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This morning, Apple lifted the veil on its rumored budget iMac. Unfortunately, it's not the budget machine we hoped. Unlike the company's previous price cut, which gave the MacBook Air 10% off and better hardware, today's release offers a 15% price cut, but with a significant hardware downgrade.
At $1,099, the new 21.5" iMac is $200 cheaper than the previous base iMac; but to attain that price, Apple made some serious concessions. For starters, the new iMac packs a 1.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, the same CPU found inside the 2014 MacBook Air. That makes the new all-in-one the only current-generation iMac to lack a quad-core CPU.
The new iMac also gets a storage downgrade featuring a 500GB hard drive, instead of the base 1TB drive found in all other iMacs. Likewise, the $1,099 configuration offers Intel HD Graphics 5000, rather than Intel Iris Pro 5200 Graphics. Otherwise, you get the same 8GB of RAM and unibody aluminum enclosure found in all of the other iMacs. Essentially, you're getting a MacBook Air in iMac clothing.
However, browse through Apple's refurb store and you'll find the 2013 iMac complete with quad-core CPU, 1TB hard drive, and Intel Iris graphics for the same price as the new, budget system: $1,099. Needless to say, the refurb system offers a significantly greater value than today's budget announcement. (If the thought of a used iMac makes you uncomfortable, check out our feature on Top Brands for Refurbished Electronics).
Even if you opt for the new iMac, you're better off waiting a few weeks for Apple's Back-to-School sale to commence. Last year, iMac purchases qualified for a $100 Apple Gift Card. Alternatively, you could also wait for retailers to discount the new machine, as the chances of seeing more iMac deals are greater now that Apple has grown the family.
Are you rushing out to pick up this new budget iMac, or are you waiting for a better deal? Let us know in the comments below.