The iMac is back with a useful, if incremental, update. This latest release comes in four configurations.
The entry-level unit boasts a 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, a 20-inch screen, 2GB of RAM, a 320GB hard drive and an Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics processor for £949.
Taking a step up, the next machine increases the screen size to 24 inches and doubles the on-board RAM and hard-drive capacity, for £1,199.
Top of the range is the £1,799 model with the 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor (which is surprisingly unchanged since last summer's top-of-the-range release), a 1TB hard drive and an Nvidia GeForce GT 130 GPU with 512MB memory.
We tested the second-most powerful machine of the quartet, a 24-inch model with a 2.93GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM (one of the fastest memory technologies currently available), a 640GB hard drive and an Nvidia GeForce GT 120 with 256MB memory, costing £1,499.
We last covered an iMac back in the summer of 2008 when Apple sent us their top-of-the range model, featuring the 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor. The one we're reviewing here runs at only 2.93GHz, yet it outperforms last year's model.
Loading up iTunes 8.0.2, we ripped our eight-track test CD as 128kbps AAC files in six minutes, 13 seconds, more than 1.5 minutes faster than the iMac tested last year.
Video encoding enjoyed a similar boost, with QuickTime Pro 7.6 exporting our five-minute, 720x480, 30fps test movie as an iPod-friendly file in four minutes, 53 seconds, which is a few seconds slower, but no significant difference.
Gamers will be glad to know the frame rate test in Doom 3 ran at 90.6 frames per second, which is fast enough for even the most demanding gamer.
The new 24-inch iMac gave us few causes for complaints, but there are one or two things we must moan about. Although the display is excellent and well up to Apple's current standards, a matt-screen option would be appreciated, as not everyone likes the glossy finish.
An overhaul of the stand is overdue as the current version still won't let you adjust the height, and bundling the smaller, number pad-less USB keyboard makes little sense (although if you buy online you can opt for the version with a number pad at no extra cost).
Overall, the latest 24-inch iMac is another winner. It looks good, performs well and would be a welcome addition to any Mac fan's desktop.