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Juicy Box

macrumors 604
Sep 23, 2014
7,539
8,874
For me, it totally depends.

I got the iMac G3, iMac G4, 2006 Mac Pro 1,1, then Late 2012 iMac with the i7 and 680MX.

When I initially purchased it, I was planning on replacing my Late 2012 iMac around 2015-2016 time frame, but there was not a dramatic increase over the 3rd gen i7 in the Late 2012 iMac that warranted a replacement for my workflow.

Actually, it wasn't until the 2019 iMac that I considered replacing the Late 2012, but I had a crap load of medical bills to pay after a family member got cancer and needed surgery, so I put it off another few years.

I guess you can say that I finally replace my Late 2012 iMac with the M1 Mac Mini, but I was honestly surprised at the lack of the performance increase of the M1 Mini compared to a Mac that was 8 years older. It was definitely faster, but only about 50% faster for my workflow.

It just seemed like there used to be more dramatic increases in performance for Macs, but around 2013ish, it slowed. I assume this is probably true for the whole industry.
 

padams35

macrumors 6502
Nov 10, 2016
481
320
6 or 7 years is my goal, but my last iMac (a mid-2011 purchased Mid 2012) required substantial upgrades (internal SSD drive upgrade and unofficial eGPU) at the 4-year mark to get me to year-6 (replaced by a 2018 mini since I already had an eGPU).

I guess you can say that I finally replace my Late 2012 iMac with the M1 Mac Mini, but I was honestly surprised at the lack of the performance increase of the M1 Mini compared to a Mac that was 8 years older. It was definitely faster, but only about 50% faster for my workflow.

It just seemed like there used to be more dramatic increases in performance for Macs, but around 2013ish, it slowed. I assume this is probably true for the whole industry.
Well, yah. You went from a top-end 680MX 27" iMac to a 13" laptop in box. Four steps froward in time, two steps backward in performance tiers. The performance improvements would have been much more dramatic if you comparing the 2012 27" iMac to a 2020 5K or were comparing the M1 to the 2012 13" rMBP or 2012 Mini.
 

SalisburySam

macrumors 6502a
May 19, 2019
857
728
Salisbury, North Carolina
For me, about 4-5 years is desirable. My iMac is typically about a $3200 purchase as I configure it, so between $650-$800 per year. My uses and needs don’t change much so the benefits to newer models are only really these three: newer and presumable better security, compatibility with new versions of software like Office/TurboTax/etc., and faster everything. And the only one of those I actually see is the last: things happen more quickly.

My 27” 2017 iMac is working flawlessly, and I recently updated it from Mojave to Monterey. I was seriously considering a replacement to a 2021, then skipped that as just not necessary and truthfully I like my 2017. Now considering a 2022 but really want to see what Apple is going to do with Apple Silicon for us who want the 27” or so all-in-one. But still liking my 2017 so who knows.
 
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Juicy Box

macrumors 604
Sep 23, 2014
7,539
8,874
Well, yah. You went from a top-end 680MX 27" iMac to a 13" laptop in box. Four steps froward in time, two steps backward in performance tiers. The performance improvements would have been much more dramatic if you comparing the 2012 27" iMac to a 2020 5K or were comparing the M1 to the 2012 13" rMBP or 2012 Mini.
I get I am comparing a BTO iMac to a base model entry level Mac, but we are talking about eight years later.

Look at it this way, my base model Mid 2012 MBA runs circles around any Mac from 2004, but especially my 2004 iMac G4.

My base model Mid 2012 MBA is significantly faster than every iMac up until the Mid 2010 models.

So, when comparing my two Macs that are eight years apart, I expected a greater gap in performance.
 

saberfi

macrumors member
Oct 7, 2015
84
95
I have the 2017 iMac, which is working great, but the following will definitely prompt me to upgrade:

- Promotion
- Mini-led
- True Tone
- Apple processors, which hopefully leads to fan speeds going to 0 when doing light tasks. I hate fan noise, even the minute one in the 2017 iMac.
 

Bodhitree

macrumors 68000
Apr 5, 2021
1,989
2,110
Netherlands
I used to upgrade my computer every 2-3 years, because I was using them professionally and because the pace of change was such that every few years you’d get a 75-100% boost in speed.

But things changed and the pace of innovation slowed, and also my needs changed. The last computer I bought prior to my 2021 iMac was a 2011 MacBook Air, so a ten-year gap between computer purchases. It was a big jump in performance when I did upgrade.

This latest jump has caused some changes in my computing habits, I am a lot less disciplined now in closing apps and tabs, even though I only use a few things at a time. I can't imagine needing more power, its a question of it would be nice to have. I think the computer has finally matured.
 
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TechRunner

macrumors 65816
Oct 28, 2016
1,311
2,249
SW Florida, US
I kept both of mine four years. One had the screen go bad, and the other I sold to a friend and purchased a MacBook Air because my needs changed, and I required portability.
 

fishingfromakay

macrumors member
May 22, 2012
87
24
Hello, 14yrs, I still have and use daily my 2009. Looking to upgrade but can't decide between new iMac and the Mini.
 

Jay-Jacob

macrumors 6502a
Sep 10, 2015
548
322
England
My current iMac is my first iMac. Late 2013. My plan was upgrade it when cannot update OS anymore or it stop working. Obviously I cannot update OS anymore but not yet upgrade it since Apple move intel to Apple Silicon delay upgrading my iMac. I am waiting for bigger one to release then upgrade it then assuming price isn't too high compare older 27inch iMac.
 

Isengardtom

macrumors 65816
Feb 14, 2009
1,284
2,060
about 5 years is the goal for me. This year I replaced my 2017 4k 21.5" iMac with the 24" M1.
The 2017 model was with a fusion drive so this one is much faster.

Was surprised I could even play some of my older games through Rosetta on it
 

MultiFinder17

macrumors 68030
Jan 8, 2008
2,728
2,056
Tampa, Florida
The iMacs that I use daily are in my classroom, and those are in an odd place. I generally either buy used towards the tail end of their productive lives, or get free hand me downs from friends and family. I have three that I use daily in there: my main machine on my desk, my secondary machine in my office, and a third by the door that shows my seating charts and announcements. Here the history of those machines.

Main: I used a 2008 24” iMac for three years (2015-2017) here. Got it for free from my wife’s aunt when she upgraded. It worked great for those three years until I realized I needed something a bit more beefy and replaced it with a 2010 21” i3 that I got on Craigslist for $250 in 2017. That computer served me well (2017-2021) until it was replaced this school year with another donation from my wife’s aunt, a 2013 27” iMac. This is the current machine on my desk.

Office: When I started my current teaching job, I wanted an iMac for my new little office in my classroom. I stopped by the computer shop I used to work at and got a 20” 2008 iMac for $200 and some free work. That machine served me for four years (2017-2021) before being replaced by a donation from my old roommate, a 2010 i5 27” that’s currently in there.

Door: For years (2015-2020) this was a 2006 20” iMac that was replaced last year by the old 24” that used to be my main machine.

Pretty much every machine I run daily is being pushed beyond its limits, running operating systems that they aren’t meant to run to keep them up to date and relevant. My main machine caps at Catalina, and it’s running Monterey. My office machine caps at High Sierra, and it’s running Big Sur. My door machine caps at El Capitan, and it’s running High Sierra. I enjoy taking machines that would otherwise me scrapped and giving them new life, new use, pushing them beyond what they’re designed to be capable of.
 

rads1

macrumors newbie
Jun 13, 2019
9
5
iMacs can last a long time between upgrades. I'm still running the first gen 5K iMac with no imminent need to upgrade. I will probably upgrade to the new 27" ARM iMac when it comes out since fan noise is driving me crazy, but only if the screen is a substantial upgrade (mini-LED). It's wasteful consumerism to upgrade every 2 or so years for any kind of computer now days. There just really is no need to outside of professional applications. For example, I bought the new 16" MacBook Pro because I couldn't resist. Retrospectively, a stupid idea. Just because you can doesn't mean you should. I have no need for the power and the old desktop offers more practicality with the amount of screen real estate. ?
 
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