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

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.
Written by Jason D. O'Grady, Contributor

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.

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