Future-proofing Apple gear for retirement

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Easttime, Mar 16, 2016.

  1. Easttime macrumors 6502

    Jun 17, 2015
    I switched to Apple about five years ago. 2010 MacBook (new hard drive two years ago), 2011 27" iMac in 2011 with a basic second monitor 5 years ago, and two year old iPad and iPhone. Completely happy with all but one thing: the cost of staying in this luxurious ecosystem when we retire. The price of a similar iMac has doubled, but I have become very used to having two 27" monitors. Our computing needs won't change much: email, photos, maybe some time to play with family videos finally, MS Office work, maybe some consulting for a time. Travelling mainly to visit family.

    I've been contemplating some options.

    Option 1. A $4K iMac that will age out in 5 years is nice but seems out of range. Then travel with iPad and iPhone when the laptop dies.

    Option 2. Upgrade my iMac with a new Fusion hard drive ($750). That staves off hard drive failure in the 5 year old iMac but the rest of that iMac is aging. Then replace the old MacBook with a light new Mac laptop ($2.5K) that will become the core of a future system. When the iMac dies, replace it with a thunderbolt Apple display ($1.5K) to use as a dock for the new laptop. But that means shipping the iMac for service and reinstalling software and data (due for a clean install).

    Option 3. Buy a Thunderbolt monitor now to replace the basic second monitor ($1.5K). Then when the iMac dies, replace it with a loaded Mini ($2K) and reattach the old basic monitor to get two displays. Travel with just iPhone and iPad. No more laptop, which I don't use much anyway.

    Option 3a. Same as option 3 except buy a nice Apple laptop ($2.5K) to dock in the Thunderbolt Display rather than a mini. Then figure out how to use external hard drives to extend the smaller laptop hard drive.

    Prices are rough estimates, C$, taxes in.

  2. varian55zx macrumors 6502a


    May 10, 2012
    San Francisco
    Most will agree the 4K iMac is currently not the best buy, and for future proofing, even less so.

    A fusion drive is not the same thing as a hybrid drive so what you are saying putting in an SSD and then manually pairing them together to make a fusion.

    With the thunderbolt display you'll want to wait until they make a new one because the technology is not exactly current in those.

    I'd take 3a over 3. MBP > mini.
  3. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Have you considered a Mac Mini with two monitors? It seems based on your post, you may not be needing the power of a 5k iMac and given the cost difference the Mini may be an option
  4. 617aircav Suspended

    Jul 2, 2012
    Why are you wanting to spend all this money just to read emails and browse photos?
  5. Fuchal macrumors 68020

    Sep 30, 2003
    Buy 2 Dell 27" monitors and a used tower Mac Pro, stick an SSD into the Macbook, save money, go on vacation, and be happy for the next 10-15 years.
  6. Dagless macrumors Core


    Jan 18, 2005
    Fighting to stay in the EU

    My main machine is a 2011 iMac, it was maxed out back then and over the years I've added in a bluray drive, upgraded the HDD and added an SSD, plus added more memory. Honestly it doesn't feel that old! It boots up in 20 seconds, still plays the games I want, still runs the apps I need.

    However yeah, the new iMacs aren't as upgradeable as the model I have so it's hard to make a recommendation on that.

    Maybe just upgrade what you have now, and then should it ever fail get the cheapest 27" iMac Apple you can find. I'm assuming you don't need a full power system, that you just want the large display? Apple devices hold their value really well so you can offset the price of a new system a bit. (just looked up mine, it's only lost half its value in those 5 years!)

    Their tablets are well future-proofed. I only have an iPad Retina but speed wise it still holds up for browsing the internet, playing the occasional game, going through Photos. I think the battery will have to go for me to replace it.
  7. colodane macrumors 6502a


    Nov 11, 2012
    In my opinion, your main goal (spending some $$ now at Apple to avoid spending more $ during your retirement years) is totally unrealistic.

    Retirement is a wonderful time of life (over 10 years here so far and loving it). But it is not the "end" of your need (or want) for occasional technology purchases. Unless you are 90 years old now - which I doubt - I'd advise looking at this in another way.

    During your retirement years, your priorities for tech gear will change - in unpredictable ways at unpredictable times. Your housing and living arrangements will change - 2 large monitors may at some point seem like a burden rather than a benefit. New technologies that neither you or I are aware of may suddenly appear. And, far-fetched as this may seem, Apple might not even be the brand-of-choice 10 years from now.

    Bottom line is that I'd recommend to stop thinking about computer and phone specs and think/plan more about finances. If you are nearing retirement, I'm sure you have done some planning. But if you are feeling uneasy about needing to buy a computer 4 years from now I'd suggest you need to do more. Work with your financial planner/advisor if you have one. Or spend more time now doing your own planning with the goal of having a "budget" available for future technology purchases. Strategies for accomplishing this may include such things as:
    Delaying retirement
    Reconfiguring your investment portfolio
    Reducing other expenses and/or priorities
    Part-time employment

    An incomplete list, to be sure, but you get the idea. The best thing you can do is to give yourself the freedom to be flexible in the future rather than feeling a pressure to predict your future technology needs and to solve them today.
  8. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    OP wrote:
    "Our computing needs won't change much: email, photos, maybe some time to play with family videos finally, MS Office work, maybe some consulting for a time. Traveling mainly to visit family."

    For your home/desktop needs, wait until the next-generation Mac Mini (not the 2014 models) is released. I sense there will be some very nice improvements (particularly with thunderbolt and HDMI, making true 4k display options possible).

    A properly-equipped Mini should easily handle the tasks you describe above.
    By "properly-equipped", I mean with at least 8gb of RAM and a fusion drive or SSD.
    Should run you around $900-1,100.
    And just keep using the second monitor you have now. Add a second one if necessary. Does the iMac also have "target display mode"?

    For traveling, if your old MacBook or MacBook Pro isn't doing it for you anymore, you could pick up an "Apple Refurbished" product directly from Apple and save some money. I've seen discounts in the 25%+ range, depending on which model you get.

    Where did you get the impression you have to spend "$4K" on an iMac...?
  9. Crosscreek macrumors 68030


    Nov 19, 2013
    I'm retired and went through the same thought process. I would say that you are not going to future proof because technology has changed so much and will continue changing through your retirement.
    I use a 2012 Mini and have been since 2012 and unless you need the power of an iMac the Mini should do everything you need. The investment is not that much and you can use any monitor you want. Unless you are using high powered photo editing or playing games which Macs are really not built for, a Mini should be fine. Don't buy a 2014 though as there should be updated Mini's coming later this year. Just order one with the drives and Ram you need and it should be good for another 4-5 years and then trade it for a new one.
  10. drummer5645 macrumors member

    Mar 8, 2014
    Colodane not sure OP asked for your financial advice or judgement.

    Now to the OP, been retired for 11 years. dell to 2007 Imac to 2013 Imac. Just ordered a Samsung SSD T3 to buy me a few years. I was going to do your #3 and with Dell monitors (2). Fuchal's suggestion is my new target.

    After spending 35 years in tech, the tinkering is fun. As far as financial intellect, screw it you can't take it with you, Have fun in the search and acquisition. Remember though you really want to live through 5 more "gotta have" acquisitions, for obvious reasons.
  11. bent christian Suspended

    bent christian

    Nov 5, 2015
    It is impossible to future-proof an Apple product. They are designed for obsolescence and are not upgradable. They a luxury item. Consider them disposable computer devices.

    That being said, it will not take a whole lot of power to do what you need to do. A Mini would be fine. Something (anything) with a quad-core processor and an SSD will last you a very long time for basic use.
  12. Serban Suspended

    Jan 8, 2013
    i think if you will buy a full spec imac now you can keep it at least 5 years because the important tech components are more mature now than 5 years ago
    i mean if you have something from 2010 you have no ssd, not the latest more eff cpu and dgpu
    now you have ssd, you have a high end dgpu a very capable cpu. i dont think in 5 years they reinvent the storage like the ssd were, or can make a bigger step in power and power eff for cpu
  13. throAU, Mar 16, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2016

    throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia




    Because you are paying for things you may need in future in today's money at today's cost rather than when you may need it, at which point the cost of the technology has come down and the money could have been invested in something else.

    Budget on turning over your machines within 3 years (to maintain warranty cover and on-sell to someone else whilst still worth decent money), and buy a spec intended to last you 3 years rather than attempting to push to 5 or more.

    If you turn over after 2-3, you'll still get reasonable money on sale, maintain warranty coverage and not spend stupid amounts of money on trying to buy tomorrow's hardware at today's inflated price.

    You simply can't future proof anyway. 5 years from now storage interfaces will have changed, external port standards will have changed drastically, memory capacities will likely have exploded (x-point is due any day now - and that's a game changer - SSD capacities with almost RAM speeds) and who knows what else. And none of those things can be built into a machine on sale today. GPUs are also well overdue for a drastic refresh, both AMD and NVIDIA have big changes coming by mid year this year.

    The 4k you spend on an iMac today could go into an macbook or mac mini with SSD and a nice non-thunderbolt display monitor (for far less) giving you a machine more than capable of most of the stuff you're likely to do at 1/3 of the cost.

    Keep the remaining 2/3 of the iMac cost in the bank for upgrading in 2-3 years and by year 3 you have a machine that would smoke the 4k iMac you'd be trying to push out to 5 years and running the gauntlet on with regards to hardware failure outside of warranty cover.

    And you only spent 1/3 originally, got some of that back and spent a second 1/3 of the budget - and have 1/3 remaining for a third purchase about 5-6 years from now which would well and truly slaughter any machine you can buy today, most likely including a top of the line Mac Pro.

    also, if you're only browsing the internet, reading email and viewing photos for the most part, you can do most of that with an iPad or iPad pro - and buy a lightning to HDMI adapter for the monitor, or an AppleTV and just use airplay to your TV. Much cheaper, will do the job...
  14. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    You don't need a whole lot of technology, based on your description. I don't know why a $4k iMac even enters into the equation.

    I would not say that the price of a "similar iMac has doubled" at all. The lowest-priced 27" iMac you can buy today is $1799 USD. Are you telling me you could buy the lowest-priced 27" iMac in 2011 for $899? And as you can see by the spec comparison below, the minimum iMac today has twice the RAM, a better processor, and dramatically increased graphics specs (though in part that's needed in order to support the Retina display)

    Here's the base configuration of the mid-2011 27" iMac vs. the base configuration of the late-2015 27" Retina iMac (note there is no "standard resolution" 27" iMac in 2016):

    Display - 27-inch (viewable) LED-backlit glossy widescreen TFT display with support for millions of colors
    • Resolution: 2560 by 1440 pixels (2011)
    • Resolution: 5120 by 2880 pixels (2015)
    • 2.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with 6MB on-chip shared L3 cache (2011)
    • 3.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz (2015)
    • 4GB (two 2GB) of 1333MHz DDR3 memory Configurable to 16GB, only at the Apple Online Store. (2011)
    • 8GB (two 4GB) memory, configurable up to 32GB (2015)
    • 1TB (7200 rpm) hard drive Configurable to 2TB hard drive or 256GB solid-state second drive, only at the Apple Online Store. (2011)
    • 1TB (7200 rpm) hard drive Configurable to 2TB Fusion or 512GB SSD (2015)
    • AMD Radeon HD 6770M graphics processor with 512MB of GDDR5 memory (2011)
    • AMD Radeon R9 M380 with 2GB video memory (2015)

    Your "Option 2" - did you mean upgrade to a new SSD? Fusion (which uses a mechanical HDD plus a smaller SSD) would not stave off hard drive failure. Fusion is a great way to boost performance at a low cost, but it does not extend computer life. Further, assuming you do mean SSD, at the cost differential between SSD and HDD, you can afford to replace an HDD several times before you recover the cost of a same-sized SSD.

    I don't know why you'd buy a Thunderbolt display now, if you're future-proofing - that model is several years old.

    Your personal needs don't seem to justify the costs you've proposed. Future-proofing rarely extends the practical life of hardware by more than a few years beyond "normal" - by then, overall changes in technology begin to make a replacement attractive, regardless. So, spending double in order to have a longer lifespan is, at best, a break-even proposition.

    If your specifications are higher due to "maybe some consulting," then this isn't a retirement purchase, it's a business purchase. Evaluate it like any business purchase. My father closed his business practice when he was 80 - he went through several generations of computers in the 15 year span between "normal" retirement and actual retirement. And at 87? He's still dabbling.

    Overall, this seems more like "retirement as an excuse for a shopping spree" than actual future-proofing.
  15. varian55zx macrumors 6502a


    May 10, 2012
    San Francisco
    Probably so he doesn't have to do it on a plastic piece of junk, that is disgusting.
  16. Easttime thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 17, 2015
  17. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Perhaps, but that is still over kill and why spend so much money when it may not be needed
  18. nebo1ss macrumors 68030

    Jun 2, 2010
    Get a macbook Air and an iPhone that is all you need.
  19. varian55zx, Mar 17, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2016

    varian55zx macrumors 6502a


    May 10, 2012
    San Francisco
    Specs-wise, there is no functional justification.

    As in. Say all you're doing is web browsing, watching some movies, and maybe the occasional Garageband project.

    A Mac Pro is overkill. An i7 is overkill but certainly doesn't hurt.

    So, the only reason a casual person would buy a Mac Pro for those uses is for the ego of it to say "I have the best Mac there is", even though they don't use it.

    Which, you could argue if it's worth it or not. To some people I suppose it is.

    But for the casual user, a Mac is always a justified purchase. Not necessarily the most expensive one. But a Mac as a casual Internet machine is always better than a non-Mac because you have the nice design and OS X, namely.

    But the ideal computer for the casual user is one that will always be able to do whatever you want it to do, no matter what.

    So, no matter how many tabs or apps you have open at once for example it won't bog down, no matter what. Everything is smooth. There are no hiccups even in the most demanding casual situations.

    Take it from me, I've been what someone might call a 'power' casual user for many years. As in, maybe I've used iMovie a few times, but mainly handle large amounts of different types of media files, keep many tabs and applications open at once, will keep iTunes on, and desire absolutely no slowdown or system limitations at any stage, under any circumstances.

    Now if you are aiming for that standard, and purchasing a Mac, a little bit of money does have to be spent.

    Nowadays you'd need at least a quad core system and I was sort of using only my '13 mbp in the interim but I don't really like laptops all that much honestly, unless I'm actually on the go. But that thing is a beast because it has an i7 and SSD. But with that thing it's most comfortable to lay in my living room, vs at a physical desk with a nice looking desktop. I love the current MacBooks but I just don't like laptops that much unless I'm actually on the go. Other than that I have an early 2009 24 inch iMac that I used for multiple years and I really liked that thing. Used it just like I'm using my 5K late 2015 27 inch except I frankly think this one is superior for its time. It was more expensive but the technology and etc has changed too so maybe that is to be expected. I wanted something really substantial which is why I opted for the 5K iMac.

    So in other words, for the casual user I suppose with a theoretical unlimited budget you'd just buy the most expensive Mac there is, which would be unnecessarily highly spec'd. But for a truly optimal casual experience, you want to buy a Mac that can handle any number of casual tasks you throw at it, no matter how demanding, without any chance of system 'hiccups' or something similar.
  20. 2manygs macrumors newbie


    Jun 10, 2015
    Midlands, UK
    If it were me I would simply run the Apple kit you have until they are no longer capable of running the latest versions of OSX and iOS. When this happens, see what is available at the time. The products available and/or your IT requirements will have most likely changed by then.

    I have many macs of all ages and generally they are all useful up until the point the latest OS is no longer supported.

    Enjoy your retirement!

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