Apple just announced a new version of the iMac with a refreshed design that runs on its M1 processor. It comes in a range of colors such as purple, yellow, and blue among others like the iPhone, which is reminiscent of the vintage colorful iMac G3 from the late 1990s. Apple is also highlighting the new iMac’s improved speakers, camera, and microphones as being ideal for working remotely.
Release and pricing information
The new iMac is available in four colors starting at $1,299.
It’s available in seven colors with additional features beginning at $1,499.
Orders start on April 30 and it launches in the second half of May.
What’s new about the 2021 iMac
Apple is highlighting the new iMac’s sleek build, which measures just 11.5 millimeters thin. There are only comes two fans, reducing the computer’s size and keeping it quiet even under high performance.
The screen is 24 inches with a 4.5K resolution, meaning the screen slightly larger than that of the previous model. The iMac will be available in green, yellow, orange, pink, purple, blue, and silver.
The iMac should offer 85% faster CPU performance compared to the latest 21-inch iMac models and twice the GPU performance, the company claims. And iPhone and iPad apps also run on the new iMac since it uses the M1, much like the latest MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.
The iMac comes in two configurations: a $1,299 model with an 8-core GPU, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, two Thunderbolt ports, a Magic Keyboard, and a Magic Mouse. That model is available in green, pink, blue, and silver.
The $1,499 model comes with an 8-core GPU, 8-core CPU, 8GB of memory, 256GB of storage, two Thunderbolt ports, two USB 3 ports, the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, the Magic Mouse, and Ethernet.
The iMac is also getting a redesigned keyboard and power adapter that attaches to the computer magnetically. The keyboard has Apple’s Touch ID processor, marking the first time Touch ID has come to the desktop.
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It’s no secret that smartphones have assumed some of the duties of our laptops over the past decade. And in turn, laptops have increasingly evolved to become more like the devices we carry in our pockets.
While laptops have had smartphone-like features such as touchscreens and cellular connectivity for years, 2021 feels like another big step in that direction, both in terms of software and hardware. The latest evidence came this week on March 9, when Google announced a slew of new features for the software that powers Chromebook laptops.
One of the biggest new additions is a feature called Phone Hub, which as its name suggests makes it easier to keep track of your Android phone directly from your laptop. You can locate your phone, view and respond to text messages, and check your Android device’s battery life, all on your Chromebook.
It’s far from being the first tool designed to help you manage your phone through your laptop. Microsoft offers an app for connecting Android phones to Windows 10 PCs, and Apple’s macOS platform has long offered interoperable features designed to work nicely with the iPhone, such as Handoff.
But the fact that phone-centric features like this new hub are the centerpiece of Google’s latest Chrome update says a lot about how major tech firms are thinking about the direction in which laptops are headed. This, along with other recent industry developments, indicates that the future of the laptop is all about making notebooks either behave more like our smartphones or get better at connecting us to our phones.
Take the new laptops announced at the annual CES tech show in January, for example. Support for 5G connectivity was seemingly in nearly every laptop, including new models from Lenovo and HP among others.
Laptops with cellular support have been around for nearly 10 years, but it hasn’t really been a major selling point since Wi-Fi networks are so prevalent and it’s easy to just use your phone as a hotspot. But in 2021, laptop makers are clearly preparing for a future in which that might change, especially now that many people may be working outside of a traditional office setting permanently.
Apple’s M1-powered MacBook Air and MacBook Pro also show how laptops are evolving to become more like our smartphones. Apple’s new chip is based on the same basic architecture as the processors inside the iPhone, resulting in longer battery life, faster responsiveness, and iPhone app compatibility.
In other words, it’s making the Mac feel a lot more like your iPhone. Apple’s latest software update for Mac devices also introduces a new interface that more closely resembles the iPhone’s operating system.
It’s not just Apple. PC makers have been launching laptops powered by chips based on the same basic architecture as the processors inside mobile devices for years. We saw more of these laptops at CES too, including the HP Elite Folio and Lenovo IdeaPad 5G, both of which run on the Snapdragon 8cx processor from Qualcomm, the company that creates the chips inside just about every major smartphone.
Qualcomm’s goal with this chip is to bring all-day battery life, portability, and support for high resolution cameras to laptops. If that sounds familiar, it’s because your smartphone already does these things much better than your laptop can.
Many of these products and developments were in place long before the pandemic started. But COVID-19 has only highlighted the ways in which laptops fall short in comparison to smartphones, perhaps accelerating a shift that was already inevitable.
A CPU, or central processing unit, is the most important part of your computer. It’s found on the motherboard and is responsible for executing every command you or an app makes. It opens apps, loads data, shows images – the CPU is involved with nearly everything on your computer.
Your desktop computer or laptop isn’t the only device with a CPU chip. Your phone has one, your video game console has one, your smartwatch has one. If you’ve bought a car made in the last ten years, it probably has a CPU for its dashboard screen.
The CPU is a critical part of any modern device. Here’s what you should know about it.
How CPUs work, and the different types
The CPU is the foundation of your computer, which is why it’s generally the first thing listed in any computer ad. Without a CPU, your computer won’t turn on, much less be usable.
Whenever you try to open a program or file, or type something, data is sent to the CPU. The CPU then decodes the data, and decides whether the command can be done. If it can, it’ll be done. If it can’t, you’ll probably see the program you’re using crash, stop responding, or give you an error message.
Since the CPU is handling data from every part of the computer at once, it’s easy to overload a CPU by flooding it with commands. This is why your computer goes slower when you have too many programs open – you’re constantly sending new data for the CPU to deal with.
And if your CPU is forced to deal with too much at once, you could crash your computer.
There are two major types of CPUs: x86 chips, and ARM chips.
x86 CPU chips
Among Windows-based PCs, x86 chips are far more popular, and are usually made by either Intel or AMD. Most Intel CPUs are a part of the Intel Core family, and have names like the Intel Core i3, Intel Core i5, and Intel Core i7. On the AMD side you have Ryzen CPUs, like the Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 9.
As a general rule, the higher the number in the CPU’s name, the faster it will perform.
Although some of these CPUs are faster than others, they’re all largely interchangeable because they all use a “x86 instruction set” – that’s where the name comes from. In short, they all speak the same language, and can all understand and perform commands that the rest of the computer sends.
ARM CPU chips
Mobile devices, new MacBooks, and some Windows computers use ARM chips. These are less powerful and take less energy, making them perfect for smaller devices. They run a bit slower, but not enough that the average user will notice.
Apple has invested heavily into ARM chips over the past few years. Their most recent set of CPU chips, the M1s, were specially designed to run new MacBooks.
What it looks like inside your CPU
Modern CPUs typically feature billions of transistors etched into the silicon wafer that comprises the chip. The more transistors, the more powerful your CPU.
The average transistor count has jumped dramatically over the years; the Intel 80386 processor, an important CPU in the 1980s, had 275,000 transistors. Just a few years later, the 80486 had 1.2 million transistors. By 2016, the Intel Core i7 processor found in many mainstream PCs had 3.2 billion transistors. The Apple M1, found in the latest MacBook Pro, has 16 billion transistors.
The transistor count is far from the only factor that determines the speed and performance of modern CPUs. Clock speed is also a critical consideration.
The clock speed of the CPU – measured in gigahertz (GHz), or a billion cycles per second – is a measure of how many instructions the CPU can perform in a particular period of time.
You also have to consider how many cores your CPU has. Most modern CPUs are multi-core, which means they can divide incoming data and decode all the parts at once. It’s like having six workers in an office compared to just one – much more efficient. Programs which are optimized for multi-threaded and multi-core CPUs can run dramatically faster.
Another component that affects the performance of a CPU is the cache. Most CPUs have multiple caches, such as L1, L2, and L3. Each cache has a specific purpose. The L3 cache, for example, is faster than the computer’s main memory and is used to feed data and instructions to the cores without bothering the other caches.
Many CPUs also contain a graphics chipset, which allows it to control the computer’s display. High-performance computers might have a separate graphics card or chipset, in which case the graphics data is handed off to that separate card.
If your CPU isn’t going as fast as you’d like, you can try overclocking it. This is a process where you force the CPU to run faster than it’s designed to go. It can give you better performance, but can harm your CPU if you overuse it.
Despite all this, the best way to find a good CPU is pretty simple: Just look for higher numbers. The newer your CPU’s model number is, the more cores it has, the faster its clock speed, the better it is.