The new iMac (24-inch, 2021) is a refreshed upgrade of the all-familiar 21.5-inch predecessor, that’s better in pretty much every way. It gets a better, larger screen, a modern and colorful design, and deliver excellent performance.
- Gorgeous display
- Great 1080p webcam
- Speakers deliver rich, vibrant audio
- M1 chip offers speedy performance
- Lack of ports remains
- Charging the mouse is still awkward
The new Apple iMac 2021 (24-inch) is an impressive improvement over the aging iMac line, coming in with a beautiful display, an excellent webcam and a range of bright new color schemes. It’s the boldest reinvention of Apple’s, iconic, all-in-one Mac for almost 15 years.
It looks a whole lot different, sleek and modern, a very welcome update, as the previous aluminum silver design was already feeling rather stale.
Apple not only changed the design. The 2021 iMac comes in a new size, 24 inches, replacing the 21.5-inch iMac model (the 27-inch iMac remains on sale). Impressively, even with the larger screen size, the new iMac (24-inch, 2021) isn’t that much larger than the 21.5-inch model, measuring 54.7 x 46.1 x 14.7cm (screen itself is 11.5mm thin), compared to its predecessor’s 52.8 x 45 x 17.5cm, but almost the same size as the Acer Aspire Z24 AIO desktop.
This means you’re getting more screen real estate on the new iMac, without significantly increasing the overall size; in fact, due to the noticeably thinner profile, the new iMac is a more versatile all-in-one PC, that’s easier to carry around and set up.
Let’s see how it stacks up against other AIOs in this iMac 2021 review.
2021 Apple iMac Specifications
|CPU||Apple M1 (8-core)|
|Graphics||Integrated 8-core GPU|
|RAM||8GB Unified LPDDR4 RAM|
|Screen||24-inch, 4.5K 4,480 x 2,520 Retina display (IPS, 500 nits brightness, wide color P3 gamut)|
|Ports||2x Thunderbolt USB 4 (USB-C), 2x USB 3 (USB-C), 3.5mm headphone jack|
|Connectivity||Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0|
|Camera||1080p FaceTime HD webcam|
|Weight||9.88 pounds (4.48kg)|
|Size||18.1 x 21.5 x 5.8 inches (46.1 x 54.7 x 14.7cm; W x D x H)|
In our previous reviews of Apple’s iMacs, one thing was always sticking out in our dislikes list, Apple was sticking largely to a design that was largely unchanged since 2009 (and that design was a brief change from the 2007 iMac). All that was maintained at a time when most all-in-one PC makers, like Microsoft and Lenovo, were treating users to exciting things in the AIO form factor. The iMac was starting to feel, painfully outdated, with the once iconic design becoming more of a curse than a blessing.
In 2021, we’re pleased to see that Apple has redesigned the iMac, with a bold modern makeover, while steel keeping the signature Apple allure. From all the promotional material and the photos in this review, you’ll probably notice that the quintessential look of the new iMac.
Now, the iMac desktop come sin seven colors, meaning you can choose the finish that’s right for your aesthetic. The iMac 24 colors are: green, yellow, orange, pink, purple, blue and silver (but for the entry model, you’re limited to green, pink, blue and silver).
Apart from the color variations, the new iMac 2021 (24-inch) sports a slightly more rectangular design, that’s reminiscent of the latest iPhones, and it’s now thinner and more compact than ever, thanks in large to the inclusion of the Apple M1 chips that power this iMac.
Inputs and Ports
And even here, Apple did make some pretty neat changes, emphasizing the kind of details endowed on the new iMac. Apple did redesign the power adapter, so it easily connects to the iMac via magnets, highlighting the return of Apple’s MagSafe technology. It is now quick and easy to insert the cable, as its placement on previous iMacs could make that tricky. Also, on higher-end models the power adapter features a Gigabit Ethernet, so you can plug your wired network cable in this, another clever touch.
Like the power cable, the included Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse and Magic Touchpad are all color-coordinated as well; and when you launch macOS Big Sur, you’ll realize that certain elements of the user interface, such as desktop background, use the same color as your iMac.
Apart from the new array of colors the Magic Mouse and Trackpad remain unchanged – which may be either a good or bad thing, depending on how good you got on with them in the past. It also means that Apple still keeps the baffling decision to put the charging port of the mouse on the underside of the device.
Also, with the new design of the iMac (24-inch, 2021) comes notable changes to the array of ports around the back. The base model gets two Thunderbolt/USB 4 Type-C ports, offering 40Gb/s data transfer speeds. The higher-end models sport the full complement of 2 Thunderbolt 4 ports and 2 USB 3 ports behind the display, along with a headphone jack along the lower left edge of the display, and Gigabit Ethernet port built into the power adapter.
For wireless Internet, the new 24-inch iMac supports 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0.
Display, Webcam and Audio
The screen on the 2021 iMac is gorgeous, with a 4.5K Retina resolution that sums up to 4480 x 2520 and a pixel density of 218ppi (pixels per inch). When we compare this to the previous model’s 4K (4096 x 2304 resolution), Apple is offering a much-improved display that delivers the best image quality we’ve seen in a recent all-in-one PC.
Additionally, the screen offers 500 nits brightness, and supports the p3 wide color gamut, which delivers bright, vibrant and accurate colors. Images really look superb on this screen, and it means the Apple iMac (24-inch, 2021) is great PC for photo editing and video editing.
There’s a 1080p webcam built into the top bezel of the new iMac that delivers great image quality on video calls, a much welcome feature now that more people are working remotely than ever before.
For audio output, there are six speakers built into the bottom of the new 24-inch iMac: 2 pairs of low-frequency woofers and one pair of high-frequency tweeters, with support for spatial audio via Dolby Atmos.
2021 Apple iMac Review: Performance
With the new iMac 24, apple not only redesigned the outside, the internals have been beefed up, as this is the first iMac to run on the Apple M1 chip. This is the same chip that powers the Apple Mac Mini (m1 2020), MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) and the MacBook Air (M1, 2020), as such, replacing the intel processors that previously powered the iMac.
The same M1 chip used in the new iMac is the same as the one ones inside its other m1 products. So, before we even unpacked the new iMac we already had a decent idea of how it would perform. So, you get the choice of an M1 chip with an 8-core CPU (with four performance cores and four efficiency core), and either a 7-core or 8-core GPU – the same options available with the M1 MacBooks and Mac Mini.
Our review unit, the Apple iMac (MGPK3LL/A) comes with the full 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU, along with 16GB of RAM and 256GB SSD storage, making it the highest specced iMac you can get, so our experiences of the new iMac are what you can expect with the more expensive models. However, for most day-to-day use, you may notice a big performance difference if you go with the base 7-core GPU model.
The 256GB SSD is nice and speedy as well, and not only does this mean that macOS Big Sur and various apps launch quickly, it means file transfers are quite fast – you can move 3GB of files to an external hard drive to the iMac’s storage in under five seconds.
Well, apart from productivity and content creation, the 24-inch iMac isn’t built to deliver butter-smooth gaming performance. You’re not getting anything beyond 30fps on modern titles like Rise of the Tomb Raider, but that’s understandable as it lacks a dedicated graphics card, just like the HP 27-d0072 AIO that features an integrated graphics card. On the other hand, the Envy All-in-One PC (32-a1050) features Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2070 graphics card, giving it better gaming chops over the new iMac.
On the other hand, media creation and video editing – even in 8K resolution is smooth all the way. This is intensive, but like the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020), the new iMac performs well; scrubbing through 8K content, previewing and editing, are all handled smoothly. While professional video editors may want to stick with the 27-inch iMac, or wait to see what Apple brings out next, due to the added performance a dedicated GPU would bring, the 24-inch iMac (2021) does an excellent job, at least for now.
Should I buy the iMac (24-inch, 2021)?
Yes. So far, so good – the 2021 Apple iMac is the best all-in-one PC we’ve reviewed. A gorgeous, sleek design, excellent performance and fair price tag means this is the best all-in-one to get yourself today. The high-res screen and colorful design makes it a brilliant PC for video-editing professionals looking to edit content on the fly, without having to invest on expensive AIO systems.
On the other hand, the 24-inch iMac isn’t the most expensive all-in-one out there, but if you want to save money, the Mac Mini is a lot cheaper, and offers the same performance, you miss on the lovely screen, though. But if you’re willing to spend on a new all-in-one from Apple, this is a great one to buy.