Apple releases new iMacs with Thunderbolt, quad-core processors

Apple-iMac-2011The rumors were true: After a brief Apple Store outage that started at about 6am EST, Apple has officially released its new line of iMac all-in-one desktop computers. As expected, the refreshed PCs come loaded with faster processors, improved graphics capabilities, a new FaceTime HD camera and Intel’s super-fast Thunderbolt data transfer system.

Like earlier options, the new iMacs come in either the 21.5- or 27-inch models.Prices start at $1,199 and go up to $1999 for the most loaded version.

Powering the new desktops are Intel’s next-generation Core i5 and i7 processors, which Apple boasts are upto 1.7 times faster than the chips in the previous generation iMac PCs. Customers can purchase the 21.5-inch version with either a 2.5GHz or 2.7GHz Core i5 quad-core chip for , or the 27-inch model loaded with a 2.7GHz or 3.1GHz Core i5. The 27-inch version is also available with a uber-powerful 3.4GHz quad-core Core i7 processor, an option no offered for the smaller iMac.

To boost gaming and video-centric activities, Apple has packed the new iMacs with AMD Radeon HD graphics processors. The 21.5-inch models come with the 6750M GPU, the top-of-the-line 27-inch model comes with the 6970M chip. As Apple explains, this enables users to “see more frames per second and experience better responsiveness.”

Another major upgrade to the iMac line is the addition of Intel’s new Thunderbolt data transfer technology, which Apple first debuted Thunderbolt in its new line of MacBook Pro laptops. Apple says Thunderbolt can transfer up to 10 gigabits per second, which clocks in at 20 times faster than USB 2.0, 12 times faster than Firewire 800 and five times faster than USB 3.0. The smaller iMac models include a single Thunderbolt port, while the 27-inch versions come with two.

Apple has also added a new FaceTime HD camera to the iMacs, which gives its desktops the same video chat functionality as the iPhone 4, iPad 2, and MacBook Pro laptops. Users can now video chat with anyone using any of these FaceTime enabled devices.

Design-wise, the new iMacs carry on previous year’s minimalist look. Regardless of size, the screens have a 16:9 aspect ratio, and LED backlighting, which gives the screens their signature crisp, bright Apple look. While the 21.5-inch iMac has a 1920×1080 HD resolution, the 27-inch models have 78 percent more pixels in their 2560×1440 resolution displays.

All new iMacs come with a wireless keyboard, and customers can choose between either a Magic Mouse or a Magic Trackpad, depending on preference. All new iMacs come loaded with OS X Snow Leopard, and the standard array of Apple i-branded apps.

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