I probably bought my last Mac this week. A 2011 iMac.

Discussion in 'iMac' started by SnarkyBear, Dec 5, 2016.

  1. SnarkyBear macrumors regular


    Apr 24, 2014
    We have been using Mac’s since just before Apple converted to Intel processors, i.e. 2005. Wanting to replace our 2006 iMac, I looked at Apple’s lowest cost option 21.5" option. I then went on Craigslist and found a top-of-the-line 27" 2011 iMac for $550 (in excellent condition). Here is a breakdown of the differences:

    2015 21.5" iMac (2011 27" iMac)
    Price: $1099 ($550-half the price of new)
    Display: 1920x1080 (2560x1440)
    CPU: 1.6GHz i5 (3.4GHz i7)
    RAM: 8GB Soldered (16GB upgradeable to 32GB)
    HDD: 1TB 5400 rpm (1TB 7200 rpm)
    GPU: Intel HDG 6000 (AMD HD6970M 2GB)
    Plugins: USB3 (USB2, Firewire)
    Weight: 12.5 lbs. (30.5 lbs.)
    Benchmark: 3157 (3485) (https://browser.primatelabs.com/mac-benchmarks)

    Even sadder, the equivalent 2015 27” iMac costs $1999. $1450 is a hell of a premium to pay for smaller pixels, usb3 plugs, and a new HDD. At least the HDD can be replaced in the older iMac. In fact, considering the soldered parts and increased difficulty of entering the guts of the newer models, and it seems that the golden age of desktop computers for Apple passed away half a decade ago.

    When a 5 year old computer is a better value than what you are currently offering, that doesn't bode well for the long term outlook of your company. I know this is not quite an apples to apples comparison. Still, I doubt the next time I buy an iMac (in 3 or 4 years) that the new ones will be worth the costs, and I don't see the current crop being worth purchasing used.
  2. CWallace macrumors 603


    Aug 17, 2007
    Seattle, WA
    I always buy the latest model, but I buy it refurbished since I save around $600 over new on average and the only difference is it comes in a plain cardboard box instead of a pretty cardboard box. :)
  3. jharvey71884 macrumors 6502

    May 3, 2011
    You could even get a SSD thunderbolt and boot from it for faster start times.
  4. varian55zx macrumors 6502a


    May 10, 2012
    San Francisco
    You're not giving the whole story in the first post, the hardware in the 2011 will all be generations old, but in general, you are correct.

    The entire 21.5 lineup is a disgrace, not even useful as paper weights, and none worse than the non-retina models. The top 27 inch model is superb IMHO.
  5. bernuli macrumors 6502

    Oct 10, 2011
    But the new iMac is so thin on the outer edges....don't you want a computer that looks thin (but really isn't) ?

    Thin, the thing that Apple gave us that they did not know we didn't want! Well, I don't anyway.

    Those older iMacs are awesome machines. I used to recommend them left and right to family and clients for new computer purchases. But when they got slimmed down, and became non upgradeable, I pretty much gave up on the iMac line. Now when people ask, I say "buy one if you want". The thin really took the wind out of the sail for me.
  6. varian55zx macrumors 6502a


    May 10, 2012
    San Francisco
    This is completely correct, the computer itself isn't that thin, it is the outer edges that are thin.

    The iMac creates more or less of an optical illusion, so that from various angles the computer does indeed appear to be thin.


    But as we see that isn't actually the case. This is an iMac iMac mid 2011 (left) and iMac 2012-2013 (right). As we can see the new one is actually thicker. But the edges sure aren't!

    I don't mind a thin look but I would've rather had the ability of user upgradability and stable performance compared to thinness.
  7. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    A better value is subjective. I suppose I could have purchased a 5 year old computer for 500 dollars, or I could have opted for a new one, with the idea that it will last me 5+ years.

    I'm glad you're happy with your purchase, One size does not fit all, and the used iMac is a good buy for you it seems. I got a nice black friday deal on my iMac last year and its been

    I never put stock in artificial benchmarks and given the multicore results, the 2015 model beating out the 2011. I'd say that newer computer is indeed faster then the 5 year old one.

    I will say the 21" iMac that Apple currently sells is a poor value, with the iGPU, inclusion of a 5400 rpm drive, the 27" is a better buy imo.

    I agree with you on the soldered parts, and the drive to thinness which removes the consumer from updating any and all components.
  8. padams35 macrumors regular

    Nov 10, 2016
    Might want to double check that line item. The original HD 6970M that shipped was a 1GB edition that has picked up a reputation for being less durable than normally seen in Macs.

    The 21.5" look better if you upgrade to a fusion drive. (Apple really should have made the 1TB fusion option the baseline standard.)
  9. SnarkyBear, Dec 8, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2016

    SnarkyBear thread starter macrumors regular


    Apr 24, 2014
    Yeah, but $100 extra for a fusion drive of the same size? That's insane! I can pick up a 2TB hybrid drive at newegg for <$90 and install it myself. The "Apple Tax" for upgrades is ludicrous. Apple products are good, but not THAT good.

    Actually, I'm waiting another year for SSD's to keep dropping in price, and plan on replacing the Hard Drive with a 1TB SSD.
    --- Post Merged, Dec 8, 2016 ---
    Since it is replacing a 2006 iMac, I feel confident that I will probably get another 5 years off this iMac. Especially since I can replace the hard drive and other components if necessary. That is NOT on option on the new iMacs.
    --- Post Merged, Dec 8, 2016 ---
    It is the 2GB GPU that was offered as a top level option. The person who bought this initially paid a lot of cash for this Mac-. Quick online research shows ~$2300 US for a new one.

    I checked online and found that Apple did have a GPU replacement program (now expired). Fortunately, my serial number shows that this iMac wasn't one that needed replacement. *Whew* dodged a metaphorical bullet on that one.

    Attached Files:

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  10. redheeler, Dec 8, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2016

    redheeler macrumors 604


    Oct 17, 2014
    Used computers are becoming a better and better value, and this is not only true for Macs, but personal computers in general. The hardware is simply not advancing as fast as it used to be when a dual-Xeon workstation from 6 years ago can beat the latest Skylake top-end Core i7 (although single-core performance is better on the i7, of course).

    The late 2015 27" does offer two huge advantages over the 5-year-old 27", and those are the 5K display, PCIe SSD. CPU and GPU performance has also been improved since 2011. But, the difference in price makes the 2011 a very nice value.
    --- Post Merged, Dec 8, 2016 ---
    You're still fairly limited with the upgrades you can do on a 2011 iMac. SSD is of course limited to SATA III speed, 1/4 the sequential speed of a current PCIe SSD, unless you opt for an external over Thunderbolt or multiple SSDs in RAID. GPU is a proprietary form factor, and it seems you already have the best GPU made for these iMacs. The display quality is already very poor compared to current 5K iMacs and this cannot be upgraded.

    The 2010 Mac Pro is not limited in any of these regards. IMHO, it is one of the very best value for money used Macs.
    This does not mean you're completely safe from failure. I've seen reports of people who did have failures not being covered by the program.
  11. whohasaquestion macrumors 6502a

    Sep 17, 2011
    It's not even about how fast your machine is, it's about how long before Apple pulls the support plug on 2011 imac.
  12. Taz Mangus, Dec 13, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2016

    Taz Mangus macrumors 68040

    Taz Mangus

    Mar 10, 2011
    I owned a 2011 27" iMac with the 6970 GPU and that thing got incredibly hot. In fact, the GPU ended up failing on that computer about 2 months ago. I bought it brand new in 2011. It was not part of the GPU replacement program either. Apple did end up replacing the computer, for me, with a brand new 2015 27" iMac. Great machine so far that runs cool all the time.

    So you will need to be aware that there where heat issues with the 2011 iMacs with the i7 CPU which is the exact same model I owned. Mine did last 5 years though.
  13. v0lume4 macrumors 68000


    Jul 28, 2012
    Pretty nice price to be honest, especially when you factor into the equation that the iMac is an all-in-one. Nice find.
  14. Sam_S macrumors 6502

    Nov 20, 2016
    And having a CD/DVD drive is always nice.
  15. bluespark macrumors 68000

    Jul 11, 2009
    --- Post Merged, Dec 13, 2016 ---
    I have the exact same iMac as you (which I bought from the refurb store about a year after it was introduced) and it has been great. It definitely was a sweet spot in the iMac lineup, and I agree that it's a fantastic value for what you paid. One of the other things is has over current iMacs is the ability to use it as a display for another computer. When I'm working from home, I plug my Windows laptop into the iMac and can use it full screen (switching back to the iMac itself via a key combination whenever I want). That alone has kept me from "upgrading" to the newer machines. It's also nice having a CD-drive and an SD port on the side. I use the SD port all the time, and the "reach around" that would be needed with the newer iMacs would be flat-out ridiculous.

    Sadly, my display has begun showing serious burn-in, which means I'll have to do something before too long. It's kind of amazing to think that every iMac made today would be a downgrade in certain key ways from what they were making in 2011.
  16. varian55zx macrumors 6502a


    May 10, 2012
    San Francisco
    Sure. There have been more than a few instances where it would've been nice to have one.
  17. SnarkyBear thread starter macrumors regular


    Apr 24, 2014
    I plan on doing exactly that, just patiently waiting as SSD prices continue to drop. Or until the 5 year old HDD starts to fail, (hopefully later than sooner).
  18. The Ricman macrumors newbie

    Dec 16, 2016
    Niagara Falls Ont
    Hey!! Thats an awesome deal!!
    I picked up my 21.5 inch for about $600
    i7 2.8
    now running 32gb of ram
    2 ssd's in raid 0
    power button to password..less than 20 secs!!
    Next on the list is a gnu upgrade to the 680M!!
    Just wish i could find definite answers on the ROM fix to get boot screens back...

    Attached Files:

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