New Apple iMacs Offer Haswell CPUs, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, PCI-e SSDs, 32GB RAM

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Today Apple quietly unveiled a new line of iMac all-in-ones, with only an updated online store and whisper of a press release to let people know that something was different. With a rumored Mac and iPad event a few short weeks away, it seems like the team in Cupertino wasn’t willing to wait for the public release of its Mavericks next-gen OS (which recently seeded its 8th developer preview).

On the outside, the machines don’t seem to have changed. They keep the amazingly thin shape with tapered edges and a rounded back; all of these upgrades come on the inside. The main improvements come in the form of CPU upgrades – Intel’s 4th generation Core CPUs, also known as Haswell, faster Wi-Fi, with support for 802.11ac, and faster storage, with the new PCIe-based flash storage options first found in Apple’s new MacBook Air computers.

As always, there are two main models to choose from – a 21.5-inch model (which is, like, crazy light – admittedly it is largely a 13-inch MacBook Pro in desktop form) and a much larger 27-inch unit. Each comes with two starter configurations:

21.5-inch iMac Specifications:

  • 2.7GHz quad-core i5 CPU with 3.2GHz Turbo Boost
  • 8GB RAM (non user accessible)
  • 1TB Hard drive
  • Intel Iris Pro GPU
  • $1,299
  • 2.9GHz quad-core i5 CPU with 3.6GHz Turbo Boost
  • 8GB RAM (non user accessible)
  • 1TB Hard drive
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M GPU with 1GB video memory
  • $1,499

New Apple iMacs

27-inch iMac Specifications:

  • 3.2GHz quad-core i5 CPU with 3.6GHz Turbo Boost
  • 8GB RAM (user accessible)
  • 1TB Hard drive
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 755M with 1GB video memory
  • $1,799
  • 3.4GHz quad-core i5 wiht 3.8GHz Turbo Boost
  • 8GB RAM
  • 1TB Hard drive
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 775M with 2GB video memory
  • $1,999

Of course, the company allows a few configurations outside of those packages, mostly by adding or subtracting one component or another from them. On the 21-inch model, you can upgrade the CPU or RAM for $200, or use that cash to move up to Apple’s Fusion Drive, which partners a 1TB hard drive with (usually) a 128GB solid state drive. It’s also cheaper, this generation, to move to an SSD-only solution, with a 256GB model coming in at $200 more (not too shabby for a PCIe-based drive).

If you want to go all out, however, the new 27-inch iMacs offer support for 32GB of RAM out of the box, and on this model that’s an upgrade you can do yourself with four 8GB DIMMs, up to 3TB Fusion Drives (or 1TB SSDs), or a GPU upgrade to NVIDIA’s impressive GTX 780M module with 4GB of GDDR5 memory. The company doesn’t say how much flash is used for the 3TB Fusion Drive models.

Like the previous models, these computers no longer come with optical drives, though Apple still sells a USB SuperDrive if you can’t give up your beloved CDs and DVDs.

Apple claims that the new packages offer up to 40 percent faster performance than the previous generation; while they don’t say which tests they run, they do note that the standard  configurations were used to run them. A couple of Thunderbolt ports and four USB 3.0 ports round the new iMacs out – it seems like Thunderbolt 2 ports just weren’t ready in time to hit the mainstream iMacs.

While the Macs ship with Mountain Lion, we’re likely near enough to the release of Mavericks that users who pick up a new iMac today will be able to upgrade to the new OS without charge – something both Apple and Microsoft have offered in the past.

The new machines are available starting today at Apple.com and in retail stores.

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