Today Apple released a new model in their line of iMac computers. The new model slots in below the original entry model 21.5" iMac with less powerful specifications but also a smaller price tag. With Apple's Mac Mini not having been updated since 2012, the new 21.5" iMac is a new way to access Apple's desktop ecosystem at a lower price than Apple's more powerful solutions without having to go with an older Sandy Bridge based hardware platform. Below the new 21.5" iMac is compared to the previous entry level model which still remains priced at $1299, as well as the upgraded 21.5" model in the iMac line.

Apple 2014 iMac Line
Configuration 21.5-inch Base Model iMac 21.5-inch Mid-Range iMac 21.5-inch Flagship iMac
Display 21.5-inch 1920 x 1080 IPS 21.5-inch 1920 x 1080 IPS 21.5-inch 1920 x 1080 IPS
CPU (Base/Turbo) Intel Core i5-4260U Dual Core + HT (1.4GHz/2.7GHz) Intel Core i5-4570R Quad Core (2.7GHz/3.2GHz) Intel Core i5-4570S Quad Core (2.9GHz/3.6GHz)
GPU Intel HD 5000 Intel Iris Pro 5200 NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M (1GB GDDR5)
RAM 8GB LPDDR3-1600 8GB DDR3-1600 8GB DDR3-1600
Storage 500GB 5400RPM 1TB 5400RPM 1TB 5400RPM
WiFi 802.11ac
I/O 4 x USB 3.0, 2 x Thunderbolt, 1 x GigE, SDXC reader, headphone jack
Starting Price $1099 $1299 $1499

The most immediately noticeable change with the new entry level iMac is the CPU. Apple has moved from the quad core i5-4570R used in the $1299 iMac which originally served as the entry level model to the dual core i5-4260U. This is the same CPU used in Apple's 13" Macbook Air and so users can expect a similar experience regarding performance, although the iMac is likely to be able to sustain turbo clock speeds for longer periods of time due to it being less thermally constrained than the Macbook Air. Single threaded performance should be pretty decent given the 4260U's ability to turbo up to 2.7GHz. Remember that these are roughly the same individual cores that are used in the higher end iMacs - there are just fewer of them. With the move to a Haswell ULT part there is also a sacrifice in GPU performance with the new iMac running Intel's HD 5000 integrated graphics rather than the Iris Pro 5200 used in what is now the mid-range iMac model. When we looked at HD 5000 performance in the MacBook Air we determined that the performance gains from moving to Haswell GT3 in a 15W part were limited by thermals. I suspect the iMac's chassis may allow the ULT part to stretch its graphics performance a bit more.

With the mid-range iMac sporting a quad core i5 and Iris Pro graphics the CPU is likely going to be the deciding point for users choosing between the new entry level iMac and the mid-range model. In addition to the CPU changes, the hard drive sees a drop in capacity from 1TB to 500GB compared to the previous entry level model.

Aside from the changes to the CPU and the hard drive the new entry level iMac retains all the other hardware that ships in the other 21.5" iMac models. It still includes the 1920x1080 IPS display which was found to perform quite favorably, 8GB of RAM, and all the I/O connectors including four USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt ports, 1 gigabit ethernet port, an SDXC reader, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Looking at the new iMac, it seems like a product that has the business and education market in mind. Users who intend to do anything performance intensive are much better served by the mid-range model. But in an office environment or in schools the performance reductions may not be much of a concern when the computers are needed for simple web browsing and working with documents. For those markets the $200 savings on each computer will be quite significant when ordering in large amounts.

The new entry level 21.5" iMac is shipping today for $1099 in the United States, $1149 in Canada, and £899 in the United Kingdom

Source: Apple PR


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  • apertotes - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    "But in an office environment or in schools the performance reductions may not be much of a concern when the computers are needed for simple web browsing and working with documents."

    I'll never, ever, ever, take my kids to a school where they use $1000 computers to browse the internet and create word documents.
  • hughlle - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    Agreed! Either the parent is getting royally ripped off, or the school has a huge issue with it's financial priorities. While i was in my last years at school (2005/2006) the computers in my boarding house were HP pentium 3 beige POS, that did their job just fine. You could type and browse to your hearts content. If you wanted something with more oomph, for lets say slightly less academic purposes, then you bought your own.
  • val1s - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    Total cost of ownership is a big concern with education markets. At my college there were 1-2 people for a few hundred macs.
  • Frozenlight - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    You've got a very valid point there. But as a student, can also say that good computer equipment creates interest in computers for children. You won't need an $1099 iMac, but giving them Windows XP won't really spark any interest.
  • hughlle - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    A valid argument, from one person, and as one person, i can say it did nothing. When i was younger, i broke my wrist at school, and was given one of those crazy plastic apple looking apple touchscreen laptops. It was well above and beyond the normal computers in the it facility, but those comparatively obsolete pc's inspired my interest in computers more than the fancy apple laptop did. There was so much we could do on the pc's, there was very little i could do with my absurdly more expensive apple toy.

    I've met apple users, most can't give a reason why it is better other than it is. I'd rather kids get interested in p's due to their versatility than apple products because of their image which is alas mostly the case, just take a look at the school ipad programs, they have little to do with real learning.
  • Tegeril - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    When did Apple make a touch screen laptop?
  • Sharl - Saturday, June 21, 2014 - link

    I think it's a reference to the eMate Newton OS product. Lovely device, but really not a good comparison to the differences between a Windows PC and an iMac running OS X. I can think of a dozen reasons why I'd prefer my kid to be using OS X and the bundled apps.
  • TEAMSWITCHER - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    For schools it's a total-cost-of-ownership thing. Don't pass judgement until you understand all the associated costs. Windows PC's are not as cheap as you think they are.
  • danbob999 - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    Total cost of ownership is much higher on iMacs. You have to change both the PC and the monitor at the same time. Given that monitors last much longer, this is a huge added cost. Also, out of warranty repairs are much more expensive.
  • sligett - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    Well, the 2006 (white) iMacs are still going strong in schools I work with. Eight years, and no repairs for most of them.

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