Apple's candy-coated iMac, now equipped with a 333MHz PowerPC CPU, is faster than ever, yet the new version carries the same $1,199 price tag as the previous 266MHz model. But CPU speed is just one factor that influences overall system performance, and while this new model is faster than earlier iMacs, it's no match for a 333MHz Power Mac G3. In Macworld Lab's Processor test, we found that it barely kept up with Apple's blue Power Mac G3/300MHz (see "Faster iMac").
Apple's blue 300MHz G3 systems feature a 150MHz cache bus and a 100MHz system bus. The new iMac, in contrast, sports a 133MHz cache bus and a 66MHz system bus. In plain English, this means Apple's high-end G3 systems feed data to the CPU at a higher rate. The new iMac gives you a 333MHz CPU, and it's considerably faster than its predecessor, but as you can see in the MacBench 5.0 Processor scores, its CPU performance is comparable to that of the 300MHz reference system.
Aside from the faster processor, the new-model iMac offers the same design and features as the previous model. It still costs only $1,199 and sports the same 6GB hard drive and 32MB of RAM (expandable to 256MB). Like the previous 266MHz iMac, it features a built-in 15-inch, 1,024-by-768-pixel display; a 24 x CD-ROM drive; 10/100BaseT Ethernet; a 56-Kbps modem; an ATI Rage Pro graphics accelerator (with 6MB of SGRAM); and two USB ports.
Beyond the specs, the new iMac shares the same strengths and weaknesses as the old onethese computers still suffer from limited expandability and an unergonomic mouse. Although Apple has yet to replace this oddly shaped input device, a tiny indentation on the mouse button helps you figure out which end is up. On the plus side, the iMac is easy to use, features a colorful design, and offers enough computing power for just about any task you'd want to perform at home or in the office.
With its powerful CPU and affordable price, the 333MHz iMac remains the leader among consumer PCs. Aside from its lack of expansion options, it continues to be the computer that dares to be different.
RATING: PROS: Great value; creative design; faster performance. CONS: Limited expansion; difficult mouse. COMPANY: Apple Computer (800/795-1000, http://www.apple.com ). LIST PRICE: $1,199.
July 1999 page: 47