New iMacs on tap for April or May

A couple of tweets from CNET’s Brian Tong are fueling speculation that a new batch of iMacs are on their way to the US, with an expected debut in late April or early May.

In a tweet a little over a week ago, Tong noted “New iMacs en route by ocean to U.S. available end of April or 1st week of May. No major cosmetic changes.” That tweet was followed by another today that reiterated the timeframe for new iMac models.

Over at MacNews, Dennis Sellers made some predictions that are quite reasonable to believe. He expects the new iMacs to feature dual- or quad-core Sandy Bridge processors. At the low end of the price spectrum would be 21″ models running dual-core Intel Core i5 CPUs at 2.3 and 2.7 GHz, while the high end would feature 27″ iMacs with quad-core Intel Core i7 CPUs at 2.0 and 2.3 GHz. Sellers speculates that the new iMacs would come equipped with Thunderbolt I/O, an easy guess since the fast new I/O standard has already made a debut on the latest MacBook Pro models.

I disagree with Sellers on his estimate of hard disk capacities. He’s anticipating 500 GB to 1 TB models. Apple already sells configure-to-order (CTO) models with 2 TB capacities, along with 256 GB SSD boot drives, so I’d expect to see the company start at 1 TB and possibly outfit CTO models with 3TB of storage. Most drive manufacturers are now selling 3 TB SATA units at reasonable prices, so there’s no reason for Apple to at least make them an option for buyers. With storage that spacious, it might make more sense for Apple to squeeze two high-capacity drives into a new iMac for onboard data mirroring.

These new iMacs are probably already a done deal if they’re indeed on the ships heading for the US. That doesn’t mean that TUAW readers can’t join in on the speculation. What would you like to see in a new iMac? Leave your comments below.

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