First impressions of Apple's refreshed desktop lineup

First impressions of Apple's refreshed desktop lineup

Summary: Apple on Tuesday refreshed its desktop lineup and introduced a new MagSafe-savvy 27-inch Cinema Display. But all this Mac goodness is not enough to knock the iPhone 4 off Apple.com's front page.

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TOPICS: Apple, Hardware
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Apple on Tuesday refreshed its desktop lineup and introduced a new MagSafe-savvy 27-inch Cinema Display. But all this Mac goodness is not enough to knock the iPhone 4 off Apple.com's front page.

Cupertino keeps upping the performance stake for both consumers and professionals with its new desktops. According to Apple, the refreshed Mac Pros can "feature up to 50 percent greater performance than the previous generation." Of course, that depends on how much dough you want to pack into technology as well as the application.

It appears that Apple wanted to prep the education market for the updated machines since school buying is taking place now. The refreshed line will ship in August.

Still, even before placing the new models on his test bench, professional photography blogger Lloyd Chambers is hot on the packed 8-core model instead of the 12-core versions.

The new hexacore 3.33GHz model with 12MB of cache will be the hands-down winner for 99 percent of users out there. The slower clock speed 12-core is going to be pointless for most everyone.

It all depends on what you're doing. In 2D photography, processor speed is more critical. Certainly, workers in the 3D effects and sci-tech segments will find use for extra cores.

And the addition of another Mini DisplayPort (a total of two) will let users add a second display without requiring another graphics card. Apple says the dual-link DVI port supports legacy DVI-based displays up to a resolution of 2,560-by-1,600 pixels.

There were rumors this summer that the new machines would feature USB 3.0 ports. However, that was optimistic thinking. There are few storage devices on the market with USB 3.0 connectors and the controllers are still expensive.

Then there are the new iMacs. Apple said the new models sport an improved, integrated memory controller that can access system memory directly. In addition, the new models support Intel's Turbo Boost technology that let processors run faster for short periods if the environment will support it.  This all means more speed.

Finally, there's the new mid-range Cinema Display that uses an LED-backlite. One interesting feature for Mac users with this new model — aside from its 27-inch screen size and 2,560-by-1,440 resolution  — is the support for MagSafe, Apple's proprietary power port on its MacBook and MacBook Pro lines. Mac notebook users won't have to use up a slot on the power block with their power adapter anymore if they buy  the new Cinema Display.

With the announcement today of a 12-core Mac Pro and new, faster 4-core iMac, it's easy to understand the push made at the summer's Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference towards Mac OS X Snow Leopard's Grand Central Dispatch APIs and their hardware abstraction. With GCD, multicore, multiprocessor threads are not left up to the application (or the programmer of that application), rather are handled by the OS itself. GCD can distribute tasks among system memory and cores that will hopefully result in the best performance across the board (literally).

The benefit for users is that their programs will run as fast as they can on the new hardware. In addition, programmers don't have to do any extra work to get performance gains from more cores and their application will run at its best with older (or newer) machines that have fewer cores. This is a much different situation than the past, where vendors had to put in extra work to support more processors and memory configurations, even requiring different versions, which was at times confusing to the market.

Still, the Mac desktop computer news wasn't enough to move the small elephant in the channel, the iPhone 4, off of the front of Apple.com.

Many older, longtime Mac developers at this summer's Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco griped a bit about the backseat that Mac application development and enterprise integration took to the newly renamed iOS mobile version of OS X. I heard this complaint as I left Steve Jobs' keynote address as well as when I talked with developers during and after the show.

Apple in 2007 dropped the word "Computer" from its name, in advance of its current multi-legged platform strategy. It's not the Macintosh company anymore, even though the Mac is still important. Is there a loss of respect, or is it just that the iPhone 4 and iPad are hot, hot, hot right now. Only Apple's developers know for sure.

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Topics: Apple, Hardware

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14 comments
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  • Okay, so you told us Apple's take, and a couple developers' takes..

    ...So what's your "First impression" of the new Mac lineup?

    Didn't exactly bring anything to the article that we couldn't have found ourselves..
    daftkey
  • First impressions - it will be no more Macs, but oversized iPhones. (NT)

    (NT)
    Just True
  • RE: First impressions of Apple's refreshed desktop lineup

    Um, @ daftkey, would I say: "they're terrible?" These are just some thoughts that came to mind. These machines look great, right? It's not a review.

    thanks for reading,

    david m.
    davidmorgenstern
    • RE: First impressions of Apple's refreshed desktop lineup

      @davidmorgenstern . Thanks David. There are those of us that don't want to "find it ourselves", and prefer to benefit from teams of specialists like yourself who will find and convey useful points without us having to dig. I'm a financial specialist. For my clients it's smartest to have a team, so they can focus on what they like to do best. thanks!
      DSZDNet
  • Hexacore Is Six Cores, Not Eight.

    Eight would be octocore.

    Otherwise, pretty good info here. Nothing revolutionary, but a nice boost.
    Whyaylooh
    • RE: First impressions of Apple's refreshed desktop lineup

      @Whyaylooh so If my old Mac Plus had an eight core i7 inside would it be an "octoplussie"?
      dheady
  • RE: First impressions of Apple's refreshed desktop lineup

    It will be popular with home user and graphic artisst. Its business marketshare will statistically be 0%
    akear
  • RE: First impressions of Apple's refreshed desktop lineup

    still ripping off the buyer with heavily over priced stock pc parts and when your monitor goes out.. Time for an all new mac and not just 200 for a new monitor

    Does not sound very green for a CA company
    rparker009
    • RE: First impressions of Apple's refreshed desktop lineup

      @rparker009

      So HP, Dell and Sony should all ditch their all-in-one setups too, huh? Some prefer the clean, compact setup over a separate tower and monitor. You'd be in a similar boat with most laptops...LCD replacements aren't cheap unless your a DIYer. Most would end up buying a new lappy. Big deal. It happens.
      autigers1970
    • RE: First impressions of Apple's refreshed desktop lineup

      @rparker009
      And we were doing such a fine job being civil, too.
      Then you had to jump in.
      1) Claiming devices are made with "stock parts" just shows you are perpetuating the myth that all logic boards are the same. Different manufacturers use different spec SM devices, and these lead DIRECTLY to differential outcomes. Some manufacturers use crappy dielectric capacitors, others use much better ones. Some PC manufacturers, Apple included, spec their boards out using better quality components. Others use crap. And it shows. I.e., all board logic is NOT the same.
      2) It is just pure ignorance on your part to claim that iMacs have to be replaced when the screen gives out. It is no harder to replace the screen in an iMac than in a traditional monitor enclosure. In fact, if you wanted to, you could just buy a cheap display, take out the panel, and insert in into the iMac. It really is not that hard.
      DeusXMachina
      • RE: First impressions of Apple's refreshed desktop lineup

        ok upgrade the video card in it ?
        I can do that on my laptop.
        rparker009
    • If your monitor goes out

      @rparker009
      If your monitor "goes out" you have the bad part replaced, not the whole monitor. Was it the panel? That's going to be expensive. Was it just the inverter? Less than $10 for the part plus labor. If it's under AppleCare then either of these is free.

      OR you could use an external monitor like everyone else. The iMacs are thin enough these days that you could place it right in front of the Mac.
      use_what_works_4_U
  • The 27" Cinema Display is not mid-range

    Apple is supposedly discontinuing the 30" and 24" displays as soon as stock runs out. So the 27" is their new high-end:
    http://www.engadget.com/2010/07/27/apples-24-inch-and-30-inch-cinema-displays-on-the-outs/
    t_mohajir
  • a question about the new iMacs

    According to the Apple descriptions, the i3 and i5 cpus both have turbo boost. When I look at other places (like Tom's Hardware) it looks like the i3 does not have turbo boost. what's the right answer? thanks
    tony
    Tony T3