Apple to release sub-$1000 21.5-inch iMac geared at education customers (Update: Released!)

Update (Aug. 8th): Following our report, Apple has gone ahead and released it!. Interestingly, no Thunderbolt and RAM not upgradable?!

Apple is gearing up to launch a new addition to the iMac lineup later this month that appears to be geared towards education/volume customers. The new iMac has less power than the current line of all-in-one Apple desktop computers and also has less storage space. The computer packs a last generation 3.1 GHz dual-core processor (3.06 GHz rounded up), 2 GB of DDR3 RAM, 250 GB of hard drive storage space, and the AMD Radeon HD 6750M graphics processor with 256 MB of dedicated memory.

This lower-end iMac obviously has much less horsepower than the current iMac line and should be priced as such. For comparison, the entry level 21.5-inch iMac features a 2.5 GHz quad-core processor, 4 GB of RAM, a 500 GB hard drive, and the same AMD Radeon HD 6750M graphics processor but with double the dedicated memory at 512 MB. This entry level 21.5-inch iMac is priced at $1,199, so don’t be surprised to see this less-powerful machine with a sub-$1000 price tag. For reference, Apple’s last education-geared iMac was priced at $899. A similar (more RAM, worse graphics) refurbished model is currently priced at $929 (pictured below).

Apple is expected to silently release this new machine later this month. As always, thanks Mr. X.

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New iMacs and MacBook Pros out-blur Mac Pros in Final Cut Pro X benchmarks


Hardware specialists over at Bare Feats ran a series of interesting Final Cut Pro X benchmarks pitting the latest Sandy Bridge-equipped iMac and MacBook Pro against the last year’s Mac Pro. The iMac system rocked a 3.4GHz quad-core Core i7 processor with 16GB of DDR3 1333MHz RAM and AMD Radeon HD 6970M graphics with 2GB of GDDR5 video memory. The MacBook Pro was a 2.3GHz quad-core Core i7 system with 8G of DDR3 1333MHz RAM and AMD Radeon HD 6750M graphics with 1G of GDDR5 video memory. The 2010 Mac Pro desktop had a 3.33GHz six-core Westmere processor with 24GB of ECC DDR3 1333MHz RAM and AMD Radeon HD 5870 graphics with 1G of GDDR5 video memory.

Summing up, in two out of four benchmarks involving blur sharpen and blur directional effects the iMac came in first and the MacBook Pro outperformed or matched the Mac Pro. It is in the remaining two GPU-intensive tests – exporting a Final Cut Pro X project in H.264 (transcoding) and encoding a  Blu-Ray stream in Compressor 4 – that the Mac Pro shined. Although the benchmarks are far from conclusive, they give away the false impression of Apple favoring the newer Sandy Bridge architecture.

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AMD throws down the gauntlet to NVIDIA on graphics speed claims

As Apple transitions its line from NVIDIA graphics cards to AMD (and opens up the OS to much more variety), we’re noting some strong words coming out of each camp on who makes the fastest graphics card in the world.  On the 8th of this month, AMD announced it had released the fastest Graphics card on the market, the AMD Radeon HD 6990.

NVIDIA fired back this week and said they had the fastest Graphics card.  Now it is getting real.

Dave Erskine, Senior Public Relations Manager for Graphics Desktop at AMD just fired this off:

We combed through their announcement to understand how it was that such a claim could be made and why there was no substantiation based on industry-standard benchmarks, similar to what AMD did with industry benchmark 3DMark 11, the latest DirectX® 11 benchmark from FutureMark.

So now I issue a challenge to our competitor: prove it, don’t just say it. Show us the substantiation. Because as it stands today, leading reviewers agree with us hereherehere, and here that the AMD Radeon HD 6990 sits on the top as the world’s fastest graphics card.

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