The New iMac

I do love the Apple churches. They are such nice places to be. The design of the stores is very much like a physical representation of the on-line store but with that all important tactile element.

So with my latest visit in to the hallowed hall, I made sure my time was not wasted! I was there to make a purchase (more about that here) but I also wanted to get my hands on some of Apples new wares. First up the new iMac.

I’ve been an iMac owner. The first generation of black glass and aluminium ones. Many times over did I have to explain to people that the ‘computer was in the monitor’. I had to for a few years, as to those that only know grey boxes, this was some form of Witchcraft. The simple fact of it is, that the iMac’s form factor of today steams from when Apple wanted to make a G5 powered laptop (I’ve mentioned this before). When Intel came along, Apple were able to develop their laptop lines with the iMacs to create unified hardware base and thus brought us very svelte computers.

Now that Apple have had a very large shift in their laptop line with the MacBook Pro Retina (MBPr) the joint development can be seen again. The first thing that strikes you about the new iMac is how little of it there appears to be. If you get one, you’ll need a new line to say to people about the computer being in the monitor, as frankly, they just wont believe you. The tapered edge is the main culprit here. Very well-played by Ives and crew, as it makes the computer appear instantly slimmer, almost invisible from the side.The New iMac is so skinny it gives other computers body issues

The bulge to the back where the components are kept is more noticeable, but still an impressively small space.

When you come to the front of the iMac though, every thing else blends away. It’s some what impressive and intriguing that Apple have spent so much time and effort to make such a pretty thing, that as soon as you engage with this the design disappears. The black glass of the screen has no frame to it and the ‘chin’ is less prominent. Even the stand is tapered to let it seem as if the computer has merged with what ever surface it is on. All of this draws you to what many call the new iMacs party piece. It’s Screen.

There has been a lot of discussion recently regarding Retina screens, that it may seem odd to some that the iMac has not been shipped with one. Firstly, the technical challenges of mass producing screens with the required pixel density are only beaten by the cost associated. What we have here on the 21.5 inch model is a Full HD display (1920 x 1080) with a clarity and viewing angle that put many high-end TV’s to shame. Seriously. Download a HD movie from iTunes and enjoy. This little fella and I’m sure it’s 27 inch brother will be replacing some people’s need for TVs in the near future.

The test model I had was the base spec, so I promptly used Apple’s rather nippy broadband to get a demo of Geek Bench. Now, It was only the demo so all tests are of the computer in 32-bit mode. These are a good indication of speed and I’ll be using my Mac Pro as the benchmark.

The iMac in it’s base configuration is running a Quad-core 2.7 GHz i5 with 8GB of RAM (on the 21 inch model this is hardwired, so upgrades in the future are out of the window, not the case with the 27). In 32-bit mode the iMac put in a good showing at a GB score of 8067. Not bad considering the benchmark Mac Pro (mine) is 8818 with 2 Quad-core Xeon X5355’s running at 2.66GHz and 14GB of RAM.

Really though, in usage, the iMac in it’s base configuration will be more than enough for most users and many mid-level users. I did a quick test to see if this iMac had one of Apple’s new Fusion Drives in it. It didn’t. It took 1 min and 16 secs to boot from cold. The Fusion Drive from Apple, keeps the operating system on a SSD (Solid State Drive. A hard drive made from the kind of memory that memory cards in cameras and communicators are made from) so that the computer and frequently used apps load very quickly.

All in, I can recommend the new iMac whole heartedly. Even in it’s base spec, priced at £1099 you get a lot of computer for your money. This is a computer that will last as well. They are built to. As is the operating system given the way Apple has been with updates over the last few years.

One piece of advice though if you can afford the extra £500, the model above can be ordered with 16GB of RAM and the Fusion Drive. If you order that, the graphics card and the processor get an upgrade thrown in for the price too. Yes, it’s a good slice extra on top, but it will give you a machine that will last years, not months, longer than the base configuration and will be a rocket of a machine to boot!