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Apple unveils new iMac with M1 chip

Available in a variety of colors, the new iMac offers a 24-inch screen, a thinner design, a 4.5K display, a 1080p FaceTime camera and a starting price of $1,299.

A closer look at the new iMac with M1 chip

Apple has given the iMac a much-needed shot in the arm with a beefier CPU, better display, sharper camera and a host of other clever features. At its Spring Loaded event on April 20, the company took the wraps off the latest iMac, which will be up for pre-order on April 30 and available in the second half of May.

SEE: Apple's first event of 2021: Key announcements include new iMac, iPad Pro, AirTags and Apple 4K TV (TechRepublic)

M1 chip

Following in the footsteps of the MacBook Air, the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the Mac mini, the new iMac is powered by Apple's M1 chip. Released in 2020 as an alternative to the traditional Intel architecture, the M1 chip has been touted for its faster performance, power efficiency and battery savings.

The new iMac takes advantage of the M1 chip's eight cores, a seven-core or eight-core GPU and the 16-core Apple Neural Engine to deliver an 85% faster CPU performance and two times faster graphics performance, according to Apple. The company pointed to the quicker speeds of such specific tasks as exporting video projects from iMovie, compiling code in XCode, editing graphics in Affinity Photo and Photoshop, and editing five streams of 4K footage or one stream of 8K footage without dropping a frame in Final Cut Pro.

Developers have been busy recompiling their apps to take advantage of the M1 chip as seen with programs such as Photoshop, Microsoft 365, Twitter, Quicken, Slack, Affinity Publisher, Zappos, 1Password, and DaVinci Resolve.

Thinner design

The new iMac boasts a thinner and more compact design as the M1 system-on-chip architecture, logic board, and the thermals that control the internal temperature have all been condensed. The display itself is 11.5 millimeters (less than half an inch) thick, while the overall design shrinks the volume of the iMac by 50%, according to Apple.

4.5K display

The 24-inch screen features a 4.5K (4,480 x 2,520 px) Retina display with 11.3 million pixels, 218 pixels per inch, 500 nits of brightness, and more than one billion colors. The display also benefits from True Tone, which automatically tweaks the color temperature based on the surrounding conditions. An anti-reflective coating aims to reduce glare for easier viewing and readability.

iMac

Image: Apple

1080p camera

Apple has outfitted the latest iMac with a 1080p FaceTime HD camera designed for higher-quality video and better performance in low-light settings. The M1's image signal processor unites with the Neural Engine to enhance the camera quality with improved noise reduction, a greater dynamic range, better auto exposure and optimum white balancing, Apple said.

Speakers and sound

To deliver clearer audio calls and voice recordings, the iMac comes with a studio-quality three-microphone array. The microphones are situated so as to lessen feedback from the rest of the machine. Directional beamforming tries to curb background noise so you can better hear your own voice and those of others in a virtual meeting or phone call.

The speaker system is equipped with a dual pair of force-cancelling, side-by-side woofers to pump up the bass and clamp down on vibrations. Each pair is teamed with a high-performance tweeter, resulting in a six-speaker sound system. Add in some advanced algorithms, and the iMac supports spatial audio when playing video with Dolby Atmos, Apple said.

Connectivity

The new iMac comes with two Thunderbolt ports to speed up data transfers and enable connections for a variety of devices. Wi-Fi 6 is built in for online access. The more expensive version of the iMac adds two USB 3 ports and Gigabit Ethernet as well. And in a cool twist, the Ethernet cable connects to the power adapter so it doesn't take up space on the iMac itself. Using a 6.7-foot cable, the power adapter plugs into the iMac via a magnetic connector.

Colors

The base iMac is available in blue, green, pink and silver, while the more expensive model comes in blue, green, pink, silver, yellow, orange and purple.

Keyboard and trackpad

Buyers of the new iMac can choose from three different types of keyboards—a regular Magic Keyboard, a Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, and a Magic Keyboard with both Touch ID and a numeric keypad. The Touch ID component works with Fast User Switching, so you can use it to change to a different user account. You can also add a color-matched Magic Mouse and a Magic Trackpad.

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The new iMac offers a Magic Keyboard with Touch ID.

Image: Apple

Pricing and availability

The base model iMac with an 8-core CPU, a 7-core GPU, 8GB of memory, 256GB SSD (upgradeable to 512GB or 1TB), two Thunderbolt ports, Magic Keyboard, and Magic Mouse starts at $1,299.

The iMac with an 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, 8GB of memory, 256GB SSD (upgradeable to 1TB or 2TB), two Thunderbolt ports, two additional USB 3 ports, Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, Magic Mouse, and Ethernet starts at $1,499.  

The new iMac will be available for order starting Friday, April 30, on Apple's website and in the Apple Store app. The system will ship to customers and appear in certain Apple stores and Apple resellers during the second half of May.

Also see

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The new 2021 iMac

Image: Apple