iMac recommendation for student

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Fortiores, Jan 30, 2014.

  1. Fortiores macrumors newbie

    Oct 25, 2013
    Hello everyone!

    I am looking to buy an iMac. I specifically want an iMac to have as a workstation to do all my grad school assignments, read pdf's or texts on a large screen than a MBP, general web surfing, occasionally playing low demanding gaming (LoL), watching television/netflix, and some iMovie editing/very low intensive photoshop work.

    I've been thinking of the base 27" iMac base model, so I can use my iMac as a pseudo TV as well as a desktop. However, some people around tell me that its extremely overkill for my needs and 1,800 for a computer is ludicrous. My other choice is the base 21" model to save some money, but I've been hesitant because it seems pretty sketchy to have a notebook graphic card in a 1300 dollar machine. However, If I am to upgrade to the more expensive 21", then I might as well pay a little more for the base 27".

    Is a iMac 27" overkill for my needs? Does the base 21" model meet my needs? Also, do you see any upgrades as a MUST? I would appreciate if someone more knowledgable can give me some advice.

    Thank you!
  2. carjakester macrumors 68020


    Oct 21, 2013
    if you want to use it for a tv i would get the 27 inch, much more screen real estate. for gaming you probably would also want the better GPU found in the higher priced 21.5" and above. you are paying for the quality of apple, it should last you a very long time so it would be worth the investment.
  3. Ak907Freerider macrumors 6502

    Apr 19, 2012
    And for sure get a refurb iMac. Same condition as new same warrenty also. A base 27 would cover your needs. The extra screen will make watching tv etc more enjoyable. Plus you can upgrade ram down the road
  4. kathyricks macrumors 6502

    Nov 26, 2012
    I'd go with a retina MacBook Pro for $1269 from the apple refurb store cause those ultra fine pixels more than make up for the small screen size. Plus the macbook is more future proof given that you can connect it to an external ultra high definition display if you should ever desire. The iMac sorely needs a built in retina or other type of ultra fine definition display IMHO.
  5. Fortiores thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 25, 2013
    Thank you for your responses. However, are apple refurbished reliable? I don't want spend 100 or 200 less for a machine that will not last as long!
  6. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    They're very reliable.

    Refurb machines have been repaired and tested by Apple to ensure that they meet the same standards and quality as a brand-new machine.

    Plus, they also come with the standard one-year AppleCare that comes with new devices. You also have the option to purchase the 3 year option.
  7. andycho7 macrumors member

    Dec 2, 2013

    Honestly, refurbs are such great deals and if you truly feel sketchy about the refurb units, then why not just buy the AppleCare on top which probably will make it even or is still cheaper than brand new unit without the AppleCare.
  8. AppleFan360, Jan 31, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2014

    AppleFan360 macrumors 68020

    Jan 26, 2008
    Refurbs are a good idea but keep in mind that you can use the Apple student store which offer good discounts on brand new iMacs.

    If you have your heart set on a 27" iMac, I would recommend the base model and upgrade to a 1TB Fusion drive. At some point in the future, you can also upgrade the memory if needed but using places like Crucial or Amazon to get the best deals. Do not buy the Apple RAM.

    One other thing. The people around you are probably buying cheap PC's with cheap parts that are not made to last. That is why they think you are stupid to buy an iMac. The fact is that Apple computers are premium products with good build quality and parts. Many don't understand that. The screen quality alone on the 27" iMac is worth the price of admission.
  9. marzer macrumors 65816


    Nov 14, 2009
    Well the trick is not to listen to other people. It's your money. How much are you comfortable spending? Here's a simple rule of thumb. Set your budget to a specific max you are comfortable spending for a new computer then purchase the biggest bang for your buck without exceeding your budget. Since the only requirement you seem to express is screen size for TV viewing I would disregard the 21" lineup. That leaves you with an entry level 27" which will easily meet your needs for years to come.

    As for any must upgrades, I highly recommend Fusion or SSD. I have Fusion in my iMac as it provided me the best bang for the buck (large storage + SSD-like performance + lower than like-sized SSD cost).
  10. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    Do you have a laptop for toting around at school?

    You should realize that you can very easily add "large-screen capabilty" to a MacBook by just plugging in an external display of your choice.

    Or -- add a thunderbolt dock and plug the display into that, for a large screen and more ports.

    Just something to be aware of...
  11. accountforit macrumors 6502a

    Jan 22, 2014
    So do you watch a 13" 1080p TV at home so you can have "ultra fine pixels". I highly doubt it. Retina does NOT make up for screen size.
  12. Jonathanchasr macrumors newbie

    Nov 18, 2013
    27 inch is fine it doesn't seem overkill at all. But you could always go with a Mac Mini and a dell ultra sharp monitor and save money. But I would recommend the 21 inch if you don't plan on doing extreme or professional work on your imac.
  13. Nismo73 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 4, 2013
    The base 27 late '13 is $1529 in the refurb store. For not too demanding needs, that's pretty good considering a nice 27" monitor is about half the price itself.

    Once you use the 27", you really don't want to use a smaller sized screen.
  14. Kayan macrumors 6502

    Jul 7, 2010
    Similar situation here for me: I'm a graduate student, and I can tell you for sure, that when the next iMacs come out this fall, I'm getting whatever replaces the 27". I think you'd probably have regrets if you didn't buy the 27, since you already had your mind set on it. It's the better buy for sure, but to each his own.
  15. andycho7 macrumors member

    Dec 2, 2013
    Umm, don't know if you ever checked the price difference between the refurbs and the student discounted 27 inch iMacs. Refurbs don't get student discounts and yet they are still $170 - $300(before tax) cheaper, depending whether if you get 2012 base or 2013 base model.

    OP probably don't have to have 755M or Haswell for his needs so 2012 model is probably just fine. Heck, Mac mini would do just fine as far as what he needs spec-wise.

    Or like I said above, there's late 2012 model for $1399, which honestly is just as good as the late 2013.

    In general, I really don't think that slight performance difference between 2012 and 2013 models are all that much or worth upgrading for. Unless we're talking about the SSD speeds which is SATA 3 vs PCI-Express and there definitely is a difference for that one. But again, if OP is just getting the base model, I believe there really isn't any reason to go with the 2013. Ivy Bridge processors are still more than plenty fast for average users.

    My recommendation 1: late 2012 27-inch iMac base model(one priced $1399 at refurb store) with AppleCare. All that comes for $1,568.00(before tax) which is STILL cheaper than the new unit itself(base model).

    My recommendation 2: In the refurb store as of right now, there's a configuration that is EXACTLY the same as above model with the exception of the Fusion Drive. If you want a noticeable speed upgrade to your iMac, consider this one as well for $1599 or $1768 with the AppleCare.

    Remember, all the refurbs comes with the same 1 year warranty that comes with the brand new units and it's hundreds of dollars cheaper. If you really feel sketchy about the refurbs, then just get the additional AppleCare with the money you just saved by purchasing refurbished. You can never go wrong with 3 years of warranty vs 1 year.
  16. AppleFan360 macrumors 68020

    Jan 26, 2008
    Yes of course but not everyone is comfortable buying refurbs and I was just trying to point out alternatives in case he didn't want to go that route. Students get a deep discount on AppleCare as well.
  17. GovtLawyer macrumors 6502

    Sep 6, 2008
    Refurbs are great

    I am on my 2nd Refurb. The first - 2008 24" iMac was still going strong when I decided to upgrade to a newer sleeker model. (Before that I used Windows PCs for around 20 years and every two years I wanted to throw the Windows computer out the window) Just got a 21.5 2013 refurb. I challenge you to tell the difference between a new model and a refurbed, other than that the refurb comes in a plain white box. Many refurbs are simply models opened, unpacked and brought back to Apple because the owner decided on a different model. They are tested way more thoroughly than a new one off the assembly line. Same warranty. GREAT PRICE.

    NOW - here's the little extra that I wrote about in another post. Sometimes what it says you are getting on the box is less than what they give you. I ordered a 2.9 i5, 8 GB and fusion drive. Inside the box was a 3.1 i7, with 16GB and a fusion drive. I have read on these forums that I am not the only one to be pleasantly surprised in this way.

    Simply put, there is absolutely no way you can go wrong with a refurbished anything from Apple. People can dissect Apple in every aspect of their business; but, no one can refute their drive to sell excellent products. If Apple says you are getting a perfect refurbished product you can take it to the bank. And they give you 14 days to return it and you have a year warranty and you can buy the same extended warranty as an off the shelf one.

    By the way - I am not an employee of Apple. I simply love their products.
  18. andycho7 macrumors member

    Dec 2, 2013
    Sorry for posting so much, but I just wanted to point out that if you go through the Apple Education Store and go to the Refurbished Store you can still get discounts on AppleCare($119 compared to original $169) for refurbished iMacs as well. Another reason why OP should get refurb :)
  19. GovtLawyer macrumors 6502

    Sep 6, 2008
    New Info For Me

    Thanks to the previous poster. I'm a big fan of refurbished, but did not know I can get Apple Care for a discount as well. Time for me to consider it.
  20. Kayan macrumors 6502

    Jul 7, 2010
    Nice tip to know thanks!
  21. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    None of the retina macbook pros are priced that way. Overall I would take the screen on the imac over the rmbp any day. Resolution is the only area where the rmbp is better. Granted it is significant if you're viewing them up close, but the 27" from a few inches further still looks good.

    It's misleading if you suggest these things never encounter problems. Haven't you ever paid attention to the repair programs? The problem is that the repair programs don't really start up until they reach a critical mass, but on the 2011 imacs alone, they had a series of hard drive failures and more recently gpu failures. You might remember that the 2011s used at least some custom heat sensors around the drives, and they were not exactly user serviceable. I find it disingenuous to refer to these as bulletproof machines. It is sometimes difficult to compare against other oems due to the wider spectrum.
  22. AppleFan360 macrumors 68020

    Jan 26, 2008
    Where did I say they never encounter problems? The only thing I may have suggested is that they are built to last. You are reading too much into what I said.

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