Is buying a 2011 27" for $1200 a bad idea?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Nilok64, Oct 9, 2013.

  1. Nilok64 macrumors member

    Oct 6, 2013
    I'm looking to buy a base model refurbished 27" iMac for about $1200. Would this be a bad idea? This will be my first Apple desktop and I am afraid of it being sluggish for today's standards and maybe the resale value as well.

    Specs are:

    Originally released May 2011
    27-inch LED-backlit glossy widescreen display
    4GB memory
    1TB hard drive
    8x SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    AMD Radeon HD 6770M graphics with 512MB memory

    Built-in FaceTime HD camera

    Could I get any opinions on this please?

    I am really interested in this computer for the monitor and the price. It would be used for music, music editing, 1080p movies and browsing.
  2. rabidz7 macrumors 65816


    Jun 24, 2012
    Get a 2008 MP instead. Or build a mac. That gfx is a 6770M...
  3. MikeChicago macrumors member

    Sep 30, 2013
    If this refurbished iMac meets all your needs and will continue to serve you well for the next few years, or whatever your personal refresh cycle is, then you should go ahead and buy it.

    But then again, why is a model from 2011 being offered as refurbished model in 2013?

    Where did it come from?

    What about paying $270 more and getting last year's model? Alternatively, you could spring for a new one with 18 months interest free financing. You could then put down the $1200 you would spend on the used machine and pay off the remainder over time.

    Just some ideas... good luck making your purchase decision :)
  4. Malus120 macrumors 6502

    Jun 28, 2002
    I have that same model except with 8GB of ram and booting of a thunderbolt SSD. Still runs like a champ two and a half years after I bought it. I can honestly say that I've never had a machine which performs so well so long after I bought it.

    CPU wise, the machine is honestly still a beast, and I honestly don't think you'll find it "sluggish" in any regard. That said, as the previous poster mentioned, the 6770m doesn't hold up nearly as well as the CPU. While i'm able to game regularly on this machine (just got Bioshock Infinite last month) at reasonably high settings, I certainly can't run most games at the native resolution if I want good performance. It's honestly been a perfectly acceptable gaming GPU for the last 2.5 years, and my only real regret about not springing for the 6990m is that I might well make it to four years with a GPU like that.

    For your listed interests this machine will be blazing fast, and if you're not going to be doing any gaming I'd say its a great computer. However, as much as it pains me to say this as someone looking to resell mine to fund a new Mac Pro soon, you could probably hold out for a better price.
  5. Acorn macrumors 68020


    Jan 2, 2009
    I wouldnt spring on it if it didnt have a warranty. the 2011 run really hot compared to the 2012. the 2012 is like a icebox. if it was me I would get a 21 inch refurbished 2012 model for the same price from apple refurbish store and it comes with apples 1 year warranty for free.
  6. Nilok64 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 6, 2013
    Thanks for the feedback.This iMac would be purchased straight from Apple, I wouldn't buy it used.
  7. dtjay7, Oct 9, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2013

    dtjay7 macrumors regular

    Jul 25, 2008
    N. CA
    I have the same computer and I am very happy with it. I have upgraded it by adding the SSD to the third SATA channel and 16gb of Ram. My sons computer needed to have some work on it, so he used this iMac for about a week. He is a Film Production major and he used several CPU intensive applications. He was very happy with how it preformed. I also bought it used because I liked the ability to work on it without having to deal with adhesive, like the 2012 models.
  8. Nilok64 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 6, 2013
    How much faster is the late 2012 model compared to this (not in gaming, but in multimedia, general computing)? I'm still considering it for the price ($1049 on the apple refurb store). Oh and how much would upgrading the ram by myself cost?
  9. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    CPU is practically identical in speed. Ivy and Haswell tend to be 5-12% on paper in cpu speed, less in practice. It's more significant if you're using this for gaming. Desktops aren't changing very much from year to year at the moment. If you were gaming or pushing around a lot of polygons in a 3d app, that would be different. Note "polygons" not paint software. Given that this one is the lower end model of the 27" models and used, I would try to get the price down as much as you can. I don't know what market value is, but displays and other components are not immortal. The new screen treatment as of the 2012 models supposedly cuts some glare. I haven't examined it up close.
  10. RedReplicant macrumors 6502a

    Mar 31, 2010
    I have a 2009 and am still very happy with it. Even with the workload of 'today' - read: CS:Go, Diablo 3, Virtualization of Win 7 / Linux, Photoshop, Lightroom, etc.
  11. Nilok64 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 6, 2013
    Thanks for the details... MUCH appreciated! I will be buying it from the apple refurb store online (, so I won't be able to negotiate the price. I will get 1 year of warranty though. I usually keep my computers for about 5 years, and that is why I'm a little worried about performance.
  12. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    I didn't know they still sold 2011 refurb models. The 2012s might drop a little once the 2013s start to show up refurbished. Refurbished isn't exactly the same as used. You have a year warranty. With a used machine from a private seller it's hard to get a good idea of the general machine condition, and you have no warranty. I wouldn't worry about cpu performance. The only possible issue would be support. They usually support the better specced machines on the latest OS for around 5 years. I suspect it'll be officially supported until at least 2016. If you're worried it will probably be 2 months before refurbished '13 models are out. Right now the bottom model is $1439 in the US refurbished store. It will probably drop a bit when '13 models hit the refurbished store. Resale value will always drop over time, but I don't think it's always a matter of raw performance. Sometimes it's just certain issues of compatibility. OpenGL support was one of the last points of culling with Mountain Lion. I don't whether they will cut any older hardware (pre-2010) with mavericks.
  13. Nilok64 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 6, 2013
  14. Gherkin macrumors 6502a

    Apr 9, 2004
  15. Nilok64 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 6, 2013
    That's the one I'm looking to buy (except from the Canadian store at $1149). Why do you want to sell yours?
  16. Gherkin, Oct 12, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2013

    Gherkin macrumors 6502a

    Apr 9, 2004
    just bought the one in my signature.

    Mine was a little slow with After Effects which I've been using a lot lately and figured it was a good upgrade. I do a cartoon with 1080p video and animate huge 10,000x10,000 pixel puppets on top of the video with motion blur and layer styles. It was taxing for pretty much that only, everything else I did was snappy.
  17. Nilok64 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 6, 2013
    What is your opinion on buying this or waiting for the 2012s to drop in price in the refurb store? I want to use this to watch 1080p movies, music and internet. I usually keep my computers for ~5 years.
  18. Gherkin macrumors 6502a

    Apr 9, 2004
    I'm not sure about the music production. I guess with music you mainly need lots of RAM? These models can go up to 16 GB, so you'd want that.
  19. toddzrx macrumors 6502a


    Nov 20, 2012
    Personally I think this is a pretty good machine. You are always going to pay a little more when buying from the refurb store compared to maybe finding a good deal on Craigslist, but at least you have the the piece of mind that the machine has been checked out and repaired (if anything was even broken). Keep in mind: Apple (and all sellers everywhere, as far as I know) have to put any and all returned merchandise into a "refurbished" status in order to sell it again. That includes the person who returns their brand new computer simply because they didn't like it; the computer itself is most likely perfectly fine. Now of course with a 2011 machine, I would expect something was wrong with it; but again, Apple techs will take care of this and you get a year warranty.

    Also, with the 2011 models, you get Thunderbolt and SATA 3 interfaces internally. If I were in your shoes, I'd either add an SSD, or replace the internal HD with one, and you'll have a screamer on your hands that'll have plenty of performance for the long hall.

    You're not going to notice a whole lot of difference between Sandy and Ivy Bridge chips (as noted by previous posters). Intel's weight of effort is firmly in mobile for the most part, so you're talking single digit percentages on paper, and barely noticeable differences in real-world usage. Especially for the work you're doing.

    RAM upgrading is a piece of cake; I would think 8GB should work fine for you. I actually found a guy on Craigslist selling Apple RAM and got an additional 4GB for $20. Well worth the cost. Oh, and speaking of RAM, the 2011 models can upgrade all the way to 32GB (unlike my 2010 iMac which will max out at 16).

    So overall, while the price might not be the best, rock bottom deal of the century, I don't think it's a bad deal by any means. And performance-wise I think you'll be quite satisfied for several years.
  20. Nilok64 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 6, 2013
    What advantages would I get from buying the 2012 base 27" refurb instead of this one except for new thinner style and newer model? Is the video card a lot better?
  21. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    It is definitely somewhat better, but I question how much benefit you would see there. It may or may not be fully supported longer than the 2011 due to a later date of release. The screen is supposed to be significantly less reflective. I've never compared side by side, but I hated the old one due to glare. Even without significant ambient lighting, its own backlight was enough to create reflections. I'm not a fan of Apple's display finishes in general, but that's another matter. Comparing 27" to 27", neither has an easily accessible hard drive. The 2012 21" models also lack user accessible ram. I noticed the hard drive to ssd suggestions. I would look up the how to videos to make sure you're comfortable prior to committing to such a path with either. Thunderbolt is generation 1 thunderbolt no matter what. This means if you want to use external displays in addition to the built in one, you're fine with anything that doesn't explicitly requite displayport 1.2 support. In fact nothing available from Apple so far fully supports displayport 1.2. Thunderbolt 2 will probably still have restrictions on the spec (10 bit RGB still unsupported in mavericks).
  22. Bl0ckHe1d macrumors 6502


    Nov 19, 2009
    An internal DVD player!!
  23. Dirtyharry50 macrumors 68000


    May 17, 2012
    I didn't read the whole thread but saw some comments knocking the GPU by people who clearly did not pay attention to your original post where you specified what you'd like to use this computer for.

    It's great for what you want to do with it and I don't see why it wouldn't be great for your purposes for the five year lifespan you want out of it. The GPU for example is more than up to the task of displaying movies, etc.

    If you were into playing games, particularly the most current and most demanding ones my advice would be different regarding the GPU but for your purposes, it's just fine.

    Where you want 5 years out of it, I'd recommend AppleCare for the peace of mind. I got it with mine and it is going to pay for itself shortly here because I need a screen replacement.
  24. blanka, Oct 15, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2013

    blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    iMac's are not ideal for movie watching. Most movies are 24fps and cause annoying judder on an iMac panel as that one is fixed 60Hz. You're probably better of with a fresh new quad Mini with a Dell U2713HM for about the same money (the Dell handles 48fps, the exact double rate of a full HD movie). It might even be attractive for music editing as there is tons of nice Firewire audio interfaces on the second hand market for almost nothing. Also the Dell has 3 year warranty and you can swap mini's with the latest new ones the coming years for about 100$/year and stay up to the latest and fastest. The current quad Mini is roughly on par with the iMac when it comes to CPU (I expect you have an i7 model in mind, if it's an i5, the Mini is faster). GPU on the Mini is a tad slower, but your use does not make that visible.
  25. RedReplicant macrumors 6502a

    Mar 31, 2010
    I know the judder you're talking about, and for the love of god... that is one of those once you see you can't unsee things. Movie theaters do it in pans too. Don't ruin it for other people.... hahaha.

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