The starting price for Apple's new M1-powered 24-inch iMac is $ 1299, but the cheapest option may not be the ideal in this particular case, especially given the multitude of under-the-hood differences.
For some reason, Apple hasn't made its cost-cutting measures for the base 24-inch iMac completely transparent. So, if you are looking for the cheapest M1 iMac to buy, here are six reasons why you should seriously reconsider your decision.
1. The base 24-inch iMac has a single fan
Of all the reasons, you wouldn't expect a fan to be the most significant, would you? Well you'd be wrong. In contrast to the high-end models with two fans for sufficient airflow, the basic model has a single fan. It also lacks a heat pipe as Apple opted for a regular heat sink to cut costs.
The lack of a second fan can indirectly affect the performance of your Mac. One can blame the thermals for that. If the iMac's cooling system cannot keep the M1 chip's temperatures under control, its frequency will be clocked down, resulting in a performance dip popularly known as thermal throttling.
This becomes noticeable when you do CPU or GPU intensive tasks such as video editing, rendering, or gaming on your Mac for an extended period of time.
From the various in-depth tests conducted by Max Tech, the base model saw an approximately 8% drop in performance in continuous use, with the GPU temperature reaching as high as 95 ° F.
In contrast, the higher-quality variant with two fans was able to keep the temperature below 90 ° C, even though it contains an additional GPU core.
2. One less GPU core
Like the M1-powered MacBooks, the basic and high-end iMac variants also differ in the number of GPU cores in the M1 chip. While you wouldn't notice the difference in performance under normal usage, the 8-core GPU variant gives you a slight advantage when working on your iMac in production.
The base model with the 7-core GPU scores 8% worse in the Geekbench 5 Metal GPU test. If you really need that last inch of performance, it would be the smarter choice to spend an extra two hundred dollars on the high-end variant as it is not user-upgradeable.
3. No Touch ID with the basic version
You probably know how easy it is to log into websites and shop securely with Touch ID. Today, biometric authentication is more of a necessity than a luxury. Apple is promoting its new iMacs as Touch ID enabled devices.
However, it's not actually the iMac that has Touch ID, but rather the included keyboard. This particular keyboard is only bundled with the new iMacs. Unfortunately, the basic version gets the standard Magic Keyboard rather than the one with Touch ID. You cannot configure it on the Apple website either.
If you're tired of manually entering passwords to log into websites, you certainly won't regret paying more for the high-end model. After all, who doesn't want to lock and unlock their Mac at the push of a button?
4. Low storage space and memory
The RAM and SSD of the Apple Silicon Macs cannot be updated by the user as they are both soldered onto the logic board. Hence, you need to be extra careful when choosing which variant of iMac you want.
All base configurations of the M1 Macs contain 8 GB of RAM. For the average user, this is currently more than enough, but it may not be enough in the long run or for memory-intensive tasks.
So if you're trying to future proof your iMac or want to use it for professional work, you'll have to pay $ 200 more for 16GB of RAM to have Apple configure it individually.
When it comes to the SSD, you could get away with the 256GB of storage on the base M1 iMac if you have an iCloud subscription. However, you will run out of space very quickly if you regularly work with 4K and 8K video files.
Therefore, a memory upgrade of 512 GB or higher is recommended for power users. This upgrade is not available for the base iMac.
The new iMacs are so thin that there is no space for an Ethernet port behind the display. Fortunately, Apple made an ingenious move by integrating the Gigabit Ethernet port into the power supply. This is certainly the best option for cable management as well.
However, this special power supply is only bundled with the higher quality iMac variants. If you want one for your base model, you'll have to spend an additional $ 30 to configure it on Apple's website.
It is currently not available separately.
Note that an ethernet port is not mandatory as you will still have access to Wi-Fi 6 which is perfectly capable of providing high speed internet. So this should be lower on your list of priorities.
6. The port selection is mediocre
It's not just the Ethernet port that you are missing when you go for the cheapest M1 iMac. While the high-end versions each have two Thunderbolt-capable USB 4 ports and two USB 3 ports, the basic model only has two USB 4 ports.
On the plus side, both ports support Thunderbolt 3, so you don't sacrifice data transfer rates.
Of course, you can always plug a USB hub into the port and expand the USB devices you can use, but do you really want to live the dongle life in 2021? Or would you rather spend an extra two hundred dollars and end the day?
The Mac mini offers a cheaper alternative
If your budget is tight and you can't push for the higher-end iMac model, consider the M1 Mac mini instead.
For almost half the price, you can get a Mac that doesn't sacrifice GPU cores or compromise on performance. The port selection is fantastic for its size, and you get gigabit ethernet out of the box too.
Yes, you have to buy the display separately, but you can easily find good 4K monitors in the $ 300- $ 500 range. As for Touch ID, you have no choice but to wait for Apple to sell the new Magic Keyboards separately.
The mid-range 24-inch iMac is the best value for money
Those purely in search of an all-in-one experience will be perfectly happy with the mid-range 24-inch iMac, which costs $ 1499. It has all of the new features Apple is promoting, from the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID to Gigabit Ethernet.
Whether you're editing, playing games, or doing other resource-intensive tasks, you don't have to worry about CPU or GPU performance as the dual fan setup can prevent thermal throttling.
Is the 24-inch iMac better than the 27-inch iMac?
Apple's new 24-inch iMac far surpasses the old 21.5-inch model. But how does it compare to the 27-inch iMac?
About the author
(11 articles published)
Hamlin is a full time freelance writer who has worked in the field for over four years. Since 2017 his work has appeared on OSXDaily, Beebom, FoneHow, MashTips and more. In his spare time, he either trains in the gym or takes big strides in the crypto room. Unfortunately, he has no time for games with his RTX 3090.
By Hamlin Rozario
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