Right on cue, Apple today updated the iMac ($1,199 and up) line of all-in-ones with quad-core processors across the board, faster graphics, new Thunderbolt I/O ports, and a higher resolution FaceTime HD camera. Sure, pretty much everything is as predicted—and the machines look nearly identical from the outside—but the iMacs remain a great value for the dollar, and these upgraded models are an even better bang for the buck.
The key to this update is speed. Even the base model 21.5” iMac has a 2.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, and you can custom order the 27” with up to a 3.4GHz quad-core i7—faster than the base model Mac Pro. Notably, the chips are from Intel’s new Sandy Bridge family, which perform better even at the same clock speeds as last year’s models. Apple has made the transition over to discrete AMD graphics cards for the entire family, with up to three times improvements in frame rates, and anywhere from 512MB to 2GB of memory. Thunderbolt finally makes an appearance in the desktop, with one port on the smaller models and two on the larger—now we just need some accessories to take advantage of these ridiculously fast 10Gb/sec transfer speeds. Throw in the FaceTime HD camera that supports outbound video calls in 720p and yeah, you can’t really go wrong with this one. Refurbs of past models are still available, too, if you’re willing to give up a little speed to save a few hundred dollars.