2 days ago I bought a base model 2011 iMac 21.5″ (2.5Ghz i5, 4Gb RAM, 500GB HD) and have been using the machine for a little over 24 hours. Here’s my Spaghetti Review.
- Cableless. I think I’ve waited 14 years to achieve a cableless desk.
- Performance. This may be the base model, but it’s still 4 x 2.5Ghz Sandy Bridge i5 CPUs with a Geekbench score of 7300. Ripping a CD earlier took seconds, touching up photos in Aperture didn’t pause once. Bliss compared to my 4 year old MacBook-Desktop setup.
- RAM. I should read spec sheets more closely but these things have 4 RAM slots. Ships with 2x2GB but I ordered 2x4GB from Crucial. As this post goes live, this iMac is running on 12GB of RAM for only an extra £60!
- Screen resolution. I had my doubts about going from 24″ LCD to a 21.5″. I was wrong. Same horizontal resolution as before, much crisper and brighter IPS panel display.
- Speakers. I am actually going to sell my speakers to achieve cableless stardom. The built-in iMac speakers far exceeded my expectations and are perfect for the casual movie & music person that I am.
- FaceTime HD camera. Finally a proper resolution webcam on a Mac.
- Screen reflection. You don’t need to check your hair in Photo Booth any more, you can just sleep the display.
- Screen height. You can’t adjust the height of the screen, only the angle. Fortunately I can adjust the height of my chair…
- Ports. iMac users will be used to this already, but having ports on the back of a display is a tad annoying. I have to keep rotating the display at the moment. I’m sure I will get used to their position after a few weeks but this is a 24 hours review after all.
- Compact Flash slot. What Compact Flash slot? Exactly. Don’t a lot of DSLRs use CF?
- SSD. SSD. SSD. This is a big one for me. I have an SSD from my previous machine and I would love to put it in this iMac. When you are used to applications opening instantly, going backwards hurts. Apple provide no way to get an SSD in the machine without voiding your warranty and even if you do want to risk it, you have to get suction pads from somewhere to remove the iMac’s glass screen. This is a painful example of The Apple Tax.
My advice? These new iMacs are powerful machines. Maybe too powerful considering their target market. But maybe the goal posts have changed over the last few years and your average family now buys a MacBook over a desktop. In which case the new iMac spec at least feels like it is targeting a slightly more pro market than ever before. Many pro bloggers have in fact started questioning whether to get an iMac over the Mac Pro. I can’t answer that question for people, but I would probably advocate at least trialling a new iMac first before making your decision.
After 24 hours I can’t say I have that special feeling you get with a machine like the MacBook Air. It’s a nice Mac, it works extremely well and copes with everything I throw at it. It’s great being able to open iPhoto and play with photos again or watch Flash content without all fans blazing. Would I have bought the 27″ iMac if I could have afforded it? Probably, but that would just be me being greedy. The base model 21.5″ iMac far exceeds my needs and has completed my transition to The Perfect Setup.