Blog Post

Should You Upgrade to the New iMac?

Considering purchasing a new iMac(s aapl)? Here’s a look at what the new models can do, compared to the previous generation, as per Apple in a call Tuesday morning with GigaOM. The key takeaway here is that these new iMacs are very, very fast:

  • The new $1199 iMac is 70 percent faster than the previous generation entry-level model at the same price point. That’s probably due mostly to the fact that it’s packing a 2.5 GHz quad-core processor, vs. the 3.06 GHz dual-core Intel (s intc) chip powering the older version.
  • The new $1199 iMac is 30 percent faster than the top of the line 27-inch previous generation iMac, if you’d rather compare quad-core Apples to quad-core Apples. That means buyers of even the most basic new iMacs should be seeing considerable performance improvements over the older models.
  • The AMD (s amd) graphics processor in even the entry-level new iMacs is three times faster than the one it replaces. Apple claims it can do 100 frames per second in the high-end iMac, with up to 1.3 teraflops of performance. That’s pushing weight previously only available from Mac Pros.
  • FaceTime HD support means that the iMacs can do 720p video calling with other FaceTime HD equipped Macs (MacBook Pro and iMacs for now), and can still do SD calling with all other Apple FaceTime-enabled devices.
  • Thunderbolt ports mean you can get up to 10GB per second transfer speeds with connected storage and A/V transfer devices. It also means you can daisy-chain and output to an external display on the 21.5-inch iMac, or to two displays using the 27-inch model.
  • Apple now offers SSD/HDD combos as an upgrade option that allow for faster boot times while still providing affordable, spacious storage options.

These are a strong update for the iMac line, and anyone considering an upgrade would be well-served by these improvements. The only thing Apple didn’t change were the looks of the all-in-one, which is a good thing considering how attractive the aluminum and glass combo is. The only downsides to consider are the fact that Apple seems to have gotten rid of the 27-inch iMac’s target display mode, and that it may be preparing to ship OS X Lion this summer. But target display mode probably has limited usefulness for most, and Lion will be an inexpensive upgrade when it does arrive (plus there are no guarantees its coming in early summer, anyway). If you’ve been waiting for the right time to upgrade your Apple desktop, this is definitely a good time to do so.

With additional reporting by Om Malik.

6 Responses to “Should You Upgrade to the New iMac?”

  1. Hi, i would buy an iMac right now, but… Do you know how often apple launches a new one?
    I bought a 27inches on march 2009, then… I remember they released a major update of this model on September 2009, included the SD card slot.

    This make me think that we will have a new iMac on November. What you can tell me?

  2. Still no matte screen option. I think the new iMacs would be naturals for photo and video work with a non reflecting screen. Apparently Apple thinks so too and would rather sell power macs. I have a power mac but will not use an Apple monitor because of the reflections.

  3. ggore

    Apps have to be specially written in order to use multi-core processors. What applications have this capability? I would wager very few. What Thunderbolt-capable peripherals are available right now? Cables? Virtually none. The new iMacs are very nice, fast machines, but not necessary at the current time, because very little software exists that take advantage of dual-core, let alone quad-core processors, and there aren’t any Thunderbolt peripherals right now either. Maybe in 3-4 years but not any time soon.

  4. rsfinn

    Other sites are reporting that the target display mode is supported in the new iMacs, according to Apple reps — although only from other Thunderbolt-equipped devices (i.e. the 2011 MacBook Pros), and requires a Thunderbolt cable that is not commonly available yet.

  5. what about the 27″ models? I’ve been holding out on buying my 2nd iMac to replace my last PC. I noticed that the i7 is now an $200 optional upgrade and I wonder if it’s worth going straight for a $2199 model vs last year’s model or the $1699 which looks very decent.

    • Yacko

      Vs last year? Sandy Bridge is a startling speed increase and worth it. It is a good upgrade decision either Mac or if you are PC. And if you are PC, building your own, the “k” suffix processors are unlocked and overclock like beasts.

      As to iMacs, the difference between i5 and i7 at same clock speeds is roughly 5-6%, though the BTO model Apple offers is likely 16-20% faster, so yes, I would say an extra $200 is worth it.

      One advantage of these models, if you like the Tiger-Leopard-Snow Leopard look of the software and are hesitant about the iOS-tinged Lion and beyond, these models are Snow Leopard compatible. You buy a model after Lion is officially released, it won’t back boot into older OS versions.