Updated Apple iMac is Interesting in More Ways Than Just the Speed Bump.

[UPDATE:] Read this. It’s true Apple has chosen a processor that generates more heat, but they may not have gone all the way to the desktop line.

A quick summary:

  • That they broke the 3GHz barrier is nice.
  • That they now have a 512MB graphics card option is very nice.
  • That the prices remained the same, and you get much more value, is even nicer still.

But, to me, the biggest thing is that they made the switch from the mobile to the desktop processor line.

This is a big change, in my opinion. Front-side bus is now 1,066 MHz instead of 800 MHz (and memory access is now 800 MHz instead of 667 MHz). I also suspect they get cost savings by using desktop processors.

What I believe is significant here is that the thermal envelope of the iMac is compatible with the latest Intel desktop processors. It used to be iMacs always used a mobile processor set. It was the only way to get that kind of performance in a computer that thin (though they always used desktop hard drives and monitors).

Seems to me with less heat generated Apple could either have stayed with the mobile sets and once again made the iMacs thinner, or they could keep the relatively big (for laptop electronics) enclosures and go ahead with not only desktop processors but also a much faster graphics processor.

They chose wisely, in my opinion. It’s not that I don’t think the iMac should ever get thinner, but in this case I think it made more sense to go with desktop guts in a desktop machine.

[UPDATE #2:] So it appears Apple got a special version of the 45nm Penryn for Santa Rosa that pretty much has all the specs of Intel’s unreleased Montevina processor except that it runs hotter.

In short, this allowed Apple to update the iMacs today with performance other desktops won’t have available for a couple months when Montevina comes out.

The two salient points I take from this are:

  1. True to the nature of my original post, Apple is trading a thinner design for the ability to take more heat.
  2. Yet another “special” CPU Intel is making for Apple. And much like the one for the MacBook Air, it allows Apple to do something others can’t yet pull off.
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4 thoughts on “Updated Apple iMac is Interesting in More Ways Than Just the Speed Bump.

  1. i picked up an iMac extreme yesterday and am loving it. Installing boot camp tonight so I can run the latest windows games at high speed finally.

  2. Neil,

    It’s not quite a true desktop chip. Sort of a hardcore mobile design, whatever that may be. Still, in its present state it’s unlikely to find a home in any laptop, and I like the idea that Apple put it in the iMacs.

    Yes, RAM prices dropped again. Now to go from 1 to 4GB is $300 (it was $400). And for the 2GB models you can “fill it up” for $200. That’s still 2x (or more) than it would cost elsewhere, but at least it all comes at once and may be easier for those financing.

    Oh, going off-topic, check my reading page and you’ll see a certain book finally made the list. 🙂

  3. The high-end iMac looks mighty sweet. Great decision to go with the desktop chip and higher powered graphics card. Did RAM prices drop, too?

  4. I agree. These are great machines. I hated being reminded that the iMac was nothing more than a glorified laptop.

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