In this article, I give you my Apple iMac M1 24″ (2021) review with specs included. This is the kind of review I like to do where things actually seem to really leap forward in technology. As you can see it is very colorful, so Apple is going back to that sort of thing with the iMacs. Some people have strong feelings about this.
I’m not going to overly focus on the aesthetics of it. I personally think it looks rather fetching. You have a variety of colors that you can choose from, from a little paler on the front, more vibrant or saturated on the back, and the keyboard matches, to even the cables matching color, to the front face of this Mac.
Obviously, there’s no Apple logo on the chin anymore but there is still a chin. That is where the computer brains are. The motherboard runs there and that allows this iMac to be incredibly thin, around 11 millimeters thick. If they put internals behind the screen they’d have to make it thicker so they just leave the traditional chin as is.
It has a white bezel border around the display. Some people feel strongly about that but I’m okay with it. As long as it’s either black or white neutral for when I’m doing photo editing or artwork or anything like that, it’s okay.
That’s as much as I’m going to talk about the aesthetics of what I think is a very attractive machine. Clearly, if you put this on something like a white desk it really literally looks great and pops.
Apple iMac M1 24″ (2021) price starts at $1299 which for Apple products sounds relatively speaking affordable. For that, you get the M1 CPU. That is the same M1 that we saw in the 13-inch MacBook Air (that I reviewed), the 13-inch MacBook Pro, the iPad Pro 12.9 for 2021, and of course the Mac Mini as well.
And you have the seven or eight-core GPU option. So it’s an eight-core CPU and seven or eight-core GPU just like with the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air.
The $1299 model is the one with the eight-core CPU (because they’re all eight cores) and the seven-core CPU. If you wanna spend a couple of hundred dollars more you can get the eight-core GPU as well.
Given the way it gets bundled with some other upgrades, I think it’s kind of worth it to go with an 8-core GPU but it’s up to you as to what you’re going to do with it. For people who are just buying this for Word, Excel, Zoom calls, and all that sort of thing, you don’t need to upgrade.
But, for those who are going to be doing Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, iMovie, or anything else demanding like a little bit of gaming, then it certainly makes sense to get a little better specs.
I have the $1899 configuration which to me is the kind of the sweet spot of a power user’s machine without going into 27-inch iMac territory and beyond. It gets much more expensive with less power increase, CPU and graphically speaking.
So this one has 512 GB SSD inside. It’s really part of the unified system-on-chip where the RAM and the storage are all in one big chip. And it has 16 GB of unified memory (the base models have eight GB). 16 is the max you can get and I highly recommend it.
The display on this is assuredly lovely. Now, this is the entry-level iMac so don’t think you’re going to get a giant mini LED display or something like that here.
This is a 4.5K resolution, 16 by 9 aspect ratio, IPS, and full P3 gamut coverage display. Apple claims it’s 500 nits and I measured it at almost that (479). It is light, under 10 pounds, which is four and a half kilograms.
This is a very sharp, very crispy-looking display and also very colorful. And, typical of Macs, it’s quite color accurate as well. So, for those of you who are looking at this to do photo and video editing or color accuracy of some importance, this is good.
So, for something that starts at $1299, because no matter which version of this you get that display, that’s not bad. One of the selling points of iMacs often is that you get a nice display but this one sure outdoes the 21.5-inch iMac that it replaces.
Apple iMac M1 24″ (2021) has a multi-speaker system with Dolby Atmos support for surround and it’s pretty good. It’s not quite as good as the 27-inch iMac which is bigger and has room for bigger drivers, but it’s very nice sounding for a desktop computer system.
You have three mics, which are supposed to help for better Zoom call quality. And there’s a full HD facetime camera up front as well. So, a little bit higher resolution, thankfully. I’ve been surprised that they haven’t been upping resolutions sooner on their cameras.
For storage you can go all the way up to two terabytes for your ssd if you want but apple charges crazy prices. But in this case you can’t upgrade this so you kind of are well stuck with whatever they want to do. Happily there are ports on the back though so you can connect external storage. And here’s where it gets interesting.
If you get that base model you get half as many points as if you buy anything that isn’t the very base model. It has two Thunderbolt 3 ports which are also usbc 4.0. And that’s it on the base model. So for our model which is moving up from that you have an additional two usb c 3.0 ports. So it’s dongle life yes.
But given the fact that this is a desktop connecting a dock to it or any kind of hub isn’t so much of a big deal it doesn’t bother me quite as much. There is a headphone jack and it’s right on the side here. Some people are bothered by this i think it’s kind of brilliant because with the imacs reaching behind and trying to feel where that jack is was just never any fun. At least this is pretty accessible.
And i’ve connected everything from playstation 4 controllers i’m using the usb cable to thunderbolt three drawings to this to a thunderbolt dock to everything. I Wacom Cintiq which works just great with. This Wacom Cintiq pro 16 that i’ve been using with this. All works fine not a problem. By the way with the Cintiq i had to connect it to the thunderball port not the USB-C port. Even though the Cintiq is only usb c for whatever reason. So give it a try if you have any difficulties of that sort.
And the power connector is always back here like apple’s always done. But it’s sort of mag safe it’s magnetic. But boy this is it’s not going to come off easily. In fact you know it takes a yank and you kind of feel a little like i shouldn’t be doing this you grab it a little over here you twist it.
It’s uh not exactly mag safe but it’s magnetically connected. And speaking of apple’s infamous upsells. If you want ethernet you can have ethernet it’s in the power adapter which is like 142-watt adapter. Not too much gianter than a 16 inch macbook pro charger.
So that’s you know 30 bucks extra if you get the base model. If you go with the more expensive models you get the ethernet. I know some of you don’t even need ethernet but it’s something to keep in mind. Also the keyboard is a little bit of an upsell. To no you do get a keyboard no matter what don’t worry about that and it will color match the the mac that you bought.
But if you want the touch id and believe me you want the touch id it really makes life so much simpler when using your mac. With the bass small you’ll get the touch id button. If you get one of the other models anything more than the 1299 you get the touch id here.
Of course you can buy this keyboard separately if you want to. And there’s matching color magic track pads and all that sort of thing. When you build order from apple you can order those things or pick them up later if you like that stuff. So in terms of what it’s like to live with this mac.
One of the reasons we didn’t just bowl down the door and do some benchmarks and you know you’ve seen the benchmarks running on screen here probably already. But i want to see what it was like to live with this for like a week as if it was my main computer. And keeping in mind a 16-inch macbook pro that i’ve been using also in m1 13-inch macbook pro for comparison similar performance between all the m1 max by the way.
And the 27-inch imac that we use that’s a couple years old for our video editing for all the videos that you watch on our channel which is 4k footage and motion and effects and all that stuff that our video editor does. And it’s wicked fast folks. It’s really very smooth and very fluid. So i was doing the things that i typically do which is a photoshop a lot of photoshop both for photo editing and also for doing digital art.
Hence the Wacom Cintiq pro that was connected for drawing. And to not hear the fans is just delightful enough right there compared to my 16 inch macbook pro which gets huffy and chuffy when i do that stuff. And then to throw lightroom into the mix as well. And it’s fine. 16 gigs of ram running both of those simultaneously because often i’ll take something from lightroom and then i want to throw into photoshop to do the finishing touches on it and it’s good.
Then final cut pro which is what we use usually to edit our videos. And taking one of our actual projects you can see this was our intel 11th generation gaming laptop cpu video right here. So 11 minute 12 minute video 4k again transitions you name it it’s all just great on this.
And the export times are very good. Which is pretty impressive when comparing this to our several year old 27 inch imac with a 5k display. So you’re getting a little bit smaller screen and a little bit less resolution than half a k loss there. But okay so scrubbing through the timeline everything all fast and preference is set to quality not to speed throw in motion too to see how it does.
Again 16 gigs of ram it’s fine no problems no stuttering. So this is interesting. Now if you’re more advanced than we are if you’re doing something multi-cam footage for example. And we have b-roll but say you got stacks and stacks of b-roll on top of b-roll i don’t know why you would though uh you know obviously there’s a room for an even more powerful mac in and apple will of course make one of them.
But for it’s surprisingly capable. And then lastly well you know women cannot live by work alone so i’ve fired up steam and i installed borderlands 2. The borderlands 3 port is pretty much trash so i didn’t try that and in the vram on this that requires 8 gigs of vram obviously you’re not going to have that available so easily here. With borderlands 2 is running near 60 frames per second on this it’s full hd resolution and looking sweet.
And you don’t really hear the fans kicking on which is pretty outrageous. Or fan there’s a fan. And it doesn’t even get hot along here which is where your brains are in the mac. Um like i said it’s really a joy to make this video because that’s all nice stuff isn’t it. Now one con here is for those who use boot camp and need windows. The only thing you can do on this is windows for arm which is.
A boy that has you know Microsoft hasn’t done great with arm version of windows so far so. If you’re really counting on dual booting and having a full windows experience windows 10 then no you’re just not going to be able to do that here. Only the arm version works so there’s that.
Now when you compare this say again say you have a four year old 27 inch imac this will actually be faster including graphics when using things like final cut or motion. And honestly when gaming again playing something like borderlands 2 it was at least as fast if not faster. I’m sure there are instances where the GPU could pull ahead the dedicated AMD Radeon that was in the imac but i wouldn’t sweat that.
In terms of CPU performance, this is twice as fast as the Core i5 mid-tier that we had from four years ago on this. Uh this is faster than a lot of today’s intel core i7 and core i9 mobile cpus certainly. Um you’re you’re going to be hard-pressed to taxes. Now if you’re going to do things like blender and you’re more of a professional and you’re doing say you’re working for a movie studio and all that sort of thing doing that level of video editing that’s when you’re going to want whatever becomes the new iMac pro in m2 m3 who knows m1x52 who knows what they’re gonna call it.
Anyway obviously there there will be things that are faster than this and there are people who need more than that but for most people it’s great. Now if you’re thinking of the mac mini i’m not really going to compare it to thinking about the macbook air because well this one has sucky battery life doesn’t it.
You can’t use this without being plugged into the wall. For the mac mini that starts out cheaper. There’s a 699 and an 899 base model. If you want to bring it up to 16 gigs of ram and a 512 gig ssd like we have here then it’s 10.99. So obviously it’s less spend out of the gate but a hot wait there’s no monitor. Right so if you already have a monitor you’re happy with then the mac mini can certainly make a lot of sense.
If you don’t have a nice 4k or 4.5 k high quality full p3 gamut display then this starts to it makes sense why you would spend more money because you do get that. But with the mac mini you get legacy ports so you get hdmi 2.0 and you get two usb a ports. No legacy ports over here so that’s a convenience.
With the mac mini you don’t even get the keyboard and mouse. I mean those are not a huge amount well then apple prices that’s not insignificant actually i have to throw that back in there. So there are some reasons why this costs more. But in the end i think it comes down to what do you want this built-in display.
You’re going to get the same m1 horsepower either way on this and the same storage and the same ram options. So there you have it that is the 24-inch imac with the m1 CPU inside apple silicon. And it’s a great machine if you’re looking for a desktop that’s super thin super light super attractive has a stunning display is very fast. You’ll just like almost never hear the fan.
It can even do things like 4k video editing and some gaming as much as games are available on macs. Again if you need windows on this forget about it though.
Apple iMac M1 24″ (2021)