When Apple updated its notebook lineup earlier this month we were curious to find out how well the new MacBook Air stacks up next to a couple of Ultrabook options. Turning on the so-called “Apple Tax” wasn’t as much of an issue as Apple critics often claim. In fact, Apple is relatively in line with the competition when it comes to its base model, although Apple’s upgrades carry a huge premium.
Now we’re taking a look at another segment of the PC market that’s been experiencing healthy growth in recent times, comparing Apple’s 27-inch iMac to the likes of Dell, HP, and newcomer Vizio, all in one. Has been doing. As we’ve said before, we don’t expect this comparison to be representative of the entire Apple tax argument, but it will help paint a better picture as we compare it with our previous findings.
Right off the bat you’ll see that there are much cheaper alternatives to Apple’s iMac when it comes to all-in-one desktops. But in all of the cases shown here, going with the base model means sacrificing discrete graphics, and sometimes even making do with a less powerful processor or less RAM. That can be an advantage if you don’t need a more powerful system, but for the purpose of this article we’ve configured each option for the iMac as closely as possible so we can make a fair comparison.
If you’re looking for a space-saving desktop but don’t want or care to spend a few extra bucks on discrete graphics and other improvements, both the HP and Vizio are available starting at $1,100 without compromising too much. very capable machines – start with the recently announced Vizio AIO Core i3 and none offer an optical drive. Dell’s XPS One starts at $1,400, but includes a higher resolution display that matches the one on the iMac.
Even after increasing the specifications of competing all-in-one systems, Apple’s iMac stood out as the more expensive option. This is the only one still using Sandy Bridge processors. While it won’t make a big difference in terms of performance, it should be taken into account while making a purchase.
Overall, the Dell XPS One 27 seems like the roundest option in a side-by-side spec comparison. For $100 less than the iMac, you get a beautiful 27-inch, 2560 x 1440 resolution display, a better processor, the same 1TB of storage, double the RAM, a great port selection, and comparable GPU power – you’ll get decent gaming performance but none of the gaming Machine is not.
If you can sacrifice a few pixels and live without an optical drive (I can’t remember the last time I used one), the maxed-out Vizio All-in-One costs $1,350 and Offers a lot of bang for the buck.
Design: This is going to be a subjective one and will vary on a case-by-case basis. All the options listed here have attractive designs. Apple favors a cleaner look by placing all the ports on the back, but users may prefer the convenience of an easily accessible USB port or card reader.
HDD/SSD: As configured, only the Vizio AIO combines a traditional hard disk drive with SSD caching to boost performance, while the Dell XPS One 27 offers a similar arrangement with its $2,000 model — unfortunately. So you are limited to certain configurations so you can’t do just one storage upgrade. Apple lets you swap out the HDD for a 256GB SSD, but it’ll cost you an obscene $500, while HP offers the more attractive 160GB and 256GB SSD upgrades for $275 and $300, respectively.
TV Tuner/HDMI-in: The HP Omni ships with an optional TV tuner, which we included in our configuration, and for $50 there’s also an optional HDMI input that can be used to watch programming from a set-top box or play can be done. console game. Dell includes a digital ATSC/QAM analog TV tuner as well as an HDMI input at no extra cost. Vizio also offers an HDMI input but Mac users are out of luck here. The iMac only works as a monitor with devices that output video through DisplayPort, such as the MacBook Pro.
Accessories and Extras: All models ship a wireless keyboard and mouse except the Vizio, which swaps out the mouse for a wireless touchpad, similar to Apple’s Magic Trackpad. The Vizio also includes a subwoofer unit that complements the sound of its built-in speakers and an IR remote.
While in our previous comparison it was a closer call between the MacBook Air and similar ultrabooks, the differences are more pronounced when it comes to all-in-one desktops. Putting aside the fact that the iMac hasn’t been upgraded with Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors or the latest-generation graphics, there are many aspects in which Apple’s machine matches or bests the competition.
That may change in the coming months with a hardware refresh, and if Apple starts to feel the pressure, maybe even a slight price drop like they recently did with the high-end MacBook Air.