How old should I go for a used iMac?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by jojoba, Mar 31, 2018.

  1. jojoba macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2011
    #1
    I have a Macbook Pro (2016, 256, 8GB). I'm thinking of supplementing it with a second hand iMac for my office space at work, preferably a 27 inch but also looking at 21. I'm unsure how far back it makes sense to go when buying used. So far, I've kept my macbooks for a maximum of 4 years before upgrading.

    Usage: I usually run about 10+ apps at the time: note taking app, calendar, two mail programs, pdf reader/editor, word, powerpoint, bookends, skype, omnioutliner, tidal, task manager, keyboard maestro.
    Photo editing can stay at the MPB. Need to play audio and video files for work, but no editing.

    Several of the second hand ones I've seen have a 1920x1080 screen. Not sure how I'd feel about that after being used to retina.

    So far, I've been looking at second hand options dating back to 2013. Most of them have a 'regular' 1TB hard drive. I've always used SSD so not sure how much of a difference to expect in speed.

    Here are some examples of machines I've seen (I'm in Norway, have converted the local prices):

    - iMac 27", late 2013, 3,4 GHz intel core i5, 26GB RAM, 1TB. - USD 1339
    - iMac 21", late 2017, 2,3 GHz, 8GB ram, 1TB, 1920x1080. - USD 1148
    - iMac 21", late 2013, 2,7 Ghz, 8 GB, 1TB. - USD 702

    Are the 2013 models too old to bother with?
     
  2. chscag macrumors 68030

    chscag

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2008
    Location:
    Fort Worth, Texas
    #2
    I just gave my 27" 2013 iMac to my son after purchasing a new 5K 2017 27" iMac. The 2013 iMac is a good machine and can be upgrade for memory. Anything else like swapping out the drive is difficult but can be done. Of course the newer machine you buy, the longer usage you can get out of it.

    I personally do not recommend the 21" iMacs because of their lack of upgradeability. I suppose if you find one fully loaded (large hard drive and plenty of memory) and reasonably priced, you could buy it instead of a 27" model.
     
  3. 0007776, Mar 31, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2018

    0007776 Suspended

    0007776

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    #3
    Personally there hasn’t been anything terribly compelling to me about new macs since about 2012. So I’d say back to around then if it hasn’t gotten too much wear and tear over the years. The advantage of iMacs is since they are a desktop you don’t have to worry about needing a battery replacement in an old one.
     
  4. kschendel macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2014
    #4
    USB 3.0 came in with the 2013 iMac, and I wouldn't generally recommend going older than that. A hard drive will seem significantly slower than internal SSD, but with USB 3 you can add an external SSD and it won't be all that much slower (if at all) than internal SSD, at least for machines of that general vintage. (Internal SSD on the newer iMac's is significantly faster.)
     
  5. hamiltonrwatch macrumors regular

    hamiltonrwatch

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    Sep 11, 2014
    Location:
    slightly right of left
    #5
    You can find late-2012's at very reasonable prices. Used desktops don't get the abuse that tablets, phones, or laptops suffer from. USB 3.0 was available on my late-2012. I upgraded the CPU to a 3.4 GHz i7 & the GPU to a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX w/2GB of GDDR5 memory. Also maxed out the RAM to 32GB. In the subsequent 6 years, I haven't seen a compelling reason to buy a new desktop. High Sierra 10.13.4 actually runs better on my late-2012 than the newer machines. Yes, the displays are better, but I don't do heavy graphics work where color correction or accuracy is a necessity.
     
  6. kschendel macrumors 65816

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    Dec 9, 2014
    #6
    Right, it was late 2012 for USB3. My mistake, I should have double checked.
     
  7. jojoba, Apr 1, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2018

    jojoba thread starter macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2011
    #7
    Thanks everyone, much appreciated.

    So I've had a rethink and I've decided to only look for 27". Given your responses, I'll go back to 2013 if the price looks decent and drives and ram can be upgraded. But I also found a relatively well spec-ed, newer mac mini with an external 24" display that I thought looked interesting.

    So at the moment I'm down to:

    - mac mini 2014, i5 2.6 GHz, 16 GB ram, 256 SSD with an Apple LED Cinema display 24" - USD 1275
    - iMac 27" late 2013, 3,5 GHz Intel Core i7, 8GB ram, 1TB fusion drive. - USD 1263

    I think both of them could be bargained down a little bit. I like the SSD drive on the mac mini and feel somewhat reassured by the newer model. But I'm very drawn to a 27" display and the processor on the imac seems better (?). And I guess I could add an external SSD drive like kschendel said. I'm fine downgrading a bit on speed and screen from my macbook, just don't want to feel like a massive step down. But highly fine tuned colours are not the priority.

    Any thoughts on the two options?
     
  8. Vinegar Tom macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2018
    #8
    It depends on what you want to use the Mac for; I'm typing this on a 2008 iMac and for browsing the web, email and word processing, it is a fast as my wife's new Macbook. I've used DosDude's patch to update the machine to High Sierra (normally, the 8,1 iMac will only support as high as El Capitan) and the OS occasionally lags, but on the whole the iMac is completely suitable for my needs.

    I only have 4mb of ram, so if you're going to be using a lot of apps at the same time, you'll probably need a more recent machine; I believe the 8,1 iMac can only accept a total of 4mb of ram?
     
  9. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #9
    OP wrote:
    "So I've had a rethink and I've decided to only look for 27". Given your responses, I'll go back to 2013 if the price looks decent and drives and ram can be upgraded."

    By all means, MAKE SURE that the iMac has USB3.
    As mentioned above, all iMacs since "late 2012" have it.

    IF you have USB3, you don't have to pry open the iMac to upgrade from a platter-based hard drive.
    Instead, just buy an EXTERNAL USB3 SSD, and set it up as the boot drive.
    It will give you around 85% or so of the speeds you would see from an "internally-installed" SSD.
    BUT... with none of the risks involved in prying open the iMac.

    Cheap, fast, easy, and ... no risk.
    I predict that you'll be very impressed with the results.
     
  10. nathan_reilly macrumors member

    nathan_reilly

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2016
    #10
    I have a mid 2011 with USB 3. Great design. Yes you gotta replace the battery but just buy the OWC kit, it includes all the tools you need to open it. Glass is held on by magnets instead of adhesive (later gens) so you can remove it over and over, no problem. I've installed an SSD behind my optical drive, and swapped out the original 5400RPM spinner for another SSD. Also installed a thermal inline sensor to keep the fans decent, upgraded the RAM, etc...

    this is still a great computer that I use for solidworks in bootcamp all the time, you can pick one up for less than $1k. I've got the i7 2600 and the 6970 graphics chip, since the computer is pretty old at this point I'd recommend splurging for the top of the line one...as it aint much of a splurge.

    Bonus: if you've got a 2015 or earlier MacBook pro, you can use a thunderbolt cable to connect them and use the iMac as an external display for your laptop...pretty neat. Idk why this died, its a great feature imo.
     
  11. alphaod macrumors Core

    alphaod

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    Location:
    NYC
    #11
    I have a 2012 27" iMac maxed out (i7-3770, 32 GB RAM, 1TB Fusion, GTX680 MX) still going really strong. Granted I don't really use it much anymore seeing I have at least six faster computers.
     
  12. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #12
    "I have a 2012 27" iMac maxed out (i7-3770, 32 GB RAM, 1TB Fusion, GTX680 MX) still going really strong. Granted I don't really use it much anymore seeing I have at least six faster computers."

    If it has USB3, set it up with an external USB3 SSD as the boot drive, and you may be able to coax more speed from it...
     
  13. nathan_reilly macrumors member

    nathan_reilly

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2016
    #13
    big benefit of the '11 over the '12 I believe to be the use of magnets to secure the screen's glass, instead of adhesive...makes upgrading the drives WAY easier...and with the optical drive, can you put up to 3 SSDs in there...yum
     
  14. alphaod macrumors Core

    alphaod

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    Location:
    NYC
    #14
    No need, but a good idea. That 128GB SSD in there is plenty to speed it up. I'm actually think if I can split up the Fusion drive. Use the dedicated 128GB SSD as boot and such and then use the 1TB HDD as a media storage. Honestly it's a bit of a desk art now more than actually gets used. I think it's still running Mountain Lion or something.

    If may consider re-purposing it or give it to a friend or something.
     
  15. jojoba thread starter macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2011
    #15
    So, slight change of plan: today I picked up a 2015 imac 21" with 512gb SSD and 8GB ram for USD 880. I would have loved the larger screen but was sold on all that internal SSD for the price. Have set it up and it's really fast. I think I'll be happy with it. If not, I can always sell it...
     

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