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Why You Should Care About Apple's Quietly Released Powerful New iMacs

Why You Should Care About Apple's Quietly Released Powerful New iMacs

On Tuesday, Apple quietly (and I mean VERY quietly) released the newest update to the iMac line of personal computers. It's curious why they (Apple) didn't make any sort of major announcement, or even blend this into the September 10th announcement of the iPhone 5S. I personally think that this update is fairly newsworthy, not only because the iMac has become one of the staples in a lot of professional studio's digital labs and Tech carts, but it's a huge leap in performance over it's predecessor, if you believe the info on Apple's website that is.

The updated iMacs now have the new Intel i5 "Haswell" processor (upgradeable to i7), the new 802.11ac WiFi, PCIe SSD drive bay, and last but not least the NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 7oo series graphics cards. What does all that mean?  Simply put; It's REALLY FAST! For me personally, the processor isn't the big news to me.  I'm happy to get the newest technology, but realistically the programs us photographers use run perfectly well with the old "Ivy Bridge" processors. The kicker for me (and why I went ahead and made the purchase) was the graphics card. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M comes with a WHOPPING 4gb of VRam that Photoshop and Lightroom are going to just LOVE to have at their disposal. Another interesting upgrade is the addition of the PCIe bus for the SSD and Fusion Drives. This connection is not only faster, but means that Apple has considered letting us add more drive space at a later date.  Which, if you are like me, love running my system and programs off of SSD, and keeping everything else on spinning drives.

One final thing I've noticed is that the price for these iMacs seem to be slightly lower than their previous incarnations. I know this because I have been in the market for an iMac for about 3 months, and kept track of the previous stats (and costs). Turns out that the "top of the line" iMac that I customized 3 months ago would have cost me roughly $100 more.


All of that being said, I'm pretty excited about this update to the iMacs. I'm sure there are tech whizzes out there that were looking for more, and maybe that is why Apple decided to just, nonchalantly upgrade the line. Who knows. All I know is that my current machine is out of warranty, and 4gb of VRAM sounds pretty tasty to me, especially coming in $100 less than the last version!

What do you think of the iMac update?  What is your theory as to why the update didn't come with more pomp and circumstance?

Commenting is closed for this article.

1999 dollars and you still get an i5? I wouldn't call it powerful honestly.
Yeah, you can upgrade, but this means more $$.

If i had the money, dont get me wrong, i would love a mac. Not because theyre better/worse, but because well... its a Mac, thats all haha!

I managed to get an i7 processor, 16gb ram, 256SSD and some other bits, for less than £600. Im sure i could find a half decent graphics card and it would be better than the Mac spec for less than half the cost!

remember you can install MAC OS X on a pc with just a little prep work and follow an online guide.
You'll be able to run all the mac software etc..
Just an f y i if anyone's interested.

Always been interested, but it seems like a ton of work and how exactly do updates work?

+1 for this... you can build a desktop PC with these specs for well under $2k. im doing it right now... and then hackintosh it. oh and wait.. u can even ugprade it without sending it to apple lol.

Yep... I have a 3770k i7, 32gb ram, 4tb HDD, 128gb SSD, and a slew of other neat stuff like dual 21.5" screens (16gb ramdisk when I get around to programming it) for less. To each their own, but for a budget, I kicked Mac's options in the ass. I wanted to spec a macbook pro or a tower, believe me...but then looked at the price gap.

I won't go into receipts but anyone can take the specs of a mac that's not as upgradeable and spec out a custom build and pick out everything THEY need and find deals...etc.

If I was a studio I think I might spring for a mac if I had the cash, the desk real estate these take up is silly small!

I would love to do this, but I'd have to pay someone to do it. I wouldn't dare waste my time trying. Hmmm... time for me to go to some computer repair places and ask, or do you have another suggestion?

I have a few friends that went down this route,it's not worth the hassle,better to pick up a used Mac..

I have a few friends that went down this route and they couldn't be happier. Latest technology/equipment = speed, with the operating system and programs they know and love.

Mac fanboys will come up with a "but it always works until it doesn't" retort.

I'm a mac user, but I don't understand what's the point of doing i7 mac mini but i5 iMac 27"...

two completely different processors, The imac uses desktop CPU, while the mini runs laptop CPU. for the vast majority of non professional applications this doesn't really matter. If you need CPU power you already know who you are ;)

This doesn't mean that Mobile CPU are slow, they are optimized for better power consumption, and if you take a look on geekbench you will see that my cheap mac mini i7 is not that slow :-)

But yet they stick a mobile graphics card in an iMac! Doh.

Using a mac mini as server uses a whole lot less power than a Desktop PC server or a real one.
Yes you don't get 12 drive bays and other sweet stuff, but it only costs 650 (cheapest) and costs less to run. A desktop cpu just doesn't make sense.

I'm trying to decide what would be better for the money... a maxed out mac mini with a $200 monitor (about $1500 total) or the $1500 imac. Any suggestions?

I've been comparing the price of a PC vs a Mac and yes it's more expansive to get the apple, But, when you buy a 27 inches model, you get that big screen that cost alone around 900$ when you buy it's dell counterpart ...it's a lot of money you must add to the price when you build a similar PC. You will save around 200-300$ with a pc ...

Well said. If you are smart you can find some monitor alternatives for half the cost, but at local stores and online mega stores, this type of monitor will run you close to a grand. Still... someone wishing to upgrade their desktop with a killer video card and upgrade their CPU could come in without spending a fortune.

One thing to consider for PC users.... you don't have to run iOS on these things. They are all PC on the inside and run Windows wonderfully.

what about the sRGB coverage of these? I've never looked into it and I know they are pretty but how well do they cover the colors and calibrate?

You don't need to calibrate the new iMacs. They are factory calibrated.

That still doesn't say how well they display the sRGB color space, and they will need calibrated over time. I was curious how they compare to the professional $900+ screens that are tailored to display colors accurately.

Some screens are also a bitch to calibrate, another valid concern.

Most if not all apple products do look great from the factory but that doesn't mean they are accurate.

Keep in mind though, that you need to pay repeatedly for the monitor when you choose iMac. Or any other solution that goes by the same concept (system and monitor in one piece) for that matter...

In the past my monitors has almost always lasted 2-3 computer upgrades... So paying those 900$ for a good monitor can be a better investment than putting those same 900$ into buying a system like an iMac...

You are right, I'm not defending the iMac vs the PC, I'm just saying that you have to think about that monitor into consideration when you compare the prices. A monitor that size and resolution is quite expensive ...

Didn't get anywhere with my other comment, do you happen to know how the iMac's screen compares to the $900+ monitors you speak of?

That's right but if you have a tower instead of an "all-in-one" like an iMac you can keep your monitor when changing the computer. So might be more cost efficient on the long term.
And not everyone likes the super glossy screen of the iMac… Mac screen are stil not as good as Eizo's IMO.

iMac are great but are quite expensive for what you get! If you can build your own computer it gets much cheaper! (note that I work with both PCs and Macs, not a fanboy here!)

It's true that mac screens are not as good as Eizo's but you don't pay the same price. You can buy a whole iMac for the price of an Eizo screen. A 27 inches screen is currently 2,322.99$ at B&H ...

Edit: I scrolled down and found this one:

Don't know how better it can be against the iMac counterpart

I think you're looking at the U2713H? That's AH-IPS. Don't quote me on this, but I think iMac's aren't AH-IPS. That'll be a much cheaper U2713HM in comparison (plus no glossy screen). #justsayin'

the new version of the new iPad was the same. It was upgraded in the first half of this year to no pomp and ceremony. I presume it is not to make people mad, who had just bought the new version of the iPad then or the iMac now. Also you can only get all the attention so many times and the iPhone needed to be big so they did not want anything steeling its spotlight

"The kicker for me (and why I went ahead and made the purchase) was the graphics card."

Hey, buy what you like, but that seems like a mighty big purchase for a $300 graphics card. Honestly, I tune out when the PC v. Mac debates start (use what you like, just shut up about it), but am I right in thinking that a Mac can't be updated the way a PC can?

Obviously, I am a PC user (although I have used a Mac many years ago), but I am not asserting PCs superiority in any way. I would actually like to know.

And it's a "M" card, so a weaker mobile version. You could upgrade the old mac pros, but now with the new upcoming ones they went all the way to more consumer products in my opinion. With an iMac there is not much space and you always have to pay for the new included display which is some kind of ridiculous for people who upgrade more often than every 5 years.

Everyone should get what he wants and if someone prefers Mac OS there is no other option (beside a hackintosh that I wouldn't use for productivity or a business). But people could build a pc which is as fast or faster for 700-800€ including a silent case and spent the rest of the money on a nice trip or some models and a stylist to push their portfolio.

Leif, why would you avoid using hackintosh for productivity or business?
i am thinking on setting up a fast system next year and install Mac OS hackintosh on it, and I do photography and video editing, so I am curious to learn more about it.

Macs aren't upgradeable without some heavy modding beyond even most enthusiasts.

Personally I prefer an SSD upgrade over graphics card, I've seen a much more noticeable performance difference with an SSD over a gfx upgrade. I don't think too highly of hybrid/fusion drives.

That said, this is just my personal experience. I edit on a PC at home, but Macs at work (the previous gen iMacs).

Yes you can upgrade a PC much easier than you can an iMac, but the beauty of the Mac is you don't usually have to or want to. Pound for pound since Macs went Intel they have always far outperformed similarly outfitted PCs. I was a computer consultant for 15 years working on PCs and hating on Macs, but once I switched careers and started working on the newer Macs I was sold. Hell, Windows even runs faster in a virtual machine than it does on a PC similarly configured, what else do you want? How about no BSODS? Done! No viruses? Done. Way better security and more ergonomic GUI? Yup.

Everything just works on a Mac. I don't want to have to worry about upgrading every couple of years or having to wipe and reinstall everything all the time because of bloatware. You get what you pay for, if you want a Yugo...buy a PC. Want a Lexus, go Mac. When it comes right down to it, when you factor in the cost of downtime, installing updating and using AV software that slows down your system, and ergonomics and performance the Mac's cost of ownership is actually at or below that of a comparable PC. I'd rather spend my time actually doing work that makes me money rather than all the upkeep involved in running a PC. But that's just me :)

I know that you may have inferred that I was saying Macs are a waste of
money because they can't be upgraded. I wasn't. I was questioning the
logic of buying a whole computer for a video card. It has been so long
since I have honestly looked into a Mac that I wondered if they still
were resistant to user upgrades.

This is the kind of mac v. pc crap I was saying that I don't pay attention to. You could have just answered my question and even told me that your Mac runs
faster/better than your PCs use to, or you don't update as much, or you just like the way it looks, or whatever, but then you had to go off trying the hard sell with ridiculous car comparisons and semi insulting suggestions that I would rather throw money away by using a PC. Jeez.

I am glad you enjoy working on a Mac. Why do you feel like you have to sell one to me? Do you get a commission? Or do you get a free toaster with every new recruit? You can spread the word, but why do you have to proselytize?

I am not getting into this debate (it's kind of childish to me), but one thing everyone needs to remember on either side of it is that preferences can be very situational. My situation may make a PC a better choice, yours may make a Mac the better choice. It is ridiculous to believe that whatever your choice that it is the 100%-all-the-time better solution.

Methinks thou dost protest too much ;)

Nah. Just a pet peeve that sends me off on a rant. I get the same way in Nikon v. Canon debates, Ford v. Chevy, etc. I generally find them tedious and unproductive. Any marketing person will tell you, brand loyalty is an emotional response that we try to reason into justification.

I have no problem listening to someone's personal experience with a product (it is often very informative), but being sold to drives me nuts.

Besides, business has been slow the last couple of weeks. I have too much time to comment on articles.

I'm not selling you anything, I know a PC fanboy when I see one. The article never says that you should buy one of the new iMacs just because of an updated video card, it's the entire updated product that is the reason to update. It's more than a piece of the pie, it's the sum of it's parts and integration that makes the difference. It's the PCIe SSD vs standard SSD which is by far the biggest increase in performance. It's the new Haswell processors. It's the $100-300 lower price than previous models. AND it's the new video card as well.

And despite your attempt to claim that you weren't going to get into the Mac vs PC debate, that's exactly what your original post and follow up begged for. So, you got what you asked for, quit yer bitchin dude. You asked for it, you got your answer. Now move along...nothing to see here ;)

Dude, stop.You're giving us Mac users a bad name.

Only to the equally close minded person... There will always bee Mac, Linux and Windows fanboys...

Anyone who can't differ from a Mac user and a Mac fanboy is no less close minded them self, and even if he had used true facts and not stupid false cliches like "Apple has no viruses"... (FYI, Elk Cloner was one of the first known viruses that was spread in the world, back in 1982 on the Apple II OS)

In the middle there is those that love their Mac because it represent values they appreciate and that's the same for windows and Linux... Some like they way Apple design things, and for them "Apple just works"... is true... but if the interaction and use cases doesn't fit down into that, then "Apple doesn't work at all"... Say if your a gamer or .NET developer... Some likes the design, others hate it... After all... Taste is just a personal preference, and requirements depends on what task your trying to achieve... One would think that someone who says he has been a computer consultant for 15 years would know that... But that is obviously wrong...

I've bought a MAC Pro xeon 8core/16GB/1.5GB Qaudro 2 years ago, I used boot-camp and installed Windows 7 64bit on it as I need 3DS MAX and AutoCAD for my architectural work, and 2 Years ago my boss bought DELL xeon 12 Core/24GB/2.5GB Qaudro, last week he upgraded it to 48GB and Quadro FX 4GB, tell me how I can upgrade my memory if MAC kept using stupid DDR2 (vs DDR3 on PC) until then and they don't even have them anymore, and no you can't go to the market and buy old DDR2 because MAC shifted their pins so you have to get them exiclusivly from them, and the same goes for the PCI Express slot they use for the graphic adapter. and to give you more reasons about why PCs are easier to upgrade, I can't upgrade the MAC Pro Xeon 4Core to Leopard or Snow and this means it still have the old version of boot-camp and I cannot install any windows other than XP 32bit. and now I stopped buying Adobe Products for MAC OS and I shifted all my purchases to Windows as I used it anyway for CAD and MAX.
If you want Lexus and doodle with photoshop only, go MAC
If you want Yugo and have all the professional possibilities, go PC

I got a 2008 mac pro. running mountain lion with no issues at all and using Adobe CC. Also am running everything off 6 GB. I just can not justify the cost to upgrade the memory. I just as well buy a imac.

For memory just go to macsales dot com. But it will cost you a arm and a leg. That's my main complaint.

I've checked them, they are overpriced but at least I could find them, thanks for the advice

If you know of a cheaper place to buy them please tell me. Upping my ram will solve a lot of my performance issues. From what I know. They are the only people that sell ram for the older 2008 mac pros.

No bro, the only apple dealer here in the UAE is iStyle and sadly they don't have any, that's why i'm planning to buy them online

So what you can't upgrade, just buy a new one... After two years you can't add the investment to your tax refund bill anymore. It's like with business vehicles, after 4 years it's better to buy a new car because of the tax system. But... maybe you have a different system in your country...

no bro we don't have taxes here in the UAE, and I'm not supposed to throw a 12,000$ system after two years which is 8core and the 12core won't make me much difference (CPU wise).

True. What we do is, the new fast computer goes to the 3D/Video department ( me :-) ) and the old one moves on to the designers or DTP department.

Michael you make a good point. Just too many Window fan boys here. Truth is I have been waiting for the new mac pro for years now. I have been holding on to my 2008 till a new system arrives. That said, I have priced out a windows PC and came out at the same price point as the mac.

To the commentators stating the the "Mac" which I assume you mean "iMac" is not upgradeable. No all-in-one computer is. Asus, Acer, HP and etc. None of their all-in-one PCs are upgradeable. Only memory. So I can not understand your point.

In the end, Macs, are tough. All my Macs since 1989 to now have lasted over 10 years without replacing anything. I have a 2001 12" macbook that is still running and am using as my personal laptop. Macs simply have a longer life then most PC computers. But I do know for a fact a higher end PC can last just as long. But lets face it, people are cheap and end up buying the junk Best Buy sells on sale.

Anyways, all that was pointless really. With Adobe CC being online subscription and it being 100% cross platform. It doesn;t matter anymore. Also, with the new macpro being a all-in-one mini tower. It's basically a supped up imac without the monitor. If that is the case. The imac makes more since for pros to buy now then the new tower coming out soon.

"To the commentators stating the the (sic) "Mac" which I assume you mean "iMac" is not upgradeable. No all-in-one computer is."

Not true. I've built 2 computers and my next build will be an AIO.

See this: http://www.tweaktown.com/articles/5208/building-a-diy-all-in-one-pc-with...

There's a 780 model out now as well: http://www.mitac.com/Business/Maestro_780.html

Actually you proved my point. If you read the entire article from the beginning. He is building this from parts. I don;t think its fair to say..."not true" when you are comparing a DIY project to a consumer product you can get at bestbuy.

What i said is true. The AIO computers in the mainstream markets are not upgradable or has limitations to what can be upgraded. I read the mitec website too. They provide components to build your own AIO. Yeah, that does not make it upgradeable. It makes it a computer you have to put together yourself. LOL

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