Apple iMac 27-inch 2011 review

Is the high-end iMac more powerful than you need?

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Our Verdict

An incredible top-of-the-range iMac, but possibly more capable than most users will need

Product features

  • Screen Resolution : 2560 x 1440
  • Processor Core : Quad-core (4 Core)

View full specification


  • Powerful Hyper Threading CPU
  • Great new AMD graphics
  • Excellent 27-inch screen
  • Twin Thunderbolt ports
  • Most powerful iMac ever


  • Same old optical drive
  • No antiglare screen option
  • Additional memory very expensive
  • Currently few Thunderbolt peripherals available
  • Cheaper iMac might prove good enough

UPDATE: Check out our latest 27-inch Apple iMac review

Although the form factor is unchanged, the 2011 Apple iMac refresh represents a significant step forwards for the popular all-in-one computer. Again consisting of two 21.5-inch models and two with 27-inch screens, the entire lineup has switched to Intel's Sandy Bridge processors, the second generation of the respected Core-i CPU series.

Quad core Intel Core i5s are used throughout, whereas the 2010 iMacs they replace used dual core Intel Core i3s in all but the most expensive model.

Our colleagues at grabbed some Apple iMac 27-inch footage which you can watch below.

The 27-inch iMac under review here is the priciest in the 2011 range, but instead of the quad-core 3.1GHz Intel Core i5 processor offered in the standard configuration, ours was fitted with a quad core 3.4GHz Core i7 CPU. This is available as a configure-to-order option on the online Apple store, costing £1,809 rather than the £1,649 quoted for the top-end off the shelf offering.

It's otherwise identical to the top-of-the-range 27-inch 3.1GHz iMac in the 2011 range. Its graphics processor is an AMD Radeon HD 6970M with 1GB of GDDR5 memory, up from an ATI Radeon HD 5750 in the top 2010 version, the 27-inch SSD.

Storage remains unchanged – a 1TB 7200rpm hard drive is installed as standard, with configuration options offering a 2TB drive, a 256GB solid-state drive or a combination of SSD and HDD.

Once again, it has 4GB of 1333MHz DDR3 memory out of the box, which can be expanded to 16GB either as an online configuration option or a post-market modification by the end user.

The 27-inch 2011 iMac's Mini DisplayPort has been dropped in favour of two Thunderbolt ports, an exciting new I/O technology that can support video as well as data.

You can plug a Mini DisplayPort monitor directly into a Thunderbolt port for use as a second screen, and it also acts as a video-in port, allowing you to use the iMac's huge 2560x1440 pixel 27-inch LED-backlit glossy widescreen display as a screen for another device.

The FaceTime camera has been upgraded to HD, and the SD card reader now supports the SDXC format.

Tech Specs

Product TypeAll-in-One Computer
Green CompliantYes
Processor ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ManufacturerATI
Graphics Controller ModelRadeon HD 5750
Wireless LANYes
Optical Drive TypeDVD-Writer
Graphics Memory AccessibilityShared
Total Hard Drive Capacity1 TB
Product FamilyiMac
Operating SystemMac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard
Brand NameApple
Form FactorDesktop
Processor Speed2.80 GHz
Processor TypeCore i5
Screen Size68.6 cm (27")
Screen Resolution2560 x 1440
Standard Memory4 GB
Processor CoreQuad-core (4 Core)
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityENERGY STAR, EPEAT Gold
Memory Card ReaderYes
64-bit ProcessingYes
Number of Total Memory Slots4
Optical Media SupportedDVD±R/±RW
Dual-Layer Media SupportedYes
Graphics Memory CapacityUp to 1 GB
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11n
Number of Processors Installed1
Ethernet TechnologyGigabit Ethernet
Backlight TechnologyLED
Total Number of USB Ports4
Memory StandardDDR3-1333/PC3-10600
Height518.2 mm
Width650.2 mm
Depth207 mm
Screen ModeWQHD
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
ManufacturerApple, Inc
Product ModelMC511B/A
Product NameiMac MC511B/A Desktop Computer
Product LineiMac
Controller TypeSerial ATA
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberMC511B/A
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

The new iMac 27-inch display with edge-to-edge glass covers nearly the entire front of the enclosure. When all you see is the display, nothing gets between you and what's on-screen. Movies, TV shows, websites, photos - everything looks stunning on the new 16:9 widescreen iMac display.

Maximum Memory16 GB
Package Contents
  • iMac MC511B/A Desktop Computer
  • Power Cord
  • Magic Mouse
  • Cleaning Cloth
  • Install/restore DVDs
  • Apple Wireless Keyboard
  • Printed and Electronic Documentation
Limited Warranty1 Year
Weight (Approximate)13.80 kg