Apple's new iMacs are thinner than ever, and it seems like they might be some of the more costlier all-in-ones that the Cupertino computer giant has offered. The designs have garnered both criticism and praise as Apple looks to be moving their stationary computers increasingly in tune with their mobile ones, a move that mirrors a similar transition between OS X and iOS, and one that has some potentially costly trade-offs.
As you can see in the picture above, the new iMacs lose the optical drive entirely, and for good reason - not only do fewer and fewer people ever engage with optical media on new computers, but Apple wants users to be locked entirely into digital media - the iTunes store is a several billion dollar business these days.
The new iMacs represent, despite their seeming simplicity, some of the strongest engineering skills that Apple has ever shown off, and it's clear that the company has put a lot of effort and stock into miniaturizing their technologies.
The 21.5-inch iMac starts at $1,299, and you can make one change, and one change only - upgrading the RAM. That's an important consideration, too, since now is the only time you'll be able to do it on the little iMac; no longer does the 21.5-inch model come with user-accessible memory. That means that for $1,299, you get:
And for $1,499, it comes with 16GB of RAM. You can swap the Magic Mouse out for a Magic Trackpad free of charge, and we really advise you take the chance.
The slightly more expensive 21.5-inch model starts at $1,499, but comes with a lot of opportunity to upgrade. The base specifications are a little better than the smaller model, with a faster quad-core, Intel Core i5 CPU and a bit better graphics card:
Apple lets you move up to a better Core i7 CPU running at 3.1GHz (3.9GHz Turbo Boost) for $200. The upgrade from 8GB to 16GB of RAM is still $200, and going from a 1TB (running at an utterly shameful 5400RPM, we might add) hard drive to Apple's 1TB Fusion Drive costs an additional $250. The Fusion Drive, for those who don't remember, invisibly marries a 128GB SSD with a 1TB spinning hard drive for a 'best of both worlds' sort of scenario.
All told, a fully tricked out 21.5-inch iMac will run users a whopping $2,149. That's a lot of money, but it doesn't really compare to what you can ring up with its big brother.
The 27-inch model will also be available in two configurations: $1,799 and $1,999, though here at least you get some configurability at both levels. You also gain access to swapping RAM yourself, so despite Apple offering to do it for you, we really recommend buying some 3rd party memory yourself, from a reputable manufacturer like Kingston or Crucial. It's a great way to save money.
For $1,799, you get the same setup as the more expensive little iMac, plus a beefier graphics card (and a 7200RPM hard drive, thank god):
Once again, the desktops come with 8GB of RAM, and for $200, you can push it to 16GB or, for those of you with cash to spare, spend $600 to go up to 32GB of memory. This is where the cost savings with doing it yourself become strikingly clear - that $600 upgrade from Apple can cost $160 or less with 3rd party memory.
Other options include a 3TB hard drive for $150, a 1TB Fusion Drive for $250, a 3TB Fusion Drive for $400, or a 768GB SSD for a stunning $1,300. In addition to being slightly insane, it's surprising that Apple isn't offering a smaller SSD capacity, such as 256GB or 512GB. Maxed out, this model could cost you $3,699.
The final iMac configuration, coming in a hair under two grand at $1,999 gets you a pretty fast Core i5 CPU and a pretty fast mobile graphics chip - but still just 8GB of RAM:
The same memory and hard drive upgrades apply here, plus one CPU upgrade - a 3.4GHz Core i7 (3.9GHz Turbo Boost) CPU will cost $200, and a GPU upgrade: you can trade up from an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX GPU with 1GB of GDDR5 to the flagship NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX GPU with 2GB of GDDR5 for $150. The latter is an upgrade we'd recommend, since at some point you'll likely be wanting to play a game on that glorious 2560x1440 display.
If you made the rather expensive choice of buying every upgrade Apple offered, that 27-inch iMac could actually cost you $4,249.
Lord have mercy.
We don't necessarily recommend picking up every upgrade you could, but the iMacs are nice computers nonetheless. Part of the redesign included trimming the desktops' weight, too: the 27-inch model comes in at a sleek 21 pounds, while the 21.5-inch model is a rather stunningly light 12.5 pounds. The smaller computer will give you a 1920x1080 IPS display, while the 27-inch has a much more expansive 2560x1440 display; both are IPS panels with outstanding viewing angles and color reproduction.
Want to get your hands on one today? We've got some good news and some bad: the good news is that the 21.5-inch models are shipping in just a couple of days - basically, as fast as Apple gets the orders. The bad news, though, is that the 27-inch models won't be shipping until at least December 28th - which means that if you want to put something under the Christmas tree, you might have to get an extra box.
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