GCN LAB REVIEW: Apple iMac MB418LL/A

Pros: All-in one system
Cons: Low performance, very little is upgradable
Performance: B-
Upgradability: C
Ease of Access: N/A
Features: B+
Value: B
Price: $1,499 ($1,364 government)

Apple’s iMac MB418LL/A has everything you’d expect from an iMac — built-in screen, space-age look and OS X. Unfortunately, it also has everything you’d expect from an iMac — limited upgrade opportunities and no access to most of the components.

The iMac comes with only four USB ports in the back and none in the front, which is the fewest of any computer in this review. The compact keyboard, whose 78-key configuration contains no numeric keypad, takes up one of the precious USB ports. However, it provides one port in addition to the one being used by the mouse, so it effectively uses none. We were pleased to see a FireWire and a Micro-DVI port. And of course, we cannot forget that the iMac has a beautiful 24-inch display.

Component access is virtually nonexistent in the iMac. But that is how iMacs are made, and anyone buying one would no doubt expect it. Because you can’t get at anything inside the iMac, except the memory, without breaking it, we felt that any Ease of Access grade would be meaningless, so we did not assign one.

If anything is the iMac’s Achilles’ heel, it is upgradability. You cannot upgrade or replace anything except the memory through a small access panel on the bottom of the computer. A 2G module already consumes each of the memory card slots, so no upgrades are possible without replacement.

The iMac scored only 744.3 in our benchmark tests, which is the lowest in the review. This is largely because of its 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo 8200 processor; the other computers in the roundup use faster processors. Of course, some of the slow performance might be because the iMac is optimized for OS X instead of the Windows Vista operating system we needed to install to run the benchmark program.

The list price of $1,499 is not bad considering what you get, and the government price of $1,364 is even better. This system is made for any user who prefers Mac OS X to Windows, though it has enough power, as we found out, to also drive Vista. So a dual-boot configuration is possible, which might help it slip into more government circles, where the impressive looking design will certainly stand out.

Apple, 800-692-7753, www.apple.com

Reader Comments

Mon, Apr 27, 2009 scotrace OH

Remove two screws from the bottom of the screen and you have full access to ALL of the components. Is that "breaking" it? PLEASE do your homework?

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