Apple Releases New M1-Based 24-inch iMac in Spring Colors

Historically, the lowest-cost model of a line of Macs is feature-deficient in some way. They may be missing ports, have slower storage, or lack memory upgrades. They are good for only two purposes:

  1. Advertising a low price
  2. Use full in corporate or educational environments where power, connectivity, and expandability requirements are low and expected life before replacement is short

When considering a Mac for personal use, one should ignore the cheapest version to avoid disappointment setting in, and consider the price of the next version up as the true low price.

Note that all M1 iMacs above the lowest tier have 4 ports (2 Thunderbolt 4 and 2 USB-C) and are Ethernet-capable. The 2019 21" iMac (which these models replace) had 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports, 4 USB ports, and a slot for an SDXC card. So the new version is somewhat port deficient compared to what preceded it, but with a <$100 USB adapter, that can be rectified.

This is everything you think is necessary. But by definition of being on a site like TidBITS, you’re not the typical user for this low-end product. I would venture to guess that there are millions of iMac users that never connect anything to their ports and are fine with the basic model.

Note that I do agree with you – for me the base models of just about anything Apple sells are insufficient. My rule is I never look at the “starting” or “base” price and always start with the medium price and assume even with that I’ll need to add some more options (memory, RAM, crucial accessory, etc.). So when Apple announces new iMacs for $1299 and $1499, I assume I’ll have to spend at least $1799 to get what I need. (In this case, more like $1899 as I’ll want 16GB of RAM and the extended keyboard, since it’s the only keyboard that comes with proper inverted-T cursor keys.)

That seems quite expensive for a low-end Mac. I love the colors and 24" is plenty (I’m used to smaller laptop screens), but I have decided to at least wait and see if there’s a pro-level iMac announced at WWDC in June. I’m sure it’ll be far more expensive – I’d guess at least $3K and I’m probably low – but at least it would be a decently-configured machine with more options and a longer life. I’d hate to get one of these and see better machine (for me) come out just a couple of months later.

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What are the alternatives? A PC?

These new Macs are first generation, and if you have doubts, most probably there will be other new models later in the year and next year. Apple has always been a little stingy on base model storage space and RAM, and more recently, extra stingy with ports. IMHO, a beautiful high resolution screen, super duper speed, better Thunderbolt ports are game changers for me, along with the ability to run Mac software. But personally, I’m waiting for the next generation MacBook Pro to upgrade.

Is it me, or has apple released three computers and a tablet, that are basically the same computer?

Same RAM options, same GPU options, Same storage options, Same port options.

I was hoping for some innovation with the iMac that showed not just new design language, but actually moved the platform forwards.

Maybe they could build and use their own chip, one with an amazing combination of power-saving and speed, and get away from their dependence on Intel.

Oh, well. Next time.


As @silbey noted, the M1 chip is a huge innovation that pushes not just the Mac platform forward in performance and power savings, but now the iPad platform as well.

What innovations were you looking for? I mean, Face ID would be nice, though it would just be being brought over from the iPhone and iPad. And of course we all want Macs that levitate above our desks at just the right height, but maglev Macs (Maclevs?) are probably a ways off. And then people will be complaining about how they liked stacking their Macs on books to get them to the right height. :slight_smile:

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Not only that, but now that we are past the Ive days, I thought that this “thinness obsession”, which directly led to the bad keyboard problem on previous MacBook Pros, was going to be lessened (I’d love it to be eliminated, but obviously that’s never gonna happen).

I thought I was actually doing myself a favor when configuring my last major Apple purchase (16" MacBook Pro) by choosing to get 32GB RAM installed instead of the standard config. Big mistake that I will not do again, ever, on any machine. Turns out that the computer will take over and fully use any amount of RAM you have available, no matter what happens to be running; it got to the point where I regularly ONLY have Safari open and I get memory warnings at the top of the screen saying that this application is using too much memory and that closing the app “will significantly improve performance”. In other words, have nothing open or running…! There isn’t anything wrong with the performance of Safari except that by itself it is using too much RAM! Truly, this is the only major disappointment of getting this Mac. Better to spend the money on extra storage than RAM, in my experience.

Why is everyone including Apple calling this 24" when it’s really 23.5 (see Actual diagonal screen size is 23.5 inches at bottom of Buy iMac - Apple)? They didn’t call the 21.5 a 22" display?

Where are the memory (RAM and SSD) options on the “pricing” pasge?

A well-configured M1 Mac mini and a real 24" / 27" display is much more myMac than the pricey, oddly-constrained new iMac.

All of Apple’s specs are really clear about the diagonal screen size being 23.5 inches, as is our coverage. I presume Apple just got tired of the wordiness of the previous model being called the 21.5-inch iMac and rounded up this time. I bet they didn’t round up with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro because 13 is seen to be an unlucky number.

It’s all basically a marketing name anyway, since no one thinks in terms of diagonal screen size, and yet that’s the measurement that’s caught on, perhaps because it’s always a larger number than either height or width, or perhaps because aspect ratios can vary.

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Back in the old days when nearly all displays were the same aspect (4:3), diagonal size worked well. A single number and everybody had a pretty good understanding of just how big it is.

With the introduction of wide-screen displays (especially LCDs, but others as well), that went out the window. Today, displays are 16:9 (HDTV aspect), 16:10 and “ultrawide” aspects like 21:9 and others.

Of course, you can’t compare diagonal measurements when two displays have different aspects. Today, it’s probably better to use separate width/height (or width/height/depth for curved displays), so people can more easily visualize the size. Especially when they want to replace a display with one that has a different aspect in order to make comparisons like “it’s wider, but shorter”. Unfortunately, in order to make such comparisons today, you usually need to do some math to convert aspect and diagonal-size to height and width.

And of course, even resolution isn’t an entirely straightforward number when pixels come in different sizes and macOS is doing pixel doubling for Retina displays.

Thanks Adam, I was specifically referring to the guts of the machine. We now have two laptops, a tablet and two desktops that are all fundamentally the same motherboard and functionality. This seems to have been optimised for the laptops where performance per watt is critical. In the tablet, it is constrained by the iOS software and use cases, in the desktops where battery life and heat is secondary to performance, Those benchmarks showing the M1 beating intel mobile chipsets are great, but less so when compared to a 128GB, i9 with a discrete GPU.

In the initial launch having the Mini the same as the laptops made sense for getting the M1 out there. Six months later the pretty colours and white bezels don’t make up for a launch of fundamentally the same computer in a prettier box.

That strikes me as somewhat…impatient. They’re making a massive chip transition. Give them a minute.

(Not to mention that undersells how impressive this first chip actually is)

Apple’s clearly grouping the MBA, the low end MBP, and the low end iMac as consumer machines with consumer specs. The high end MBP and iMac will likely be much different.


Depends on where the Ethernet interface is really located.

If the interface is in the computer (with the port on the power brick being only a transceiver), then it’s exactly the same as any other internal Ethernet port. And the default MAC address remains with the computer.

If the interface is in the power brick (with something like a PCIe or Thunderbolt connection over that power cord), then one would expect the default MAC address to be part of the power brick.

This is how USB-based and other external adapters typically work - the adapter has the default MAC address hard-wired into it from the factory.

But that’s not a requirement. There’s no technical reason why the MAC address needs to be hard-wired to the Ethernet port. The controller could be designed without an address, with the computer pushing a MAC address into it as a part of starting its device driver. You can even do this today with most computers (including all Macs), with the Hardware tab on a network device’s advanced settings page.

Interesting fact: Sun workstations did not have per-port default MAC addresses. The MAC address used was stored in an NVRAM chip on the motherboard, not part of any Ethernet interface. You could swap Ethernet cards all you like and the address used would always be the one stored in NVRAM. As a matter of fact, if you had multiple Ethernet ports, all of them would get the same MAC address - which isn’t a problem as long as you don’t plug two ports into the same network segment.

Which was odd already back then because the 13.3" MBP was always referred to as 13" and the 15.4" MBP was always the 15". I’m perfectly fine with rounding, but I agree it should be done consistently across Mac lines.

The cameras on a Mac just aren’t as good as the cameras on an iPhone or iPad. Plus, you need a special FaceID sensor. TouchID is just easier to implement.

This mainly has to do with use cases. On an iPhone, you’re constantly taking it in and out of your pocket. You are constantly unlocking it. FaceID is fast and very secure.

On a Mac, you unlock it and then sit in front of it for hours. You’re not constantly needing to unlock it every few minutes. Macs are more stationary — even MacBooks. Plus your less likely to have wet hands or gloves that make TouchID impractical.

The cost of implementing FaceID on Macs isn’t worth it. TouchID works very well. On iPhones, they already have the high resolution cameras and FaceID works faster, more securely, and more robustly.

TouchID is good enough for Macs. FaceID is worth implementing on iPhones. And also iPads. The new iPad Pros both have FaceID.

FaceID requires a separate sensor—an IR camera (that picks up a pattern of IR dots projected by an IR projector and an IR flood illuminator). It doesn’t use your photo cameras.

Yeah…you know some lowlife patent troll lawyer type will file a class action suit over the name.

I love the look of this new redesign. To me it marks multiple transitions: new chips, no USB-A, no Fusion drive. No user-upgradeable storage on iproducts. Some of these transitions I’m not that pleased about.

Looking at how long the old design lasted, I think the next time we have a replacement design may be after 2030.

Personal thought: to boost their environmental cachet, Apple should make enabling Target Display more of a priority (or just Target Mode, so that one could access the display, webcam, SSD, and speakers). Especially given that they manufacture the whole widget now, and just made a huge revamp.

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