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Apple Retools iMac Line

Updated from 12:22 p.m. EDT

Apple Computer's (AAPL) Macintosh line has been running only on Intel (INTC) processors for eight months, but the company has already started to upgrade them.

Apple announced on Wednesday that it is replacing the Core Duo chips within its iMac line of consumer desktops with Intel's latest processors , the Core 2 Duo line. According to Apple, its iMacs will now be up to 50% faster than its previous ones, thanks to the new chips.

Additionally, the company introduced new top-end and low-end iMac models and essentially cut prices on the two previous versions of the all-in-one computer. The base prices for the line now range from about $1,000 to $2,000.

As it did with the previous iMacs, the company appears to be using laptop versions of Intel's chips. The chips within the computers range in speed from 1.83 GHz on the entry level model to 2.16 GHz for the top two versions. Those correspond to the chip speeds available on Intel's notebook processors, but not its desktop ones. Interestingly, Apple chose not to incorporate Intel's top end Core 2 Duo processor, which runs at 2.33 GHz, in the standard configurations. That chip is available as an option on the top two iMac models.

The new high-end iMac, which carries a price tag of $1,999, includes not only the 2.16 GHz chip but 1GB of SDRAM, a 250GB hard drive and an Nvidia (NVDA) GeForce 7300 graphics chip with 128MB of dedicated graphics memory. The 24-inch screen is the largest one Apple has ever offered on the iMac line.

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