New Macs & I Have to Ramble

Pretty much out of left field (and on a Wednesday at that), Apple has announced a couple of upgrades to their product lines.

Sept06Macs-01First up is the ever adorable Mac mini. The only real change here is that you can now choose between 1.66 GHZ or 1.83 GHz Core Duo (Yonah) processors. The previous generation had 1.5 GHz Core Solo and 1.66 GHz Core Duo respectively. Prices haven’t changed, but Apple now offers a 160 GB hard drive as a BTO option. I guess that’s all there is to say about the mini.

Sept06Macs-02Here’s the real upgrade of the day. The iMacs have moved from Core Duo (Yonah) to Core 2 Duo (Merom) chips, and Apple has added to the low and high ends of the iMac lineup.

At the entry level, we now have a $999 iMac that has a 1.83 GHz Core 2 Duo. The big sacrifices here come in the fact that the $999 model does not come with a remote (only a $29 add-on but still a bit of a bummer) and Intel integrated graphics. I think this machine is best suited toward someone thinking about a mini but can’t BYODKM (Bring Your Own Display, Keyboard, & Mouse). For those who have been keeping track, yes, this is basically identical to the previously education-only model.

At the high end, we have a 2.16 GHz Core 2 Duo (upgradeable to 2.33 GHz) with a 24″ screen. Even the rumor sites missed this one by one inch! (To their credit, the iMac does share screen resolution with the 23″ Cinema Display.) Another improvement is the addition of an NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT graphics card with 128 MB (upgradable to a 7600 GT with 256 MB), and the new iMacs can hold up to 3 GB of memory and 500 GB of storage.

Now, for fun, here comes the interesting math. Take a Mac mini; spec it as close as you can to an iMac; add a 23″ Cinema Display. What does it cost? $2,073, and the 24″ iMac will still have better graphics and a larger hard drive. For more fun, a similarly equipped Dell XPS 410 with a 2.13 GHz Core 2 Duo processor is $2,238 (but it does have a faster optical drive and better video card to be fair). The 24″ iMac is $1,999.

The Mac mini upgrade may be a simple step, but this iMac upgrade is very compelling – so much so that I could see it cannibalizing Mac Pro sales to some extent, but, honestly, the Mac Pro has moved to an entirely different tier of computing. As for me, I can’t wait to get into an Apple Store to try one of these out!