Apple Introduces New Entry Level 21.5-inch iMac, Sacrifices Performance For Price

apple-imac-21Apple today introduced a new 21.5-inch iMac, priced starting at $1,099. But. while it may be an elegant and relatively affordable all-in-one computer, the entry-level model sacrifices performance for pricing.

The new 21.5-inch iMac features a 1.4 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, with Turbo Boost Speeds up to 2.7 GHz, Intel HD 5000 graphics, 8GB of memory and a 500 GB hard drive.

$200 more gets you a 2.7 GHz quad-core processor and twice the hard drive space. This makes the mid-level 21.5-inch iMac a much better starting point for music apps and other demanding applications.

Pricing & Availability

The new 21.5-inch iMac is available today. Configure-to-order options include a 1TB hard drive, a 1TB Fusion Drive, and up to 256GB flash storage.

Update: Ars Technica has posted a full review of the entry-level iMac. They note:

“If you’re an individual looking at the iMac and you’re trying to get the most value for your dollar, the $1,099 iMac just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. You give up around half of your CPU and GPU performance and half your hard drive capacity to save 18 percent of the cost of the computer.

One of the $1,299 iMacs will run faster, will feel faster for longer, and will be more versatile. It will increase the useful life of the computer and its resale value. Don’t buy one of these to save $200.”

40 thoughts on “Apple Introduces New Entry Level 21.5-inch iMac, Sacrifices Performance For Price

  1. I don’t see the point of this. If they are aiming it at the Uni Student market, then that sector has already embraced laptops. I’m a lecturer at Bond Uni (Queensland, Australia), and I see nothing but Macbook Airs and Macbook Pros in the hands of my uni students (very few PC laptops). As for music, I’d want something more powerful, and portable – a Macbook Pro. This does not have the grunt for high end processing – so why do this???

    1. Emerging markets. This isn’t aimed at the united states or a low powered one would have been released ages ago, the more powerful ones are selling just fine in the states as far as i can gather. That and older people, I used to work as a apple sales associate in a reseller that dealt with mostly middle aged to eldery customers and they always pretty much just need the specs of a macbook air but most of the time they want a desktop only for the big screen, so I’ve seen a market that wants it.

      That being said, its 200 dollars more to jump to the quad core, so I don’t see why anyone who understands what kind of jump that is would pass that up.

      I predict apple is going to do what it did to the Macbook Pro series with all the retina iMac rumors circulating. They probably will make a 21 and 27 retina iMacs and get rid of the non retina 27 and then sell the two non retina 21’s until they can completely switch to retina, or even keep the lowest non retina permanently as a entry level.

  2. apple sucks after 2 years my 2500 dlls macbook pro got the logic board broken, now got to pay somewhere between 500 to 1000 dls to fix it. whaaaaaat?

    1. This is bullshit. Apple offers a $300 flat rate repair policy. Google it. When the logic board on my 5-year-old MacBook Pro went south, they not only fixed that problem, but also gave me a brand new DVD drive that I didn’t know had a problem because I never used it.

      1. I echo that. The $300 extended warranty is worth every penny. I’ve had them honor it straight away and keep me running. If I wasn’t Logic-centric, the lower model might be fine, but that added $200 is a no-brainer for the better muscle. I have audio work to do and skimping for a few bucks is self-defeating, come show-time. Casual surfers don’t need much power, but fortunately, I’ve used Logic for a while and know not to hit the wall, so its the faster one and 8 or more GB of RAM for me. I’m not mad about the cheaper model, get real. I’m pleased that the price has remained stable on what I need. That’s good news on its own.

        1. No Cheryl, that was not me, but this is me. From Scooters. What ever happened to you? I lost contact with you years back.

          I would like to talk to you again if possible. I am sorry I did not see your response to this until now.

          You can reach me at my E-mail address: drwho135 at yahoo com

          I would love to hear from you again.

  3. Being a former Apple employee I know why this has been introduced:

    This computer will fit the needs of all the elderly people that up till now had to buy the more expensive iMac whilst their only plans are to browse the web, send/receive e-mails and perhaps play a little with iPhoto, nothing more.

    As for Vic:
    Next time you buy a 2500 dollar/euro laptop buy AppleCare it is actually worth it cus it will set you back a bit more on top of the price for the laptop but it will also guarantee that the laptop will be fixed free of charge for 3 years.

    If you are from Europe however there might be other ways to get compensated through consumer laws.

    In any case, bitching about your broken logic board on a topic about a new iMac will not give you a new MacBook or score you any points anywhere.

    1. Yeah it’s aiming at the ageing baby boomers. Much nicer on the desktop than a big hulking black box with separate screen sitting astride it. Makes you miss the old Macintosh SE.

    2. Here’s another Mac secret weapon: longevity. I bought my first Mac refurbished from SmallDog and it still ran when I recycled it. Every Mac I’ve bought was still working when I upgraded. I have a heavy bloody eMac and IT still runs as well. Naturally, your old computers eventually freeze where they are, but when you can still do basic music tracks on a Mac using OS X 10.4 in a pinch, that’s not half bad. All hail good quality control.

      1. I still have a Macmini which came with 1.5 Core Solo. I upgraded it myself to 2.0 GHz T7200 Core 2 Duo.
        It works fine as an Arturia Collection V3 and Korg Legacy Edition external synth with Mainstage 2. 🙂
        It´s much better than any Korg or Roland Workstation and now cheap as bread on ebay.

    3. Apple should lower the price into the three digit without further compromising the performance. Then people with lower CPU requirements like you suggest might be willing to buy them. Now those people can bay for a lot less money HP Slate 21 (pro). Why should they spend almost $1.000,- more for an Apple?

  4. This scheme screams corporate. This is not meant for anyone to buy unless they are buying in bulk for an office environment. That is why the low level is only 200 cheaper than the high end.. Why else would such a performance jump be only 200 above? Even 1200 dollars for anything apple related is a steal compared to their recent history. That said a much better performing windows machine could be built for the same price after displays are included.

    1. I recently did some comparison shopping with a friend and we discovered that buying a PC with enough RAM, most any pro-level DAW, even a moderate USB audio interface and a few specific cables came within easy price-reach of the same setup with a new iMac sporting Logic X and the warranty. Accusations of boutique pricing aren’t really on the mark. You pay more for the Mac, but several hundred less on the DAW. The most recent Live & Cakewalk releases look impressive, but run a budget and you’ll see how it easily swings back to whatever speaks to you personally. BTW, none of this is remotely aimed at you clever souls who are happily running Reaper on a modest machine with a few select VSTs. 😀

      1. Where’s the audio interfacing on your new iMac though? Do you just keep packing 3rd party peripherals on until you can make it seem reasonable or what? O.o

        1. Do you know you have S/P-DIF input on every Mac now!? I don´t understand why people don`t use it because it gives you the best signal quality you can think of. You don´t really need any audio interface or you can use many synth, like Novation Ultranova or Yamaha MOXF, who also provide you with an built in audio interface.

  5. I can see why this has been introduced, in my studio I have a Mac Pro which is perfect for music production however for the family computer we have a ageing 2007 iMac which gets used for word documents, email and some internet browsing, so this would be a perfect replacement for it, its just not aimed at music production!

    1. Computer technology is a treadmill. Get what you need now, it’ll be worthless tomorrow. If this meets your need, good for you. This looks line a nice box for billing, email, web, etc, just not your main DAW box.

  6. It’s worth remembering that when you buy the top-of-the-line model, you are only top of the line for a year or two.
    A new flagship model will soon out-spec yours. Constant automatic software updates (from OS to browser, DAW, ect) will tax more and more of your system until it feels slow. You might feel you are “future-proofing” by going top-line, but the future will always outpace you. You could have a credit card balance long after it’s antique.
    Seeing as you can drop 1k or 2k on a Mac, and either one will be equally unimpressive in 5 years, a 1k option looks smart.
    Computers are an eternal sunsetting commodity. You don’t need a supercomputer to run Ableton Live. Spend your money on analog synths and fun hardware.
    Even something as low-spec as a 4-voice Korg MS-2000 has held value and function. The Mac released that year cost twice the price of the Korg, and is now deep underground in a Chinese e-junk landfill.
    Unless you’re rich, then peg it out and add to cart.

  7. a PC with these exact specs would be in the sub $500 range

    thats a lot of extra money for “design” and branding

    1. $500 will get you a cheap ass plastic box that runs Windows 8, more comparable to the entry-level Mac Mini.

      If you want a well-made all-in-one comparable to the iMac, it’s going to be close to the same price to get a Windows all-in-one with similar specs. And you’ll be stuck with WIndows 8 instead of Mavericks, crapware and a much kludgier experience.

      There’s a reason Microsoft has to spend twice as much on advertising – it’s selling an inferior product that can’t compete on quality, so they’ve got to be cheaper.

      1. i repair macs for a living.. ive got the certifications and all that shit – they arent worth the money, plain and simple

        if you are just some brand loyal consumer, yeh youve got a totally different perspective.. but its not based on actual fact, just blind faith and other subjective bullshit

        1. The magic is in the OS not the hardware. OS X is so much more convenient and POSIX compliant. Is windows built on UNIX? No!

    2. i like osx. i basically consider the extra cost of an apple the cost of osx, the useful free software that apple makes, like xcode, iac, aggregate audio, network MIDI, etc and paying into things like cheap Logic. at this point it looks like free os updates too for as long as my computer can take them.

      i use both, but windows is for the few programs i use that run on it, not because i like using it.

      apple isn’t even always more expensive if you buy at the right time, like when the macbook air 1st came out that was as cheap as any manufacturer could make those component sets. if you buy around a real hardware refresh (when intel puts it out, lol) it’s probably an okay deal, maybe aftermarket ram too. 😉

      you could illegally use osx, but it seems like you have to keep hacking at it to keep it working across updates and that sort of defeats what i like about osx. also i appreciate the work that goes into osx and since i’m in a position to pay for it, i like to support that.

      also i dunno about whatever the retina equivalent is with win8? do developers have as much incentive? i haven’t bought a computer with a retina display yet, but it seems nice.

  8. most people will not ever get to the computing limits of this machine – most will use it for social networks, emails, watching movies or browsing the web. businesses can use this machine for office work.

    do you buy your clothes one size bigger just because it is free? buying what you need is the way to go.

  9. Computer and software industry sucks! Having to upgrade every couple years only to discover your old software won’t work and you need to shell out for an upgrade, it’s a waste, and if you had been buying and using only hardware gear for music production instead of all the money thrown at computer and software companies, you would have all kinds of gear now that won’t go out of date, and all the time wasted with poking around with DAW’s and plug-ins as well as trouble shooting to find out why audio isn’t recording or midi isn’t transmitting even though you set it correctly, you just may have already recorded a masterpiece album with your hardware based synth,sequencer, sampler, drum machine and recording set-up… Hardware Synth Gear is a way of life for the “synthesizer.freaks” [email protected]

  10. It’s not the 90’s anymore. Yes you can get cheap ass PC’s that are made like a dog’s breakfast, but compared spec to spec PC’s and Mac’s are very similarly priced now. Then you have software where in the last couple of years Apple had made software very competitive. I use a Mac now only because I can get a MacBook Air with Logic Pro for cheaper than a PC running Pro Tools. Not to mention never having to buy additional software as iPhoto, iMovie, Pages and Number, etc is included no charge. I rememeer my friends MacBook Pro was $6,500 AUS in the 90’s.

  11. Buying the applecare is just stupid. If one is into macs, the only proper way is to upgrade every year.
    Sell your old apple to buy a new one, with a difference probably smaller than applecare.
    Staying with an ageing apple always asking for trouble as it is really evident that their quality control went out of the window when they started to expand.
    Until people get into their senses and macs get to devaluate according to their failure and problem rate and not some prestige value this is the only way.

    For my old 3000eu thinkpad btw i got for 80eu a three year on site extra warranty. Now why apple needs 250 to give you only two years extra, should make you understand on how confident they are about their products.

    1. Upgrade every year??? That seems like a much bigger waste of money, especially considering I generally hold on to my Apple laptops and desktops for 3-5 years before replacing them.

      1. I got a mid 2010 MacBook Pro and it is still fast and big enough for everything I throw onto it. 🙂
        Only the Nvidia graphics problems were anoying because I had to buy a new MB. But I had similar problems with windows machines.

    2. One reason I’m “into Macs” is that I don’t have to buy a new one every year; still, I’d be delighted to entertain your argument for a bit. If you’re really “into golf,” should you replace your clubs every year? What if your thing is refrigerators? Do you buy a new one next year because that’s the proper way to demonstrate how “into” them you are?

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