Apple just updated the iMac for the first time since 2017 with a big performance boost

Apple has introduced upgraded models of its 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMacs that bring speedier performance and faster graphics, marking the first time Apple has refreshed its iMac line of all-in-one desktops since 2017.

The new 21.5-inch Retina 4K iMac starts at $1,299 while the updated 27-inch Retina 5K iMac starts at $1,799 — the same base price as the previous models. Both new configurations are available on Apple’s website starting Tuesday and will be in Apple Stores next week.

The refreshed 27-inch iMac can be outfitted with Intel’s 9th generation processors and Radeon Pro Vega graphics, which should enable the machine to perform more than twice as fast and deliver a 50% bump in graphics performance speed. The 27-inch iMac will also be available in six core and eight core configurations for the first time, a noticeable upgrade for Apple’s all-in-one computer considering it was only previously available in quad core configurations. Before this launch, users would have to opt for the much pricier iMac Pro, which starts at $4,999 and is configurable up to 18 cores, to get an iMac with eight cores or more.

The 21.5-inch iMac is also getting an upgrade that brings six-core 8th generation Intel processors to the machine, also signaling a first for Apple’s smaller-sized desktop. Like its larger sibling, the 21.5-inch iMac will also get Radeon Pro Vega graphics. This combined with the processor refresh should enable 60% faster overall performance and 80% quicker graphics performance.

The upgrade gives Apple more leverage to remain competitive with similarly priced Windows machines, as it’s not uncommon for all-in-one PCs in this price range to offer six to eight cores. For example, HP offers a 27-inch Envy all-in-one for $1,449 that includes six cores, and Dell sells a $1,399 Inspiron all-in-one with eight cores.

The latest iMacs provide a way for consumers to get more speed and multitasking prowess without paying up for a higher-end iMac Pro, which is more computer than many consumers really need. That’s because the iMac Pro’s Intel Xeon processors are designed for tasks like real-time data analytics and cloud computing. The new iMacs, by contrast, rely on Intel’s Core line of microprocessors, which are optimized for everyday projects and productivity.

The refresh comes just one day after Apple introduced its latest iPad mini and iPad Air models on Monday. Apple’s online store went down ahead of the announcement, leading to speculation that Apple could unveil new iMac computers shortly. The announcement is also timed days ahead of Apple’s event on March 25, where it’s expected to unveil a Netflix competitor and a news subscription service. The company is not expected to introduce new hardware, as the new services are expected to be the company’s area of focus for this event.

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