Apple has revamped its iMac desktop computer line with Intel's quad-core Sandy Bridge processors and Thunderbolt data transfer technology.
On Tuesday, the company began selling two new iMac models — with a 21.5-inch or a 27-inch display — in stores and online. The desktops ship with discrete graphics cards and 4GB RAM, as well as with a choice of Intel Core i5 or i7 processor built on 32nm Sandy Bridge.
They also include the Thunderbolt transfer technology, developed by Intel under the codename of Light Peak. The technology allows bi-directional, dual-channel high-speed data transfer at up to 10Gbps, which is 12 times faster than FireWire 800.
Both models also offer a webcam for high-definition FaceTime video calls over the web or with iPhone or iPod Touch users.
The desktop refresh follows Apple's updating of its MacBook Pro range in February with both Thunderbolt and Sandy Bridge Core processors.
Soon after Intel released its Sandy Bridge chip, a hardware bug was found in a support chipset. This meant the company had to repair and replace systems, and some PC makers offered refunds.
The 21.5-inch iMac comes in two standard configurations. The first costs £999 and comes with a 2.5GHz Intel Core i5 and a 500GB hard drive. It has 4GB of 1,333MHz DDR3 memory and a discrete AMD Radeon HD 6750M graphics card with 512MB of graphics memory.
The second base configuration adds a 2.7GHz i5 processor, a Radeon HD 6770M card and a 1TB hard drive, bringing the price to £1,249.
The desktop can be customised with a 2.8GHz i7 processor, a 2TB hard drive, up to 16GB of RAM and an additional 256GB solid-state drive (SSD), all at an additional price.
Included is a FaceTime HD camera, which can simultaneously support the display's native 1920 x 1080-pixel resolution and a second screen of up to 30 inches with a resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels. It can handle high-definition FaceTime calls with any other HD–enabled Mac and standard resolution calls with iPad 2, iPhone 4, iPod Touch and other Intel-based Macs.
Unlike its 27-inch sibling, it comes with just one Thunderbolt port.
The cheaper of the two standard configurations of the 27-inch iMac comes with a 2.7GHz i5 processor, AMD Radeon HD 6770M graphics card with 512MB of memory, 4GB of 1,333MHz DDR3 RAM and a 1TB hard drive. It is priced at £1,399.
The £1,649 option has a 3.1GHz i5 processor and a Radeon HD 6970M graphics card with 1GB of memory.
Available upgrades include a 3.4GHz i7 processor, 16GB of DDR3 RAM, a 2TB hard drive, 256GB SSD and AMD Radeon HD 6970 graphics with 2GB memory. Altogether, these customisations take the total cost to £2,969.
Both models come with Apple's Snow Leopard OS X operating system, four USB ports, audio line in and out, FireWire and a Gigabit Ethernet port.
The devices also feature a DisplayPort which will work happily with existing connectors (not included) for HDMI, VGA and DVI devices.
The new iMacs are available to buy now from Apple, or from an authorised Apple retailer, but custom models can only be purchased directly from the manufacturer.
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