iMac choice- new 21.5" specs vs. 2011 27"

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by PaulMoore, Aug 13, 2014.

  1. PaulMoore, Aug 13, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2014

    PaulMoore macrumors regular

    Dec 3, 2007

    Spent a while on the forums trying to decide on a Mac Mini set-up but (for various reasons) have to now get an iMac and need advice on which is the best option- I need a sub $1500 choice and have been told to get 16GB ram... not sure if the current 21.5" with ram added up to 16GB would be better (would cost $1500)

    Or the alternate choice would be a 27" refurb ($1100) (Mid 2011, 27.0” Quad-Core i5 2.7Ghz, 2GB, HDD 1TB, AMD Radeon HD 6770M) which I could add my own extra ram to (for $200)...

    My gut is that the newer model would be better but it seems like the older model has the same specs and a bigger screen for the same price...?
  2. glenthompson macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2011
    It depends on what is more important to you. While the big screen and easy ram upgrade is nice it will be noticeably slower due to the lack of a SSD.
  3. PaulMoore thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 3, 2007
    Am I reading it right that the basics of the current iMac (the one above the base model) and the 2011 27" are the same? Quad-Core i5 2.7Ghz? Or would the current iMac be any better/faster because it's newer?
  4. PaulMoore thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 3, 2007
    Can anyone clarify? Is the newer model any better just because it's newer? Or are the specs really the same?
  5. firedept macrumors 603


    Jul 8, 2011
    Here are a couple of the differences.

    1. HDD is 5400 in 21.5" and 7200 in 27", so 27 HDD will be ever so slightly faster.

    2. 21.5" will certainly run cooler that 27".

    3. You can upgrade RAM yourself on 27". Not very easy, if at all possible on 21.5". So you overpay to Apple for additional RAM on the 21.5".

    Plus you get the additional screen space with the 27". But in the end, I think the 21.5 will be the better machine. Specs may seem the same but are updated.
  6. js81 macrumors 65816


    Dec 31, 2008
    Everyone is forgetting something very important... [EDIT: I see that firedept alluded to this, though] the new one has a 4th generation Haswell i5, while the 2011 has a 2nd generation Sandy Bridge i5. The 4th gen is faster (about 20% according to the geekbench results on everymac - here and here) and more energy efficient/cooler.

    I say get the 21.5" - a bit smaller, yes, but much more up-to-date tech inside. That said, get an SSD if you can; it'd be a tough call for me, but I think I'd almost rather have 8GB of RAM and an SSD than 16GB. Consider this, though: RAM is NOT upgradable in the 21.5" - hard drive is, but is VERY difficult.
  7. Mr Rogers macrumors regular

    Oct 24, 2003
    Hong Kong
    2011 27in iMac Vrs New 21.5in iMac

    Lots of "pro's" and "con's" here, but why the emphasis on the i5 models, when a i7 2011 27in iMac will blow the 21.5in away.

    Pro's of 2011 27in iMac:
    Bigger screen and higher resolution
    More easy to upgrade than the 2012 onward incarnations of iMac
    You can have both SSD and Large HDD
    You can have 32G of Ram
    AMD Graphic's better than NVIDIA supplied in 21.5in, can be 1G or 2G video RAM
    Thunderbolt and Firewire connections
    Can upgrade via a USB dongle to lates wifi spec
    Cost of repair cheaper than latest iMac
    If a refurbished i7 iMac purchased within past 12 months, should have Applecare already, or you can apply AppleCare

    Con's of 2011 27in iMac:
    Major LCD screen issues
    Major GPU issues
    Major HDD issues
    Heat issues
    Getting long in the tooth and liable to motherboard/logic board failure
    To be avoided if does not have decent Applecare left, more than 12 months, or if AppleCare cannot be applied for reasons detailed above.

    My own 27in i7 iMac is just out of warranty, I'm not a speed freak so regular HDD boot times suits me fine, this iMac has had four major repairs under Applecare and should have another 12 months useful life as a business machine. Essentially avoid 21.5in iMac like the plague and try and go for 27in model, even if its a refurbished 2012 incarnation or 2011 incarnation - you'll not be disappointed with the screen, but essential not to pick-up a Turkey shall we say.
  8. thetechfixer macrumors 6502


    Apr 21, 2010
    It is up to you, I would get the 27" because of the display, plus it is technically more upgradable than the 21" and the hard drive is faster in the 27"
  9. PaulMoore thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 3, 2007
    Thanks for all the advice- ended up going with the 21.5" (and pleasantly surprised to see it was 'assembled' in the US)

Share This Page