iMac for Mom?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by SnowLeopard2008, Mar 28, 2009.

  1. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604

    SnowLeopard2008

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    #1
    My Mom's Dell needs to be replaced soon. My Dad bought that on sale from Dell's website for $300 w/ a 19" display so it seemed a good deal then. Now it runs extremely slow, boot up is around 3-4 minutes. My Dad and I agreed to each pay around half of the computer to replace her Dell. I was thinking of a Mac Mini, but an iMac seems a better buy. I'm just hesitant on which iMac model will be best for a "family" computer. My Mom will primarily use it, but it is like a family computer in general. I plan on purchasing the base 24" model.

    Her uses:
    Email
    Web browsing
    Boot Camp w/ either XP,Vista, or upcoming Windows 7
    IM
    Skype

    I know that even my notebook running in clamshell mode will statisfy her needs, but will the NVIDIA 9400M be able to handle the needs of a family computer? I'm kind of wary of integrated GPUs...
     
  2. flopticalcube macrumors G4

    flopticalcube

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    #2
    You probably don't need a new computer. Maybe a new hard drive and reinstall Windows.
     
  3. SnowLeopard2008 thread starter macrumors 604

    SnowLeopard2008

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    #3
    If I open the tower, I void warranty. And she has been using that Dell for roughly 4 years. It doesn't even have wireless, just living off an external dongle. The HD is actually pretty decent, a SeaGate 5400rpm and 160GB. You're such a hypocrite, you have a MB, 3 iMacs and a Mini...
     
  4. clyde2801 macrumors 601

    clyde2801

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    #4
    Maybe a better way to get people's advice on a forum is to NOT PERSONALLY ATTACK THEM!:rolleyes:

    I'm wondering how old are your parents, and why a 24"? Wouldn't a mini and a 24" screen work just as well?

    I helped my 75 year old dad buy his first mac last summer-a used 12" iBook. He wouldn't let me buy him a system, and being a depression baby (1st gen) he didn't want to spend a lot of money. His 1.07 ghz iBook is meeting his simple needs quite nicely. If your parents were more than casual users, they wouldn't need your advice on what kind of system to buy. A new mini with a 24" dell monitor should be sufficient.

    The bad news is that you may not see your parents as often, since they won't require you to come over and disinfect malware from their computer.
     
  5. cherry su macrumors 65816

    cherry su

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    #5
    the warrantee is voided when the case is opened? that doesn't sound right.
     
  6. ravenvii macrumors 604

    ravenvii

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    #6
    It does. Dell puts a sticker on the case, when it breaks, you void the warranty. But as it's 4 years old, I'd think the warranty has run out long ago.

    You don't even have to put in a new HD like the poster above said. Just wipe it clean and reinstall Windows XP. You'll be golden.

    However, it being 4 years old and pretty outdated, you probably want to upgrade anyway. While an iMac would be perfect for your situation - less clutter, great machine all-around and all that, I'd get the 20", not the 24".

    However, if you're tight on money, I'd really recommend you get the Mac mini. You already have a 17" LCD, a keyboard and a mouse from that Dell. Just toss the Dell and put the Mac mini there. Easy, and cheap.
     
  7. SnowLeopard2008 thread starter macrumors 604

    SnowLeopard2008

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    #7
    I'm still in high school so I see my parents every day. My Dad and I both use the Dell for small tasks like downloading Linux distros. I would like to have the 24" because both my parents wear glasses and the 24" panel is much better than the 20" or so I've heard. Better viewing angles, and much bigger.

    I have a theory that has yet to be proven wrong. Upgrading a old computer is a waste of money. I'd have to get more memory (not sure if the Dell's type is still sold...), better graphics (Intel GMA 950), and probably a new motherboard + CPU because an Intel Celeron is way too slow and dated. The keyboard is very dirty, and the 19" display is very dim.

    And, I did reinstall XP about half a year ago, but it came with a boatload of trials, shareware, and other Dell goodies. It took me 3 hours to reinstall XP and uninstall trials.


    BUT, let's get back to the point of this entire thread. The power of the NVIDIA 9400M. Is it good enough? I'm really doubting integrated graphics because my MB would go fan-crazy if I watched a YouTube video.
     
  8. clyde2801 macrumors 601

    clyde2801

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    #8
    If you've got a macbook with the intel integrated graphics, the nvidia 9400 blows them away. My uni macbook ran quietly doing whatever. There is no comparison between the two.

    I still think a new mini and a 24" dell display would be the way to go.
     
  9. srl7741 macrumors 68020

    srl7741

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    #9
    iMac

    Given what she will use the computer for an iMac would be perfect for her. I was in the same situation last summer. I purchased my mother a new iMac and she loves it. She enjoys the small foot print on her desk and the ease of use. The iMac turned out to be better than I ever thought it would be.

    Now she even has an iPhone 3G. :)
     
  10. Mintin8 macrumors 6502a

    Mintin8

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    #10
    I would go for an iMac for a family computer. It's nice to have everything in one unlike the Mini and Display. Go for the iMac!
     
  11. SnowLeopard2008 thread starter macrumors 604

    SnowLeopard2008

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    #11
    Yea, I think the general opinion is to go with the iMac.
     
  12. gnasher729 macrumors P6

    gnasher729

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    Nov 25, 2005
    #12
    Just to say... If you open a four year old tower, exactly what warranty do you think you still have that you could possibly void? And opening a computer, whether Dell or Apple, will absolutely not void the warranty.

    Anyway, right now Apple sells a refurbished iMac for $799. That will last for many years. And from my private experience, a 2 1/2 year old MacBook drives its internal monitor (1200 x 800) plus an external (1280 x 1024) just fine. Integrated graphics is fine for everything except 3D games.

    Many computers that have been bought + never improved end up having much too little RAM and much too small hard drive. If the computer is still new enough that you can buy memory from Crucial and not from an antiques shop, and the hard drive interface is new enough to work with a modern hard drive, then upgrading RAM + hard drive can often turn it from useless to useful and make it last another year. Anything beyond that, I would most likely not bother.
     
  13. J&JPolangin macrumors 68030

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    #13

    ...you won't void the warranty, I've opened everyone of my Dell machines at home and work...there is no problem and being overseas they are all sold with 4 year extended warranties...

    This past summer, my brother in law was complaining about his "few" year old Dell P4 2.8 Ghz computer as being slow...he only had 256 Mb of RAM in it... a present from me of 2 GB with a fresh winXP install and he swore I bought him a new top of the line computer (now that is had 2.25 GB of RAM in it)...

    I'm still running a Dell 423 pin "original" P4 at 1.3 Ghz (~10 yrs old now) that used the RDRAM - its not even maxed out with only 768 Mb but that RAM is far to expensive as it never caught on like DDR(2) RAM did - the DDR2 RAM is much slower than the RDRAM but much cheaper to make in much larger sticks so the savings is passed on to the customer.

    They already have a decent monitor and if the HDD isn't near being full, I'd max out the RAM for them and wait for the next refresh as most of the apple line is mid cycle right now.

    Good luck with your decision.
     
  14. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

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    #14
    Just buy the 20" iMac. You parents very likely will not need the bigger HDD, more RAM, or extra screen real estate of the 24".

    As for the 9400M, do you really think Apple would have put this chip in five of their six models if it couldn't handle basic computing tasks? :rolleyes: By that logic, anyone with an older MacBook would basically have spent $1000+ on a paperweight. Unless they're doing 3D gaming - unlikely - the 9400M will serve them just fine.
     
  15. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #15
    A 20" screen is quite big, even for those who wear glasses. Due to their glasses, their eyesight is probably better than most people who don't have glasses (at the same age).
     
  16. QCassidy352 macrumors G3

    QCassidy352

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    #16
    I helped my mom buy and set up a 20" alu imac about a year ago. Her uses are similar to your mom's, and the imac has served her very well. I think you can't go wrong with that choice.

    Btw, I agree with your theory about (not) upgrading old computers. I wouldn't pour money in to a 4 year old dell.
     
  17. J&JPolangin macrumors 68030

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    #17
    ...less than $35 - $40 to max out the RAM as a DIY project should extend the life of the machine with out hurting anyone's budget - then you could decide if a new machine was really worth it...
     
  18. mac88 macrumors 6502

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    #18
    I just did this (RAM Upgrade) to my HP m7680n Media Edition PC. I added 6GB of RAM and it runs like a new machine. I do a lot of Photoshop/Video editing on the HP and it runs super fast now. Upgrade the RAM and then make your decision. The poster above me has the right idea.
     
  19. 01jamcon macrumors 6502a

    01jamcon

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    London
    #19
    I don't actually think that's the actual general opinion, many are saying upgrade or Mini, however, you seem pretty set on getting the iMac, so I'd suggest you just go and order it.
    :D Hahaha, "being a depression baby (1st gen)" is such a brilliant phrase for all the old timers, bet they're all thinking what a fuss we're all making about our relatively milder recession: "Back in my day...yada yada yada"
     
  20. sushi Moderator emeritus

    sushi

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    #20
    A 20 inch iMac should serve her needs based on what you've said. The footprint is small. Few wires. Looks nice.

    The Mac Mini would probably not be a good idea since the current display is dimming so you would need another display.

    Upgrading a 4 year old Dell may not be a good option. After 4 years, I would think that the warranty has passed. Upgrading the RAM is always a good choice as more RAM will help things. A fresh install of WinXP is good. When I say WinXP, I mean WinXP and not the Dell restore disks with all the extra crap on it. And before installing WinXP, I would wipe the disk with KillDisk (free DL) to clear the HD.

    The problem with upgrading old systems, is that the little upgrades add up. And in the end, you still have a 4 year old computer. Only now, it has hardware upgrades.

    IMHO, upgrading a 4 year old computer is not worth it unless you just want to experience doing it.
     
  21. Jack Flash macrumors 65816

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    #21
    Get new RAM. Learn about nLite. Apply the Royale theme (Media Center theme - Google it) and buy a new monitor and your mom will be convinced she has a new computer.
     
  22. cdcastillo macrumors 6502a

    cdcastillo

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    #22
    If you still can use the 19 inch monitor, a mini would be a best bet, it can handle more than you described your mom needs. If you want to replace the monitor (to let your mom feel she has a new computer), don't waste your money on a mini plus a monitor, get the iMac for her.
     
  23. SnowLeopard2008 thread starter macrumors 604

    SnowLeopard2008

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    #23
    Thanks. Very helpful post. I don't have copies of XP lying around, only the Dell stuff. It's just that my Mom isn't all computer literate, and my Dad works hard hours at his job. And I'm also really busy with school. Normally I would upgrade her Dell just to earn some experience (if any) but neither my Dad and I have time. My Mom wouldn't know how (no offense to the ladies on this forum).

    I thought an iMac would be best since there's only one wire (power cord) and I'm giving her my Apple wireless keyboard + mighty mouse. I hesitated between the 20" vs 24" because I heard the 20" has bad viewing angles and not as good of a display as the 24". But after reading your post, 20" it is. She doesn't need a 640GB HD and I can easily upgrade her RAM if she needs the extra 2GB.
     
  24. SnowLeopard2008 thread starter macrumors 604

    SnowLeopard2008

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    #24
    I did upgrade her RAM before from 256MB to 1.5GB. I applied that same theme about half a year ago when I restored her computer to factory original. The performance steadily dropped til today.
     
  25. SnowLeopard2008 thread starter macrumors 604

    SnowLeopard2008

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    #25
    I'm not saying it can't handle basic computing tasks (most of which don't even utilize the GPU). I just feel wary when I hear the word integrated. I'm not on a tight budget, but this computer has to last at least another 4-5 years. My Mom watches YouTube videos and the Intel GMA really sucks. I know the 9400M is 5x or 4x better but I just want some real world feedback, not benchmarks.
     

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