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Apple updates iMacs with new Intel processors and AMD GPUs

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The first update for Apple’s desktops in 652 days

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Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Apple has finally refreshed its regular iMac desktops, offering new processors and graphics chips for the 21.5-inch and 27-inch models.

The 21.5-inch iMac now features either an 8th Gen quad-core i3 or six-core i5 processor and either a Radeon Pro 555X GPU or a Radeon Pro 560X by default. But customers who want more power can configure a custom model with up to a six-core i7 processor, 32GB of RAM, and AMD’s Radeon Pro Vega 20 GPU (with 4GB of memory). It’s similar spec options to what Apple already has on the refreshed Mac Mini — just with a 4K display built-in.

The 27-inch iMac can gets Intel’s six core i5 processor to start across the board — 8th Gen on the two lower configurations, and 9th Gen on the highest, $2,299 prebuilt option, although Apple is also offering upgrades to Intel’s latest 9th Gen, eight-core i9 processor processors (for a price.) Graphics on the 27-inch models are Radeon Pro 570X, 575X, and 580X GPUs for prebuilt models, although AMD’s Radeon Pro Vega 48 GPU (with 8GB of memory) is available as custom option for the highest configuration.

Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

All the 27-inch models come with 8GB of RAM and Apple’s fusion drive by default, although more memory (up to 64GB, depending on the model) and more / faster storage (up to a 3TB fusion drive or 1TB of SSD) are available for those willing to shell out more.

While the updates are nice to see, it also highlights Apple’s frustratingly slow cadence when it comes to offering the latest chips in its Macs. It’s been nearly two years (652 days, to be exact) since Apple last updated the regular iMac models, which were released with Intel’s 7th Gen chips back at WWDC 2017.

But despite having all that time — and the fact that Intel has already released a full slate of 9th Gen chips — Apple’s update still is largely sticking with Intel’s 8th Gen processors by default. The latest and greatest chips are available on the priciest preconfigured version of the 27-inch model, but otherwise, customers will only get Intel’s newest chips if they buy a custom-configured computer. If you’ve been waiting for an iMac spec boost, it’s likely disappointing to see that Apple is still lagging when it comes to offering the latest components.

Today’s updates are only for the standard iMac models; the more powerful iMac Pro (released back in December 2017) isn’t getting a spec boost today. That’s partly because Intel has yet to release the next-generation Xeon W-series processors that the iMac Pro uses, aside from the 28-core Intel Xeon W-3175X processor that was released in December.

The new 21.5-inch iMac starts at $1,299, while the 27-inch model starts at $1,799.

Update March 19th, 8:46am: Added additional details on configurations for the new iMacs.

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