iMac (Early 2006)

Apple refers to this model as the iMac (Early 2006), but we also call it the iMac Core Duo, the first iMac based on Intel’s Core Duo processor.

Three months earlier, Apple introduced an updated iMac G5 – slimmer, lighter, a bit faster, with iSight built in and sporting a remote control. Now Apple has replaced it with what looks like essentially the same computer, but with an Intel Core Duo CPU instead of a single-core PowerPC G5.

iMac Core Duo (Early 2006)

There was a lot of debate about which model would be the first with Intel inside, and the iMac is a good choice. The Core Duo processor offers 2-3x the power of the G5, and it would be unseemly for the new Intel-based Mac mini to outperform the iMac. Which raises the question: Will the new Intel iMac outperform the Power Mac G5 Dual?

The only things that seem to be missing are FireWire 800, which Apple still reserves for its “pro” models and has not yet put on an iMac, and AppleWorks, a product Apple has bundled with every previous iMac. This is the first iMac ever to officially support monitor spanning.

The new iMac ships with Mac OS X 10.4.4 Tiger, the first Intel version of the Mac OS, and iLife ’06, which is a universal binary and is intended to replace the aging AppleWorks 6.

What You Need to Know

Using the 32-bit only Core Duo CPUs allowed Apple to introduced Intel-based Macs before the Core 2 Duo, which supports both 32-bit and 64-bit operation, came to market. Because OS X 10.7 Lion is a 64-bit only operating system, Core Duo Macs do not support it, making OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard the end of the Mac OS road for the earliest Intel Macs.

With a 2 GB memory ceiling, this iMac wouldn’t run Lion decently anyhow, but the first generation Intel Macs run Snow Leopard very nicely with 2 GB of RAM. If your Early 2006 iMac has 512 MB, upgrade immediately. You really need 1 GB to get okay performance from OS X 10.4 Tiger or 10.5 Leopard. As of August 2014, you can get 2 GB for $23 from Other World Computing, and with Snow Leopard just $20 from Apple, take this iMac as far as it will go with RAM and operating system.

Intel iMacs shipped with 7200 rpm hard drives, 160 GB in the 17″ and 250 GB in the 20″. Newer drives will often provide much snappier performance due to larger data buffers. 1 TB 7200 rpm drives start at $60 these days (August 2014), and for a serious speed boost – like starting up twice as fast – Other World Computing offers a 44 GB solid state drive (SSD) for just $50 plus $15 for a mounting kit, although you’ll probably want more more capacity than that.

Finally, you can upgrade to a faster, more efficient Core 2 Duo Socket M CPU, although that won’t give you 64-bit operation. The 2.33 GHz Core 2 Duo T7700 is a popular upgrade option, currently $35 and up on eBay. The 2.0 GHz T7200 Core 2 Duo is a bit slower than that but a lot more economical at $12 and up.

Intel-based Macs use a partitioning scheme known as GPT. Only Macintel models can boot from GPT hard drives. Both PowerPC and Intel Macs can boot from APM (Apple’s old partitioning scheme) hard drives, which is the format you must use to create a universal boot drive in Leopard. PowerPC Macs running any version of the Mac OS prior to 10.4.2 cannot mount GPT volumes. PowerPC Macs won’t let you install OS X to a USB drive or choose it as your startup volume, although there is a work around for that.

Details

  • introduced 2006.01.10 at US$1,299 (17″ 1.83 GHz) and US$1,699 (20″ 2.0 GHz); replaced 2006.09.06 by iMac Core 2 Duo. Education-only 17″ model with Combo drive introduced 2006.07.05.
  • Requires Mac OS X 10.4.4 Tiger to 10.6 Snow Leopard; not compatible with OS X 10.7 Lion
  • Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard compatibility
    • Grand Central Dispatch is supported.
    • 64-bit operation is not supported with Core Solo or Core Duo CPUs. Upgrading with a Core 2 Duo CPU will not change that.
    • OpenCL is not supported with Radeon X1600 GPU.
  • CPU: 1.83/2.0 GHz Intel Core Duo, Socket M makes upgrades possible
  • Bus: 667 MHz
  • Performance:
    • Geekbench 2: 2542 (2.0 GHz), 2363 (1.83 GHz)
  • RAM: 512 MB, expandable to 2 GB using two PC2-5300 DDR2 SODIMMs
  • Graphics: ATI Radeon X1600 with PCI-Express support, supports up to 23″ external display and monitor spanning
  • VRAM: 128 MB GDDR3 SDRAM (expandable to 256 MB on 20″ model)
  • Display:
    • 17″ 1440 x 900 flat panel display
    • 20″ 1680 x 1050 flat panel display
  • Video out: mini-DVI, VGA, S-video, composite (requires adapter)
  • L2 cache: 2 MB shared cache on CPU
  • Hard drive bus: 1.5 Gbps SATA I
  • Hard drive: 160/250 GB 7200 rpm Serial ATA drive
  • Optical drive bus: UltraATA
  • SuperDrive: writes DVD±R discs at up to 8x speed, dual layer at up to 2.4x; DVD±RW at up to 4x; reads DVDs at up to 8x, writes CD-R discs at up to 24x, writes CD-RW discs at up to 8x, reads CDs at up to 24x
  • USB: 3 USB 2.0 ports
  • FireWire 400: 2 ports
  • Modem: optional 56 kbps USB modem supports v.92
  • Ethernet: 10/100/gigabit
  • WiFi: 802.11g AirPort Extreme included
  • Bluetooth 2.0: included
  • IR receiver: supports Apple Remote (included)
  • Microphone: internal
  • Power supply: 180W
  • H x W x D (17″): 16.9 x 16.8 x 6.8 in/43 x 42.6 x 17.3 cm
  • H x W x D (20″): 18.6 x 19.4 x 7.4 in/47.2 x 49.3 x 18.9 cm
  • weight (17″): 15.5 lb/7 kg
  • weight (20″): 22 lb/10 kg
  • Part no.: MA199 (17″), MA200 (20″)
  • Model identifier: iMac4,1

CPU Upgrades

  • CPU can be replaced with Core 2 Duo or faster Core Duo.

Online Resources

Keywords: #imaccoreduo #imacearly2006

Short link: http://goo.gl/o4MVFV

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