Apple 21-inch iMac

The new iMac is gorgeous to behold. It's incredibly thin (around 5mm at the edges), and although there's a bulge in the centre where the computer components are housed, unless you're looking at it almost side-on, you hardly notice.

The late 2013 iMac retains the form factor used in the 2012 upgrade, but upgrades several key components. The processors are now Haswell chips, the graphics processor on the more expensive 21.5-inch model is an Nvidia 7 Series model and WiFi is now ac.

We liked

The iMac's performance has come on in leaps and bounds over the last few years. The late 2013 models certainly impress. The new Haswell processors are powerful and efficient, and although the off-the-shelf Core i5s lack a Hyper Threading feature, Turbo Boost gives them a welcome burst of speed when needed.

The Nvidia GeForce GT 750M GPU is definitely a step up from the previous generation's 6 Series Nvidia graphics, the move to 801.11ac gives improved wireless network speeds and if you opt for an SSD or Fusion Drive as a custom upgrade, the switch to PCIe connections makes them a little faster. There are some great custom options available on the Apple Online Store, especially for the more expensive of the two 21.5-inch models.

We disliked

The iMac's optical drive was sacrificed for the new slimline design. Not everyone will find this a fair exchange, but if you still need optical storage, it's easy enough to connect a USB DVD drive. Unlike the 27-inch iMacs, you can't upgrade the memory yourself after purchase. Indeed, iMacs are very difficult to upgrade at all.

Although we can live with the increase in the price, dropping the discrete graphics card from the entry-level iMac makes it better suited to a price drop than a rise. The more expensive smaller-screen iMac offers a faster processor and an Nvidia GeForce GT 750M with 1GB video memory for only £150 (about US$250, AU$250) more, which is surely better value for money.

Verdict

While the 2013 update is a welcome refresh, it's also nothing radical. Perhaps this is unsurprising coming less than a year after the radical redesign of late 2012. But it's nonetheless welcome, with a switch to Haswell processors and, for the more expensive 21.5-inch version, Nvidia 7 Series graphics.

We're not too happy about the discrete GPU vanishing from the entry-level, 2.7GHz model, though. With the 2.9GHz version costing only slightly more, we think it represents better value for money.