the salon machine par excellence

Apple has redesigned the design of its historic all-in-one PC. Here is our test of the 24-inch iMac and its Apple M1 chip.

Source: Arnaud Gelineau - Frandroid

Source: Arnaud Gelineau – Frandroid

Apple took a historic turn in 2020 by switching from the Intel platform to its own Apple Silicon chips. The brand takes the opportunity to offer completely redesigned products around its new chips. The 24-inch iMac M1 is a good example of the work the manufacturer has done.

This test was carried out with a copy loaned by Apple.

Design

In the catalog of Apple PCs, the iMac is the simplest product: a screen, a keyboard, a mouse and that’s it. You can feel it right from the unboxing, very well done for this type of machine since you literally “unpack” the different parts in a very playful way. Small logos can quickly identify where the keyboard, mouse and iMac are hiding as well as the power supply. From that moment we feel that we are going to be dealing with a product where every detail has been considered. This is also consistent with the chosen color. Here we are testing the 24-inch blue iMac and all of what follows that colorway, right down to the supplied Lightning cable to charge the peripherals.

Source: Arnaud Gelineau - Frandroid

Source: Arnaud Gelineau – Frandroid

Unpacking finished, we are faced with a very compact machine and surprisingly light for a desktop PC. It weighs 4.48 kg very precisely, and with its 24-inch screen we imagine being able to easily integrate it on any desk. We are also very surprised by the finesse of the machine in all parts. From the foot to the screen, each element is only a small centimeter thick. The finishes are obviously impeccable. We are rather seduced by the work.

Source: Arnaud Gelineau - Frandroid

Source: Arnaud Gelineau – Frandroid

Once we have said that, we still have to talk about the integration of the screen which leaves something to be desired. The screen is surrounded by a beautiful white margin, thick enough especially for a product launched in 2021. You must also point your finger at the small black margin all around the screen, which separates it from the white border. This is a typical element of inexpensive screens that we found for example on smartphones under 200 euros a few years ago. This is honestly quite unworthy of Apple, even if we can think that we are quibbling for a meager margin that few people will notice.

Source: Arnaud Gelineau - Frandroid

Source: Arnaud Gelineau – Frandroid

The integrated stand does not allow the screen to be swiveled vertically, but you can, on the other hand, configure the tilt with a good amplitude, to adapt the screen to your gaze.

Connectivity

Apple has made it rather simple for the iMac connection: no USB-A, no HDMI, no SD card reader, only USB-C, or almost. There is indeed a small 3.5mm jack port on the left side of the screen, and four USB-C ports on the back of the screen. Of the four ports, two are actually Thunderbolt 4 / USB 4 ports and the other two are USB 3 ports (up to 10 Gbps). Thunderbolt ports allow transmission of up to 40 Gbit / s, or connect external displays through DisplayPort. However, you will need to use the right adapters.

Source: Arnaud Gelineau - Frandroid

Source: Arnaud Gelineau – Frandroid

To this must be added the MagSafe power connector on the back, which is rather simple to connect. On the power supply, there is also an RJ45 Ethernet port, which will allow our iMac to be connected to the wired network, without going through Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0.

Source: Arnaud Gelineau - Frandroid

Source: Arnaud Gelineau – Frandroid

One thing is certain, at Apple, the connection is part of the aesthetics of the product. As we said, the cables use the same color as the iMac and we are faced with an elegant machine, without too many wires lying around and feeding elegantly through the magsafe connector. On this point, it is rather successful.

Keyboard and mouse

The iMac comes with a Magic Keyboard and a Magic Mouse. We are not going to do a full test of these two devices which deserve dedicated articles. Just remember that these are wireless, battery-powered devices that can be recharged using the lightning to USB-C cable supplied with the machine. The Magic Keyboard also includes a Touch ID fingerprint reader for easy connection to your session.

Source: Arnaud Gelineau - Frandroid

Source: Arnaud Gelineau – Frandroid

Here, Apple favors form over substance. After several weeks of use, I still find the keyboard and mouse uncomfortable to use. For very occasional use of the product, it does the trick and the peripherals look pretty good. But for daily or intensive use of the iMac, it will absolutely be necessary to replace them with more ergonomic peripherals. This is particularly the case with the Magic Mouse which I find really unconvincing, even for simple navigation.

Source: Arnaud Gelineau - Frandroid

Source: Arnaud Gelineau – Frandroid

For products supplied with the machine at no extra cost, we can still salute the consistency and the successful finishes of the mouse and keyboard. Not all desktop PCs come with such wireless keyboards and mice.

Screen

Without a doubt, the centerpiece of the iMac is its 23.5-inch screen with an impressive definition of 4480 x 2520 pixels. As much to say to you that with such a density of pixels, it is impossible to discern them on the screen and the interface elements are displayed with great precision. The IPS LCD panel is of very high quality and it can be seen with the naked eye with a rather good contrast ratio and well adjusted colors.

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We performed our series of tests with Calman Ultimate software and our colorimetric probe. We obtain a coverage of 99.48% of the DCI-P3 spectrum for 148% of the sRGB spectrum. The calibration is excellent, not to say almost perfect, with a deltaE of only 1.1 on average for a maximum of 2.7. Remember that we consider a difference below 3 as invisible to the naked eye. The maximum brightness is 490.9 cd / m² for a contrast of 1123: 1.

Software

Who says Mac obviously says MacOS. Here we are entitled to macOS Monterey, the latest version of the system. Since my test of the MacBook Air, I still have certain complaints to be made on a few points of the system. However, it should be noted that on the whole Apple offers a consistent end-to-end system, especially since the recent overhaul of the interface which brought certain design codes closer to those we know on iOS and iPad OS.

My main complaint lies in the experience of starting the machine for the first time for those who are not perfectly accustomed to using a Mac. First, it is complicated to type your password (for example that of the Wi-Fi network) with the keyboard of a Mac without knowing the behavior of the shortcuts allowing you to type numbers. The system does not allow the password entered in clear text to be displayed on the screen. This small point aside, Apple still does not offer a unified account system on macOS. It will therefore be necessary to define a user name and a session password, different from the Apple account. I am used to using my Apple account to initialize an iPhone or an iPad, this process is a bit outdated. If Windows 11 may still lag far behind macOS, the subject of account synchronization, now even without password, is a field on which Microsoft is undeniably ahead.

Apart from these few complaints, which are ultimately anecdotal once the initialization is complete, macOS is a very easy system to use on a daily basis. If your use of a PC is limited to office automation, some business software or the web, this is really the ideal system. We should also mention the excellent ability of macOS to manage screens with different definitions and with high pixel densities like that of the iMac. Application windows display flawlessly, bug-free or downscaling.

The transition from Intel to ARM went very well thanks to the operation of Apple Rosetta 2, which allows you to read the few x86 applications whose developers have not yet proposed an update making it natively compatible with the chips Apple. We are still hungry for the App Store, especially when it comes to iOS applications still very few.

With such a beautiful screen integrated into the machine, we may also find it unfortunate that it is not possible to set the iMac as an external monitor for another device. We would have liked to connect a MacBook Pro or a PC directly to the Thunderbolt port of the iMac and use its display.

Performances

The 24-inch iMac incorporates the Apple M1 chip, the first chip developed by Apple for its computers. Here it is a version equipped with 8 CPU cores and 7 GPU cores. Here the iMac incorporates active ventilation, which will allow the chip to be pushed to its limits without affecting its level of performance, unlike the MacBook Air. However, even pushing the machine to the maximum, I was never disturbed by its breath, always very discreet.

On Cinebench R23, the processor test shows a good level of performance with a score of 7770 points in multicore, and points in single-core. With this result, it is placed at the level of a powerful laptop processor, such as an AMD Ryzen 4600H. It is still downgraded by more energy-consuming processors, such as the 9th generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processors.

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The advantage of the M1 chip is its very good performance / consumption ratio. This is what makes it possible to have a PC that is both efficient in everyday tasks while maintaining good finesse and without making too much noise.

On the other hand, it is not with this machine that we will tackle heavier tasks such as photo editing, video editing or video games. There is the Apple Arcade offer, which is still not very convincing for the moment, but otherwise, Mac compatible games are very rare. To play on the iMac, we will prefer cloud gaming solutions.

Pricing and availability

The 24-inch iMac M1 is marketed from 1449 euros by Apple in France. At this price, you have the basic configuration with only 2 Thunderbolt 4 ports, no RJ45 Ethernet adapter and 256 GB of storage along with 8 GB of RAM.