The Apple iMac all-in-one desktop computer is, in many ways, a modern classic. Packing the full macOS experience into a thin screen, it’s easily recognisable. It’s also yet to see a sizeable overhaul since 2014, meaning some of its more ostentatious features, like it’s huge “chin” make it look a little less sleek than some other all-in-one options like other Windows PCs.
Still, if you’re set on a macOS desktop, it’s inarguably the most complete option right now - especially since you’ll find Apple’s Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse in the box, too. That's why it still sits high on our list of the best home computers.
But, whether you go for the lower-end 21.5-inch display with 1080p resolution, the 4K version, or the stunning 5K 27-inch, there’s somewhat of an elephant in the room - Apple’s M1 chips. These are Apple’s own custom processors (the existing iMac line-up runs on Intel’s silicon), and have already made their way into the Mac Mini, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro computers over the last few months.
Essentially a new jump in performance, the M1 offers those devices not only a higher degree of performance, but it essentially brings iPad-like functions to the company’s computers like instant waking, graphical improvements, and the ability to run compatible iPad and iPhone apps right on the Mac. While the M1 hasn’t yet made it to Apple’s desktops, it’s essentially just a matter of time...
Apple iMac: Specs
In many ways, the iMac is the archetypical family computer. It’s got everything you need right out of the box, and with two screen sizes, there’s an option for the kind of space (and budget) you have. That said, if you’re keen on maximum performance, it could be worth waiting for the inevitable M1 version, but there’s more than enough power here for web-browsing, light photo editing, and general productivity.
Even without the M1, the iMac range offers a little something for all potential users. All versions come with a base 256GB SSD for storage, and the pricier models can be configured up to an eye-watering 8TB, and 8GB of RAM as standard.
Unlike most Macs, though, the 27-inch iMac’s RAM can be upgraded with minimal fuss, and it’s cheaper than buying more when ordering the PC. If you pick up the base, 1080p, 21.5-inch model, you’ll be stuck with an Intel Iris Plus Graphics option, but if you’re looking to do even some light gaming or photo/video editing, we’d recommend opting for the 4K or 5K versions.
Whichever version you buy, you’ll get two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports, four USB-A ports, ethernet, and a card-reader slot, but you’ll need a 5K version for the 1080p FaceTime HD camera - a must for anyone engaging in video calls regularly, lest you settle for the 720p version on the smaller models.
In truth, we’d recommend avoiding the base 1080p model. Not only does it have underpowered graphical capabilities, but it’s also running a dual-core Intel i5 processor which is already a few years old.
If you do go for any of the 21.5-inch versions, you’ll also only have a 256GB SSD or a 1TB Fusion Drive to choose from, and the latter’s reliance on older hard drive tech means it’s likely to be much slower than the alternatives on other models.
21 inch vs 27 inch Apple iMacs
As we mentioned above, we’d recommend the 4K or 5K iMacs, but there’s more than just the size to consider.
While the 27-inch model feels positively monolithic when sat on a desk in front of you, it offers a huge canvas for anyone working in more visually creative fields. Photographers, videographers and the like will find plenty of use cases for such a huge display - especially with an incredible 5120x2880 pixel count.
That said, the 21.5-inch, 4K version takes up less room, and while it doesn’t offer the True Tone display tech of its bigger brother (essentially modifying brightness to the surrounding room), it’s still a big, clear display which is plenty bright.
Thanks to the Thunderbolt ports, you can also connect an external monitor, too.
Apple iMac: User reviews
The Apple iMac scores well among users across a variety of sites. Amazon US’ reviews currently peg the 5K, 27-inch iMac at an impressive 4.7 out of 5, with the 21.5-inch 4K version just beating it with 4.8 out of 5.
It’s the opposite over at BestBuy, with the 4K model having a 4.7 out of 5 rating and the 27-inch model hitting 4.8.
Apple Customer Service
Apple’s customer service is predominantly tied to its AppleCare product. While you can reach out to Apple without it (and you’ll have a one-year warranty anyway), your options for repairs and the like are much wider if you take out the premium insurance.
AppleCare offers hardware coverage and 24/7 technical support, while also meaning you’d only pay $99 for a screen repair on your iMac or $299 for other damage – much cheaper than buying a replacement PC (although you can only use this twice per year). AppleCare plans run for three years, and is paid monthly at $14.99.
Should you buy an Apple iMac?
If you’re looking to jump into the world of macOS, the iMac is a great choice right now, but it could be about to get even better with the long-awaiting transition to Apple Silicon that we discussed earlier.
While the 1080p, lowest-end option feels like it’s clinging to life, the 4K and 5K versions are great, but feel caveated by the fact new models are highly likely to offer more utility and features - and likely remain the same price (or similar).
Which iMac should you choose?
If you’re not interested in being on the bleeding edge of the new tech, then the 4K or 5K versions are excellent. With the former, we’d recommend the 3.6GHz Quad-Core option but go for some extra RAM.
The joy with the 27-inch, 5K version is that it’s essentially great whichever model you choose, and you can easily upgrade the RAM yourself - for less money, too.