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What’s big and metal and full of leopards?
Ah, the humble iMac. It’s not as light as the MacBook Air, not as fast as the Mac Pro, and not as portable as the MacBook. Despite the iPhone’s tendency to grab all the attention of late, Apple is clearly still dedicated to its core business of making computers, and the latest round of iMacs are great-looking, solid machines. Once we set up the new 24-inch 2.8GHz iMac in our lab, it got admiring looks from nearly everyone who passed by, and, in fact, the Mac|Life test unit is already responsible for at least a few 24-inch iMac sales that we know of.
Under the smooth glass and aluminum exterior, the latest 2.8GHz iMac is a solid improvement over its predecessor. It gets a slight processor bump from the previous version’s 2.4GHz, and now ships with 2GB of RAM, although the iMac still maxes out at 4GB (a simple DIY upgrade that we highly recommend). However, the real improvements come from the front-side bus, which has been juiced up to 1066MHz, and the L2 cache, which has been increased to 6MB.
We put the iMac through its paces to impressive results. Because it’s powered by the Radeon HD 2600 Pro graphics card, the gorgeous 24-inch 1920x1200 glossy display might not make for the world’s best gaming machine, but it looks great when you’re browsing the Web, viewing photos, or doing other day-to-day tasks (although some users might be distracted by the glossy screen). The 2.8GHz model posted expected improvements in our speed tests, performing particularly well in resource intensive data-crunching tasks like converting audio files with iTunes, or building PDFs from Adobe InDesign files. All of our benchmarks showed marked improvement over previous iMacs, although serious pros will still need the raw power of the Mac Pro.The upgraded midrange iMac is an undeniable value for anyone who doesn’t need the processing power of a Mac Pro.