|Apple iMac 21.5-inch||Gateway One ZX6900-01e|
|Display size/resolution||21.5-inch, 1,920x1,080||23-inch, 1,920x1,080|
|CPU||3.06GHz Intel Core i3||2.93GHz Intel Core i3 530|
|Memory||4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM||4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM|
|Graphics||256MB ATI Radeon HD 4670 graphics card||64MB (shared) Intel GMA 4500 integrated graphics chip|
|Hard drives||500GB, 7,200rpm||640GB, 7,200rpm|
|Optical drive||Dual-layer DVD burner||Blu-ray/DVD-burner combo|
|Networking||Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless, Bluetooth||Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless|
|Operating system||Apple OS X 10.6.4||Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)|
Given the focus on new computing components, the new iMac's performance is the biggest news in this update. The Windows all-in-one market hasn't been standing still since the last iMac update, and it's worth accounting for the iMac's features relative to those systems as well.
The Gateway One ZX6900-01e is one of the more impressive Windows all-in-ones we've seen lately. It features a 23-inch display, a Blu-ray drive, a larger hard drive than the iMac, and a relatively fast Core i3 CPU of its own. It's also $200 cheaper than the $1,199 iMac, which has a smaller screen and no Blu-ray. The Gateway is not as attractive as the iMac, and it lacks the iMac's fast graphics card. Blu-ray also isn't a crucial feature for everyone, but the fact is that you can get it on the Gateway for a good price.
The Gateway's larger screen is also a problem for Apple. The two have the same resolution, and Apple can argue it has better screen quality. For some people that might make a difference (photo editors, for example). Others will simply see the differences in physical screen size and question the iMac's value. The Gateway's larger screen is better suited to movie watching, making it a particularly good match for the Blu-ray drive. Your preference will depend on how you intend to use your all-in-one, but most shoppers will have a hard time turning away from the Gateway's larger display. Our hunch is that by the time Apple updates the iMac again, the lower-end models will see a screen size upgrade.
We've mentioned that, aside from the SDXC card support, the ports on this new iMac are the same. That means you get four USB 2.0 jacks, a FireWire 800 port, analog and digital audio jacks, and a MiniDisplay Port output. There's no MiniDisplay input here, much less HDMI input, which we'd prefer. HP's TouchSmart 600 and Sony's Vaio J Series both have HDMI inputs, giving you an easy way to use your all-in-one as a home entertainment hub by letting you connect a game console, a cable box, or other HDMI video sources. Those systems both make other sacrifices, particularly in performance compared with the iMac, so we can't say Apple has left off a feature without giving you anything in return. Like the screen-size issue, the lack of an HDMI input in the iMac won't bug everyone.
|Apple iMac summer 2010||Average watts per hour|
|Raw (annual kWh)||172.134|
|Energy Star compliant||Yes|
|Annual operating cost (@$0.1135/kWh)||$19.54|
We weren't sure what to expect from the new iMac's power consumption because of its discrete graphics card. Our suspicions about higher power draw increased when we found the iMac's surface temperature running extremely hot, up to 103 degrees in standby mode, on the backside of the case (as measured by a laser-guided thermometer), where we assume Apple installed the new GPU. Though that temperature reading seems high, the new iMac's power draw was anything but, coming in second overall in its field of similarly priced all-in-ones. Probably the most impressive fact is that despite its faster components, the new iMac actually requires roughly the same power as the previous model. We assume most of you will find the new iMac's annual $19.54 or so in energy charges a manageable expense.
Apple remains an outlier in the PC industry for its support policies. You get 90 days of toll-free support and a yearlong warranty by default. After that, you can either refer to Apple's Web site, a Genius Bar, or an Apple-authorized service provider, or pay $169 for three years of phone service via AppleCare, which also extends your warranty to three years. We have a feeling that Apple considers tying the warranty upsell to what other vendors would consider standard phone support a savvy business move. For the inconvenience this policy causes its customers who simply want to pick up the phone, we respectfully disagree.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Apple iMac 21.5-inch summer 2010 (3.06GHz Intel Core i3)
Apple OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.4; 3.06GHz Intel Core i3; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 256MB ATI Radeon HD 4670 graphics card; 500GB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive
Apple iMac 21.5-inch fall 2009 (3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo)
Apple OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.1; 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E7600; 4GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 9400 integrated graphics chip; 500GB 7,200rpm Seagate Digital hard drive
Gateway One ZX6900-01e
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.93GHz Intel Core i3 530; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 64MB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 integrated graphics chip; 640GB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive
HP TouchSmart 300-1120
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.7GHz AMD Athlon X2 235e; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3270 integrated graphics chip; 750GB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive
Lenovo IdeaCentre B500 08873AU
Windows 7 Home Premium; 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q8400S; 6GB 1,066MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 250M; 1TB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive
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