Apple iMac (27-inch, mid 2011)

9.0
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Reviewed by malikona (Currently owns)

My second iMac 27", and I'm not sure I can see myself buying anything else from now on. My only complaint is that it gets hot when I boot into Windows for serious 3D games, but most people will never have that concern. It's just a big, beautiful, blazingly fast computer. Expensive, and worth every penny of it.

Once you use a 27" display - especially one so vibrant and gorgeous as this one - it is hard to go back to your laptop. I often have a browser window open on one half of the screen and a Word document or iTunes video on the other side; it's almost like having two monitors, except you don't have to have, well, two monitors. Plus it is just great for doing anything full-screen, like watching HD movies (iTunes HD downloads look awesome) or playing games in Bootcamp. Besides the display, the case itself is a perfect brushed aluminum that I sometimes find myself just sort of petting like a kitten. .. What?

The hardware specs are great on all the 27" models, and mine is running the 3.1 GHz quad-core i5 with 16 GB of RAM on board. I've only got the 1 GB AMD Radeon HD 6970M, but 2 GB - while nice - would probably be overkill. I have played my share of demanding 3D games in Windows 7 booted natively on this machine, and I've been able to max out settings on almost all of them. Again, you will want to override the fan controls if you do this because it will literally fry an egg if you don't, but the hardware is certainly capable even if the case is the antithesis of a gaming rig in terms of ventilation.

In fact ventilation is by far the biggest sacrifice Apple made in this design (besides using the mobile version of the 6970). I know Apple claims you don't have to worry about heat, but well, I do. Running your computer super-hot for a long time is just not good for it, even if things don't fail right away. I have had a video card replaced on my 2010 iMac 27" under AppleCare (they actually just gave me the 2011 model instead), and I would blame overheating for its' failure, no matter what Apple says. I wouldn't worry too much if you don't do anything but browse and consume media, but if you game, encode/convert video or audio, or do ANYthing taxing on the CPU or GPU, download and run SMCFanControl. If you hate noise as much as Steve Jobs did, wear some earplugs. Even on max however these fans are not very loud. (But it is nice when it's running silent).

To use this iMac as a display for a MacBook w/Thunderbolt, you cannot just use a MiniDisplay cable; you have to get an actual Thunderbolt cable.

The Breakdown

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  • Design 9
  • Display 10
  • Software 9
  • Speakers 9
  • Accessories 9
  • Performance 10
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