Saturday, September 21, 2013

2012 27" iMac Impressions and Review

 Lately, I've been desiring a more powerful desktop computer to help speed up time consuming tasks such as video encoding and to use as a good computer gaming station in my room.

The last desktop computer I've owned was way back in 2009, which was another iMac but much older—with a Core 2 Duo CPU. After having numerous display issues with the computer, I ended up selling it and moving permanently for a long time to exclusively using laptops.

But now, I think it's finally time for me to get a new desktop, especially since I have more than enough Benjamins in my bank account to fund for pretty much computer I yearned. And let's face it, the small screens and lack of CPU and GPU power on laptops was getting kind of aggravating.

Oh no Wonder, why on Earth would you get a Mac for gaming, naysayers might say. Well, the fact is that I got a Mac because I love the primary operating system and its rock solid stability (OS X). More than that however, is that Macs are just aesthetically beautiful times a thousand compared to PCs, which are downright ugly or geeky looking majority of the time. I also needed a computer that has Thunderbolt ports, which are necessary for me to use the BlackMagic Intensity Shuttle that I'm purchasing later on. The iMac also had one of the best GPU of its time, which was a slimmed down version of the Nvidia GTX 680. This along with the ability to quickly switch from in and out of Windows, sealed the deal for me.

Unfortunately, this computer wasn't cheap. I spent a whopping $2,400 on it; the most amount of money I ever spent a computer in my life! Fortunately, when the iMac did arrive, everything turned out to be good (despite those horrid QC stories you often hear on Apple forums).

iMac's pretty box which I stuffed away inside my empty closet.
iMac all set up on my desk. Forgive the bad lighting, the iMac's screen is so bright it caused the room to go completely dark with my camera.

The specs of the machine I purchased was the following:
  • 27" display
  • 3.4Ghz Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.9Ghz
  • 8GB 1600Mhz DDR3 SDRAM
  • 1TB 7200RPM SATA HDD
  • Nvidia GeForce 680MX with 2GB VRAM
  • Mighty Mouse and Wireless Keyboard combo

This was a custom built order, so Apple was supposedly unable to ship it within 24 hours as they had to build it first for me. Amazingly, the build time took less than a day, and Apple was even nice enough to upgrade to 2 day FedEx shipping at no cost! I got it literally over the weekend.

The only thing I regret at the time being is not getting the optional 1TB Fusion Drive for an additional $225. With the Fusion Drive, it combines a 128GB SSD and 1TB HDD together and virtually makes it seem like one drive. Hence, you'll get the speed of an SSD (most of the time) and the benefits of a larger spaced traditional HDD.

After researching it more extensively however, I found out that it was a better idea to just buy an external SSD, hook it up to Thunderbolt and use it to boot. It's faster, has more space and cheaper than the ridiculous prices Apple are charging. I don't want my two drives to be combined into one either, which is just strange and I like to have full control of my things.

So I'm contemplating about buying this external 256GB Thunderbolt SSD for $329:

I'll definitely be reviewing this SSD once I get it and test it out.

Anyways, enough about my own story, you probably want to know more about the machine itself. So here are my impressions with the iMac so far...


* Excellent screen. The IPS panel technology provides superb viewing angles (better than any other display I've seen and own before), eye-popping colors and rich contrast. The color profile is just a tad on the warm side, so a little color calibration (with something like a Spyder 4) and it would likely be flawless. And while it's not a retina quality display, it's pretty damn close to it.
* Nice sexy design. As obvious, the iMac has a great minimalistic and slim design with aluminum and glass. No plastic on the computer at all, which is awesome.
* Graphics performance is excellent. I believe Nvidia actually custom built the 680MX specifically for the iMac. All 3D games runs like a dream with maximum quality settings and in native resolution.
* Speakers and sound quality are very good, a lot better than I expected. A great balance of both bass and treble. It sounds so good that I don't even think I'll be needing to plug in external speakers with it.
* Very fast CPU performance. The 3.4Ghz quad core i7 processor with turbo boost makes almost anything CPU extensive a breeze. Video encoding is so much faster than my old Core 2 Duo machines.
* Nice variety of ports. You have USB 3.0, Thunderbolt, Ethernet, microphone, line in and a SD card slot. The Thunderbolt ports are notably nice as you can use it to drive the highest speed devices, such as thunderbolt SSD drives and HD capture devices.
* Windows was so easy to setup. Bootcamp now allows you to default to starting up in the Windows partition all the time, so you no longer have to continuously hold down the option key during startup. With Parallel's Desktop, running Windows on top of OS X works efficiently well too.
* OS X. Need I say more?


* The Mighty Mouse is borderline bad. It is too flat and therefore not incredibly ergonomic. Multi-gestures are difficult to use and the amount of gestures you can do are minimal. In fact, most of the gestures requires you to use Safari as your internet browser (sorry, I will always use Firefox). The mouse doesn't work well gliding on my leather mouse pad and for some reason trying to use it to adjust sliders is virtually impossible, possibly due to the sensitivity. I end up selling it and get a much cheaper, but better functioning Logitech M510 wireless mouse.
* The wireless keyboard, while not quite as bad as the Mighty Mouse, is still not the very best. It's more difficult to type on than a regular keyboard as the keys are so thin and leaves almost zero feedback response. The worst however are the side keys such as delete, which are so small I often find myself pressing them or the wrong key next to them by accident. It's still a decent, usable keyboard nevertheless. I just wish Apple would make the wireless keyboard the same version as the wired keyboard.
* Screen size and resolution. This might just be me, but I think the screen size and resolution is a bit too big! Since the Apple menu bar is always affixed to the top, I often find myself completely shifting my eyes and try to move the tiny cursor a long distance to the top corners. Perhaps I just need to get used to it? I do like the large 2560 x 1440 screen estate, but I find myself not even use 30% of it.
* No CD/DVD drive. This isn't a killer for me, as I rarely ever use CD/DVDs. Who still does anyways? Even when installing Windows through Bootcamp, you can do it all over USB now.
* The noise of the computer is not entirely silent. Even when idle and nothing running, you can still hear a tiny bit of white noise coming from the fans constantly.
* Hardware upgrade of the computer is quite limited. You only have user access to the RAM, which can upgraded to 32GB the max. Regardless, I believe the computer already has more than enough hardware to satisfy the current heavy user from now to at least 5 more years (until it gets somewhat outdated). Fortunately, Apple electronics are well known to hold their value incredibly well. When the times comes to upgrade, you can simply sell the current iMac for roughly the same amount of money you purchased it, then use the funds for a new computer. I actually sold my old iMac for $400 more than I bought it for, and I bought it brand new!

Overall Impressions:

So far, I'm loving it! I don't regret paying the premium price for such a nice machine, especially considering how gorgeous the display looks. As for custom PC vs this iMac, I would personally go with iMac all the way.


  1. My brother used to own an older white iMac. He later sold it to upgrade to a custom PC when he moved out. I kinda missed it! I would buy one today but they are too expensive for my needs. >_<

  2. OMG is that a Moka Akasya figure on your desk?!

  3. That is one expensive ass computer!

  4. Nice wallpaper photo. Care to give me a link to download it?

  5. Good informative read, Thank you so much for nice information….. For more details and iMac price in India.... click the link imac price in india