Apple's latest iMac looks great, even faster

By Michael deAgonia, Computerworld |  Hardware, Apple, iMac

Or, rather, it will work. Soonish. Unfortunately, very few Thunderbolt cables and hard drives are shipping, though they're expected to be on the market sometime this summer. (Apple finally released a $49 Thunderbolt cable on Tuesday, as well as an FAQ detailing how it works.) If ThunderBolt delivers on speeds as promised, IT pros who choose to use it will spend far less time waiting for transfers.

Daily use

Theoretical Thunderbolt performance aside, this iMac performs very well under everyday, and even extenuating, circumstances. In a month's worth of use, the iMac I tested never crashed.

iMovie breezed through projects that choke my own Core i7 MacBook Pro (with 8GB ram and a 1TB hard drive). Specifically, I have a complex iMovie project with hundreds of edits. On the MacBook Pro, iMovie's real-time rendering results in garbled audio and long pauses between changes. (In iMovie's defense, however, this is a project that took four hours to render on the iMac, yielding more than an hour of high-definition video in a 5GB h.264 file.) The iMac handled the project without breaking a sweat, a great showing of the raw horsepower of the new Sandy Bridge processor.

I've been reviewing Macs for some time now, and for consistency's sake, I have a complex, 50-minute iMovie project that I like to render on every Mac I review. (The iMovie file was exported using Apple's "Large" settings, resulting in an h.264 m4v file with a resolution of 960 by 540 pixels.) Last year's high-end iMac -- a 2.8GHz quadcore i5 -- rendered the movie project in an hour and eight minutes. The iMac I tested did it in just 48 minutes.

What a difference a few months makes. Of course, that kind of speed boost is less apparent when doing more mundane work like checking email, surfing the Web or watching videos full-screen. And while the HD webcam is nice for video chats, it won't do any good unless the person you're chatting with also has a recent Apple computer with the same camera. Sure, you'll look great to the other person. But you'll see them in regular definition video.

Trackpads and keyboards

Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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