Apple updates iMacs with Thunderbolt, Sandy Bridge and Facetime HD

Apple announces 2011 iMac all-in-one models

It’s breaking Apple news here, and for a reason too: Apple has just come out with some newly refreshed all-in-one iMac models which may arouse slight interest in a select few folks. The upgrades are fairly evolutionary, with the continuation of the same screen size choices offered since last year, a 21.5 inch 1920 x 1080p display or a massive 27 inch display with ‘larger than Full HD’ 2560 x 1440 resolution (both 16:9 aspect ratio), but the four main changes will probably get photographers, videographers, artists, media professionals and the like thinking about a possible upgrade:

  • Intel 2011 Sandy Bridge processors
    The 21.5 inch iMac will give you a choice between the 2.5 GHz clocked Core i5-2400S or slightly more powerful 2.7 GHz Core i5-2500S (both are quad core), which can Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.6 GHz and a whopping 4.0 GHz respectively. Both are ‘low power’ desktop processors offered by Intel with a TDP of 65W
    The larger 27 inch iMac moves selection choice up a notch by letting you decide between the aforementioned low-voltage, quad-core 2.7 GHz Core i5-2500S or ‘full-voltage’ quad-core 3.1 GHz Core i5-2400 which has a higher TDP of 95W and has a maximum Turbo Boost speed of 3.4 GHz. A third processor option available only on configurable models of the 27 inch iMac is a quad-core 3.4 GHz Core i7-2600 processor which has a max Turbo Boost clock speed of 3.8 GHz.
  • New AMD mobile (yes you read that right: mobile, like for laptops) consumer-class graphics cards
    The 21.5 inch iMac comes with choice of a GDDR5 512 MB AMD Radeon 6750M graphics card, or Radeon 6770M (which should be slightly faster with higher clock speeds)
    The 27 inch iMac gives you a choice between GDDR5 512 MB AMD Radeon 6770M, or the almost-top-end AMD Radeon 6970M graphics card (Which comes in two flavors: 1 GB or 2 GB of GDDR5 memory)
  • Facetime HD camera: a fancy name for a webcam that does 720p video and can communicate very easily with other FaceTime enabled products (Read: iPhone 4 and newer iPod Touch models)
  • Thunderbolt port: Now this is somewhat news. For now, people in the graphics/movie industry (and consumers in general) may be contemplating the usefulness of this port, but if Thunderbolt kicks off quickly enough and folks such as camera manufacturers come up with digital SLRs and pro-level video equipment with Thunderbolt ports, I can foresee these Apple iMacs being snapped up like hot cakes (unless any other PC manufacturer has something to say and starts introducing Thunderbolt too!)
    The 21.5 inch iMac comes with one Thunderbolt port while the 27 inch iMac comes with two of them ports! As with the MacBook Pro models, the Thunderbolt ports also double as where you plug in Display Port cables

The reason I find this news story interesting is because Apple has a tendency of skimping on the hardware side of things (which still holds true for the MacBook and MacBook Pro models). And despite today’s new iMacs still not being the most powerful things on earth (and the tech-savvy could probably build a rival system for around the same price or surprisingly, perhaps slightly more, factoring in the 27 inch display of the larger iMac), they will still probably be well received by those looking for a ‘powerful Mac’ (relatively speaking) with a decent processor and graphics card, along with a massive high resolution display (2560 x 1440). I can almost predict that Pixar and design companies due for an upgrade will pick up a couple of these! Prices start at $1200 and $2000 for the 21.5 inch and 27 inch iMacs respectively.

Now, that brings us to our next question: When are the next-generation HP Touchsmart models with Intel Sandy Bridge and AMD Radeons 6000-series coming out? =) With the announcement of  ‘next generation’ Intel Ivy Bridge processors imminent in 2012, I think Apple’s a little late to the Sandy Bridge party today (but better later than never, right?) and the next few months will be the last chance for manufacturers to introduce Sandy Bridge based products before Intel drops the news on Ivy Bridge, possibly at CES 2012!

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One Comment

  1. Bob May 3, 2011 Reply

    Given the videos I’ve seen on HP’s youtube channel, it would appear that HP is trying to cultivate a better relationship with AMD. So I’m not sure how fast HP would push out new All-in-ones with Sandy bridge.

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