Apple brings entry-level 21.5-inch iMac down to just $1,099

Cheaper iMac on online Appl Store

Apple’s online store went down briefly this morning as the company has refreshed its iMac family of all-in-one desktops. The baseline model now starts at $1,099, a full $200 cheaper over the previous model.

Only the entry-level 21.5-inch iMac has been refreshed with what’s apparently a significant specs downgrade.

The $1,099 configuration comes with a low-end 1.4GHz dual-core Intel i5 processor with three megabytes of L3 cache, a 5,400rpm 500GB hard disk drive, 8GB of RAM and integrated Intel HD Graphics 5000…

That’s a significant step back in terms of CPU performance because this machine used to feature a faster quad-core 2.7GHz Intel Core i5 with four megabytes of L3 cache and Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz.

The new Intel chip has been identified as the recently introduced i5-4260U model with Turbo Boost speeds up to 2.7GHz.

Cheaper iMac on online Appl Store (image 001)

Also bear in mind that the discounted machine comes with a lower-end Intel HD Graphics 500o solution versus the Iris Pro chip. A less capacious 500GB of storage versus a 1TB hard disk drive as before isn’t helping either.

The updated all-in-one sports the same 21.5-inch 1,920-by-1,080-pixel resolution LED display, as well as two Thunderbolt ports, four USB 3.0 ports and Bluetooth 4.0/802.11ac Wi-Fi networking.

Although the new 1.4GHz CPU can’t be upgraded, customers can opt for a 1TB Serial ATA drive for an extra $50, a 1TB Fusion Drive for an additional $250 or a 256GB flash storage for a cool $250.

Again, only the entry-level 21.5-incher has been updated. The $1,299 2.7GHz and $1,499 2.9GHz 21.5-inch models as well as the $1,799 3.2GHz and $1,999 3.4GHz 27-inch models remain unchanged.

The machine is available today through the Online Apple Store “within 24 hours” and via its authorized resellers.

More in Apple’s press release.

What’s your opinion?

First reactions on Twitter were largely negative. I was kinda hoping for a sub-$1,000 price point and surely didn’t expect such a downgrade in hardware specs.

That being said, however, Apple appears to be simply clearing the decks for rumored Retina iMacs this Fall.

Does a $200 saving justify a quad-core-to-dual-core CPU downgrade, cutting hard drive space in half and switching from Intel’s more powerful Iris Pro to Intel HD Graphics 5000?