Apple iMac Updated with Powerful Graphics and 10Gbps Thunderbolt

by Reads (5,647)

Just as we predicted, the world’s most popular all-in-one desktop computer got an attractive new update with the addition of new Intel quad-core CPUs across the board, AMD Radeon 6000M gaming-class graphics cards and the new 10Gbps Thunderbolt interconnect, for high-speed data transfers – all for $1199.

2011 Apple iMac
Images provided courtesy of Apple.

There are three big changes to the new 2011 Apple iMac lineup, though two of them are completely internal.  The first is the addition of the latest generation of Intel Sandy Bridge Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs. Every iMac sold now comes with a quad-core CPU – the last generation still contained dual-core chips. 

2011 Apple iMac2011 Apple iMac

 

The second big change comes with the addition of new AMD Radeon graphics cards. The 6000M series are pretty powerful discrete GPUs, especially at the high-end.  Equipping a 27-inch iMac with the new Radeon 6970M (it even comes with 2GB of video memory) would let Mac users play today’s hottest games at some of the highest settings. This is an important inclusion now that OS X is getting increasing gaming support thanks in no small parts to Valve’s Steam client and Apple’s Boot Camp software.

2011 Apple iMac

The final, but no less important, inclusion is that of the 10Gbps Thunderbolt high-speed interconnect. Thunderbolt takes over the mini-DisplayPort ports, adding in high-speed data alongside the video format. Apple’s 21.5-inch iMac desktops have a single Thunderbolt port, while the 27-inch models have two.  These iMacs mark the first time Thunderbolt has been introduced on a desktop computer, and only the second implementation of the new standard on computers at all.

They’re located in the back next to the rest of the ports, which include four USB 2.0 (zero USB 3.0), Gigabit Ethernet, headphone and line in audio jacks, FireWire 800 and the power cable. The mini-DisplayPort outputs are also wired so as to be compatible with Dual-Link DVI and VGA, via optional adapters. The computers have 8x DVD+/-RW DL slot-loading optical disc drives and SDXC card readers. Apple includes a wireless keyboard and Magic Mouse or Magic Trackpad (configurable choice) with each computer.

Apple also tossed in FaceTime HD cameras, which take over branding rights from the original iSight webcams. The new iMacs support up to one additional display at 30 inches, or 2560×1600 resolution. Other upgrades configurable from the Apple Store include 1 and 2TB hard drives or a secondary 256GB SSD, up to 16GB of DDR3 SDRAM, a 3.4GHz quad-core Core i7 CPU and the previously mentioned AMD Radeon HD 6970M graphics card.

iMacs continue on their war against the cord, and thus come with 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi wireless networking as well as Bluetooth 2.1+EDR. Apple also took the recent Greenpeace criticisms to heart and made the iMac substantially more eco-friendly (as far as computers go), with arsenic and mercury-free displays, BFR and PVC-free construction, recyclable aluminum and glass components, and engineered the iMac to meet EPEAT Gold and ENERGY STAR 5.2 requirements.

The new models are available now, both online and in Apple’s retail stores. The 21.5-inch iMac starts at $1,199, while the 27-inch iMac starts at just $1,699. Pre-configured upgrade paths include better CPUs, memory, storage and graphics, for $1,499 and $1,999, respectively (the latter includes the Radeon HD 6970M GPU).

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