cheaper machine is faster. The Core i5 benefits from two extra cores and Turbo Boost technology, whereby unused cores can be switched off and the power diverted to the active cores. Unfortunately, Turbo Boost isn’t available in the Core i3 chip.

All Core-i processors offer Hyper Threading, allowing two threads to run simultaneously on each core. This greatly speeds applications capable of using multiple cores. The result? In our tests, the 3.2GHz Core i3 iMac outperformed its Core 2 duo predecessor by 38.4%.

The new iMacs also boast stronger graphics cards. This Core i3 model now offers an ATI Radeon HD 5670 with 512MB of memory, up from a 4670 with 256MB of onboard RAM. Doom 3, ran at 133.4 frames per second, up from 122.8 in the late 2009 release.

Apple iMac 27-inch 2010: Storage

A custom option available on the online Apple store lets you swap the 1TB hard drive for a 256GB solid state drive, or even opt for both. Solid state storage is still very expensive; switching from a 1TB HDD to a 256GB SSD sets you back £480.

However before you think of installing one yourself (maybe when the price drops), although it uses a standard 2.5-inch SATA connection, unless your iMac had a solid state drive out of the box, the required connectors and mounting bracket aren’t there, which could lead to a messy installation process demanding a lot of disassembly.

Once again there’s an SD card reader, and it now supports the high-capacity SDXC standard, giving a theoretical maximum capacity of 2TB

Apple iMac 27-inch 2010: Screen

The screen is as gorgeous as ever. Its 16:9 aspect ratio makes it ideal for movies and multimedia work, and as it’s LED-backlit, it offers fantastic viewing angles. You can look at the screen from almost any position and the colours don’t shift at all. These colours are beautifully rich, and at a 2560 by 1440 pixel resolution, it goes well beyond full HD.

We wish Apple would give us the option of a matte screen though. If you order a Macbook Pro from the online Apple store, you can drop the glossy finish in favour of an anti-glare screen, but no such custom option exists for the iMac range. Bizarre.

Apple iMac 27-inch 2010: Blu-ray?

Another bizarre omission is a Blu-ray drive. Although we didn’t expect one; Apple has proved ridiculously hostile to high-density optical discs, even after the battle between Blu-ray and HD DVD ended with victory for the former. Even so, it’s a real shame you can’t watch Blu-ray movies on the iMac’s gorgeous screen.

Connectivity options are still four USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 800 port, 10/100/1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet and a Mini DisplayPort for connecting a second monitor. But no USB 3.0 and FireWire 1600 ports. The Mini DisplayPort also acts as a video-in, so you can use your iMac’s screen as an external display for another device with a Mini DisplayPort video out.

The 27-inch iMac is truly an object of desire. At a quid shy of £1,400 it isn’t cheap, but the quality is outstanding.

The Apple iMac 27-inch 2010 is available now, find out more from Apple

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SPECIFICATIONS
OS: OS X 10.6: Snow Leopard
Screen (size and res): 27”, 2560x1440 pixel resolution
Processor (inc speed): Intel Core i3, 3.2GHz
Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 5670 graphics processor with 512MB of GDDR3 memory
Memory: 4GB (two 2GB SO-DIMMs) of 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Connections (inc Bluetooth/WiFi b/g): 4xUSB 2.0, 1xFireWire 800, SDXC card slot, Bluetooth 2.1, AirPort Extreme 802.11n, 10/100/1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet Dimensions/weight: 52x65x21 cm, 13.8 kg
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