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Old Nov 2, 2012, 07:39 PM   #1
Pie Chips Salad
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Is maxing out your iMac value for money?

Just thought I'd get some opinions. Was thinking of buying a fully maxed out 27 processor, ssd etc.I'd do the ram myself. But is it better to spend less and upgrade every 3 years than spend a lot more and upgrade after 4-5 years, getting full use of a high end machine. I am somewhat of a power user. What do you guys think?
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Old Nov 2, 2012, 08:11 PM   #2
pubjoe
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You know when people say that macs hold there value? That tends to mainly just apply to the baseline models. Apple make their easiest money on the upgrades - sometimes around a 500% markup or even more on ram. The baseline model is by far the best "value", and it's worth aiming close to that and upgrading whatever you can yourself. I say "aim for" because you might consider it worth going for at least a gpu or cpu upgrade (if you really want the graphics power or need the 8x multithreaded processing) as you can't easily or cheaply add these yourself. Definitely don't pay apple's ram prices as you say, but personally I'd also be wary of their hdd/ssd prices. It's yet to be seen if the drive will actually be replaceable by opening the new imac yourself but it's looking less likely as the new screen front appears it may be sealed, as with the RMBP.

I'm tempted buy a new imac but I'll give it a couple of weeks for ifixit to confirm if it is possible to gain access to the hdd. I already have a 512GB ssd that wasn't too expensive so I'd rather use that than pay crazy apple prices for a ssd drive or combo.

So unless money is no object, be steady on what you upgrade. You can easily double the baseline price by maxing everything but that value will mostly be lost if you were to re-sell. If you look at ebay for completed listings on 2008 24" imacs, they all tend to go for similar money. Those expensive upgrades that doubled the price four years ago, seem quite insignificant today.
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Old Nov 2, 2012, 08:29 PM   #3
Dornblaser
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I plan on purchasing a totally maxed out iMac and keeping for no more than 3 years. I really value AppleCare and both software and hardware change rapidly enough that 3 years is a reasonable life cycle. FWIW - I use my iMac for work.
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Old Nov 2, 2012, 08:45 PM   #4
FlameofAnor
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pie Chips Salad View Post
Just thought I'd get some opinions. Was thinking of buying a fully maxed out 27 processor, ssd etc.I'd do the ram myself. But is it better to spend less and upgrade every 3 years than spend a lot more and upgrade after 4-5 years, getting full use of a high end machine. I am somewhat of a power user. What do you guys think?
It depends, if you're talking about a brand new model, then no. If you're talking about a refurb, then yes. Apple charges a premium for BTO parts, so if resale value is a priority, then the new baseline model will hold it's value better.

Now, if you get a refurb, like I just did, then you can get a formerly BTO machine at a considerable discount. The RAM prices also drop over time, so upgrading the RAM yourself on a 2011 iMac is much cheaper now. That's where you'll get the best combination of performance and resale value for your buck.
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Old Nov 2, 2012, 10:51 PM   #5
mrbrycel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pubjoe View Post
You know when people say that macs hold there value? That tends to mainly just apply to the baseline models. Apple make their easiest money on the upgrades - sometimes around a 500% markup or even more on ram. The baseline model is by far the best "value", and it's worth aiming close to that and upgrading whatever you can yourself. I say "aim for" because you might consider it worth going for at least a gpu or cpu upgrade (if you really want the graphics power or need the 8x multithreaded processing) as you can't easily or cheaply add these yourself. Definitely don't pay apple's ram prices as you say, but personally I'd also be wary of their hdd/ssd prices. It's yet to be seen if the drive will actually be replaceable by opening the new imac yourself but it's looking less likely as the new screen front appears it may be sealed, as with the RMBP.

I'm tempted buy a new imac but I'll give it a couple of weeks for ifixit to confirm if it is possible to gain access to the hdd. I already have a 512GB ssd that wasn't too expensive so I'd rather use that than pay crazy apple prices for a ssd drive or combo.

So unless money is no object, be steady on what you upgrade. You can easily double the baseline price by maxing everything but that value will mostly be lost if you were to re-sell. If you look at ebay for completed listings on 2008 24" imacs, they all tend to go for similar money. Those expensive upgrades that doubled the price four years ago, seem quite insignificant today.
Good point! How do you think base models with HDDs will do resale value-wise? I was really hoping for base models with 256gb SSDs this time around, but no luck. If I buy a 1TB HDD version now, is the resale value going to plummet more than normal by the time All iMacs have SSDs?
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Old Nov 2, 2012, 11:06 PM   #6
flynz4
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I prefer to buy fully loaded iMacs for myself, and will be buying a fully loaded 2012 27" iMac. I will personally use it for 2-3 years... but then pass it down to my wife who will use it until I upgrade again. Hence... we keep our computers for a total 4-6 years.

My current iMac is a late model 2009... so I've had it for 3 years. My wife will continue to use it until my next upgrade. If for some reason, it fails outside of AppleCare coverage... I will upgrade earlier.

/Jim
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Old Nov 4, 2012, 11:02 AM   #7
pubjoe
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Originally Posted by mrbrycel View Post
Good point! How do you think base models with HDDs will do resale value-wise? I was really hoping for base models with 256gb SSDs this time around, but no luck. If I buy a 1TB HDD version now, is the resale value going to plummet more than normal by the time All iMacs have SSDs?
That's a good point too. Will an old fashioned hdd be so out of date that it becomes a deal-breaker in a few years? At the moment, second hand imacs listed with simply a 1TB/2TB hdd will easily sell, but users and software may have changed too much in another few years.

It's hard to say really. Also HDD and SSD prices have both been less predictable recently. They say that SSD prices are steadying now and won't continue to drop so fast. An ssd buyer today won't get stung quite as much as the early adopters.

In the past few years, Ive bought a few (close to baseline) macs and I've upgraded the ram and drives on all of them. Ive been able to sell them for amazingly little loss, and I've always bared this in mind when purchasing. With the new ones, if the hdd isn't accessible and apple are charging silly money for an ssd (both a strong possibility), then I think I might be priced out. I don't think I'd be able to justify the total cost of ownership anymore and I don't want to go back to a mechanical hdd for the sake of a better gpu and a tapered case edge.

I'll just wait and hope that the hdd is upgradable.
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Old Nov 4, 2012, 11:15 AM   #8
Brian Y
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With iMacs, I always buy base and upgrade it myself.

Bought the base 2.7 i5, upgraded the CPU, RAM and put an SSD in their myself. Saved a good few hundred over buying a high end BTO.
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Old Nov 4, 2012, 11:38 AM   #9
fastlanephil
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Originally Posted by bma View Post
With iMacs, I always buy base and upgrade it myself.

Bought the base 2.7 i5, upgraded the CPU, RAM and put an SSD in their myself. Saved a good few hundred over buying a high end BTO.
Are you saying you also replaced the i5 CPU with an i7 CPU?
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Old Nov 4, 2012, 11:49 AM   #10
ChromiumXarsus
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For me it's about the mileage...

Iíve had many Macs over the years and Iíve always opted to buy fully loaded new models. I do this to get the max amount of life from them; I upgrade when they can no longer keep up with the current software and OS. When I upgrade my Mac my old one becomes the family Mac and then the family Mac gets handed down to one of my four daughters. Only when it cannot perform the most essential functions will I put a Mac out to pasture.

I bought my current iMac in 2006 and itís just recently getting to a point where it cannot perform the way I want it to (canít upgrade the OS, etc.). Had I not bought the fully loaded BTO six years ago I may have started to limp along sooner than now.

Oh, and donít forget the ďlikeĒ factor... Nobody ďneedsĒ a Lamborghini... but itís a lot more fun than driving a minivan. Buy what you like (and can afford).
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Old Nov 4, 2012, 02:06 PM   #11
Torrijos
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CPU upgrades tend to be overkill for most people (unless you're a pro with huge calculation needs it isn't really worth it).

GPU upgrades on the other hand will be the most important part for continued usefulness.

While the benefits of multiples cores in CPUs is mostly thwarted by the fact that parallelism is a pain to code, most devs haven't the technical skills for it and most software companies won't finance devs cost for a multi-core optimised software, the GPU side seems to be on a better path...

After openCL and CUDA (for scientific and Pro optimised software), and with the development of mobile platforms as the main future source of revenues for technological companies, a big push is being made for the mainstream adoption of heterogenous computation capabilities (Intel concurrents have just announced an association with such aims).
Meaning future software will tend to also use the GPU for more than just graphics, so if your computer has a good modern GPU, chances are it will become obsolete later than with the lowest GPU offered.

My advice get a SSD (the biggest performance upgrade right now), then get the strongest GPU you can (for future proofing), a consequent amount of RAM maxing it out even is a good idea (a lot of web browser optimisation tend to eat way too much RAM so 8GB should be a minimum if you don't want slowdowns from time to time), leave the CPU alone.

For the SSD I'm waiting on anandtech review of the fusion drive in the mac minis to see if it's worth it. But you can even set up your own fusion drive manually (I'm waiting for the BTO options prices to show, but personally I'm wishing for a 256GB SSD and a 3TB disk to set up my own fusion drive if performance of Apple system are good, otherwise I'll just keep apps & the system on the SSD and common data the mechanical drive).
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Old Nov 4, 2012, 02:41 PM   #12
Brian Y
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Originally Posted by fastlanephil View Post
Are you saying you also replaced the i5 CPU with an i7 CPU?
Yeah, I changed the i5 2.7 for an i7 2600 (the 3.4Ghz chip Apple use). I wouldn't go out of your way to do it though - I only did it since I stumbled across a good deal for the CPU on Amazon (cost me £60 after selling the i5), and it made sense considering I use quite a few virtual machines for software testing.

Upgrading the CPU isn't a difficult thing, providing you have quite a bit of patience and are relatively competent with lego :P

The GPU is easier to physically replace, but it's much harder to get hold of one that will work (for the work I do, the GPU doesn't matter in the slightest).
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