Apple iMac M1 24-inch Test (2021): Our opinion

While awaiting the next test of the 24-inch iMac 2021, conducted by the editorial team at CNET France, here’s a review from our colleagues at CNET.com.

Since we disassembled the new 24-inch Apple iMac, our first reaction was to tell us that our old 27-inch curved-back iMac did well in the attic. The iMac’s long-standing design, almost unchanged since 2012, has withstood the onslaught of time, but the revamp was in order. The new version of the smaller iMac (formerly 21.5-inch, now 24-inch) features a deeply refurbished, thin design. iMac 2021 is available in seven colors.

Arguably the biggest change since the introduction of Macs to Intel processors in 2006. A whole lineup, laptops and desktops, is moving away from Intel processors for an Apple-specific processor. The transition began in late 2020 with the M1 versions of the MacBook Air and the 13-inch MacBook Pro and Mac Mini.

Nearly a decade ago, the iMac aesthetic rests on a large screen, slightly curved at the back, that narrows into a thin bezel and anchored to an evenly curved stand. We’re now on a flat, computer screen design, with square edges. Contrast color manipulation highlights the smoothness of screen edges.

The power cable has been redesigned and is now magnetically connected. It passes through an opening in the foot. The magnetic connection holds firmly in place.

The Gigabit Ethernet port, which was previously integrated into the iMac, is now in the power port. Note that on the base iMac at € 1,449, you must add € 26 to get this option. The trapezoid foot gave way to a clean rectangle. The screen hinge has been moved to a less intrusive place than before.

This is Apple’s first computer designed from the ground up for the M1 processor. This heralds a major change in the design of Mac computers, which could extend to MacBooks, Mac Minis and others.

After pulling the 27-inch iMac Core i7 regularly around our apartment for the past year, mainly in order to use the premium camera for video conferencing, we’ve made the 24-inch iMac at 3.5kg look incredibly light.

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Most colorful Macs

IPhones have been available in a variety of colors for years. MacBooks have a few color options, but they are understated, with shades of gray, silver, and gold that don’t really look different from one another. With seven vibrant colors (and a range of two shades each), the new iMac was the most colorful Mac in a long time.

This color scheme is a clear nod to the classic iMac G3 from 1999, which adorned the massive CRT screen with exterior covers in candy-worthy colors. Nice to see this aesthetic updated. Remote workers should definitely appreciate a touch of color to decorate their interior.

We tested the orange ice cream model. On all iMac models, color is available in two shades. The included power and Lightning cable, as well as keyboard, mouse, or touchpad, and even a desktop background image are formatted.

The shame is that it is impossible to combine colors.

Color-coordinated keyboard, mouse, and touchpad are only available with the controlled system, and in the same color only. You can’t pair a green iMac with a purple keyboard. You also cannot purchase a separate color keyboard and use it with another system. Also note that the basic model Magic Keyboard for € 1449 is not equipped with Touch ID. It will cost an additional € 50 for the Touch ID Magic Keyboard.

At the moment, Apple has no plans to make color Touch ID keyboards available separately. The same was true for the dark gray keyboard and other accessories in the latest version of the iMac Pro, which was originally only available with the purchase of a system, but later became available as an à la carte menu.

Offers

In many ways, the MacBook Air, Mac Mini, the 13-inch MacBook Pro, and the 24-inch iMac are all the same computer. They use the new M1 processor, the same OS, and have the same RAM and storage configurations. The differences that could affect performance stem in part from the two different versions of the M1. Both have eight computing cores, but one has eight GPU cores while the other has only seven. If you’re trying to figure out which one you have, entry-level models usually have the seven-core version.

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Another factor that can affect performance is cooling. The MacBook Air without a fan can’t run as well as the MacBook Pro, which has cooling fans. Likewise, the base model of the 24-inch iMac includes only one indoor fan, while the high-end models have two, which helps maintain performance.

As expected, there aren’t many differences between these M1 systems. We tested the M1 versions of the MacBook Air, Mac Mini, and 13-inch MacBook Pro in late 2020, and these are the same M1 editions available today. The 24-inch iMac we tested comes with an octa-core GPU M1 version, along with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD (€ 2,129). It will also be interesting to see how the new M1-equipped iPad Pro ranks in the cross-platform benchmarks.

In terms of real-world use, this means you can easily work with 4K video footage in apps like DaVinci Resolve or Premiere, and even do 4K preview along the way. Like Lightroom and DaVinci Resolve, Photoshop now has an original M1 version. Other apps that haven’t been updated for the new processor must pass through Rosetta, the Apple x86 emulator.

Games were never a solid fit for Macs and when M1 Macs were released, many Mac compatible games weren’t running well (or at all) and even the Steam platform was struggling under Rosetta. Steam itself works normally now, and we were able to play some very demanding games including Baldur’s Gate 3.

However, in the future, a gaming solution on the Mac will undoubtedly pass through cloud platforms like Stadia or GeForce Now. It’s a great way to spin the latest titles like Resident Evil Village on the gorgeous iMac screen.

The other option is Apple Arcade, the brand’s paid streaming game service. It’s mostly focused on iPad and iPhone games, but a handful of games like Fantasian are already appearing on the iMac.

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Webcam

If there’s one fact that a lot of users have encountered in the last fifteen months … it’s that most of them have bad webcams. Almost all laptops (including all current MacBooks) come with a low-resolution 720p camera at best, usually with poor software and signal processing.

The 27-inch iMac for 2020, which still features an Intel processor, has been upgraded to an HD 1080p webcam. When we tested it last year, the difference was impressive. The new iMac also inherits a 1080p webcam, but Apple states that it is not of the same material and that the M1 chip offers better image processing. During use, we didn’t notice any noticeable difference between the 27-inch iMac and this one. However, changing lighting conditions can sometimes disable the exposure settings of the 27-inch iMac’s webcam, while the 24-inch iMac was perfectly comfortable in similar situations.

conclusion

Trying the new 24in iMac got us even more keen to see the 27-inch version with the same design. If you have a 21.5-inch, multi-year iMac and want to swap it out, our comment is the same for the MacBook Air: The transition to the M1 processor will be pretty smooth for you, that’s the point.

For professionals, the 16GB and 2TB RAM provided by the high-end version may not be enough. It might be a good idea to wait for the 27-inch iMac update that may arrive this year or next.

If you don’t have an iMac before and plan to upgrade from a laptop to an all-in-one desktop computer, you will get a more spacious screen in a smaller space. But at the entry level, 1,449 euros, it is more expensive than the MacBook Air for a fundamentally similar device, but with a larger stand-mounted screen. We recommend a $ 1669 configuration with the Touch ID keyboard, two USB-C ports, an eight-core GPU and better cooling, plus an Ethernet port built into the power supply.



Article by CNET.com adapted from CNETFrance
/ Photo: Dan Ackerman / CNET

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