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mollyc

macrumors 604
Original poster
Aug 18, 2016
7,903
48,565
update as of 7.18.21: a new power supply seems to have fixed the problem

[tl;dr: M1 iMac or 2020 Intel iMac for replacement computer for photography?]

Dear Photo Friends,

I currently use a 2017 4.2 Ghz i7 27" iMac with 40GB RAM. I previously used a 2012 iMac and before that a 2008 iMac. The 2008 we kept around for a kids' computer for quite a long time and finally recycled it, and the 2012 is still here, occasionally used by my son. Neither ever gave me any issues, I just upgraded when needed due to new cameras, more storage, etc.

In the past two months or so, I have had a lot of trouble keeping my current 2017 iMac on. I just goes to a black, fully off screen for no reason. Sometimes I can leave it on overnight with no issues, and sometimes it shuts down while booting up. Yesterday I tried to use it and the longest it stayed on was about 4 minutes, enough to import a handful of photos, and after that I couldn't even get it to fully boot again.

I haven't worked in nearly 20 years, and the summer I sign up to write a photography class is the time when the stupid thing stops working. :(

My husband ordered a new power supply this morning and will attempt to fix my computer whenever it comes. He's quite handy with computers and I'm sure he's more than capable of fixing it, but I do not know if the power supply is the actual issue. (I've tried other options and I'm not asking you all to diagnose the stupid thing, just giving you background).

All that said, if the power supply does not fix the issue, then I will need to buy a new computer. I am having a hard time figuring out if I should go with the smaller but new M1 or stick with the Intel 2020 27". I am not interested in a laptop as a main computer (I have an 2018 MBA that I am currently using as a backup, which I typically use in the manner of an iPad), nor do I want to have to research monitors with a Mac Mini. Despite my current issues, I do like iMacs in general. But I worry that the M1 iMac isn't powerful enough with a max of 16GB RAM, and then I worry that the 2020 iMac will be basically out of date in the next six months or so. I have five local Apple stores, so I should be able to find something in stock at one of them, even if I would prefer a custom configuration.

What would you do in my position if I have to get something new?
 
Last edited:

ian87w

macrumors G3
Feb 22, 2020
8,704
12,636
Indonesia
Does your iMac have traditional hard drive or SSD? I'm going to guess the former. It might be a sign of the drive dying. Unfortunately, Apple doesn't have Apple Silicon upgrade path for your model. I wouldn't go with the 24" iMac since you'll be upgrading again when Apple release the proper replacement for your current iMac.

If possible, back up your data as soon as you can. If somebody in your house are techie enough, try to have the iMac boot from a fresh macOS from an external SSD, and see if that will keep the iMac running for a bit. Repairing the iMac is not easy, and I'm just afraid there might be other things damaged in the process of opening the thing.

It is annoying that Apple still has not released more Apple Silicon Macs, especially for the higher end Macbook Pro and larger iMacs. It leaves many people like you in an odd position.
 
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mollyc

macrumors 604
Original poster
Aug 18, 2016
7,903
48,565
I do have a 1TB SSD drive. I have about 97% of it backed up currently, just a handful of photos from the past month that aren't cloned (but are backed up through Time Machine). I don't think it's the drive. I've run diagnostics on the drive and it came back fine.

If I unplug the power cable and let the computer sit unplugged for awhile it usually starts up again and will stay on for a bit. I am going to try to clone the remaining files from it today and then just use my MBA until my husband tried to fix it. He has opened up both the previous two iMacs for upgrades and got them both put back together and working. ? He also built his PC (although quite different working from a tower box vs a sealed iMac).
 
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OldMacs4Me

macrumors 68020
May 4, 2018
2,227
28,893
Wild Rose And Wind Belt
I really have not kept up with iMacs, so hopefully someone else can give a more definite answer. My first thought was does it have a clock (PRAM) battery? These inexpensive little buggers have been causing Mac computers to fail at least as far back as my 1995 LC 475, and are usually easy and inexpensive to replace.

That said I have no idea if the newer iMacs still use them. Being the least expensive possibility I would investigate that before I did anything else.

EDIT:
I see the 21.5" 2017 iMac does indeed have a PRAM battery so I strongly suspect the 27 inch does as well. Sorry the earlier comment of being easy to replace seems to have missed not only the mark but the barn as well.

Anyways I found the directions for the 21.5 inch. Hopefully a iFixIt has directions for yours as well.
 
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deep diver

macrumors 68030
Jan 17, 2008
2,704
4,494
Philadelphia.
I would go for the Intel. We've all heard very good things about the M1 but it is still new to the market. I never like to be the first in line as I'd rather let other people do the real world testing for me. I would wait another year before getting an M1.
 
Last edited:
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Apple fanboy

macrumors Ivy Bridge
Feb 21, 2012
55,713
53,741
Behind the Lens, UK
Dear Photo Friends,

I currently use a 2017 4.2 Ghz i7 27" iMac with 40GB RAM. I previously used a 2012 iMac and before that a 2008 iMac. The 2008 we kept around for a kids' computer for quite a long time and finally recycled it, and the 2012 is still here, occasionally used by my son. Neither ever gave me any issues, I just upgraded when needed due to new cameras, more storage, etc.

In the past two months or so, I have had a lot of trouble keeping my current 2017 iMac on. I just goes to a black, fully off screen for no reason. Sometimes I can leave it on overnight with no issues, and sometimes it shuts down while booting up. Yesterday I tried to use it and the longest it stayed on was about 4 minutes, enough to import a handful of photos, and after that I couldn't even get it to fully boot again.

I haven't worked in nearly 20 years, and the summer I sign up to write a photography class is the time when the stupid thing stops working. :(

My husband ordered a new power supply this morning and will attempt to fix my computer whenever it comes. He's quite handy with computers and I'm sure he's more than capable of fixing it, but I do not know if the power supply is the actual issue. (I've tried other options and I'm not asking you all to diagnose the stupid thing, just giving you background).

All that said, if the power supply does not fix the issue, then I will need to buy a new computer. I am having a hard time figuring out if I should go with the smaller but new M1 or stick with the Intel 2020 27". I am not interested in a laptop as a main computer (I have an 2018 MBA that I am currently using as a backup, which I typically use in the manner of an iPad), nor do I want to have to research monitors with a Mac Mini. Despite my current issues, I do like iMacs in general. But I worry that the M1 iMac isn't powerful enough with a max of 16GB RAM, and then I worry that the 2020 iMac will be basically out of date in the next six months or so. I have five local Apple stores, so I should be able to find something in stock at one of them, even if I would prefer a custom configuration.

What would you do in my position if I have to get something new?
Sorry to hear that. If the PSU isn't going to fix it have you considered a clean install? Could just be a software glitch. Resetting the PRAM etc would be a start.

If the unit is needing to be replaced, have you considered a Mac Mini with a nice matt screen? Ideal for photography. I like the BenQ's but I'm a bit biased!
 
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mollyc

macrumors 604
Original poster
Aug 18, 2016
7,903
48,565
Sorry to hear that. If the PSU isn't going to fix it have you considered a clean install? Could just be a software glitch. Resetting the PRAM etc would be a start.

If the unit is needing to be replaced, have you considered a Mac Mini with a nice matt screen? Ideal for photography. I like the BenQ's but I'm a bit biased!

I really have not kept up with iMacs, so hopefully someone else can give a more definite answer. My first thought was does it have a clock (PRAM) battery? These inexpensive little buggers have been causing Mac computers to fail at least as far back as my 1995 LC 475, and are usually easy and inexpensive to replace.

That said I have no idea if the newer iMacs still use them. Being the least expensive possibility I would investigate that before I did anything else.

EDIT:
I see the 21.5" 2017 iMac does indeed have a PRAM battery so I strongly suspect the 27 inch does as well. Sorry the earlier comment of being easy to replace seems to have missed not only the mark but the barn as well.

Anyways I found the directions for the 21.5 inch. Hopefully a iFixIt has directions for yours as well.



I've tried resetting PRAM, booting in safe mode, unplugging all peripherals, working from WiFi only, working from Ethernet only....there is no rhyme or reason to what makes it shut down, and it doesn't matter what I reset, it still eventually shuts down on its own.

I have not even applied the standard security updates because I don't trust it to stay powered up for long enough, and I don't want it to shut down mid-install. I definitely don't want to try to reinstall the entire OS, even though a software glitch is possibly the culprit.

There are multiple pages on the interwebs discussing the power supply being a likely culprit, which is why we are starting there. But I'm not about to piecemeal other random parts trying to figure out what the issue is if it isn't the PSU.

@Apple fanboy do you work for Benq?
 

casperes1996

macrumors 604
Jan 26, 2014
7,527
5,698
Horsens, Denmark
[tl;dr: M1 iMac or 2020 Intel iMac for replacement computer for photography?]

Dear Photo Friends,

I currently use a 2017 4.2 Ghz i7 27" iMac with 40GB RAM. I previously used a 2012 iMac and before that a 2008 iMac. The 2008 we kept around for a kids' computer for quite a long time and finally recycled it, and the 2012 is still here, occasionally used by my son. Neither ever gave me any issues, I just upgraded when needed due to new cameras, more storage, etc.

In the past two months or so, I have had a lot of trouble keeping my current 2017 iMac on. I just goes to a black, fully off screen for no reason. Sometimes I can leave it on overnight with no issues, and sometimes it shuts down while booting up. Yesterday I tried to use it and the longest it stayed on was about 4 minutes, enough to import a handful of photos, and after that I couldn't even get it to fully boot again.

I haven't worked in nearly 20 years, and the summer I sign up to write a photography class is the time when the stupid thing stops working. :(

My husband ordered a new power supply this morning and will attempt to fix my computer whenever it comes. He's quite handy with computers and I'm sure he's more than capable of fixing it, but I do not know if the power supply is the actual issue. (I've tried other options and I'm not asking you all to diagnose the stupid thing, just giving you background).

All that said, if the power supply does not fix the issue, then I will need to buy a new computer. I am having a hard time figuring out if I should go with the smaller but new M1 or stick with the Intel 2020 27". I am not interested in a laptop as a main computer (I have an 2018 MBA that I am currently using as a backup, which I typically use in the manner of an iPad), nor do I want to have to research monitors with a Mac Mini. Despite my current issues, I do like iMacs in general. But I worry that the M1 iMac isn't powerful enough with a max of 16GB RAM, and then I worry that the 2020 iMac will be basically out of date in the next six months or so. I have five local Apple stores, so I should be able to find something in stock at one of them, even if I would prefer a custom configuration.

What would you do in my position if I have to get something new?
You/your husband might already know so, but a quick safety warning - The power supply inside the iMac is entirely exposed. It could in theory kill someone touching the wrong bits in there. - Leave it unplugged and off the grid for a long timne before touching the internal PSU, perhaps use non-conductive gloves or make sure the thing is grounded in a way that isn’t through you/your husband :)

If you don’t mind the smaller display I would recommend the M1 honestly. The tests I’ve seen demonstrate excellent photo editing performance even with rather little memory in the system, and a more logarithmic curve of diminishing returns when more memory is added relative to the Intel counterparts in photo workloads
 

mollyc

macrumors 604
Original poster
Aug 18, 2016
7,903
48,565
I would go for the Intel. We've all hear very good things about the M1 but it is still new to the market. I never like to be the first in line as I'd reather let other people do the real world testing for me. I would wait another year before getting an M1.
Thank you for answering my actual question. ?

Also, this was my original plan until mine stopped working, to let others test the M chips for awhile. I didn't have computer envy, wanting the newest....but now I just need something that stays on. And you can see from my previous computers, I do tend to hang on to them for a number of years.
 
Last edited:

mollyc

macrumors 604
Original poster
Aug 18, 2016
7,903
48,565
You/your husband might already know so, but a quick safety warning - The power supply inside the iMac is entirely exposed. It could in theory kill someone touching the wrong bits in there. - Leave it unplugged and off the grid for a long timne before touching the internal PSU, perhaps use non-conductive gloves or make sure the thing is grounded in a way that isn’t through you/your husband :)

If you don’t mind the smaller display I would recommend the M1 honestly. The tests I’ve seen demonstrate excellent photo editing performance even with rather little memory in the system, and a more logarithmic curve of diminishing returns when more memory is added relative to the Intel counterparts in photo workloads
Thanks, he will ground himself, and if I can get a final backup done on it today I will leave it unplugged for the week. ?

Otherwise one vote Intel, one vote M1.
 

Apple fanboy

macrumors Ivy Bridge
Feb 21, 2012
55,713
53,741
Behind the Lens, UK
I've tried resetting PRAM, booting in safe mode, unplugging all peripherals, working from WiFi only, working from Ethernet only....there is no rhyme or reason to what makes it shut down, and it doesn't matter what I reset, it still eventually shuts down on its own.

I have not even applied the standard security updates because I don't trust it to stay powered up for long enough, and I don't want it to shut down mid-install. I definitely don't want to try to reinstall the entire OS, even though a software glitch is possibly the culprit.

There are multiple pages on the interwebs discussing the power supply being a likely culprit, which is why we are starting there. But I'm not about to piecemeal other random parts trying to figure out what the issue is if it isn't the PSU.

@Apple fanboy do you work for Benq?
No. But I work for the European distributor.
I get a healthy discount!
 
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casperes1996

macrumors 604
Jan 26, 2014
7,527
5,698
Horsens, Denmark
Thanks, he will ground himself, and if I can get a final backup done on it today I will leave it unplugged for the week. ?

Otherwise one vote Intel, one vote M1.

Sounds good :) - A week’s time should be plenty for the residual charge to clear or at the very least be so minimal that even if it were to shock him it’d just be a minimal zap and nothing dangerous :)

My M1 vote is contingent on you being OK with 24” instead of 27” and that you’re OK/happy with the port selection. But under those conditions, yeah, I vote M1 :)
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Penryn
Feb 20, 2009
28,643
12,761
I'll go against the grain.
I'd suggest an Apple-refurbished 2018 Mini. Get at least 16gb of RAM.

Get whatever display you like. 27" (4k), or perhaps a 32" 1440p.
Now you can also use the display with the MacBook.
 
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jz0309

Contributor
Sep 25, 2018
10,408
27,291
SoCal
Having used essentially the same computer as you for almost 4 years now, I would not want to "downsize" on the display (size/resolution), esp for PS work.
I personally would not get a M1 as my main computer, 16GB will not be sufficient for heavy PS work (PS is known for being RAM hungry). Since M2 (or whatever name) is likely several month out why not look at short term (eg 1 year) alternative?
A new or refurb mini will also require you to get a high-end display, not sure if that is the path to go.
If I were in your situation, I'd go for another 27" iMac - technology is always evolving, so every computer you buy will be outdated within a year ...
Have you thought about bringing your iMac into the Genius Bar? I'm not questioning your husbands abilities, butt they might be in a better position to diagnose the root cause
 

CrapShack

macrumors regular
Jul 19, 2018
102
360
DC
[tl;dr: M1 iMac or 2020 Intel iMac for replacement computer for photography?]

Dear Photo Friends,

I currently use a 2017 4.2 Ghz i7 27" iMac with 40GB RAM. I previously used a 2012 iMac and before that a 2008 iMac. The 2008 we kept around for a kids' computer for quite a long time and finally recycled it, and the 2012 is still here, occasionally used by my son. Neither ever gave me any issues, I just upgraded when needed due to new cameras, more storage, etc.

In the past two months or so, I have had a lot of trouble keeping my current 2017 iMac on. I just goes to a black, fully off screen for no reason. Sometimes I can leave it on overnight with no issues, and sometimes it shuts down while booting up. Yesterday I tried to use it and the longest it stayed on was about 4 minutes, enough to import a handful of photos, and after that I couldn't even get it to fully boot again.

I haven't worked in nearly 20 years, and the summer I sign up to write a photography class is the time when the stupid thing stops working. :(

My husband ordered a new power supply this morning and will attempt to fix my computer whenever it comes. He's quite handy with computers and I'm sure he's more than capable of fixing it, but I do not know if the power supply is the actual issue. (I've tried other options and I'm not asking you all to diagnose the stupid thing, just giving you background).

All that said, if the power supply does not fix the issue, then I will need to buy a new computer. I am having a hard time figuring out if I should go with the smaller but new M1 or stick with the Intel 2020 27". I am not interested in a laptop as a main computer (I have an 2018 MBA that I am currently using as a backup, which I typically use in the manner of an iPad), nor do I want to have to research monitors with a Mac Mini. Despite my current issues, I do like iMacs in general. But I worry that the M1 iMac isn't powerful enough with a max of 16GB RAM, and then I worry that the 2020 iMac will be basically out of date in the next six months or so. I have five local Apple stores, so I should be able to find something in stock at one of them, even if I would prefer a custom configuration.

What would you do in my position if I have to get something new?
This is just a hunch but... you mention the 40GB RAM. How is it configured in the four slots? I have a 27" iMac and it REALLY didn't like having anything but perfectly aligned RAM modules in the 4 slots (I have 4 X 8GB now - when I first got it I tried to add 2 X 8GB to the preinstalled 2 X 4GB and the unit freaked oUT).
 

Joniz

macrumors 6502a
Sep 21, 2017
673
1,622
Is it possible to get an M1 Mac Mini and use the iMac simply as a display?
 

mollyc

macrumors 604
Original poster
Aug 18, 2016
7,903
48,565
This is just a hunch but... you mention the 40GB RAM. How is it configured in the four slots? I have a 27" iMac and it REALLY didn't like having anything but perfectly aligned RAM modules in the 4 slots (I have 4 X 8GB now - when I first got it I tried to add 2 X 8GB to the preinstalled 2 X 4GB and the unit freaked oUT).
i’ve had the same ram configuration since the day i first turned it on in 2017.
 

Joniz

macrumors 6502a
Sep 21, 2017
673
1,622
not sure how i’d use it as a display since it doesn’t stay powered on.

Not sure how it works, using an iMac as a display, but I assume it means not turning on the CPU itself.

Could your problem actually be software related, not hardware. What version of macOS are you using?
 

Apple fanboy

macrumors Ivy Bridge
Feb 21, 2012
55,713
53,741
Behind the Lens, UK
Plus iMac screens aren’t great for photography. Using it with another computer isn’t as simple as it used to be from what I remember either. Hopefully it can be fixed and then it’s all good.
 

mollyc

macrumors 604
Original poster
Aug 18, 2016
7,903
48,565
Not sure how it works, using an iMac as a display, but I assume it means not turning on the CPU itself.

Could your problem actually be software related, not hardware. What version of macOS are you using?
Plus iMac screens aren’t great for photography. Using it with another computer isn’t as simple as it used to be from what I remember either. Hopefully it can be fixed and then it’s all good.
I’m on mojave still. the new m1s bring back something similar to targeted display but not sure how it works. i’ve always liked my screens and calibrate them with a spyder. my location doesn’t give me a ton of glare.
 

Joniz

macrumors 6502a
Sep 21, 2017
673
1,622
I used to have problems with Mojave knocking displays out, or turning them all pink. These were external displays, so I could just shut them off without turning off the Mac. Sometimes it required a restart, though not usually.

I think it went away with Catalina, but it’s definitely gone with Big Sur.
 

mollyc

macrumors 604
Original poster
Aug 18, 2016
7,903
48,565
my problems started in the past 6-8 weeks with no hardware or software change in the same timeframe.

i do appreciate the troubleshooting but if the power supply doesn’t fix it, then a new computer will.

which brings me back to my main and original question: m1 or intel version?
 
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