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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  • danbob999 - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    I do not say that iMacs break more often than other PCs (they use the same type of components such as CPU, hard drive, RAM). But when they do it's more expensive to repair/replace.

    At some point this school will have to replace its iMacs. And it will be expensive to replace the integrated monitors which will probably still work great. All this because of a stupid IT decision to buy All In One PCs.
  • sligett - Thursday, June 19, 2014 - link

    Well, I don't think either of us has made a compelling TCO argument. You say an iMac has the same components as a PC, yet is more expensive to repair. Perhaps. I know this new one has fewer pieces - like most consumer items now, there's just a couple of replaceable parts.

    If I bought a monitor 8 years ago, would it have displayport or hdmi? Probably not. I do want to reuse monitors - but this summer I have to buy 50 hdmi to vga adapters to reuse old monitors with new systems. Adding those extra components lowers reliability which increases TCO.

    But TCO includes many things. You can set up an iMac with just one cable - for power. There's less to go wrong. It uses low power - laptop - components. Less electricity, less heat. Perhaps cooler, so it lasts longer. Etc.
  • Dug - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    Total cost of ownership includes labor, software, setup, maintenance, power, etc.
    Windows PC's are much higher maintenance. Especially with software licensing even at educational discount. The iMacs tend to hold up better too over time than traditional $500 Dell's.
    Replacing an iMac image takes minutes unlike PC's. Security, apps, and all functions can easily be controlled by one Mac mini server which anyone can administer.
  • nerd1 - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    For reference, LG Chrome AIO computer has the same screen (21.5" 1080p IPS), celeron U processor and costs $329. Yes and it is maintenance-free.
  • janderk - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    You are forgetting: a SSD instead of a slow 5400 RPM hard drive. I can not see myself working on a laptop or PC without an SSD anymore. So anything but the most expensive iMac's are out of the question.

    Everyone says that Chromebooks and PCs are replacing cheap Windows laptops, but they are a very strong competitor to Apple too. Just 1 year ago I would recommend Macbook Air or iMac if they want trouble free computing. These days I tell people (with simple needs) to save their money and get a Chromebooks or Chrome pc instead.
  • nerd1 - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    MBA CPU plus 5400rpm mechanical HDD. Match made in heaven. And $1099.
  • tipoo - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    Really, it just makes the MBA look like a better value. Get the base model with the same CPU as this, get a monitor, presto, ghetto iMac.
  • michael2k - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    Except it doesn't. The MBA won't run at 2.4GHz for extended times due to battery and thermal constraints, so by default the iMac will be about 70% faster; even more so if the 2.7GHz Turbo mode is available for single threaded applications. Also, the iMac sports an IPS screen, and a similar 23" model from ViewSonic is going to cost about $279 MSRP. You're not saving any money if you get the $900 base MBA here. Your ghetto iMac would cost $78 more.
  • nerd1 - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    However crappy macbook thermal is, MBA can handle 15W TDP just fine.
    And remember this one has 21" IPS panel. Last year I got dell 21" IPS monitor at $110.
  • michael2k - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    TDP 15W would suggest at max load the battery of an 11" MBA would only run for 2.5 hours or less (the CPU alone would suggest a max of 2.5 hours). Anand has seen with a similar 2013 MBA about 4h under heavy usage. So while the MBA would be capable of seeing similar performance assuming the cooling is sufficient, it won't by dint of battery constraints. If you're doing desktop class stuff that boosts the CPU to 2.4GHz regularly, you will in fact not have to run for the mains two or three times a day (rather, you will always be on the mains!)

    Also currently Dell's 20" IPS monitor is $199, their 23" is on sale for $189.

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