Family Man Seeking Nice iMac with Good Personality

Blu-Ray

macrumors regular
Original poster
Aug 12, 2008
240
0
Colorado
Sorry to add another one of these threads but none of the others seem to fit my situation. I’m hoping others are in the same boat as I and will find this helpful. I’m a basic user looking for the best value iMac for my uses.

I’m a long time PC user (almost always built my own systems) and going to buy my first Mac. I’ve had a chance to play around with Mac OS X and iLife apps and can’t believe how much easier and fluid it is compared to Windows and apps that I’ve been using such as Roxio. Anyway, I was waiting for Apple to release Blu-Ray but can’t wait any longer because I’m tired of Windows and want Mac OS X now.

I currently have a 21.5” monitor and it is the right size for us (27” seems a bit too big but will get one if the value is too good to pass). Also, we currently have about 200GB of files but this could grow quickly as we are doing more family videos of our children now.

Budget $1400-$1600 US Dollars

What we plan using the Mac for:
1. Basic photo improvements and making family movies. We have a basic camera (Canon SD450) and video camera (Sony DCR-SR200) right now but plan to upgrade to higher quality soon. I really liked the demos of iPhoto and iMovie so these are the apps we will likely stick with.
2. Basic word processing and spreadsheets. Currently using Office 2007 but will likely go with iWork
3. Internet and email
4. Music for iPod
5. Possibly a little gaming but likely not much because we have a PS3
6. Streaming music, photos and videos to PS3​

I qualify for the student discount and free iPod so not looking at refurbs unless there is a better value that makes more sense for my use.

These are the options for the a new iMac (using student discount pricing + free iPod):
$1,149.00
New 21.5-inch : 3.06GHz Intel Core i3
500GB hard drive
ATI Radeon HD 4670 with 256MB​

$1,399.00
New 21.5-inch : 3.20GHz Intel Core i3
1TB hard drive
ATI Radeon HD 5670 with 512MB​

$1,579.00
New 21.5-inch : 3.60GHz Intel Core i5
1TB hard drive
ATI Radeon HD 5670 with 512MB​

$1,599.00
New 27-inch : 3.2GHz Intel Core i3
1TB hard drive
ATI Radeon HD 5670 with 512MB​

or refurb (no free iPod)
$1,099.00
Refurb 21.5-inch : 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
1TB hard drive
ATI Radeon HD 4670 graphics with 256MB memory​

$1,529.00
Refurb 27-inch : 2.66GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5
1TB hard drive
ATI Radeon HD 4850 graphics with 512MB memory​

Final thoughts… I realize there is no such thing as “future-proofing” in computers but I am looking to find a Mac that will last up to 5-7 years. I’m also looking to buy based on the “biggest bang for my buck”. Based on my use and my budget, what option above do you think will bring the most value over time. Thanks :)

EDIT - Added new 27-inch i3 as a possible option and removed one refurb option.
 

zedsdead

macrumors 68040
Jun 20, 2007
3,257
575
$1,399.00
New 21.5-inch : 3.20GHz Intel Core i3
1TB hard drive
ATI Radeon HD 5670 with 512MB

I would go with this, since you get the iPod as well which I'm sure you could use. It has a great graphics card, and will last a while. I don't think the 3.6 is worth it for you since in most tasks you will not notice a difference. Better off going for a 2TB drive I think.
 

henrikrox

macrumors 65816
Feb 3, 2010
1,218
2
if you have the money, go for the i5 quad core refurb you listed, the quad core is going to last you in the future, and the screen is just great. i think the 21 gets measly compared

i dont know why the above post, suggest a 1400 dollar imac, with much worse gpu and cpu and a much smaller screen.

its a 150 dollar difference for a much better computer
 

Hellhammer

Moderator emeritus
Dec 10, 2008
22,164
581
Finland
The base 21.5" is fine for you. The CPU bump ain't that huge and will unlikely make noticeable difference for you. The GPU upgrade will be even less noticeable in other than games but you have PS3 for gaming. I would get 27" refurb unless it's too big but even the 21.5" is just fine for your usage, I just love the screen

By the way, you can watch Blu-Rays on Macs nowadays, it just isn't that easy and requires an external Blu-Ray player. For streaming media, I recommend PS3 Media Server
 

zedsdead

macrumors 68040
Jun 20, 2007
3,257
575
The base 21.5" is fine for you. The CPU bump ain't that huge and will unlikely make noticeable difference for you. The GPU upgrade will be even less noticeable in other than games but you have PS3 for gaming. I would get 27" refurb unless it's too big but even the 21.5" is just fine for your usage, I just love the screen

By the way, you can watch Blu-Rays on Macs nowadays, it just isn't that easy and requires an external Blu-Ray player. For streaming media, I recommend PS3 Media Server
The problem with the base is the hard drive. 500 gigs will fill up quick with movies and photos. I still suggest the high-end 21.5", or the Quad i5 refurb if you like that huge screen.
 

henrikrox

macrumors 65816
Feb 3, 2010
1,218
2
The base 21.5" is fine for you. The CPU bump ain't that huge and will unlikely make noticeable difference for you. The GPU upgrade will be even less noticeable in other than games but you have PS3 for gaming. I would get 27" refurb unless it's too big but even the 21.5" is just fine for your usage, I just love the screen

By the way, you can watch Blu-Rays on Macs nowadays, it just isn't that easy and requires an external Blu-Ray player. For streaming media, I recommend PS3 Media Server
If you notice he says maybe his going to game and do other stuff. I would not buy a computer which is good for me just right now. Down the line, he might want to game, and then he isnt boned.

Atleast when im buying a computer, its nice that its future proof.
 

Hellhammer

Moderator emeritus
Dec 10, 2008
22,164
581
Finland
The problem with the base is the hard drive. 500 gigs will fill up quick with movies and photos. I still suggest the high-end 21.5", or the Quad i5 refurb if you like that huge screen.
I wouldn't pay 250$ for just 500GB bigger HD. 2TB FW800 external will cost a lot less and btw, I just noticed that you cannot configure a bigger HD for the base model :eek: I'm wondering is it a glitch or did Apple want that to happen. Anyway, 250$ is too much for extra 500GB IMO, external HD will be sufficient as storage

henrikrox said:
If you notice he says maybe his going to game and do other stuff. I would not buy a computer which is good for me just right now. Down the line, he might want to game, and then he isnt boned.

Atleast when im buying a computer, its nice that its future proof.
He said he likes the 21.5" form factor more. I do agree that the quad 27" is a lot better value but it's up to OP whether it's too big or not. If he gets refurb, he misses the free iPod though I wouldn't be so excited about it.
 

wordoflife

macrumors 604
Jul 6, 2009
7,563
34
Definitely go with the refurb i5 for 1529. Not to mention you get a massive 27" screen.
 

Blu-Ray

macrumors regular
Original poster
Aug 12, 2008
240
0
Colorado
Thanks for the responses and advice so far! BTW, I want the 27" but it's taking some persuasion of the wifey because she thinks the screen is too big for her. I think I may end up winning this one though. ;) Also, I'm not tied to the free iPod as I already have an older generation iPod. I put that in there because it should be factored in as part of the value package.

I'm actually leaning toward the Refurb 27" i5 quad-core because it seems like it may hold up longer and be more capable of new apps and such.
The base 21.5" is fine for you. The CPU bump ain't that huge and will unlikely make noticeable difference for you. The GPU upgrade will be even less noticeable in other than games but you have PS3 for gaming. I would get 27" refurb unless it's too big but even the 21.5" is just fine for your usage, I just love the screen

By the way, you can watch Blu-Rays on Macs nowadays, it just isn't that easy and requires an external Blu-Ray player. For streaming media, I recommend PS3 Media Server
Awsome stuff, thanks! I'll look into both of these especially the PS3 media server app! :D
 

henrikrox

macrumors 65816
Feb 3, 2010
1,218
2
Thanks for the responses and advice so far! BTW, I want the 27" but it's taking some persuasion of the wifey because she thinks the screen is too big for her. I think I may end up winning this one though. ;) Also, I'm not tied to the free iPod as I already have an older generation iPod. I put that in there because it should be factored in as part of the value package.

I'm actually leaning toward the Refurb 27" i5 quad-core because it seems like it may hold up longer and be more capable of new apps and such.Awsome stuff, thanks! I'll look into both of these especially the PS3 media server app! :D
Hehe, one thing i have learned with living with my gf for about 6 years now, is that you have to pick the right battles.

Also, if you have apple store or something near by, you should take her and show her the 27". one time i was in a apple store with my gf, she really liked it.

If you have space and money for the i5 quad core, i really think you should go for it, however if you feel like you dont need it, you can go for something else. But atleast I think its nice to have a computer thats capable of driving games/apps/whatever in the future.
 

emptyCup

macrumors 65816
Jan 5, 2005
1,482
1
At least when im buying a computer, its nice that its future proof.
If you are planning to keep the computer 5-7 years you can't future proof it. Here is what Apple was selling 6 years ago: computers with G4 PPC processors. If you had spent $3000 then on a Power Mac to future proof it you would have gotten a machine with a G4 PPC, 512 MB of RAM, a 160 GB HD and Radeon 9600 graphics with 128 MB of video RAM. That was the top of the line.

It is good to know the difference between what you need and what you want, especially if you have a family. Buy what you can afford. It will do the same things in 7 years that it does today. You might even think about keeping your monitor and buying a mini (assuming your children are not small and you have a TV). Best wishes.
 

Zacken87

macrumors newbie
May 26, 2010
10
0
Given those options, I would recommend the $1,399.00 21.5" model and potentially a hard drive upgrade, depending on how much you expect your digital storage needs to buoy in the future. The processor bump is minimal but the superior video card will be much more capable for any games you might throw at it.

If you were to forgo gaming as a real priority, though, the base model and an external hard drive should work swimmingly for you and still be able to run most games currently available at middling settings.
 

Blu-Ray

macrumors regular
Original poster
Aug 12, 2008
240
0
Colorado
Hehe, one thing i have learned with living with my gf for about 6 years now, is that you have to pick the right battles.

Also, if you have apple store or something near by, you should take her and show her the 27". one time i was in a apple store with my gf, she really liked it.

If you have space and money for the i5 quad core, i really think you should go for it, however if you feel like you dont need it, you can go for something else. But atleast I think its nice to have a computer thats capable of driving games/apps/whatever in the future.
After talking through it, looks as if we are going to go with 27-inch. :D

If you are planning to keep the computer 5-7 years you can't future proof it. Here is what Apple was selling 6 years ago: computers with G4 PPC processors. If you had spent $3000 then on a Power Mac to future proof it you would have gotten a machine with a G4 PPC, 512 MB of RAM, a 160 GB HD and Radeon 9600 graphics with 128 MB of video RAM. That was the top of the line.

It is good to know the difference between what you need and what you want, especially if you have a family. Buy what you can afford. It will do the same things in 7 years that it does today. You might even think about keeping your monitor and buying a mini (assuming your children are not small and you have a TV). Best wishes.
Good point but I looked into the mini and think that it is overpriced for what you get. The iMacs seem to offer much more value for the money. Thanks for the suggestion though.

Given those options, I would recommend the $1,399.00 21.5" model and potentially a hard drive upgrade, depending on how much you expect your digital storage needs to buoy in the future. The processor bump is minimal but the superior video card will be much more capable for any games you might throw at it.

If you were to forgo gaming as a real priority, though, the base model and an external hard drive should work swimmingly for you and still be able to run most games currently available at middling settings.
If for some reason she changes her mind and we have to go with a 21.5-inch, that is probably the one we will go with.

Now I’ve narrowed it down to these two:
$1,599.00
New 27-inch : 3.2GHz Intel Core i3 (using student discount pricing + free iPod)
1TB hard drive
ATI Radeon HD 5670 with 512MB​

$1,529.00
Refurb 27-inch : 2.66GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5 (no free iPod)
1TB hard drive
ATI Radeon HD 4850 graphics with 512MB memory​

For my uses, will I see much of a difference in the i3 and quad-core i5? How about the 5670 and 4850 graphics cards?

Thanks again.
 

Hellhammer

Moderator emeritus
Dec 10, 2008
22,164
581
Finland
Now I’ve narrowed it down to these two:
$1,599.00
New 27-inch : 3.2GHz Intel Core i3 (using student discount pricing + free iPod)
1TB hard drive
ATI Radeon HD 5670 with 512MB​

$1,529.00
Refurb 27-inch : 2.66GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5 (no free iPod)
1TB hard drive
ATI Radeon HD 4850 graphics with 512MB memory​

For my uses, will I see much of a difference in the i3 and quad-core i5? How about the 5670 and 4850 graphics cards?

Thanks again.
Definitely the refurb. That i3 is dual core while the i5 is quad core. As you wanted "future-proof" computer, the refurb is a lot better deal. You should notice a difference in iMovie at least when doing the final encode. The 4850 is better than 5670 as well so you're getting overall a better machine
 

Blu-Ray

macrumors regular
Original poster
Aug 12, 2008
240
0
Colorado
Definitely the refurb. That i3 is dual core while the i5 is quad core. As you wanted "future-proof" computer, the refurb is a lot better deal. You should notice a difference in iMovie at least when doing the final encode. The 4850 is better than 5670 as well so you're getting overall a better machine
Thanks Hellhammer! I've been leaning toward the refurb quad-core i5 but this helps me on my decision. Now... should I wait 6 more days for potential release of iLife "11??? I think I will wait and if it isn't relased by August 7th, then I will place my order.
 

henrikrox

macrumors 65816
Feb 3, 2010
1,218
2
If you are planning to keep the computer 5-7 years you can't future proof it. Here is what Apple was selling 6 years ago: computers with G4 PPC processors. If you had spent $3000 then on a Power Mac to future proof it you would have gotten a machine with a G4 PPC, 512 MB of RAM, a 160 GB HD and Radeon 9600 graphics with 128 MB of video RAM. That was the top of the line.

It is good to know the difference between what you need and what you want, especially if you have a family. Buy what you can afford. It will do the same things in 7 years that it does today. You might even think about keeping your monitor and buying a mini (assuming your children are not small and you have a TV). Best wishes.
Who ever future proofs for 6 years?

THats impossible. I can buy the best computer there is now, and still that will be inferior in 6 years.
 

Hellhammer

Moderator emeritus
Dec 10, 2008
22,164
581
Finland
Thanks Hellhammer! I've been leaning toward the refurb quad-core i5 but this helps me on my decision. Now... should I wait 6 more days for potential release of iLife "11??? I think I will wait and if it isn't relased by August 7th, then I will place my order.
Personally, I wouldn't wait because Apple might offer up-to-date promo which gets you the new iLife for 10 bucks. The date was also moved to 17th, I think. 7th would be weird as it's Saturday. Your call, IMO it's not that important
 

zedsdead

macrumors 68040
Jun 20, 2007
3,257
575
Definitely the refurb. That i3 is dual core while the i5 is quad core. As you wanted "future-proof" computer, the refurb is a lot better deal. You should notice a difference in iMovie at least when doing the final encode. The 4850 is better than 5670 as well so you're getting overall a better machine
I agree with everything here, except iMovie is not multi-core aware sadly (should be with the next version of iLife, but there is no guarantee on that). The 27" screen is big, but once you get used to it you don't want anything else.
 

3lionsbecks

Suspended
Jul 19, 2010
607
119
Ontario, Canada
$1,599.00
New 27-inch : 3.2GHz Intel Core i3 (using student discount pricing + free iPod)
1TB hard drive
ATI Radeon HD 5670 with 512MB



Personally, I would go for this model because if you count in the iPod it is a much better value. I know you have an older iPod but this one could be a present for your wife and earn some brownie points as well.

The i3 is going to be more than enough for your needs (especially if you keep gaming to the PS3 as I do, its way better anyways, especially on a 52inch 1080p HD screen!)

You won't even utilize the i5 for what you are planning to do.....unless Apple makes major revisions to iMovie.

Either way you win! iMac and Apple computers are awesome.
 

sleyeu

macrumors 6502
Oct 18, 2009
325
0
I have the i5 27" and it can handle team fortress 2 on max graphics at 80 gps average, but I have a good connection...

It's fast and you grow to love the screen! You can even use it for you ps3 if you buy an adapter.

I'd go for the i5 any day as it has better specs than the i3 even though the i3 is this years model.


Make you wife use iphoto and move on the 27 inch and show her how snappy it is!
 

emptyCup

macrumors 65816
Jan 5, 2005
1,482
1
Good point but I looked into the mini and think that it is overpriced for what you get. The iMacs seem to offer much more value for the money. Thanks for the suggestion though.
I agree the iMac is a better value for the money than a mini. A low end iMac is what I would buy. However, I was commenting on the notion of future proofing. I bet if you bought a mini today, for half the price of the iMac, and bought a new mini in 3 years you would have a better spec'd machine than than today's iMac and have spent no more money (not to mention having a second computer to sell or give to one of your children). Be content in your choices. Best wishes.
 

wirelessness

macrumors 6502
Jun 20, 2010
431
62
Whichever model you choose it's crazy not to take the FREE iPod if you use the Education discount. It has a resale value of about $170 that you can just subtract directly from the cost of the new iMac. There is also a 'less advertised' free $99 wireless printer if you want a printer. It also has a resale value of about $50 but I don't like dealing with selling/shipping printers.
 

3lionsbecks

Suspended
Jul 19, 2010
607
119
Ontario, Canada
I agree the iMac is a better value for the money than a mini. A low end iMac is what I would buy. However, I was commenting on the notion of future proofing. I bet if you bought a mini today, for half the price of the iMac, and bought a new mini in 3 years you would have a better spec'd machine than than today's iMac and have spent no more money (not to mention having a second computer to sell or give to one of your children). Be content in your choices. Best wishes.
Ha ha. You what you're totally right about that....but you wouldn't have a sweet 27" screen and the beauty of an iMac on your desktop.

For what you say, the Mac Mini is the more sensible choice but I doubt most people choose the right computer based on the "sensible" option rather than which once they "fall in love" with first....
 

Blu-Ray

macrumors regular
Original poster
Aug 12, 2008
240
0
Colorado
To be honest, I'm on the fence between the new 27" i3 (with free iPod) and the refurb 27" i5 quad-core... you are guys are not making it easier either.. :confused:


Just kidding... I really appreciate the feedback and will be making my decision by August 17th... yeah.. I decided to wait for more detail about the iLife '11 release so what is another two weeks after waiting two years. :eek: :D
 
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