Why the M1 iMac Is the Mega Laptop of My Dreams

It’s not much heavier than my MacBook Pro

Key Takeaways

  • After spending a few weeks with Apple’s new M1 iMac, I’m blown away by its speed and slim design. 
  • One problem with the M1 iMac is that it makes other computers feel underpowered by comparison.
  • As much as I enjoy using the iMac, I’m underwhelmed by the design.
Apple's new M1 iMac

Apple

I’m writing this review on Apple's new M1 iMac, the fastest computer I’ve ever used. 

The iMac is the perfect-sized home computer, ideal for a time when so many people are working remotely. The incredibly slim and light design is just a step up in size from the MacBook Pro 16-inch.  Call me crazy, but I’m using the iMac as a laptop balanced on a lap desk. 

One downside to using the M1 iMac is that it makes other computers look puny by comparison. The 24-inch, 4.5k display on the iMac makes my MacBook Pro screen look dim and washed out. The chip is so fast on the iMac that I’ve gotten impatient with waiting for programs to load on other computers. 

"Applications launch nearly instantaneously, and I had no problem running a half dozen apps at once while keeping 20-30 browser tabs open."

A Step Back in Looks?

As much as I enjoy using the iMac, I’m underwhelmed by the design. I chose the most subdued color, silver, to blend in with the surroundings as much as possible, so I shouldn’t have expected to be wowed. But even so, the new iMac is far blander looking in person than Apple’s promotional pictures led me to believe. This might actually be a good thing, as it’s sure to fit into any decor. 

The iMac is incredibly thin, but it's a little bulkier looking than I expected and from the way it’s portrayed in photos. The display is not as sleek as on the previous generation, due to the odd choice of a white bezel around the screen. 

The only serious flaw I’ve found in the iMac is the keyboard. It’s petite and cute and utterly impractical for serious typing. The worst part about the keyboard is the lock button at the top right, which I keep on hitting accidentally and locking the iMac. Fortunately, there are some excellent alternative keyboards available. 

But the performance of the iMac makes up for any shortcomings in the way it looks. The new iMac uses the same new M1 chip that’s gotten rave reviews in the Mac mini. It's lived up to my high expectations with speedy performance. 

Applications launch nearly instantaneously, and I had no problem running a half dozen apps simultaneously while keeping 20-30 browser tabs open. The iMac finally feels more like using a top-end iPhone or iPad, instead of the more sluggish Mac OS. 

The screen is fantastic. While, on paper, the display might not boast the very highest resolution or color accuracy available, in practice, I found it to be much better than the previous generation of iMac. 

Desktop or Monster Laptop?

The real game-changer for me with the iMac M1 is its thin and light design. While it might not be the most elegant Mac ever made, it may be the most portable. At only around 10 pounds, the iMac weighs about as much as a regular monitor or a heavy gaming laptop. It’s also small enough not to take up much room.

The practical implications of the sleek design are enormous. Suddenly, I’ve got a desktop that’s light enough to fit on a lap desk. I like to work while sitting on the couch, and the new iMac makes perfect sense as a ginormous laptop.

The M1 iMac, side view, including keyboard and mouse.

Sascha Brodsky / Lifewire

A seemingly minor but brilliant design touch is that Apple uses a magnetic connector for the power cord. This makes it easy to unplug and move the iMac around my apartment. It feels like I’m using a laptop without a battery. Apple also has integrated the Ethernet port into the power cord, making for a much neater appearance when you’re not going wireless. 

There is, however, a pretty big downside to the nifty magnetic power cord. It’s entirely too easy to pull out accidentally. On several occasions, I accidentally shut down the computer during a work project by nudging the cord with my foot. 

Despite its minor shortcomings, I can heartily recommend the new iMac to anyone who needs a computer that’s bigger than a laptop but on the smaller side for a desktop. Starting at $1,299, it’s not the cheapest desktop out there, but it’s perfectly suited for its intended home environment.

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