Advice on Buying an iMac Right now

Discussion in 'iMac' started by 337894, Jul 5, 2010.

  1. 337894 Guest

    Jul 8, 2009
    First time in the MacRumors forums!

    To get to the point, I just need some really strong advice on whether or not I should buy an iMac right now. I've been eyeing the 21.5 inch iMacs with nVidia. I'm looking forward to switching to the Mac! (yay!)

    But other than that, the only thing that's been preventing me from buying an iMac is the new updates. New GPU's, possibly some massive hardware updates, redesign, and maybe even a touchscreen (not too sure on that one). I'm usually the jealous person so if I were to buy an iMac right now, I would be really jealous and regretfull of the new iMac. Not only that, Apple has been known to have weird refresh cycle so I'm not too sure!!

    Despite this, I've been looking forward to do some video editing with FCE (which might get updated), and possibly FCS in the future. Also going to be doing some Photoshop, xCode, Applescript, and general Internet browsing. Just to be clear, I am NOT going to be doing any gaming on my iMac.

    I've went down to the local Apple Store and they said that it would be best to go with the ATI Radeon 21.5 iMac versus the Nvidia 21.5 iMac.

    Quote: "It'll (as in FCE, Photoshop, and the likes) definintely run on the Nvidia, but you're better off with the ATI for your needs"

    I'm on a budget of somewhere in the $1,000-$1,250ish range and I'll be able to use a student discount.

    Also, where should I buy my first iMac? If I buy it at the Apple Store, it'll be a great experience but I have to saddle on another $200-300 tax (unfavorable), but if I buy it online, it's just not the same, great experience. Any opinions on buying online vs. in person?

  2. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    Anything you want to do will work on the base model, although the ATi graphics are considerably improved (not that you really need high end graphics). If you would regret buying one within a couple months of a new one coming out, then you may want to wait, but personally I don't think the update will be anything worth waiting for, certainly nothing too major. Although it is possible that they will switch to i5s for the dual core models.
  3. 337894 thread starter Guest

    Jul 8, 2009
    Thanks for the first reply! Maybe I'll wait for the new updates (but I've been DYING to work on Objective-C, Applescript, xCode, Photoshop, FCE, and more during the summer!

    But I do have one question: What type of tasks would best suit the ATI's?

    If the i5's might trickle down to the Core 2 Duo's, then that's definintely the wait for me!
  4. aki macrumors 6502a

    Mar 2, 2004
    i5 and i7 are great but it's not like c2d is (too) old.

    Final Cut Studio if you are doing work in Motion or working with HD (transcoding and whatnot), will eat up ram and cpu, you just can't have a machine big enough. Having said that we all have to work within a budget :eek: and I used to do some FCS work on a 24" c2d iMac and it worked very well.

    The iMac refresh is highly unlikely to bring anything major. What is probable is a videocard upgrade, (and I guess a possible ripple-down of cpus as noted above).

    I think the best advice is what everyone here pretty much always says - if you need it now, buy it now. A c2d iMac is not a poor choice, and if it saves you money, then it's a good choice. Yes, you may be able to buy an i5 iMac in a few months, and then render your video faster; but then again that's a few months when you can't render any video at any speed at all. If you take my point.

    Two other things - video editing and Photoshop love ram, don't be afraid to jam it in there.

    Lastly, maybe I misread what you were getting at in your post, but for "bog standard" apps like Final Cut, there is no reason to choose nvidia as-a-brand over ati-as-brand. They both work, as brands, equally well. All you need to think about is how fast the actual cards are relatively speaking/how much ram they carry.

    Good luck!
  5. Commenter macrumors member

    Jun 27, 2010
    Welcome to the Mac

    No one knows when the updates will be nor what they will bring. The most reasonable speculation on what to expect is here:
    Massive hardware updates are unlikely, and a redesign is highly unlikely

    If you are on a PC (ew) and if you've been dying to work and learn over the summer, I'd say buy a refurbished machine now from the online Apple Store ( , near the end of the left column it says Special Deals - Refurbished Mac )—don't put off working and learning because of the mirage of a (probably minor) refresh, and there are some very nice refurb deals, all of which will likely cover your needs at least initially. I think you can also get an education discount on top of the refurbishness, but I don't know how to do that (maybe 1st going to the education part of the store, or maybe saying you're a student later).

    I don't think you need ATI graphics over NVidia

    If you find that you need/want more memory, you can always buy it later (I'd recommend and install it, keeping the warranty and the memory that came with the machine

    Any other questions, don't hesitate to ask

  6. AlvinNguyen macrumors 6502a

    Jun 23, 2010
    I would definitely go with the ATI if you can swing the $300 difference. I would even say go to CL and pick up a nice one (or even the base unit if you find a good deal on it). I picked mine up thinking it was a base for $650 in perfectly mint condition - actually turned out to be the 1TB w/ ati 4670! There is another person willing to sell a brand new base model for $950 so definitely the deals are out there - just gotta look for it.

    I'm also planning on waiting for the refresh before but if you can get a deal and the specs works for you then why not get it right now? :p
  7. Commenter macrumors member

    Jun 27, 2010
    If his budget is ~$1000, he shouldn't be advised to spend a third more in a graphics upgrade that he probably doesn't need.

    I also don't think it's a good idea for him to buy it from a random person, especially with good refurbished, full-Apple-warranty deals around.
  8. peakchua macrumors regular

    Apr 12, 2010
    if you can, get the quad core model.. or get the 27 model and upgrade to the 4850 though the price differnece then isint that much to the quad model. 4850 will make you not regret when you have those occaisional gaming bursts :D get the 27 inch or the ati 21.5 inch imac
  9. Commenter macrumors member

    Jun 27, 2010
    Guys, what's up with the influencing him to spend way beyond his budget and needs?
  10. Crunch macrumors 6502a


    Jun 26, 2008
    Crazy L.A.
    Hey Timmy,

    I was in your position two days ago! I bought the base model with the 500GB hard drive and the NVIDIA card, but I ended up taking it back to exchange it for the 1TB/ATI 4670HD model. Why? The screen was flickering a little. It was very subtle and the graphics were also slightly out of place.

    With that said, it is my opinion that this is not due to the NVIDIA card, but rather the screen itself. I am super duper happy with the model I chose. The extra 500GB come in handy, too, although I'd really love to install my SSD into the iMac and hook up the 1TB drive externally via USB. But that's another issue.

    Why did I get the higher model? Again, I don't think it was the gfx card, but I did the math. The difference is only $250 between the two with the student discount, because you only get $50 off the base model, and $100 for all other iMac's. I bought the iPod touch and the printer, both of which will be free after rebate (except for the sales tax) and I already have a buyer for the iPod touch. lol...I also don't want the printer, but like I said, it's free, so why not. Surely someone can use a brand new printer for $80-$100 w/o tax. :D

    If you don't want the hassle of having to buy and sell the two items and also want to avoid sales tax, you can buy it from The Mac Connection in NH, or Powermax in OR. The latter doesn't charge any sales tax in any state, and the Mac Connection only does in very select areas, mainly the Northeast. Sales tax in California (where I live) is a whopping 9.75%, so it can definitely make a difference.

    Good luck to you, and let us know what you decided. :)
  11. peakchua macrumors regular

    Apr 12, 2010

    i like your decision :D the ati 21.5 inch is probably the number 2 choice after the quad core one :)
  12. 337894 thread starter Guest

    Jul 8, 2009

    Thanks to everyone who have replied to my thread! I go to sleep, and I see a chockful of replies! Thanks again! Will reply back to everyone!
  13. 337894 thread starter Guest

    Jul 8, 2009

    Thanks for the advice! Just getting started with some research.

    Wow, FCS on a C2D iMac?

    Other than that, you do have a point there, but the thing is that if the i5 were to trickle down to the base-line iMacs, it would be a significant update (right?). The i5 has a better architecture than the Core 2 Duo. Does the architecture and speed difference between the Core 2 Duo and the i5 impact video editing, Photoshop work, and such much? By the way, when you were talking about the RAM on the iMac, how much RAM would you recommend that I add into my iMac into the future? 6GB? 8GB? 16GB?

    And I'm not too sure what brought me into the NVidia over ATI thing. My guess is that one of the Apple Store employees recommended the ATI.

    Sorry for asking so many questions, but how does the graphic card influence computer operation? Is it just for gaming?

    Again, sorry for asking so many questions! Thanks for the advice too!
  14. 337894 thread starter Guest

    Jul 8, 2009
    Ha, yes, PC's make me cringe (sadly, I'm using one with an Acer Aspire 3680 1.6GHz Celeron M with 2GB of RAM as of now)!:D

    Speaking of the thread that you mentioned, I actually gave that one a look before I posted a thread. (would be great to see Apple implement some of the guesses in that thread though!)

    To tell you the truth, I haven't had a good experience with refurbs. Most of them have been dealt with PC's and plus, it doesn't give you that authentic, Apple unboxing experience. I also own my own YouTube tech channel and therefore, it would be helpful to unbox an new iMac on video.

    I could work on my friend's white iMac Intel (though it might be a little inconvinience, there's the etiquette, and such) for xCode.

    I just have a feeling that Apple might update the iMacs with a new redesign and hardware spec updates!!

    Just out of curiosity, what kind of tasks/work on the iMac would require me to have an ATI vs. NVidia graphics card? Is it gaming? I don't do any gaming.

    Will definintely look at the RAM link! Thanks!

    Thanks for the advice! Really appreciated!
  15. 337894 thread starter Guest

    Jul 8, 2009
    Yeah, sorry, I'd have to go with Commenter on this one. I have never trusted Craigslist. But for the ATI, I'm not too sure. Trying to save up for a road bike at the same time (for cycling) and $300 is just a lot!
  16. 337894 thread starter Guest

    Jul 8, 2009
    Exactly! Thank you for saying that!!! :D
  17. 337894 thread starter Guest

    Jul 8, 2009
    I'm pretty sure that I can't afford something that's $1,000 over my budget.
  18. 337894 thread starter Guest

    Jul 8, 2009

    Awesome! Great to know that I can relate to someone! You do have a point with the ATI Graphics card.

    However, thing is, believe it or not, I've been looking forward to use the Student iPod Touch program so I can give my little sister an iPod Touch as a present. She recently lost her iPod Nano at 24 Hour, all of her music files were lost, and she's been wanting one ever since she got an iPod Nano! (although this is pretty contradictory to looking forward to the future iMac updates). On the other hand, I've been looking forward to using a printer for my personal use (my laser printer at home has been a hassle).

    I will definentily look forward to Mac Connection and Powermax (although I'm more familiar with Mac Connection). Was looking forward to MacMall, but the cost was too high when I went there.

    But being someone like myself, I'd favor buying my iMac on Amazon, the online Apple Store, and the Apple Store itself. (again, being somewhat contradictory to what I said)
  19. 337894 thread starter Guest

    Jul 8, 2009
    That is, if I can afford it!
  20. DesignerOnMac macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2007
    Apple just did a slight redesign of the iMac so I do not see any redesign in the near future.

    I have purchased many refurbished computers from Apple with no issues.

    I have a 2.8 extreme imac c2d and it runs all the latest software you mentioned with no issues, so I do not know where 'Wow' came!

    Keep in mind that even when Apple comes out this update it is already obsolete! The next computer is already in the design stage. Buy a computer for your needs and enjoy it as it will do what you want it to do for you.
  21. joejoejoe macrumors 65816

    Sep 13, 2006
    It's been 259 days since Apple touched the iMac. The iMac averages a refresh every 221 days.
  22. 337894 thread starter Guest

    Jul 8, 2009
    Exactly, time for Apple to update it, but there isn't any sign of them updating it!! :(
  23. Ravich macrumors 6502a

    Oct 20, 2009
    Portland, OR
    It's not that simple. You cant just average the last 5 updates with those 3 month updates back in 2006 and 2003 and then say "iMac is due for an update."

    Look at the last several updates. 8 months, 11 months, 8 months, 11 months, 8 months.... seeing the pattern?
  24. aki macrumors 6502a

    Mar 2, 2004
    Final Cut runs perfectly fine on a C2D. (Admittedly I was running it on the 3.06 GHz iMac but still the point stands.) Working with video itself isn't especially demanding - iMovie can run nicely on the cheapest laptop mac, for example. Where you really notice the difference is in encoding/transcoding (shifting video or audio from one format to another), and rendering (where the machine applies all your amazing effects to your footage).

    Speed with video editing is very much like large screen size, mobile phone and microwaves - you live a wonderfully happy life without them, but once you go there, you can never go back. Obviously, you should always buy the best machine you can afford; but given that you are buying to a budget, it's not the case that a C2D iMac "won't work". Sure, if you are in a work environment, importing and exporting video all day every day, then speed is very much relevant to you. But if you are embarking on "the Mac experience" and want to get used to using FCP etc, a C2D will work fine. (I guess the only caution I'd have is if you are really into motion graphics - the Motion app in FCS is great but once you start really layering on the complex effects, render times skyrocket. If you already know you will be doing a lot of effects (I'm not talking basic video effects here, I'm talking the complex stuff), then you probably should consider a more powerful machine, so as to preserve sanity.)

    Subjectively speaking, as I said I did a fair amount of video on a C2D 3.06 GHz iMac for over a year, and it worked well for me.

    If we knew for a fact there were going to be i5 iMacs at the same price point in a week, obviously I'd say you should wait. But we don't and we never will. You could end up waiting till the end of the year, who knows.

    As regards Photoshop work, I think the difference (C2D to i5) is fairly trivial, again unless you know for a fact you will want to be editing huuuuge images or something - and even then, ram is as much help as cpu.

    As regards how much ram - upgrading ram is the single simplest cheapest way to make a mac faster. Upgrading ram is a good way to help your machine "keep pace" a little longer. And apps like Motion and Photoshop like ram. Buy the max eventually. For basic operation 4gb is fine to start.

    Graphics cards used to be for gaming, but they have become so powerful and complex that more and more they are leveraged for other purposes. OSX for example uses your graphics card for aspects of its operation like Quartz Extreme and Core Image. Final Cut and Motion most certainly use your graphics card and will run better the better your video card is.

    I think my take home message would be - none of the purchases you could make will be poor choices. When you are buying to a budget, there are always compromises you will be making. That's inevitable. Myself, I'd either sit on my hands and wait for a possible i5; or just buy a C2D with the best graphics option I could afford, planning to add extra ram down the road.

    Good luck!
  25. AlvinNguyen macrumors 6502a

    Jun 23, 2010
    I disagree because I do think he needs it. With buying refurb or used with warranty (check the serial number) he should be fine. Obviously be smart about it, meet in a public place, use good character judgment of the seller, and test the machine thoroughly. There are deals out there. Even a refurb on amazon is roughly ~$1250 which is closer to his budget. Like I said, I picked mine up for $650 cash and I met at a star bucks and spent about 30 min checking the machine and then did a fresh install. A 21.5" iMac that's got till Dec for warranty with 1TB and ATI Radeon 4670 - you can find the deals if you're willing to look. I have not had any issue with mine at all except the yellow screen issue which isn't that bad and will be covered under the replacement warranty they issued.

    Now, those who are advising him to buy an iMac right now knowing the upgrade is coming, that's not a good idea.

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