Apple’s new iMac: The complete rundown

Although the iPad mini stole most of the attention at Apple’s October 23rd event, another new product stood out, and that was the new iMac. With a dramatic new design and much improved internals, this iteration of Apple’s all-in-one computer is the best in the history of the iMacs.

Design:

As is typical with Apple products, design is extremely important. The iMac blew this category out of the water with a dramatic new design, that really did surprise everyone.

The most striking aspect about the iMac’s design is just how thin it is. The edge of the display is 5mm thin. That’s thinner than the iPhone 5, thinner than the iPad mini. Of course technology isn’t at the point where the whole computer is 5mm, and the iMac gets thicker the closer you move towards the middle.

However, the thickness change in the iMac means that much weight is shaved off. The iMac now hass a much more sleek profile, and instead of remaining the same thickness all the way round, the change seen at certain parts is extreme.

Although compromises have to be made to achieve such thinness. In this case, the drawback is the lack of optical drive. Many will be angry with this move by Apple, as it is clear that form has come above functionality. However, in this modern era, the disk drive is used so sparingly that there really is little point having one.

The MacBook Air and Retina MacBook Pro lines do not include optical drives, and nor should they have to. To achieve an incredibly thin design, ditching an ageing technology was necessary. Apple will no doubt continue this trend over the next few years, and soon, there will be no Apple product with an optical drive.

On Apple’s website is a fantastic image titled The evolution of iMac. It  clearly shows the design evolution of one of Apple’s most well known products over its 14 year life span, and it is clear just how amazing this device has become. From the very thick (by todays standards) 1998 iMac, all the way to the 2012 iMac, the progression is clear, as Apple has strived to create an incredibly beautiful desktop computer.

Display:

Part of the reason the new iMac is so thin is because of the display. While the resolution of both 21″ and 27″ screens have remained the same, much work has been done in regards to design and manufacturing of the displays.

The iMac’s screen is no longer set behind the cover glass, but rather, is right up against it. This results in 2mm being shaved off the design, and in addition to this, the LCD has become 5mm thinner than before.

Another big improvement comes on the lamination front. Now the iMac’s LCD panel is fully laminated, reducing reflection by 75%. This Results in not only less glare, but more vibrant colors.

Processors:

The new iMac comes standard with Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge processors, which make it the fastest iMac yet. Every model in the lineup comes with a quad-core i5 processor, which is 3.2GHz for the top of the line model. The iMac can also be configured with an i7 processor, up to 3.4GHz.

Graphics:

Graphics have also received a boost, with NVIDIA’s new graphics architecture improving performance by up to 60%. There is a different graphics processor for each model in the range, presumedly increasing the power based on processing requirements of each model.

Storage:

The iMac has also changed dramatically in the storage department, with many new options added.

Each model comes standard with a 1TB hard drive, which is a step up over the old 500GB base storage in the previous generation. Again, customisations can be made, with a 3TB drive being the highest storage option.

Although there is another storage option, in the form of flash storage. The 27-inch iMac can be configured to include 768GB flash storage instead of the traditional hard drive. This will obviously come at quite a premium, considering the current prices of flash storage. Although the rewards will be apparent, with applications loading much faster, and the entire operating system receiving a speed boost.

There is however, one more option, and this seems to be the best all round choice. It is called the Fusion Drive, and it combines a hard drive with flash storage. The Fusion Drive will automatically manage data so that more frequently used apps, documents, photos and other files will stay on the flash storage. More infrequently used items will be moved to the hard drive. As a result of this, items you regularly use will operate much faster.

Ports and Connections:

The new iMac makes use of previously used ports, and also adds some new technologies.

The Thunderbolt port makes its return to the iMac, with compatible devices making transfer speeds extremely fast. There are two of these ports on the rear of the computer, which makes it especially useful for hooking up an external display.

USB 3 also comes to the iMac for the first time, replacing the USB 2 ports seen in the older model. This will result in much higher transfer speeds, and compatibility with newer USB drives. There are four USB ports on the rear of the machine, located near the Thunderbolt ports.

Pricing:

The iMac starts off at $1299 in America, and goes up to $1999 for the 3.2GHz 27-inch model. Of course, this price can be easily amped up with just a few clicks in the Apple store, but this cannot be done until November, when the 21-inch model is released. The 27-inch model will follow soon, with a release some time in December.

This year’s iteration of the iMac surely is one of the best updates we’ve seen in years. The design of this device showcases what Apple stands for, and the internals make it a computing powerhouse in its class.

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