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Apple Updates iMac, Mac Pro, and Cinema Display

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Last week, Apple announced upgrades to its iMac and Mac Pro lineups, and introduced a new 27-inch Cinema Display.


iMac -- Apple has revamped its iMac lineup with faster processors and graphics. The lower-end iMacs see the biggest changes, including a move away from the Intel Core Duo architecture to the new Intel Core i3 and i5 processors, and a shift away from the Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics processor to ATI-powered discrete graphics. Now the Intel Core i3, i5, and i7 processors and the ATI discrete graphics processors are standard in iMacs across the board.

The 21.5-inch and 27-inch models remain the standard form factors for the iMac, with the smaller model offered in three separate processor configurations, and the larger model offered in four. The base configurations and their respective build-to-order options are as follows:

  • 21.5-inch ($1,199): 3.06 GHz Intel Core i3, 500 GB hard drive, ATI Radeon HD 4670 discrete graphics with 256 MB GDDR3 SDRAM, and 4 GB of 1333 MHz SDRAM. The only build-to-order option is 8 GB of RAM.

  • 21.5-inch ($1,499): 3.2 GHz Intel Core i3, 1 TB hard drive, ATI Radeon HD 5670 discrete graphics with 512 MB GDDR3 SDRAM, and 4 GB of 1333 MHz SDRAM. Build-to-order options include a 3.6 GHz Core i5 processor, a 2 TB hard drive, and 8 GB of RAM.

  • 27-inch ($1,699): 3.2 GHz Intel Core i3, 1 TB hard drive, ATI Radeon HD 5670 discrete graphics with 512 MB GDDR3 SDRAM, and 4 GB of 1333 MHz SDRAM. Build-to-order options include a 3.6 GHz Core i5 processor, an ATI Radeon HD 5750 graphics card with 1 GB GDDR5 SDRAM, a 2 TB hard drive, a 256 GB solid state drive, and 8 or 16 GB of RAM. It's also possible to replace the hard drive with a 256 GB solid-state drive, or, in a first for the iMac, install an additional 256 GB solid-state drive.

  • 27-inch ($1,999): 2.8 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, 1 TB hard drive, ATI Radeon HD 5750 discrete graphics with 1 GB GDDR5 SDRAM, and 4 GB of 1333 MHz SDRAM. Build-to-order options include a 2.93 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, a 2 TB hard drive, 8 or 16 GB of RAM, and an additional 256 GB solid-state drive.

All models come standard with four USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 800 port, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, an 8x SuperDrive, a Gigabit Ethernet connector, and an SD card slot that now supports the SDXC format (for higher capacity cards). Also standard is the built-in iSight camera, microphone, speakers (which Apple claims are improved over the previous version), headphone and audio-in jacks, and a Mini DisplayPort output that supports DVI, VGA, and dual-link DVI.

While no major environmental leaps have been made with these updated models, Apple continues to uphold its green standards. In its press release, Apple notes that the iMac meets Energy Star 5.0 requirements, achieves EPEAT gold status, features displays that are mercury- and arsenic-free, and is built with highly recyclable materials that are devoid of any BFRs or PVCs.

Note that Apple released Mac OS X v10.6.4 Update iMac (Mid 2010) (452.62 MB) and Mac OS X Server v10.6.4 Update iMac (Mid 2010) (460.91 MB) to fix some graphics-related compatibility and performance problems, improve compatibility with large-format SDXC memory cards, and to add support for the Magic Trackpad. Software Update is likely the easiest way to see if your new iMac needs these updates.


Mac Pro -- The Mac Pro, Apple's desktop tower of power, is now even more burly thanks to the option to equip it with up to 12 processing cores and up to four 512 GB solid-state drives. It also features improved ATI graphics processors.

The low-end configuration includes a single quad-core Intel Xeon "Nehalem" processor - the type that previously represented the high end of the Mac Pro line - at speeds up to 3.2 GHz. The higher-end configurations include Intel's "Westmere" processors in quad-core or 6-core models. (If 4 cores are "quad-core," would 6 cores be "sex-core"?) The Mac Pro can be outfitted with one or two processors, providing a 6-core system at 3.33 GHz, an 8-core (octo-core?) system at 2.4 GHz, or a 12-core (duode-core?) system at up to 2.93 GHz. Apple also notes that the Westmere chips include 8 MB or 12 MB of L3 cache per processor to improve performance.

Graphics processing is handled by the ATI Radeon HD 5770 with 1 GB of GDDR5 memory, which Apple claims is faster than the previous top-of-the-line option. Or, you can move up to the ATI Radeon HD 5870 with 1 GB of GDDR5 memory, which offers a wider memory bus (256-bit and 153.6 GB per second versus 128-bit and 76.8 GB per second) and higher-performance GPU. Each card includes two Mini DisplayPort outputs and a dual-link DVI port. If you equip the Mac Pro with two ATI Radeon HD 5770 cards, you can connect up to six displays.

In terms of storage, the Mac Pro includes four 3.5-inch drive bays that offer up to 8 TB of storage when configured with four 2 TB SATA 3Gb/s drives. Apple also offers the option to add up to four 512 GB solid-state drives, capable of accessing data at up to 230 MB per second. Or, mix and match hard drives and solid-state drives to fill the bays.

The new Mac Pro will be available in August 2010. The online Apple Store does not yet list it for pre-order, so you can't build a configuration online and see how much the combination of processors and drives will cost. However, Apple's press release for the Mac Pro lists two base configurations:

  • $2,499 buys a Mac Pro with a single 2.8 GHz quad-core Intel Xeon W3530 (Nehalem) processor with 8 MB of L3 cache, 3 GB of memory (expandable up to 16 GB), ATI Radeon HD 5770, one 1 TB hard drive, and an 18x SuperDrive.

  • $3,499 buys a Mac Pro with two 2.4 GHz quad-core Intel Xeon E5620 (Westmere) processors with 12 MB of L3 cache, 6 GB of memory (expandable up to 32 GB), ATI Radeon HD 5770, one 1 TB hard drive, and an 18x SuperDrive.

All models include four PCI Express 2.0 slots, five USB 2.0 ports, four FireWire 800 ports, AirPort Extreme 802.11n wireless networking, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, Gigabit Ethernet, and an Apple Keyboard with numeric keypad and Magic Mouse.


27-inch Cinema Display -- The new 27-inch Cinema Display features a 2560-by-1440-pixel resolution with a 178 degree viewing angle (thanks to in-plane switching technology) and offers 60 percent more screen real estate than its 24-inch sibling. It keeps with Apple's standard of the 16:9 edge-to-edge glass display mounted on an aluminum stand with an adjustable hinge, and comes with a built-in iSight camera, 49-watt speakers, microphone, and USB 2.0 hub.

The display also has a built-in Mini DisplayPort connector, an integrated MagSafe connector for powering a MacBook or MacBook Pro, and an ambient light sensor that automatically adjusts screen brightness depending on the lighting conditions.

Interestingly, the 27-inch Cinema Display will be Apple's only external display going forward. Apple confirmed with several news outlets that the current 24- and 30-inch Cinema Displays will be retired in sync with the release of the new 27-inch model, so if you want one of those models, get it now before Apple runs out of stock.

The 27-inch Cinema Display requires a Mac with Mini DisplayPort capabilities, and will cost $999 upon release in September 2010.

 

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Comments about Apple Updates iMac, Mac Pro, and Cinema Display

Alan Forkosh  An apple icon for a TidBITS Supporter 2010-07-29 01:27
Hopefully, Apple will provide a full length (2 meter) cable with the 27-inch display. The 24-inch display came with only a 1-meter cable.

This was somewhat understandable, as the only Mac that had a Displayport when it was announcec was a portable. However, it was impossible to connect the display to a tower (MacPro) on the floor without using extension Displayport and USB cables. While the cables were available at nominal prices from places like Monoprice and Cables To Go, it was quite frustrating that Apple provided a sour out-of-box experience by

a) not noting the cable length in the technical specs
b) not making them available at the Apple store at purchase time.

The best solution would have been for Apple to provide them in the box, similar to what they do for the wired keyboard.

Hopefully, they will fix this sour customer interaction with the new monitor.
Brian S.  2010-08-02 17:37
The new iMacs are mostly CPU upgrades, so this is not a real exciting upgrade IMO. It would be good to see Apple deliver on some of the newer technologies now available on PCs such as:

(1) USB 3.0

(2) HDMI port - yes it’s on the mini

(3) Blu-ray - yes, I heard Steve’s pronouncement

There used to be a wider gap between PC technology and Macs. The gap has narrowed and the PC market ( Dell and Sony for sure —maybe others ) now offers leading edge technology. Windows 7 isn't nearly as awful as Vista and the prices of Windows machines are significantly lower than Macs. Would be interesting to see a price comparison of a comparably equipped Mac and PC with an i7.
Brian S.  2010-08-02 23:00
eSata is faster than Firewire 800 and makes a difference for those transferring large ( say 1GB + ) files. Why Apple doesn't offer this is surprising. If OWC can do it, so could Apple.
Brian S.  2010-08-02 22:25
Does anyone know which quad-core i7 is in the iMac? Apparently, there are at least two ( possibly more ) ( such as the i7-930 and the i7-860). I haven't found this detail on the Apple web site.
Brian S.  2010-08-02 23:02
PC Mag's article on prior gen iMacs says they are 860s.
Curtis Wilcox  An apple icon for a Friend of TidBITS 2010-08-03 10:43
Someone in this Apple Discussion thread already has theirs and says it's an i7-870.

http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=2525492&tstart=0
Ed Sawyer  2010-08-03 11:31
it will be interesting to see how the glossy-only(!?) 27" monitor flies with folks. Personally I'd rather get a used 30" with matte display. Hopefully Apple will offer a matte screen option on the 27".
Jeff Carlson  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-08-03 12:07
Apple has grudgingly offered matte screens only for the 15-inch MacBook Pro, but that's it. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for a 27-inch matte display. The 24-inch model was glossy and intended for pros, so Apple presumably figures that people will either make do or buy something else.
Dwain Cromwell  2010-08-03 15:21
Is the new 27" monitor the same as the display on the new 27" iMac?