New low-end model launched, but remaining lineup unchanged.
At a Glance
Apple's iMac is an ultra-thin all-in-one desktop computer, available in 21.5- and 27-inch sizes with an array of build-to-order upgrades.
- Quad-core Haswell processors except low-end
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi
- PCIe flash storage options
- 8 GB+ RAM
- 500 GB+ hard drive
21.5-inch with 1920x1080 Display: - $1099: 1.4 GHz Core i5 & HD Graphics 5000 - $1299: 2.7 GHz Core i5 & Iris Pro - $1499: 2.9 GHz Core i5 & GT 750M 27-inch with 2560x1440 Display: - $1799: 3.2 GHz Core i5 & GT 755M - $1999: 3.4 GHz Core i5 & GTX 775M
What to Expect
Following rumors of a lower-cost iMac in 2014, Apple did indeed launch a new low-end model on June 18 priced $200 below the previous entry-level model. The remainder of Apple's iMac lineup remained unchanged, however, and further updates are expected later in the year.
References to all-new iMac models have appeared in recent OS X Mavericks 10.9.4 betas, but it appears that their release is still some time off. Apple's newly unveiled operating system, OS X Yosemite, also suggests that Retina iMacs may be in the works. A file included in the OS offers a series of resolution options for a machine identified as an iMac, maxing out at 6400 x 3600 pixels, or 3200 x 1800 as a Retina display.
In September, the new Displayport 1.3 specification was finalized, which puts Retina iMacs and displays in reach as it offers a 50 percent increase in bandwidth to 32.4 Gbps, or 25.92 Gbps of uncompressed video data once overhead is accounted for.
It is unclear when Apple might release an updated iMac as Intel is said to be experiencing significant delays with its next-generation Broadwell chips. Processors suitable for the iMac may not ship until Summer of 2015, but a recent rumor has pointed towards a either a 4K iMac or a 4K display for the fall of 2014. A mid-2014 27-inch iMac was briefly listed on an Apple Support Page, but rather than indicating an imminent update, the mention may have been due to human error.
Aside from the new low-end model introduced in June, which actually features an ultra-low voltage Intel processor also used in the MacBook Air, Apple last refreshed its iMac line on September 24, 2013, announcing the update via a press release rather at the October media event where the company debuted refreshed iPad and Mac models. The current iMac models feature Intel's Haswell processors (up to 3.5GHz) with the 21.5-inch low-end models sporting Iris Pro or Iris 5000 integrated graphics rather than a discrete graphics chip.
The high-end 21.5-inch model and both 27-inch models come equipped with NVIDIA 700 series graphics, which offer twice as much video memory and 40 percent faster performance than the previous NVIDIA 600 series. The top-of-the-line 27-inch iMac can be upgraded with an NVIDIA GTX 780M graphics card with 4 GB of memory.
iMac continues to be the example that proves how beautiful, fast and fun a desktop computer can be. Inside its ultra-thin aluminum enclosure, the new iMac has the latest Intel processors, faster graphics, next generation 802.11ac Wi-Fi and faster PCIe flash storage.Phil Schiller, Apple SVP of Marketing
All of the iMacs now come with 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and when connected to one of Apple's new 802.11ac base stations, wireless performance is three times faster than with 802.11n. 802.11ac supports a theoretical transfer rate of 1.3 gigabits per second, a huge improvement over the 450 megabits per second of 802.11n.
While all iMacs with the exception of the new low-end model (500 GB) come equipped with a traditional 1 TB Serial ATA hard drive, they can be upgraded with either a Fusion Drive or pure flash storage. First introduced last year, Apple's Fusion Drive system combines a relatively small amount of flash storage with a traditional spinning hard drive, offering in large amounts of storage with faster performance. Frequently used items are kept ready in flash storage, while infrequently accessed items are stored on the slower traditional hard drive.
Apple's flash storage options (including its Fusion Drives) are now PCIe-based, resulting in much faster read/write times. In the MacBook Air, the PCIe flash storage had read/write times of almost 800 MB/s, a major improvement over the previous generation.
Other iMac Features
The iMac was redesigned in 2012, and the current models retain the same "ultra-thin" design, just 5 mm thick at the edge. The display remains the same as well, incorporating a fully laminated design that improves optical quality. There's also an anti-reflective coating to cut down on glare.
There are four USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt ports, an SDXC card slot, and a mini DisplayPort, along with dual microphones, a headphone port, and stereo speakers.
The new low-end 21.5-inch model is only minimally configurable, with storage upgrades being the only option. The low-end iMac's 8GB of RAM is not upgradeable. The higher-end 21.5-inch models can be upgraded with a 3.1GHz Core i7 processor and up to 16 GB of RAM while the 27-inch model can be upgraded with a 3.5GHz Core i7 processor and up to 32 GB of RAM.
Storage options of up to 3 TB traditional hard drive, 3 TB Fusion Drive, and 1 TB PCIe flash storage are also available depending on the model.
The high-end 27-inch model is able to be upgraded with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M graphics card with 4GB of GDDR5 memory.
While the first iMacs to ship out in September included Mountain Lion, iMacs shipping today will offer Apple's newest operating system, OS X 10.9 Mavericks.
iMac owners originally running Mountain Lion are able to upgrade to Mavericks at no cost, as Apple elected to make its newest operating system available for free to all users.
Mavericks includes more than 200 new features, including a revamped Finder with tags and tabs, Safari improvements, and better multi-display support.
How to Buy
The new iMacs can be purchased from the online Apple Store, from an Apple retail location, or from select Apple Authorized Resellers. At this time, all 21.5-inch models and 27-inch models are shipping within 24 hours.