Apple Reveals Cheaper iMac, But Is It Worth It?


Apple introduces a more budget-friendly 21.5 inch iMac to revive its flagging computer lineup

Apple continues to look towards more the more budget-conscious buying public as it seeks to expand the uptake of its iMac computer range.

To this end, the iPad maker is now offering a cheaper entry-level 21.5 inch iMac, starting at ‘just’ £899. This is £150 less than the previous lowest-end model.

Price Worth Paying?

It should be pointed out of course that £900 is still a lot of money for what is deemed to be an ‘entry-level’ computer. So what does the new iMac offer, spec wise?

Apple iMac 2Well, £899 of your hard-earned cash will get you a 21.5in (1920×1080) iMac that includes a 1.4GHz dual-core (yes dual-core only) Intel Core i5 processor, coupled with 8GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive.

This means that both performance, storage, and graphics of the machine is almost halved from the previous low-end iMac, as there is no quad-core processor here; and a smaller hard drive; and a low-performance Intel Intel HD Graphics 5000 chipset.

It should be noted that these less powerful components have resulted in a slower machine. For example some media reports point out that early benchmark figures show that this cheaper iMac is at least 40 percent slower than the previous ‘entry-level’ iMac machine.

To put this into context, the next iMac machine up in the product range retails at £1,049 and boasts a quad core Intel Core i5 processor, a 1TB hard drive, and a much improved graphics option in the form of the Intel Iris Pro Graphics chipset.

All iMac models include next-gen 802.11ac Wi-Fi, two Thunderbolt ports, and four USB 3.0 ports. Configure-to-order options include a 1TB hard drive, a 1TB Fusion Drive, and up to 256GB flash storage.

Clone Wars

Apple has always labelled its products as ‘premium devices’, but has begun to recognise the need to add cheaper products to its portfolio as the market becomes increasingly saturated.

It followed this strategy with the launch of the “budget” iPhone 5C for example, but that handset reportedly received a lukewarm response, and TechweekEurope readers remained unimpressed. The company also recenltly cut the price of its entry-level MacBook Air machine to £749.

There used to be a budget-friendly ‘open machine’ when a Miami-based company called Psystar sold Mac clones (effectively PCs) loaded with Mac OS X Leopard. Apple however won a court battle with the clone maker and it ceased operations  soon afterwards.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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