The Bottom Line
Dec 18 2012 - Apple continues to refine their premium desktop platform by making the 2012 version of the iMac thinner with increased specifications. This does come at the cost of the optical drive but for the Mac platform, this is not as big of a deal since Apple has been pushing digital media distribution for some time. The display offers less glare and reflections, memory has been increase as has storage. It still has those same little annoyances as past models including the lack of numeric keypad on the wireless keyboard and all the peripheral ports on the back of the display which can be hard to reach. It would also have been nice to see the Fusion drive being made available on the lowest model but it requires many upgrades and cost to get the additional storage performance.
- Excellent High Color Display
- Strong Performance
- Now Features Four USB 3.0 Ports
- Expensive Upgrades To Get Fusion Storage Setup
- All Peripheral Ports Are Still On the Back
- Keyboard Uses Smaller Version Without Numeric Keypad
- Intel Core i5-3330S Quad Core Desktop Processor
- 8GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 1TB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 21.5" WUXGA (1920x1080) Display With NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M 512MB Graphics
- Intel HDA Audio With Stereo Speakers
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Four USB 3.0, Two Thunderbolt, SDXC, 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- 20.8" x 17.7" x 6.9"
- Mac OS X 10.8, iLife
Review - Apple 2012 iMac 21.5-inch
Dec 18 2012 - From the front angle, the Apple 2012 iMac redesign really does not look all that different from the past 2011 version. It is only when you look at it from the side angles that you notice that the bezel for the display is much thinner. Much of this is achieved by removing the optical drive that resided on the side and moving to a different form of display panel construction which allows it to have a razor thin appearance on the side. Now, the back panel does slope out to the back stand area where the system internal actually reside so this thin profile exists only on the edges.>
Apple has finally updated their desktop processor to use the latest Ivy Bridge processors which mean that they can have a bit more performance but more importantly better overall power efficiency. The base 21.5-inch iMac uses the Intel Core i5-3330S quad core processor which provides it with more than enough performance for the average user. This combined with 8GB of DDR3 memory which is twice what the base iMac used to come with, it offers a smooth overall experience. Only those that are looking to do lots of demanding work such as desktop video editing will likely need to upgrade to a higher performance processor.
Now the storage has changed a good deal for the iMac. First, they have doubled the base storage space in the 21.5-inch model from 500GB to one terabyte. This means much more space for applications, data and media files. The performance is good from the 7200rpm spin rate of the hard drive but it is much slower than the other solid state drive based when loading programs or booting up. There is the new Fusion Drive option for higher models that combines a small solid state drive with a hard drive for Apple's new hybrid storage option that should improve performance but does cost a fair amount in upgrades to get. If you do need additional storage space, there is plenty of external options thanks to four USB 3.0 ports and two Thunderbolt ports for use with high speed external storage devices. The biggest change here though is the removal of the DVD burner. Apple has been moving away from the physical media format to digital for some time now so it comes as no surprise as the media format is starting to decline. Those wanting this feature will need to invest in the Apple Superdrive or other external DVD drive.
Now the 21.5-inch display offers much of the same level of features as the panel model. It features a native resolution of 1920x1080 just as the past version. It offers some of the best color and viewing angles available in the all-in-one market. What is different is that the LCD panel is fused to the glass panel on the front. This has helped to reduce the amount of glare on the display but also means that it is nearly impossible to get to the internals to repair items as it was on the older model that was affixed with magnets. The graphics processor has also moved away from AMD back to NVIDIA with the GeForce GT 640M mobile graphics processor. This gives it a decent level of 3D performance but it is held back by the 512MB of video memory. The upgraded model features a faster 650M processor but is still held back by 512MB of video memory.
Now much of the Windows based competition is moving to touchscreen displays because of the Windows 8 operating system. Apple still limits their touchscreens to their mobile devices rather than their PC systems which is a good thing. It helps keep the display glass clear and frankly even the Mac OS X 10.8 operating system would not be terribly useful with a touchscreen. Of course there is the Magic Trackpad option for use with multitouch gestures for faster navigating around the OS but this can be done by many keyboard shortcuts as well.