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Why I won’t be buying the new iMac

Yes, it is a handsome desk accessory. And a powerful machine. But if bang for your buck is the goal it simply doesn’t make the grade. Here's why.

I was primed and ready to order a new iMac Tuesday. My late 2014 27" iMac choked and died -- until it cooled off -- editing some 4k drone video. Plus I've no doubt that within a year or two it will no longer support the latest versions of macOS.

Also: Apple's Spring Loaded event: The five biggest announcements

What I expected

The iMac has always been based on the guts of consumer Macs. So basing the new 24" iMac on the M1 MacBook Air and Mac Mini was expected.

And, usually, the iMac has offered an excellent display for $200-300 over the price of the low end MacBook, making it a really good value. Price a 27" 5k display and you'll see what I mean.

So I was hoping for an M1 iMac with a 27"-32" inch display and the guts of a Mac Mini for the $1799 price of today's bottom of the line Intel iMac. But Apple's Tuesday announcement had nothing close.

What Apple delivered

The new iMac is a 24" display in a thin case with the guts of a $699 Mac Mini. That works out to $600 for a nice 24" display. Or, if you want most of the I/O of the standard Mac Mini - 2 Thunderbolt 3/USB 4 ports, 2 USB 3.1 ports - $800.

That's an expensive display.

Also: Mac Mini (Late 2020) review: Apple's most affordable M1 Mac offers great value for money

What you could get instead

The bottom of the line Mac Mini retails for $699, but you can often do better.

An LG 27" 4k monitor may be had online for $389, or a well-reviewed Samsung 32" 4k monitor for $339. You could have two 32" displays and a Mac Mini for a few dollars more than a single 24" iMac.

The Take

When analyzing Apple announcements, it's always what they don't say that's most important. "Ignore the price, look at the pretty colors! Ooh, shiny!"

No doubt the new iMacs will soon be sporting $100 discounts, especially the overpriced 512GB and larger storage versions. But that only lessens the pain.

The good news that I see is that it is now clear that Apple will introduce a new iMac based on a 30-32" display and the same chip that will go into the 16" MacBook Pro. That's a machine I'm likely to buy.

Comments welcome. How much are you willing to pay for the convenience of the new iMac over a Mac Mini + display?