Customer Review

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars iMac MB420LL/A 3.06 GHz 24-Inch Desktop, April 4, 2009
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This review is from: Apple iMac MB420LL/A 24-Inch Desktop (Personal Computers)
I have been extremely pleased with the new iMac 3.06 GHz Core 2 Duo 24-Inch monitor. I am a long-time Mac user, so this review is from that standpoint. I do use PCs at work (Windows XP). I buy a new computer about every 4-5 years, so I am understandably impressed with the performance of any new machine I purchase...take that into account also. I use the computer for photo processing (iPhoto, Photoshop), limited video processing, limited use of Garage band, some web publishing, and media serving to my Apple TV, including DVD rips and conversions.

My last desktop machine was an iMac G5 1.8 GHz 20" purchased in late 2004. As expected, the new machine is a considerable step up in performance. I have been very happy with the video conversion speed. Judging by the benchmarks, the Mac Pro would be considerably faster still...but if I had opted for that I'd be considerably poorer. For my purposes, the laptop Superdrive and the Core 2 Duo are fast enough. Stressing the computer by ripping a DVD, converting another DVD, playing iTunes with the visualizer on, surfing the web, and e-mailing all at once didn't cause it to hiccough at all; it runs cooler than the old G5 iMac. Temperatures were generally in the 50s C, except for the northbridge, which peaked at about 74C. The fans are very quiet, even under load.

The screen is fantastic. I use dual monitors at work, and I've grown used to all that screen real estate. The 24" monitor is great in that regard. As far as the glossy screen goes, I've had no problems with it, and the computer is in a room near south facing windows. I thought it would be an issue, but it has not proved to be.

I note that finally Macs are shipping with competitive amounts of RAM and hard drive sizes. This is the first Mac that I've purchased that didn't need an immediate RAM upgrade. Certainly, for my purposes, the 4GB standard RAM is adequate. The 1 TB drive is certainly welcome as well, as I rip more of my movies into the computer.

While the video card won't impress dual-SLI gamers, it's pretty good (this machine has the NVIDIA GeForce GT 130 with 512 MB RAM). I do have XP installed and can start up in Windows with Bootcamp (restart while holding option is the easiest way). The machine runs Crysis very smoothly with everything cranked except the resolution: I'm running it at 1280 x 960, rather than 1920 x 1200. Again, good enough for wife would say too good, as she might be happier if I didn't play Crysis...but I just had to know how it played.

The standard keyboard is fine for my purposes. I've been using my MacBook and am used to the flat keys and lack of numeric pad. If you do a lot of data entry, you should consider purchasing direct from Apple and substituting the extended keyboard with the numeric pad at no cost. I have never appreciated Apple mice. Opinions regarding mice and keyboard are very subjective, and everyones' preferences are different. I have a Logitech MX Revolution and like it a lot. It works fine with the iMac without installing the substandard Logitech software.

The lack of Firewire 400 did cause me to buy a couple of Monoprice cables so I could hook up my video camera and my external drives. They work fine and were, as usual for Monoprice, dirt cheap. Budget an extra 12-15 bucks if you have legacy Firewire 400 devices that you plan to use with new Macs.

As far as included software, I continue to be impressed. I have always liked OS X, and really like Leopard. Supposedly, the NVIDIA motherboard in the new generation iMacs will work better with at least some programs in Snow Leopard, when that comes out, but that's speculative at this point. The new machine found my network, including my network printer, immediately. It found my wireless network for testing purposes...I connect to my network using gigabit ethernet. I installed Cisco VPN provided by my company, and it worked fine. I run my work PC from home via Microsoft Remote Desktop, and it works well. I use the iLife programs every day. Apple Mail works fine as a basic e-mail program, and that's what I use even for my work mail, which is on an Exchange server. Outlook (Entourage on the Mac) is more sophisticated and complex...but I don't use any of the advanced features, so I tend to stay away from it. I use MobileMe to synchronize my 4 macs so my calendars, etc. are all up to date. I use iPhoto for most of my family photo activities, although sometimes I do pull up Photoshop for some more sophisticated editing.

Overall, this is a very fast, very quiet machine. It comes with adequate RAM and hard drive. The video upgrade is subtle at this point. The main advantage over the previous generation is, in my opinion, the RAM and hard drive upgrades.
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