Apple iMac bolts on Thunderbolt, FaceTime and quad-core Intel Core i5

The iMac has gained the high-speed Thunderbolt connection and FaceTime video calling on the outside, with quad-core Intel processors and new graphics chips inside.

Apple is casting Thunderbolts at the iMac. The all in one desktop computer has been overhauled, with the new models adding a high-speed Thunderbolt connection and FaceTime video-calling on the outside, with quad-core Intel processors and new graphics chips inside.

The new iMac, whose design is otherwise unchanged, is powered by the quad-core Intel Core i5 processor previously known as Sandy Bridge, with the chip's teething problems ironed out by Intel. Apple reckons the AMD Radeon HD graphics processors make this "the most powerful graphics ever in an all in one desktop".

Thunderbolt and FaceTime were added to the new Apple MacBook Pro earlier this year. FaceTime is Apple's video-calling technology, using the iMac's built-in high-definition webcam to video-call other iMacs, MacBooks and people with an iPhone 4, current iPod touch or iPad 2.

Thunderbolt I/O is the head-meltingly fast new connection that combines a PCI Express port and DisplayPort into one socket with data-transfer speeds of up to 10Gbps. As eye-wateringly speedy as that is, Thunderbolt is still wet behind the ears and not many other devices support it yet.

The 21.5-inch iMac boasts one Thunderbolt socket and the 27-inch model sports two. Aside from the new sockets, the new iMac looks identical to the previous model.

The new model also packs an SD card slot, four USB slots and a FireWire connection. It boasts a high-definition display, with Mac OS X Snow Leopard running the show. A wireless keyboard and either Magic Mouse or Magic Trackpad is in the box, as well as the iLife software package. iLife includes iPhoto, iMovie and GarageBand.

Hold on to your hats for the prices: the 21.5-inch iMac starts at £1,000 for a Core i5 chip, AMD Radeon HD 6750M graphics and 500GB hard drive. A version with a 2.7GHz Core i5 chip, AMD Radeon HD 6770M graphics and 1TB hard drive will cost £1,250.

The 27-inch iMac is available in two models and starts at £1,400 for a 2.7GHz Core i5 chip, AMD Radeon HD 6770M graphics and 1TB hard drive. The top-drawer creme de la creme of the line is a 27-inch model with 3.1GHz Core i5 processor, AMD Radeon HD 6970M graphics and 1TB hard drive for £1,650.

If you're feeling superflush, you can add Intel Core i7 processors up to 3.4GHz, additional hard drive capacity up to 2TB, a 256GB solid state drive and additional DDR3 memory.

What do you think of the new iMac? Let us know in the comments or on our Facebook page.

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