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Apple updates the iMac: Thunderbolt I/O, quad-core and more


May 3, 2011

The new iMacs

The new iMacs

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Apple's desktop lineup has typically pushed users requiring plenty of fast I/O towards the Mac Pro - but the latest iMac refresh has broken the tradition. While quad-core Sandy Bridge CPUs and faster ATI Radeon HD GPUs are welcomed, it's the addition of Thunderbolt ports (one in the 21.5-inch and two in the 27-inch) that really ups the ante for a number of professional users.

The new entry-level iMac will set you back $1199, and includes:

  • 21.5-inch, 1920x1080 pixel display
  • 2.5GHz quad-core Core i5 CPU with 6MB on-chip shared L3 cache
  • AMD Radeon HD 6750M with 512MB of GDDR5 memory
  • 500GB hard drive (7200 rpm)
  • FaceTime HD webcam
  • Four USB 2.0 ports
  • One FireWire 800 port
  • One Thunderbolt port
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • Magic Mouse or Magic Trackpad
  • Apple Wireless Keyboard
  • An additional $800 bumps things up to the following high-end configuration:

    • 27-inch, 2560x1440 pixel display
    • 3.1GHz quad-core Core i5 CPU with 6MB on-chip shared L3 cache
    • AMD Radeon HD 6970M with 1GB of GDDR5 memory
    • 1TB hard drive (7200 rpm)
    • Two Thunderbolt ports
    • If your budget permits, this model can be configured to include a 3.4GHz quad-core Core i7 CPU, an AMD Radeon HD 6970M with 2GB of GDDR5 memory, and a solid-state drive in addition to the primary drive.

      For a rundown on what the new Thunderbolt ports bring to the table, read my article Why Thunderbolt is so important for the MacBook Pro.

      For more information on the new iMacs, visit Apple.

About the Author
Tim Hanlon Tim originally came to Gizmag as a developer, much to the dismay of anyone who had to maintain, build on, or rewrite his code. After wearing every other hat that didn't have a head for it, he became CEO in 2010. Outside Gizmag, he trains Muay Thai and plays too much Destiny. All articles by Tim Hanlon

Are you kidding me? Exactly how does the addition of a freaking port make the imac on par with mac pro? Ridiculous.

Danie Clawson

Olde news. I have an iMac 3.6Ghz i5, up to 3.89 ghz, with 1tb HD. Upgrade for a faster USB port? I think not. Is this a joke?

Robert Burke

Robert Burke,

Your 3.6GHz BTO uses a dual-core Lynnfield CPU, while this Sandy Bridge CPU is quad core. Also, benchmarks put Sandy Bridge Macs far faster than the previous generation even for the same number of cores. If speed is what you\'re desperately interested in (which is likely since you paid for a BTO), Sandy Bridge is definitely better.

I wouldn\'t brag about 1TB. That\'s rather low-end today. Considering 2TB drives can be bought for $70 and dropped right into an iMac, there\'s really no advantage to your setup. In fact, using a Thunderbolt interface, external hard drives are limited more by the speed of the SATA drives inside, so there\'s no performance downside to attaching one to the new iMacs, unlike the sluggish USB2 ports on yours. If you think that Thunderbolt is only a \"faster USB port,\" you really don\'t know what it is.

Besides, nobody\'s demanding that you upgrade. You apparently are always looking for more speed, otherwise you wouldn\'t be complaining about the new processor (based on your Megahertz Myth argument). If you upgrade, fine. If you don\'t, I don\'t think Apple will really miss you. They\'re still the most profitable computer company out there.


actually i have the same setup (2 up) and if you look at the benchmarks between the 3.6 ghz and the low end 2.5ghz new iMac theres a difference of 322 geek bench mark score (between new and old) thats smaller than the benchmark of the first flat paned iMac running at a ppc of 700 mhz!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes i have a small hdd 1 tb but I know i can upgrade it at any point unlike a cpu. Anyways i have only used 100gbs out of 1024gbs. Btw its a quad core due to hyper threading and yes ghz does provide a nice raw speed at some points in programs that don\'t use multiple cores

Jack Eagan
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