Apple 21.5-inch iMac late 2012 (custom build)

Manufacturer: Apple Inc
Price: £1,769 

Processor: 3.1GHz quad-core Intel Core i7
Memory: 16GB
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M
Storage: 1TB Fusion Drive

The new, redesigned iMac is incredibly thin and light.

The new iMac is breathtakingly beautiful. It’s less bulky than the previous model, being 40% smaller by volume and only 5mm thick at its edges. But this comes at a cost. There’s no integrated optical drive, and on the 21.5-inch models, you can’t upgrade the RAM at home. But is it a fair swap? After testing this custom-built iMac, which takes advantage of all three configuration options available on Apple’s online store, we think it is.

The new iMac is more than just a pretty case. It’s been completely redesigned and re-engineered, with improvements in several key areas. The screen is now fully laminated, eliminating a 2mm gap between the screen and the glass. An anti-reflective coating has been added using a new plasma deposition process, allowing a very thin layer to be precisely applied, so colour reproduction isn’t compromised. The result? A 75% reflection reduction. It’s amazing what a difference this makes. With no reflections, full-screen images appear so real you can almost reach into them. Colours are vivid too, with excellent contrast.

Audio has had a revamp. Dual mics with beam forming technology do much to reduce background noise when using FaceTime or Mountain Lion Dictation, and its new, omnidirectional stereo speakers are much improved. As well as being louder, they deliver a much broader sound stage. External speakers are now an option, not a necessity.

The new iMacs benefit from Intel’s new Ivy Bridge processors. Quad-core Intel Core i5s are used across the range, with the high-end 21.5-inch model reviewed here enjoying the custom-option 3.1GHz Core i7, which can Turbo Boost to up to 3.9GHz. Its four USB ports are now USB 3.0, and it has two Thunderbolt ports, where the 2011 21.5-inch iMacs had only one. The FireWire 800 port has been dropped, but Thunderbolt adapters are available.

This custom-built iMac has a Fusion Drive, Apple’s SSD/HDD hybrid that gives much-increased speeds without compromising on capacity. It certainly proved its worth in Xbench, where this iMac proved streets ahead of earlier generations. It booted in 19.5 seconds too. The hard drives in off-the-shelf models are a little slow, though.

While some may bemoan the lack of an optical drive, we like the late 2012 iMac’s radical redesign. With 8GB of RAM out of the box, few will miss upgrading at home, and after a few minutes with the new screen technology, the lack of an integrated SuperDrive doesn’t seem so important.


The new, redesigned iMac is incredibly thin and light.

Mac Choice Award

Tags: ,