Ars Technica reviews Apple’s 27-inch iMac: Sleek machine offers bang for your buck

Apple Store“Though users in general—and Mac users in particular—are quickly moving to a notebook-dominated world, Apple’s iconic iMac remains a strong seller in the desktop market. And for good reason: aside from the obvious portability offered by a notebook, the sleek machine offers more bang for your buck than a mobile, but without any of the ugliness that typically comes with a desktop machine,” Jacqui Cheng reports for Ars Technica.

“It has been just over two years since Apple last revamped the iMac’s design, and the refinements are largely worth it,” Cheng reports. “For this review, we looked at the 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo 27″ iMac model, as we felt it has the most universal appeal to those looking to buy an iMac [3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2560 x 1440, 4GB RAM, 1TB hard drive, 8x SuperDrive, ATI Radeon 4670 with 256MB, US$1,699].”

“If you liked the previous iMac, you’ll like the new iMac—especially the 27″ version. The single largest improvement is by far the screen, both in its size and its LED backlighting, which gives you tons of space for work and play on a crisp-looking display. And if you’ve dreamed up some scenario in which you need both an all-in-one computer and an external display for use with a notebook on the same desk, then this is practically your dream machine,” Cheng reports.

There’s much, much more in the full review here.


  1. I am considering purchasing the 27 inch i7 for another video editing machine. I would be interested to hear from somebody who currently runs the i7 for video editing. Premiere Pro or Final Cut? I need to edit video for the web and TV shows. Mac Pro is NOT in the budget.

    I currently have a 24 inch 2.66 GHz Inter Core 2 Duo with 4 GB of ram and it is practically unusable running Adobe Premiere Pro. Serious lag. This iMac is only 9 months old and used to run way faster and it seems like after the Snow Leopard install things got way slower. Probably just a coincidence. If the i7 works a lot better, I’ll sell the 24 inch and buy that one – in two seconds. Editing video with the 24 inch is maddening.

    Anybody know how I can get it running at it’s original speed? It has a 1TB HD with 780GB free. I ran the Disk Utility/Repair Permissions but that had zero effect.

    Sorry for rambling post – I can’t see the whole post on my iPhone – so I’m just gonna tap submit! Hope it make sense. Appreciate any feedback.

  2. I have a 27″ iMac with 2.8 Mhz Quad Core and I guess I’m one of the lucky ones because Apple has halted shipments of the 27″ due to a host of problems. It is an amazing machine and it works to perfection but until Apple solves the problems that are clogging boards it may be a wait for most people who think that it’s not worth the wait

  3. Bought my iMac 27″ i5 and absolutely love it! The speed is fantastic, and the screen is amazing. I’m not having any problems with the screen.

    Haven’t run such intensive apps like Premiere or Final Cut, but I run with 10-15 apps open at any given time, and I don’t see any lag. In fact, I’m having to adjust my work flow because I’m used to telling an app to do something and then switching to another app while the first finished the task. I don’t have time to switch apps any longer.

  4. @Micro Me
    In a month or two you should be able to get a really sweet deal on a refurbished 27in i7. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”cool smirk” style=”border:0;” />

    PS You can get $200 off the 21.5 – $999 and $1299 right this second…
    Mini Server for $849.

  5. @thethirdshoe

    Thanks, but my 24″ Core 2 Duo will keep me happy for years to come.

    And I’ve just upgraded my wife’s Mac mini.

    I hope Apple sorts out the 27″ issues quickly. It’s hard to know whether they’re serious or overblown.

  6. @iPhoner: Premier? Really? To each his own but that program is a dog even on the PC. FCP runs great on i7 with SL. As does After Effects, Photoshop, and a whole host of other non-Apple production tools. Just my $.02 worth. Premier hasn’t really ever been premier in any segment. Just about any other NLE would be better whether it’s running on a PC or Mac. Good Luck!

  7. I just installed my wife’s 27″ iMac a week ago (early Christmas present). The screen problems appear to be a function of how long the machine is on. We have seen the problem twice. Both times the machine was on for close to 24 hours, normally she turns it off at night. The problem clears up by doing a sleep/wake cycle. This is the only problem we have seen. The screen is stunning.

  8. i7 just arrived this morning. Upgrade from a 2-year old 20″. Took a few hours to transfer but completely painless and seamless. What a display! Everything is just like it was but clearer, and fast fast fast. The mouse is fabulous. Now I don’t have to go to the studio to do critical photoshop. I’ll post any problems, but so far it’s heaven.

  9. Thanks for everybody’s feedback!

    I’ve decided to buy the 27 i7. I need all the speed I can get for video editing.

    @Able Archer
    I have FCP as well. I use Premier because TV studios send me Premier projects to work on. They import and trim footage, overnight externals, and hire me to “jazz it up”, add voice overs and titling. Crazy work flow agreed?

  10. @iPhoner: agreed. Add in the clients (TV and otherwise) who insist on sending data for “jazzing up” in the form of PowerPoint presentations, jpgs, etc. as well as their own choice of NLE and you begin to wonder how anything ever gets broadcast on time.

  11. “I am considering purchasing the 27 inch i7 for another video editing machine. I would be interested to hear from somebody who currently runs the i7 for video editing. Premiere Pro or Final Cut? I need to edit video for the web and TV shows. Mac Pro is NOT in the budget. “

    I was looking to finally replace my PowerMac G5 monster, as HD was a struggle, and the older graphics card couldn’t do some of the new stuff.

    For the first time, I decided to go with an iMac. The reason being that they finally gave it some power (quad core i7 + a great video card). And with the new screen and low price, how could I go wrong?

    My results, this thing is FLIPPIN’ AWESOME! This sucker handles HD (including HDV) the same way my G5 handled SD video…no lag. I can finally use all those great FXPlugs that I couldn’t before.

    As for rendering, it is fast. Even compressor is fast. One odd note, however. I noticed (using iStat) that when Compressor encodes AC3, it doesn’t use all cores, and the ones it uses aren’t maxed out. When it encodes to MPEG2, it maxes out all cores, and is quick. A short video I put out the other day encoded the video to MPEG2 in 4 minutes. The AC3 took 3.5 minutes. On the G5 the MPEG2s usually took 4-5 times longer than the AC3.

    The 27″ screen is incredible. It is so big, that I actually lose the cursor sometimes and have to wiggle the mouse so I can see where it is. I can run 720P video in FCP with the Preview and Canvas at 100%. If the screen is white, it’s almost blindingly bright. The image is amazing.

    On a side note, to test the video card, I ran Call of Duty 4 at 2560×1440 with everything pumped up to max, and it ran at full speed.

    Overall, this thing is AWESOME!!!!

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