A Couple Purchase Decisions

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Mark D, Jul 9, 2012.

  1. Mark D macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2012
    #1
    Hey guys,

    I've posted once or twice but I'm essentially new here. After the first couple decades of my life being a financially-induced Windows wonderland, I'm finally at a point where I can afford a far-superior Mac for the first time. It's only appropriate therefore that we're simultaneously in the midst of an unprecedented "the current model is outdated so don't buy it" "no go for it it's still good" crisis. I've decided though, given Apple's respectable policies in this regard, that the multi-hundred dollar savings associated with refurbished models cannot be passed up. Especially for me as a not-so-extravagant student. This in fact accounts for what discounts should be in place in this stage of the computers' lives, and excepting a few isolated situations, refurb Macs are widely considered to be every bit as good as their new counterparts thanks to the company's rigorous testing and certification. This of course renders the refresh situation irrelevant because even if an improved model does come out this month, it will likely be at least a couple of months before refurbished 2012 iMacs are available, which would put me back at square one.

    THEREFORE - the possibility this does open up is that I can get a much improved machine for a comparable price to what I was going to pay for a more modest setup new. As a photographer I am highly seduced by the larger 27" monitor. I'm considering the 3rd and 2nd models from the top:

    -2.7 ghz i5
    -3.1 ghz i5

    There is an i7 model available refurbished, but I'd have to say it's overkill for my needs considering my budget. The most important function for my computer is photo and video editing. A lot of these speed upgrades seem to have a lot to do with gaming but I'd imagine it has to have some effect on multimedia as well. I do Flight Simulator occasionally but that's as far into games as I've ever gotten. There are two main differences for the higher model and those are 3.1 ghz over 2.7, as well as doubling the GPU from 512MB to 1GB. I'm pretty inexperienced in both these areas. So if I use Lightroom and Photoshop on a regular basis, do you think the 3.1 is a significant step-up for $250 extra, or would I need the 3.4 i7 to notice any major difference? It's tempting to get the cheapest but this will also be my last computer purchase for many years to come.

    Also - am I making the right decision at all to get a better but older computer refurbished rather than a basic one new when they're available? Last year I got a 2008 high-end camera refurbished for the price of an entry-level one new, and I'm still so glad I did every day as it continues to offer more than equally priced current models. Could I have the same thrifty success in computers?

    That turned out pretty long but I'd appreciate any insight you all have.

    Thanks,
    Mark
     
  2. Mark D thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 21, 2012
    #2
    A simplified version for those I apparently scared off:


    1) How noticeable in your experience and/or knowledge is the difference between 2.7 and 3.1 Ghz, particularly for photo and video editing programs?

    2) In your opinion, do the reduced prices of refurbished 2011 iMacs while maintaining their original warranty and quality make purchasing them now justifiable?
     
  3. user418 macrumors 6502a

    user418

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2010
    #3
    If as you stated "this will be my last computer purchase for many years to come" max it out as much as you can. Also, the 2011 models are still very good machines and a refurbished model will serve you well for years to come. Don't get caught up in the hype of "gotta have the latest and greatest." Too many folks erroneously assume that when a new model comes out the previous version automatically becomes obsolete.

    Be forewarned that Apple products are addictive and their number tends to multiply quickly after that first purchase.
     
  4. flynz4 macrumors 68040

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    Aug 9, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #4
    One thing that you might want to research is if a 2011 refurb will be priced less when the new models come out. I really have no idea... but I am sure others here do.

    Given that Apple has stated that ML will release this month... you might want to see if a new iMac is introduced... but only if you think that cause a price reduction in the previous model refurb.

    /Jim
     
  5. Mark D thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 21, 2012
    #5
    Thanks to both of you.

    Hard to do when I expected this to finally take out the guesswork, but that's a good point.

    I've thought more about this and may go conservative after all. But with either size monitor what I'm really trying to decipher is the noticeable real-life effect of ghz.


    Ironically - Don't know if it's just a glitch or what, but at the moment there are "no products available" at the refurb store. :confused:
     
  6. Harri569 macrumors newbie

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    Jul 9, 2012
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    UK
    #6
    You mentioned you're a student, are you not entitled to apples education discount? HE students get about 14% discount on new iMacs.
     
  7. Mark D thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 21, 2012
    #7
    Nowhere near as significant. Only $50 for the 21.5" and $100 for 27". Comes out to barely 5%. This is what I was told directly at the Apple Store.
     
  8. flynz4 macrumors 68040

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    Portland, OR
    #8
    I don't see how it is that hard to do. Look at refurb prices differences between Gen N and Gen N-1. That should give you a rough idea of how much to expect the current Gen N to be reduced in price when they become Gen N-1.

    Personally, I have never bought refurb... nor have I checked the price differences... but given that there is probably a 50/50 chance (or better) that a new iMac will be released this month within a couple days of ML... it seems like a reasonable decision to see what the price affect will be on currently shipping refurbs.

    I know (from reading here) that waiting for a refresh before buying a refurb is a popular method of getting a larger discount on a purchase.

    /Jim

    ----------

    Plus you would get a $100 back to school iTunes gift card... which if you are new to using a Mac... you will almost certainly spend on new applications for your iMac.

    /Jim
     
  9. Negator macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2012
    Location:
    East Central Illinois
    #9
    My first mac was a 2010 27" iMac with the 2.93 Ghz i7. If anything, I would suggest maxing out the memory on the mac you buy rather that worry about a 0.4 Ghz increase.

    I regret not paying the extra $$ for 16GB of memory at the time of purchase because that's what I really need right now.

    I've also been considering purchasing a new mac so that I can get thunderbolt as I have almost a TB of data (photos and videos of the family) and it is SLOOOW to transfer to external drives, even over Firewire.

    I'm keeping my fingers crossed that a new iMac comes out this fall as has been rumored.
     
  10. nagareru macrumors regular

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    Jun 11, 2012
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    Lima, Peru
    #10
    Never buy RAM from APPLE when you can buy it 400$ cheaper from a third party. And installing ram on an imac is easier than assembling an IKEA piece of furniture.
     
  11. forty2j, Jul 10, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2012

    forty2j macrumors 68030

    forty2j

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    NJ
    #11
    If you want a 27" 2011, get the 6970m w/ 2 GB of VRAM. Hopefully you can find one refurb. The 6770m has a hard time managing that many pixels even for just medium complexity tests. You'd notice the difference in Lightroom.
     
  12. cooky560 macrumors regular

    cooky560

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    #12
    Installing new ram in an imac is arguably easier than installing ram in a home built PC. having nothing to disassemble first...
     
  13. Harri569 macrumors newbie

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    Jul 9, 2012
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    UK
    #13
    If you're a university student and you order from your uni network you get about 14%, only off new models though not refurb. If you're a collage student it's a much lower discount. The base 21.5" would cost me (a uni student) about £859 rather than £999 full price.
     
  14. robgendreau macrumors 68040

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    Jul 13, 2008
    #14
    It's probably the graphics hardware that'll be more important than the pure speed. If you use a lot of filters, effects in your photo editing speed could count.

    I'd suggest that you go to support sites for your chosen software, PS and LR, and see how folks are doing with the different machines. CS6 editions, for example, exploit some hardware better than others. Odds are you'll be using those two applications for a long time so get a machine that optimizes them.

    Rob
     
  15. Mark D thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 21, 2012
    #15
    Well I signed in under my university and confirmed it would still be starting at $1149.
     
  16. Harri569 macrumors newbie

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    #16
    Oh that's a shame :( there must be different discounts in the UK then?
     
  17. Mark D thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 21, 2012
    #17
  18. Negator macrumors newbie

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    East Central Illinois
    #18
    Hrm...I guess I hadn't really looked at upgrading the RAM myself, thinking it would be like upgrading the hard drive - take to Apple Store or ship to somewhere like OWC for the upgrade.

    I've built PC's in the past, so I have no problem opening a normal case for upgrades - but I'm wary of doing anything like that to my iMac. However, your post spurred me to look into it, and I've ordered 16GB of memory...should be here tomorrow.

    Thanks.
     
  19. mscriv macrumors 601

    mscriv

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    Aug 14, 2008
    Location:
    Dallas, Texas
    #19
    I can view current iMacs available in the refurb store, so they seem to be there.

    As far as your purchasing decision. I'm normally not one to tell people to buy the newest model as I've purchased used macs on more than one occassion. Like you and others have said, it's normally a better deal. However, I think this current Mac refresh is significant across the board because of the upgrade from USB 2 to USB 3. If you are going to be working with media (audio, video, pictures, etc.) then transfer speeds could be an important thing to consider. Sure, the machine you buy will have TB, but a USB 3 HD is much cheaper in price and will give a faster transfer speed than FW.

    If buying a new machine is just out of the question or you can't wait for the new models to show up in the refurb section then I would just go ahead and pull the trigger on the 3.1 i7 so you can have the faster processor and the better graphics. It will help with what the media work you plan on doing and will better future proof the machine.
     
  20. forty2j macrumors 68030

    forty2j

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    NJ
    #20
    Lol the only way installing RAM into an iMac could be easier is if you just left the sealed package on the keyboard for 5 minutes and came back and it had installed itself..

    1 screw!
     
  21. class77 macrumors 6502a

    class77

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    Nov 16, 2010
    #21
    Mark, do you really need the iMac right now?? New iMacs with USB 3 and faster processors should be arriving just any week now. Don't know why the newiMacs are lagging so far behind all the laptops, but they are.
     
  22. Mike Valmike macrumors 6502a

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    Feb 27, 2012
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    Chandler, Arizona
    #22
    They do drop, usually not immediately, and by definition the percentage drop isn't as steep as the drop from new to refurb when the model was current. I still consider the Apple refurb and Amazon Warehouse refurb options to be superb ways to get a computer and GENERALLY great values. You have to look at the specific thing you want and compare to your options. For example, the Mac Pro hexacore refurb right now costs more than the new version at retail! But that's likely because of the price cut last month and the refurb store's pricing algorithm not having caught up with it yet. Likewise the refurb 2011 iMac right now isn't that great of a deal because the 2011 iMac new is such a terrible value for its price, but I suspect if you look at it in September it will be a much better deal.

    One thing I'll mention that might not matter to an iMac buyer is that the price of refurb Mac Minis is pretty much always worth it -- they are so cheap to begin with that grinding down that price even a little further, especially with free shipping, is just frosting on the cake.
     
  23. Mark D thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 21, 2012
    #23
    Seriously? Can you get to part where you actually order it? It shows deals along the top but they are all out of stock. Everything. Go check out my post in "Apple, Industry, and Internet Discussion" which obviously no one has found worthy of attention and I have a screenshot of the problem.

    As for the computer, I've changed my mind in the interest of budget and want to go with the 21 inch. The base is (albeit by 1 cent) under 1000 bucks and that's just too phenomenal to forego. I can't emphasize how intrepid of a financial decision getting any Mac at all is for me and I found I wasn't comfortable getting a maxed out machine and having little left to fall back on for anything else that might arise.

    Aren't there some sort of adapter cords that call allow use of USB 3.0? Thought I read that somewhere, like through the eSATA port to the device in question.
     
  24. mscriv macrumors 601

    mscriv

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    Aug 14, 2008
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    Dallas, Texas
    #24
    Yep, I can add the refurb iMac to my cart and go to the point of check out.


    Very wise my friend. I totally understand working on a budget and you are making a smart decision if that is your situation.


    There are no TB to USB 3 adaptors that I am aware of at this point. Some docking stations have been announced and could be an option. No Mac computers come with an external eSATA port so an eSATA to USB 3 adaptor is not a solution. OWC does offer an aftermarket mod to give your iMac an eSATA port, but in my opinion that is a drastic measure.
     

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