Buying an iMac

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by chrisblore, Dec 27, 2005.

  1. chrisblore macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    Location:
    Essex, UK
    #1
    OK, so I've been drooling over a new Mac for over two years now and the time has finally come when I'm looking to get one :)

    Unfortunately, the economic realities of being a prospective British university student from next September onwards mean that cost is a big factor and therefore I need to make some sensible decisions in order to make the compromise between price and a machine that is going to last me for as long as possible.

    So it's been narrowed down to the iMac as my machine of choice. Having visited the Apple stores at Bluewater and Regent Street, I've seen first hand the difference in size between the 17" and 20" screens and while the 20" is very impressive, I'm not sure that I will necessary need it if it means compromising in other areas.

    I've specced a couple of machines out and they are as follows:

    * 1GB 533 DDR2 SDRAM - 2x512MB
    * 250GB Serial ATA drive
    * Keyboard & Mighty Mouse + Mac OS X
    * 17-inch TFT display
    * 1.9GHz PowerPC G5
    * DVD±RW/CD-RW drive double layer
    * ATI Radeon X600 Pro - 128MB DDR
    * AirPort Extreme
    * Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR
    * £1,019.01

    * 1.5GB 533 DDR2 SDRAM - 1x512MB + 1x1GB
    * 250GB Serial ATA drive
    * Keyboard & Mighty Mouse + Mac OS X
    * 20-inch TFT display
    * 2.1GHz PowerPC G5
    * DVD±RW/CD-RW drive double layer
    * ATI Radeon X600 XL - 128MB DDR
    * AirPort Extreme
    * Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR
    * £1,339.01

    Basically, I'd like your thoughts as to whether or not I could get away with the 17" as the price difference is quite considerable. It is going to be used mainly for word processing, email, multimedia (usage not processing) etc. so it doesn't need to be a beast of a machine! Is the extra .2Ghz paticularly noticable and would the 1GB of RAM suffice with the 17"?

    Thanks in advance for your help
     
  2. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #2
    You say you're going to be a student. You do realise that if you waited till September you could get a pretty decent educatonal discount on that machine?
     
  3. Nermal Moderator

    Nermal

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2002
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #3
    At the very least, wait until after MacWorld.
     
  4. chrisblore thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    Location:
    Essex, UK
    #4
    That is true, but the trouble is that my Wintel laptop is fast packing up and has terrible overheating trouble these days, hence the need to buy a new computer soon.
     
  5. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #5
    Or, (probably) once you have been accepted and issued your student card / number from your school, which may be well in advance of September.

    Also, plan on buying your RAM third party, as it usually will cost less, and create less hassles with a "BTO" configuration from Apple. Get 1.5 GB RAM into your machine if you can afford it.

    The big difference isn't the .2 GHz, it's the 17" vs the big, gorgeous, beautiful, roomy, astounding, drool-worthy, spacious, adorable 20" screen (did I mention "big"?)
     
  6. kwajaln macrumors 6502

    kwajaln

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2004
    Location:
    CHICAGO!
    #6
    Patience . . .

    Yes, you should try and be patient and wait, at the very least for the EDU discount.
     
  7. chrisblore thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    Location:
    Essex, UK
    #7
    I know and it's so tempting to go for it, but I'm not sure I can justify it for the extra price difference, given my intended usage.
     
  8. kwajaln macrumors 6502

    kwajaln

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2004
    Location:
    CHICAGO!
    #8
    I totally understand the money aspect, but having a 20-inch iMac myself, I REALLY hope you can somehow buy one. The size of the screen is amazing compared to the 17. My sister-in-law (my first switch!!) got the 17 and I feel sorry for her when I use hers. Is that bad?!? :p
     
  9. motherduce macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2005
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    #9
    ...or pick up a refurbished 17" or 20" and save some more money.
     
  10. adam-uk macrumors member

    adam-uk

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2005
    Location:
    England, UK
    #10

    Please oh please do that! I got my brand new stock iMac G5 20" for a mere £1,049 using the university ed. discount. I doubt u'll see a intel imac anytime soon, so wait til you get registered with uni, log onto apple.com/uk from THEIR internet network, and bam! a shiney new 20" mac for a grand.

    U cant go wrong! Get crucial memory. You wont regret it
     
  11. bemylover macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2005
    #11
    That's not always true. I got crucial 1 GB stick and after a month it started to cause kernel panics. Crucial did not take it back or change it, they just fixed it, and even though I did not have problems with it since then, it was not a good experience at all.
     
  12. mopppish macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2005
    #12
    chrisblore,
    You should SERIOUSLY consider a laptop. Now, I know that everyone else on here is going to jump down my throat about the laptops being underpowered BUT as a current college student in WI I can tell you that my ibook is the best purchase I've ever made. And I have an imac G5, too! The imac is beautiful, and yes I can feel that my ibook is slower in comparison, however the benefit of taking it with me everywhere as a student is astronomical. I bought my imac last summer and just got my ibook last month, and I wish that I would have considered a laptop back in the summer as it would have saved me a bundle of money. I love the imac, but the ibook has been able to do everything you've described (email, multimedia, etc.) at only a slightly noticably slower pace than the imac.
    Having said all of that, you should at least wait until MWSF in January to purchase anything, You may be a great candidate for a rev B. intel laptop! If Steve really does announce a new ibook in January, then it's update should be ready by September.
    Peace.
     
  13. adam-uk macrumors member

    adam-uk

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2005
    Location:
    England, UK
    #13
    Strange. I've had nothing but 100% perfect dealings with them. Depends what their return policy is in the area your ordering. By law, i dont think they are not obliged over 28-days to replace goods, after that periods its to the company's discretion.

    Anyhoo. Good look with your choice
     
  14. Danksi macrumors 68000

    Danksi

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2005
    Location:
    Nelson, BC. Canada
    #14
    17-inch

    Do you need the 250Gb drive in the 17-inch? If so, what will you be using the extra storage space for? If it's video, then an external drive would be better and cheaper per extra Gb.

    I would go for 1.5Gb total minimum - in fact I'd have gone for the max'd 2.5Gb - if the price of a 2Gb stick wasn't so much. (1.5Gb's is sufficient for my needs for the moment anyway)

    I've seen the 20inch, but happy with the 17-inch. I know that if I need extra desktop space (for movie editing etc) then a second screen would suit my needs better than a single, larger screen. It'd also provide me with a screen to help me upgrade to a PowerMac eventually. The Screen Spanning Doctor and an external monitor works well with the iMacs.
     
  15. chrisblore thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    Location:
    Essex, UK
    #15
    Well basically before I've tended to simply buy the base model PC and therefore end up wishing I'd gone further before and upgraded the HDD etc. rather than sticking with the smaller size. This will not be a machine to be used for video processing, just general purpose word processing, web browsing etc. as well as storage of my personal MP3 collection.

    I think I'm leaning towards going for the base level RAM and simply getting a stick of Crucial 1GB for me to add myself. This alone saves about £75 over getting the factory-fitted Apple RAM. I wish I could go for the 2.5GB too but Crucial don't seem to supply a suitable stick and £820 direct from Apple to upgrade the RAM is just excessive!

    As for the larger screen, I'm beginning to think that it would look a bit stupid on my desk which is only quite small and it might get a bit uncomfortable having it so close in front of me. I was just a bit concerned that the performance difference between the 17" and 20" might be considerable enough to warrant buying the 20" instead.
     
  16. Platform macrumors 68030

    Platform

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2004
  17. Seasought macrumors 65816

    Seasought

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
    #17
    I don't have the experience of using a 17" iMac vs a 20" but I did something similar for a desktop machine some time ago. I ended up just going with the 17" to save money and was happy with it. To me, paying for the 20" is one of those nice things I would do if I just had extra cash to blow (as in, my work was paying for it instead of me!). I think if you get the 17" you will be happy as you "won't know what you are missing" sort of a thing. :D

    Plus, room will be an issue (based on your comment) so the 17" might allow for some more breathing room.

    My vote is for the 17" to be practical. :D
     
  18. m-dogg macrumors 65816

    m-dogg

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2004
    Location:
    Connecticut
    #18
    I recently went from a Rev A 1.8 17" iMac to a 2.1 20" iMac

    If you'll be bumping up the ram you should be fine - I haven't noticed that much of a difference between the two models (performance-wise).

    As someone who just went from a 17" to a 20" I have to say that the 20" is sweet. Especially for watching videos/using Front Row/etc...

    ...but at the same time, I would agree that the smaller screen is a good way to reduce the cost if you are trying to save money. I mean, it's not like the 17" screen is small!
     
  19. hubristol macrumors regular

    hubristol

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2005
    #19

    It honestly depends on the person. I see people who love their iBooks and take it everywhere but I also see people with iBooks and other laptops who just keep it in their room because they don't have the desire or the need to take them with them. I'm not sure how the original poster stands but I know that I fall into the latter category, personally, of not having the desire for portability as a tradeoff for speed.
     
  20. chrisblore thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    Location:
    Essex, UK
    #20
    I would definitely fall into the second category as, being a prospective law student and given the universities to which I have applied, a laptop is not necessarily going to be required. Lecture theatres tend to be pretty cramped anyway and it would probably be more practical for me to write good old-fashioned hand-written notes rather than using a laptop. I would rather have a faster machine that is permanently in my room rather than a laptop that I will rarely need to take with me anyway.
     
  21. ibook30 macrumors 6502a

    ibook30

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2005
    Location:
    2,000 light years from home
    #21
    My sister was a law student and found her laptop extremely important for studying at the library, etc. But- if you want the desktop option- the 17 inch will be fine.
    I just got a 20" iMac, and am thrilled. If you can beg, borrow, or steal the extra money, it's a good investment! It's likely you'll be staring at the machine for a couple of years to come - so (in my opinion) it's good to go all out and not have regrets later ! Good luck with the purchase and I am sure you'll be happy with either 17 or 20 !!!!
     
  22. hubristol macrumors regular

    hubristol

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2005
    #22
    I'm the same way. It'd be nice to have a computer to take notes on in class but I wouldn't buy one if it demanded trading off a more powerful computer. My dad, who's a huge fan of laptops (despite the fact that he never takes his 17" Powerbook outside of the house) occassionally gets on me for preferring desktops to laptops. I constantly have to explain that I actually *prefer* studying in my dorm room than at the library, cafe, etc. I'm in the same boat as you except that I'll be buying a refurbed 20" Rev B in the next couple of days.

    The 20" is definitely a nice upgrade but by no means a necessity if you have other things the money could go towards.
     
  23. ppnkg macrumors 6502a

    ppnkg

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #23
    I would say it's too early to plan ahead for next September. First of all, the edu discount is substantial. Sencond, you may want to wait and see if anything happens in January, because macintels are a substantial change. Third, a laptop coud really be an option, mobility is useful when you're a student. I would suggest you get some more information about the kind of work your course will involve.

    That said, upgrades are not always a good deal, especially if you're on a tight budget. I got my iMac (rev B, specs below) in August, then Apple announced the rev C. But memory upgrades for the current imac are more expensive - I wouldn't have been able to afford it. Overall, I'm very happy i got this one the time I did.
     
  24. chrisblore thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    Location:
    Essex, UK
    #24
    It's not by choice really that I'm having to upgrade now because my current Wintel laptop is not doing too well at the moment and is really starting to show its age, having become really sluggish under most operations above general websurfing and word processing. Whatever happens, I intend to wait until after January 9th and see if we at least get some indication as to the direction in which things are headed over the next few months. I won't be able to wait however if it turns out that there is likely to be a new release much later on in the year because I really cannot manage that long without a functional computer (our family does have another older computer that is networked but it is often needed by my brothers for homework etc.).

    Mobility-wise, my course is one that will involve a lot of essay writing and note taking but many choose to simply loan books from the university libraries and do their work at home rather than in the library so a laptop is not essential really for a law student, although the idea of being able to use a wireless internet connection whilst out and about in coffee shops etc. is very tempting! Either way, I guess I'll be taking a look at whatever goodies Apple decides to introduce in January (if any :rolleyes: ).
     

Share This Page