Apple refreshes iMac line-up with Sandy Bridge processors and Thunderbolt, free Magic Trackpad

New Apple iMacs start at $1399 in Australia, available in 21.5in and 27in screen sizes

The new Apple iMac.

The new Apple iMac.

Apple has updated its iMac range of desktop computers, with upgrades to processors, graphics and connectivity. The new 21.5in and 27in iMacs use quad-core Intel Sandy Bridge processors and include the Apple-exclusive Thunderbolt port — updates that were rumoured last week. The Apple Magic Trackpad can also now be selected as one of the bundled peripherals with an iMac at no cost, where it was previously a $99 extra.

All the upgrades in the new iMac are internal, with new models almost indistinguishable from older ones. Apple says the updated iMacs offer 70 per cent faster performance than outgoing models — a similar claim to the one made when the MacBook Pro was updated with Intel's Sandy Bridge processor. All new iMacs have quad-core Intel Core i5 processors, although more powerful Intel Core i7 processors can be selected in built-to-order iMac models. The new iMac's AMD Radeon HD graphics are reportedly three times more powerful than the outgoing model's — a comparison made between the Radeon HD 6770M in the new 21.5in iMac and the older 21.5in iMac's AMD Radeon HD 4670.

The Mini DisplayPort digital video connector has been replaced on the new iMacs with the visually-identical Thunderbolt port, which has the same video output abilities as Mini DisplayPort while also functioning as a high-speed data connection standard. Thunderbolt is currently exclusive to Apple, although the standard will open to other manufacturers later this year. The 27in iMac is unique in Apple's Mac line-up in having two Thunderbolt ports — the updated 21.5in iMac and early 2011 MacBook Pro notebook only have a single port.

The new Apple iMacs are available now in Apple's Australian online store, and can also be purchased from today in retail Apple stores. The cheapest iMac in Australia is the $1399 2.5GHz Core i5 21.5in model, while the most powerful iMac — the 3.1GHz Core i5 27in unit — is $2299.

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