Are (i)Macs becoming less and less bang-for-buck computers?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Tigerman82, Dec 2, 2018.

  1. Tigerman82 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2010
    #1
    I've been using my Mid-2010 iMac for 8.5 happy years as I haven't experiences the trouble of system errors, constant updates, drives issues or overheating that I've experienced with PCs back in the day. Moreover, OS X makes Windows seem clumsy and high-maintenance. As I'm preparing to upgrade to a new computer (Mid-2010 iMac isn't cutting it anymore in multitasking and connectivity), I've done a fair bit of background work and I'm sad to say that (unless you need OS X -specific apps which I don't) I'm considering switching camps to Windows PC (something like Hades NUC or other small form factor).

    Today's Macs seem to have all kinds of issues that do not exactly scream "I'm reliable". You got your failed GPUs and issues with dust going inside those gorgeous Retina screens. You got your T2-related kernel panics. You got your slow boots from external SSDs and other issues because of Mojave/APFS. You got issues with Bootcamp starting with the lack of eGPU support (an important factor for those of use who wish to do light gaming on Steam).

    The longevity aspect also troubles me. The one thing, besides OS X, that made me swallow the cost of an iMac was that I could trust it getting updates and running smoothly for at least eight years. However, as Apple is adding stuff like the T2-chip and possibly its own CPUs in the mix, I'm worried that the system updates will stop after 4-6 years. Moreover, what happens to Bootcamp/Windows support if Apple starts using its own CPUs.

    I'd love nothing more than to buy the next iMac but there are just too many question marks regarding longevity and Windows support. At some point you really have to ask if OS X is worth +$1000 premium (NUC Hades Canyon + 27-inch monitor vs. 27" 5K iMac) over a Windows PC with better (although not necessarily as compatible) components.
     
  2. redheeler macrumors 604

    redheeler

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    Oct 17, 2014
    #2
    Is the 27" monitor for the NUC a 5K display? If not, then even with the quality control issues, the iMac's value continues to be in the display; not just the resolution, but the excellent max brightness at 500nits and support for the P3 color gamut. 5120x2880 makes a lot of sense at 27", and I wouldn't want to downgrade to a 3840x2160 at that size, having to deal with 150% scaling or UI elements at native size that are either tiny or huge.

    Now is a bad time to buy the iMac, as it's still using last year's hardware. We should see a refresh in early or mid 2019.
    --- Post Merged, Dec 2, 2018 ---
    I wish there were better / more cost-effective options with a 5K display, but there aren't. Having to put up with dust spots and image retention is a disappointment for sure.
     
  3. mreg376 macrumors 65816

    mreg376

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    #3
    Or now is a GOOD time to buy an iMac, before it's redesigned with a 20% bump in price, non-user-upgradeable RAM, and the T2 chip that's giving some iMac Pro owners fits. :)
     
  4. bbnck, Dec 2, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2018

    bbnck macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    You might want to look into some of the issues under Steve Jobs' leadership that you've managed to forget about.
    Want me to list more? Or are you satisfied that you've seemingly created this illusion in your mind that Apple used to be perfect?
     
  5. Tigerman82, Dec 2, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2018

    Tigerman82 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #5
    There are a lot of factors to consider, for sure. For one, the price. We pretty much know Apple is going to raise prices concerning the next iMac so that'd make the current gen a good deal. On the other hand, as Apple doesn't lower its prices, you are paying a lot for over a year-old tech. Sure, you can buy used or refurbs although these are not widely available in every country (such as my current residence). Another thing to consider is that if you buy an iMac now, you are going to have to pay BTO prices for at least for the SSD (unless for some reason you are happy buying a +$2k computer with a Fusion Drive). If you wait, however, the new iMac might (like with the MacBook Pros) offer not only an SSD but 16 gigs of RAM as standard (at least for the higher-end models).

    The thing is that with all the things Apple is changing from T2 chip to the rumors of Apple starting to use its own CPUs, I feel like A) Macs will get on the unsupported list sooner and B) they will be even more poorly optimized for Windows/Bootcamp than they currently are (we all know Apple doesn't exactly keep the GPU drivers up-to-date as many resort to bootcampdrivers.com). What's more, I feel a great concern regarding the T2-related kernel panics and other quality control issues as something's wrong when they constantly raise already-high prices but go backwards in quality and reliability.
    --- Post Merged, Dec 2, 2018 ---
    Didn't mean to imply that Apple and perfection used to be synonymous. However, I do feel like people tend to connect words like 'longevity' to Macs. They also tend to think that while Macs are not gaming computers with powerful components, the Mac-hardware is chosen and put together with engineer-grade precision and quality. Put it this way, my Mid-2010 iMac is still running as fast as it did the day I bought it (or actually better since I made the SSD upgrade in 2012) whereas most of my PCs (including $2k gaming laptop) would develop issues within four years and always felt like the manufacturer had just thrown in a bunch of sexy-sounding components but paid no attention to how they play together inside a plasticy chassis.
     
  6. nambuccaheadsau macrumors 65816

    nambuccaheadsau

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    #6
    No never.

    Purchased an original LC about 1991, with a RGB display andn it set me back well over three grand. It was such a powerful machine maxed with 128MB hard drive and 8MB of memory. I would guess in today's equivalent, this would be some $12-15 thousand.
     
  7. driftless macrumors 65816

    driftless

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    #7
    I still the love the iMac, I have three currently. Try not to get caught up with the naysayers on this forum who haven't owned one, can't afford one, etc.
     
  8. mreg376 macrumors 65816

    mreg376

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    Location:
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    #8
    I agree. I laugh at the complaining and whining that it needs a "redesign" and the "bezels" are too thick, etc. It is still the most elegant computer available in both style and function, and I see no reason that it should follow the Dell, Asus and HP crowd. If I have a bone to pick with Apple it was their obsession with making the edges so unnecessarily thin, for a non-mobile device that is used from the front, which has restricted Apple's options with components and especially cooling.
     
  9. mikehalloran macrumors 6502

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    Oct 14, 2018
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    The Sillie Con Valley
    #9
    Yep.

    My Mac+ system in 1986 cost $7,700. I can still itemize the components. (Mac+ 1mB, 20mB SCSI drive, 27mB Tape backup, ImageWriter II, FileMaker) That would be over $20K now.

    A fully leases iMac Pro with similar accessories (Time Capsule, Printer, FileMaker Pro) isn’t as expensive.
     
  10. JoSch macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2013
    #10
    I love my iMac 21" (2017), it's such fast, silent machine, even when editing video. Granted, I bought that one used, but hell, it's such a good machine.
     
  11. Malus120 macrumors 6502

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    Jun 28, 2002
    #11
    Personally I'd say the iMac (at least the modern, intel iMac) has always been a machine that's lives and died by its display.

    When new display technology comes along, Apple is often the first to integrate it at a reasonable price, making the iMac a really great value for a few years. The 1440P display introduced on the 2009 iMac and 5K Retina display introduced in 2014 are perfect examples of this.

    As higher resolution / better / larger displays proliferate throughout the industry however the iMac begins to lose its (value) edge. While it generally still nominally has one of the best screens on the market, the difference between the display in the iMac, and what can be had for several hundred dollars is significantly diminished.

    This was true in 2012 ~ mid 2014 when 1080P 27" were cheap, and 1440P was dropping in price, and its been true since around 2017 when 4K monitors started getting really cheap.

    So while yes, the current iMac being ridiculously (unacceptably IMHO) out of date certainly isn't helping things, the real reason its lost some of the luster/value is just that other high res displays have gotten so good/cheap that while, yes, the 5K iMac display still stands out, it's not necessarily enough to justify being locked into an un-upgradable device where a single component failure can ruin the whole machine.

    I loved my 2014 5K iMac, but if I honestly had to choose today between one 5K screen or two 4K screens, I'd probably go with the later.
     
  12. SecuritySteve macrumors 6502

    SecuritySteve

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    California
    #12
    As I am reading this, I would like to drop some comments on my iMac Pro (which has a T2 chip, latest generation, etc).

    Yes it is true that initially with the release of the iMac Pro there were T2 related kernel panics. However I think the T2 bridge-OS kernel panics are a little over blamed. Many of the kernel panics mention the T2 bridge OS because that is simply where the stack trace ended, as opposed to where the panic began. Most of my reverse engineering (which I do for cyber security research) on my own panics lead me to my Razer peripherals having buggy drivers. And yet the panic still referenced the T2 bridge OS.

    All that said, with Mojave I have had only 1 kernel panic on my iMac Pro, and that was due to a Razer peripheral (by the way, I'm never buying Razer for anything ever again). I believe the latest OS stability updates were exactly what my iMac Pro needed.

    My MacBook Pro 2018 has a T2 processor too, and it has never kernel panicked. It's also good to keep in mind that these forums represent only a small fraction of Mac users who actually have problems, and tend to attract the few Mac users that do. Thus, we will see more problems represented here than are proportionate to the greater Mac user base.

    Now let's talk about Windows. Windows isn't the ugly, horrible platform that it used to be. Many Enterprise applications have fled the Mac environment while maintaining Windows and even Linux support. That is because of Apple's failure to cater to anyone EXCEPT graphics designers, musicians, and iOS developers. If you are not in one of these categories, and you need heavyweight applications (CAD, anything with CUDA development) you're probably better off on Windows these days... unless you need a support package. I personally love AppleCare. Being able to take my Mac into an Apple store and get it serviced reliably is a major advantage over a build-your-own Windows box, or even an OEM like DELL which has terrible support. Apple is definitely the best hardware provider for support.

    As for price, if you really need the components in the Mac, you will find that building the exact same system in a Windows tower with an equivalent monitor (use the LG 5k Ultrafine as a price comparison) will cost around the same, except for the RAM. When I had priced out my initial cost estimate for my iMac Pro, I had estimated it would cost 9,000$ or so by cost of its components. Only the RAM had a higher price markup than expected. Some folks claim that there is a markup on the SSD space, but it's not true. This is because most people forget that these are PCIe M.2 SSDs, and not SATA SSDs. The speeds you get make SATA SSDs look like HDD spinners in terms of the magnitude of performance jump you get. If that does not matter to you, then you should also lean towards a cheaper, SATA SSD based Windows option.

    TL;DR - Macs are still great bang for buck, and have the best support. But if you don't need macOS, or any of the specific applications that Apple loves to cater to, you will most likely be better off picking Windows because of the myriad of options in the Windows PC market that offers you exactly what you need for hardware.
     
  13. Peter_M, Dec 3, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2018

    Peter_M macrumors member

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    Jun 20, 2018
    #13
    As far as the iMac Pro goes, it's still a phenomenal machine. Also the Vega GPU is not going to be updated by another high-end mainstream GPU anytime soon, judging by AMDs comments at their roadmap conference last month.

    The regular iMac is starting to lag behind now, especially the CPU. It's still a fine machine though. However, you could buy a Corsair Elite One + a 4K display. That way you'd get a much more powerful yet compact system at a reasonable price, though you'd be stuck in Windows 10 world. Windows 10 has come a long way, but I still prefer macOS. I've seen people talking about using the Corsair Elite One as a Hackintosh, though I don't know if Mojave works on it. To be perfectly honest, my next machine could be a PC. I can't see myself coughing up all that additional iMac Pro money for another machine with server-grade hardware, which isn't really that necessary anymore - not for my use anyway. Still, no-one beats Apple's customer service IMO, which is an important factor.
     
  14. Tigerman82 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jul 27, 2010
    #14
    I'm sure both are amazing pieces of hardware but it's tough to talk about 'bang for the buck' and refer to computers that cost several thousands of dollars. Well, maybe not in these forums where folks are happy to pay iPhone XS prices (btw my max for a smart phone is about 500 dollars and even that's pushing it). :rolleyes: I mean even something like the Intel NUC Hades Canyon (which I'll probably end up getting) is generally considered to be expensive for what it is and it's at $1k. It's actually pretty funny how on PC forums a DIY computer worth $1k can have high-end components inside and be regarded as powerful and yet on Mac forums people are buying several $1k Mac Minis because they think they are dirt cheap. I guess I'm trying to stay in the middle ground and justify the cost of an iMac through its longevity and versatility. Unfortunately, it would seem that Windows is starting to catch up OS X and engineered PCs (such as the NUCs which a great little machines) are starting to appear. There's no iMac alternative (all the PC counterparts seem to have horrible reviews) but you can get away with a chassis and a monitor to get a clean and compact setup for MUCH LESS.
     
  15. Moonjumper macrumors 68000

    Moonjumper

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    Location:
    Lincoln, UK
    #15
    My first Mac was the first 24" iMac. a 24" 1920x1200 monitor cost almost the iMac, so I was getting the computer effectively for free. I loved it and kept in for a long time.

    It might be elegant compared to many, but that isn't hard to achieve with the standard of the opposition. An iMac could be more elegant without the chin or heavy foot. It could also be more ergonomic with height adjustment (I want it lower to meet ergonomic standards for me). The old iMac G4 was more elegant and ergonomic. I have one. It is lovely, but very outdated. I would love to see a return to the format (computer in the base, so the arm doesn't need to carry so much weight and is therefore thinner, and the screen is not in the way of cooling).
     
  16. tomscott1988 macrumors 6502a

    tomscott1988

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    UK
    #16
    Got to disagree with you.

    There are loads of reasons to buy the 2017 27" like no T2 chip, upgradable ram, the 7700k is still quicker in day to day usage in this format than any CPU in a MacBook pro because they gimped the cooling. Apple care is half the price... £399 for apple care on a 15" is crazy and you would be mad to buy one without AppleCare... because of all the issues.

    Your looking north of £4400 for the mid range 15" MacBook pro and £3000 for an iMac. If you want to use a MacBook pro as a desktop and want a 5k display its another £1300, the GPU is far far more capable than the 560X and still twice the performance of the Vega 20 which is ye you guessed it £330 on top of the 560X which again apple is just trolling people over. If you want desktop class graphics with a MacBook pro you buy an external GPU which still aren't widely supported and add £300 to your choice of graphics card... say a vega 56 for £350... £650 or a 580 for £200 your still adding £500+ for external graphics on the MacBook pro which puts you in £5000 territory! Add the 5k monitor for another £1300 and your nearly £6500!!!!

    If anything the 2019 iMac will be 20% more expensive, likelihood is they will remove ram upgradability with the design update and you will get the T2 chip. Ye multicore performance will be improved but 20k is nothing to be sniffed at with the 7700k and nearly 6k single core is very comparable to the updated chips.

    If I'm honest the 2017 iMac might be the smart choice.

    Apple have:
    27" i7 8gb 512gb SSD on refurb for £2289
    27" i7 8GB 1tb SSD on refurb for £2589

    add 32gbs of ram for £240 and apple care for £189 your still under 3k and even tho the components are over a year old the 7700k still retails in the UK for £376 the 8700k is £389... when you build a similar PC you might save £150-200 not including AppleCare with similar components and buying windows 10.

    IMO the smart move might well be buying the iMac before the 2019 update.

    So hard to be an apple fan right now. My 2010 mac pro is still my main production machine... nearly 10 years on because nothing has yet replaced it. The iMac pro is no good because the positives of the i chips far outweigh the extra expense of server grade hardware in the iMac pro... the main reason to get the iMac pro is for video editors etc but the xeons have no quicksync.

    The 8700k is near enough benching the same for 1/3 the price and has quick sync and H.265 codec support and for 90% of people will blow the iMac pro out the water but is it worth it with all the extra crap apple has been adding to ruin the mac experience.
     
  17. BigBoy2018 macrumors regular

    BigBoy2018

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    #17
    Spot on. Some people glorify the Apple of today, and some glorify the Apple of the past. In both cases, these people are misguided.

    They've made some really good products at times over the years. And I for one am very appreciative of some of those products. But their pursuit of form over function has often gotten them in trouble, and continues to do so.
     
  18. nambuccaheadsau macrumors 65816

    nambuccaheadsau

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    #18
    Beware pf people who tell other people they are misguided.
     
  19. SecuritySteve macrumors 6502

    SecuritySteve

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    #19
    Some people are just fans. There's nothing wrong with that, and if it bothers you, you shouldn't spend time in a forum that attracts the crowd of fans.
     
  20. BigBoy2018 macrumors regular

    BigBoy2018

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    #20
    Geez lighten up. I still enjoy reading these forums. I guess I should have wrote ‘overly glorify’. Nothing wrong with being a fan, but when it completely clouds any objectivity is when you should probably think about stepping back and giving it some more thought.
     
  21. phunigai macrumors regular

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    Nov 12, 2018
    #21
    it seems to me that 2010 was a peak in how computers use technology, maybe the SSD drive running in the macbook air or the iphone/itouch impressed many by working great outdoors or on the go in an airport or city street. There really has not been anything significant added to computers since then, and Snow leopard and i think windows 7 ran our computing needs seamlessly.
     
  22. Brian Y macrumors 68040

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    Oct 21, 2012
    #22
    In my opinion, the only "value for money" computer Apple sells is the 27" iMac, ignoring the ridiculous RAM prices.

    An in reality, that's only because of the cost of a decent 5K monitor.
     
  23. Falhófnir macrumors 68020

    Falhófnir

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    Aug 19, 2017
    #23
    Currently they're by far and away the best value macs you can get your hands on. They almost make financial sense, even. I predict that won't be the case come the next refresh though, expect a new, thinner design (no more easily upgradable RAM for the 27 inch), all SSD storage (making having 1TB+ an eye watering option) and a big price bump for an equivalent new model over a current one. Pretty much the pattern we've seen across the board with the other mac product lines. I guess at least the elimination of TB+ fusion drives for much (ridiculously) smaller SSDs might not be so painful for a static desktop, where you can get an external drive? Though as a bit of navel gazing, with NAND currently trending downwards, I wonder if they were to use a SATA drive whether they'd be able to offer reasonable capacities at reasonable prices?
     
  24. phunigai macrumors regular

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    Nov 12, 2018
    #24
    WOW, do you remember Omega software? i think that was the pre-adobe graphic art software that was shoved in out art student faces back in 1987. My professor was gung-ho on drawing with a mouse, but we could tell he was worried about the price tag instead of the benefits of these computers. That summer i interned at MAD magazine were Nick Ficara assured me how computer will never replace the pen and ink concept of drawing. i guess he is still correct because in headed to my drawing table (a very long distance of 3 inches) and leaving these computer for a couple of hours.
     
  25. Fishrrman macrumors G5

    Fishrrman

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    Feb 20, 2009
    #25
    iMacs have always been on the pricey side.
    Having said that, they can be very nice if you don't mind the "buy-in" costs.

    A friend's 2008 24" is still doing "good enough" after 10 years of use, never a hardware problem.
    He just got a 2017 27" 5k with an SSD, as nice an iMac as I've ever seen.

    I suppose that, over time, the cost of the 2008 was justified by 10 years of use.
    So... if -your- iMac lasts that long, the "bang for the buck" value "builds up" over time...
     

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