The new generation iMacs have been out for a while now, enough time for us to form an opinion about them. Since Apple began the move from the Intel SOC (Silicon on Chip) to their in-house M1 chip, the greatest anticipation was to see how it will perform on the MacBook’s and their desktop counterpart—the iMac. The iMac has been the iconic all-in-one Apple desktop, and it’s safe to say most couldn’t wait to see which direction Apple would go with it.
The new design is a 24-inch desktop computer which is bigger than the 21.5-inch devices it replaces. Besides the new color options, the highlight of the show has so far been the M1 chip making everything happen. So, let’s get into it, the Apple iMac 2021 review.
iMac 2021: Specs and configurations
The 2021 iMac comes in two configurations, a base model with a 7-core GPU and a top-spec model with an 8-core GPU. The base model with its 7-core GPU features two Thunderbolt 3/USB 4 ports, and the high-end 8-core GPU version comes with two thunderbolt 3/USB 4 ports and an extra 2 USB-C ports. Both have an ethernet port on the charging brick and use the magic keyboard with TouchID as primary security. However, if you decide to scrimp on the options, you can have a power brick with no ethernet, one fan, and a no-TouchID keyboard to cut costs. SSD storage is standard on both of them, with the entry-level spec being 256GB. However, you can upgrade up to 1TB on the 7-core GPU version and to 2TB on the 8-core GPU version. RAM is also integrated for both versions with 8GB as the standard, but you can upgrade it to 16GB on both.
iMac 2021: Design
The iMac 2021 is a design refresh from the bulky iMacs of old it replaces. Whether in the base 7-core GPU spec or the upgraded 8-Core GPU version, you will meet a lighter and more colorful iMac with improved features that take it further than most all-in-one computers in the market today. For one, this new iMac is only 11.5 mm thick, and despite having a larger 24inch display, it is no bigger than the previous-gen iMac. Put next to the 2020 27-inch iMac, it looks like a tablet on a stand. It also has seven color options which are yellow, purple, pink, orange, green, blue, and classic silver. The front maintains its trademark chin, but the screen bezels have been shrunk in a more time-conscious move for apple. There are no height adjustments for the stands, and only tilt adjustments are allowed. This stand is unlike the $1000 display on the Pro Display XDR that allows for tons of adjustment.
With the slim profile of the machine, the headphone jack had to be moved to the side. Apple also made upgrades to the speakers, camera, and microphone. The speaker is punchy with spatial audio and Dolby Atmos support to deliver high quality and well-balanced sound all through. The camera and microphone setup are the best fitted on an iMac to date. The camera will capture 1080P video on facetime, thanks to the image signal processor of the M1 chip powering it.
iMac 2021: Performance
The colors and the new design language give the new iMac more consumer appeal than any other desktop computer. However, it is the performance of the M1 chip that will put it on many desks for years to come. By now, the M1 chip is no stranger in the market, having been implemented in the MacBook pro, air, mac mini, and iPad Pro, so we sort of know what it can do. But if you have just heard of it, it is Apple’s own chipset made for its computers. On the iMac, this chip makes it 85% faster than the 2020intel variant, not to forget more efficient as it has 4 efficiency and 4 performance cores in the CPU.
The highest spec you can have for your 2021 iMac is an 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU with 16GB RAM, but you won’t be missing out on much if you went for the 7-Core GPU variant. It runs the latest macOS Big Sur with no problems and will hold many apps in memory and still feel fast, smooth, and springy. It will ace most CPU-intensive workloads, including video editing and rendering, modelling, and the 4.5K display comes in handy when consuming media. This computer will also run iOS and iPadOS applications extending the library of applications you can use here. On its release, there were a few compatible software for the M1 chip, with most running through Rosetta. The story has changed over the last few months, and more developers have come on board to develop apps with M1 compatibility.
This is a great machine, and given that it performs almost similar to the MacBooks, the most notable consideration comes down to what form factor you prefer. It just works straight out of the box, and the Apple homespun M1 chip is a masterpiece. Plenty of colors means it will fit in any room and its seamless integration with other devices in Apple’s Ecosystem is a massive plus if you have many Apple devices.