Apple iMac 2021 (24-inch)


iMac 24-inch, M1 display on, green colour on deskiMac 24-inch, M1 display on, green colour on desk

The iMac 2021 (24-inch) with M1 is a glorious desktop that feels more like a design statement than a piece of tech when it’s sitting on a desk. This is more than just a pretty face though, with a stunning 4.5K screen and fast performance too.

Pros

  • Fantastic design
  • Excellent webcam, speakers and microphones
  • Bright and sharp screen

Cons

  • No SD card slot
  • Can’t adjust the height

Availability

  • UKRRP: £1249
  • USARRP: $1299
  • EuropeRRP: €1449
  • CanadaRRP: CA$1599
  • AustraliaRRP: AU$1899

Key Features


  • Excellent PerformanceThe M1 chip makes for a very fast computer

  • Retina displayThe 4.5K 24-inch screen is a great size for smaller spots

  • DesignColourful design really helps it stand out

Introduction

Apple has finally redesigned the iMac, injecting some much-needed fun into the desktop computer for the first time in years. If an all-in-one machine is top of your list, the iMac 2021 (24-inch) is the best choice for most people.

Desktop computers aren’t that exciting, and I would hazard a guess that most people on the hunt for a new machine would plump for one of the best laptops instead. But if you don’t need a remote workstation or simply want a machine as a family hub, then this new iMac is a wonderful choice.

It’s fast, looks great and fits just about anywhere. Apple has needed to inject some new life into the iMac range for years and this update does just that.

Pricing

There are three versions of the iMac 2021 (24-inch) sold by Apple.

The base model starts at £1249/$1299/€1449 with an 8-core CPU, 7-core GPU, 256GB storage and 8GB RAM. This model has two USB 4/Thunderbolt port and comes with a Magic Keyboard without Touch ID. You also don’t get ethernet support.

For £1449/$1499/€1669 you get an 8-core GPU, 8-core CPU, 256GB storage and 8GB RAM. Plus another duo of USB 3 USB-C ports, gigabit ethernet and a TouchID-toting keyboard. If I was buying this machine, this is the one I would choose.

Finally, for £1649/$1699/€1899 you get all the above but with 512GB of storage. An upgrade to 16GB memory is £200/$200/€230 while going all-out with 2TB storage is £800/$800/€920. 

Design

  • Multiple colour options
  • Looks wildy different to the previous iMac
  • Can’t really adjust the height of the screen

The iMac 2021 is all about the design. This is the first time Apple’s primary desktop computer has received a notable design shift in over a decade – and it couldn’t be more eye catching. 

There’s a strong sense of nostalgia here and this is very much a descendent of the colourful iMac G3 from the late 90s. I grew up with a purple version of that iconic machine in my childhood kitchen and I get flashbacks to that every time I look at this iMac.

iMac 24-inch, M1 display on, green colour on desk

Like that iMac G3, the iMac 2021 feels like it’s been designed to slot into your home – rather than just sit on a desk tucked away in an office. It’s light, super slim and very good looking. It’s more comparable to a decorative piece of art than a PC.

It comes in a bunch of colours, like the green version I was sent by Apple for testing. Other hues include a yellow that has hints of gold, blue, purple, a reddy pink, orange and a more standard silver. Interestingly, there are no black and darker options – I would guess these are being held over for the Pro model whenever that might arrive.

iMac 24-inch, M1 stand in green on deskThe stand is sturdy

Over the body of the iMac 2021 these colours are used differently. The front has a lighter, more pastel tone while the metal stand is a little more sparkly. The back is much darker and if you can place the iMac somewhere where all sides are visible there’s a really nice contrast. If it’s just on a desk though, you’ll likely never see the back, which is a bit of a shame.

The front has a lighter, more pastel tone while the metal stand is a little more sparkly

The colour spreads to the accessories too, with matching keyboard and Magic Mouse (and the Magic Trackpad if you choose that as an extra). There’s also a really nice braided USB-C to Lightning cable included that, again, matches the colour of the iMac.

This attention to detail carries over to the redesigned plug, which has a woven cable and attaches magnetically to the back of the machine. It’s not quite MagSafe – trip over it and it won’t pull itself away – but it’s a slick trick nevertheless.

iMac 24-inch magnetic connector on the backThe power cable attaches magnetically

The previous iMac held all the components in a bulge behind the display. This gave the iMac its distinctive design and razor-thin edges. With the new iMac, Apple has moved all the components into the chin at the bottom. The sides are now flat and not that much thicker than the iPhone 12 Pro Max, while the back is the same thickness throughout.

On the back, you’ve got a choice of two or four ports along with a 3.5mm headphone connector on the side. The cheapest model comes with two Thunderbolt/USB 4 connectors inside USB-C ports, while the pricier model adds in another two USB 3 ports – again with a USB-C connector. That higher-end model also comes with a gigabit ethernet port hidden away on the iMac’s power supply.

There are no traditional USB-A ports anywhere so you’ll need dongles and adapters to connect older items. I’m not so fussed about this as more and more devices are now using USB-C, however the lack of an SD card slot is a little more irritating especially as it seems there would be ample space to have one on the side. An SD card is not a ‘pro’ feature and it should be standard across any iMac.

Very slim sides and headphone jackThere’s a headphone port on the side

The white bezel surrounding the 24-inch display has caused a bit of controversy, with many wishing Apple had gone with a more traditional black version. And yes – if you’re a professional video editor or colour-grader then black is better, but that’s not who this machine is aimed at.

There are no traditional USB-A ports anywhere so you’ll need dongles and adapters to connect older items

Fitting into my flat, the white bezel looks a lot better. It blends into the white wall and almost disappears, rather than standing out like the previous iMac. I’m sure Apple will revert to black bezels for the inevitable iMac Pro with an M2 chip we’ll surely get later in the year.

The previous iMac design lacked any height adjustment and that’s once again an issue here. You can tilt the display forwards and back, but nothing more. I’ve had to resort to sitting the iMac on top of a few books to get it to more of a comfortable height. This is certainly something that ought to be improved in future models.

Screen and audio

  • 24-inch with a 4480 × 2520 resolution
  • Just one screen size
  • Excellent speakers

I mentioned earlier this iMac 2021 isn’t directly aimed at the Pro market, and nothing sums this up more than the screen size. 

At 24-inches, this might be bigger than the outgoing 21.5-inch model but it’s still a lot smaller than the 27-inch model and a lot of higher-end monitors around. If you’re used to working on, say, a 32-inch screen or enjoy a multi-display setup this will feel cramped in comparison.

This is the ideal size for the smaller rooms and ones you don’t want dominated by a massive

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