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on January 30, 2013
I spent a lot of time debating upgrading to Apple's latest desktop product. After all, my 2009 27" iMac was still humming along fine... how much did I really "need" those upgrades, anyway? One factor was that Macs hold their resale value very well, and since mine was still covered by Apple Care, it would be far easier to sell it now, then a year or two later after all warranty coverage had expired.

When my local Apple Store got the top spec version of the 27" iMac in stock, I caved in and picked it up. Many of my comments come from the point of view of someone who had what was effectively the predecessor "top of the line" model, the 2009 27" i7 equipped iMac.

The iMac that I purchased tips the scales at a hefty $2599. What do you get for this price point over the "entry" level 2012 27" iMac?

* Fusion Drive
* i7 quad core CPU with hyper threading
* Nvidia 680MX Mobile Graphics

When I pulled this new iMac out of the box, I placed it on the same L shaped desk next to its predecessor. Physically, the new machine is a dead ringer for the old one when viewed straight on. However, if it sits on a desk and can be seen at an angle, it's almost mind-boggling how skinny it looks. This is a bit of an optical illusion since it gets thicker towards the middle of the enclosure, but it is a gorgeous computer that will look right at home perched on a desk in your swanky office. The new Mac makes the old Mac look a bit chubby by comparison. One of the ways that Apple achieved this miracle of thinness was elimination of the optical drive. I have moved on to using a portable Blu-ray reader anyways, so this one doesn't bother me at all. While I still love physical discs (I only purchase my movies on Blu-Ray because I want a physical copy of them), the reality is that the technology is on life support, and for people like myself that still use them quite a bit there's no harm in plugging in a small external unit.

One of the things I wanted to compare between the two iMacs was the quality of the screen. See, the new 2012 iMac has exactly the same gorgeous IPS panel display, at the same impressive resolution as last year's iMac. What is different is that now Apple builds the LCD as a sealed unit, with the glass directly over the display (the older model employed magnets that held the glass on the bezel)... this results in the image appearing just slightly sharper since everything visually appears as if it's right on the glass surface... a similar affect to what you see with the newer iPhones.

Another display improvement is that Apple is now laminating the display with an anti-glare coating to cut down on unwanted reflections... this is very welcome for users like myself who use the computer in a room with lots of windows. Does it work? Yes, and it's impressive! With the two Macs sitting next to each other it was pretty apparent which was which, just based on the reflectivity of the display... putting the same photos fullscreen on both displays demonstrated that not only is the new display less reflective, it also appears to have deeper color saturation and better contrast. The new iMac displays are supposedly individually calibrated before they leave the factory and it shows.

So what are the other improvements? Well, this new version, like previous year-on-year model upgrades offers all of the latest PC hardware. The new Intel Ivy 3.4ghz i7 CPU is a beast, with handbrake encodes going over 40% faster than on my previous 2.8ghz i7 based iMac. The new top end Nvidia graphics card is far and away, the fastest "mobile" style graphics board that has ever been available, you can play newer games at very high resolutions without this iMac breaking a sweat (and if it does "break a sweat" the new cooling system is noticeably quieter than the one on the previous generation computer).

The Fusion drive is similarly a big step up. OS X boots in under 15 seconds. Applications launch more or less instantly. The system intelligently figures out what to keep on the 128GB SSD flash drive and what can be offloaded to the pokey 7200 RPM 1TB desktop hard drive. It works folks. I have observed that all of the apps I use the most frequently, Mail, Safari, Lightroom, Photoshop, DevonThink, all launch and run pretty much instantly. With my old 2009 iMac I had cracked it open and installed a 256GB SSD in place of the older hard drive and this new Fusion drive, for all intents and purposes, mirrors that experience, but with the bonus of having a lot of "bulk" storage for big files that don't benefit from the snappy SSD. If I rip a Blu-Ray disk to MKV, the huge resulting file, which I will possibly end up re-encoding later, is going to wind up on the physical hard drive, and that's nice, because I don't have to feel boxed in with a small SSD running out of room.

So, what's not to like? As others have reported, there's no physical optical drive.... which, unsurprisingly won't be that much of a bother to most people. (if it really bothers you to spend USD $50 on an optical reader that you can shove in a drawer when you aren't using it then maybe a Mac is not for you). Other very minor nits are the lack of more USB ports (although it is a huge plus that now the iMac is equipped with USB 3 ports for faster peripheral speeds). Another minor source of concern for some users is that arguably this new iMac is less serviceable by the end user than previous generations. The superb sealed screen unit is now bonded to the chassis with double sided foam tape. While you can remove it and open the Mac up to work on it, it is not quite as "easy" as on earlier models. Honestly though, how many users service their own Macs? Being an engineer, I can and do rip these things open, but it's not typical that's for sure.

Clearly I really like this Mac, so why the four star rating? Price of course. While I am willing to pay the premium for a gorgeous, nearly silent, super powerful PC, many people will have complete and absolute sticker shock. It is quite true that you can build or buy a Windows PC that is just as powerful (if not more so) for a LOT less money (lots less)... you can even cobble something together called a "hackintosh" for cheaper. Here's the rub though. That cheaper PC is going to run a far inferior OS (Having used Windows, and OS X for years, I'm afraid that you aren't going to convince me that Windows is "good enough" for a power user's desktop OS).... that cheaper PC is going to have a crappy monitor unless you are willing to shell out for a really really good one. That windows PC is usually going to be a "big beige box" that is noisy and looks like junk. If you get a PC all-in-one then you're not too far behind the price of the iMac but you're using Windows, have a less powerful machine that will feel noticeably slower, and lacks a lot of the Mac niceties.

I was a PC guy for many many years, but after you go Mac, you probably aren't going back.

If you want the most powerful desktop all-in-one currently available, and can stomach the price, this is the computer that you want. If you really want Windows, Apple has you covered there too, you can run Windows in boot camp, or you can use software like Parallels or VMWare Fusion to run Windows.
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on December 21, 2012
I ordered my 27 inch iMac, BTO 2.9 i5 w/ 1tb Fusion Drive, directly from Apple on 11/30/12 and received it on 12/17/12. Although I have only had the iMac for a short amount of time I am extremely impressed. It opens up photoshop CS6 so fast that I cannot read the credits and boots up in about 16.5 seconds, thanks to the Fusion drive. The 27 inch iMac also allows the ram to be upgraded very easily and I personally upgraded the ram to 24gb. As expected the design is visually stunning and thin, due to no built in optical drive. I did buy a external Apple SuperDrive and as a result I believe that the lack of a built in optical drive was worth it. The one draw back, due to the georgeous design, is learning how to stop staring at the iMac from the side. The iMac is also very quiet and does not even get warm to the touch. The new LCD screen is also a pleasure to look at. Reflections are no longer a problem and the image looks stunning.
FYI: On the 27 inch iMac the ram is easily upgraded by a rear pop out access door. If you decided to add two more ram sticks make sure you get oem comparable spec ram sticks, CL 11 PC12800s ddr3 1600 sodimm. Then simply install them into the two empty slots, 1 and 3. If you replace all ram sticks be aware that slots 1/3 and 2/4 are paired slots.
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on May 18, 2013
When my venerable old WinXP computer finally died, I looked at the latest offering from MS, was less than impressed, and decided to make the switch to the Apple OS. As is often the case, I found the best deal on Amazon, placed my order, and the Mac arrived a few days later. As I unwrapped the Mac, I was impressed with the high quality of the packaging, and surprised by the paucity of setup literature and attachements that were included. Then when I turned the computer on, I understood why there was not a collection of manuals, etc. included: as I watched and entered a few keystrokes as required, the Mac proceded to flawlessly set itself up. Since that time, the computer has operated without a significant hitch. The single glitch occurred one morning when, for about a minute, it could not find the wireless mouse. Otherwise, I have been pleasantly amazed at its operation and the simplicity of transitioning from my previous years of MS Win experience.

Had it not been for the stability of the WinXP platform, I'm sure I would have made this transition years ago. With MS's reputation for repeatedly rolling out OS's that seem aimed only at increasing their net worth, my move from XP to the Mac OS makes more sense each day.

The single thing I have noticed in this transition process that might be considered a negative is that there is not nearly the volume of freeware and shareware for the Mac as I was accustomed to during my years as a MS Win user. Also, the general cost of software for the Mac OS is noticeable greater than comparable Windows programs. Other than that, I am convinced that I made the switch at the right time, for the right reasons.
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on June 6, 2013
Why haven't I been using Macs before now? Well, I don't know.
I sat down in front of this beautiful thing and after spending 20 minues trying to find the ON button (it's on the left lower corner in the back of the screen, something they don't tell you in the documentation), I fell in love. If you have used an iPhone, an IPad or downloaded from iTunes, the iMac finds all that and loads everything for you. It found my router, my photos, my music, my movies and I didn't have to do a thing. The only thing I had to type was my name. I haven't taken the tutorials yet for the iMovie, etc., but I intend to do that.
The magic mouse takes some getting used to, but it is comfortable and easily controlled. The keyboard is tiny, by my standards, (I'm used to a giant ergo keyboard), but it is responsive and surprisingly easy to type on. The huge screen is terrific for video and photos (my main purpose for buying the iMac). I'm still tweaking font sizes, etc., but I can see most everything without my glasses. It is truly plug-and-play, unlike some other things that make those claims. The start guide is Apple's usual waste of paper, don't expect much help there. Very intuitive interface. I found the icons logial and there is lots of on screen help. I am of the pre-computer generation, and I had no trouble using the iMac (once I found out how to turn it on), so don't think you have to be a tech geek to use this. My first computer was a Cromemco! Look it up!
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on January 23, 2013
I just purchased this machine, and so far, so great. It's a beautiful set-up, and it performs very well. I do a lot of photography and video work and the machine is handling the heavy files like a champ. Processing images on this machine compared to my older MacBook Pro, has been a dream. And to get some extra power in the machine, I grabbed another 8gigs of RAM for around $75, and I now run at 16gigs of RAM. Don't buy the RAM from Apple! You pay double the price if not more, than if you buy on ebay or Amazon. And all you need to do is pop the door off the back and pop in the two cards. So simple.

Thunderbolt and USB 3, great for data transfer. Lack of Firewire 800 is a pain, especially since i have a lot of drives and other equipment that uses the connector. So I had to buy a thunderbolt to firewire adapter, which is somewhat annoying. But taking a step back, it's not a deal breaker.

No SuperDrive? Well, that was almost a deal breaker, until I started to think about how often I actually use my SuperDrive on my laptop. I think I may have needed it twice, maybe three times in all of 2012. And I'm sure when I need it while using this iMac, I'm going to be annoyed. But if you have another apple machine in the house, it's no biggie because you can just connect wirelessly to that machine and use that drive. I tested that out and its incredibly easy to do. But I realize most people won't have this option. So if you're ripping CD's or burning CD/DVD's, you'll need to consider dropping another $80 for the SuperDrive.

The monitor is beautiful. I don't understand why people are saying its not. It's a 2560x1440, which is double resolution compared to most all-in-ones, let alone most 27" stand alone monitors. If you look for stand alone monitors at this size and resolution, the prices are pretty significant. Most range anywhere from $500-$1200+ dollars, and you still only have a monitor. I use a 27" thunderbolt Cinema Display (same resolution as my iMac) with my 13" MacBook Pro at the office, and that display costs close to $1000, and any similar competitors with the same quality, cost the same if not more. So having this level of quality monitor in an all-in-one? It's pretty good.

Before purchasing, I wanted to see what it would cost to piece together a desktop set-up with similar specs, or find a comparable all-in-one and it quickly started to make sense to pull the trigger on the iMac. Hardware, software, it's a decent value for the price once you start to add up everything. Out of the box, you've got iPhoto, Mail, iTunes, iMovie...you've got a great machine. Add MS Office and most people won't need anything else.

If anyone has any doubt about this machine, go to a local Apple Store or Best Buy and take it for a test drive. And if you're worried about shipping delays and are lucky enough to have an apple store close by, they have machines in stock. At least they did at my store...a bunch of them.
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VINE VOICEon September 14, 2013
I love the iMac's simple and elegant design that runs well and looks good.

If you keep your computer for less than 3 years or so, then just buy the iMac and be done with it.

But if you intend to keep the iMac for longer than that, consider the negative consequences of the iMac's all-in-one design:

I have a 24-inch iMac that is about five years old; it was still running well until two weeks ago when it refused to turn on.

I then had to lug this big and heavy monster (the current 27 incher is even bigger) to an Apple Store. I was told that a memory controller chip on the system board was bad. Since the computer was way past its warranty period, a system board swap would cost nearly half the cost of a new iMac. If I postpone a replacement a few years more, there may not even be a board available. Probably in consideration of cost and turn-around time, Apple doesn't repair a computer, it replaces failed components, which ultimately contributes to higher average cost.

Because of the high cost of "repairing" the iMac, I have been hesitant in getting the job done right away. Is it worthwhile to pay half the cost of a new iMac to revive a five years old iMac? Even after repair, other than the replacement system board (may not be new), everything else (the beautiful monitor, power supply, DVD drive, etc.) is still five years old and may fail in the next few years. As a consequence, most people in this situation decide to buy a new one instead. I am sure Apple is happy about the new business.

What really upsets me is that the big and beautiful monitor becomes USELESS once you decide not to fix the iMac. The screen itself is not broken, but because of the all-in-one design, everything else goes if any one critical part fails (system board (even just ONE of hundreds of components on it), power supply, or the monitor).

I may consider buying a Mac mini instead of an iMac this time. I will buy a separate monitor to go with the mini. Years later when the mini fails, I won't have to throw away the monitor with it. Conversely, if the monitor fails before the mini, I won't have to throw away the mini.
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I had an aging 6-year-old iMac on my desk that desperately needed to be replaced. It had 128MB of VRAM and couldn't handle running Windows 7 in Parallels when my organization switched from XP - so I just stopped using Windows. Everything was so frustrating because there had been so many updates and everything was running slower. This new machine is so fast! I customized it with 2GB of VRAM, 3TB Fusion drive and 32GB of RAM to last me another 6 years. It runs like a champ. Applications open fast and close fast. Switching between apps is fast. Everything is fast! The machine itself is gorgeous. It made my older 24" iMac look so old as soon as I put it on the desk. I don't know why Apple excluded the FireWire 800 port - when so many professional video camcorders use FW to connect to PCs & Macs - but thanks to the lightning connection to the 27" Cinema display (which does have a FW 800 port), I was still able to use my Compact Flash card reader and will be able to connect our Canon GL-1 as well. I recently got to use the camera and mic for a phone support call and all was received well on both ends. The sound is quite amazing with the built in speakers - but I'm using Bose Companion 2 speakers to have more control over the sound in an office environment. I also got the Magic Trackpad and USB Superdrive to go with the macine. I've already ripped (legally) a disc for work and burned a copy - as well as installed relevant software. Parallels had a hard time recognizing my Windows disc shortly after installation - which is apparently a common problem for iMac users using a USB superdrive. Parallels was able to help me with it, however. I really have no complaints. It is really speeding up my workflow to have a machine this fast and responsive.
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on January 30, 2013
I've had my 27 inch, totally maxed out (32g memory, SSD hard drive) for about a week. I run photoshop a lot and wanted a substantial improvement over my 4 year old Dell XP (16g memory, fast processor for the time). OMG...this thing is a real animal. Nearly instantaneous photoshop boots, file loading, and image (even some video) processing. I wanted the extra performance, reliability and reduced heat with the SSD. It runs very cool and completely silently. I added their tiny Apple super drive for $80 bucks which sits on the stand and looks like it belongs there. The WiFi performance is equal to the Ethernet performance on my machine. I've contacted customer support twice and found that Apple lives up to their reputation for friendly, helpful support. Expensive, but well worth the price for me.
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It's a mac!! What can I say. I purchased this to replace my aging 2008 model. CS6 just could not keep up with the large files and slow processor of that model. This mac screams through the programs very fast. I love having the wide screen to view photos.
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on December 25, 2012
This is hands down the best computer I have ever owned. The graphics are stunning, the speed is amazing, and I just can't stop looking at it. Is it pricey? Yes - outrageous, but I don't regret it for a second.
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