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It doesn’t really matter which iMac you choose — the three we tested took the trifecta, with not much splitting them.
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.
Overall score includes:
Design and use (30%)
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%).
This information is available to Consumer members only.