Hardware

New iMacs will pack a punch

Erik Eckel breaks down the benefits of the new sleekly designed and powerful iMacs for businesses who are in the market.

iMacs aren't typically compared to champion fighters. New iMacs, due from Apple in December, will earn a reputation for packing a wallop, however. While, the machines trace their heritage to an original desktop known largely for its translucent plastic case, the new models will boast considerable capacity.

New design

Apple's iMacs-from early translucent G3 models to "snowball" G4s to the all-in-one G5s-have always boasted a penchant for intriguing design. New models, thanks to re-engineering, new manufacturing techniques, and omission of the optical drive, are incredibly thin and just 5mm thick at the edges. Overall, the systems consume 40 percent less space. That's compelling, and again positions Apple's iMacs as a design marvel. But the new iMacs are more than just a pretty face.

Refined displays

The desktop's new integrated monitor is repositioned closer to the cover glass. The LED backlit display is more vivid as a result. One long-running complaint is the reflection associated with many previous iMac displays. Apple claims the new models reduce reflection by 75 percent. That means many office workers will find them easier to use in a wider variety of environments.

Other display innovations are present, too. Apple's adoption of in-plane switching (IPS) provides exceptional color viewable from a wider range of angles. LG is largely credited with introducing the improved LCD technology, which enables reorienting liquid crystals in the same plane, in 2009.

Graphics boost

Recognizing video's popularity, and acknowledging the demands photography and high-resolution displays place on workstations, Apple has specified Nvidia's Kepler GeForce GPUs inside the new iMacs. Apple states the GPUs are up to 60 percent more powerful than previous models and produce more frames per second, resulting in smoother animation and improved video responsiveness.

Thunderbolt included

It's clear Apple's betting on Thunderbolt and the technology's blazing throughput capacities. The new iMacs will include not one but two Thunderbolt ports. Considering each port supports up to six daisy-chained devices, it's easy to see how the all-in-one desktops can support a multitude of peripherals without suffering performance trouble; each Thunderbolt port features two 10Gbps data channels. Whether needing to leverage multiple Thunderbolt displays, connect RAID storage units or perform other demanding tasks, the systems boast the necessary throughput.

Faster CPUs

As is typical with any desktop upgrade, faster processors are included in the newer models. The 21.5" models will ship with 2.7GHz or 2.9GHz Intel Core i5 quad-core or even 3.1GHz quad-core i7 processors. 27" models will be powered by 2.9GHz or 3.2GH Intel Core i5 CPUs or a 3.4GHz quad-core Intel i7. With such potent CPUs, these systems should prove capable of fulfilling most enterprise organizations' common desktop demands.

Introducing Fusion Drive

Fusion Drive is a particularly arresting new feature that scores a technical knockout versus older technologies. Fusion Drives marry the storage capacity of traditional hard disks with the speed of flash memory. By joining flash media and traditional disk storage, Apple makes it possible for more commonly used files to be stored on the faster flash media while parking files accessed less often on the traditionally larger and less expensive hard disk. Best of all, Apple's Fusion Drive performs all the calculations and automatically determines which files are used less often and makes adjustments on the fly, thereby automatically tuning the Fusion Drive for optimal performance.

About

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

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