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Apple Desktops Discussion of Apple's desktop machines including Mac Pro, iMac, Power Mac, and mini

New or Refurbished iMac for features and speed?


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torero

 
Member Since: Jan 17, 2013
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Hi everybody,

My wife's 4.5 year old Dell Inspiron PC is circling the drain, and I've been eyeballing an iMac as its replacement ever since I got an iPhone and iPad (very impressed with Apple's product quality). We're life-long Windows people and know nothing about Macs, other than the fact we're ready to give them a whirl after several Windows-related frustrations. We're looking at iMacs instead of Macbooks because 1) we want to save money, and 2) it's a work computer for her and the bigger screen is essential. So my question is as follows: should we get a refurbished iMac or a brand new iMac? And I ask not as pertains to the safety of buying refurbished Apple products (I am eminently comfortable buying anything of Apple's that is refurbished), but rather as a means of comparing specs and feature sets.

Here are the options: 1) the brand new, late 2012, 21.5" base model iMac (8 gb ram, 2.7 ghz quad-core Intel i5, 1TB hard drive), or 2) the refurbished mid-2011 mid-range 21.5" iMac (4 gb ram, 2.7 ghz quad-core Intel i5, 1TB hard drive). With the exception of the new iMac being thinner, the only differences I can perceive are that the new iMac comes with double the ram, and no optical drive. If we buy the new iMac we will have to buy an optical drive, so that's another $79. This refurbished iMac is $1189, and the new iMac is $1299 (plus the superdrive is $1378). Essentially that's a $189 difference between the two iMacs when the only difference, as I see it, is 4 gb of ram and a thinner design with less screen reflection (which I don't care about, at least not for another $189). Am I missing something? If I need an optical drive, is the better option the refurb and then I can always buy more ram later?

I would really appreciate any insights or feedback. Thanks everyone.

Unrelated - Parallels or VMware Fusion for running Windows 7 (and in turn Windows MS Office) since my wife works remotely and all her work software is Windows based?
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Ramimac1

 
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To Help you decide here is a website that has a bunch of speed comparisons. http://browser.primatelabs.com/

Now I don't take these to heart but it gives you a general idea of the speed difference.

one other thing to consider is the 2011 model is self upgradable ram. by the way of a panel at the bottom. 2012 model is you are stuck with what you get from the factory.

can go all the way to at least 16gb for about $100. and technically it is user upgradable hard drive with some work. refer to ifixit.com or macsales.com for differences.

I own a 2010 27" model. and one idea I have toyed around with is replacing it with a mac mini. with my own large monitor. the big difference with those is no dedicated video, not sure how that would affect you. but I would get the upgraded mini with the i7 2.3 quad core.

The nice thing about that plan is lower cost of upgrading in the future.

Just one persons humble opinion

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baggss

 
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A few other things to keep in mind with these two iMac options:

The Mid 2011 21.5 iMac can have its RAM upgraded by you. The late 2012 21.5 iMac is non RAM upgradable. Consider the price of at least 4Gb of RAM for the 2011 model when looking at price.

The Mid 2011 iMac has USB 2 and Firewire (not sure if it has Thunderbolt), the late 2012 iMac has Thunderbolt and USB 3 and no Firewire.


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Ramimac1

 
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2011 iMac had 1 thunderbolt port. 4 usb 2.0 and 1 FW800

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torero

 
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Thanks everybody for your thoughts.

Speaking of Ram, if I were to buy the 2012 iMac would 8 gb of ram be adequate for the long haul and running Parallels, or would I want to upgrade to 16? No gaming will be done this machine.

If the 16, am I better off getting the 2011 iMac with comparable processor knowing I can not only upgrade the Ram, but do so much more cheaply than through Apple?

Is the difference in screen glare/reflection really that big of a deal?
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harryb2448

 
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For what it is worth consider an iMac refurbished from Apple. The mid 2001 was sold right through 2012, A 21.5" model 2.7GHz with self installed upgraded memory, complete with an optical drive, may be your best value. OWC sell 2x4GB memory for $58 odd. Will come with either Lion or Mountain lion. If Lion you will get a free upgrade to Mountain lion.

Warranty is for a full 12 months and you can take up AppleCare's 3 year warranty any time during the first 12 months. And save several hundred bucks into the bargain. With my savings purchased an iBox uninterrupted power supply and a Rain 360 swivel base.


http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/memor...1/DDR3_21.5_27

Hang on to those original install discs like grim death! Using OS X.7 or later make a bootable USB thumb drive before running Installer!
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Ramimac1

 
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One other option to consider with the new macs. if you order from somewhere like macmall.com you get free shipping and also tax free.

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dchrist21

 
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I vote for refurbished. My first (and so far, only) store-bought mac is a late-2009 iMac refurb and I've never been disappointed. My experience so far is that OS X is much less resource hungry than Windows, and can therefore handle OS and software upgrades without necessarily upgrading to faster/newer hardware. That means their useful life is much longer, in my experience. In fact, my very first mac was a G3 iBook (Firewire SE, Late 2000) that upgraded to and ran OS X 10.3 (I think) just fine. And it still runs. That said, if you get a model with non-user upgradeable memory, make sure it is maxed out. That's the best way to ensure a long service life on any computer.

And just for reference, I currently run Win7 under Parallels on my iMac (3.06 Core2 Duo, 4GB DDR3) with no problems. No gaming or seriously demanding tasks, but Office 2007 and other windows-only productivity apps run without any noticeable lag.
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chscag

 
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And if you decide on a 2012 21.5" iMac, max it out with all that you can afford because as has already been pointed out, it's non user upgradeable. What you buy is what you have to live with, so buy the very best you can afford.
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torero

 
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Thanks everyone, this is really quite helpful.

Sorry to have posted the Parallels question in a hardware forum, but with the RAM question relation I wasn't sure where to ask.

I think it may ultimately come down to how nice of a tax return we get as to what we do.
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