Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Can you say, "value"?

Sure enough, the new iMacs were announced today. And a minor eMac refresh, to boot. First, the new eMac info (since it's pretty minor):

Speed: upgraded one clock multiplier, from 1.25 GHz to 1.42 GHz.
Video: improved to ATI Radeon 9600 with 64MB VRAM. Now it's OK for low-end gaming, plus it has full Core Graphics support.
The high-end ($999) model now includes 512MB RAM standard, and includes a 160GB hard drive and a dual-layer SuperDrive.

The big changes were with the iMac G5. The speed bump itself was minor, from speeds of 1.6 and 1.8 GHz to 1.8 and 2.0 GHz. The displays are the same size (17" and 20"). Prices are unchanged, as well. The big changes were in the component specs:

First of all, the standard hard drive size has gone up to 160GB in the two 17" models. That's double the size on the previous version. On the 20" iMac, the drive is now a 250GB.

They've put the dual-layer SuperDrive (SuperDuperDrive) in the DVD burner models. Nice.

Base RAM is now 512MB, in a single slot. So you can now upgrade to 1GB of RAM pretty cheaply, and I suggest doing so (Apple charges $125 for the upgrade - Crucial will sell it for about $40 less).

The video subsystem's been upgraded, too - from the nVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 to the ATI Radeon 9600 (like the eMac now has), but with 128MB of VRAM (the old iMac had 64MB). I just put an ATI 9600 card in my Dell at home, and it's a nice ride for gaming.

But here's the big news with these iMacs: Bluetooth 2.0 is now standard, as it AirPort Extreme. In the old model, these were $130-ish worth of upgrades, and the Bluetooth option could only be added at build time - not aftermarket. And even more importantly, Gigabit Ethernet is now standard on all iMacs! This is important - until now, all "consumer" Macs had 10/100 Ethernet standard, and only "pro" Macs (the PowerBook and Power Mac G5) included GigE. Now all Apple G5 desktops include GigE (Power Mac and iMac) - the only systems still with only 10/100 are the eMac, mini, and iBook.

So the basic iMac price points remain the same, but they've upgraded the speed, video, and wired networking, upped the base memory, and added options (disk size and wireless) that previously would have added about $250 in cost to each system as BTO upgrades. I'd say that's a good deal, indeed.

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