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Manufacturer: Apple

iMac Intel Dual Core 1.83 GHz (17 Inch)
May 5, 2006 | Tuncer Deniz

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Apple has done it again. They've built the best desktop computer on the market. But this time around, instead of messing with the outside, all the guts and glory are inside the new iMac Intel Dual Core. Featuring a speedy new Intel processor and plenty of buzzword technologies like Bluetooth, Airport Extreme, Front Row, mini DVI, and dual-layer SuperDrive, the iMac Intel Dual Core is a marvel to look at and to play with. Should you buy one? Read on.

First Impressions
If you're looking for a computer that is simple yet powerful, then look no further than the iMac. From a novice to moderate consumer point of view, the iMac is an eye catcher. It's simple yet elegant and can fit virtually anywhere in the house or office. The 17 inch model I tested fit comfortably on a small desk in my office and has just one cable, the power, coming out of the back. The only other cables you'll have to deal with are the keyboard and mouse.

Like the previous iMac G5, the new iMac sports a clean, white look with the "big chin" and the Apple logo on the bottom. Although some may be bothered by the "big chin" look, it is something you eventually get used to.

The ports are tucked neatly at the back of the computer, but trying to connect anything like a hard drive, camera, or Ethernet cable will most of the time require you to turn the computer around. No big deal, in this reviewer's opinion. The power button is located on the left side of the back, for easy access.

Overall the computer looks great. The keyboard is nice and soft and easy to work with. The Mighty Mouse, on the other hand, well, I just don't like it. Although suitable for most, more experienced users will want to use a professional mouse like the MX 1000 from Logitech, which just happens to be my favorite wireless mouse currently on the market.

The iSight camera is also excellent. I have a first generation iSight and the picture quality of the built-in iSight is marginally better on the iMac. A pretty cool feat when you consider that the iSight is built into the iMac and the lens is about a quarter of the size of the original.

Last but not least is the beautiful display. In recent years Apple has put an emphasis on bright, high quality displays and the new iMac is no exception. My test model had no dead pixels.

No Guts, No Glory
With one swift stroke, Apple seems to have solved the one thing that has been holding them back in the computer world all these years: speed. With the switch to Intel, these new machines are on par with their PC counterparts. Gone is the G5, in is the Intel Core Duo, a 65nm CPU that features a hefty 2 MB L2 cache and a system bus running at 667 MHz.

Aside from speed, previous iMac G5 users will notice that these new machines are considerably more quiet. In my testing, the fans rarely came on and when they did, they simply purred quietly, almost unnoticeable.

The new iMac also sports an ATI Radeon X1600 PCI-Express graphics chip with 128 MB of VRAM. Although not top-of-the-line, the X1600 is a good mid-range video chip that will suit most users. Thanks to the inclusion of a mini-DVI port, you will now be able to take advantage of dual monitor support. Unlike previous iMacs that only allowed video mirroring, you can now hook up an external monitor and extend your desktop. This comes in handy when you want to layout multiple pages in programs such as Excel, Word, and Photoshop.

Other amenities include an 8x SuperDrive, Airport Extreme, Bluetooth, built-in iSight camera, Apple Pro USB Keyboard, Mighty Mouse, Apple Remote, optical digital audio out, 2 Firewire 400 ports, 3 USB 2.0 ports, and 2 USB 1.1 ports on the keyboard. And let's not forget Mac OS X 10.4 and the iLife '06 suite.

From top to bottom, the iMac packs an impressive set of features. About the only complaint I have is that the iMac ships with a paltry 512 MB of RAM, but is easily upgradable thanks to the slot on the bottom of the iMac. If you plan on doing any serious type of computing or gaming, you will need at least 1 GB of RAM.


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