The late 2013 iMacs released for the December holiday season are impressive all-in-one machines. According to Mashable: “the latest  iMac is just as beautiful as it is powerful. There is, without a doubt, no better all-in-one desktop.”

The new iMac’s refined design is thinner than its predecessors, knife-edged at the glass screen to match the looks of the Macbook Air and iPad Air.  But the iMac’s curvy profile contains components powerful enough to satisfy “prosumers”.  It can run multiple displays, external hard-drives and connect up to six iOS devices. It’s color accuracy, light, contrast and dark levels are near perfect out of the box, without professional calibration. It runs most gaming apps without hiccup. The lone exception, The Witcher 2 had to step down to 20 fps at full resolution, but ran at 33 fps at 1920×1440 pixels.

Just how powerful is the new iMac? To find out, the Wall Street Journal tested the 27-inch iMac against the Mac Pro in imaging tasks. The top-of-the-line iMac contained a 3.4 GHz fourth-generation Haswell Intel quad-core processor.  The new Mac Pro was configured with a 3.0 GHz eight-core Xeon server-grade processor,  and with dual graphic processors (GPUs) that hefted the processing-heavy tasks of rendering.

In most tests of graphics-intense jobs like rendering Ultra HD video or multiple simultaneous side-by-side graphics-intense tasks, the heavy-weight Mac Pro shines.  But in some tasks like importing 3950 gigantic raw image files, the iMac was faster. It turns out that with the exception of Apple’s Final Cut 10.1,  few of the high-end professional software have been updated to take advantage of the Mac Pro’s dual-GPUs or its ability for multi-threading with eight-cores. In that case, the 3.4 GHz iMac’s faster processor trumps the 3.0 GHz Mac Pro.

The top of the line iMac comes with a 27-inch 2560×1600 pixel display, 3.4 GHz quad-core i7, 8 GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 775M video card,  up to 1 TB flash or 3 TB  Apple proprietary Fusion Drive. The retail price starts at $1799, as configured it would be closer to $2199.

For all but professional graphic artists and massive number crunchers, the iMac is a well-performing and well-priced all-in-one desktop machine for the next three to five years.

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