Cheaper iMac on online Appl Store (image 001)

Apple is taking some heat over its $200 cheaper baseline iMac, which released this morning. See, in order to bring the price down to an attractive $1.099, the iPhone maker has sadly skimped on the specs.

This $200 saving translates into half the hard drive storage and a slower Intel CPU/integrated graphics.

Specifically, the entry-level 21.5-incher packs basically the same dual-core 1.4GHz Intel Core i5 processor and integrated Intel HD Graphics 5000 as the MacBook Air family. And with recent MacBook Air price drops, choosing between the all-in-one and one of ultra-portable Airs is anything but trivial.

That’s why I’ve created a quick poll, so we could learn from your opinion. Tell us which one, in your opinion, is a better buy: a $1,099 iMac or a $1,099 MacBook Air…

Pictured top of post: the new $1,099 baseline 21.5-inch iMac.

Below: Apple’s MacBook Air lineup, refreshed on April 29, 2014 and a $100 cheaper.

As you can see, the entry-level 21.5-inch iMac literally shares the same hardware as the Airs, down to a low-end 1.4GHz dual-core Intel i5 processor with three megabytes of L3 cache and integrated Intel HD Graphics 5000.

According to supposed Geekbench data, switching to a low-end Intel chip has resulted in a significant performance hit as the refreshed iMac is 40 percent slower in multi-core performance than the model it’s replacing (it’s comparable in single-core benchmarks).

new macbook air prices

So, which one is a better buy: a MacBook Air or this new baseline iMac?

Cast your vote below.

I guess it all comes down to usage scenarios.

Some folks would gladly sacrifice that full HD display for the Air’s unmatched portability. And if you believe our own Jeff Benjamin, even the 11-inch MacBook Air packs in enough punch for heavy web/social media activities, typical productivity tasks and even video editing.

Or, you could have it both ways like this guy.

Others would never trade the comfort of their desktop and the brilliance of that 21.5-inch screen for the Air’s low-quality 11 or 13-inch display, even though the two machines perform nearly identically.

Note that the iMac has twice the memory of the Air and more base storage (500GB). But the more capacious storage notwithstanding, keep in mind the all-in-one is using much slower hard drives as opposed to the Air’s flash-based storage that makes a world of difference.

Anyways, I want to hear your opinion on the iMac vs. MacBook Air dilemma so don’t be shy and sound off in the comments.

  • A’s Network

    The new iMac is essentially the same the same thing as the MacBook Air spec wise except the iMac has a physical hard drive but the MacBook Air has a half capacity SSD. Also, one is a laptop while the other is a desktop.

    • KingKon_NL

      Thank you Captain Obvious.

      • A’s Network

        Stop trolling.

    • Domodo

      Except the iMac has a display that is almost twice the size and double the memory.

    • Ricky

      Agree. Iwould prefer the imac though. No battery needed, no charge cycle is indeed great

  • Gollum

    It would be helpful for education. To save $200 on the iMac, could mean saving $6000 when setting up a new lab. The entry level Mac has mostly been configured for education anyway.

    • Marcus Winchester

      It would make much more sense in an education setting to equip the schools out with Mac Mini’s specced up to the Core i7 model and just getting a cheap $120 monitor with a cheap keyboard/mouse, you’d save even more, get more space etc

      • Sean Cua

        that’s how they did it in our school. mac minis all around. reused old keyboards and mice. new monitor though.

    • Abigail

      You guys must live in a very honest area. My college has iMacs and the reason why they opt for this is because the Mac Mini is apparently very easy to steal. Just unplug it and take. No one can lunge an iMac around without getting caught. The same reason why the memory is soldered in which stops students from stealing the RAM. Yeah I know it sounds ridiculous but it does happen here.. a lot.

  • rasiquiz

    Like how the article picture is a Macbook pro 😛

    • Kyle

      Nope, thats an Air …

      • Obada Essa

        Nope, its a Pro.. Notice the black bezels, the Air has silver ones 😉

      • MaybeYes

        You’re almost as bad as the people who get upset at the “Five items or less” sign.

      • Domodo

        I thought the arrows might help.

      • MaybeYes

        “Pedants will also claim, with what I am sure is eye-popping insincerity and shameless disingenuousness, that their fight is only for ‘clarity’. This is all very well, but there is no doubt what ‘Five items or less’ means, just as only a dolt can’t tell from the context and from the age and education of the speaker, whether ‘disinterested’ is used in the ‘proper’ sense of non-partisan, or in the ‘improper’ sense of uninterested. No, the claim to be defending language for the sake of clarity almost never, ever holds water. “

      • Marcus Winchester

        The I/O says otherwise my friend

      • Domodo

        Not the picture in the article, the article picture; the image on the homepage.

      • Kyle

        Sorry, I was relating to the image in the Poll. The article image was already changed when I saw it. 😉

  • Arsanny Lintang

    for students, i think it’s better to buy the Macbook Air, because it’s portable, lightweight, and it’s the latest mac products. (and who doesn’t want an Apple products these days?).
    But for people who works at home or sit around in the office all day, it’s better to buy the iMac. Bigger screens, GPU, memory and all kinds of that jazzy jazz.
    But it’s all depends on the consumer taste.

  • Marcus

    It comes down to if you prefer a desktop or laptop. I prefer a laptop because I’m a student and I’m constantly bringing my computer places.

  • Peke Went

    This is like comparing coffee with a cup of tea. I like both, yet they aren’t the same and you drink them for different occasions.

    • I drink coffee for all occasions, that’s why I would choose the MacBook Air.

    • MaybeYes

      It’s more of a “would you rather have the highest quality of coffee or tea?”

  • Mee

    I’ll take 1,000 if they are only $1.099!

  • PhoneTechJay

    For the same price it definitely worth your while to get the bigger screen. The Macbook air is overpriced with its same specs.

  • Eric Wang

    @christianzibreg I believe the entry model 13-inch Macbook Air costs $999, not $1,099.

  • rockdude094


  • None of the above…

  • A’s Network

    If people had the money and didn’t care about the spec difference or price, someone could get the MacBook Air and the Thunderbolt display for a hybrid desktop laptop thing.

  • Marvin

    Why not buy or even better build a windows PC? Then you could have better performance and it would still be cheaper. Also there is always a possibility of making a hackintosh.

    • Kyle

      Yeah but its kinda not exactly the same. A real Mac is still superior when it comes to smooth performance and user friendlyness.

  • nazcorp

    The base model of the MBA is $899.

    • RayRayBeav

      You are correct a base model MBA is $899