Advice For An A-typical Mac User?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by pollybrowne, Aug 1, 2013.

  1. pollybrowne macrumors regular


    Nov 4, 2009
    I would be so grateful if anyone could offer their opinion/insight on a purchasing issue...

    My mom needs to purchase a desktop for personal use, she would prefer to stay away from Windows 8 and is more familiar with OSX so she'd to purchase an iMac, however she's not your typical user in that she really only wants to be able to browse the web/email/facetime/watch videos/create word documents here and there (ie. no gaming/graphics/design etc.). She's also a retired teacher and can't really afford to spend more $900+, so she's been looking at refurbished options at Micro Center.

    They have refurbished 20 inch iMacs right now for $599. The person helping her in the store said they were manufactured in 2010--he told the lifespan of an iMac was about 8 yrs and, she could therefore expect to get 4 yrs more out of it. I told her the 20 inch model was discontinued in 2009 so it couldn't have been from 2010. I assumed they were the early 2009 model, and I advised her to go for it, but when she went back today a different person checked the model number and they're actually the 2008 model.

    I know the main differences between the two of these models are RAM limited to 4 vs 8GB and the 2.4 vs 2.66 processor--the consequences of which being that she likely wouldn't be able to upgrade to Mountain Lion without encountering some performance issues. And then there's the fact that it's even older than she'd originally thought when she's hoping to get at least 2-3yrs out of this computer.

    I've had MacBook Pros but I've never purchased a refurbished Mac, and I've usually had a new enough model to be able to run the latest OS, so I don't know how using one that's outdated really effects the user experience for someone who is only looking to perform basic tasks.

    Can anyone tell me whether they think $599 is a reasonable price for this computer? ( )

    How much longer do you think a 2008 iMac can really be used for the kinds of basic tasks that I described?

    Is it ridiculous to purchase an iMac this old (will it become obsolete in a year), or, assuming its in decent condition, could someone still get something out of a 5 year old iMac?

    I'd be so grateful for any advice anyone could offer. If she buys this computer, she's going to do so this weekend since purchases will be tax free for back-to-school shopping.

  2. RCAFBrat macrumors 6502

    Jul 10, 2013
    Montreal, QC
  3. pollybrowne thread starter macrumors regular


    Nov 4, 2009

    Thanks for the suggestion, but my mom just wants to get an all-in-one. She won't get something that you have to buy something else for. That's part of the problem--she also won't buy anything online. It has to be something you can walk in and purchase :/

    That's why I was asking what the thoughts were on this particular model...
  4. tuxon86 macrumors 65816

    May 22, 2012
    I wouldn't do it...
    I would check the classified or craiglist instead and try to get a 2010 i3 21.5" instead. In the end she may have to come to grip that she may have to compromise, either by buying a mini+monitor or getting something else than a mac.
  5. pollybrowne thread starter macrumors regular


    Nov 4, 2009
    So can I assume from your response that you think, if she's unwilling to consider anything other than an all-in-one/laptop option (which is the case), then she would be better off buying a $600 non-mac than to go with this particular mac refurb option?


    Also, can I ask why you wouldn't do it? Is it just the price being too much for a model that old or the RAM limitations potentially causing her problems or making it obsolete?
  6. tuxon86 macrumors 65816

    May 22, 2012
    Contrary to what the seller told you, the mac is still a computer. And a five year old computer is way pass its prime. Depending on the processor and video card it may not even be able to run the latest version of OSX. This also mean not being up to date in her other software.

    So the decision amount to buy either a used car or a new car for the same amount of money. The new car maybe not the exact model that you wanted but it will last longer, cost less in maintenance than the used model that you wanted.
  7. dextr3k macrumors 6502

    Nov 26, 2012
    I would tend to agree with the others on this one. 2008 is way too old for a computer. Although macs are known to have a longer lifespan and there are plenty of 20" imacs running right now, buying one seems like a bad idea.

    If she is set on an imac, I would keep an eye out on craigslist. Think of it like this, if you bought a 2010 version, then it would last 2 years longer than the 2008 version.

    I don't know about your area, but an example is this SF bay posting for $500, would be a better buy than microcenter.
  8. rkaufmann87 macrumors 68000


    Dec 17, 2009
    Folsom, CA
    Apple is selling the a newly refurbished 21.5 2012 iMac for $1099, only $200 more and she gets the same warranty as a new machine and a machine eligible for AppleCare. I'd recommend she save a little and get that, it's available at:

    If she's smart she could buy one tonight, get the 12 month same as cash deal, pay the $900 down and have 12 easy payments of only about $17.00, almost anyone can afford that.
  9. lexvo macrumors 65816

    Nov 11, 2009
    The Netherlands
    I agree with rkaufmann87: buy a basic new or refurbished iMac. It is more expensive but you get warranty and the latest technology.

    A few years ago my father was in the same boat. After we discussed where he used his computer for (mainly websurfing, e-mail and word processing) , he bought the cheapest new iMac with AppleCare. He is very happy with it for over 2 years now and continues to be able to upgrade to the newest OS-X versions.
  10. pastrychef macrumors 601


    Sep 15, 2006
    New York City, NY
    I want to toss in another vote for shopping for a refurb from the Apple Store. I have difficulty putting faith in a refurb from anywhere else.

    I agree with the others that a 2008 model is a bit long in the tooth. While computers can potentially last decades, we can be certain that the older the computer, the sooner we can expect Apple to drop support for them in terms of OS releases.
  11. macs4nw macrumors 601


    I'm joining most of the above posters in advising you against that 2008 iMac. As far as possible needed parts, such as motherboards and the like, that desktop is getting close to becoming 'legacy', after which you cannot get those parts from APPLE anymore. Source:

    I know you said 'desktop', but for what she needs it, you could almost do with an iPad, and for her budget (after the expected Sep-Oct upgrade, of course), she could get a brand-new 128GB WiFi version, with AppleCare and money to spare. Throw in iWork, and it'll do everything on her wishlist above. Maybe worth considering.....
  12. RCAFBrat macrumors 6502

    Jul 10, 2013
    Montreal, QC
    I was thinking the same but the small (relatevely) screen size may be an issue. I was thinking she could add a Bluetooth keyboard so she doesn't need to use the on screen keyboard (like I am right now and I find it is a pain for anything longer than a text message).

    Is there any equivalent of a mouse available for iPad? That way it could be put on a stand for typing and not have to touch it while editing.

    Again, for consideration.
  13. AlexBerkman macrumors member


    Jul 18, 2011
    I would advice like the two before me; Tell her to get a the 128 gig Ipad...that will do what she wants and needs and with no hazzle at all, my mother got one her desktop and laptop are retired....
  14. rdlink macrumors 68040


    Nov 10, 2007
    Out of the Reach of the FBI
    First of all, I agree with the others that I would not recommend buying anything that's a 2008 5 years later. Aside from the fact that it's just older, it also has limitations with running the newer OS, etc.

    Further, given my experience (and yours) with Microcenter, I definitely wouldn't buy anything used from them. I was in a Microcenter a while back, and the sales person had a fairly clueless couple over in the Apple area of the store, trying to sell them a "Mac compatible" external hard drive. The "Mac compatible" drives were priced considerably more than the "Windows compatible" external drives in the Windows/generic section of the store. I walked by and mentioned to the couple that they did not need to buy the "Mac compatible" external drive, and could buy any of the others that were cheaper. The sales person slid away as I explained to them that all they had to do was plug the drive in and use Disk Utility to format the drive as an HFS+ drive.

    Your experience that one of the salespeople told you the computer was a 2010, and the other confirmed that it was an earlier year should be a red flag.

    So, my question is why your mother might not be open to the idea of a Macbook Air. The Apple Refurb store has 11 MBA's starting at $749, and 13" starting at $849. Sounds like the MBA would be very much adequate for her needs, and give her the added benefit of being able to take it with her when she travels.

    I own a 13" MBA, two 27" iMacs and a 3rd Gen iPad. I can tell you that, while all of my devices are great, I use my MBA about 10X as much as any of the others. It's simply the best computer I have ever owned. For reference, I have owned, designed, built and supported Windows PCs for over 20 years.
  15. talmy, Aug 2, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2013

    talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    My gosh, nobody is telling you to go for it. But then people here tend to be techies who are always after the latest and presumably the greatest. Who else would visit a Mac Rumors site?

    Anyhow, that iMac would be fine for the limited light use you mom would do. Even with the 2GB RAM. My grown daughter uses this iMac (24" model, though). I've given two older iMacs (a G5 and the first generation of Intel models) to friends that still use them.

    At $600 it would be fine, and no other solution (of what she wants -- an iMac) comes near the cost. You even get a 90 day store warranty in case something is wrong.

    EDIT -- I just looked up in my records the model my daughter has: 24" Apple iMac, 2.8GHz Core 2 Duo, 2GB RAM, 320GB HD, 8x DL "Superdrive". Purchased 7/08. Hard drive died and replaced with a 500GB drive at the Apple Store in November 2012 (because the 320GB drive was no longer available). She put Mountain Lion on it when the drive was replaced, but I believe she still has only 2GB RAM.
  16. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    I think your mom would be better off with:

    - A refurbished Mac Mini from the Apple Store, and

    - One of the "medium-rez" 27" monitors. Why this size? Because the mid-rez 27-inchers have a pixel pitch of .031mm @ 1920 x 1080. To you, the larger pixels may look "grainy". But to your mom (with her older vision), the larger pixels will be EASY to read and work with.

    - If your mom learned touch-typing on _real_ typewriters, chances are she is NOT going to like the Apple "flat" aluminum keyboards. You would do better to get her a more "traditional" type keyboard with shaped keys and a more tactile response.

    - I would recommend a mouse that's "easy to handle". The Logitech mice would be good in this regard. You might even take her to an office supply store, where they have numerous mice set up, and ask her which one feels the best to her.

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