Apple updates entire desktop line: new iMac, Mac Mini, Mac Pro

by Reads (8,023)

We talked about the possibility of Apple updating their desktop lines yesterday, and today they’ve done it.  Available immediately, Apple has updated versions of their popular iMac, Mac Mini and Mac Pro computers.  With multiple configurations of each model and line, it looks as if Apple is trying to make offerings that appeal to all segments of the market.

Mac Pro

The new Mac Pro doesn’t look all that different on the outside, but that’s okay since Apple’s high-end workstation has had an absolutely outstanding design for the last several years. The front of the machine shows off a headphone jack, two USB2.0 ports and two FireWire ports, in addition to the optical drives.  The rear of the machine shows off more connectivity, with three more USB2.0 ports, two additional FireWire ports, optical audio in and out, analog audio in and out, and dual Gigabit ethernet ports.  DVI-I and mini-DisplayPort round out the video output.

Inside, however, the  machine has been completely updated, with Intel’s newest processors and DDR3 RAM.  Apple is now using Nehalem-based quad core Xeon processors as standard; with a dual processor configuration, this means you’ll have sixteen processor threads to throw at tasks thanks to Intel’s reimplentation of hyperthreading. 

The new Mac Pros have a very cool sliding tray feature wherein you can just pull the tray out to replace components or upgrade options like the hard drive.  Like always the inside of Apple’s high-end machine is nothing if not sleek and elegant.  It would be nice to see additional manufacturers follow this tack. 

Mac Pros now come in two basic offerings, though you can configure and upgrade each one separately.  Starting at $2,499, the single processor Mac Pro features one quad core Xeon CPU, 3GB of DDR3 RAM (up to 8GB from Apple), a 640GB hard drive, 18x SuperDrive DVD+/-RW and an NVIDIA GeForce GT120 with 512MB of RAM.  The dual processor configuration starts at $3,299 and offers two quad core Xeon CPUs, 6GB of DDR3 RAM (up to 32GB from Apple), a 640GB hard drive and the same GeForce GT120 with 512MB of RAM.  While you can get either computer with an ATI Radeon HD4870, the GT120 base offering is just a rebadge of the 9500GT and is pretty weak.  For those requiring additional video outputs, Apple does offer up to four GT120s in a system, though only one HD4870, though I suppose you could add your own later.  The new systems do offer a fair amound of room for expansion, with four PCI-E 2.0 slots, either 4 or 8 DIMM slots, two optical drive bays and four hard drive bays.

iMac

New iMacs were also introduced; Apple decided to stratify the lineup and offer four different iMac configurations, with four pretty distinct price points.  The least expensive option is the 20-inch model, at $1,199.  It offers a 2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo, 2GB of DDR3 RAM, a 320GB hard drive, 8x DVD+/-RW and NVIDIA GeForce 9400M.  It’s the only 20-inch model offered; all the rest are 24 inches.  The next model is $1,499 and has the same processor as the previous model but twice the memory with 4GB of DDR3 RAM and a 640GB hard drive.  Next in the lineup is the 2.93GHz 24-inch configuration, with the same RAM and hard drive but a faster processor and a GeForce GT120 (9500GT) graphics card.  It starts at $1,799.  At the highest end, we have the 24-inch 3.06GHz model which offers a very fast dual core processor, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, a 1TB hard drive, 8x SuperDrive and an NVIDIA GeForce GT130 (GeForce 9600GSO (GeForce 8800 GS)). 

The RAM and hard drive are upgradable options on all systems, while the higher two configurations offer graphics card options.  You can upgrade the third tier configuration to either a GT130 or Radeon HD4850; you can also upgrade the fourth tier to a 4850 if you want.

The new iMacs feature the silver and black theme that Apple has been using for the most recent iteration of its computers.  Completely barren on the front (of even a power button), the rear of the computers feature a fair amount of inputs.  Apple uses its mini-DisplayPort again here, as well as a single Gigabit ethernet jack, one FireWire 800 port, four USB2.0 ports and analog audio in/out. 

Mac Mini

Rumors have been brewing about these new Mac Minis for quite some time, and, as it turns out, all of the leaked product images were completely correct.  I’m personally most excited about these computers, as they can be decent values for the money, especially when you consider how much small form factor computers can cost.  The Mac Minis are very stylish yet diminutive options.

The new models come in two starting configurations; the only real difference between them is the amount of RAM of storage space.  The entry level model comes in at $599 and offers a 2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, an unfortunate 1GB of DDR3-1066 RAM, an 8x DVD+/-RW and a 120GB hard drive.  It also uses an NVIDIA chipset and GeForce 9400M graphics.  The second configuration starts at $799 and offers the same processor, SuperDrive and graphics, but adds an addition 1GB of RAM for a total of 2GB and increases the hard drive space to 320GB.

The processor on either model is upgradable to 2.26GHz, and the RAM maxes out at 4GB.  Unfortunately, Apple does not offer any hard drives with a greater capacity than 320GB and given today’s uses and available hard drives, I don’t think it’s a great choice when you consider the fact that it’s essentially impossible to upgrade yourself.

Like the iMac, Apple has put all of the Mac Mini’s ports and mess (including the power button) on the rear of the machine.  The new machines come with Gigabit ethernet, one FireWire 800, mini-DVI and mini-DisplayPort, five USB2.0 ports and analog audio in/out jacks.  The new Minis also feature a cable lock slot, as do the iMacs.  Despite what people have said about the death of FireWire due to its omission on the recent Macbook models, apparently Apple still has some faith in the standard as it’s being offered on every single new desktop.

There you have it, all of Apple’s new machines in one spot.  While Apple computers tend to run to the expensive side of things, especially if you take advantage of any offered upgrades, it looks like they’re trying to cater to all sides by offering several computers at several different price points. If nothing else, they’ve succeeded in being stylish as always, and set the design bar high for other manufacturers.

Further reading:

Apple Store

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