Updated 22 Sep 2016

Apple

21.5‑inch iMac

Snapshot: The Apple 21.5‑inch iMac is a 21.5-inch all-in-one computer. It has an Intel Core i5-5250U, 1.6 GHz processor and 8GB RAM. What's the performance like?

21.5‑inch iMac
Consumer score
SCORE
Avg price

$1999

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Test results

Overall score
77
Performance
?/10
Design and use
?/10
Display
?/10

Good points

  • Good performance.
  • Good design and use.
  • Very good display.
  • Excellent sound.
  • Has a 1TB HDD.
  • Has 4 USB 3.0 ports and 2 Thunderbolt ports.

But

  • No DVD drive.

Review

It doesn’t really matter which iMac you choose — the three we tested took the trifecta, with not much splitting them.

It depends on whether you want a bigger or Retina screen. They all deliver top-notch sound and very good displays. The 4K and 5K models have very good 4K playback.

Generally, they all performed very well in our benchmarking tests. Only the cheaper 21.5-inch (non-Retina) iMac lagged slightly behind its siblings — but still outperformed other models in our test. They all automatically adjust brightness in response to the ambient light in a room. Displayed colours appear slightly grey and lack a bit of vibrancy, but they otherwise look good, in particular black and skin tones.

All three are well-designed and easy to use straight out of the box, with an organised and easy-to-follow manual. Their keyboards, in Apple’s signature white, are small but aren’t cramped to use. However, if you’re planning on entering lots of numbers, beware none have a numeric keypad. The keyboards have dedicated brightness, volume and media keys for quick adjustment. The cables are organised by a hole in the stand that keeps them out of sight. The mouse is a bit flat, without a palm support, and lacks a scroll button. However, it tracks excellently across the screen.

They all have four USB 3.0 and two Thunderbolt ports. Though the ports are located on the back, it is very easy to turn the computer around to access them. None have a DVD drive.

How we test

Overall score includes:

Performance (50%)
Design and use (30%)
Display (20%)

The tests we use to measure a computer's performance reflect everyday usage. Our tests look at processor and graphics performance as well as memory and storage. We compare a computer’s performance using cross-system benchmarking software to test and compare on different operating systems, such as Windows 10 and OS X El Capitan.

Design and use is split into a tester assessment (40%) and an expert panel assessment (60%). The tester assessment consists of testing the recovery options, screen adjustment, manuals and information and sound quality. Our panel of three professional users assess the design, style, and keyboard and mouse use.

Display is assessed on colour, brightness and contrast (50%); text (20%); glare/surface reflections (10%); viewing angle where applicable (10%); and blu-ray playback where applicable (10%).

Key data

Model

Avg price
$1999
Type
All-in-one

Specifications

Screen size (inches)
21.5
Max screen resolution
1920 x 1080
Screen tilt (degrees)
-6 to 23
Panel type
n/a
Processor (Intel core)
i5-5250U, 1.6GHz
Number of cores
Dual
CPU
5th Gen/Broadwell
Video (GPU)
Intel HD Graphics 6000
Video RAM (GB)
Shared
HDD
1TB
SSD
n/a
RAM (GB)
8
WiFi
ac
DVD+/-RW drive
×
Dimensions W x D x H (mm)
528 x 173 x 453
Weight (kg)
5.5
Annual energy cost
n/a

Features

USB 3.0/2.0
4/0
Thunderbolt
2
VGA
×
Display port
×
HDMI input
×
HDMI output
×
Card reader
Touchscreen
No
Speakers
2
Security lock slot
n/a
IR receiver
No
Operating system (OS)
OS X 10.11.5
Mountable
×