RealTime IT News

Apple Pares Prices, Branches Out With New Macs

New Apple iMac and Mac Pro and Mac Mini lineup

As rumored, Apple today refreshed its entire desktop product lineup, ranging from the tiny, $599 Mac Mini to the powerful, $2,499 Mac Pro tower.

The changes include new specs and lower pricing on the company's iMac family, an expansion to its Mac Mini low-end line, and tweaks to the Mac Pro, a Xeon-based workstation, which makes the jump to Intel's new Core i7 ("Nehalem") technology.

Even better, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) said it would be trimming the prices on most models by a few hundred dollars.

The updates validate the rumors circulating on Monday, and match Apple's recent refreshes to the MacBook line in that they feature new internals, an nVidia graphics processor and environmentally friendly components.

The moves also come as a sign that Apple remains willing to press ahead with its regular PC updates -- despite the current malaise gripping much of the industry. Yet the price reductions signal that even Apple, long unwilling to undertake the deep pricing cuts in line with many of its competitors -- isn't willing to wholly ignore the economic environment.

Apple's refreshed lineup includes its 20-inch iMac, which comes with a 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of RAM, 320GB of hard disk storage and the nVidia GeForce 9400M graphics processor as found in the MacBook/MacBook Pro line introduced late last year. The unit also had its price cut by $300 to $1,199.

Meanwhile, Apple's flagship, 24-inch iMac model has been trimmed $300 to $1,499 for a basic configuration. However, it's now available in two higher-end models as well.

The $1,499 version features a 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB of memory, 640GB of storage and the nVidia 9400M processor. For $1,799, you get a 2.93GHz processor, 4GB of memory, a 640GB hard drive and nVidia's GeForce GT 120 processor with 256MB of dedicated memory. The GT 120 is a faster chip than the 9400M with dedicated graphics memory.

The $2,199 iMac comes with a 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB RAM expandable to 8GB, a 1TB hard disk and a GeForce GT 130 video card with 512MB GDDR3 graphics memory.

Mini and max

The long-neglected Mac Mini, which hasn't been updated in almost two years, got a big boost in technology -- as well as being split into two models.

The new model introduced at the existing $599 price point features a 2GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 1GB of memory with room for up to 4GB, a 120GB hard disk and the GeForce 9400M processor. For $799, you get 2GB of RAM instead of 1GB and a 320GB hard drive instead of 120GB.

When idle, the Mac Mini uses just 13 watts of power. The case has been redesigned to feature five USB 2.0 ports. The Combo Drive has been replaced with the dual-layer 8x SuperDrive, thereby supporting more formats. The FireWire 400 port was replaced with a FireWire 800 port and a Mini DisplayPort was added to support Apple's new monitors.

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