Apple updates the iMac with Sandy Bridge CPUs, new graphics options, Thunderbolt connectivity, a FaceTime HD camera and more. We list what's new and compare the major specs.
As was widely tipped
earlier in the week, Apple has updated its line of iMac all-in-one desktop computers with Intel's second-generation Core "Sandy Bridge" processors. With claims that the new lineup is up to 70 per cent faster than the previous range and with three times the graphics performance, the refresh is a significant incremental update to the iMac, as design-wise the external aluminium enclosure remains largely unchanged.*
Perhaps the biggest spec shift in this year's iMac update is the move to quad-core processors uniformly throughout the line: only quad-core Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs are available, with no i3 configurations in sight, either indicating that the iMac range is being positioned as a performance desktop or maybe just demonstrating where a desktop all-in-one CPU should ideally be starting from in 2011. In either case, the beefier CPUs should help future-proof the new machines.
New AMD Radeon HD graphics processors are included in the machines, which Apple claims are "the most powerful graphics ever in an all-in-one desktop", and following the lead of the new MacBook Pro models
released earlier in the year, the new iMacs also feature a Thunderbolt port
(and the 27-inch models include two). The previous models' standard webcam has been replaced across the range with FaceTime HD cameras
, which enable HD video calls with similarly enabled Macs (at this point, only the MacBook Pro however).
As per the 2010 range, the new iMac comes in two sizes (21.5-inch or 27-inch display) and four basic starting configurations. Each system is modifiable with additional built-to-order specs at the Apple Store
. Prices are down approximately $200-$300 per configuration across the range (in part perhaps thanks to the current strength of the Australian dollar).
The 27-inch model shown, which features two Thunderbolt ports (second and third from right).
The entry-level system features a 2.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, AMD Radeon HD 6750M and 500GB hard drive. It sells for $1,399, which is $200 less than the previous entry-level iMac option, which featured a 3.06GHz Intel Core i3, ATI Radeon HD 4670 and 500GB hard drive for $1,599.
The second 21.5-inch model sports a 2.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, AMD Radeon HD 6770M and 1TB hard drive, costing $1,698. This is $300 cheaper than its predecessor, which for $1,999 featured a 3.20GHz Intel Core i3 processor, ATI Radeon HD 5670 and 1TB hard drive.
The cheaper 27-inch iMac includes a 2.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, AMD Radeon HD 6770M and 1TB hard drive for $1,949. The model it replaces used to cost $2,199 and featured a 3.20GHz Intel Core i3 processor, ATI Radeon HD 5670 and 1TB hard drive.
The top-of-the-line 27-inch configuration starts at $2,299 with a 3.1GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, AMD Radeon HD 6970M and 1TB hard drive. Its predecessor cost $300 more, offering a 2.8GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, ATI Radeon HD 5750 and 1TB hard drive for $2,599.
Choice of interface: your system comes with either the Magic Mouse or Magic Trackpad, but if you want both you'll have to cough up an additional $75.
* Just on that external casing point, it's been reported elsewhere that the 2012 MacBook Pro revamp will feature a complete external redesign, so maybe next year's iMac refresh will be more revolutionary, aesthetically speaking that is