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Apple slims down iMac 40% with 'friction-stir welding' & ditching the disc drive

post #1 of 190
Thread Starter 
Apple's new iMac updates the company's flagship Macintosh into a faster, faster and ? in particular ? thinner version of itself.

Apple's iMac turned 14 this year. To celebrate, the company gave it a modernizing update, importing a series of ideas that have driven MacBook sales to the top of the notebook market.

The iMac was already Apple's most popular desktop model, despite being a relatively premium priced machine that already focused on design elegance than delivering the most transistors at the cheapest price.

iMac 2012


The latest refresh delivers a much thinner outline lacking an optical drive, as AppleInsider anticipated earlier in the year.

It now joins every other Mac (apart from the Mac Pro, which Apple's chief executive said would be next updated significantly in 2013) in ditching built-in support for reading or writing optical discs, although all models can make use of the external USB SuperDrive Apple has sold since first releasing a MacBook Air without a disc reader.

Dropping a bulky disc mechanism allowed Apple to pare the iMac down to its core, resulting in an impressively thin outline, particularly at its outer edges where the case tapers to a skinny 5 mm. Overall volume was scaled back 40 percent.

iMac 2012


Too thin to take apart



"That required unprecedented feats of engineering," Apple notes, including the challenge of attaching the front and back case components together.

Conventional welding wouldn't work, so the company switched to a process known as "friction-stir welding," which it says "uses a combination of intense friction-generated heat and pressure to intermix the molecules of the two aluminum surfaces ? creating a seamless, precise, and superstrong join."

The case isn't just hard to crack, it's not designed for end users to open at all. The smaller 21.5 inch version even lacks a user accessible cover to access RAM, which the 27 inch model retains. Both can, however, be upgraded if the entire case is opened up.

Apple says the smaller version supports up to 16GB, while the 27-inch model can be configured with 8, 16 or up to 32GB of RAM, using 1600MHz DDR3 SO-DIMM memory.

The removal of the optical drive and thin new redesign puts the SDXC Flash Card slot on the back of the machine, next to its 4 USB 3.0 ports, 2 Thunderbolt, 1 Gigabit Ethernet and a headphone jack.

iMac 2012


Apple previously experimented with iMac designs that allowed users to effortlessly lift the entire back panel off, even pull major components out for replacement via mail in the case of failure. That system did not go over well at all, failing to save any money on repairs while complicating the system's design.

While Apple takes a lot of flack for not making its systems easy to open and tinker with, the reality is that Apple's sealed boxes enable it to offer thinner, lighter, cheaper-to-build systems that people have bought in rapidly increasing numbers.

iMac 2012


Screen improvements



The latest iMac also employs a new display assembly that fuses the display to the glass covering the screen, eliminating a 2 mm air gap while also using a super thin LCD that sheds another 5 mm.

iMac 2012


In addition to getting thinner, the eliminated dead space also reduces reflections of the screen off the back of its glass.

Micron-thin antireflective layers of silicon dioxide and niobium pentoxide are plasma coated to the front of the display, which Apple says further reduces reflections by 75 percent.

New chips, faster graphics



Apple's 21.5 inch iMac, priced starting at $1,299, offers a third generation "Ivy Bridge" 2.7 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, and 1 TB hard drive. It begins shipping in November.

The 27-inch iMac starts at $1,799, with a 2.9 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, and 1 TB hard drive, and is expected to be available in December.

iMac


Both models offer upgrade options that include a faster Core i5 (up to 3.2GHz) or a 3.1 or 3.4GHz Core i7, as well as a Fusion Drive option that accelerates the hard drive using an adaptive 128GB flash storage system. The 21-inch model also supports a 3TB hard drive or 768GB of pure flash storage.

01d7d83b-cb03-499e-9770-97aaf6740767.png

Additionally, the new iMacs switch from AMD (ATI) Radeon graphics (which they've used for the last three years) to an NVIDIA GeForce chip employing the GPU maker's new Kepler graphics architecture.

iMac 2012

The new iMacs use either a GeForce GT 640/650/660M with 512MB of GDDR5 memory, offering an performance increase of around 20-40 percent, or the option (on the 27 inch model) of the GeForce GTX 675MX/680MX, which Apple says increases graphics performance by up to 60 percent. It uses 1GB GDDR5 memory as well as a 2GB option.
post #2 of 190
I can't wait to see the benchmarks and Bootcamp possibilities (aka install via USB stick and such) 1smile.gif
post #3 of 190
all well and good, but you need to buy the 27" model or else you get stuck with a 5400RPM hard drive and memory upgrades restricted by apple service.
post #4 of 190

I don't like how disingenuous the pictures of it are, you know? Yeah, it's thinner… at it's thinnest point. I don't see any MacBook Air pictures trying to hide its bulge.

 

And I don't really get why they couldn't have made RAM user-upgradable in the 21.5" model, but we'll have to wait until iFixit breaks one apart (and gives it a zero repairability rating) to see if it would have been possible.

Originally posted by Relic

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Originally posted by Relic

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post #5 of 190
i'll probably wait a couple months before I order mine. I wonder how much effort is needed to open the whole case?
post #6 of 190

Has no one else noticed the frankly ludicrous position of the SD card slot!

post #7 of 190
Quote:
Originally Posted by dalidrama View Post

all well and good, but you need to buy the 27" model or else you get stuck with a 5400RPM hard drive and memory upgrades restricted by apple service to anybody with suction cups.

Here, corrected that for you.

post #8 of 190
Quote:
i'll probably wait a couple months before I order mine. I wonder how much effort is needed to open the whole case?

 

The article says it's not designed for users to open at all. The friction welding of the front to the back prevents that. I'm not sure how Apple plans on servicing failed hard drives etc., but I would expect it requires special tools to go in via the screen. Why would you need to open it anyway? If you need to do a repair, best take it to Apple. If you want to upgrade it, you're probably buying the wrong computer.

post #9 of 190
I think dropping the DVD from the iMac, and making them difficult to service/upgrade is a mistake. These are not laptops, so dropping the weight is not worth the trade off.
post #10 of 190
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

I don't like how disingenuous the pictures of it are, you know? Yeah, it's thinner… at it's thinnest point. I don't see any MacBook Air pictures trying to hide its bulge.

And I don't really get why they couldn't have made RAM user-upgradable in the 21.5" model, but we'll have to wait until iFixit breaks one apart (and gives it a zero repairability rating) to see if it would have been possible.

They might have to break out their intra-molecular spudger.
post #11 of 190

Removed the optical drive?

 

About damn time. 

post #12 of 190

I love the look of it, but I prefer to keep my current iMac with the built-in DVD player/burner. Seems a bit retrograde to put the disc reader/writer back on the desktop.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

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post #13 of 190
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

I don't like how disingenuous the pictures of it are, you know? Yeah, it's thinner… at it's thinnest point. I don't see any MacBook Air pictures trying to hide its bulge.
Why do you think they are trying to hid the bulge over just taking the most attractive picture possible. This is not the first time Apple hasn't shown the back of their product in print ad.

You could say Apple is trying to hid the bulge in this image if you wanted to but I think you'd agree that it's just a shot from the front, nothing dubious: http://images.apple.com/macbookair/images/design_multitouch.jpg

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post #14 of 190
Originally Posted by quinney View Post
They might have to break out their intra-molecular spudger.

 

Does that come in metal, too? I find the plastic ones start to get all… torn up after a while. lol.gif

Originally posted by Relic

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Originally posted by Relic

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post #15 of 190
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

I love the look of it, but I prefer to keep my current iMac with the built-in DVD player/burner. Seems a bit retrograde to put the disc reader/writer back on the desktop.

If you need it you need it, but I wonder what you need it for in this day and age? Are you a wedding photographer on the weekends?
Edited by SolipsismX - 10/24/12 at 2:26pm

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #16 of 190

I noticed.  Ergonomics are weird, although I've accidentally put sd cards in the dvd slot when I wasn't looking ;-D

 

I think the new imac is very attractive, but frankly a step backward in every other way (except performance).

 

This computer, as one Macrumors user posited, seems geared to a purely consumer/home user demographic, perhaps to segment itself from any future Mac Pro models that come out. 

 

Well, i have a few imacs at my law office, and these computers are really not viable designs overall.  I don't know where DED, or Apple, gets the statistic that it doesn't save money to have user-accessible parts inside.  I had to swap out a bum hard drive on my 2007 iMac.  That cost me $70 versus a heck of a lot more through apple (who would have only given me a 250GB drive, whereas I got a 1TB drive instead).  I upgraded ram  on a 27" iMac to 12GB for about $50.  I expect apple to charge $150-200 to go from 8 to 16 GB of RAM.

 

I'm not even going into the need for an external DVD, which, I'm sorry to say Mr. Cook, is the "now" and not the "past," at least if you work in any professional field.  All my discovery comes on CD/DVD.  I can live with an external drive, however, as I can throw it in a drawer when not used, and it will doubtlessly offer better performance than what you've put in my iMacs.

 

Nice computer, but I think I'd rather get last years model as a refurb.

post #17 of 190
Didn't realize there was no easy RAM access. Maybe a little concerning...? We'll see.
post #18 of 190
Quote:
Originally Posted by jongrall View Post

The article says it's not designed for users to open at all. The friction welding of the front to the back prevents that. I'm not sure how Apple plans on servicing failed hard drives etc., but I would expect it requires special tools to go in via the screen. Why would you need to open it anyway? If you need to do a repair, best take it to Apple. If you want to upgrade it, you're probably buying the wrong computer.

As previously noted we've been entering iMacs via the magnetically attached glass with suction cups. There were no screws to undue to get the mass of components on the inside, save for the RAM, which is still accessible externally on the 27" model.

Personally, I'm hella excited and can't wait for this to drop in December.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #19 of 190
I too am disappointed that the SSD drive is not being offered in the 21.5". I was waiting to upgrade to that configuration as I wanted to eliminate all of the fan noise along with the speed increase.
post #20 of 190
Originally Posted by isaidso View Post
Didn't realize there was no easy RAM access. Maybe a little concerning...? We'll see.

 

Only on the 21.5". The 27" has four slot access still.

Originally posted by Relic

...those little naked weirdos are going to get me investigated.
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Originally posted by Relic

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post #21 of 190
People make it sound like there's this huge bulge in the back. Honestly it's not that fat in the back. If it was they'd have a hard time hiding it even showing just a side view.

iMac_side_shot.jpg
post #22 of 190
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crimguy View Post

This computer, as one Macrumors user posited, seems geared to a purely consumer/home user demographic, perhaps to segment itself from any future Mac Pro models that come out. 

Well, i have a few imacs at my law office, and these computers are really not viable designs overall.  I don't know where DED, or Apple, gets the statistic that it doesn't save money to have user-accessible parts inside.  I had to swap out a bum hard drive on my 2007 iMac.  That cost me $70 versus a heck of a lot more through apple (who would have only given me a 250GB drive, whereas I got a 1TB drive instead).  I upgraded ram  on a 27" iMac to 12GB for about $50.  I expect apple to charge $150-200 to go from 8 to 16 GB of RAM.

I'm not even going into the need for an external DVD, which, I'm sorry to say Mr. Cook, is the "now" and not the "past," at least if you work in any professional field.  All my discovery comes on CD/DVD.  I can live with an external drive, however, as I can throw it in a drawer when not used, and it will doubtlessly offer better performance than what you've put in my iMacs.

Nice computer, but I think I'd rather get last years model as a refurb.

Everything you said the iMac should have are reasons why you are not the target customer. Of course this is a consumer machine. It's the iMac. It always has been and everything to it always being geared toward the average user who doesn't use CDs and doesn't ever service their 'PC's' HDD, RAM, GPU, etc.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #23 of 190
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


If you need it you need, but I wonder what you need it for in this day and age? Are you a wedding photographer on the weekends?

 

I wish... :D  No, I am too far invested in DVDs to give up that function. Besides, DVDs can be legally bought, sold and traded. Movie downloads can't.

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

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post #24 of 190
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post

People make it sound like there's this huge bulge in the back. Honestly it's not that fat in the back. If it was they'd have a hard time hiding it even showing just a side view.

[image]

Thanks for the image. People need to remember it has 40% less volume than the previous model. That is a huge reduction by any measure. Whether you dislike or not when they could have put in a couple RAIDed HDDs, retained the ODD, added a floppy drive, or whatever is another issue entirely but it's a major update that I've very excited about.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #25 of 190
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

I wish... 1biggrin.gif  No, I am too far invested in DVDs to give up that function. Besides, DVDs can be legally bought, sold and traded. Movie downloads can't.

You aren't watching Blu-ray at this point? You aren't using a separate TV/monitor for this function?

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #26 of 190

Removing the optical drive did not allow Apple to make a thinner iMac, because it is not thinner, except for the very edge.  It is still just as fat in the back.  The 3.5 hard drive in the 27" model is thicker than a slot load optical drive.  My 2011 iMac just became more valuable compared to the new iMac.  The 2011 iMac has the SD card slot on the side, where it should be.  It has an optical drive, which is still used on a regular basis.  It has Audio Input.  It has a FireWire 800 port.  The new iMac...none of that.  Apple would prefer you to use dongles and external devices with your sleek new iMac...that you spent a lot of money on.  Hey Apple, since you removed those features, why are you still charging the same price as the previous model that included those features?  When I look at my iMac, I can't see the sides of it, so I could care less how thin it is, or isn't.

 

The best part of this refresh is the crippled 21.5" model.  Ha!  No memory upgrades by the user (they removed the user-accessible panel), and a lousy 5400 RPM laptop drive instead of a 7200 RPM desktop-class drive.  Brilliant.  Talk about a step-backwards.

post #27 of 190
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post
[gorgeous picture]

 

Well, I was wrong. The SD card slot could NOT have fit on that side. But it's still in a dumb place. 

 

Originally Posted by hillstones View Post
My 2011 iMac just became more valuable compared to the new iMac.

Yeah, the black market on Macs with floppy drives is REAL lucrative. 😒

 

It has Audio Input.

 

Huh. I'm seeing six audio inputs on the new one.

 

It has a FireWire 800 port.

 

And two FireWire 800 ports. Well, ten, if you count all the bandwidth. 

Originally posted by Relic

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Originally posted by Relic

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post #28 of 190
Quote:
Originally Posted by jongrall View Post

 

The article says it's not designed for users to open at all. The friction welding of the front to the back prevents that. I'm not sure how Apple plans on servicing failed hard drives etc., but I would expect it requires special tools to go in via the screen. Why would you need to open it anyway? If you need to do a repair, best take it to Apple. If you want to upgrade it, you're probably buying the wrong computer.


i know and in the same breath, "Both can, however, be upgraded if the entire case is opened up." Was this line necessary then? I don't want to pay Apple for RAM. Perhaps there will be a DIY video soon.

post #29 of 190
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post

People make it sound like there's this huge bulge in the back. Honestly it's not that fat in the back. If it was they'd have a hard time hiding it even showing just a side view.

That is the 21.5 model which uses a laptop drive.  The 27 is just as fat as the previous model.  Both the 2011 and 2012 iMac have the same depth on the base stand, so who cares how thin the panel is.  You still need the same amount of desk space.

post #30 of 190
It's an impressive design.

Stunning.

And you can fit a quad core i7 running at 3.4 (turbo'd to 3.9), a G680MX Kepler (12th fastest...gpu...! In an iMac!!! OMG, what's happening?), 8 gigs of ram upto 32 gigs...

...put a SD drive in there (which should be standard along with the i7...for the high end models...) and you've got on beast of a workstation.

Awesome stuff.

Shame about the price hike. 100quid more in the UK. Ouch.

Lemon Bon Bon.

You know, for a company that specializes in the video-graphics market, you'd think that they would offer top-of-the-line GPUs...

 

WITH THE NEW MAC PRO THEY FINALLY DID!  (But you bend over for it.)

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You know, for a company that specializes in the video-graphics market, you'd think that they would offer top-of-the-line GPUs...

 

WITH THE NEW MAC PRO THEY FINALLY DID!  (But you bend over for it.)

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post #31 of 190
Quote:
Originally Posted by hillstones View Post

That is the 21.5 model which uses a laptop drive.  The 27 is just as fat as the previous model.  Both the 2011 and 2012 iMac have the same depth on the base stand, so who cares how thin the panel is.  You still need the same amount of desk space.
According to the site I got this from (c|net) that is a picture of the 27" model.
post #32 of 190
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


Everything you said the iMac should have are reasons why you are not the target customer. Of course this is a consumer machine. It's the iMac. It always has been and everything to it always being geared toward the average user who doesn't use CDs and doesn't ever service their 'PC's' HDD, RAM, GPU, etc.

This is a consumer machine?  I don't know many consumers in this day & age that have a minimum $1,299 to just drop on a computer.  This looks targeted more at the prosumer market than anything.

post #33 of 190
Originally Posted by Lemon Bon Bon. View Post
Shame about the price hike. 100quid more in the UK. Ouch.

 

Same in the U… oh, right, 1:1 number bumps. Why is the Pound still so highly valued, anyway? 😉

Originally posted by Relic

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Originally posted by Relic

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post #34 of 190
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shameer Mulji View Post

This is a consumer machine?  I don't know many consumers in this day & age that have a minimum $1,299 to just drop on a computer.  This looks targeted more at the prosumer market than anything.

Maybe not the WalMart consumer, but that's not the breadth of the consumer market.

A business heading too far down that scale risks extinction. Making peanuts per computer means your profits can be knocked out to oblivion by any wiggle of your supply chain or the market.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jungmark View Post

i know and in the same breath, "Both can, however, be upgraded if the entire case is opened up." Was this line necessary then? I don't want to pay Apple for RAM. Perhaps there will be a DIY video soon.

I don't expect it to be a problem, but I'm interested in how it works. My 2011 model isn't hard to open, I don't even need suction cups, just fingernails.
post #35 of 190
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post


According to the site I got this from (c|net) that is a picture of the 27" model.

Ars posted the same picture and it is the 21.5 model.

 

http://arstechnica.com/apple/2012/10/hands-on-with-the-thumb-able-ipad-mini-and-the-ultrathin-imac/

 

The 27s are not even in production yet, since they won't be available until December.

post #36 of 190
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shameer Mulji View Post

This is a consumer machine?  I don't know many consumers in this day & age that have a minimum $1,299 to just drop on a computer.  This looks targeted more at the prosumer market than anything.

It's the same price point that the iMac has been at for years. Call it what you want, but a lot of consumers will buy it. Heck, my first Mac was well over $2 K even for a bare bones entry level machine - closer to $3 K after upgrading the RAM and buying an external hard disk.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

I don't like how disingenuous the pictures of it are, you know? Yeah, it's thinner… at it's thinnest point. I don't see any MacBook Air pictures trying to hide its bulge.

They're not hiding anything. Look at the picture in the article. It shows every single iMac generation from the side. You can see that even from the side, and even looking at the thickest point, the new iMac is much thinner than the previous version.
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post #37 of 190
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

I don't like how disingenuous the pictures of it are, you know? Yeah, it's thinner… at it's thinnest point. I don't see any MacBook Air pictures trying to hide its bulge.

 

 

 

"iMac got back"

 

Oh, my, god.  Tally, look at iMac's back.

It is so big.....

I mean, iMac's back, is just so big.

I can't believe it's just so round, it's like,

out there, I mean - gross.  Look!

Its just so....

 

I like big backs and I cannot lie

You other brothers can't deny

That when an iMac walks in with an itty bitty side

And a round thing in your face.

 

..............

 

------------

 

Just imagine Tally rapping to the beat of "Baby got back" ........

post #38 of 190

The next question is, how far can they take this design?  It won't get thinner anytime soon.  What is the iMac going to look like in 5 years?  

post #39 of 190
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post
It's the same price point that the iMac has been at for years.

 

The base model went up $100 from the last one.


They're not hiding anything. Look at the picture in the article. It shows every single iMac generation from the side. You can see that even from the side, and even looking at the thickest point, the new iMac is much thinner than the previous version.

 

Well, yeah, and that comparison will keep them out of lawsuits' way, but you can't say the images aren't deliberately done to hide the bulge. 

Originally posted by Relic

...those little naked weirdos are going to get me investigated.
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Originally posted by Relic

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post #40 of 190
Quote:
Originally Posted by jungmark View Post


i know and in the same breath, "Both can, however, be upgraded if the entire case is opened up." Was this line necessary then? I don't want to pay Apple for RAM. Perhaps there will be a DIY video soon.

 

According to my TV Guide, this will be covered on next week's Red Green show. Stay tuned!

"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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