iMacs get quad-core Sandy Britches, Thunderbolt

Apple has quietly updated the entire iMac line with new Intel CPUs, FaceTime cameras and AMD graphics cards.

The 2011 version of the often copied yet seldom rivalled all-in-one desktop now comes with quad-core i5 or i7 Intel processors making it the fastest PC in its class according to the Cupertino company.

Apple reckons the new hardware is 70 per cent faster when it comes to processing grunt and delivers three times the graphics performance than the previous generation.

Starting at a cool £1000 fo the basic 2.5GHz i5-toting model with a 21.5-inch display, deep-trousered Macolytes can really cane the credit card by plumping for the 27-inch version with a quad-core 3.4GHz Intel core i7 CPU, 18GB or RAM and a pair of 2TB SATA drives for storage, plus a 256GB SSD for booting duties and upgrade the standard AMD Radeon HD 6970M 1GB to 2GB.

You'll be coughing up as-near-as-isn't-worth-worrying-about to £2,900 for a very pretty and very capable machine.

Apple has also upgraded the built-in camera across the range adding a Facetime HD-capable snapper which can manage 2560x1600 pixels on a 30-inch external monitor.

Apple seems to have side-stepped USB 3.0 altogether, instead going for four standard 480Mbps USB2.0 ports and a single 10Gbps Thunderbolt port which can also drive other peripherals including external displays on the smaller version, with two of these on the 27-incher.

A single Firewire port, Gigabit Ethernet and audio ins and outs make up the standard portage you would expect.

The graphics line up gets a bit complicated with the entry level 23-inch 2.5GHz i5 getting an AMD Radeon HD 6750M graphics processor with 512MB of GDDR5 memory, the 23-inch 2.7GHz and the the 27-inch 2.7GHz both get a 6770M with 512MB, and the top-of-the-range 27-inch 3.1GHz a 6970M graphics processor with 1GB of memory (upgradeable to 2GB).

As with all Apple desktops there are a million and one mix and match options if you're willing to wait four to six weeks to get a non-standard configuration, but off-the-shelf boxes are available from stock within 24 hours right here.