Can't decide: Upgrade ancient iMac?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by daniel1948, Nov 18, 2015.

  1. daniel1948 macrumors 6502

    daniel1948

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2015
    Location:
    Spokane, WA
    #1
    My iMac is about ten years old. Not sure exactly. It runs OS X 10.6.8. I think maybe I could have installed 10.7, but didn't, and nothing later will install on it. The latest iTunes version that will run on it is 11.4. When it was 2 or 3 years old the Ethernet died, but I got a dongle for a few bucks that plugs into a USB slot and connects to Ethernet, no problems, so that works fine.

    The computer works fine. No problems at all.

    The problem is that the older it gets the less it's compatible with anything. My new iPad Pro will not connect to it because my iTunes version is too old, and the computer will not accept a later version. Chrome is a bit flaky, apparently because the old hardware is not fast enough, but I can live with it. A lot of features of the newer OS X versions don't exist on it, but none of those is terribly important to me.

    I use the iMac mostly for email, surfing the web, keeping a journal, my calendar, arranging travel, photos, and internet chat boards. It does all this fine, but as I said, it's not compatible with my newer devices.

    I can afford a new iMac. That's not really an issue. I just hate waste, and it seems like waste to trash a computer that still works 100% just because the software is no longer compatible with anything else. Obviously, nobody can make this decision for me, but I'd be interested in anyone's thoughts.
     
  2. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    #2
    My thoughts are that this is technology, you say you don't want to waste a perfectly good computer but you aren't you are replacing an obsolete one that no longer works as you require.

    If you want to feel good about getting a new one then donate it to charity I'm sure it'd be great for someone or some organisation or family these old computers can be great for younger kids to learn on.

    In short if it does meet your needs then keep it and soldier on, if you want the new software and ipad compatability (and the increased security) then buy a new one and donate this one to worthy cause.
     
  3. daniel1948 thread starter macrumors 6502

    daniel1948

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    Oct 20, 2015
    Location:
    Spokane, WA
    #3
    The thing is, I don't think anybody would want it even as a donation. It's unlikely any new software would run on it.
     
  4. cupcakes2000 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2010
    #4
    Sell it. If it's in good condition and works fine you're sure to be able to sell it. People always buy new or old, working or broken Macs. Even empty packaging and boxes sell for high prices comparatively. Just put it on ebay. You'll get more money that way, which you could then give to charity. Then you wont be wasting a good Mac!
     
  5. Ebenezum macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2015
    #5
    I am fairly certain anyone using older software (10.4-10.6) would love to have a working secondary Mac...
     
  6. theatremusician macrumors member

    theatremusician

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2013
    #6
    Don't upgrade to 10.7. Assuming you have the Core 2 Duo, 10.6.8 is the best OS for the machine. SSD's are reasonably priced these days. Add that and max out the ram, and for fairly cheap, you'll find some new life for it. If worse come to worse (I know this is blasphemous here, but) I've seen that Windows 10 runs quite well on a machine such as yours.
     
  7. daniel1948 thread starter macrumors 6502

    daniel1948

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2015
    Location:
    Spokane, WA
    #7
    Wow, thanks for all the replies. Any ideas on what I should ask for it if I sell it? (I never imagined anyone would want a machine this old.)

    I happened to be in the Apple Store today (decided to buy the AppleCare Plus for my new iPad Pro) and I was able to compare the 21.5-inch iMacs. I absolutely could not tell the difference between the regular retina display and the 4K display. The salesguy said that with the right photographs you could tell the difference, but the display units didn't have the super-high-res photos on them. We looked at some awfully nice photos, and I could not tell the difference. It might be my eyes. At some point, your eyes just won't be able to distinguish higher resolution, and my eyes are not all that good.

    Anyway, if I cannot tell the difference, I could get the cheaper iMac.

    Still pondering.
     
  8. theatremusician macrumors member

    theatremusician

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    Dec 17, 2013
    #8
    What machine, specifically do you have? What are the exact specs? Impossible to say without this info.
     
  9. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    #9
    Just a quick note about the cheap iMac it is cheap but the increase in price to the nest level is worth it, the cheap one has a macbook air dual core processor and much poorer graphics, for $200 you get a quad core desktop processor with far superior graphics as well as the better screen (which I found crept up on me with my retina rMBP it takes few days and you notice that text looks much nicer and other screens look much worse when you go back to them, not that the screen on the cheaper one is bad in any way). I would also recommend a fusion drive as you will want some sort of SSD going forward this configuration will give you a longer lasting investment another 2-3 years makes a $300 increase seem like a good deal.
     
  10. Starfia macrumors 6502

    Starfia

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    Apr 11, 2011
    #10
    I'd say upgrade if just the experience of having, admiring and using your Mac brings you some appreciable amount of happiness and pleasure. ^ _ ^ To someone who appreciates them, the modern design, the retina display, and the up-to-date versions of OS X are just stunning.

    About waste – keep in mind you can probably guarantee at least one of these things is possible: you can sell it on eBay for some cash toward the new one (and someone else will continue not to waste it), or Gazelle will take it off your hands, and either repurpose or resell it. (Or use Craigslist and donate it to someone in town who just needs a computer for the same basic tasks, and so on.)
     
  11. Dustman macrumors 65816

    Dustman

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2007
    #11
    I'd upgrade it and perhaps controversially/ironically install Windows 7 or 8.1 w/ Classic Shell for a system that is more compatible with newer apps and receives security updates. That way if in a year you decide you still want a new device, its a way better 2nd/backup computer. Use it somewhere in conjunction with an External HD to have a network share, use uTorrent remote with it for a torrent machine, kitchen pc, bedroom tv, ect. Windows 10 is a little creepy to recommend though. I couldn't imagine typing a password into it and feeling secure.
     
  12. TechFann macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2014
    #12
    I would suggest if your specs are good enough to support it, to do boot camp of like Windows 7 or Windows 10 and just download the new software you need, like iTunes 12.3 for your iPad Pro, etc.

    Oh and if you do want to get rid of it and worry about waste, Best Buy recycles most electronics for free. I think you use to have to pay $10 for like monitors but they would give you back a gift card for $10.
     
  13. daniel1948 thread starter macrumors 6502

    daniel1948

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2015
    Location:
    Spokane, WA
    #13
    While I am computer-literate, I am hardware ignorant, but I copied a few specs from "About this Mac":

    Model identifier: iMac 5.1
    Intel Core 2 Duo (I think it was the first Mac to have this chip)
    2.16 GHz
    L2 Cache 4 MB
    Memory 3 MB
    Bus Speed 667 MHz
    Pioneer DVD-RW
    Display: 1680 x 1050; 32-bit color
    HD 250 GB

    After writing my last post I realized that the $1,100 iMac has lower screen resolution that even mine. So I eliminated that from consideration. But I think I am probably going to upgrade, so I'm facing the age-old dilemma of what I call "option creep": for just a little more money you can get one more option, until finally you've gone by small steps to the top-of-the-line and most expensive machine.

    I know I don't need the faster CPU or 16 GB of memory, but I'm considering getting the SSD instead of the regular HD. I am presently using 162 GB of my 250 GB HD. The 256 GB flash drive for $200 would likely be enough memory. I could probably delete a lot of old stuff, and move some lesser-used stuff to the cloud. Or if I really splurge ($500) I could get the 512 GB flash drive and have more than enough for another decade. That's probably way overkill. The argument against the SSD is that my ten-year-old HD on this machine has never given me any problems.

    I'm inclined to think a SSD is more reliable than a conventional HD. Is that a reasonable assumption?

    I will not be putting Windows on this computer. I'm not a fan of Windows. But there is an organization locally that I support and I could ask if they would want it. That didn't occur to me before because I just assumed nobody would want a machine this old.

    Lots of questions. Sorry about that and thanks for the continued help.
     
  14. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    #14
    Well I would say the 256GB SSD is the fastest cheapest option and you can just use an external drive to store movies photos music etc. Do not discount the 2TB fusion drive for all your storage needs over the next 5 years or so remember with that screen you may want 4K content and that is big on space. SSD's are silent, more reliable and much much faster the difference in just how the computer responds is well worth it (the 2TB fusion has a 128GB SSD included).
     
  15. PatrickCocoa macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2008
    #15
    It turns out the value of the retina display has nothing to do with pictures. Retina's huge advantage on desktops is text.

    It sounds weird, but I had the same experience as you regarding the pictures on retina - about a year ago I went in and looked at the 27" iMac Retina and was completely unimpressed. The pictures on the 27" iMac Retina looked exactly like the pictures on the other (non-retina) iMacs. Then I came back a few months later and happened to pull up a spreadsheet on the retina. Wow. The text was amazingly clean. I hopped over the the non-retina and the text was the regular, slightly pixellated text. Back to the retina, open Pages. Great text.
     
  16. charlyham macrumors regular

    charlyham

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2012
    #16
    You can go here to look up your iMac and get full specs. Scroll to the bottom of the spec sheet and it also gives a ballbark current (as of the date of the listing) retail value.
    http://www.everymac.com/ultimate-mac-lookup/
    http://www.everymac.com/
     
  17. daniel1948 thread starter macrumors 6502

    daniel1948

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2015
    Location:
    Spokane, WA
    #17
    Thanks for all the continuing help.

    I'm pretty sure I'm going to upgrade.

    Now I'm stuck on the decision regarding storage. I will not be storing movies, at least not many, if any, because I don't like to watch movies sitting at the computer desk. I watch movies on a projector from a BluRay player or else on the iPad Pro in the comfort of my easy chair. On the other hand, they do say you can never have too much memory. I'm not sure how much garbage I'll be dumping when I switch to the new Mac, but maybe I'll be down to 100 GB. That will be all my pictures and music and whatever documents I keep, even though I'm not sure I even need to keep the music on the desktop anymore, since I only ever listen through the iPod Touch, and I can store music on the cloud. So applications, documents, pictures, and maybe music, and probably have 150 GB free, and certainly more than 100 GB free on a 256 GB drive. Plus I have the 250 GB external HDD which is my backup drive now, but I could use iCloud now for backup and use the external drive for files I use occasionally. Like my music that I only access when I switch out music on the iPod. Or the other way around.

    I'm thinking I won't regret getting the 512 GB SSD, and might regret the smaller one, but that's $500 more than just getting the plain 1T HDD. Part of me says: "You can afford it, get it." Part of me says, "But is it really worth half a thousand dollars?" And then my old-man brain says, "$500 is only worth $76 when I was 21. $76 is nothing." :confused:

    Maybe what it comes down to is whether the upgrade from a 1T HDD to a 512 GB SSD is worth five hundred bucks. I know I don't need the terabyte, so I'd be paying for speed, silence, and maybe durability, though I've never had a HDD go bad. I do hate the chattering sound of the HD, though. It's very quiet, but somehow annoys me. Just not sure if it annoys me five hundred dollars worth.

    So.... still pondering.
     
  18. glutenenvy macrumors regular

    glutenenvy

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    Sep 6, 2011
    Location:
    WA
    #18
    Newer doesn't necessarily mean better. It depends on if wear leveling is working optimally on the SSD. If the drive and your os came with the machine you should be all set, otherwise some setup homework will be necessary. SSD is much more likely to better survive high vibration use and transportation, like in vehicles. A SSD will be faster, quieter, and use less energy.

    I have had some mechanical hard disks last for 10 years and some that have lasted for less than a year.

    In normal operation SSD disks tend to slow as they wear. Mechanical hard disks have a 'feature' that SSD drives do not. In many cases, you can actually hear when the hard disk is ready to die.
     
  19. daniel1948 thread starter macrumors 6502

    daniel1948

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2015
    Location:
    Spokane, WA
    #19
    My question is about which storage device to get with the new iMac. A 1T HDD comes standard. For $500 extra I could get a 512 GB SSD instead. Whichever I get would be OEM, pre-installed.

    (I pondered getting the cheaper 256 GB SSB and supplementing it with my old external HDD, but I think I've discarded that idea. Sorry if I was not clear. I'm bouncing around as I get closer to a decision.)

    I am not refurbishing the old iMac. I'll give it away, sell it, or dispose of it, in that order of preference.
     
  20. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 603

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    Oct 24, 2013
    #20
    I would say any SSD is worth it as long as you have one, it really is very difficult to put one in after market and the benefits of them are very obvious once you have a computer with one, HDD speeds have been the biggest bottleneck on computer speeds for at least the last decade and SSD's change all that.

    The latest reliability tests show that modern SSD's can take up to 2 petabytes of writes to them before they die (something like writing 2 TB to it every day for 5 years) , of course they can just fail like out of the blue like any electronics but that is remarkably rare.
     
  21. daniel1948 thread starter macrumors 6502

    daniel1948

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    Oct 20, 2015
    Location:
    Spokane, WA
    #21
    Petabytes. I cannot wrap my mind around the concept of a petabyte. It's kind of like megaparsecs. ;) As for installing SSD aftermarket, there are USB flash drives up to 128 or 256 GB, I forget which. But I don't think I'll go that route. It would be a way to keep the cost a bit lower and then expand if necessary, but would always seem like a bit of a kludge.

    Thanks for your input.
     
  22. daniel1948 thread starter macrumors 6502

    daniel1948

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    Oct 20, 2015
    Location:
    Spokane, WA
    #22
    Okay, I placed my order. 21.5-inch iMac with 4K display, i5 processor, 8 GB RAM, and 256 GB SSD. I figure that for my uses I don't need the faster processor or more RAM. I'm not sure if 256 GB is enough storage, but I can put a good chunk of my seldom-used files on the cloud, and if I still need more than 256 GB, a 256 GB USB Flash drive costs less than the additional 256 GB would cost installed in the computer. (Apple charges $200 to substitute the 256 GB SSD for the 1 TB HDD, but they charge $500 for the 512 GB SSD.)

    Thanks to everyone who posted here with information, ideas, and suggestions.
     
  23. pjfan macrumors regular

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  24. Les Kern macrumors 68040

    Les Kern

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    Apr 26, 2002
    Location:
    Alabama
    #24
    It still does internet, word processing, and the like. So what if it isn't "modern". Donate it to a library in the inner city or give it to a family in need. You'll feel good, they will be thrilled to have it.
     
  25. daniel1948 thread starter macrumors 6502

    daniel1948

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    Oct 20, 2015
    Location:
    Spokane, WA
    #25
    Thank you. Yes, after I posted that, I was told by several people that an old computer can still be useful. I plan on donating it to the local peace & justice organization that I'm a member of. Assuming they want it.
     

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