Help me decide: Mini vs New iMac vs Very Old iMac

Discussion in 'iMac' started by sandysh, May 29, 2011.

  1. sandysh macrumors newbie

    May 29, 2011

    I am trying to decide what kind of computer to purchase. I'm pretty savvy when it comes to using computers, but not so much when it comes to specs or any of that stuff. I apologize in advance for the length of this post... I am kind of going through the pros and cons with myself as I type this, and it's partially a financial question instead of just "which Mac is best?". Here's my situation:

    I am a stereotypical broke student. I make enough to cover my living expenses but am paying for educational costs with loans. The career field I am entering is lucrative; I graduate in one year and will have no trouble whatsoever finding a job well-paying enough that I will be able to pay off my loans in full within the first year of working. Though I am moving to NYC after graduation, which will be expensive in itself, so let's say I will be able to pay them off in two years at an absolute maximum. I do consider a computer to be an educational cost, since it is a necessity for school & my old desktop is completely fried. However, I don't view my loans as "free money" and I don't want to owe more than necessary.

    That being said, this will be my first Mac. I am tired of Windows & don't particularly like dabbling with versions of Linux - I love it, but really want something that just works without a lot of tweaking. It is nearing time for a new TV as well, since my ancient TV is starting to fuzz & the connectors are requiring more and more duct-tape rigging to keep the DVD images on screen. My goal is to have a Mac that will double as a TV substitute (maybe with EyeTV or something similar) which means that a bigger screen is better -- I have my eye on a new or refurbished 27" iMac, of course, and of course they are double what I was hoping to spend.

    I could go with a Mac Mini, which is a healthy compromise, and upgrade to an iMac when it is more financially feasible... (Or, I could just keep using the Mini indefinitely, but I see the extra cords & speakers needed as being a big potential problem when I move and will likely be crammed into a tiny studio or share in the city.) But I am thinking about long-term costs as well: does it really make sense to spend that much money on a Mini now just to turn around and buy the more expensive computer anyway in a year and a half?

    If that is the case, and I'm going to just chug along with something until I graduate and have more money to buy a newer, large-screened iMac, why not just buy this super-old iMac to make do with? It's only $250, but it is very out of date. I have heard that with Macs, you can get by with much lower specs than you can on a Windows machine, but I'm not sure what the extent of that is. Here are the specs for the old iMac:

    17" LCD Widescreen Display
    OS 10.5 Leopard
    1.8GHz G5 Processor
    1.0GB RAM (2x512MB) PC2-5300 DDR2 SO-DIMM
    160GB Hard Drive (7200rpm)
    DVD-RW/CD-RW SuperDrive-DL
    Radeon 9600 graphics (128MB)
    1440x900 resolution
    Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR
    AirPort Extreme Card
    2- FireWire 400 ports
    3- USB 2.0 ports
    1- Ethernet port

    Here is what I plan to do with the computer: mainly word processing, web browsing, streaming music (Pandora, YouTube, etc.) & movies (Netflix, etc.), and storing music & video files. As I said before, I would like to use the DVD drive & EyeTV or something similar to make the computer a TV/DVD-player substitute completely, but if I am upgrading computers after graduation I can probably get my old TV to hold out that much longer. Will this old iMac serve me well for 1 1/2 - 2 years, or should I choose some other option?

    Again, I know this is a lengthy post and I apologize. Any advice is appreciated!
  2. bpeeps macrumors 68020


    May 6, 2011
    I can't tell from the specs, but is this an intel iMac? If not, Netflix won't run on it. For your use, go with a Mac Mini and use your old monitor or buy a used one.
  3. sandysh thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 29, 2011
    I updated the post to reflect this: It is a G5. I didn't know Netflix wouldn't work on those; thanks for the heads-up.
  4. QCassidy352 macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    I know $250 is much less than you'd spend on a modern mac, but I think you should splurge, just a little bit. For what you want to do with it, the G5 imac would mostly suffice. However, I really do recommend that you find an intel mac, for a number of reasons. First, you can run windows if need be. Second, you can run Lion on it. Third, they're much faster and will give you a much better experience starting out with OS X.

    And finally, that model was made in 2005, so you're buying a 6 year old computer. Performance aside, you just have no idea how much time it has left before giving up the ghost. And if that happens, you're out the $250 and still don't have a computer.

    You can get a refurb 2010 imac, 21.5"/core i3/4 GB RAM for $930. I know that's a lot more than $250, but the performance is orders of magnitude better, there's a warranty, it would make a better TV, you could run Lion, and you'd have a much better experience overall.

    Look, it's a big price difference, and you have a lot of debt. But, you also have a good plan to pay it off. Is another few hundred really going to make a huge difference one way or the other? I know that can be a dangerous attitude, but you don't sound like you have a problem with your spending habits or are generally unwise about money.

    Or, split the difference and look for a couple-of-year-old mini or imac on craigslist or ebay. Even a core 2 duo would be a world apart from a single processor G5. I know the G5 is cheap, but I just can't see sinking money into a six year old, single processor, PPC mac at this point.
  5. blueraja macrumors member

    Oct 25, 2010
    I would recommend against the g5 imac, its ancient technology by todays standards and there is much that wont run on it at netflix, plex, etc. One of the newer mini's would work well and the wires and cables can be avoided by going with the bluetooth mouse and keyboard, after that the only cables are the power and video which is only 1 more than you would have with the imac.

    One other option though would be to find one of the 24" white imac's or an older aluminum 24". Around here the white ones can be found on craigslist for less than price of a new mini and when you consider the monitor, keyboard and mouse you will likely be over the price of a used aluminum one. While not quite as big obviously as the 27" compared to the average PC monitor they look absolutely huge and the displays on both are so nice that as a tv they work quite well.
  6. dead flag blues macrumors member

    May 13, 2011
    If you go the used route, be certain to get an Intel machine with a Core 2 Duo proc. The Core Solo and Core Duo machines will not be able to install Lion, tho there might be a workaround.
  7. stroked Suspended


    May 3, 2010
    You will be disappointed with the G5. Netflix is just one of many things you will not be able to do with a PPC.

    If you do buy a a used imac, stay away from the cor duo and the first cor2duo with the 32 bit EFI. Lion might not work on those.
  8. sandysh thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 29, 2011
    Thanks a bunch for the advice, everyone. I was really leaning toward the G5 for the rest of the year, then getting a new one after graduation, so I've been talked out of that. I probably will go with a refurb that is more affordable than the newest and best, but still everything I need.

    QCassidy352, I especially appreciate your response. I think I just always feel kind of bad about spending money on anything that is more luxury than necessity, in my mind, even when I know it is practical. You made me feel better about spending a little more for something that is better quality & will last longer.

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