Apple today updated its education store with a new iMac for especially price-conscious schools: for $999, you can buy a 21.5" iMac with a 3.1 GHz dual-core Core i3, 2GB of RAM, a 250 GB hard drive, a Radeon HD 6750M with 256MB of RAM, and a Mini DisplayPort connector - that's right, there's no Thunderbolt port in this iMac, though the computer is otherwise identical to the base-model Sandy Bridge iMac released earlier this year (which costs $1,149 for education customers). 

This continues Apple's tradition of offering discontinued and cut-rate Macs to education-only customers - note that in this case, "education-only" doesn't refer to the Education Store accessible by the students, faculty, and staff members at most colleges and universities, but the special Apple Store available only to people purchasing computers on the behalf of their institution. Apple also offers these purchasers the white unibody MacBook and an early 2009-model 20" Core 2 Duo iMac, each for $899. 

I don't really understand what the market for this thing is supposed to be - to save a meager $150, you lose half your processor cores, half your graphics RAM, half your regular RAM, half your hard drive space, and your Thunderbolt port, and the only part upgradeable when purchasing is RAM (4GB will set you back $90, mostly negating your savings over the base model, and 8GB costs an exhorbitant $270).

There are some very, very limited-use cases in which a Mac is needed and every dollar counts (think kiosk computers or basic computer lab machines), but to me this seems like a poor choice for your money - stay away from this thing unless you have a really good reason not to.

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  • Lord 666 - Monday, August 08, 2011 - link

    Buy some at the $999 rate and flip them on ebay. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, August 08, 2011 - link

    Because if you sell them on eBay, you'll find a bunch of idiots willing to pay $1000 for a crippled iMac that's worth $900! Reply
  • vision33r - Tuesday, August 09, 2011 - link

    $999+sales tax. You won't make much profit after ebay/PP fees not including shipping cost which could easily cost $40-50 to ship the thing. Reply
  • mianmian - Monday, August 08, 2011 - link

    Why price-conscious schools would buy mac?
    It's like saying poor family to buy BMW.
    Reply
  • SPianw - Monday, August 08, 2011 - link

    many school districts have had their whole infrastructure set up with macs for decades, and only upgrade a portion of the computers at a time. new comps go in labs, old lab comps go in library, etc.

    seems like they should really just be going for mac minis though, honestly... seems more convenient and price effective nomatter how you slice it
    Reply
  • crimson117 - Monday, August 08, 2011 - link

    Mac Mini's are easier to steal/lose, though. Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Monday, August 08, 2011 - link

    I was just thinking of writing about this but you were quicker :P

    Anyway, I think $150 really counts. For schools, the amount of computers is more important than the speed since they will mostly be used for web browsing and document editing (i.e. nothing intensive). For example, instead of buying 10 higher specced iMacs, you can get 11 lower specced iMacs, and still save ~$500. Buy 5 more and you get 15 higher spec and 17 lower spec iMacs for the same money. At least in my school, there is never enough computers so every single one counts.
    Reply
  • Andrew.a.cunningham - Monday, August 08, 2011 - link

    Fine, I'll bite. :-)

    There are certainly circumstances in which $150 can count (see the use cases I mentioned at the end of the article, and those that some of the other commenters have pointed out), but what I'm driving at is what a terrible *value* these Macs are relative to the base model.

    If you're, as some commenters have suggested, buying these or something like them to replace systems that are 5-6 years old, the cuts in specifications can have serious effects on these machines' ability to last for another 5-6 years, to say nothing of their resale value down the line (since schools often resell equipment once it has finally gotten old enough that no one wants it). Even though $150 counts, in the long run, it seems like one of those shortsighted decisions that some middle manager would make to save a few bucks without thinking all the way through it first.

    I think the worst thing is that these machines, at $999, are what Apple is selling to increasingly cash-strapped educational institutions as some sort of bargain - if they were really interested in saving schools money, they could either price these machines better, spec them better, or both. The RAM situation seems stingy at best and exploitative at worst.
    Reply
  • MScrip - Monday, August 08, 2011 - link

    Why use Macs at all?

    For web browsing and document editing... you can get an all-in-one Dell for $599.

    You can get 10 of those Dells for the price of 6 Macs. Or 20 vs 12... or 40 vs 24... etc

    I always hear that Macs cost less to support overall.... but gosh... does it really cost $400 to support a Dell?
    Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Tuesday, August 09, 2011 - link

    I didn't say iMacs or any Mac is the best option at all. I agree with you 100% that it's silly to buy iMacs for document editing.

    However, like someone mentioned above, some schools have their infrastructure designed for Macs so switching from Mac to Windows/Linux might actually be more expensive than paying the premium for iMacs (you would most likely replace all equipment and possibly even server staff, although Windows can be installed on Macs). I would say that is the only reasonable reason to stick with Macs.
    Reply

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