Advice on Buying an iMac

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by FredT, Sep 26, 2008.

  1. FredT macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2008
    #1
    Hi,

    I'm going to buy a new iMac because

    1) My whole family is currently using the MacBook in my house (no one wants to use the Windows machine :)) and it would be nice to have a second decent computer

    2) I'd rather get the desktop because I already have the portability of the MacBook and I want the extra screen space an iMac provides

    Now here is the problem. I am currently debating on which iMac to get. First off, I will be using the computer for a lot of web design and programming. I'm not a pro or anything like that though, I'm a high school student and I use web design to make a little money. I am using all the web related CS3 programs to do that stuff. I also use Final Cut Express on occasion for school projects or just fooling around with my friends on some videos. Those are the most strenuous things I will be doing, the rest of it just the basic Safari, Mail, Word, etc.

    I would really like a 24" screen because I often run out of room on my little 13" MacBook (in Final Cut, Flash, and Illustrator in particular) and that really annoys me. After checking the iMacs in the Apple Store, I thought the 20" was a nice size, then I looked at the 24" and after that the 20" always looked small :p. My mom wasn't a fan of the 24" because she thought it would be too large for the room we are going to put it in. But that is irrelevant, what I am really concerned about here is the screen size vs. the specs for the price. I want to stay around (or below) $1500. In addition, my dad gets a discount at the Apple store so he is a state employee. That generally knocks off about $100 or $150.

    I have narrowed my selection down a little, but I would really like to know how much of a difference fractions of a gigahertz make. For example, the baseline 20" computer has 2.4, but one level up from that has 2.66. Then to 2.8 and 3.06. How much of a difference would there be between 2.4 and 2.66 gHz? Also the video cards, 128 vs 256 mb...

    To keep my hopes alive for ever being able to afford a 24" iMac, I turned to the refurb area of the Apple website, which contains some excellent deals.

    Here are the three main computers I am comparing at this point:

    Brand new 2nd level 20" iMac:
    2.66 ghz
    6 meg cache
    2 gig ram
    320 gb hd
    ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO with 256 mb

    vs.

    Brand new 1st level 20" iMac w/ upgraded hd:
    2.4 ghz
    6 meg cache
    1 gig ram that I'd upgrade to 2 myself
    250 gb hd
    ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT with 128 mb

    vs.

    Refurbished 24" iMac:
    2.4 gHz
    4 meg cache
    1 gig of ram that I'd upgrade to 2 myself
    320 gb hd
    ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO with 256 mb

    Option 1: The beefiest of the three comps, slightly more expensive than option 3

    Option 2: The money saver if you tell me the difference in specs between options 1 and 2 are not going to show much of a difference in performance

    Option 3: The in-between spec wise computer, but with the 24" screen.

    For options 1 and 2 it wasn't even worth it to get their refurb equivalents... with my dad's discount there wasn't that much of a difference in price (only like $100 and I would rather have a brand new computer rather than a refurb for just $100 more).

    Well, sorry for my excessively long post... here is what I'm trying to get at: how much of a difference in performance am I going to see between these three computers and what do you recommend?

    Thanks!!!:)
     
  2. techound1 macrumors 68000

    techound1

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2006
    #2
    Go refurb and drop in after-market RAM - mucho beefy for micro $$s. :p
     
  3. marbles macrumors 68000

    marbles

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Location:
    EU mostly
    #3
    I'm not sure if your dads discount will be applied to items from the refurb store ?
     
  4. FredT thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2008
    #4
    Thanks for the responses

    Yes, that's what I intend on doing if I get one of the comps with only 1 gig... probably newegg or something.

    No it will not. It would help me out on options 1 or 2 where the computers are actually brand new.
     
  5. marbles macrumors 68000

    marbles

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Location:
    EU mostly
    #5
    tbh , if you already have a Macbook , then what about buying a decent sized screen and get a new Mini when they are refreshed ? , just a thought

    that way you could have your family computer and use the screen for your macbook also
     
  6. FredT thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2008
    #6
    I hadn't thought of this...

    What do you mean the minis are being refreshed?
     
  7. marbles macrumors 68000

    marbles

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Location:
    EU mostly
    #7
    it is looking likely that one way or another in the next few weeks that the Mini will be either refreshed (likely) or discontinued (unlikely).Might be that we see something altogether different

    I'd hang on for a few weeks before buying if I was you , some refreshes are way overdue and are being rumored to be happening very soon ....have you not read any threads one here ?
    have a look at this : http://www.iphonesavior.com/2008/09/rumor-is-apples.html
    I'm on a G3 and really need a new machine but am hangin in to see what happens this next couple of weeks
    just my 2p
     
  8. marbles macrumors 68000

    marbles

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Location:
    EU mostly
    #8
    to add , if your desperate to buy now ,, I think the Mini would be ok for general family use ...it's still a good machine as it is .
     
  9. zer0tails macrumors 65816

    zer0tails

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2008
    Location:
    Canada
    #9
    Definitely get the refurb! the 24" is a beauty. And the savings on the refurb is well worth it in my opinion :)

    I bought a refurb mac pro this week, and when it came, it worked as if it was brand new.

    Smart money for the refurb! Order it now!:D
     
  10. eXan macrumors 601

    eXan

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2005
    Location:
    Russia
    #10
    Option 3 is the best for you, IMO.

    You won't notice the performance difference and you get a really nice IPS screen.
     
  11. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604

    SnowLeopard2008

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2008
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #11
    Get the refurb. Sometimes they might throw in an upgrade, since some ppl order with upgrades from apple and then return it. so get the refurb, and get some good ram. basically same thing as a new imac, just cheaper. :D good luck!
     
  12. thebill macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2006
    Location:
    The Home of H.A.L., Urbana
    #12
    24" refurb is the path to follow, my son. I've bought laptops, iPods & a 24" iMac from the refurb store & Apple :apple: is so CLEAN about this stuff, you'd never know it wasn't new except for it's brown shipping box.
    And yes, it's true, they ship out better specced machines at times, my 24" was a 128 mb graphics card yet came with a 256! Kapoww! :cool:
    P. S.
    My fave ram company is Other World Computing at macsales.com quick to ship, top quality ram.
     

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