The latest offering from Apple in their desktop line is the slimmest desktop computer to date. The new iMac sports a 5mm thick edge on both their 21.5” and 27” models, giving them a sleek profile that ups the bar for personal computers. New manufacturing processes like friction-stir welding, used in aircraft manufacturing, have helped to shrink the size. To accommodate this svelte physique, Apple had done away with the optical drive, which might annoy some potential users. Apple does offer an external SuperDrive for $79 for any physical media aficionados that need this functionality from their desktop computer. Along with the slimmer design, the screen has been substantially improved.
Another process, called full lamination, has helped to remove gaps between the layers in LCD screen manufacturing. In addition to decreasing the thickness, it allows for reduced reflection through another process called plasma deposition. All in all, these new manufacturing processes help to make a computer that is aesthetically pleasing, which is always a quality found in Apple products.
Inside, the new iMacs are powered by quad-core Ivy Bridge processors in both i5 and i7 flavors with NVIDIA GeForce graphics card options pushing the video. Along with these performance-boosting updates, Apple is introducing the FusionDrive as a storage option. Coupling a 128GB solid-state drive (SSD) with a typical hard drive, the FusionDrive allows for faster performance on your iMac. Of course, maxing out your iMac with all the options will drive up the price considerably.
One notable difference between the 21.5” and 27” models is the lack of RAM upgradeability in the smaller model. The 27” does give access to the memory slots for user upgrades, but if you opt for the smaller model, you might think twice before you buy. A standard 8GB of RAM come with each, upgradeable to 16GB or 32GB, which is plenty for most casual users. Both models also feature 2 Thunderbolt ports, 4 USB 3 ports, an Ethernet port, an SDXC card slot, and a headphone jack which doubles as an optical digital audio output
Availability for the new iMac is currently limited. With initial release dates of November for the 21.5” and December for the 27”, Apple finally started shipping the smaller model on the last day of November and recently announced that the larger model would be shipping in January. I was able to try out the new 21.5” model thanks to an early adopter here in town. Shipping in a trapezoidal box, the iMac comes with a Bluetooth keyboard and Magic Mouse, a power cord, and a few small documents. The model I tried had 8GB of RAM and a standard 1TB hard drive, but it is considerably peppier than my 27” iMac I use daily. This iMac was a replacement for a Windows desktop PC, and after everything was cleaned out and setup, the new owner marveled at how little cord clutter remained. This, coupled with the super slim form factor, really brings a “wow factor” to your desktop.
With the new iMac on your desk, you will get lots of compliments on your big monitor. When you tell them that it is the whole computer, jaws drop. Once again, Apple brings performance and style together in a stunning package, albeit with a few sacrifices.