Apple releases iMac Graphics Firmware Update 3.0

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, August 25th, 2011, 03:12
Category: iMac, News, Software

Amidst a wild series of events at Apple yesterday, the company released its iMac Graphics Firmware Update 3.0, a 482 kilobyte download designed to fix a graphics issue that may cause an iMac to hang under certain conditions.

Apple doesn’t specify which iMac models the firmware update targets, but the package will only install on applicable models and requires Mac OS X 10.7 or later to install and run. iMacs that need the update can download it through Software Update or from Apple’s download page.

If you’ve tried the update and have any feedback, please let us know.

OWC announces 8GB RAM modules for 2011 model MacBook Pro, Mac mini units

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, August 18th, 2011, 07:43
Category: iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Pro, News

Ok, if there’s one computer part you sort of have to splurge on, it’s RAM.

And there’s no real argument against that.

Per MacNN, Mac outfitter Other World Computing has announced its RAM kits for the 2011 model MacBook Pro and Mac minis with its DDR3 1333MHz 8GB modules. The modules will also work with the latest model iMacs, doubling their RAM capacity to 32GB.

The company offers kits including 12GB (one 8GB module with one 4GB module) for US$500, a 16GB kit (two 8GB modules) that will max out the 2011 MacBook Pro and 2011 Mac mini, both of which only have two slots, for US$929.

Because the 27-inch iMac i5 and i7 models have four slots that take the same model of RAM, OWC offers a 24GB kit (two 8GB, two 4GB) for $1,000, and a 32GB kit (four 8GB modules) for those machines for US$1,848. The kits all use OWC’s own MaxRAM brand.

If you’ve tried the new kits and have any feedback, let us know in the comments.

Apple initiates replacement program of 1TB Seagate hard drives for iMacs sold between May and July of 2011

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 25th, 2011, 03:21
Category: iMac, News

If you bought an iMac between May and July of this year, you might have a replacement hard drive coming your way.

Per AppleInsider, Apple is recalling some Seagate 1TB hard drives used in iMac systems sold between May 2011 and July 2011 because of an unspecified failure issue.

The program was initiated on Friday and affected iMac owners who provided an email during the product registration process are being contacted regarding the issue.

“Apple has determined that a very small number of Seagate 1TB hard drives used in 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMac systems, may fail under certain conditions. These systems were sold between May 2011 and July 2011,” the company said.

Users who have not received an email from Apple can check the program’s web site to see if they are eligible for the replacement.

The company offers three options for replacing the hard drives: Apple Retail Store, Apple Authorized Service Provider and Apple Technical Support.

Apple recommends that customers take advantage of the replacement “as soon as possible.” Customers are also advised to back up their data prior to going in for service. They will also need to have the original OS installation discs that shipped with their product in order to reinstall the “operating system, other applications and any backed up data after your hard drive is replaced.”

The program will run through July 23, 2012, at which time Apple will evaluate whether further extensions are needed. The recall does not extend the standard warranty coverage of the iMac.

Apple released the current generation of iMacs in May, adding quad-core Sandy Bridge processors from Intel and the high-speed Thunderbolt input/output port. 1TB hard drives come standard on all but the entry-level model.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iMac Graphic FW Update 2.0 to resolve sleep issue

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, June 8th, 2011, 18:28
Category: iMac, News, Software

Late Wednesday, Apple released an iMac graphic firmware update on Wednesday to resolve a startup and wake from sleep hanging issue. The iMac Graphic FW Update 2.0, a 699KB download, “fixes an issue that in rare cases may cause an iMac to hang during startup or waking from sleep.”

The update requires Mac OS X 10.6.7 to install and run and can also be located and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any changes, let us know in the comments.

Hard drive replacement in Thunderbolt-equipped iMac restricted by unique connector, temperature control system

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 13th, 2011, 04:48
Category: iMac, News

If you want to upgrade the hard drive on your new Thunderbolt-equipped iMac, you may be in for some additional challenges.

Per Other World Computing, Apple iMac desktop line features a new custom 7-pin serial ATA connector and proprietary temperature control system that will make hard drive upgrades difficult for end users.

The article’s authors found that the main 3.5″ SATA hard drive bay in the new 2011 Thunderbolt-equipped iMacs has been modified significantly. Instead of a standard 4-pin power configuration, the drives in the new all-in-one desktop use a custom 7-pin configuration.

In addition, hard drive temperature control is reportedly detected through a combination of the new cable and proprietary firmware that Apple has on the hard drive itself.

“From our testing, we’ve found that removing this drive from the system, or even from the bay itself, causes the machine’s hard drive fans to spin at maximum speed,” the report said,” and replacing the drive with any non-Apple original drive will result in the iMac failing the Apple Hardware Test.”

The site tried a number of methods to circumvent the changes Apple has implemented in the new iMac, including swapping the main drive out with the same model drive, as well as a different solid-state drive. All testing so far has found that the Apple-branded hard drive not be removed or replaced.

In addition, though the iMac EFI Update 1.6 released earlier this month allows 6Gb/s speeds on two internal ports, the standard 7,200rpm drive that ships with the new iMacs cannot take advantage of those fast throughput speeds.

The site sells a “Turnkey Upgrade Program” that allows for hard drive upgrades on Mac hardware. While the service will not allow upgrades to the main drive, it can take advantage of an external eSATA port or allow additional, secondary hard drives to be added.

Apple’s new quad-core Sandy Bridge iMacs with Thunderbolt ports debuted earlier this month. Users can configure the desktop to include both a standard spinning hard drive as well as a 256GB solid-state second drive, on which Mac OS X and all applications will come preinstalled.

The new iMacs were the first hardware to ship with Intel’s new Z68 chipset, which allows for faster solid-state drive caching performance with hybrid drives or a combination of SSD and traditional drives. However, Apple’s new iMacs do not take advantage of the new caching feature offered by the Z68 chipset.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases firmware updates for Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Pro, iMac units

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 6th, 2011, 06:27
Category: iMac, MacBook Pro, News, Software

It never quite works perfectly until the updates hit.

Per AppleInsider, Apple this week released a series of updates for its newest MacBook Pro notebooks and iMac desktops equipped with the high-speed Thunderbolt port, addressing issues related to performance and stability.

Two updates are available for MacBook Pro owners: MacBook Pro Software Update 1.4, a 132.69MB download, and MacBook Pro EFI Update 2.1, a 3.06MB download. Both are available direct from Apple’s website or via Software Update.

Update 1.4 is said to include fixes that improve graphics stability, address issues with external display support and 3D performance, and also improve Thunderbolt device support.

Meanwhile, EFI Update 2.1 includes fixes that resolve an issue with Turbo Mode in Boot Camp, and improves performance and stability for graphics and Thunderbolt. A user’s power cord must be connected and plugged in to a working power source when applying this update, as it updates the EFI firmware on the MacBook Pro.

Owners of the new iMacs just released this week get Mac OS X 10.6.7 Update for iMac (early 2011) 1.0, a 382.56MB download, and iMac EFI Update 1.6, weighing in at a 6.1MB download. The Mac OS X update applies a number of fixes for the Snow Leopard operating system, including:

- Improve the reliability of Back to My Mac.

- Resolves an issue when transferring files to certain SMB servers.

- Addresses various minor Mac App Store bugs.

- Addresses minor FaceTime performance issues.

- Addresses issues with graphics stability and 3D performance.

- Improves external display compatibility.

- Improves Thunderbolt device support.

Finally, the iMac EFI Update 1.6 includes fixes that improve the performance and stability for the new high-speed Thunderbolt port. The update will restart any iMacs it is installed on, at which point a gray screen will appear with a status bar to indicate the progress of the update.

Apple has already quickly released a handful of updates for its new iMac desktops. On Tuesday, when the all-in-one computers first went on sale, a Boot Camp update was also available for download.

Apple updated its iMac line on Tuesday, adding faster Sandy Bridge Intel quad-core processors, a FaceTime HD camera, and the new Thunderbolt port. Thunderbolt debuted in February in Apple’s refreshed MacBook Pros.

If you’ve tried the updates and noticed any significant changes (for better or for worse), please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases Boot Camp update for Thunderbolt-equipped iMacs, throws in Magic Trackpad for free on 27″ model

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, May 4th, 2011, 03:06
Category: iMac, News

Apple on Tuesday quickly released an update to address issues with Boot Camp on its new iMacs. Per AppleInsider,
buyers of the newly released Thunderbolt-equipped iMac can download Boot Camp 3.2 Update for iMac direct from Apple. The 638KB update can be downloaded from here and is only applicable to the early 2011 model iMacs.

Apple said the update addresses issues with Japanese and Korean keyboards on the early 2011 iMac. Boot Camp is Apple’s software that allows users to install Windows 7 on their Intel-based Mac.

Apple issued a similar fix in April for its new Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Pro models. That update also addressed shutdown issues, but some users reported it caused problems with adjusting the screen brightness.

In other news, customers can now choose between the Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad when ordering a unit from the web site. Previously, the Magic Trackpad, which was released last July, had to be purchased separately.

Customers who want both a Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad can have both for an additional US$69. And the wired Apple Mouse is an option as well, available at no extra cost.

The new iMacs released on Tuesday also include the option of a solid state hard drive in both the 21.5-inch and 27″ models. Custom orders built with the second flash-based drive will have Mac OS X and applications installed by default on the faster solid-state drive. The second, 7200rpm, traditional hard drive can then be used to store media and files.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Thunderbolt, Sandy Bridge-equipped 2011 iMacs

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011, 09:57
Category: iMac, News

It’s kind of fun when the rumors are true.

Per Macworld, on Tuesday, Apple announced a new generation of iMac models, running at speeds up to 3.4 GHz and powered by the next generation of Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors. The models also build in support for the new Thunderbolt high-speed peripheral connection interface that debuted in Apple’s MacBook Pro line earlier this year.

In terms of processors, Apple has shifted to Intel’s second-generation Core technology—codenamed “Sandy Bridge”—for the iMac line. “What Intel has done is very tightly engineer the processor, the graphics, the cache, and the memory controller on a single die,” said Apple’s David Moody, vice president of hardware product marketing. Moody said this accelerates transfer between processor components, resulting in some impressive performance gains.

In addition, the processor architecture upgrade has enabled a transition to quad-core processor configurations across the iMac line—in comparison, the previous iMac line had only a single quad-core configuration on the highest-performance model.

“Even in the top-end, moving from the old quad-core configuration to the new quad-core configuration has seen 30 percent faster performance,“ said Moody.

The desktop line now sports the latest generation of AMD Radeon HD discrete graphics processors. The high-end Radeon HD 6790M boasts 1.3 Teraflops of performance and is up to 80% faster than the previous generation. Moody described the technology as “Mac Pro-class graphics” and said it’s the “first time we have the same level of performance in the iMac that you’d have in a Mac Pro.” The gains aren’t limited to high-end either; even the entry-level version’s Radeon HD 6750M graphics processor clocks in at three times faster than the previous configuration.

For external connectivity, the new iMacs boast the same Thunderbolt ports introduced in its new MacBook Pro line released in February. Co-developed with Intel, Thunderbolt offers two bi-directional channels that can transfer data at up to 10Gbps each—12 times faster than the theoretical maximum of FireWire 800. The technology is based on the PCI Express protocol that most Macs use for internal I/O, but via adapters it can support pretty much any other type of connectivity protocol, including FireWire, USB, and Gigabit Ethernet.

The smaller iMac sports a single Thunderbolt port while the larger version includes two—Moody confirmed that those ports are independent as well, meaning that users essentially have four 10Gbps channels. That allows, for the first time, the 27-inch iMac to drive two external displays—and that’s in addition to other high-speed peripherals. Moody also said that the adoption of Thunderbolt is progressing, with several vendors announcing plans for compatible peripherals at the NAB show last month.

As with the MacBook Pro refresh also earlier this year, the iMac line also now has a FaceTime HD camera for video conferencing. The camera can supports 720p high-definition video in a 16 by 9 widescreen format, and supports a wider viewing angle to make it easier for multiple people to get in the picture. High-definition video calls are only supported between Macs with a FaceTime HD camera, such as the iMac and MacBook Pros—calls with other Macs, or iOS devices are limited to standard definition.

The new machine comes in four basic configurations: two 21.5-inch models with a 2.5GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5 and 2.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5 processor respectively, and two 27-inch models with a 2.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5 and 3.1GHz Quad-Core Intel i5. Apple is also offering build-to-order Web-only options to bump the 21.5-inch model to a 2.8GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, and the 27-inch model to a 3.4GHz Intel Core i7; the i7 processor upgrades add US$200 to the cost.

The low-end 21.5-inch model sports a 500GB hard drive and an AMD Radeon HD 6750M with 512MB of video RAM, while the more powerful 21.5-inch configuration has a 1TB hard drive and an AMD Radeon HD 6770M with 512MB of video RAM. Both versions feature a 1920 by 1080 pixel display and 4GB of memory. They retail for US$1,199 and US$1,499 respectively.

Both of the 27-inch models sport a 1TB hard drive, 4GB of RAM, and a 2560 by 1440 pixel display. The 2.7GHz model has an AMD Radeon HD 6770M with 512MB of video RAM, while the 3.1GHz model has an AMD Radeon HD 6970M with 1GB of video RAM. They retail for US$1,699 and US$1,999 respectively.

Additional build-to-order options include 2TB hard drives, an additional 256GB solid-state drive alongside the main drive, and up to 16GB of DDR3 memory. Customers can choose between a Magic Mouse or a Magic Trackpad with their order.

If you’ve snagged a new iMac, let us know when it arrives and what you make of it and stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to debut Sandy Bridge, Thunderbolt-equipped iMac on Tuesday, May 3rd

Posted by:
Date: Monday, May 2nd, 2011, 07:42
Category: iMac, Rumor

It’s the rumors that make life interesting.

Per AppleInsider, sources close to the story have stated that Apple will be adopting Intel’s newest family of Core processors and integrating a Sandy Bridge architecture into its iMac line as early as next week.

More specifically, Apple is said to be en route to introduce the new models on Tuesday, May 3, swapping out the systems’ first-gen Core i processors and mini Display ports for second-generation Core i chips and the company’s new high-speed Thunderbolt port. However, rumors that 2011 would see changes to the iMacs’ display panel size (1, 2) and the inclusion of 6000-series AMD Radeon HD chips, could not be confirmed with any degree of certainty.

In the days leading up to major product launches, Apple routinely makes certain requests of its various operating segments to assure the rollout goes as smoothly as possible. This week saw several of those measures put into place, according to those same people, who’ve continually provided accurate information when it comes the Mac maker’s future plans.

In addition, people familiar with the Cupertino-based company’s retail operations confirmed to AppleInsider that a “visual night” is similarly slated for the early morning hours of May 3rd. “So it is highly likely that whatever new product that is going to be refreshed or introduced will be done on [that day],” one of those people said.

These visual nights see several Apple retail employees in each location work throughout the evening and early a.m. hours, making significant modifications to the product layouts on the showroom floors, often removing previous generation products in favor of newly introduced models.

For Apple, next week’s launch will mark the first time the company has refreshed its flagship desktop line in over 9 months. It also comes at a crucial time for the iMac — and Mac desktops in general — which are rapidly approaching an all-time low when it comes to their share of the Mac’s product mix.

As Apple slowly transitions into a full-fledge mobile company, desktops have seen their share of Mac shipments slip into a slow but inevitable decline, falling from more than 50% of the company’s Mac product shipments in the first quarter of 2006 to just 26% of the total units Mac units shipped during the second fiscal quarter of 2011 (see graph below).

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and an iMac running Sandy Bridge with a Thunderbolt port, you’ve got to admit that sounds nifty…

Apple releases Hard Drive Firmware Update 1.0 for Mid-2010 iMacs

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 26th, 2011, 04:37
Category: iMac, News

Late Monday, Apple released its Hard Drive Firmware Update 1.0 for the 21.5″ and 27″ mid-2010 iMac desktops. The update, an 819 kilobyte download, fixes a hard drive issue that may prevent some iMac (21.5-inch and 27-inch, Mid 2010) systems from booting properly.

Users will need an Intel-based iMac running Mac OS X 10.6.7 or later to install and run the update.

If you’ve tried the update and have any feedback to offer, let us know.