On Tuesday, Apple upgraded the entire iMac family, and now offers the iMac in four new configurations. General specs:

20-inch 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2GB memory, 320GB hard drive, 8x double-layer SuperDrive, NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics, $1199.99

24-inch 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB memory, 640GB hard drive, 8x double-layer SuperDrive, NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics, $1499.99

24-inch 2.93GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB memory, 640GB hard drive, 8x double-layer SuperDrive, NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 with 256MB memory, $1799.99

24-inch 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB memory, 1TB hard drive, 8x double-layer SuperDrive, NVIDIA GeForce GT 130 with 512MB memory, $2199.99

The biggest change to the iMac family is an almost total move to larger 24-inch monitors. Out of the four standard configurations, only one features a 20-inch display (1680-by-1050 resolution). The next three models up feature 24-inch displays (1920-by-1200 resolution).

The new iMacs use the latest Intel Core 2 Duo processors running from 2.66GHz up to 3.06GHz. They all include 6MB of shared L2 cache. Prices range from $1199 to $2199.

The new iMacs also include high-performance NVIDIA graphics standard. The 20-inch iMac has an NVIDIA GeForce 9400M integrated graphics processor that delivers up to 2.3x faster graphics performance over the previous entry-level 20-inch iMac (and this is the same The 24-inch iMacs offer three graphics options. From Apple:

“The NVIDIA GeForce 9400M integrated graphics processor makes viewing web pages and searching through your iPhoto library smoother and more efficient. Or you can choose NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 discrete graphics to take 3D graphics up a notch. For 3D graphics-intensive games or pro applications like Aperture and Motion, the NVIDIA GeForce GT 130 and ATI Radeon HD 4850 processors deliver the fastest graphics performance yet.”

New 20-inch iMacs ship with 2GB of memory, and all 24-inch iMacs ship with 4GB of memory. It’s now possible to use up to 8GB of RAM with the new iMacs. The new iMacs use faster PC8500 SO DIMM.

Standard hard drives have also been upgraded. The entry level iMac has a 320GB drive, the two middle models have 620GB drives, and the top iMac sports a 1TB drive.

Complete performance benchmarks of the new machines is forthcoming, but Primate Labs benchmarked the iMac’s standalone processor and RAM performance and says:

“Processor performance hasn’t increased substantially in the latest hardware; the performance increase seems to scale with processor speed. This isn’t surprising, since neither the iMac nor the Mac mini moved to a new processor architecture.”

However, the biggest update to the new iMacs is the move to NVIDIA-based graphics. Improved graphics cards can provide a notable speed boost in many Mac OS X applications, from games, to photo and video editing, even to web browsing. This will be even more apparent when Snow Leopard is released later this year. The improved graphics cards were not considered in the above tests.

Speaking of graphics, all new iMacs feature the new Mini DisplayPort. This makes it possible to connect the iMac to Apple’s 24-inch LED display, as well as pretty much any other

All iMacs have built-in iSight cameras, 8x DVD-burning SuperDrives, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate), and the latest 802.11n Airport Extreme wireless technology. They also feature a FireWire 800 port, a total of six USB 2.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, optical digital audio input/audio line in, and combined optical digital audio output/headphone out.

The iMac is designed with the environment in mind. It’s created with highly recyclable glass and aluminum, and it’s free of toxins such as brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). It is one of the first computers to achieve Energy Star 5.0 compliance.

The only negative aspect (in my opinion) about the new iMacs is that they feature an updated wired keyboard that actually lacks a number pad. I use the number pad all the time at work, and I’d miss having it. The keyboard with the number pad is available as a configure-to-order option, and is separately available for sale.

Other than the new keyboard, the new iMacs are a solid step forward. They make it easier for people and businesses at all levels to bring large, productivity enhancing displays and incredible graphics into their homes and offices. I use a 24-inch iMac at work and at home, and appreciate the large display every time I use them.


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