updated 04:00 pm EDT, Sat April 30, 2011
iMac 2011 refresh said in Apple stores May 3
Apple's widely anticipated Sandy Bridge-equipped iMacs should not only be unveiled on May 3 but would be ready to sell in stores the same day, tipsters maintained Saturday. The all-in-ones would not only be unveiled early Tuesday but see Apple retail staff perform a "visual night," or an overnight rearranging of the store to put in new demo models and displays. The timing as cast by AppleInsider's sources would both help smooth out the launch and let buyers get the system the very same day.
Only a handful of details about the systems themselves could be confirmed. They would appropriately move over to the Sandy Bridge architecture behind 2011 Core processors, most likely involving Core i3, i5, and i7 dual- and quad-core chips. The video out is near certain to be replaced by a Thunderbolt port and make the iMac Apple's first desktop with the format.
Graphics, storage, and RAM are all mysteries, though AMD's mid-range Radeon HD 6000 series would be the most likely candidate if Apple plans a drop-in design. Unlike last year, however, Apple doesn't need to include dedicated graphics on entry models to get adequate video speed and could see Apple adjust prices or features to match. NVIDIA's GeForce 500 series is an option if Apple plans to diversify its video chip mix. Apple is likely to go to 1.5TB or 2TB of storage and may start including more than 4GB of RAM for the first time on a home desktop.
The upgrade could be vital for Apple. Although the iMac is consistently Apple's bestselling desktop, the MacBook range outsold all of the company's desktop line by a ratio of 2.7 to one this winter. A new iMac would help keep the line relevant and keep Apple's computer shipment numbers up as demand for the new MacBook Pro starts to cool.