Customised 27-inch iMac, late 2012

Manufacturer: Apple Inc
Price: £2,179 

Processor: 3.4GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX 2GB GDDR5
Storage: 1TB Fusion Drive


The 27-inch version of Apple’s latest iMac refresh took around a month to arrive in the stores, but they’re well worth the wait. Off the shelf, the two new 27-inch models boast Core i5 processors, 8GB of RAM and 1TB hard drives, though the one on test here takes advantage of some customisation options offered through the Apple Online Store.

Based on the more expensive of the two 27-inch iMacs, the CPU has been upgraded to a 3.4GHz quad core Intel Core i7. The NVIDIA graphics processor has been boosted to a GTX 680MX with 2GB of GDDR5 memory, and it has a 1TB Fusion Drive. Memory remains unchanged at 8GB of 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM, but unlike the 21.5-inch models, the 27-inch iMacs can be user-upgraded, to a whopping maximum of 32GB.

Apple’s Fusion Drive stores the operating system and regularly used data and applications on its 128GB solid-state section, with everything else kept on its 1TB hard drive (a 3TB version is also available). Boot-up times are up to 70% faster than with a regular hard drive. In our tests, a clean install of Mountain Lion took around 20 seconds to start – an excellent time.

The customised iMac’s 3.4GHz Core i7 processor’s Turbo Boost feature can reallocate unused resources to increase its clock speed to up to 3.9GHz. Hyper Threading allows two threads to run on each of its four cores, giving eight virtual cores.

The powerful processor and 1TB Fusion Drive gave the new iMac a huge advantage in our Xbench test, which rates the CPU and storage. It was just under 129% up on the 27-inch 3.4GHz quad core Intel Core i7 model from the middle of last year. Its new Ivy Bridge processor proved its worth in our Cinebench tests too, giving an 8.4% increase over last year’s similar model.

The 27-inch iMacs boast the same new screen technologies as the 21-inch version reviewed last issue, with full lamination eliminating a 2mm gap between the glass and the screen, and a plasma deposition process applying a very thin anti-reflective coating, preserving colour integrity. As a result, reflections are reduced by up to 75%. Audio is improved too, with new omni-directional speakers giving a louder, richer sound with a broader sound stage than previous iMacs.

The optical drive has been sacrificed for the new, thinner form factor. Not everyone will consider this a fair exchange, but if you still need one, Apple’s USB SuperDrive costs £65 and is a great stylistic match for your Mac. There’s no FireWire 800 port either, but an inexpensive adapter (£25 from your local Apple Store) enables you to use your FireWire peripherals in the iMac’s two Thunderbolt ports. With its powerful new processors, innovative Fusion Drive and amazing new screen technology, this customised iMac is definitely a winner.


The iMac is a true object of desire. The display and form factor are gorgeous, and there’s no lack of power.

Mac Choice Award