By Neil Bennett | on March 01, 2013
Price When Reviewed: Base model £1,249 plus VAT . Fusion drive model reviewed £1,816 plus VAT
Pros: Elegant case design. Fantastic, non-glare screen. Innovative Fusion Drive boost performance.
Cons: Components hard to get to.
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On aesthetics alone, Apple’s latest iMac is the computer every creative wants on their desk. Its impossibly slender, iconic design is beautifully finished and will even turn the heads of owners of older models. But more importantly, Apple has also made it a better machine for creativity – boasting a less-glare-prone screen and faster performance options. It’s style and substance combined.
With the new iMac, Apple has got rid of the gap between the LCD panel and the glass protecting it from art directors or clients prodding fingers. This – plus a new coating – has reduced reflections, so you can see how your work looks without your studio lights interfering.
The new iMac’s headline tech feature is the new Fusion Drive. This uses a 128GB M-SATA flash drive as a cache for a 1TB or 3TB hard drive (our review model had the 1TB). We’ve seen a similar setup on other systems – mainly laptops – but Apple claims that intelligence built into its ‘Mountain Lion’ OS that decides what gets stored in the cache offers better performance than competing systems.
Certainly, it’s read and write speeds were top-notch, with read speeds more than double that of a lower-spec new iMac with a standard 1TB drive (422.5MBps vs 195.2MBps). And if you need more than a single drive, Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 offer a lot of storage options depending on your needs and budget.
Performance in our suite of test apps: Cinebench, After Effects and Photoshop was as you’d expect considering the components, with the Fusion drive giving AE a major boost.
What’s more to Apple’s credit is getting these components inside something that weighs less than 10kg (and a large part of that seems to be in the base to stop you knocking it over if you sneeze or walk past it too quickly).
If there’s a downside to the design, it’s that getting inside to components is nowhere near as easy as it is on the Z1 – though adding more RAM is easy through a hatch on the back.