The New iMac: Keeping Up With the Joneses


Well, those late rumors of updated iMacs and Mac minis coming today proved to be true. The Apple Store went down for a while this morning, and when it came back, refreshed versions of all of Apple’s desktops, including the Mac Pro, had appeared.

Even though I just made an iMac purchase last year, and will be buying one of the new Mac minis, the iMac refresh does make the machine very appealing, even if there are very few surprises in the changes to the computer.

Not least among the iMac’s improvements is a lower price point for the entry-level model boasting the larger, 24-inch screen. The new price for that starts at $1,499, which is the same price point occupied by the older, premium 20-inch just yesterday.

Another new and notable feature common to every iMac offered is the inclusion of NVIDIA graphics hardware across the board. While the two less expensive machines come with the same NVIDIA GeForce 9400M that’s in the Macbook as a standard component, the two pricier models come with the NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 (256MB) and NVIDIA GeForce GT 130 (512 MB) respectively. Apple’s move to integrated graphics card in the two cheaper iMacs probably saved them some money, which could account for the boost in specs elsewhere. No graphics card upgrades are available for those two models. People who favor ATI hardware will have to get the optional upgrade available for both top-end iMacs, which switches the NVIDIA card out for an ATI Radeon HD 4850 with 512MB.

Other changes include the capacity of the hard drive included standard, which moves from 250GB to 320GB on the entry level model, doubles to 640GB on the two mid-priced machines, and jumps to 1TB for the top of the line iMac. 1TB upgrade options are available for all computers in the line-up.

All models except the base now come standard with 4GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM, and you have the option to bump that up to a whopping 8GB, for the small one-time fee of an extra $1,000. Talk about an instance where getting aftermarket RAM is probably best. The support for double the RAM, along with the processor improvements (2.4 to 2.66GHz on the base, 2.8 to 2.93 and 3.06GHz remains the same at the top end), definitely make this a machine to contend with when fully maxed out with upgrades.

The new iMacs do away with the FireWire 400 port, as has been the trend with Apple’s latest releases. It does still provide FireWire 800 connectivity, along with four USB 2.0 ports. The Mini-DVI port has been replaced with a Mini DisplayPort, as is also now standard on Mac machines, and the optical digital audio out/in and headphone/microphone are still included.

Apple is also touting the environmental friendliness of their new machine, in keeping with their marketing surrounding their other products. It looks like it really is greener than ever, and I’m green with envy at friends who are purchasing one. Release day is always a bittersweet day, since your own hardware quickly becomes “the previous model.” Ah well, c’est la vie.

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