Apple launches low-end 'education only' $999 iMac with Core i3 CPU

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Apple on Monday launched a new, entry-level 21.5-inch iMac meant specifically for educational institutions, sporting a dual-core 3.1GHz Intel Core i3 processor and a price of just $999.

The model, labeled "education only," is $150 less than the $1,149 model available to students, which packs a quad-core 2.5GHz Intel Core i5 processor. That same model is available for $1,199 to the general public without a student discount.

The new $999 iMac is only listed on Apple's Higher Educational online store as of Monday morning, according to MacRumors. The technical specifications of the new machine were made available in a support document on Apple's site. They include:

  • 3.1GHz Intel Core i3 Dual-Core
  • 21.5-inch LCD
  • AMD Radeon HD 6750 with 256MB
  • 2GB RAM
  • 250GB Hard Drive
  • SuperDrive
  • OS X Lion

In addition to a slower Core i3 processor, the entry-level iMac has less RAM, at just 2GB, a smaller 250GB hard drive, and a 256MB graphics card. The $1,149 student-priced Core i5 iMac has 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive and a 512MB graphics card.

The report did not indicate whether the education-only iMac includes the high-speed Thunderbolt port and FaceTime HD camera Apple added to the iMac lineup with its latest refresh in May.

The new $999 iMac is not the first time Apple has sold a model intended specifically for education institutions. For example, in 2009, the company continued to sell its 17-inch iMac for $899, even after the all-in-one desktop had been phased out of public sales in favor of new 20-inch and 24-inch models.

And last month, Apple discontinued its legacy white MacBook, officially replacing it with the entry-level $999 MacBook Air. But the white MacBook, model No. MC516, remains available for education institutions only, for now.