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  • stm1185 - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    So basically to get rid of having a tower, which probably can take up floor space you don't use anyway, you get about $700 worth of desktop hardware and a $1000 monitor rolled into one at the price of $2000. Which does not seem that bad of a deal, except I could never see myself having a monitor that costs more then the computer used with it. It seems very backwards.

    For instance is the experience with having 2560x1440 resolution over 1920x1080 better then the experience that you get with $1600 worth of hardware over $700? I think I would say No.
    Reply
  • MrBigglesw0rth - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Did you stop to consider what youre going to get for that 900$ more hardware cost? The main thing would be an SSD, then double the RAM. After that, what? Better speakers? Another optical drive? Expensive headsets? Maybe $300+ for 15% better processing power? How about a new paintjob on your car?

    Dont be silly. The best investment would be something you look at constantly; the display. When youre looking at minimal computational gains over a vastly better viewing experience for 2-3 new computer builds to come.

    Also, this isnt 1995 anymore. You can get 80% of the power for 20% of the cost. The largest cost in a good system today is a quality SSD and a quality screen, followed by the CPU, mobo/ram, etc.
    Reply
  • aguilpa1 - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Fine a display is important and that is why I have 3 of them at 5760x1080, 120Hz Alienware Optx23's but ONLY if the displays are independent of the system, meaning not built in whereby the computer becomes obsolete and then what??? How are you going to upgrade the motherboard on a proprietary and overpriced all in one? Proprietary junk will never be of great value no matter how pretty they are. It's been tried again and again.

    Keeping your old monitor that is still good to save money makes sense but not on an all in one unit. It never has and never will.
    Reply
  • harshbarj - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    That is a good point! I have been running the same lcd now for 7 years and this is the 5th desktop to use this monitor. It was the first high end gaming 19 inch lcd on the market when I got it and even today it still looks great. Had I gone the imac way (which I would never as I play games) and bought an all in one, I would have needed to buy a new monitor with each new system. Reply
  • headbox - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    whatever. You can get a 23" widescreen display for barely over $100 now. You're just not in the crowd of people that can afford upgrades. All of these price criticisms always come from people that Apple doesn't market towards anyways: broke nerds. For MANY people, $2000 is not a big deal for a computer every 2 years (or less.) Reply
  • harshbarj - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Really? Best price on newegg is about $150 and that monitor is noticeably smaller in height than my 19 inch. Anyway why replace something that still works just fine? Seems kind of stupid to me!

    Also for MOST people $2000 is a big deal.
    Reply
  • samirotiv - Saturday, May 28, 2011 - link

    buddy, this is a 27 inch LED backlit IPS display. What you're talking about is a TN display. Reply
  • samirotiv - Saturday, May 28, 2011 - link

    Don't get me wrong, I do agree with you. 2000USD is an investment. Some people have very basic performance needs, and can live with the same machine for 5 years. They value a good display, way more than a fast CPU. They attribute almost no importance to a GPU. A Mac takes almost no space, has almost no cables, no clutter. Some people value that.

    Besides, macs have a decent resale value too. But if I wanted a machine for myself, I wouldn't take a mac. I'd go for a custom built one.
    Reply
  • utlragear - Monday, June 11, 2012 - link

    Well it's not like blowing $2000 for an imac will get you major performance anyway. Apple only ships mdgrade hardware and it's always been that way. They pocket an extra $1000 off each isucker, and that can be PROVEN and broken down in itemized price lists. If one must, just build a PC for $700 that runs rings around an imac. Then hackintosh it and it will be faster than the one apple ships for $2000 by far. PROOF that they do exactly what I'm saying they do. But I can't see any reason to run an OS that is no better than win 7. If you want someone that has almost no cables get an ALL IN ONE PC. They are not like that because they are Macs. Macs are simply PC's anyway. There is NO value in it simply being apple. That statement will make some people mad, but sometimes when you break up someone's fantasies they also get mad. Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Sunday, May 29, 2011 - link

    A 27" 2560x1440 IPS display with LED backlighting is going to cost a lot more than a 23" 1080p LCD with a TN panel.

    Shocking.
    Reply
  • utlragear - Monday, June 11, 2012 - link

    And here's the thing. It shouldn't cost any more than the difference for the monitors. But iPeople usually can't comprehend that. Reply
  • khimera2000 - Monday, May 30, 2011 - link

    No 2000$ is not a big deal, and those people that are complaining are the ones that actually want the most out of there money.

    Sorry man hard as it is for me to brake it to you, especially since you have to hear it hear... but nerds know how to shop for computer parts, and they know whats it worth.

    If you want to buy a 2000$ rig only to throw it away two years later and buy another 2000 rig go ahead.

    I will take that same cash, keep the moniter and have 2000$ to spend on my next computer. where as you will have 1000$

    i dont know about you, but I baught a really good moniter when i rebuilt my computer last, and am looking forward to spending that 1k that you will have to spend on a moniter on other cool tech :D

    O ya im also looking forward to the following...

    Upgrading my CPU, GPU, HDD, all me RAM, My Motherboard, and if a deal comes around adding two more moniters :)

    Then again where all broken nerds right? and the above dosent really matter in your world.

    You are right on them not targeting us though. We care about how long the life of our PC will be, what softwear goes into it, and the quality of the componants, where as a mac can be baought off the shelf by any shmuck off the streat.

    Don't beleave me? then you are what Mac is targeting. For everyone else they understand what im talking about. Especialy the part where we research every peace that goes into our rig.
    Reply
  • rubaiyat - Wednesday, September 07, 2011 - link

    I've seen plenty of PC users blow much more than $2000 on their computers, WITHOUT a display. They tend to do it in bits and pieces and never add up the total cost because maths (and spelling) are not their strong points.

    They also have big trouble with equivalency. Perpetually claiming something quite inferior is equal to something distinctly superior, either through ignorance (never seen better) or price-tag fixation.

    I bought my iMac 27" for about $1540. I didn't dumbly pay retail for it any more than you claim you do on your PC parts. No wasting massive amounts of time hunting down parts in magazines, dodgy PC fairs, eBay etc. hastling to fix the eternal problems, then sweating out the repairs because they have essentially no support.

    My time can be better spent getting work done (not hanging out in rank dark rooms wasting the days away playing games). The iMac is beautifully svelte, fast, quiet and works out of the box. Not just a brilliant workstation but also a fantastic media station for after work.

    You can't say I haven't shopped around. I did it for the iMac and got a very fast great deal in an afternoon. I know I got a bargain soon as I negotiated it and took. I had spent vastly more unproductive time going through the PC parts sites and shops, looking for the 'bargains' I could never find.

    Just how do the higher prices you pay in these places, for sometimes cheaply made components, work out to be a "deal"?
    Reply
  • utlragear - Monday, June 11, 2012 - link

    mostly from broke nerds"? Is that why I have a 5500 square foot home paid for along with over 700k in savings? Keep in mind that some people don't buy apple because they were actually smart enough to understand it's mostly over rated, over priced, slow and outdated hardware out of the box. i7 based PC's came out a YEAR before apple even released them.

    Some people simply don't throw their money like water down a sewer as some college students do while trying to look hip, cool and pretend they are "rich" while they occupy an apartment. Another clue for you, people with lots of money that stay that way, usually aren't iSuckers. Do you know how many times I've heard that dumb, "People don't buy apple because they are broke bs?" Too many times. If you want to buy apple because the marketing is effective on apples credulous marketing demographic, then fine. But don't try to act like it's a great value because it isn't.

    I'd rather buy my family 2 or 3 superior PC's with windows 7. And you are right. For MANY people $2000 isn't a big deal. But again, I don't believe that because that is true I should burn money to apple's delight. If I'm going to drop some cash it might be $15,000 for recording studio gear. Or a new car. Something you can't usually get a break on. .
    Reply
  • Tros - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    "Keeping your old monitor that is still good to save money makes sense but not on an all in one unit."

    Did you know that the 27-inch iMac works as a driven monitor? This is a new feature that I've yet to see on any other all-in-ones, esp. laptops, tablets, smartphones. The screens I could have saved on laptops, if they were able to be driven by a hardware solution.
    Reply
  • Penti - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    It's certainly useful when using it together with a MacBook Pro so you can connect it to your screen (iMac) at home or your workstation at work, and still use the built in workstation for other work. But it doesn't have use outside of that. It's not compatible with much else sadly (don't expect it to play nice with your video game console and so on). Neither is it independent from the on board motherboard.

    Neither is it a solution to save the screen. Which you can just get a new one three years later or so with your new iMac any way as Apple doesn't seem to be interested in release a Mac Medium stationary workstation with fast desktop parts. Sure a good external screen will last pretty well for 4-5 years and still be pretty high-end (if it doesn't break). But if your replacing your computer with a new iMac it's pretty pointless argument. If you run a MBP as workstation, a Mac Pro or a PC then you could argument for your external displays though, and the iMacs video in solution wouldn't be worth any thing just as a screen in those setups any way. Not when you can't tear out the motherboard.
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Mac Pros are too expensive for the vast majority of people, given the performance you're getting. I switched from PowerMacs to iMacs for my Final Cut Studio machine a few years ago and I'm never looking back. Cheaper, nearly as fast, and with a $1000 display built in.

    If a new model comes out, resale value is insanely high so you just ship off the old one and get a new iMac with faster components and an even better display. The move from the 24" iMac to the 27" iMac was one of the most economical upgrades I've ever made. I wish my PC upgrades were as simple and returned as much money.

    Other plus is that it also works as a monitor for my gaming PC. Sadly that isn't an option anymore unless your computer has a Thunderbolt port, but that is my only real criticism of the 2011 models. If you don't intend on using it as a monitor as well as a Mac like I do, then it is really great.
    Reply
  • Penti - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    And just to clarify the 2011 iMac only works as a target display with 2011 MacBook Pro's, and prior to that you were limited to the mini-displayport input and what the monitor could do with that input. You could with the previous model connect a Mac Pro, MBP, MB, Mac Mini, PC or gaming PC with displayport and possibly consoles with an adaptor but not native. It's preferable if you can feed it with a 2560x1440 TDMS signal. (Computers can be connected with Dual-link DVI-to-DisplayPort adapter for like $200 USD too)

    So it's pretty useless today for use as input if you don't plan on a dual mac configuration with iMac 2011 and MBP 2011. No expensive adaptors that work with the Thunderbolt Mac yet too. Certainly not a great convenient solution for use of your screen with all your favorite electronics at least. That said, I wouldn't use the external 27" Cinema Display with Blu-ray players and consoles either. The previous solution with 2009 late and 2010 mid iMac 27" models wasn't good with gaming consoles and BD-players either it had to use and pass-through the 720p signal to your screen and didn't support 1080i or 1080p. The monitor/iMac didn't accept 1080p signals at all. Which meant you needed a separate $299 USD scalerbox for that. Or get by with 720p. Which basically meant you needed $500 US Dollars worth of hardware with the old model in order to connect a none DP PC/Mac Pro high-res and a BD-player and or console scaled to native res. They could do it better. But that would mean a separate driver/controller board for the monitor/panel.
    Reply
  • headbox - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    unlike your Alienware/PC hardware, you'll be able to sell the iMac for close to what you paid for it years later. I bought a Macbook Pro for $1800 and sold it TWO years later for $1500, and 50 people people called wanting to buy it. Try putting a 2 year old Dell online for sale- you won't get 50%, if at all. Reply
  • The0ne - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    The fact is people buying Macs are NOT your conventional user, in the least. They will love it because it's sleek, it's compact thus saving space, and as far as the people I know that like them money is not a concern even if it is. Apple consumers are a strange lot, you either accept it or not.

    The example given by headbox is a prime example. Why would anyone pay close to the original paid price for a 2 year old Mac? It's not logical at all in any sense except to own a Mac yet people do it all the time. I can understand if there were benefits to this but there really aren't. It's just "I have a Mac" thingy.

    But make no mistake though, if you are going to get one and keep it for a long time might as well get one with a nice big screen. I have 3 Dell 30"s that I saved up and bought and wouldn't go back to anything less. My eyes are grateful until I use my M17xR2. My eyes aren't that young anymore!
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    "The example given by headbox is a prime example."

    I can't think of any Mac user who would really try this. I mean, I plug my gaming PC into my 27" iMac as a primary display through the mini-DP port, and I figure I'm in an extreme minority of users. People who plug consoles and BR players and who would need a converter box is be an even tinier number of users.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm annoyed that the 2011 iMac has new Target Display Mode requirements, but the limitations of prior models in terms of using set-top boxes (consoles, Blu Ray players) isn't statistically a big enough number to get bent out of shape over, IMHO.
    Reply
  • Tros - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    "How are you going to upgrade the motherboard on a proprietary and overpriced all in one?"

    This is as much of a criticism on laptops, tablets, smartphones, as all-in-one units. And guess what: That proprietary junk has been of great value to a lot of people, especially if it has an aesthetic appeal.
    Reply
  • Penti - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    While certainly great for what they for probably, it's definitively not the same thing using 23" 1920x1080 120Hz TN-screens with Nvidia 3D Vision as with a good IPS or PVA screen with proper viewing angles and for mostly other uses then gaming. Of course you need your PC to your triple display gaming machine and a strong GPU too. Reply
  • rubaiyat - Wednesday, September 07, 2011 - link

    Do you actually use your computer for much besides gaming?

    I'd rather have an excellent monitor than some dodgy and essentially useless 3D 'feature'.

    But that separates consumers in all areas. Those who will see a movie because it has (very loud) surround sound and pseudo 3D with lots of explosions, and those who will see a movie because it actually IS a good movie.

    My iMac27 has a brilliantly sharp and accurate 27" 2540x1920 display, that thankfully is not 3D nor runs generally awful Windows grade video.
    Reply
  • nafhan - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    I'm fine spending more on a monitor than a desktop... However, I'll usually go through two or three desktop hardware upgrades before I replace my monitor. Reply
  • fitten - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    And when the monitor is the majority of the cost of the system, it makes sense to reuse it for future upgrades. Monitor technology seems to evolve slower than the rest of the system so barring some major changes, keeping it for several upgrades won't 'set you behind' any. So, reusing a monitor is an extremely cost efficient technique to keep your computer 'modern'. Reply
  • Spivonious - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Exactly. I've had the same NEC (Mitsubishi tube) CRT on my desk for 15 years. The picture is still fantastic and blows any TN-panel LCD out of the water. Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Good thing they use the best IPS panels in these things. :) Reply
  • Guspaz - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Colour-reproduction wise, perhaps, although that depends on the backlight. In terms of detail and a crisp image, even a cheap TN panel will destroy an old CRT, and IPS panels will match or surpass such a CRT.

    I'm reminded of a friend of mine, who for years (until perhaps 2-3 years ago) insisted that his old CRT monitor was fine, despite the fact that it was so out of focus that 14 point text was unreadable. He finally relented and upgraded when we proved to him that he was in denial when we realize that the reason he didn't have trouble reading on the monitor was because he increased the text size by 200-300% when he used the monitor. Now, I'm not suggesting that your monitor is out of focus, a good CRT monitor can have excellent sharp detail. But even the best of them comes nowhere close to a half decent LCD.
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Not at all. Sell the iMac and get a better monitor that comes in the next update, it happens every 2-3 years. Resale value is also high. Reply
  • Mentawl - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Hrm, I wouldn't call that backwards at all. The monitor is perhaps the single most important thing when interfacing with a computer, and it's worth splashing out on it over 10% extra CPU or GPU power or whatnot. Reply
  • mcnabney - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    You missed the point. Definitely pay good money for a nice screen.

    However, in three years this nice screen on the iMac is going to be stuck on an outdated system. If you bought the system separate from the monitor you could save a huge cost (of having to buy ANOTHER expensive IPS screen) when upgrading to a new system.

    Is is actually kind of sad, knowing that all of these awesome screens are going to land in the junk heap in five years when they could provide excellent service for 10-20 years.
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    The plus side is that iMac resale value is very high, and they update the displays every 2-3 years or so. Sell the old iMac on ebay for a good amount, and use the proceed to replace it with a new one with a better LCD.

    I upgrade my gaming PCs every 2-3 years, and I wish that upgrading it was as simple as with my iMac. With the iMac I put the whole thing in the box it came in, and the new one is faster with a better monitor. With my PC I have to sell components piecemeal for way less return than I get with my Mac stuff.
    Reply
  • rubaiyat - Wednesday, September 07, 2011 - link

    So what do you do with your old PCs throw them away when you recycle the peripherals, and selected components? Not that there is much point to most of those.

    Macs go to a new home and the money from that pays a large part of a newer Mac.

    PC upgrade = 1 half new PC, plus box of discarded parts.

    Mac upgrade = 2 computers, 1 totally new, 1 older but still working.

    So which makes more sense? Which is more environmentally sensible?
    Reply
  • kevith - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    I think it´s a bit like buying a stereo: Use half your cash on the speakers, and the other jalf on amp, CD-player and good cables.

    Then you have a well-matched system.

    And here it makes sense - to me at least - to spend one half on the screen.

    You´re gonna look at it several hours every day, and it´l probably outlive two or three builds ahead.
    Reply
  • Spivonious - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    I think you should spend 80% on speakers, 20% on other stuff (and no more than $10 on cables. Really, they don't make a difference). Most amps today are equally good, and jumping from 100W per channel to 150W per channel is pointless when a normal music source will use 1-2W per channel. Even really blasting it will only use 5-10W. I'd much rather get better sound, and that comes with better speakers. Reply
  • mcnabney - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Yep.

    My speakers ~2k
    Receiver ~400
    BluRay ~120
    Cables ~50 for everything (12ga for speakers, 1 nice RCA for sub, the rest is cheap digital)
    Reply
  • Exodite - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Regarding the display resolution it's all in what you do.

    I mostly work with text and horizontal space is pretty meaningless for me, which means the only upgrade for my two 1280x1024 displays is to go for a 2560x1440 or 2560x1600 panel.

    There's no way in hell I'm paying the asking price for those though, I can get no less than *eight* 1080p displays for the price of one 27" 2560x1440 display. Mostly, I suspect, due to these kind of displays being aimed at graphics professionals and coming with all kinds of features that I care nothing about.

    I can only agree with Anand and hope that the strong focus on high-DPI mobile displays will trickle upwards too. After all, with 4" panels doing 720P and 10" displays doing quadruple that a 23-27" high-resolution display shouldn't be a problem.. right?
    Reply
  • Rinadien - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Or... you could get a 1900x1200 display, and rotate it 90 degrees? Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Those eight 1080p displays are TN. Sorry, not interested in downgrading, I'd rather have one high quality display instead of eight crappy ones. I have two IPS displays on my desk and I wouldn't trade them for any number of TN monitors. Reply
  • Exodite - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Of course they are, I don't care the slightest about color fidelity or 178 degree viewing angles.

    The way I prefer to set up my displays will undoubtedly destroy and form of color calibration anyway.
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    I hate TN panels, they're horrible. You're fortunate in that you don't care how things look, it is definitely cheaper. Reply
  • Exodite - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Strictly speaking I do care about how things look, I just don't consider IPS technology necessarily better for me personally.

    Being more prone to ghosting, and far more expensive, is far more a drawback than the better color fidelity, gamut and viewing angles are advantages. Again, for me personally.

    Unfortunately there are no post-1080P displays targeted at anyone but the graphics professional. It's not just the panel technologies that are more expensive either, 27" - 30" displays tend to incorporate USB hubs, chargers, elaborate stands and exotic connectivity options that are all equally useless for me.

    I'd love to see a minimalistic, matte, 2560x1440/1600 TN display with reasonable pricing.

    Well, I wouldn't mind a IPS, PVA or other type of panel either if those end up more reasonably priced. I just don't particularly care about the advantages.

    Then again I'm the guy that can't easily spot pentile matrix patterns or see any point in high-fidelity audio.

    So I suppose you're right, I'm probably blessed - or at least my wallet thinks so. :)
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Vertical viewing angles are narrow enough and corner-to-corner uniformity is uneven enough to begin with on 23" monitors and the bulk of 13" laptop displays.

    A TN panel on a 27" would make these limitations even more apparent. I think you'd be happier with a higher number of smaller TN panels, as you're doing now. Even if the deficiencies don't bother you, there is a point where increasing size makes them even more obvious. When only a 30% band of the display looks anything close to uniform at any one time, I reckon that would bug nearly anybody. :)

    Cheers
    Reply
  • Exodite - Saturday, May 28, 2011 - link

    You'd be surprised I suspect, as I can turn the second display quite a bit away before it gets to the point where it matters.

    There are quite a few 27" TN panels on the market already, though only 1080P ones so far, and they do sell so it can't be that bad.

    I'm very happy with my two 19" 1280x1024 displays though, I just wish we'd see more progress in that area.

    I got the displays in 2006, IIRC, and the push for 1920x1200 were going well... and then 1080P came into the picture and the whole market regressed to that and haven't budged since.
    Reply
  • xSauronx - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Did you even read the article?

    " is the experience with having 2560x1440 resolution over 1920x1080 better then the experience that you get with $1600 worth of hardware over $700? I think I would say No."

    You might, but Anand actually mentioned that he prefers one large monitor over two smaller ones with lower resolutions.

    Id be tempted to agree, but 2 1080p monitors fit into my budget easier than did a 27 or 30" with high resolution.
    /moneys, oh moneys. \
    //mostly happy with these two guys, so oh well
    Reply
  • kuk - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    It's possible to use only the 27" display hooked to another computer (look for target display mode), though there still the space and power penalties, as the whole iMac system has to be running. Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    I addressed Target Display Mode in my post below. The Thunderbolt port has changed the requirements for TDM, now you need a Thunderbolt equipped computer to use it as a video source. For the time being the only computers you can use as a secondary source for the iMac display are other 2011 Macs equipped with Thunderbolt.

    I wasn't planning on replacing my current (non-Thunderbolt) 27" iMac, but this more than sealed the deal. Aside from being a Mac, my iMac also functions as the primary display for my gaming PC. The new iMacs are a step backward in this regard, at least until Thunderbolt ports show up in more computers next year or someone releases an adapter.
    Reply
  • tipoo - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Ah, interesting. That's quite a step backwards IMO. You could always get switcher boards I guess, but that's added cost and not very elegant. And there's no guarantee that even Mac's in 2-4 years will use the same thunderbolt cable.

    Is it possible to go HDMI-Thunderbolt, say for a console or future laptop?
    Reply
  • tipoo - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Also I've looked this up and someone on the Apple support forums said only the 15 and 17 inch MBP's could drive the iMac's display, is that true? The thunderbolt equipped 13 inch and MBA can't? Reply
  • tipoo - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    *When the MBA gets the HD3000 and Thunderbolt. We need an edit feature, lol. Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    The MBA should work once it gets a Thunderbolt port in the next revision. Current ones do not since they lack it. Also, the only MBPs that can drive the 2011 iMac are 2011 MBPs, nothing sooner without the Thunderbolt port.

    I am very curious to see if someone makes an adapter. I can't imagine that it would be cheap, but there would be at least some market for it.
    Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    The hard drive cable/fan issue ALONE ensure that I'll never buy a machine like this. No. Freedom of choice and options is what I'd like and I'd prefer not to have to short any cables. Reply
  • TEAMSWITCHER - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Why does everyone want an iMac computer, just to crack it open and put a faster/larger/different hard drive in it. Why not just buy it and use it the way it is. That's what having a Mac is all about, buy it, use it, abuse it if you want to, but just enjoy it. I think that Freedom of choice work both ways. Reply
  • tipoo - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Well, what do you do when your out of warranty and the drive fails? Or you need a bigger one? Reply
  • TEAMSWITCHER - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    I understand the concern, but a hard drive failure is actually a pretty rare event. I have had several Apple computers over the years, most of them notebooks, and never has a hard disk failed on me.

    That said, if your still worried about it you should buy the Apple care extended warranty for $169.00. That'll give you three years of warranty service.
    Reply
  • mschira - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    lovely machine I am almost ready to buy one, but:

    "you have to buy a pair of suction cups, pull off the magnetic glass cover, remove the LCD, remove the motherboard"

    I don't know. I don't think I can swallow that....
    so again no Mac for me...

    M.
    Reply
  • GeorgeH - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    If the 27" model was upgradeable it would be my next computer - and the first Mac that I bought personally. Unfortunately the chances of Apple ever making upgradeable hardware are just about zero. If that SATA cable is any indication, their engineers are instead actively working to add BS complexity for no reason other than to keep Mac hardware "special".

    So instead of a Mac I'll just put together another ITX box and hope for the day that someone pairs a nice display with good design and upgradeable hardware.
    Reply
  • alent1234 - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    the resale values are so good that it doesn't make sense to upgrade them. and most people don't upgrade CPU and RAM that works on the same motherboard chipsets. they wait for a new generation of everything to buy something new.

    i did this years ago and got tired since the motherboards changed every few years anyway making me buy a new motherboard, CPU and RAM. might as well just buy a pre-built computer since it's about the same amount of money
    Reply
  • GeorgeH - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    I'd guess the best GPU in the 27" has about 6 months before I'd want to be upgrading it. I definitely would want a faster SSD than it comes with, and would probably want to upgrade that again in a year or so. The CPU could last me, but Ivy Bridge might be enough of a jump to make me throw some money away just because.

    Also, I actually enjoy tearing computers apart and messing with them as a hobby. Spending an afternoon every year or so ripping apart my hypothetical iMac would be fun for me - selling and buying a new one on the same schedule would be tedious.
    Reply
  • iwod - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    My problem is with Apple's Memory upgrade. They have 2x 2GB fitted which means if you want 8GB you either have to pay sily amount to apple, or buy 4GB x2 yourself and sell your original to someone else.

    As soon as the hardware encoder inside Intel can be accessed through Mac OSX, i believe 4 Core 8 thread will be enough for 99.9% of my task. Next year iMac GPU upgrade should be much more important then CPU IvyBridge.

    And only if Apple actually make Z68 Intel SRT to work. We need SSD, in cache or main drive.
    Reply
  • setzer - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Actually these iMacs have 4 so-dimm slots, so you should be able to get 8gb's fairly easily and cheap, though if I was changing the memory I would also change the hdd in one go, opening that can is hard work.. Reply
  • FATCamaro - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Yeah I bought the 27" with the SSD upgrade and bought memory separately. SSD isn't that much more than retail and the imac is a pain to open. The memory is a bit of a ripoff though. Reply
  • Zandros - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Isn't the memory accessible through removing a single screw at the bottom of the iMac, though? No need to go in through the display just for that. Reply
  • archer75 - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Actually it's 3 screws ;)

    But there are 4 ram slots. I just bought 16gb from newegg and plugged it in. Cost less than what apple would charge for 8gb.
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Anand - First off, great review as always.

    The conclusions you reached regarding the iMac's performance "finally" getting to an acceptable point is something that I came to with the release of the mid-2007 24" iMacs. Prior to that I had a PowerMac workstation for Final Cut Studio. The Core 2 Duo used in the 2007 iMac convinced me that an all-in-one would finally be a suitable replacement instead of a Mac Pro, and it was. It cost me much less than a Mac Pro while still giving me good performance and it had a 24" IPS display built in, which at the time ran $1000 by itself from NEC or Apple.

    The 27" iMac released in late 2009 was a similar deal: a powerful i7-860 machine combined with a $1000 27" IPS display. iMacs make upgrading simple too, you just pack the whole thing in the original box and ship it off. The only thing you have to mental your way past is letting go of the display, and that isn't hard for me based on the fact that the 27" display in the current iMac is spectacular. It was a more than worthwhile upgrade from my prior 24" iMac, and it didn't cost me too much given that I sold the old one for about 60% of what I paid.

    The 27" iMac display also functions as the primary display for my gaming PC. Unlike the iMac, my PC has SLI video cards so it can tear through that 2560x1440 res with no problem. Unlike the iMac, my PC isn't for work, it is for play. :)

    This brings about my main issue with the 2011 iMacs, and it isn't something that was addressed in this review. I'm talking about the new requirements for Target Display Mode (using the iMac as a monitor for an external source) now that the mini-DP port was replaced with a Thunderbolt port. The only sources that you can use on the new iMacs are those equipped with Thunderbolt ports. For the time being this limits you to 2011 Macs, that's it. No old Macs, and no PCs until next year at the soonest.

    Coming from someone that uses an iMac as an external display every day, that is pretty disappointing. Perhaps an active adapter or something will come out, but for the time being it really limits that aspect of the new iMacs.

    Thanks again!
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Sidetrack - I suggest testing Starcraft 2 with ultra textures and medium settings. My PC has plenty of juice to run with everything cranked, but unless you take a still frame and examine it, the difference in visual quality between medium and ultra settings is not noticeable. The difference in framerate is VERY noticeable though, which is why I run at medium settings with ultra textures. Nice and fast while still looking pretty.

    I'm very curious to see how the new iMacs would run with those settings. In my own experience you're looking at nearly a doubling in framerate, but that is also with an SLI setup that may not have the same performance delta as the single GPU in the iMac. I also saw a huge difference with my laptop, but I didn't examine the framerate as closely with it so I can't say for sure if it is "nearly double" in that case.
    Reply
  • jonwd7 - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    The price comparison chart on the first page is wrong. I haven't made it through your review far enough to tell, but either you did not receive the high-end iMac, and you're quoting the wrong price ($1999) for the stats you've listed, or you did receive the high-end iMac, the price is right, but the stats are wrong.

    The stats you have listed are for the $1699 model.
    Reply
  • krazyderek - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    i noticed this as well, specifically this means,

    the $1999 model currently features the 6970 1gb, and 3.1ghz quad core i5

    the $1699 model currently features the 6770 512mb not the 5xxx

    in fairness the $1499 model should really be used along with the $1199 to compare to those other price points.

    The $1999 model is in a completely different class and should be compared to it's appropriate competitors
    Reply
  • psonice - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    I'd say this isn't really much of an issue. When most people upgrade, they sell their old box - and the mac holds its value incredibly well. So what actually happens is in a couple of years you sell the old box for a large chunk of cash, and spend a smaller-than-expected sum on the new one.

    Basically, macs are surprisingly cheap when you factor in the resale value. You either keep them long term (and they pay for themselves then anyway), or you sell after a few years and get half your money back. This is assuming it doesn't break down - if that happens, they're very expensive ;)

    Example: My 2007 24" imac was ~£1200. Resale value for similar spec on ebay today: ~£650-700. That means it's cost me around £500-£550 over 4 years, roughly the cost of a low-end desktop with an OK screen.

    Oh, and I did upgrade mine to SSD (I've ignored that when looking at the prices). Yeah, it's a "fun" upgrade, and I ditched the HDD completely so I missed out on the 'removing the motherboard' stuff. Suction cups aren't actually required - you can get by with a pair of car windscreen mounts for GPS.

    An easier way to access the HDD would be very welcome - especially as the new ones come with a special SATA connector so you'd need to buy an apple-specific drive too! (Not sure if this was covered in the article, I skipped a lot of it, but it's a pretty major downside for us technical types - the average punter probably wouldn't care less).
    Reply
  • meorah - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    "Example: My 2007 24" imac was ~£1200. Resale value for similar spec on ebay today: ~£650-700. That means it's cost me around £500-£550 over 4 years, roughly the cost of a low-end desktop with an OK screen."

    its cost to you was 1200. it has depreciated around 500-550 over 4 years.

    If you were trying to lease an imac for 500-550 over 4 years, then it would have cost you 500-550 over 4 years, but you bought it so that's not right.
    Reply
  • psonice - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    What difference does it make? At some point (probably soon) I'll sell it and buy a new box. At that point it'll have cost me 500-550, for 4 years of use. Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Depreciation on PC parts is much worse. I sell my old PC components on roughly the same schedule as my Macs, every 2-3 years, and with my Mac sales it is more than enough to help pay for its replacement. With my old PC parts, not so much. :) Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    You nailed it. You aren't "losing a good monitor" when you sell your old iMac for a new one, you're getting a better monitor with the major revisions.

    The 24" iMac had a great H-IPS panel in it, but the upgrade from that to the 27" IPS panels in the new iMacs is well worth the upgrade. Combine that with high resale value on Macs and its a pretty good deal, ridiculously easy upgrade too (just pack the old one in the box it came in).
    Reply
  • DarkShift - Saturday, May 28, 2011 - link

    "Basically, macs are surprisingly cheap when you factor in the resale value. You either keep them long term (and they pay for themselves then anyway), or you sell after a few years and get half your money back."

    That's surpsrising considering that Mac's are mostly underpowered even as new. 650£ for 2007 iMac is way too much considering how slow it must be.

    I have noticed, that most people who happily buy macs really don't know anything about tech stuff. Many still think that there must be something in Apple hardware that's better than in PC's while they often share same components.

    For comparison, my self build PC workstation runs circles around these iMac's and it cost me less. And that is with Intel i7 2600K @ 4.6Ghz, 3 SSD drives,16GB ddr3 ram, Blue ray and USB 3.0 ports. And absolutely no blue screens after 5 months use. ;)

    Benchmarked results:
    Retouch artics Photoshop (with CS5): 9,5s
    Cinebench R10 Rendering single: 7690
    Cinebench R10 Rendering multi: 30536

    Performance is the most important thing for pro users at it tells how fast you get your job done. Other issues are mostly cosmetic as most pro software is found for both Mac and PC. You get paid for using the tools, not for using them on specific OS.
    Reply
  • jonwd7 - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Unless I am mistaken, your claim that the SSD in the 2011 iMac is the same old Toshiba one they've been using is pure speculation, but you don't treat it like so. If you attempt to order a new 2011 iMac with an SSD, the shipping date gets moved back significantly. There is some possibility that this is because they are switching to a newer, possibly Samsung-branded SSD. It being Samsung is just a rumor I believe, based on what they used in the newest MacBook Airs. Reply
  • kevith - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    I think it´s not a drawback, but quite the opposite, when a laptop or an all-in-one is fitted with too little RAM and/or too little HDD/SSD, since it´s the only things you can upgrade yourself.

    And that always cheaper than the price-premium the manufacturer will charge, certainly if the manufacturer is Apple...

    So for my part I always look for laptops without SSD and with as little memory as possible.
    Reply
  • tech6 - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Looks like a nice system that is held back by a design problem. Most laptops have easy access service panels for RAM and disk upgrades or replacements and the lack of this feature would rule this system out for me. That's a pity as it looks good and is reasonable value but if you have to remove the LCD and board just to get at the disk, that is just plain stupid industrial design. Reply
  • Johnmcl7 - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    It's worse than stupid, it's entirely intentional as you're not supposed to repair or upgrade your iMac you're supposed to buy a new one. I cannot stand Imacs for their appalling internal design and I'm surprised a tech site like this can still praise Imacs given that laptops a fraction of the size are a two second job to get the drive out so there's absolutely no reason for the Imac to be any different.

    Even putting the Imac's terrible design aside, I'm not a fan of all in one PCs as I struggle to see the point unless you're really, really tight on space. You're essentially getting the disadvantages of both a laptop and a desktop but none of the advantages as the system is neither portable nor flexible/upgradeable or offering topend performance. I have a Dell U2711 which thanks to having just about every input possible can currently hook up to a few different machines and I expect it to last far beyond the current desktop PC it's mainly hooked up to. This new Imac seems even worse for use beyond the builtin computer with a very limited video input.

    John
    Reply
  • wintermute000 - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    The main issue is that its still laptop-esque price/performance for a desktop.

    The lack of an apple tower or upgradable box is quite astounding. They could just keep it single socket, 8Gb RAM or under, and consumer (not pro variant) gfx cards.

    2k USD can buy you a liquid cooled quad-core sandy bridge, mid-high GPU, SSD rig + a decent 24" IPS display with a spare 4 or so Tb of spinning platter storage. No contest except for OSX tax if your apps demand OSX. Back in the XP days the OS was worth the markup but no more IMO
    Reply
  • dagamer34 - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    It's a desktop CPU, but a laptop GPU, and it really shows on page 4 when comparing the 6970M against desktop card. When you've spent $2000 on a machine with the same graphical performance as a $160 video card, that's when you REALLY know that Macs are NOT meant for gaming.

    That's why instead of buying an 27" iMac for gaming, I bought a 27" ACD and built a gaming PC. Same price, but PC parts (especially GPU) are upgradable, and since the computer isn't attached to the monitor, it retains it's value a LOT more.
    Reply
  • Penti - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    I would prefer the Dell U2711 here, as it's about 450 dollars less here in Sweden with Apples fucked up pricing tied to old exchange rate. Neither is it too fun with a 1650 dollar screen with just mini-displayport input. (Of which 25% VAT is included). Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Not a big deal but I thought I would add them anyway. On first page, you say 15" MBP has AMD 6770M while it really has 6750M. Scroll down to the HD part of the first page and it says the base 21.5" comes with 512GB HD, while it is a 500GB.

    For anyone who says I'm nitpicking, I'm not. I have written articles myself and I have made typos too. Look at the Ivy Bridge/Panther Point article's comments if you don't believe (I typoed that IB IGP will have OpenCL 10.1 :D). Like I said, it isn't a big deal but personally, I appreciate if someone points out my typos in a friendly matter.

    BTW, Anand, you look like the mafia boss of SSDs in the FaceTime pic :D SSDs for every finger.
    Reply
  • tipoo - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Also on the GPU page, "The entry level 21.5-inch MacBook Pro "...Now that would be an interesting product, lol. Reply
  • awaken688 - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    "I've always kept displays through several upgrades, but you can't really do that with an iMac. I'm not really sure how to come to terms with that aspect of what Apple is offering here."

    That is the key statement. You have a nice $1000 monitor, but you have to sell it to upgrade (yeah, you can use it again, but you have a whole computer in the back). So you take depreciation on your hardware and depreciation on your monitor. Then you get another iMac and repeat. In the PC world of desktops, you get a nice monitor and only take depreciation one time on the monitor. Over 3 upgrade cycles, that can be $500-$1000 in savings over the iMac solution depending on the quality of the monitors. That is a big deal. MacBook Pros make perfect sense to me, but Apple just does not offer a desktop model that fits my needs. Mini is too slow and Mac Pro has Xeon cores which I refuse to pay for as I don't need them. I won't hold my breath for Apple to fill in my needs.
    Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Mac Pros just have an extremely fat profit margin, nothing else. Xeon 3000-series CPUs cost as much as their Core iX counterparts. For example the W3530 used in base Mac Pro costs 294$, which is the same as what i7-930 costs. Dell sells a similarly equipped workstation for around 1500$, and yes, that includes Xeons, ECC RAM, workstation GPU (something that MP doesn't have) etc.

    It's obvious that iMac is Apple's flagship in consumer desktop market. They have shown zero interest towards a mid-tower though why would they? iMac is selling brilliantly.
    Reply
  • dagamer34 - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    At this point, Mac Pros are pretty much in dire need for a price adjustment. Even if you really do need all that power, I think buying it makes you feel silly compared to what is available in the MacBook Pros and iMacs of today. And with Thunderbolt, the biggest reason to buy a Mac Pro has disappeared (high speed i/o cards). Reply
  • Penti - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Well when they still where new, the dual processor models where priced competitively against real HP and Dell workstations which often even did cost a bit more. The problem here are two things, the single processor model is just rubbish and priced about 1000 dollars too much (a year ago or even two years ago) and that Apple never adjusts the price of a model but instead replaced them with a new one. With a new price.

    A single socket Mac pro shouldn't be more then a C i7 2600K for like 1200 dollars now, a extreme edition SNB would cost some additional 700 dollars, dual processor model should use something like Westmere-EX by now. 10-core (6-10C) two socket support and quad-channel memory. Why mess around with LGA2011 or LGA1366 today? They pretty much have no choice but to go real high-end or use normal desktop parts with the Mac Pro update. There are no Sandy-Bridge workstation class processors. And dual 8C Westmere-EX would end up costing something like 6000 dollars for the machine though. There's just no good workstation hardware competitively priced there to begin with right now. Right now it doesn't get better then dual Westmere 2.93GHz as the Mac Pro uses. AMD HD6970, two 8-core Westmere-EX is pretty much as far they could go today/this year and that would end up costing at least above 5000 dollars. Just leaving iMac comfortably under that as workstation. But they probably won't upgrade that until sometime after Lion any way.
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    The thing is that depreciation on the iMac is much much slower than it is with PC parts. I sell my iMac and my gaming PC components at roughly the same time, and what I make back selling the old iMac is significantly higher than what I sell my PC parts for.

    Getting a high resale return on my old 24" iMac and using the proceeds to get a new 27" iMac with that gorgeous display was a great deal, and it actually sold me (I was skeptical too) on the idea of upgrading all-in-ones by selling the whole thing on ebay. Getting a similar return on my PC is just not possible.
    Reply
  • tipoo - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Does anyone know if the GPU switching is enabled in the iMac's? They didn't mention the HD graphics on the spec page unlike the MBP's, so maybe they didn't bother with it since there is no battery. Also most of them use the HD2000 which is half as powerful as the HD3000, so maybe it didn't meet their requirements even for basic desktop work. Reply
  • tipoo - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Nevermind me, it was answered in the article. Reply
  • tipoo - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    I heard that unlike previous iMacs, the new ones can only use another mac with Thunderbolt to use the iMac as a targeted display. Is that true? I wouldn't feel so bad about discarding such a system when the GPU and CPU feel too old in two or three years like Anand mentioned if I could use it as an external display, but I think the new ones are limited to only being used by other Macs. And that's also assuming Mac's in 3 years will use compatible Thunderbolt ports. Reply
  • TegiriNenashi - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    What is wrong with this display? Just one number: 16:9. Reply
  • QuietOC - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    I have used a 20" white iMac and 24" aluminum iMac. The later has a big persistent image problem. Evidently IPS pixels don't work well in a hot environment. The low noise level of the iMac is nice to mostly not hear, but the visual noise might be worse.

    Also the cheap 320GB WD Caviar failed by randomly disappearing which may have be heat related, and the USB ports have also started randomly disconnecting. The mouse and keyboard just stop working during the day and I have to unplug them and plug them back in. So, no, I would not recommend getting a $1000 monitor with a computer mounted inside it.
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    I've owned both the 24" iMac you talk about and a 27" from late 2009. Image persistence became a problem with the 24" models, as well as the CCFL losing some of its brightness by the two year mark.

    The new 27" models do not have either issue. Image persistence has been fixed, and I don't expect there to be any fading since LED backlights don't suffer from the same degredation issues that CCFL backlit displays do over time. On a related note, I have a NEC 2490WUXi as my secondary display. That monitor uses the same 24" H-IPS panel that the old 24" iMac did. It has minor image retention issues, but not to the same degree as the iMac had. Whatever LG did with their new 27" panels seems to have addressed that problem.
    Reply
  • zhill - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    First off, nice article Anand. Well presented and I think your perspective is a common one in this case. I agree that the lack of upgrade options and rather mediocre gpu performance are certainly off-putting for a machine in this price range, but I also think that your observation that if you are willing to spend $1800 for a laptop with a reasonably short lifecycle then the iMac is not much different. I think you've really hit the point there--the iMac's target customer.

    I would argue that most iMac users are not highly technical, power users. They are people that want a big screen and don't need the portability of a laptop. These people, like my parents, value the simplicity and ease of use of the iMac and the fact that their workspace is often small and would rather it not be covered in cords and cables. In that case not only does the iMac make sense but it's lifespan is substantially longer and all the GPU they need is enough to drive the system and maybe do some video editing. Gaming prowess has never been an apple concern and I doubt it will be until Steve Jobs decides to buy Activision or EA. I do like the iMac from a compute appliance perspective, just plug it in and compute--no fuss. Also, trying to make a reasonable gaming rig with a 2560x1440 display is a fairly daunting task even with today's cards. You would have to be near the top-end and that's a whole lot of power and heat to dissipate in a reasonably small enclosure (considering the size of a 6970 or 580 card by itself).

    I also have to say that Intel's recent willingness to keep switching chip sockets has made upgrades far more painful than they should be (yes, I have a core i7-920 with socket 1366 that is now essentially orphaned).
    Reply
  • Alberts - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Securedoc for Mac from a company called Winmagic supports SSD's with encryption hardware as long they adhire to the opal specification from the trusted computing group Reply
  • JimmiG - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    You can't upgrade the hardware and you can't separate the computer from the display so you can keep using the display long after the hardware has become obsolete.

    That's pretty much the oposite of "green".
    Reply
  • Spazweasel - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    This may be old news (I'm not going to wade through 6 pages of Apple-hating trolls to see), but you CAN use your 27" iMac as a monitor:

    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3924

    It's called "Target Display Mode".
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Note that it is only talking about the 2009 and 2010 models with mini-DP ports. Those can take an external source so you can use the 27" iMac as a monitor. I use it every day as the primary monitor for my gaming PC.

    The new 2011 iMacs have different requirements since they switched to Thunderbolt ports. Until an adapter or something comes out, the only sources that can output a video signal to the 2011 iMacs are Thunderbolt equipped computers. For the time being this only limits them to 2011 Macbook Pros and other iMacs (which would be a weird application).

    I love the iMacs, but as someone who uses Target Display Mode every day, the new requirements bother me. It won't be a problem in a year or so when Thunderbolt becomes more common, but for the time being it is pretty limiting.
    Reply
  • Spazweasel - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Thanks for the clarification. Reply
  • Spazweasel - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    So here's a question. While the display is in Targeted Display Mode, can the computer itself be active? It would be nice to be able to have the computer available for computation tasks, acting as a server, etc. on its own while the display was being used by an external device. I wouldn't expect it to be so, but perhaps you as someone with first-hand knowledge would know if it's possible.

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Yes, the computer portion of the iMac can still be cranking away when the video signal is switched to another source. I've had it encoding video as I play Starcraft 2 or whatever on my PC, using the iMac as its display.

    It is pretty nice.
    Reply
  • archer75 - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    So I bought one of these imacs right at launch. Upgraded the processor to the 3.4ghz i7 and got the 6970m 2gb. Later got 16gb of ram on sale at newegg.

    In terms of gaming I only play at native resolution 2560x1440 and must say this imac does slightly better than my i7 920, 460GTX 768mb PC does at 1920x1200.

    Crysis 2 on medium settings gives me frame rates in the 30-50 range which is perfectly fine for me. Medium doesn't look any different than high to me so i'm happy with that. Very smooth gameplay with Bad Company 2 and Portal 2. WoW on ultra settings is flawless. Civ5 plays well. Age of Conan at max is pretty smooth, not perfect but certainly better than my gaming PC. EQ2 runs very well at one step down from their super high ultra setting or whatever they call it. Running max settings with Dragon Age.

    I have 7 other PC's in the house, 4 running Win7, 1 running WHS 2011 and the 2 others running XP. I built most of them. And I had debated building another gaming system or getting the imac and decided to mix things up a bit and must say I really do like the imac.
    Reply
  • Bob Forsberg - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Just about ready to purchase a new 27" iMac to replace my white 24" 2.16GHz iMac from 4 years ago.

    You made choices easy on processor types as well as providing answers to many of my questions. Thanks for the thorough analysis of this great machine.
    Reply
  • CharonPDX - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    "I've always kept displays through several upgrades, but you can't really do that with an iMac."

    One thing Apple has implemented on their 27" iMacs since they added Mini DisplayPort is that you can use the iMac as a DisplayPort monitor.

    So when this iMac gets replaced, you can continue to use it as a 27" display on another computer with DisplayPort video. Be that another iMac (and have two displays), a Mac Pro, a Mac mini, or even a PC with DisplayPort (as most Dells have now.)

    I know a customer that has two last-gen iMacs side-by-side: One as his workstation and one as a secondary display and VM host. He interacts with the VMs remotely from the 'workstation' machine, and has two 27" high-res displays on his primary system. If he ever really needs to interact locally with the VM machine, he just plugs a keyboard and mouse directly (although he generally VNCs over.)
    Reply
  • tipoo - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    Actually these new ones will only work with Thunderbolt, not DP unfortunately. So for now, just the Macbook Pro's can use it. The last gen could work with any displayport connection so its a step back IMO. Reply
  • tipoo - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    I'd really like a decibel reading for a few computers in future reviews. ie, you say the MBP is loud, but how loud? I'd like to see it compared to other popular laptops at idle and under load. Reply
  • Hubb1e - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    To understand an iMac usage model, you have to get over your idea that you upgrade your PC components. When you outgrow the GPU, you simply upgrade the whole Mac and sell the old one on the used market. The used market for these things is huge so you really aren't dropping much cash by ditching the old model for a new one. You aren't really ditching the monitor, you're simply making an upgrade for the GPU and a new screen comes with the upgrade. It's typically a sideways move in screen quality and you aren't losing any real value there by replacing it. You might drop $600 (accounting for taxes) when you drop the iMac after 1.5 years, but you get $400 worth of GPU and CPU upgrades. So, you do pay a bit for the Mac experience, but I think you can still keep the upgrade path going with a Mac.

    Keep the box and it's super simple to unload a used Mac.
    Reply
  • dingetje - Saturday, May 28, 2011 - link

    is there any chance of a review of some 16:10 screens? for instance ASUS PA246Q Reply
  • joe_dude - Saturday, May 28, 2011 - link

    But the thing's essentially a 3-year old PC. Why the heck would I want to pay more to downgrade?

    Of course Macs hold their resell value... it's not for gaming, so even a 5 year old Mac seem pretty fast using regular apps.

    Even if it can be used as just a monitor, who the heck wants the extra dead weight? All-in-ones will always be a compromise. The point of having a desktop PC is *not* to compromise. Otherwise, a laptop can do the job.
    Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Saturday, May 28, 2011 - link

    Good luck finding a Sandy Bridge CPU and AMD 6000-series graphics in a 3-year-old PC.

    A LOT fits between regular apps and gaming. Photo, music and video editing are the first that come to my mind. For some people, Macs are the preferred option due to Logic and Final Cut. When you don't have the $ for Mac Pro, iMac is your best option. In the end, iMac is far more powerful than MBPs or other laptops.

    Sure, AIO form factor has its downsides but it's pretty clear that Apple has never been interested on enthusiasts. For an Average Joe, iMac is a brilliant machine, which explains why it sells so well too.
    Reply
  • joe_dude - Saturday, May 28, 2011 - link

    Don't be hoodwinked. Any 3-year old SLI rig would beat the pants off this thing. Remember, it's a _mobile_ CPU with a _mobile_ GPU; a laptop pretending to be a desktop.

    Any middle-of-the-road SFF/ITX machine with a Radeon 6850 would beat the pants off this thing. This thing is all about form over function. Save the money and get a 30" Dell monitor instead.
    Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Saturday, May 28, 2011 - link

    I would like to know where you can find a 3.4GHz quad core mobile CPU. The CPUs are standard desktop parts and i7-2600 is actually one of the fastest CPUs that is available today.

    Your 3-year-old SLI rig beat or come close in GPU performance but the iMac would run circles around it in CPU bound tests. If you talk about performance, then you must include every area, not just gaming and graphics tests. Or then specify that you are only talking about gaming performance.

    iMac's value isn't that bad when you consider the value of the screen. 30" monitor will cost you at least 1000$ so that leaves you another 1000$ for the actual computer. Sure, that is more than enough to get the similar components but the iMac won't end up being more than ~200$ more expensive (which is pretty good when talking about Apple).

    Nobody is forcing you to buy an iMac so that is why I don't get why you are complaining. Clearly, there are people who want one, even if it is a compromise. You can stick with your PC if that is what you prefer.
    Reply
  • joe_dude - Saturday, May 28, 2011 - link

    Ah yes, you're right on the CPU. For some reason I thought the dual channel 1155 socket meant it was a mobile CPU.

    The Dell version of the 27" can be had ~$800. Of course, retail price is ~$1000, and Apple wouldn't charge less, of course.

    The 3.4 GHz i7 option costs extra (is it really $500???), so we're talking a ~$1700 PC (sans monitor). We're talking a full out i7 SLI rig vs. a weaksauce iMac for that price.

    I'm a gamer, but not crazy enough to spend that on an all-in-one!
    Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Saturday, May 28, 2011 - link

    I think you should really check your facts before you post. The i7 option in iMac is 200$, not 500$. Sure, it is still overpriced but BTOs in general are. The iMac can also be had for less when you look at resellers like MacMall so IMO, the only fair comparison is to look at retail prices.

    For 1200$, you can build a nice PC but definitely not an SLI system (unless you go with lower-end GPUs, though that kills the idea of SLI IMO).

    If we wanted to be fair, we should compare the iMac to an OEM PC, not self-built one. Why? Because you are paying for the labor and service in the iMac as well. That is why OEM PCs cost more than the ones you build on your own. I know the joy of building your own computer is unbeatable and I love it too but when comparing things, you have to understand where the costs come from. It's a whole new question whether it is worth it for you to pay the extra for service etc.

    I'm not trying to sell you an iMac but to make you understand where the costs come from and in the end, why the iMac isn't that bad value. For gamers, the iMac is and will always be a very compromised system.
    Reply
  • donnyg - Saturday, May 28, 2011 - link

    As SmithJ mentioned, a i7 computer with PCIe 16x/4x is only around $750 USD and that's including a GPU.

    You can easily get 2x HD6950x/6970s which do much better in that resolution anyway because of the VRAM requirements.
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Sunday, May 29, 2011 - link

    Throw in the same 2560x1440 IPS display and you're adding at least another $1000 to the whole package. Then there's operating system and the bundled software, and the fact that all-in-ones from any PC builder costs more than a standard ATX based PC.

    Given everything involved, the iMacs are actually a pretty good deal. Really fast, amazing display, tiny footprint, and silent. I still build my own PCs and I'll never give that up, but I love having it plugged into my iMac as a display and using both.
    Reply
  • smithj - Saturday, May 28, 2011 - link

    My shop runs iMacs because they're just so good with size and noise - we're really damned pleased that we've ditched the old noisy workstations and they're fast enough for what we want to do!

    But he's kind of right. For a consumer, iMacs aren't the best of value. A small mATX computer with an i7 2600 (what 99% of people going to do with an i7 I don't know) and an AMD HD 5850 only costs around $700, and this isn't even looking around. Throw in a 27" Ultrasharp or ACD and your whole computer is going to cost only $1500-1700.

    They're popular because they're:
    - Small
    - Amazing looking
    - Perform well enough
    - Quiet
    - Covered by the best consumer warranty in the market
    - Good out of the box, no extra work required

    Its got nothing to go with specs, most people who buy them frankly don't care about the specs. $500-700 extra to pay for a generally weaker computer is a bit annoying but I'm getting old and frankly the warranty service, ease of use, and lack of noise is loved by all.
    Reply
  • smithj - Saturday, May 28, 2011 - link

    We can't edit post. The point I'm making is that in a price/spec game, the iMacs are nowhere near as good as DIY PCs but there are some things that can't be directly put in a small HTML table.

    Apple to this day seems to be one of the few companies, if not the only, who understands this important factor.
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Sunday, May 29, 2011 - link

    iMacs don't use mobile CPUs. My gaming PC and my 2009 iMac have the exact same CPU, a Core i7-860 Reply
  • boop - Saturday, May 28, 2011 - link

    anand, i used to have the same dilemma you face regarding the syncing of files across multiple machines. i even did the same thing as you and tried to use an macbook pro as a desktop replacement. it didn't work out so well. a notebook that's powerful enough to be a desktop replacement isn't portable enough -- and a notebook that's particularly portable just isn't powerful enough to be a desktop replacement.

    The solution I found was to use google docs and other related online services to store all my work files. as you know you can access the files on any machine, and even be logged in on multiple machines simultaneously; documents can be shared with others for collaborative work; and it also solves the problem of data back ups and laptop theft since nothing is locally stored. my current Mac setup is a 13" macbook pro and the 2011 21.5" base model imac and with all my work stored in the cloud i've finally found an optimal solution to my workflow woes. hope this helps!
    Reply
  • ananduser - Saturday, May 28, 2011 - link

    Apple packages tech real well. Good display, reasonable PC, all'n'all a good looking AIO that especially does not compromise on the display side of things. Glad I am not in need for the OS or the hardware flexibility of the laptop combined with the mobility of the desktop.
    Even if Apple gets so much marketing coverage everywhere I am still glad that I see my own kind keeping criticism alive.
    Reply
  • Hrel - Saturday, May 28, 2011 - link

    That display is worth 400 bucks tops; it's insane to me that anyone would pay a grand for a display barely above 1080p. I can get a good ISP 27" 1080p display for 300, so that thing is worth 400 tops; which makes that whole system 300 dollars too expensive to even consider. Then there's all the laptop parts and non-upgradeability and Appleness to ruin the experience. Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Saturday, May 28, 2011 - link

    Find a similar display for 400$ then. It's ridiculous to argue that the display can't be worth more than 400$ when similar displays cost 1000$. If you don't think it is worth it, then that is your thing. It doesn't change the fact that the display is worth ~1000$.

    I also doubt that you can find a good 27" IPS display for less than 300$. Most of the good ones are either ~22" at that price range or you have to pay more.
    Reply
  • donnyg - Saturday, May 28, 2011 - link

    You can get a Hazro, which is literally the same panel as the current Apple CInema Displays minus the aluminum casing, for around $500 USD.

    Shipping will make it cost considerably more however.
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Sunday, May 29, 2011 - link

    There is a massive different in pixel density between a 27" display at 2560x1440 and 1920x1080, HUGE. Then there's the fact that your display is using a crap TN panel instead of an IPS, isn't LED backlit, etc etc.

    A good 24" IPS display from HP or Dell is going to cost $400-$500, and a 27" with the same panel from Dell or NEC is going to cost $1100-$1400.

    For a site with a "techie" readership, it is amazing how little some people know about tech, or how much they are willing to excuse purely based on price. Yeah you can save money on a cheaper display, but it is going to be totally inferior in every way except for price. You get what you pay for.
    Reply
  • MadMacMan - Saturday, May 28, 2011 - link

    That's exactly right. DO YOUR RESEARCH, people. There is NO equivalent in the 27" category of HIGH-END displays and by that I mean not part but ALL of the following:

    LED back lighting (No CCFL bulb, thank you), in-plane switching (IPS); not your average (READ: average, as in mid-range, as in lame, as in cheap, as in what a lot of you might buy and post BS about how you're not getting ripped off by Apple because you're so much smarter; you know who you are). Finally, and perhaps even more problematic to find is its high RESOLUTION! 2560x1440. That's 78% more real estate than you get on a standard 1920x1080 display.

    I dare anybody to Google me up a 26"-29" monitor with the aforementioned specs, but ALL of them, not one or two. Now go to Best Buy and buy yourself a cheap HP or order up an Acer and make sure you don't forget to rub it in. ;-)
    Reply
  • donnyg - Saturday, May 28, 2011 - link

    http://www.hazro.co.uk/HZ27WA.php
    http://www.hazro.co.uk/HZ27WC.php

    IPS monitor: Check
    2560x1440 resolution: Check
    LED backlighting: Check
    Price: 569 AUD for the the one with extra inputs/scalar,
    Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Sunday, May 29, 2011 - link

    I don't know where you got your 500$ as 443£ is equal to 731$. That seems to be without shipping. Cheaper? Sure, but not that much.

    You can always save a few bucks if you do some shopping and build it yourself. The iMac, or any Apple product, has never tried to be the cheapest option or best bang per performance on the market. I would still say the new iMac is great value. I already mentioned why an OEM PC and a homebuilt one are not always comparable, especially when we get into an Average Joe level. Hardcore gamers will never be satisfied with Apple's offerings but to be honest, I don't get it why they complain then. Nobody is trying to sell them an iMac.
    Reply
  • smithj - Sunday, May 29, 2011 - link

    People not within the European Union do not pay the VAT tax. If you live outside of the European Union, you pay £369.00 which is around $570 USD/AUD so he's completely correct.

    Even if you live in the European Union, you're going to be saving a similar amount since I imagine Apple products get the VAT tax slapped onto them as well. Doesn't change anything.

    On the Hazro website:
    "If you are ordering from outside the UK and EU, you will not be charged VAT."

    There are extremely good reasons for getting a iMac but from a parts point of view its terrible value. You can't measure the benefits of the iMac however with just plain figures and specs.
    Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Sunday, May 29, 2011 - link

    Ahh, that explains it then. I didn't look any further so didn't know about the international price. Customs may be added to the price though (not sure about the US policy as you don't VAT. If I buy something from the US, I will have to pay the Finnish 23% VAT before I can receive it).

    The Hazro looks very good though, thanks for linking it. Something to keep in mind when this oldish iMac needs to go. 500€ for a 27" 1440p display doesn't sound that bad, could get two of them for the price of one 27" ACD
    Reply
  • repoman27 - Sunday, May 29, 2011 - link

    I took issue with OWC's blog posts about the HDD upgrade issues in the 2011 iMac, and was hoping to find a better clarification here than the one in this review. OWC insisted on using the terms "standard", "leads" and "pins" in odd ways, and some of that seems to be echoed here.

    The HDD power cable in the iMac (Mid 2011) has 7 conductors, a standard 15-pin SATA power connector on one end, and a small 7-socket connector on the other which attaches to a header on the logic board. This assembly, while proprietary, is not necessarily any more so than the ones that ship with modular PSUs. It is more common to see SATA power cables with only 4 conductors (GND, 5 V, GND, 12 V) or 5 conductors if 3.3 V is also supplied. Several pins are then ganged together in the 15-pin connector to support the specified current requirements. As noted in the article, Apple is using relatively small conductors, and thus 2 are used in tandem for 12 V, they also elected to use the reserved pin 11 of the 15-pin SATA power connector for temperature monitoring. Pins 10 and 12 must both be connected to ground, although most of the time one conductor is used and pins 10-12 are all ganged together. Apple couldn't do this, so instead their 7 conductors are for GND, 5 V, GND, Temp, GND, 12 V, 12 V.

    It is not common behavior for HDDs to output a temperature signal on pin 11 of the SATA power connector. While the model numbers and controller boards of the drives that ship in the 2011 iMacs look to be no different from retail ones, there would appear to be differences in the firmware that allow for this functionality. I would imagine that patching the firmware of a retail drive is possible.

    If you ground pin 11 of the 15-pin SATA power connector, SMC will act as if there is no 3.5" drive installed. This means that the speed of the HDD fan will not increase above a certain baseline, and if you really do have a 3.5" drive in that bay, it will not properly dissipate the heat generated by it. If you use this trick to swap out the stock drive for an after-market one, you should also use S.M.A.R.T. based fan control software.

    There are separate, clearly labeled power headers for HDD, ODD and SSD on the iMac's logic board. It is probably a better idea to use the dedicated SSD power header than a Y-splitter if you add a 2.5" drive to an iMac that didn't ship with one installed. The HDD cable was more than likely not designed to support two devices, and most Y-splitters for SATA power cables gang pins 10-12, thus grounding pin 11 and preventing the SMC from receiving HDD temperature data. The SSD power header on the 27-inch models is a standard 6-pin slimline SATA power connector, but on the 21-inch it is just a small 4-pin header.

    The design of the iMac in general deters the casual from servicing their own hardware, and while some are discouraged by this, it's a ridiculous stance to take. Most people who purchase a new Mercedes S-Class don't worry about the fact that they probably won't be able to service it themselves (even if they are a fairly competent mechanic), or that it contains proprietary cable assemblies. If you don't feel comfortable servicing or modding your gear yourself, just take it to someone who does.
    Reply
  • MadMinstrel - Sunday, May 29, 2011 - link

    A 512MB <i>framebuffer</i>? Really? So that's all you think GPU memory is useful for? That might have been the case in the good old S3 ViRGE days, but right now it <i>really</i> doesn't work that way and I would expect someone writing for AnandTech to know that. In fact, GPU memory holds at least two framebuffers and sometimes as many as 6. More if you count all the intermediate rendering steps such as depth buffers, accumulation buffers, G-buffers, albedo buffers, etc, as used in modern deferred rendering engines. Textures, geometry, physics data, and sometimes even some of the game logic also go into GPU memory. Maybe I'm just being pedantic about this but I guess it really annoyed me because I actually <i>care</i> about Anand being accurate. Reply
  • Sunburn74 - Monday, May 30, 2011 - link

    Not for me thanks. Too pricey and lousy specs. I also don't care about TN vs IPS panels. Most people don't care. Some enthusiasts do, but you can't really argue that iMacs are targeted for the average joe who don't know a ton about pcs and just wants it to work whilst arguing that the average joe can appreciate a 500 dollar difference between an IPS panel and TN panel. The truth is most people don't even know there are 2 types of panels floating about.

    I consider myself an enthusiast. I've spent a couple months working on a last gen 27inc iMac in the past as a reference point, with a lot of adobe studio stuff. Long story short, I wasn't impressed. I found the machine to be slow to average in terms of performance (compared to the HP tower workstations we had down the hall for "real work" haha). Throw out the nicer display (who's value is questionable depending on who you talk to. Again I've read in the comments how imacs are great for your dad and mom and your granny.Your granny is not noticing a difference between a 27inch HP tn panel and a 27inch mac IPS panel) and I don't really see what the iMac brings to the table that all the other all in ones don't have. I just don't really see a good target audience outside of mac enthusiasts who just gotta have it.

    Its not great for people who need a pc that just works without hassle but are limited by budget (your mom, your dad, your granny, your girlfriend in college)

    Its not great for the power users like myself who render and process in different ways thousands of high def images a day for scientific purposes. The HP workstation crushed the mac with its superior specs and apparently less aesthetic screen (a high end HP 30 inch TN panel).

    Its not great for the true computer enthusiasts who likes to know whats in his pc and enjoys servicing his own box.

    the iMac is truly like the mercedes benz and not in a good way. Mercedes make nice cars, but no one can disagree that those cars (just like the iMac) are
    1)For the rich for whom cost is not truly an issue
    2)for those who don't have an interest in servicing and maintaining their own cars and will have the dealer do it all,
    3) For those who don't use their cars for actual work where the performance of the car actually matters (otherwise they'd go with the mac workstation or any othre workstation or build their own).

    The imac just puzzles me and yet it sells so well apparently.
    Reply
  • wanlewanle - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    Come go and see, will not regret it Oh look

    http://www.ifancyshop.com
    Reply
  • JFA - Tuesday, July 26, 2011 - link

    It would be great to see comparison with previous generation of iMacs. Nowadays one can find quite a discounts on previous gen. Reply
  • javaporter - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - link

    I didn't read all 14 pages of comments, someone probably mentioned this, but you might want to look at dropbox. I have the 50GB option. It's enough for core project folders, my 1Password keychain, and various things I want to always have access to.

    I had the same issue as the author when deciding to leave a Mac Pro for a Macbook Pro. I did and worked that way for a while, however, recently I went back from a MBPro to an iMac and a Macbook Air.

    With dropbox, I don't really have to worry about moving files anymore. It's still not perfect; I still have to worry about 2 machines to update software on and my photos won't fit on my MBAir of course (nor will iTunes), but for me, it's still worth it to have a desktop. I liked my MBPro, but it just never seemed to be as fast or easy as the desktop or as portable as the Air (I had the 17" — pretty unusable when flying coach).
    Reply

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