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Old Jan 29, 2013, 12:33 PM   #1
lisa360
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First iMac! Suggestions Please!

I am ready to buy my first iMac. I still have my Macbook Pro 13'' (2009) but I need an Apple desktop. I will be using it mostly for Adobe Creative Suite/graphic design/general stuff (no real video editing though).

Budget isn't really an issue, but I would like to save some money if I can. Apple has a refurbished 21.5 inch for $1189 (I would have to add the Apple Care cost as well).

Here's the specs of that one:

Originally released May 2011
21.5-inch LED-backlit glossy widescreen display
4GB memory
1TB hard drive
8x SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
AMD Radeon HD 6770M graphics with 512MB memory

Built-in FaceTime HD camera

The NEW iMac that I am interested in is $1949 (plus Apple Care):

Specs of the NEW one:

2.9GHz Quad-core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz
16GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x8GB
1TB Fusion Drive
NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M 512MB GDDR5

Obviously the newer release is better, but I can't decide. Will the difference in speed between the two be so noticeable that it would make a difference?

Pros to get the older 2011 refurbished:
- Already has a CD/DVD drive
- I can easily upgrade to 16GB of RAM myself (I Believe!)

Pros of the NEW iMac:
- Fusion Drive
- I can get a small Education discount

Any advice/tips/suggestions?
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Old Jan 29, 2013, 12:49 PM   #2
designs216
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I honestly think I'd wait until the Mac Pro is released unless your workspace is just so tight the Pro won't fit. The MP is specifically designed to be pushed hard 24x7 and it is very easy to upgrade just about anything inside the case. I have been very pleased with mine even now as the product refresh approaches and everyone's talking about the bigger better model.
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Old Jan 29, 2013, 01:31 PM   #3
lisa360
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Originally Posted by designs216 View Post
I honestly think I'd wait until the Mac Pro is released unless your workspace is just so tight the Pro won't fit. The MP is specifically designed to be pushed hard 24x7 and it is very easy to upgrade just about anything inside the case. I have been very pleased with mine even now as the product refresh approaches and everyone's talking about the bigger better model.
Thanks so much for your reply. To be honest I think the Mac Pro is a bit much for me right now. I think the iMac will be sufficient, it's just a matter of picking which model.
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Old Jan 29, 2013, 01:38 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lisa360 View Post
Thanks so much for your reply. To be honest I think the Mac Pro is a bit much for me right now. I think the iMac will be sufficient, it's just a matter of picking which model.
It depends on how long you plan to keep it. If you are going to renew every couple of years go for the refurb. If like me you expect to keep it around 5+ years then go for the new one (like me). What you are doing now might be okay in 3-4 years on the 2012 machine, but might struggle on the 2011. Also you I think the reduced glare on the newer model might benefit you.
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Old Jan 29, 2013, 02:19 PM   #5
designs216
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Originally Posted by lisa360 View Post
Thanks so much for your reply. To be honest I think the Mac Pro is a bit much for me right now. I think the iMac will be sufficient, it's just a matter of picking which model.
In that case, get the 27" so you can do the RAM upgrade later but I would give serious consideration to the 3.2GHz model (1GB video card) to help insure you can effectively this machine for graphics for the next few years. In addition to reduced glare, the new model will also score you USB3 over the refurb.

Let us know how you like it for graphics work. I'm very curious about the new model, specifically in regards to the fusion technology.
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 01:39 AM   #6
lisa360
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So sorry now I have another another choice:

The New 21.5 iMac with 16GB RAM and the Fusion Drive

OR this Refurbished one (I will upgrade the RAM myself so I am not concerned about only having 4GB):

iMac 27” - Core i5 quadri-core 3.1 Ghz

Originally released May 2011
27-inch LED-backlit glossy widescreen display
4GB memory
1TB hard drive
8x SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
AMD Radeon HD 6970M graphics with 1GB memory

Built-in FaceTime HD camera

I can't decide! At first I was happy with the idea of a 21.5'', but the 27'' just looks so appealing. I can't justify the price on the new 27'' iMac though. Any suggestions?
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Old Feb 1, 2013, 09:52 AM   #7
Fishrrman
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Have you considered a Mac Mini instead?

Surprisingly powerful for a small package.

Combine this with a display of your choice, and could be a nice alternative for less $$$....
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Old Feb 1, 2013, 10:00 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lisa360 View Post
So sorry now I have another another choice:

The New 21.5 iMac with 16GB RAM and the Fusion Drive

OR this Refurbished one (I will upgrade the RAM myself so I am not concerned about only having 4GB):

iMac 27” - Core i5 quadri-core 3.1 Ghz

Originally released May 2011
27-inch LED-backlit glossy widescreen display
4GB memory
1TB hard drive
8x SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
AMD Radeon HD 6970M graphics with 1GB memory

Built-in FaceTime HD camera

I can't decide! At first I was happy with the idea of a 21.5'', but the 27'' just looks so appealing. I can't justify the price on the new 27'' iMac though. Any suggestions?
Justify the screen, get a fusion drive.

1. You are already paying a premium for a desktop computer, over one you could build.
2. You are buying a computer, it's expensive, especially the iMac, so you shouldn't skimp out on what you want in it. Get what you want and get it the first time and be done and happy with it.
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 12:03 PM   #9
StarsMalita
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IMac

I got my IMac about a year ago. I love it!! Mine is a 27 inch screen and I am so glad that I went with that size screen. I can view multiple windows at once which makes it really nice. Typically my opinion is to go with as much memory as possible and then back up your files on the cloud. My computer has 2TB of memory and 16GB of RAM then I back up my files using MyPCBackup which you can find here ****************OLFIQ. Its super nice because you can access your files anywhere and you can even sync multiple computers for super cheap!!
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 12:53 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lisa360 View Post
I am ready to buy my first iMac. I still have my Macbook Pro 13'' (2009) but I need an Apple desktop. I will be using it mostly for Adobe Creative Suite/graphic design/general stuff (no real video editing though).

Budget isn't really an issue, but I would like to save some money if I can. Apple has a refurbished 21.5 inch for $1189 (I would have to add the Apple Care cost as well).

Here's the specs of that one:

Originally released May 2011
21.5-inch LED-backlit glossy widescreen display
4GB memory
1TB hard drive
8x SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
AMD Radeon HD 6770M graphics with 512MB memory

Built-in FaceTime HD camera

The NEW iMac that I am interested in is $1949 (plus Apple Care):

Specs of the NEW one:

2.9GHz Quad-core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz
16GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x8GB
1TB Fusion Drive
NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M 512MB GDDR5

Obviously the newer release is better, but I can't decide. Will the difference in speed between the two be so noticeable that it would make a difference?

Pros to get the older 2011 refurbished:
- Already has a CD/DVD drive
- I can easily upgrade to 16GB of RAM myself (I Believe!)

Pros of the NEW iMac:
- Fusion Drive
- I can get a small Education discount

Any advice/tips/suggestions?
I think that the difference between the two is huge. The first one likely has the Sandy Bridge whereas the second has the superior Ivy Bridge Intel processors.

The Nvidia card is also much more powerful than the AMD GPU. Although, it would be better if you could get the Nvidia GPU with 1 GB VRAM instead of the half (512 MB) that it has.

Depending on how much you plan on multitasking and how hardcore you're going to use Adobe Creative Suite, the 16GB difference over the 4GB RAM is *huge*.

Will the difference in speed between the two be so noticeable that it would make a difference? Most likely, yes.
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 01:19 PM   #11
xekret
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Get the 2011 iMac and use the money you would save with the 2012 to max out the RAM and add an 256GB SSD. It is cheaper even with paying for labor to install the SSD. Just my $0.02.
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 07:11 PM   #12
Yebubbleman
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lisa360 View Post
I am ready to buy my first iMac. I still have my Macbook Pro 13'' (2009) but I need an Apple desktop. I will be using it mostly for Adobe Creative Suite/graphic design/general stuff (no real video editing though).

Budget isn't really an issue, but I would like to save some money if I can. Apple has a refurbished 21.5 inch for $1189 (I would have to add the Apple Care cost as well).

Here's the specs of that one:

Originally released May 2011
21.5-inch LED-backlit glossy widescreen display
4GB memory
1TB hard drive
8x SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
AMD Radeon HD 6770M graphics with 512MB memory

Built-in FaceTime HD camera

The NEW iMac that I am interested in is $1949 (plus Apple Care):

Specs of the NEW one:

2.9GHz Quad-core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz
16GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x8GB
1TB Fusion Drive
NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M 512MB GDDR5

Obviously the newer release is better, but I can't decide. Will the difference in speed between the two be so noticeable that it would make a difference?

Pros to get the older 2011 refurbished:
- Already has a CD/DVD drive
- I can easily upgrade to 16GB of RAM myself (I Believe!)

Pros of the NEW iMac:
- Fusion Drive
- I can get a small Education discount

Any advice/tips/suggestions?
I deal with the 2009-2011 iMacs on a regular basis and I can name off several reasons as to why that entire generation should be avoided. Yellowing of the screen and thermal issues are only a few of them. Take off the glass panel and I'll have a plethora more where those came from.

To address the Pros you list for the refurbished 2011 model:

1. The optical drive that Apple uses is utter crap. Of the five Macs that I've ever owned with Apple slot-load optical drives, three of them have failed. That's terrible odds. Plus, even for an optical drive running on a SATA bus, it's slow as balls. Given that an iMac is a stationary computer and not a portable, also given that you have plenty of USB, using one of those ports for something like an LG 5.25" tray-load form factor external DVD drive will not only be a much more reliable way to use an optical drive, it'll also be way faster than the internal Apple one ever would've been. It's also cheaper (both to buy and to replace) than the internal Apple one ever would've been.

2. You can very easily upgrade the RAM to 16GB. Apple does rape you on the cost of taking one of the new iMacs to 16GB. However, if you pre-configure it at the time of purchase (and mind you, your educational discount will save you at least a little bit of that), it's something you'll never have to think about or worry about because then you will literally be maxed out.

Given these, I'd definitely advise the 2012 model. I'd probably advise that you stick with the 21.5" and not go with the 27" UNLESS you feel that you really need (a) more than a 1TB Fusion Drive and/or (b) more graphics oomph than a 512MB GeForce GT 650M and/or (c) more than 16GB of RAM. My reasoning there is that Apple has done a lot to make the 21.5" iMac run cooler. Unforunately, they've replaced most of its desktop-based components with laptop-based components, but it does run faster than its predecessor, so there's at least that; with the 27" iMac a lot of those desktop components stick around, which means it may very well have the tendency to still run fairly hot, which will effect overall reliability.

Either way, I'd definitely go 2012 and not 2011 or earlier.
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Old Feb 4, 2013, 06:50 PM   #13
lisa360
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Originally Posted by Yebubbleman View Post
I deal with the 2009-2011 iMacs on a regular basis and I can name off several reasons as to why that entire generation should be avoided. Yellowing of the screen and thermal issues are only a few of them. Take off the glass panel and I'll have a plethora more where those came from.

To address the Pros you list for the refurbished 2011 model:

1. The optical drive that Apple uses is utter crap. Of the five Macs that I've ever owned with Apple slot-load optical drives, three of them have failed. That's terrible odds. Plus, even for an optical drive running on a SATA bus, it's slow as balls. Given that an iMac is a stationary computer and not a portable, also given that you have plenty of USB, using one of those ports for something like an LG 5.25" tray-load form factor external DVD drive will not only be a much more reliable way to use an optical drive, it'll also be way faster than the internal Apple one ever would've been. It's also cheaper (both to buy and to replace) than the internal Apple one ever would've been.

2. You can very easily upgrade the RAM to 16GB. Apple does rape you on the cost of taking one of the new iMacs to 16GB. However, if you pre-configure it at the time of purchase (and mind you, your educational discount will save you at least a little bit of that), it's something you'll never have to think about or worry about because then you will literally be maxed out.

Given these, I'd definitely advise the 2012 model. I'd probably advise that you stick with the 21.5" and not go with the 27" UNLESS you feel that you really need (a) more than a 1TB Fusion Drive and/or (b) more graphics oomph than a 512MB GeForce GT 650M and/or (c) more than 16GB of RAM. My reasoning there is that Apple has done a lot to make the 21.5" iMac run cooler. Unforunately, they've replaced most of its desktop-based components with laptop-based components, but it does run faster than its predecessor, so there's at least that; with the 27" iMac a lot of those desktop components stick around, which means it may very well have the tendency to still run fairly hot, which will effect overall reliability.

Either way, I'd definitely go 2012 and not 2011 or earlier.
Thanks for replying. Yeah, the more I have thought about it, I am actually 100% content with not having the optical drive. I've read some horror stories about people having issues with the built-in ones and having to be without their entire iMac while Apple repairs it. Much easier if it's external.

I keep changing my mind about screen size. At first I was set on the 21.5'' but now I am leaning towards the 27'' because I could really benefit from the larger screen size. I am not 100% convinced that I will benefit from buying the new Fusion Drive.

Now I am trying to decide between the Refurbished 2011 27'' Quad-Core i7 3.4Ghz, 1TB hard drive, and AMD Radeon HD 6970M graphics with 1GB memory OR one of the newer 27'' iMacs - 2.9GHz. The problem with the newer 2.9 is the graphics card. If I am researching correctly, the only way to get the 1GB graphics card is with the 3.2GHz model, which is more than I want to spend.
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 10:19 AM   #14
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It would be better if it was an actual solid state drive, I think. If that's an option and you're willing to pay, I would definitely go for that.

But I think the speed increase with the fusion drive would be well worth the money.

less moving parts is always better, glad you're coming around to the 27 inch. Get what you want!
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 09:05 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by lisa360 View Post
Thanks for replying. Yeah, the more I have thought about it, I am actually 100% content with not having the optical drive. I've read some horror stories about people having issues with the built-in ones and having to be without their entire iMac while Apple repairs it. Much easier if it's external.

I keep changing my mind about screen size. At first I was set on the 21.5'' but now I am leaning towards the 27'' because I could really benefit from the larger screen size. I am not 100% convinced that I will benefit from buying the new Fusion Drive.

Now I am trying to decide between the Refurbished 2011 27'' Quad-Core i7 3.4Ghz, 1TB hard drive, and AMD Radeon HD 6970M graphics with 1GB memory OR one of the newer 27'' iMacs - 2.9GHz. The problem with the newer 2.9 is the graphics card. If I am researching correctly, the only way to get the 1GB graphics card is with the 3.2GHz model, which is more than I want to spend.
Macworld and other similar sites are claiming that the Fusion Drive equipped Macs are insanely fast if not the fastest Macs that they've tested. To be fair, we're now at the point in technology where the differences in CPUs don't really matter as everything is bottle-necked with the spinning-platter drives. More than doing a Core i7 upgrade from a Core i5, the upgrade from a standard hard drive to a Fusion or SSD drive will give you the biggest advance in speed.

Really, both 27" iMacs, Mid 2011 and Late 2012, have a ton of issues. The former has issues with heating, drives, power supply and logic board issues, and a ton more. If that's what you want to be dealing with, then I highly suggest getting AppleCare and then selling it right before it expires. The latter has issues with image retention and bubbling due to the nature of the screen lamination technology not being quite as ready for the 27" displays as it is for the 21.5" displays or even the 15" and 13" displays on the retina MacBook Pros. If you really want the screen real-estate, I'd honestly get a 2012 21.5" iMac and then save up for a Thunderbolt display to buy down the road. Or, in lieu of the 27" Apple display, you can attach a third-party 27" display for substantially less. Either way, in reliability is at all a concern (and for the money you are spending, it should be), I'd go with the Mid 2012 21.5", and yes, do Fusion.
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