Apple's stripped-down $999 'educational' iMac

Apple's stripped-down $999 'educational' iMac

Summary: Apple quietly launched a lower-price 21-inch iMac on its Apple Store for back-to-school season -- but is it a better value than the retail version which costs $200 more? I don't think so.

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TOPICS: Hardware, Apple
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Apple quietly launched a lower-price 21-inch iMac on its Apple Store for Higher Education -- seemingly in time to capture some of the lucrative back-to-school market. My question: Does anyone still buy desktop computers for students going to college?

The new iMac configuration has its own knowledgebase article, but is listed as "education only" so it's not available on the regular Apple Store. Faculty and students from qualifying higher-education institutions can purchase the new iMac for $999. Here are the specs:

  • 3.1GHz Intel Core i3 Dual-Core
  • 2GB RAM
  • 250GB Hard Drive
  • AMD Radeon HD 6750 with 256 MB

The new educational iMac is $200 cheaper than the retail 21-inch iMac which ships with better specs:

  • 2.5GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5
  • 4GB RAM
  • 500GB hard drive
  • AMD Radeon HD 6750M with 512MB

So, for $200 more you get a faster CPU, faster clock speed, double the RAM, double the HDD, and double the video RAM. I don't know about you, but I'm thinking that the retail model is a much better deal.
Update: Seth Weintruab notes that the same iMac configuration with 4GB and 500GB can be had for only $929 refurbished. This is the best deal of all, but if you're in the market you may want to hurry up though, some refurbs tend to sell out quickly.

Topics: Hardware, Apple

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9 comments
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  • RE: Apple's stripped-down $999 'educational' iMac

    I agree with you, Jason. The retail version is by far the better value, though some students (and their parents) may be on a tight budget and that extra two C notes might make the difference between getting a Mac or getting a second rate HP all in one.
    As for the wisdom of getting a student a desktop rather than a laptop or even an iPad/keyboard combo I would posit that there are indeed a few majors that the muscle and screen of the iMac would swing the pendulum toward that purchase. Graphic arts of nearly any kind might be a venue for the desktop. Engineering and perhaps others would also benefit from the extra muscle and screen of the desktop.
    That said I am sitting in front of a very nice AOC 22" monitor hooked up to my aging, but still sexy, black MacBook. Along with my Magic Trackpad and BT keyboard my BMB simply sits closed behind the monitor, ready at a moment's notice to fly across the country with me.
    I guess the bottom line is that choice is nearly always a good thing.
    Good review.
    dheady@...
    • RE: Apple's stripped-down $999 'educational' iMac

      @dheady@...
      Why does this look like a "money" grab from Apple?
      Wow :O
      rhonin
  • RE: Apple's stripped-down $999 'educational' iMac

    I agree the retail config is the better value, and more muscle is always good. But the shock of college tuition might be enough to make a savings of $200 appealing to the parents a
    of a liberal Arts student who uses it mainly for Facebook.
    mlmuger
    • RE: Apple's stripped-down $999 'educational' iMac

      @mlmuger
      If its that tight there are windows/Linux options that bare far far cheaper..
      rhonin
  • RE: Apple's stripped-down $999 'educational' iMac

    Budget and Mac is an oxymoron. Anyone on a budget would and should buy a PC with similar specs for $650 and would still have some cash remaining for software.
    mstrsfty
    • RE: Apple's stripped-down $999 'educational' iMac

      @mstrsfty
      You do realize that a Mac is basically a PC with exclusive Apple software.
      anono
    • A decent PC costs much the same as a Mac

      There's no way I could buy anything even half-decent for $650 (which at the moment is $795 in my currency).
      Laraine Anne Barker
  • RE: Apple's stripped-down $999 'educational' iMac

    $1000 is the magic number for some state tax holidays as well as organizational PO limits that do not require authorization
    anthonycardinale
  • Overpriced...

    Buy a PC for far less, and invest in some good software...this is coming from someone who has 3 iPods, 2 iPhones, an 11" MacBook, and an iPad... after all it is just a PC with different software...
    grillomalta@...