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While Apple is clearly saving all of its stage time at next week’s event to cover its services business, the company isn’t ignoring its hardware devices, but instead of big on-stage announcements, the company is choosing to quietly slip out new hardware in the form of press releases. Apple has followed yesterday’s release of the new iPad Air and fifth-generation iPad mini with a quiet refresh to its iMac lineup as well, doubling the performance of its desktop Macs with the first update in almost two years.
With the new iMac lineup, Apple is introducing Intel’s latest 9th-generation eight-core processors to its computers for the first time, along with the kind of powerful new Radeon Pro Vega graphics found in last year’s updated MacBook Pro. Apple promises these changes will more than double the performance of the highest-end iMac models, providing more power for complex creative tasks such as video production or even just high-end gaming.
The new iMac continues to be available in 21.5-inch and 27-inch sizes, with the smaller version featuring Intel’s 8th-gen quad-core processor, and also now offering an upgrade to the 6-core version, which should offer a 60 percent speed boost. The 27-inch iMac will feature Intel’s 9th-generation six- and eight-core processors, promising a performance boost of 2.4 times prior models. In the latter case, the new 27-inch iMac narrows the gap with Apple’s higher-end iMac Pro workstation, although the latter can still be configured with significantly more power for those who are willing to pay the price.
Radeon Pro Vega graphics are now available on both models, promising up to 80 percent faster graphics performance on the 21.5-inch iMac, and a 50 percent boost for the 27-inch model. Other than the graphics card, there don’t appear to be any significant changes to Apple’s display technology; both models still offer industry-leading 4K and 5K displays with the same specs as before.
In terms of memory and storage, the 27-inch iMac now tops out at 64 GB of faster 2,666 MHz DDR4 memory and a 2 TB SSD, while the 21.5-inch 4K version can go to 32 GB memory and a 1 TB SSD. Other specs remain the same as before — two Thunderbolt 3 ports, four USB 3 ports, an SD card slot, a headphone jack, and Gigabit Ethernet. MacRumors also notes that the new iMac models oddly do not include the T-series chip found on Apple’s latest MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Mac mini, and iMac Pro.
The new 21.5-inch iMac with Retina 4K display starts at $1,299 in a standard configuration that includes 3.6 GHz quad-core 8th-gen Intel Core i3 CPU, 8 GB RAM, and 1 TB standard hard drive. The 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K Display starts at $1,799 in the standard configuration which features a 3.0 GHz six-core 8th-generation Intel Core i5 CPU, 8 GB of RAM, and a 1 TB Fusion Drive. If you’re looking for the ninth-generation Intel Core i5, you’ll need to jump up to the $2,299 model for a 3.7 GHz six-core CPU that also doubles the size of the Fusion Drive and video memory. Apple is also continuing to sell its non-Retina 21.5-inch iMac for $1,099, which remains unchanged from before.