updated 06:55 pm EST, Tue March 5, 2013
New model offers more RAM, storage; costs $100 more
Apple, which has only just this week seen its ability to supply new iMac models match its ability to produce them, is now offering an education version of the current 21.5-inch iMac to schools and universities. The new model includes most of the same features as the base consumer iMac, but uses a dual-core Intel i3 processor rather than a quad-core i5, and the Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics chipset rather than a discrete card. It is also $100 more expensive than the previous educational iMac version, but features doubled storage capacity and RAM in exchange.
The previous educational iMac model featured a 3.1GHz dual-core i3, 2GB of RAM and a 250GB hard drive, along with a Firewire 800 connector. The new model, apart from having 40 percent less volume, bumps the processor up to 3.3GHz, 4GH of RAM and a 500GB hard drive. It also adds Thunderbolt, USB 3.0 and Bluetooth 4.0, though the Firewire port has been removed (but can be replicated using a Thunderbolt adapter). As with the consumer iMacs, the new education iMac also does not come with an optical drive.
Interestingly, the education version of the iMac comes with a wired Apple Keyboard (with numeric keypad) and wired Apple Mouse rather than the Magic Mouse or wireless keyboard. The unit now sells for $1,099, some $200 less than the base consumer iMac (but the consumer version has a discrete Nvidia GeForce video card, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive and the quad-core i5 processor). The educational unit is only available for institutional purchase, and not available to individual students or their families.
Ship time for the educational version is 5-7 days, much slower than the 24 hours all standard iMac models now show for shipping in the US. The unit can be configured with more RAM or other options (such as wireless peripherals), but at present an external optical drive is not listed among the available accessories. Apple sells a $79 Superdrive through its regular and educational online stores.