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Apple speeds up iMacs with Core 2 Duo

Intel's latest processors are now inside all iMac desktops, including a new machine with a 24-inch wide screen. Photos: New iMacs grow with Intel inside

Apple Computer's iMac desktops are now equipped with Intel's new Core 2 Duo processors, the Mac maker said Wednesday.

The iMac lineup has also been expanded to include a 24-inch model, supplementing the company's 17-inch and 20-inch versions of the wide-screen, tower-free desktop. According to Apple, the new machines will operate 50 percent faster than the 20-inch version with the original Core Duo.

iMacs with Core 2 Duo

In June 2005, Apple announced that it was ditching its IBM PowerPC chips in favor of Intel processors. The iMacs with Intel's original Core Duo chip debuted early this year.

With the release of the Core 2 Duo models, iMac prices have dropped a notch. The 17-inch model--which cost $1,299 with the first Core Duo--is now $999 with a 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo, $1,199 with a 2GHz version or $1,299 with a 2.16GHz chip.

The 20-inch iMac is priced at $1,499 with a 2.16GHz Core 2 Duo or $1,749 with a 2.33GHz version.

The new 24-inch model costs $1,999 with a 2.16GHz chip or $2,249 with a 2.33GHz version.

The machines also come with a built-in iSight camera, which looks like a small black dot at the top of the screen and can shoot still photos or act as a Web cam. In addition, a remote that resembles an iPod Shuffle can be used to access music, movies and photos.

Apple's announcement was not limited to iMacs. Its Mac Mini budget desktop was given a processor upgrade too--from an Intel Core Solo to a Core Duo--not the new Core 2 Duo. The box-shaped Mac Minis, which come without a monitor, are now $599 for a 1.66GHz model and $799 for 1.83GHz version.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company is expected to give more product news at a self-described "" in San Francisco next week.