Display size: 27-inch
Display: 1920x1080 resolution
Capacity: 512GB, 1TB
Chip: 12th Gen Intel® Core™ i7-1255U
Camera: 1080p HD Webcam
Speakers: Soundbar-style setup
Weight: 14.9 lbs without stand
Dell’s Inspiron desktop comes in 27-inch and 24-inch versions, but we’re looking at the former today since it’s comparable to the iMac on price – and that brings us to the initial point of comparison between the two which is the display size.
The 27-inch panel here is solid, but at 1080p it’s unlikely to be ideal for creatives that want a clearer image. There is a touchscreen version available, but you’ll need to spend more for it – and there’s still no higher resolution.
That’s a microcosm of the Inspiron 27’s wider issues. It’s always halfway to being a great PC, but corners have been cut. Take the specs, for example; there’s a 512GB hybrid drive as standard which offers 1TB of storage and a 512GB SSD for the OS. The amount of storage is solid, but it’s rare to see a PC with an older, spinning hard drive in 2023.
Another compromise is in the default GPU, which is an Intel Iris Xe. It’s underpowered, and while it’ll run some games, you’ll want something more powerful for more demanding titles or creative work. You can add an NVIDIA GeForce MX550, but it’s still hard to recommend for the price.
There are positives, though. The machine looks great, with a sleek design, and the pop-up camera being 1080p is a nice change from the 720p options we see often.
- Large display
- Lots of ports
- Customizable upon ordering
- Lacks GPU power in default configuration
- 1080p is low for the price
Display size: 24-inch
Display: 4480x2520 resolution
Capacity: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB
Chip: Apple M1
Camera: 1080p HD Webcam
Speakers: Six speaker system
Weight: 9.9 lbs
The first question when considering a Mac or a PC is “what apps do I need?”, whether for work or for home. That’s because while the likes of Photoshop, Microsoft Office and plenty more will run across both Windows or macOS, many apps are only available on one.
That may help make your mind up for you, but if you’re still here then it’s worth noting that the M1 iMac is dangling precariously. The move to Apple Silicon (Apple’s own chips) has led to huge power and efficiency gains, but it also means the tech giant is able to iteratively improve year over year, a la the iPhone.
That means that there’s every chance the 24-inch iMac will soon get an overhaul with an M2 chip, especially since the same has recently happened to the Mac Mini.
And yet, it’s still a very, very good computer. The M1 allows for performance unheard of from prior Intel variants of the iMac, and the display’s whopping 4.5K resolution handily trounces the Inspiron 27 – even if you do lose three inches of screen.
Audio is excellent, too, while the 1080p camera features Center Stage to keep you in focus as you move around the room. While we love the color options, there’s a little bit of disappointment in the need for bezels around the display, and 256GB of storage, SSD or otherwise, feels almost criminal when you’re spending well over $1000 on a PC.
- Retina resolution
- Great performance
- Colors are great
- Lacking in ports
- Needs more storage
- M1 chip may be revamped soon
Picking between Dell vs Apple desktop computers is certainly a big enough decision to warrant a guide such as this.
Both are great manufacturers, but there are plenty of differences on the micro and macro levels that can make picking a winner an entirely subjective choice. Aside from the hardware differences (which are plentiful), there’s also the consideration of macOS vs Windows.
While the former is great for ease of use for many (and a huge selection of apps), Windows is more ubiquitous for gaming. There are positives and negatives for each, but for the purposes of this discussion, we’ve picked two similarly-priced, all-in-one desktop computers - the iMac with M1 chip, and the Dell Inspiron 27. Both retail for around $1200, but which offers the best bang for your buck and will help you get your work done better?
Both come with everything you need to get started creating, playing, or browsing. Here’s our rundown of the Dell Inspiron 27 vs the Apple iMac M1.
Looking for more tech comparison content? Be sure to check out our guide to whether you should buy an iPad or a Chromebook. If you're looking for more desktop recommendations, check out our best home computers (opens in new tab) buying guide.
Dell vs Apple: Design
Both machines are all-in-one computers, meaning all of the innards are within the screen itself. That makes either ideal for desk setups that don’t have room for a tower or separate unit.
Both take slightly different routes with their design, though. The Dell Inspiron 27 has thinner bezels, and the 1080p camera pops up from behind the screen. That makes it easier to get lost in that 27-inch display.
We’re less keen on the two legs of the stand, but it does mean you can slide the keyboard between them for more desk space.
On the other hand, the iMac’s camera is buried in its bezels, which are a little larger than we’d like. As lovely as the display is, it feels a little antiquated when surrounded on all sides.
Still, it does come in some lovely colors, with this base version available in Blue, Green, Red, or Silver. More colors are available for the next model up.
Still, for the sheer sleekness of the machine and the way it puts the screen front and center, it’s a win for Dell here.
Winner: Dell Inspiron 27
Dell vs Apple: Display
This comparison shows that bigger isn’t necessarily better, and while the Dell's 27-inch display is sizeable, you’ll lack the sharpness of other models with the 1080p resolution.
The 24-inch display on the iMac is smaller, but it offers a 4.5K screen with True Tone technology that adjusts to the surrounding light, and supports 1 billion colors.
It’s a big win for the Mac in this category, and while the Dell is solid, Apple’s 4480x2520 resolution is spectacular by comparison.
Winner: iMac M1
Dell vs Apple: Audio
Both machines offer sophisticated audio setups, with a soundbar-style setup on both. While the iMac’s are built into the chassis, there’s a more distinct divide with the Dell, but both are great for watching movies or listening to music.
We’d give the iMac the edge here, with a six-speaker array that’s great for music across all genres, although both may tempt you to pick up external speakers just for a smidge of additional bass.
Still, the Dell Inspiron 27 roars back with the option to use its speaker system via Bluetooth – meaning you can connect your phone and stream audio to it.
Dell vs Apple: Performance
It’s here that Apple’s M1 chip can stretch its legs a bit, but it comes with the caveat that if you need Windows, you’ll be better suited to the Dell (or another Windows option).
With the M1, though, the CPU and GPU are all in the same system on a chip (SoC). This makes it more power efficient (less important than in, say, a laptop), but also considerably quicker.
That, matched with the SSD drive, make it a much more capable machine than the Dell Inspiron 27. Sadly, the 256GB at the base end is woefully inadequate in today’s world.
While the Dell does offer 1.5TB of storage out of the box, it’s split into an SSD for system files and a now massively outdated spinning hard drive for the bulk of the storage. That means it’s cheaper now but could fail in the years to come.
When it comes to complex workflows and creative work, the iMac will likely come out on top – there’s an 85% bump from the prior Intel versions in terms of CPU speed.
For gaming, though, we’d always recommend going for a Windows machine – we’d just pick one with a better GPU, sadly.
One area where the iMac does fall short is in its ports, especially with the base configuration. There’s a pair of USB-C ports at Thunderbolt speeds, but that’s it unless you move to the next version – which adds an additional two USB-C ports.
The Dell Inspiron 27, on the other hand, has USB-A, USB C and HDMI ports. Still, the sheer performance of the M1 makes this another win for Apple.
Winner: iMac M1
Dell vs Apple: Value
This is a little on the subjective side, because it may just come down to how big you want your display. In that case, the Dell Inspiron 27 is the way to go, but the higher resolution of the iMac is a much more compelling prospect for a similar price.
Still, the lack of ports and the measly 256GB storage means we’re going to put this one down as a tie.
Dell vs Apple: Verdict
While we have to maintain it should be starting with at least 512GB of storage, we feel the iMac 24-inch is the better machine in this comparison.
It may be leapfrogged by an M2 variant in the coming months, but even now it’s more powerful than the Dell Inspiron and it scales more handily to creative tasks, too – without needing a dedicated GPU.