Apple adds cheaper, slower model to iMac range

Cheaper iMac uses the same CPU and low-power RAM as the MacBook Air

Apple has made the entry point for its iMac desktop computers cheaper. Overnight, the iconic brand announced a new 21.5in model that costs $1349, which is $250 cheaper than the previous entry-level 21.5in iMac. In New Zealand, the new iMac is $300 cheaper, costing $1549 compared to $1849 for the now mid-range model.

There is a trade-off, though, and that’s in the speed: the new model comes with a significantly slower 1.4GHz, dual-core, Intel Core i5 CPU, while the next model up has a 2.7GHz, quad-core CPU.

The new CPU is the same one that’s offered in the MacBook Air, and it also comes with Intel HD 5000 graphics. The new iMac comes standard with 8GB of 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM, though it’s a low-power version DDR3 SDRAM (LPDDR3), just like the DDR3 in the MacBook Air. The RAM isn’t configurable like it is on the mid- and high-end iMac machines, which give you the ability to choose 16GB or 32GB, depending on the model.

Apple now offers a cheaper iMac.
Apple now offers a cheaper iMac.

Storage in the new entry-level iMac is 500GB via a 5400rpm hard drive, which is half the space provided by the mid-range iMac, though it is configurable to 1TB, and there is also an option to install a 256GB solid state drive, or a 1TB Fusion drive, which has a solid state cache.

Apart from these changes, the new iMac remains the same as the previous model, with the same physical characteristics, the same connectivity, and the same software offering. It comes with 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, Gigabit Ethernet, four USB 3.0 ports, an SDXC slot, a headphone port, and two Thunderbolt ports. The Thunderbolt ports can be used as Mini DisplayPort, and there are optional adapters for DVI and VGA.

Like the previous entry-level iMac, the screen is a 21.5in panel with IPS (in-plane switching) technology with a native resolution of 1920x1080. It’s a neat system with no visible ports at the front, with all cables being managed from the rear. There is a FaceTime camera, built-in stereo speakers, built-in microphones, and input is via an Apple Wireless Keyboard and Magic Mouse.

The lower price of this machine compared to the previous entry-level iMac may well be a sweetener for some potential buyers, but the $1599 mid-range model does offer much better performance and should be considered instead if you want to get deep into tasks such as image and video editing. If you want a machine that will only be used for simpler tasks such as browsing the Web, word processing, and keeping in touch with friends and family online, the new entry-level iMac will suffice.

In New Zealand, the new iMac is $300 cheaper, costing $1549 compared to $1849 for the now mid-range model.

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