Apple's 24" iMac: There's more to High End than Performance

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Integrated it may be, but the iMac is not lacking for features, including a few that are far from common on the PC side of things. Wireless networking, Bluetooth support and a remote control for media playback are all nonstandard features for mainstream desktop systems. Widespread adoption of the USB 2.0 and Firewire interfaces make it easy to add any peripherals that are missing.

The exact specifications are somewhat flexible; Apple allows a certain amount of hardware customization when you order. Heavy multimedia users will probably want to spring for a bigger hard drive — 500 GB and 750 GB options are available as upgrades over the basic 250 GB model. Gamers may also want to bump the graphics card up to a GeForce 7600GT... and download Boot Camp so that Windows can be used.

One thing that irked us was the lack of office software: Trial versions of both iWork '06 and Microsoft Office 2004 are included, but Apple expects you to pony up another US$80 for the full version of iWork. The presence of trial software is almost worse than having nothing at all. Two preinstalled pieces of software that are unusable without paying extra doesn't do much for Apple's "fully integrated" approach.

That aside, we appreciated the scope of the software that is included. In combination with the iLife suite, OS X offers several pieces of software that go above and beyond what is included with Windows XP, including:

  • Apple DVD Player
  • Xcode Developer Tools (for writing software)
  • iDVD (DVD authoring)
  • iWeb (for building internet content)
  • GarageBand (audio recording & editing)
  • Front Row (HTPC software for use with the Apple Remote)
Apple 24" iMac Specifications
(Note: Our sample was the base model.)
In the Box
- iMac
- Apple Keyboard
- Mighty Mouse
- Apple Remote(1)
- Power cord
- Install/restore DVDs
- Printed and electronic documentation
- 2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor (T7400) w/ 4MB shared L2 cache
- 667MHz system bus
- 1GB (2x512MB) of PC2-5300 (667MHz) DDR2 memory
- Two SODIMM slots support up to 3GB
- 250GB Serial ATA 7200-rpm hard drive (Seagate ST3250824AS)
- 8x SuperDrive (DVD+R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
- Built-in 54-Mbps AirPort Extreme Card (802.11g standard)
- Built-in Bluetooth 2.0+EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) module
- Built-in 10/100/1000 BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet (RJ-45 connector)
- Built-in 24-inch (viewable) widescreen TFT active-matrix liquid crystal display
- Millions of colors at all resolutions
- Typical viewing angle: 178° horizontal, 178° vertical
- Typical brightness: 400 cd/m
- Typical contrast ratio: 700:1
Graphics and Video
- NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT graphics processor with 128MB of GDDR3 SDRAM using PCI Express
- Mini-DVI output port with support for DVI, VGA, S-video, and composite video connections via adapter
- Built-in iSight camera
- Support for external display in extended desktop
* Digital resolutions up to 1920 x 1200
* Analog resolutions up to 2048 x 1536
- Support for external display in video mirroring mode
Electrical and environmental requirements
- Meets ENERGY STAR requirements
- Line voltage: 100-240V AC
- Power cable Frequency: 50Hz to 60Hz, single phase
- Maximum continuous power: 220W
- Operating temperature: 10° to 35° C (50° to 95° F)
- Storage temperature: -40° to 85° C (-40° to 185° F)
- Relative humidity: 5% to 95% noncondensing
- Maximum altitude: 10,000 feet
Size and Weight
- Height: 52.3 cm (20.6 inches)
- Width: 57.4 cm (22.6 inches)
- Depth: 20.7 cm (8.1 inches)
- Weight: 11.2 kg (24.7 pounds)
Peripheral Connections
- One FireWire 400 and one FireWire 800 port; 15 watts shared
- Total of five USB ports: three USB 2.0 ports (up to 480 Mbps) on computer, two USB 1.1 ports on keyboard
- Built-in stereo speakers
- Internal 24-watt digital amplifier
- Headphone/optical digital audio output (minijack)
- Audio line in/optical digital audio input (minijack)
- Built-in microphone
- Mac OS X v10.4 Tiger (includes Spotlight, Dashboard, Mail, iChat AV, Safari, Address Book, QuickTime, iCal, DVD Player, Xcode Developer Tools)
- iLife ’06 (includes iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie HD, idvd, iWeb, GarageBand), Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac Test Drive, iWork (30-day trial), Big Bang Board Games, Comic Life, Omni Outliner, and Apple Hardware Test
- Front Row
- Photo Booth

One thing that gave us pause was the power rating: The 24" model is rated for a maximum of 220W, while the smaller models are rated for 180W. That's unfortunate; it suggests the system will not be as efficient as the 17" model that we saw before. That could pose a problem for noise if the extra power is concentrated enough to cause overheating. Hopefully, its larger size will help dissipate the extra heat.

Another oddity was the system bus speed — 667MHz instead of the standard 1066MHz. The explanation is that Apple is using the mobile version of the Core 2 Duo (our sample had a T7400), which still uses 667MHz as its bus speed. This bodes well for power consumption, since mobile parts are typically more efficient than desktop parts, but performance enthusiasts will no doubt be disappointed.

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