Apple’s new 21.5-inch iMac too cheap?

“This week, as rumored for a while, Apple introduced a cheaper iMac, the first one listing for $1,099 in a couple of years. While that may still seem a tad expensive compared to those PC boxes you can get at the local discount store, as all-in-ones go, it’s quite favorably priced,” Gene Steinberg writes for The Tech Night Owl. “But one online commentator wants to suggest that maybe it’s a little too cheap.”

“In any case, to cut $200 from the price, Apple ‘decontented’ the cheapest 21.5-inch iMac. Instead of the 2.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, you get the 1.4GHz dual-core low-power variant already used in the latest MacBook Air,” Steinberg writes. “Hard drive capacity drops from 1TB to 500GB. That’s still enough for most, and if your budget is tight, this may be the perfect personal computer for you. But remember that RAM cannot be upgraded, though 8GB ought to be sufficient to run most apps with pretty good performance.”

“So this seems to be a pretty decent deal, same for the $899 MacBook Air. It may also entice more customers to try a Mac, particularly at a time when Microsoft is turning off customers right and left with Windows 8.1,” Steinberg writes. “But when someone wonders whether a Mac is too cheap, I’m sure most of you would suggest Macs aren’t cheap enough. Certainly Apple has moved more aggressively on price, and the PC race to the bottom seems to have stalled. But if you could buy a new Mac and be reasonably assured it will run just fine five years from now — and that you’ll still be able to install the latest OS X — that makes it a great long-term value. How many new $399 PCs will be functioning just fine in 2019? Or would you be on your fourth computer by then, assuming you’re still using a PC?”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote yesterday:

School systems, rejoice!

Related article:
Apple Introduces new entry level 21.5-inch iMac; starts at $1099 – June 18, 2014


  1. This model is not a downgrade. It is a NEW system. And there’s nothing wrong with the hardware. Many people are perfectly satisfied with the specs on their Macbook Air. The hardware is great and more than enough for the intended purpose and target.
    Some people simply don’t need lots of computing power.
    However, this model, in my opinion is VERY expensive. In Portugal it sells for 1.129,00EUR, which is roughly 1,536USD.
    Too cheap? With these specs? I don’t think so.

    1. Another way to think of it is for $100 more, than a comparably built MBA, a user can get an all in one desktop with a 500 GB hard drive.

      User are becoming more and more mobile everyday but that doesn’t mean they want to come home and continue using a mobile device. Not everyone needs an ultra portable MBA. This desktop fits the need for people that have an iPhone for use when mobile but want a larger screen at home that also allows permanent storing of photos (sync’d via iCloud) and music and app purchases.

  2. I found out yesterday our high school is dumping their Gagging Chromebooks because so many instructors refused to use them and because so many students hacked them.

    Instead all students will now be getting their own iPad and there will be iPads and iMacs for the teachers.

  3. Apple may be thinking of schools but this is a horrible choice for consumers. I bought an iMac a few years ago. It ran beautifully for some years but as it got overloaded with photos, songs, documents, downloads, et al it slowed down badly. I could increase the memory from 2GB to 4GB but that was all; I couldn’t go any further. It was ok for one year but again I am having frequent screen freezing, slow speeding, virtually no multitasking. The computer looks brand new. It can last another years if I am able to increase the internal memory. This is Apple’s shameful approach of making closed boxes forcing people to upgrade every few years. So learn from me. Do not buy an iMac where you can’t increase the memory to at least 16 GB or better 32 GB. Why?Because you will need to be productive and not have a computer that runs like a bullock cart.

    1. …so you admit to constantly overloading your Mac, instead of using fir instance external USB drives, and want to blame Apple as a result. you know what was strange? the last 27″ iMac I had equipped with 12 GB RAM over time went slow as you describe the one you own. Because I wanted to see it and had gotten the latest iMac model with 32 GB RAM I made backups, reinstalled a new Mountain Lion OS and left out all tweaking and dirt software one COULD put in there, left it bare bones.
      Can you guess what happened? it ran as a rocket and the proud new owner is very glad with it.

      so. anything to add?

      ‘this is Apple’s shameful approach of making closed boxes forcing people to upgrade very few years’ – yadda yadda.

      Maintain your Mac properly and don’t come here spreading that bull about ‘ow my hard drives are so full!’ – ow my poor iMac has gotten so slow!’.


      1. You could as well make you point without being rude. Are you like that only because you’re hidden behind your computer or would you tell it like that to Sandy Dole in person? Or everybody else for that matter.

    2. maybe you can use an app like ‘Free Memory’, empties the cache.

      Sometimes when you exit a program or close windows the memory isn’t freed (until you restart ), Free Memory gets back any available ram.

      “The goal of FreeMemory for Mac is to mark blocks of memory that were used by terminated applications as free, allowing them to be used by other applications…… We used FreeMemory for Mac on a MacBook that ran games and virtual machines. We were always running into memory issues after these apps terminated, but FreeMemory for Mac quickly released the blocked memory.”

      (Use all Apps like this with your own caution and discretion. Works ok for me but I don’t know your system).
      Also if you have a giant photo library you might want to divide them into several libraries etc.

      You can check your memory usage with activity monitor.

    3. Sandy, there are several reasons why your 2011 iMac might run slow. I seriously doubt that the 4GB of RAM in your iMac is the primary culprit. However, if you really want to boost the RAM, keep in mind that you may be able to install more RAM in your iMac than stated in its original specs. I have heard of cases in which people have successfully used bigger memory modules in their Macs. Consult someone knowledgeable.

      Just as a point of reference, I am typing this post right now on a 2007 intel 24″ iMac with a 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo CPU and 4GB of 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM. It is around seven years old, but it still runs great on OS X 10.9.3. I personally installed a 2TB “green” 5900 RPM HDD a couple of years ago. Why the slower “green” HDD?? Because it produces a lot less heat than a standard 7200 RPM drive. Heat is the enemy and HDD speed isn’t a key limiting factor in the performance of my iMac.

      A few factors to investigate:
      1) Full or nearly full HDD – that will result in a lot of paging between memory and the HDD, particularly when you have multiple applications open.

      2) Lots of background tasks running – check your Startup Items and uncheck any unnecessary ones. After your iMac boots up, launch Activity Monitor (Utilities folder) and review the active processes, memory, CPU, and network utilization levels. If you don’t see anything unusual, then check Activity Monitor again whenever you run into a major computer slowdown. You might just spot the culprit.

      In addition, Macs are configured by default to be reasonably secure, but are not completely immune to…

      3) Malware – Macs are unlikely to be infected by viruses. The most likely infection vectors are Flash, Adobe Reader, and user error (authorizing installation of trojan software). While I do not waste clock cycles running antivirus software 24/7 in the background, it makes sense to check for malware once in a while. You might want to try ClamXav.

      4) Flawed applications – Symantec software is installed on my work Mac (mandatory part of the standard load) and it sometimes seems to suddenly gobble up tons of free memory (GBs) leaving only around 20MB free and my computer running like molasses. When I use Activity Monitor to kill the Symantec background process, free memory suddenly becomes available and my computer speeds up to normal. It is possible that other software might result in similar behavior. Activity Monitor might be helpful in tracking down suspect software.

      5) Data corruption – this is a less likely possibility, but various types of files on your HDD can become corrupted and affect the performance of your iMac – library files, PST files, etc. If your iMac seems to slow down when you run a particular application, then you should consider this possibility.

      Also keep in mind that occasional slowdowns might be due to a Time Machine backup being processed, or some other scheduled operation.

      There are other things that you can try – run Disk Utility to check/repair permissions and verify/repair your HDD. You can also zap the PRAM (parameter RAM) – that sometimes fixed things in the old days, but you don’t hear much about it anymore.

      If you are really desperate, you could even backup your data and then wipe your HDD, clean install OS X, then reload your apps and files. This is a bit of work and I like to have two independent backups (say Time Machine and a cloned HDD) before pursuing this kind of option.

      This is not a comprehensive list. You might need to perform your own research or make a Genius Bar appointment at your local Apple Store if you need more help. But it points out some possible factors that could be slowing down your iMac.

    4. Well now I am a graphic designer and have only bought 5 Macs starting 1988. This present iMac and the previous one are both concurrent (I wanted the larger screen and a back up incase I had a ‘blow up’) so in fact the 5 year life of each is in fact an understatement. Present Mac has 8 gig Ram as does my other which i upgraded about 2 years ago. Despite using 4+ deign programs open at a time only once or twice have I felt any clogging of performance. 16 would be overkill for my needs at present though upgrade to 16 a likely development, 32 totally uneccessary in the foreseeable future. therefore to claim it is a vital minimum for the average consumer simply isn’t the case I suspect that for most 8 will more than suffice depending a little upon OS upgrade demands of course.

  4. If you really think you need 16GB or 32GB of ram and are talking about “being productive”, does that mean you are talking about a professional level of computer use? If so, you just might need a more powerful machine anyway – a professional machine.

    I work – all day, every day – with zero problems on a seven year old iMac with a second monitor and 2GB of ram. No speed problems. Someday I guess I’ll need to buy a new computer, but meantime this is fine.

    You may also need to have the doctor look at your computer. Could be any one of a number of software issues — not the hardware at all.

    1. While you wrote some valid points, I think what Sandy Dole meant by 16GB or 32GB was to make the computer as future proof as possible, which this new iMac model doesn’t allow.
      At least it seems you are replying to her post.

      1. May well be, PR, but for a consumer’s setup 4 GB for Mountain Lion and earlier are just fine, naturally 8 are better.

        Given RAM prices goin’ up and down, yeah one may get it all and stack it up to the full.

        But then, as Sandy says, either do not buy a non upgradeable unit, or if you didn’t, maintain the one you have that works just fine in theory but don’t spread rumours one HAS to have 16 or 32 GB RAM.

        As Sandy says, learn from that but I’d rather say make your decisions right at the point of purchase, at the latest, and don’t come cry in’ after if you didn’t make the right decision.

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