Davao Mac User


Apple Tuesday Update: New Mac desktops, Airport Extreme, Time Capsule and more! [update]

Last Tuesday, Apple updated their desktop line, from the Mac mini to the Mac Pro, and two of their wireless devices: Airport Extreme and Time Capsule. They also did some minor tweaks to their Mac portables.

First up, what’s new with the desktop Macs?

iMacs: bigger and cheaper

Apple’s mid-range desktop line up now includes one 20-inch model and three 24-inch models. The previous line-up consisted of a low-end and a high-end 20-inch iMac. The high-end 20-inch has been replaced by a 24-inch model at the same price point.

The lone surviving 20-inch iMac is still priced at $1,199 and with the following specs: 2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo, 2GB RAM, 320GB sATA HDD, NVIDIA GeForce4 9400M integrated graphics, built-in iSight and Airport Extreme 802.11n wireless networking, 8x SuperDrive, 4 USB 2.0 ports, and 1 FireWire 800 port, among other things.

As mentioned previously, the high-end 20-inch iMac of yore, priced at $1,499, has been replaced with a 24-inch iMac. That’s 30% more screen AND twice the RAM (4GB) AND twice the hard disk space (640GB) at the same price.

One analyst did a spec-by-spec comparison against Dell’s and HP’s all-in-one desktop PCs. It turns out, the new $1,499 24-inch iMac was the better value.

The other two iterations of the 24-inch iMac line includes the 2.93 GHz option at $1,799 and the 3.06 GHz at $2,199. Both have the NVIDIA GeForce GT 130 video chipset instead of the GeForce4 9400M graphics found in the $1,199 and $1,499 models.

Apple’s wired slim keyboard gets slimmer

The new iMacs now ships as standard an Apple Wired Keyboard sans the numeric keypad. The new compact keyboard has the same layout with that of the Apple Wireless Keyboard but has two USB 2.0 ports on each side just like its bigger sibling.

Buyers can still opt to get the Apple Keyboard with the numeric keypad at the configuration page without any added cost. The Apple Wireless Keyboard is $30 extra.

The new iMacs didn’t undergo any physical makeover except for the subtle design refinement of the stand, as noted by AppleInsider. Pictures are from Macminicolo.net, showing the unboxing and dissecting of the new Mac mini and comparison photos between the old and new iMacs.

Mac Mini: more ports, faster graphics

Apple’s cheapest desktop Mac underwent minor cosmetic surgery, specifically its behind.

Gone is the FireWire 400 port which has been replaced by a FireWire 800 port.

Added are two additional USB 2.0 ports, bringing the total to five, and a Mini DisplayPort and a mini-DVI for video output (prior model only had a DVI port).

Aside from more holes to poke at, the Mac mini now has the same NVIDIA GeForce 9400M integrated graphics chip that the new unibody MacBooks use which means5x better graphics performance according to Apple. The new graphics chip will also allow Mac mini owners to have a dual-monitor setup using both the Mini DisplayPort and mini-DVI ports.

Apple’s COO, Tim Cook, said that aside from the Mac mini being the most affordable Mac, it is “also the world’s most energy efficient desktop computer.” The Mac mini, when idle, uses only 13 watts of power, 45% less than its predecessor.

For its price, the entry-level Mac mini at $599 (2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo Intel processor, 1GB RAM (can support up to 4GB), 120GB HDD) seemed pretty solid” by the Macworld staff. They all agreed, however, that the next in line $799 model was “a little ridiculous” since the additional $200 can only get you an additional 1GB of RAM and an extra 200GB of hard drive space.

It’s true that you can get bigger memory and HDD for $200 but to install those yourself will take nerves of steel, a putty knife and this disassembly guide.

Macworld benchmarks revealed a 23% increase in performance in the new entry-level Mac mini as compared to its predecessor and the new high-end Mac mini is 21% faster than the old high-end Mac mini. The benchmark also showed the entry-level Mac mini and the white MacBook almost having the same test scores.

An AppleInsider article on the other hand showed negligible speed improvements on both the new Mac minis and new iMacs.

Mac Pro: better graphics and cheaper

I won’t go into much detail about Apple’s high-end desktop because 1) I don’t need the raw power that this puppy has and 2) it’s way too pricey for me (base price: $2,499).

With that out of the way…

The Mac Pro is now $300 cheaper, sports Intel’s latest Nehalem-based Xeon CPU (the first desktop to be released with this chip), and has Nvidia’s GeForce GT 120 graphics chipset (with 512MB of memory). The new graphics provides 3x the performance as the older models, according to Apple. Up to four GT 120 can be used which can then drive 8 displays. Insane.

The interior has been redesigned for easier memory and HDD upgrades.

Airport Extreme & Time Capsule

Two of Apple’s wireless devices also got an update. Both Airport Extreme and Time Capsule now supports dual-band networking, allowing each device to simultaneously use of both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz networks. Also added is the Guest Network feature, which allows a user to setup a separate account for friends and guests so that they can use the internet without letting them have access to the rest of the user’s network.

Last but not the least…
Apple didn’t want their Mac portables to feel neglected. The MacBook and MacBook Pros also got an update. Sort of.

The high-end 15-inch MacBook Pro now comes standard with a 2.66 GHz chip, up from 2.53 GHz. There’s also an option for the 3.06 GHz processor. The low-end 15-inch has remain unchanged. The 13-inch Macbook and 15-inch MacBook Pro can also be configured to have the 256GB solid-state drive instead of a hard disk drive, an option which used to be only available for the 17-inch MacBook Pro.


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