Is a UPS really necessary?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by sabester24, Feb 28, 2013.

  1. sabester24 macrumors member

    Jan 30, 2013
    So I'm eagerly awaiting my 21.5 iMac, 16 GB ram, 1 TB fusion, i5 2.7 ghz.

    During the wait, I've been browsing the forums here and see a lot of talk about a UPS. So I went to the local apple store tonight and asked about the importance of a UPS and both people gave me the deer in headlight look. Not only did they say nothing of the importance of a UPS, but neither had any clue as to what a UPS even was. With minimal knowledge myself, I was explaining to them what it was.

    So my question is this: is a UPS really needed. I'm going to be living in an apt and haven't had any electrical problems to this point. However, the idea of my new computer getting fried during a thunder storm is kinda scary. Doesn't a surge protector do the trick??? Do you recommend shelling out another $150 approx on a UPS? Just want to hear some opinions from people who actually know what a UPS is (no thanks to the apple store employees)
  2. WilliamG macrumors G3

    Mar 29, 2008
    Lots of varying opinions. The truth of the matter is that it's very unlikely any damage will be done to an iMac if the power cuts out. Personally, though, I hate the idea of sitting in front of a desktop computer, knowing that all it takes is a slight flicker of power, and my system will reboot.

    For ~$100, the peace of mind is well worth it, when it comes to a UPS.

    This is the one I just bought, and it's quite excellent:

    It's completely up to you, but you need to ask yourself if you'd be mad if the power cut out while the computer was writing to some critical system files, and you find yourself having to reinstall the whole OS. Likely? No. But protecting yourself for a little over $100 is hardly a big deal, plus you get excellent voltage regulation, too. You may not see it under normal conditions, but your voltage might vary depending on power... "conditions."

    Again, peace of mind is worth it to me. Your call, of course. :)
  3. Macman45 macrumors G5


    Jul 29, 2011
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
    I run 2 Macs at present, a Time Capsule, iPad 2ATV3's an iPhone and an AEBS. I live in an area where the power supplied to the property is "Dirty" basically we get brown downs, especially at night. Up until now, I've been using anti surge power strips but I'm having issues in the mornings with my TC not providing any wifi, and indications would suggest that during the night, the power in my house is so low volt that it effects a lot of things...clocks etc.

    I have now purchased 2 top end 8 Gand anti surge strips in the hope that this will he,p to prevent damage, but in short, a UPS would be a better bet....I know they are pricey, but computer power supplies and the accessories we attach to them are fussy and can be damaged by poor electricity supply.
  4. sabester24 thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 30, 2013
    Thanks for the response. You may have just sold me on that unit. If I do get one, I certainly don't want to spend more that approx $100. Is that unit about as basic as it gets, or are there some cheaper units that will do the trick? The reviews on that UPS you linked are hard to ignore. Looks solid.


    So all these years, I thought the surge protector was doing the job for my old PC...

    I guess ignorance is bliss...
  5. FreemanW macrumors 6502

    Sep 10, 2012
    The Real Northern California
    I might be called stringent . . . my view is that if you cannot or will not afford a UPS for your desktop computer, you can't afford your desktop computer.

    It is nothing more than a required piece of equipment, to be filed under 'sound computing practices'.
  6. sabester24 thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 30, 2013
    Question about the "size" of the UPS. I noticed amazon offers that unit in various size options. Does the size refer to the amount of equipment that can hooked up to the UPS? Are their some size options that aren't compatible with my iMac? Thanks for the help!
  7. jMunar macrumors newbie

    Feb 20, 2013
    Los Angeles, CA
    Either way at minimum you should run a surge protector.

    There are "cheaper" ones but aren't Pure Sine Wave which is needed for our iMacs that's have a PFC power supply. If you get a cheaper unit without pure sine wave your UPS will basically act like a regular surge protector and still have a hard shut down during an outage.

    I just ordered the Cyber Power CP850PFCLCD today since my imac shipped earlier today as well :D


    At minimum the 510W is good enough for a maxed out 27" but wattage does determine how much runtime time it has on the battery and it also depends on what else you plug into the ups.
  8. WilliamG macrumors G3

    Mar 29, 2008
    Well a lot of people harp on about needing a Pure Sine Wave UPS. So that's about as cheap as it gets for a Pure Sine Wave UPS. I had a non-Pure Sine Wave UPS prior to this, and didn't notice any issues except a very audible buzzing from the iMac's power supply when the UPS would kick in under home-power loss. With that Cyberpower I linked you, there is no buzzing at all. Whether the buzzing was detrimental to the iMac I don't know, but it sure didn't sound pleasant...

    You'll get plenty of run time to be able to shut down your iMac with that UPS, and you can also use the USB port to the iMac to have the iMac auto-shut down after x number of minutes, after x% battery left on the UPS etc. Lots of options. I say go for it, and put your mind at ease.


    510W is mooooore than enough for the iMac. So no worries there.
  9. one1 macrumors 65816


    Jun 17, 2007
    Chattanooga, TN
    Snake oil.

    It's not useless, it's just not necessary. We went through the 2011 and 2012 tornado outbreak in the SE US and my iMac went off a good 15 times each spring. Booted right back up as you'd expect. The power supply cannot supply enough voltage or current to overload itself if it is not fed enough to so do. It's a regulated power supply therefore a voltage spike or surge will be pushed through the regulator either way and come out a clipped waveform which is why it never hurts the computer. The manufacturers of this snake oil want to conveniently overlook the clipped waveform in the power supply of regulated PS's such as those found in the iMac. As with most preventative measure devices, they prey on your fear. The final output, no matter the input, is determined by the regulator which cannot exceed it's capabilities internally. That is the entire point of a regulated power supply.
  10. phoenixsan macrumors 65816


    Oct 19, 2012
    I think....

    a combination of factors play into your question:

    a) If you do work or make any valuable activity in your Mac and your zone is prone to blackouts/thunderstorms/voltaje changes, a UPS can be valuable. No blackouts and mild voltaje changes, I will go only with a surge protector/strip

    b) The reason about the no knowledge about UPSes in the Mac world is very simple: No too many UPSes come with valuable software to control the hardware/power, IMHO

    c)Peace of mind to me is valuable. Imagine an escenario where you, by example, are backing up 25 years of photos of family memories and suddenly you dont have any power....:mad::eek::(

  11. Brian Y macrumors 68040

    Oct 21, 2012
    UPSes are invaluable IMO, especially at the prices you can get some pretty decent ones for these days.

    They just give you the peace of mind that if you did lose power, the machine will have enough time to shut down cleanly and minimise the risk of losing data. Especially if you have any kind of software raid array (which is becoming quite popular on macs) or a fusion drive.
  12. itsamacthing macrumors 6502a

    Sep 26, 2011
    I'm actually getting my APC serviced on Monday ... I run APC UPSs on all my computers and in some cases, I also run a voltage protector to smooth out the power flow (only on my desktop, but will get one for my server down the road)

    The reality is that power in some areas goes up and down, and that damages your hardware. The more consistent and smooth your power, the longer your hardware will last.

    I would say it's mandatory if you really care about your investments

    Funny that the people at Apple were that daft
  13. AppleFan360 macrumors 68020

    Jan 26, 2008
    An UPS is not really necessary but VERY VERY VERY recommended. It will keep your iMac safe from just about any issue related to power.

    I also highly recommend the UPS mentioned above (CyberPower CP850PFCLCD). Having pure sine wave is a plus and for that price it's a steal compared to other brands. I have CyberPower UPS's all over my house (even on my home theater equipment) and they work beautifully.
  14. thedeske macrumors 6502a

    Feb 17, 2013
    Owned a number of UPS units over the years. I have very dirty power in my area, but I find Mac power supply in most machines has been very good.

    I've lived without any type of protection for several years in my office, recommended UPS units where people need to be up for 20 minutes after a power down, and in many cases recommend a basic Tripplite Isobar. For the money a nice way to protect beyond the cheap "Surge Protector" units. Most of them are a waste of money.
    A Battery needs to be replaced after a certain time, and one that's big enough to really do a great job, is very heavy and very expensive.

    As the other poster mentioned, there's so much BS in the marketing of these "UPS" units, it's almost impossible to not get any on you (if you get my meaning)

    Good Luck
  15. gzigoris macrumors member


    Feb 6, 2013
    Middle MI.USA

    Okay right off the bat I want to say that the best Surge protector you can get is a UPS. That battery across your line in will neutralize Spikes and level out Browns. So for that reason alone you should have a UPS.
    Uninteruptable Power Supply It means what is says. A UPS will take a licken and keep on ticken where a Surge Protector will degrade with every Spike.

    The choice is yours but I would suggest a UPS and Amazon has them for just a little over $100.00.

    Good luck on your choice
  16. Macsonic macrumors 65816


    Sep 6, 2009
    I have a UPS but I stil connect it to a surge protector. A friend of mine advised me that surge protectors react faster with spikes in electric current compared to UPS so he suggested having both a UPS and surge protector.
  17. oldgeezer macrumors member

    Dec 10, 2012
    Your iMac isn't the only consideration. If you have external disks, particularly RAID arrays, a UPS is a must. A hard shutdown of my Iomega StorCenter results in a lengthy recovery as the unit verifies the integrity of the RAID backup. My UPS powers my iMac, the Iomega unit, and a LaCie RAID array.

    We do live in an area that has been historically bad for power outages -- in fact we installed a whole house generator since we depend upon electricity for everything, including our water. The UPS does a brilliant job of maintaining clean power from the moment of loss to the time the generator kicks in. And since the generator power may not be as clean as utility power the UPS adds an extra level of protection when the generator is running.
  18. 1934hotrod macrumors regular


    Jan 27, 2013
    Well, if you want to absolutely be sure to have a fail safe in place I say buy a generator for your imac. Take a breath and consider this, How many computers are out in the real world run without an UPS. News flash LOADS of them, save your $$$.

    Industry has back up power for one big reason, the customers, net surfers and the likes. I believe someone posted snake oil I agree. You want to worry about something worry about hard drive failures that will happen way before power problems. Spend your cash on a backup drive.

  19. mus0r macrumors regular


    Mar 27, 2005
    Do you value your computer or the rather hefty sum of money you spent on it?

    Yes? Buy a UPS.

    No? Don't. And please send some of your vast, disposable income my way. Thanks :D
  20. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    I've always run my towers with a UPS - since the late 1980s. This is only anecdotal of course, but I have also had virtually no hardware issues with my towers. I attribute their longevity partly to a "cleaner" power supply.

    Most people focus on the "interrupted" power issue. But another much more common power issue is the "not quite all there" issue.... i.e. brown-outs. An extended brown out may or may-not trip your computer into rebooting. But I had some advice from an engineer that convinced me that when a system is working right on the edge of its electrical tolerances then any other small issue (that normally wouldn't cause problems) can be amplified. Think cascading failure.

    I happen to live in a community with notoriously bad power, so my UPS gets a workout. But even when we lived in a city with good power my UPS would chirp a couple times week to let me know that it had kicked in to top up a momentary sag in power. A car hitting a power pole in our grid. A transformer fire across town.

    My UPS is rated for just a few minutes of "up-time" in case of a power failure. I'm very rarely doing anything that 'needs' more time... it's just convenience thing for me to go longer than a couple of minutes... so I didn't pay for that capacity. Like I's the brown outs I'm dealing with - not the black outs.

  21. AppleFan360 macrumors 68020

    Jan 26, 2008
    That's how it is with us as well. We only lose power a couple of times a year but we have tons of brownouts and quick "off/on" outages. The ones that can really screw with delicate electronics. Seems like every time there is a brownout, we lose something in the house that isn't protected by an UPS (webcams, clock radios, etc).
  22. Madmic23 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 21, 2004
    A power surge killed the power supply in my PC a few years back. That wasn't too bad, because I just replaced it with a new power supply for $50 and everything was back to normal.

    A few years later, another power surge killed my G5 iMac. I probably could have bought a new power supply for that, but it was time to replace it with an Intel iMac. The downside is, you cannot replace the power supply on a new iMac.

    Where I live, the power seems to go out every other month due to one issue or another. It's nice to know that even if I'm not home and the power goes out, my UPS will send a signal to my iMac to power down safely before the battery in the UPS is drained.

    Do yourself a favor, and buy a UPS.
  23. f64, Mar 1, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2013

    f64 macrumors newbie

    Mar 21, 2009
    At the very minimum, I would plug your new Imac into a voltage regulator that will prevent surges and power sags. It will deliver a clean 120 volts to your computer with no line fluctuations in voltage.

    That said, I will probably buy a UPS for my $4K Imac when I order it, but I use a voltage regulator ( APC Line R 1200 ) on my current 10 year old computer.

    Keep in mind a UPS is not a one time purchase. You'll need to get another one in maybe 2-3 years when the battery goes bad. That can get annoying really quick, so I use voltage regulators on most everything now. But I won't mind babying my new Imac with a UPS.
  24. mus0r macrumors regular


    Mar 27, 2005
    You mean replace the battery when it goes bad. I've had my UPS for almost 10 years and replaced the battery maybe once. Still works just fine (as my crappy power demonstrates frequently).
  25. FreemanW macrumors 6502

    Sep 10, 2012
    The Real Northern California
    Okay, so I elected to replace the UPS protecting my iMac (one APC Back-UPS 750VA) with a CyberPower 1500AVR Unit.

    It is telling me that estimated run time on battery is 66 minutes.

    This is with my iMac pulling ~54 watts along with the additional load imposed by two TimeCapsules and one Motorola SURFboard 6121 cable modem.

    The unit size, once you have met the minimum recommendation given the power draw placed upon said unit, is really determined by how much time you would like to have to perform an orderly shut-down or get your power generator up and online.

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