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Customer Review

230 of 236 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wowzer -- powerful iMac just got better, May 18, 2011
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This review is from: Apple iMac MC813LL/A 27-Inch Desktop (OLD VERSION) (Personal Computers)
I've been a Mac user since the very first model, so I've lived through a lot of ups and downs through the Mac generations/models. This 2011 iMac is the most elegant, most powerful one I've owned, taking up less space (no tower, not even the small footprint of the Mac Mini) with greater expandability.

If you aren't familiar with the concept of the iMac, you need to know this: the iMac is an "all-in-one" -- that is, the CPU (the computer part) and the monitor are combined into one unit with an integrated stand. Your SuperDrive (for playing and burning CDs and DVDS) and memory-card reader are located on the right side of the screen, and all the ports in the back. It comes with a wireless mouse (called the MagicMouse) and a wireless keyboard (no numerical keypad, although one can be purchased separately.) Everything you need comes in the box. If you aren't familiar with the Mac OS, go to the Apple site for a tour or to an Apple store to see a demo. Chances are, you'll love it, although some Windows users do experience an adjustment period.

The monitor/screen is gorgeous in keeping with other recent iMac models. For many people, the stunning display is the selling point, mostly because you cannot find anything like it on any PC monitor. You'll likely be blown away when watching HD content. Wow. Simply wow. If you, like me, have a lot of windows open while working, the huge size of the screen allows better viewing of multiple windows, in full, without have to click back and forth. I had my Mac Mini attached to what I considered an excellent ViewSonic LCD monitor, and when I had both machines up and running during the transition period, I couldn't stand to look at the ViewSonic anymore. Some people have complained about glare, but I haven't experienced any problems at all -- not from floor lamps or desk lamps, although, to be fair, my windows are directly behind my screen, so that sun never hits it directly.

Another reason to upgrade to this iMac is the now-standard quad-core Intel i5 (or, with the customized upper end 27" model, i7) processor, better graphics chip, 1T internal hard drive (standard), and memory that can be expanded up to 16 GB. Since the 21.5 inch version is expandable only up to 8 GB, users who expect to tax the memory either now or in the next few years will want to get this larger screen with its four memory slots. Although I haven't increased the memory, online instructions make it seem like a breeze. Note: installing memory yourself will not void your warranty or AppleCare, although any damage incurred as a result of self-installed memory will render that part of the warranty void.)

This iMac is nimble as it tackles tasks that used to make my Mac Mini struggle. If you want a machine that mostly does email, web surfing, and word processing, you won't notice much of a speed difference except in start up time, but if you do video and photo editing, play games, or use any high-demand software package, you will notice the improved power at once. Note/Update: this Mac now ships with Lion, Apple's newest operating system.

Apple has made a big to-do about the two Thunderbolt ports (one on the new 21.5 model, two on this one), but right now, that's not going to do most of us much good since few devices that use the technology exist. If, however, Apple is correct in predicting the near-future explosion of the faster data transfer of Thunderbolt technology, it will put new Mac owners ahead of the curve. Right now, though, Apple has chosen to skip USB 3.0, and instead includes four USB 2.0 ports along with the Thunderbolt ones. I'm not happy with that decision, but if Thunderbolt becomes widespread, I'll change my mind.

If you already own a Mac, I highly recommend getting a firewire cable to transfer all your settings and files to the new one. My Mac Mini has a six-pin firewire, and this iMac has a 9-pin, so I bought Tripp Lite F017-006 IEEE 1394b Firewire 800 Gold Hi-speed Cable, 9pin/6pin - 6ft. If you plan to do this, buy the firewire in advance of receiving the iMac so you'll be able to use it during set up; it saves a lot of time rather than having to go back and use Migration Assistant, although it's not difficult to do. I had 118 GB of files and applications on my Mini, and it took about 3 hours to transfer everything. But when it did, I had all my applications, settings, photos, iTunes library, videos, email (with passwords), keychain, browser bookmarks, etc. on my new iMac. I expected to spend days setting up a new computer -- and it did most of the work itself. Of course, there were things I still needed to do, such as authorize my ITunes account to this computer and perform some software updates to be able to use the included iLife 11 suite. And I still need to figure out how to open Word documents without first opening Word. Small things, though, considering.

Once upon a time, I used to get just discontinued models at a cheaper price, just as the last generation of iMacs are currently available for less from third-party sellers, but the problem was always obsolescence within too narrow of a window. The way I use my computer now won't be how I use it three years from now. For that reason, I waited for the new 27" models, which are offered at the same price as the old (before they were discontinued) with greater power.

Besides the USB 2.0 decision, the only thing I don't like is the small keyboard. I wish Apple made a wireless keyboard with a numerical keypad. As it is, if you want a keypad, you'll have to purchase a wired aluminum keyboard. Using a Windows keyboard is a possibility, although not all the keys will work correctly, and you won't have that handy SuperDrive eject key.

I'm not going to get into Mac v. Windows argument since I've used both, and I prefer the Mac environment. Others won't. But I will say that if you want a powerful machine with an awesome display and compact footprint, this iMac is your baby. NOTE: If you have questions about something I didn't cover, feel free to ask in the comment section.

-- Debbie Lee Wesselmann
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Showing 1-10 of 55 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 9, 2011 9:49:13 AM PDT
P. E. W. Ch says:
WOW!!!!! I'n your comment on this iMac, you were sounding like an actual apple representative!!!!!! I'm getting this iMac for heavy video editing, audio editing, and photo editing. Your comment REALLY helped me know that this iMac is the PERFECT one for me. Thank you SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH for posting that EXTREMELY HELPFUL comment. Have a GREAT day, and God bless you.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 9, 2011 10:13:05 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 13, 2011 7:53:46 AM PDT
I'm not an Apple representative, just someone who loves her iMac despite a few downsides.

Posted on Jul 11, 2011 3:16:16 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 11, 2011 3:17:35 PM PDT
Jimbo says:
Does it have a built-in powered wireless antenna? My Dell desk top does not consistenly hold a strong signal from my home wireless system evev tho' my Dell laptop does? I am seriously considering switching from Dell to Apple but good wireless reception is important to me. Should I buy through Apple for the training they give new Apple users or is Amazon just as good. Thanks for your help. Jimno

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 11, 2011 5:14:08 PM PDT
It has built-in wireless N using Airport. I have no trouble keeping the signal at full-strength in my house with my router on a different floor; however, I cannot say how it would work for you. The only thing I can say is that I regularly pick up signals from my neighbors, and they live much farther away than you would find in an average neighborhood. Obviously, I cannot say how strong those signals are since I cannot connect to them.

Posted on Jul 24, 2011 6:00:00 PM PDT
All the new iMacs, 21.5 and 27 inch support 16 GB of RAM and have four slots.
http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1423#1

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 24, 2011 8:16:09 PM PDT
Thanks for the correction, Matthew.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 25, 2011 9:12:01 AM PDT
I just went to the Apple site to confirm what Matthew wrote, and I discovered that he is not entirely correct. The iMac 21.5"/2.5 GHz model has only two memory slots, configurable up to 8 GB of memory. The upgraded iMac 21.5"/2.7 or 2.8 GHz can be expanded to include 16 GB of memory. When I visited the Apple store to view the new iMacs, only the standard iMac 21.5" was on display with its two memory slots. At the time, which was when the new iMacs were first released, you could get the faster 21.5" iMacs only through the online store. I don't know whether that's still true.

All of the 27" iMacs, including the customized upgraded ones available online, have four memory slots and can be upgraded to 16GB.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 26, 2011 2:10:46 PM PDT
Debbie, you are mistaken. "Configurable" refers to the options available when purchased from the Apple Store. All the new iMacs, 21.5 and 27 inch, support 16 GB of RAM and have four slots. See this link below:

http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1423#1

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 26, 2011 7:57:22 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 26, 2011 7:58:02 PM PDT
I got my info from here:

http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/shop_mac/family/imac/select?mco=MjIwNTQyNjE

You'll see that all iMacs can be expanded to 8 GB but only select models to 16 GB.

It looks like the information is not entirely reliable/standardized.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 28, 2011 10:53:31 PM PDT
Your information is entirely correct, as is mine. The base model iMac can only be configured to 8 GB *from the Apple Store*. If you want to add up to 8 GB more to the base model, you have to buy the RAM separately and install it yourself. If you want Apple to BTO your RAM to the max, you have to buy the more expensive model.
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