Apple drops price of iMac to $1,099 with new model

A 21.5-inch version with a less-powerful Intel Core i5 processor and less hard drive space is $200 cheaper than the previous cheapest iMac.

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It still won't be as cheap as many Windows-based all-in-one PCs, but a new, lower-priced version of Apple's iMac has just been released in advance of back-to-school shopping.

The Apple Store is now selling the base configuration of the iMac for $1,099, though that's due to a model with lesser specs rather than a price drop on the previously cheapest version, which remains at $1,299. While it retains the 21.5-inch 1,920x1,080 (full HD) display and 8GB of RAM, it includes a dual-core 1.4GHz Intel Core i5 processor and a 500GB hard drive. In comparison, the $1,299 flavor comes with a quad-core 2.7GHz Core i5 CPU and double the hard drive space.

That's a significant drop down in processing power, though average consumers might not notice a major change. The step-down also hurts on the integrated graphics side of things, as the $1,099 iMac makes use of Intel HD Graphics 5000, whereas the $1,299 system uses Intel's superior Iris Pro Graphics. (More analysis from my ZDNet colleague Adrian Kingsley-Hughes can be found here .)

While the new $1,099 iMac is hardly a bargain, the cheaper starting price certainly won't hurt sales, especially for students looking to buy a new desktop for the upcoming school year. Would you be more likely to buy the iMac at its new starting price -- even with the slower processor and less hard drive space? Let us know in the Talkback section below.