The new iMac with an M1 processor is a significant improvement over Apple’s all-in-one. However, PC makers also sell all-in-ones, and some of them are amazing computers. This makes us wonder: can a Windows computer keep up with the iMac M1?
We have carefully analyzed the specs we know of the new Apple computer and compared it with the all-in-one from major Windows computer manufacturers.
Of course, the specs alone don’t tell the whole story, but at first glance, the iMac should just stagger its Windows counterparts.
Take a look at our guide to the best 2-in-1 laptops.
Price: iMac loses
It’s a bit difficult to know how much the new 24-inch iMac costs, as it won’t be available to order for a few days and won’t ship until May. However, unsurprisingly, it’s a price premium from Apple.
The entry-level iMac offers a slightly slower M1 chip, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD for $ 1,300. Perhaps in a move only Apple can make, the entry-level iMac doesn’t even appear to come with Gigabit Ethernet or USB-A ports.
It’s a somewhat odd move, as USB-A and Ethernet ports are pretty much a standard feature on all desktop PCs manufactured.
For $ 1,700 you get a slightly faster M1, but with the same meager 8GB of RAM and a barely enough 512GB SSD.
Comparable Windows-based all-in-ones offer a lot more value, but we have to admit that the lower end of the Windows world can be pretty ugly.
Many $ 500 all-in-ones always come with poor quality hard drives. Our advice is not to buy a PC with just one hard drive. Contains the SSD.
Still, a look at the Inspiron 27 7000 from Dell with a 27-inch display, an 11th gen Core i7 1165G7, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB NVMe SSD, and a 1TB hard drive for 1440. $ tells you that nothing has the Apple logo on it.
Not that the world of all-in-one computers is just a bargain. Microsoft’s top-of-the-line (but several-year-old) Surface Studio 2 starts at $ 3,500 with a 1TB SSD, 16GB of RAM and a 7th gen Core i7-7820HQ (yes, 7th gen) and graphics card. GeForce GTX 1060.
We’ll have to wait until Apple shows the cards on how many updates it’s offering on its new iMac, but don’t expect much value.
Display: iMac wins
The new 24-inch iMac has a very bright “Retina” display, 500 nits and 4.5K (4,480 x 2,520). One area Apple typically doesn’t skimp on is display, so you can bet that only the best Windows all-in-ones will come close.
The rival is, once again, the exorbitantly priced Surface Studio 2 from Microsoft, and its 28-inch “PixelSense” display with a resolution of 4,500×3,000. The Surface Studio 2 also supports the stylus and touch it, which Apple refuses to add to its Mac lineup for unknown reasons.
Most all-in-one PCs range from inexpensive 1920 x 1080 FHD panels, which can be decent, to 4K panels. The HP Envy All-in-One features a 31.5-inch 600 nit 4K UHD panel.
Frankly, if you want an all-in-one with more pixels, you’ll have to look at Apple’s older 27-inch iMac, which has a 5K “Retina” display at 5120×2880 pixels. However, like the Surface Studio 2, the older iMac is likely to be discontinued at any time.
All in all, given Apple’s reputation for good panels, we’re going to put the new 24in iMac in good company, as only the best all-in-one PCs compete for screen quality. .
Aesthetics: it’s subjective
People who buy all-in-ones often want a big screen in a space-saving package and something they love to watch. Say whatever you want about the iMac 24, but it’s eye-catching, with its ultra-thin display that looks like it came straight out of Microsoft’s Surface Studio 2. The rainbow of color options takes us back to the original iMac.
All-in-One PCs run the gamut, from HP’s sleek Surface Studio 2 or Envy All-In-One to less expensive models that often seem like they come out of a cash register. It all depends on the eye of the beholder.
Performance: too close to tell
Apple’s claim with the new iMac 24 is the use of its well-received M1 processor, which can compete with the best processors from AMD and Intel. The M1 needs native apps to perform best, but it’s likely to hold up well against most off-road computers.
We expect it to outperform most budget all-in-one PCs with cheaper, lower-performing Pentium and Core i3 processors. We also expect it to compete quite well with mid-range Windows all-in-ones, which tend to carry mobile processors rather than desktop processors.
The reason Apple hasn’t promoted the new iMac 24 as an all-in-one Windows killer is that some pretty powerful performance can be achieved on some models.
This HP Envy All-in-One 32 that we mentioned earlier, for example, is built on an 8-core desktop Core i7-10700 and runs a GeForce RTX 2070 or GeForce RTX 2080 for graphics. Yes, that annoying Apple fan in the next cabin might want to complain about the M1’s speed (and that’s decent), but we guarantee the HP Envy 32 will crush this iMac 24 in performance.
Of course, if you really care about performance on a desktop, then don’t buy an all-in-one. Instead, buy a traditional tower desk.
If you’re talking about upgrades, you probably shouldn’t have bought an all-in-one. The only options you can override on some all-in-ones are RAM and storage.
With the iMac 24, even those two options are irrelevant, as it has soldered RAM and storage. But back to the beginning: don’t buy an all-in-one if you’re worried about upgrades.
We end with something that should be mentioned as a standout feature of the new iMac 24: acoustics. And no, we’re not talking about the sound quality of the speakers (although Apple does tend to sound good overall). We mean how loud the computer is. Using what is essentially an iPhone SoC on steroids, the M1 produces an astonishing amount of performance while producing very little heat.
Very little heat means very little fan noise. Apple claims the new iMac 24 only whispers 10dB of sound. Basically you will never hear it, even with heavy workloads. The same can’t be said of Windows All-in-One computers in production today, which will be slower than the iMac 24 and noisier, or faster than the iMac 24 and noisier.
Original article published in English on our sister website PCWorld USA.