Is Mid-2017 5K iMac still worth it?

Tigerman82

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Jul 27, 2010
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My Mid-2010 iMac, as snappy as it still is, is getting old real fast: connectivity (USB, BT, Wi-Fi) isn't up to bar and the 21.5" @ 1080p workspace is slowing me and my multitasking needs down. As much as I'm a fan of Intel NUCs and as much as I dislike Apple pricing, I just cannot let go of OS X. So a Mac desktop it is. I thought about the new Mac Mini (thinking I don't need a 5K screen and the high prices of a 27" iMac). However, the GPU bottleneck (which may prevent me from getting a high-res screen without a serious RAM upgrade or a eGPU), the T2 chip issues and the thermal throttling/heat issues are holding me back.

So what about the Mid-2017 5K iMac? Is it still a good deal? I know many praise its value saying you get a gorgeous 5K screen and a free computer with it. One thing that gives me doubts about buying something old (especially if the price hasn't gone down with its age) is that I tend to use desktops for at least 6-8 years (my current iMac is almost 8.5 years old) and so want to guarantee that the performance in basic tasks, connectivity and OS X updates (as my iMac isn't compatible with Mojave) stay fresh for many years. My usage is pretty much word processing, browsing, e-mails, Spotify and some light AV editing. Moreover, I'd be happy if the hardware allowed me to play some older AAA games (like Arkham Knight) in moderate settings (1440p max, preferably with 60fps) via Bootcamp.

I'm currently contemplating of two setups. Bare in mind I'm not one of those Apple customers who can afford to max everything out so I'm looking for bang for buck with longevity in mind.

  1. The base model 27" 5K with SSD BTO. Many say this is the best value of the three options as there isn't much difference between CPUs or the 570 and 575 GPUs.
  2. The high-end model 27" 5K with 580 GPU. The GPU bump from 570 to 580 would give me more oomph in gaming although I'm not sure if it's worth it. Apple doesn't seem to offer the 256Gb SSD upgrade for this model anymore (it's Fusion Drive or 512Gb SSD which is too expensive) so I thought about going with the Fusion Drive but running OS X externally via Thunderbolt 3 and SSD (something like Crucial MX500 1Tb SSD inside an enclosure). However, I don't like the idea of being stuck with an internal drive with that old HDD tech although I'm not sure it would do any harm (noise, hear, possibility of failing) if it's not the primary drive.
Another thing which makes me think about these Mid-2017 iMacs is the fact that it's highly probable that the next iMac (possibly released in the March event or in May/June) will feature the T2 chip (which is causing issues in Macs) in an iMac Pro like chassis which would mean bye bye for easily upgradable RAM (I'm certainly not paying for BTO RAM upgrades).


Opinions would be appreciated.

EDIT: It seems that even with SSD+TB3 enclosures people are having trouble running OS X Mojave externally (slow boot etc.). I guess that's out, then. I also became aware that the larger Fusion Drive that the high-end model has has a larger SSD portion (128Gb I believe). However, I would still strongly prefer not to have old HDD tech inside a computer I'm buying close to 2019. So I guess I just have to get the base model (should I choose to buy the Mid-2017 iMac) or pay through the teeth (even with my edu discount) for the 512Gb SSD to get the high-end model without Fusion Drive. Just did the math and the price difference is +660 dollars in my location. That's pretty expensive for basically just the 570 -> 580 GPU bump (even if I do get a larger SSD and a slightly faster CPU with it).
 
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colodane

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Nov 11, 2012
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I understand your quandary with the budget limitations. And the concern with the T2. Don't have a solution for you, but here are some thoughts:

If you like the Apple OS and ECOsystem and plan to stay with it for a few years, you will need to face the T2 situation at some point in the future anyhow. And, it is a big enough deal that Apple will NEED to make it work at some point with future tweaks - hopefully software.

The 2017 iMac is a very fine machine. And a good value overall IF you want a 27 inch 5K display. Definitely get a i5 CPU and a SSD in the versions that fit your budget. I'm really enjoying mine.

That said, I'm really liking what I see in the new mini. If I hadn't purchased the iMac last year, I'd be getting one of these! I would have paired it with a 24 inch 4K display. Do you by chance have some sort of display available? If so, you could perhaps swing a mini with 512GB SSD within your budget. And then upgrade to a 4K or 5K display later when you have more $$ available.

Best of luck with your decision.
 

Jrshelby

macrumors newbie
Nov 12, 2017
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Buffalo, NY
I understand your quandary with the budget limitations. And the concern with the T2. Don't have a solution for you, but here are some thoughts:

If you like the Apple OS and ECOsystem and plan to stay with it for a few years, you will need to face the T2 situation at some point in the future anyhow. And, it is a big enough deal that Apple will NEED to make it work at some point with future tweaks - hopefully software.

The 2017 iMac is a very fine machine. And a good value overall IF you want a 27 inch 5K display. Definitely get a i5 CPU and a SSD in the versions that fit your budget. I'm really enjoying mine.

That said, I'm really liking what I see in the new mini. If I hadn't purchased the iMac last year, I'd be getting one of these! I would have paired it with a 24 inch 4K display. Do you by chance have some sort of display available? If so, you could perhaps swing a mini with 512GB SSD within your budget. And then upgrade to a 4K or 5K display later when you have more $$ available.

Best of luck with your decision.
I read the post a little different. I think the OP prefers the 256 SSD option for the 90 up charge over the 200 up charge of the high end that takes him to 512 SSD. OP, these exact quandaries have been weighing on me for the exact same reasons, T2 chip and all. And I’m with you, my next iMac oss SSDor bust. I can see the next iMac busting in close to 3,000 with ram upgrades. Just the way apple is going. Hopefully 16 GB will be the default. I’d wait till Black Friday and at least get an Apple gift card for the purchase. Hope this helps.
 

Tigerman82

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Original poster
Jul 27, 2010
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If you like the Apple OS and ECOsystem and plan to stay with it for a few years, you will need to face the T2 situation at some point in the future anyhow. And, it is a big enough deal that Apple will NEED to make it work at some point with future tweaks - hopefully software.
Thank you for your thoughts. I guess the T2 chip is something of a double-edged sword. There are issues with crashes, Bootcamp and possible 3rd party repairs and they can be avoided by getting a Mac that is still without T2. However, one might wonder if in terms of longevity it's a good thing that a brand-new Mac has the chip. I mean Apple could drop support of the T2-less Macs in some future OS version OR drop support of some features of the new OS (my Mid-2010 iMac never got support for things like AirDrop and NightShift).

The 2017 iMac is a very fine machine. And a good value overall IF you want a 27 inch 5K display. Definitely get a i5 CPU and a SSD in the versions that fit your budget. I'm really enjoying mine.
Well I know for sure that my 21.5" 1080p is too small. On the other hand, I don't have the desk space to get those 32-inchers and above many seem to favor these days. So a 27-incher would be perfect. As for 5K... Apparently it goes well together with 27-inchers (scales well to 1440p) unlike 4K. I guess I would be happy with a native 1440p screen as well but as someone who deals mostly with text, I imagine I'd value the crispiness of 5K.

That said, I'm really liking what I see in the new mini. If I hadn't purchased the iMac last year, I'd be getting one of these! I would have paired it with a 24 inch 4K display. Do you by chance have some sort of display available? If so, you could perhaps swing a mini with 512GB SSD within your budget. And then upgrade to a 4K or 5K display later when you have more $$ available.
I do have an old 22-inch 1080p monitor. I was excited about the Mini too. Then I started reading about the UI lag with scaled high-res monitors and that some monitors (like a 27" 4K monitor) aren't ideal. Then there was the issues with heat. Moreover, when you start adding 16 gigs of RAM (which seems like a minimum with the Mini) and possibly an eGPU, the cost is in base 5K iMac territory. Those eGPUs aren't small so there goes the compact size of the setup. Oh, and as you might know, eGPUs don't seem to play well with Bootcamp without scripts and tricks with those connection cables. I thought about getting the Mini + 1440p Dell screen + PS4 (for those Arkham games I desperately want to play) but that just seems like a compromise or something I would do in 2015 but not in Q4/2018 when those 4K monitors are becoming the norm.
 

thirdsun

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Nov 16, 2018
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I also became aware that the larger Fusion Drive that the high-end model has has a larger SSD portion (128Gb I believe). However, I would still strongly prefer not to have old HDD tech inside a computer I'm buying close to 2019.
And rightfully so. Don't even think about the Fusion drive - it will hold an otherwise fine machine back.

If your budget is limited and the fantastic iMac 5K screen isn't a priority for you, I'd recommend getting a Mac Mini which allows you to attach cheap, affordable or mid-level displays. Don't expect to do any gaming on it though - however even an iMac isn't ideal for gaming. You might be better off getting a console eventually, which you could connect to the same monitor you're using for your Mac Mini.

edit: So you have a monitor? I'd double down on the Mac Mini then. UI Lag is a non-issue with standard resolutions like WQHD or Full HD.
 

Tigerman82

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I read the post a little different. I think the OP prefers the 256 SSD option for the 90 up charge over the 200 up charge of the high end that takes him to 512 SSD. OP, these exact quandaries have been weighing on me for the exact same reasons, T2 chip and all. And I’m with you, my next iMac oss SSDor bust. I can see the next iMac busting in close to 3,000 with ram upgrades. Just the way apple is going. Hopefully 16 GB will be the default. I’d wait till Black Friday and at least get an Apple gift card for the purchase. Hope this helps.
Indeed. I do prefer the 256Gb option as the extra cost is still within reason (unlike the 512Gb option). People do seem to play some AAA titles with max setting with those 2017 iMac GPUs in Bootcamp (based on some Youtube vids and forum comments) so I'd imagine I could play Arkham Knight even with the 570 (I don't need everything in max).

Well, that's my plan. To wait for the BF even Apple Store has been promoting. It's a 4-day event now so I guess there's some hope that they won't just offer those $150 gift cards. I mean what do I even buy with that as you probably cannot use it with the purchase you are getting it from. I guess I could buy something that I know people will buy from me and sell it... Like the space gray Magic Keyboard.
 

tomscott1988

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Apr 14, 2009
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Bare in mind that its likely that the new iMac will probably be a redesign. This could mean the end to up-gradable ram. The 8 ot 9th gen chip will be in the region of the low end iMac pro being around 6-6.5k single and 25kish multi for roughly 1/3 less.

But when will it come? October next year or with the mac pro announcement which is when? Even if its Q2 its 4-6 months away making the 2017 even older. In that case I would say the iMac pro will be discontinued and this will take its place with the mac pro offering the a powerful headless option.

That being said if we are to look at recent apple trends a new iMac will be 20-30% more expensive.

Ive been thinking exactly the same. The current machine is no slouch at all, 5700 single 20000 multi. It is very stable and has non of the issues of the newer hardware and still looks great.

If you keep them for 8 years then with it only being a year old things arent that far on and you will probably save yourself money.

Currently apple has had the higher end 27 i7 512 8gb for £2289 on the refurb store... add £200 for 32gb of ram and your sitting pretty.

On the side of graphics it has 2 thunderbolt ports which pretty much future proof the machine. EGPUs down the line when apple get external GPUs to work properly with internal displays, you can get a 10gb ethernet through a TB3 port etc etc

At the end of the day if you compare that price to macbook pros you might get a mid range 13" or a low end 15, neither in the real world come close in terms of value.

The mac mini looks great but once you upgrade the ram, buy an egpu, get a 5k display your in for more than the iMac and have cables all over the desk. Meaning that nice clean desk space is covered in additional items.

I bought my dad a base model 17 27" 5k and added a 2tb fusion. It feels as fast as the 2010 mac pro in my sig, its the drive that ruins it. Im a photographer and it just isnt fast enough for me, lightroom is slugish and half of the issue is the amount of pixel you drive to the display.

I would be going for the i7 with a 512 or a 1tb. The storage is fast and its not replaceable. If you look at fast storage like a samsung T5 they are as much as the internal upgrade. If you work out the cost over 8 years its not a lot more to pay £300 extra over the 512 to get the 1TB.

If you work it out how much it will cost monthly to own without any discounts the i7 1tb 8gb is £2800 add 200 for the ram and its £3000. It works out at £31.25pm. Chump change.
 

Jrshelby

macrumors newbie
Nov 12, 2017
28
7
Buffalo, NY
Thank you for your thoughts. I guess the T2 chip is something of a double-edged sword. There are issues with crashes, Bootcamp and possible 3rd party repairs and they can be avoided by getting a Mac that is still without T2. However, one might wonder if in terms of longevity it's a good thing that a brand-new Mac has the chip. I mean Apple could drop support of the T2-less Macs in some future OS version OR drop support of some features of the new OS (my Mid-2010 iMac never got support for things like AirDrop and NightShift).



Well I know for sure that my 21.5" 1080p is too small. On the other hand, I don't have the desk space to get those 32-inchers and above many seem to favor these days. So a 27-incher would be perfect. As for 5K... Apparently it goes well together with 27-inchers (scales well to 1440p) unlike 4K. I guess I would be happy with a native 1440p screen as well but as someone who deals mostly with text, I imagine I'd value the crispiness of 5K.



I do have an old 22-inch 1080p monitor. I was excited about the Mini too. Then I started reading about the UI lag with scaled high-res monitors and that some monitors (like a 27" 4K monitor) aren't ideal. Then there was the issues with heat. Moreover, when you start adding 16 gigs of RAM (which seems like a minimum with the Mini) and possibly an eGPU, the cost is in base 5K iMac territory. Those eGPUs aren't small so there goes the compact size of the setup. Oh, and as you might know, eGPUs don't seem to play well with Bootcamp without scripts and tricks with those connection cables. I thought about getting the Mini + 1440p Dell screen + PS4 (for those Arkham games I desperately want to play) but that just seems like a compromise or something I would do in 2015 but not in Q4/2018 when those 4K monitors are becoming the norm.
The Mac Mini is a stop gap trap. The graphic prowess is non existent. And the UI problems are legit. I vote wait but if you need it now the current iMac is the best value no question. I was premature to sell my late 2012 27” iMac because the new ones were suppose to arrive Oct. 30. Well we know what happens there. Now I’m doing everything on my wife’s 10.5 iPad Pro and going nuts.
 

Tigerman82

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And rightfully so. Don't even think about the Fusion drive - it will hold an otherwise fine machine back.

If your budget is limited and the fantastic iMac 5K screen isn't a priority for you, I'd recommend getting a Mac Mini which allows you to attach cheap, affordable or mid-level displays. Don't expect to do any gaming on it though - however even an iMac isn't ideal for gaming. You might be better off getting a console eventually, which you could connect to the same monitor you're using for your Mac Mini.

edit: So you have a monitor? I'd double down on the Mac Mini then. UI Lag is a non-issue with standard resolutions like WQHD or Full HD.
The thing is that I might as well continue using my Mid-2010 21.5" iMac which is still fast in basic tasks (as I manually put a Samsung Evo 850 SSD inside). If I buy the i5 Mini and use my age-old HP 22" 1080p display, the only benefits I'd get are the updated connectivity (USB, BT, Wi-Fi) and extra CPU speed I may or may not benefit from. That's not a whole lot for what the Mini just by itself costs. I wouldn't get any extra screen space, any extra crispiness in text and, because of the lackluster GPU, any performance upgrade that would enable me to things I cannot currently do because of the my iMac's old hardware.
 
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Jrshelby

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Nov 12, 2017
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Buffalo, NY
I’m a apple care buyer so the gift card could be used to buy that after the fact and maybe justify the more expensive or mid model if you were planing on purchasing apple care
 

Tigerman82

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That being said if we are to look at recent apple trends a new iMac will be 20-30% more expensive.
Yes, this is one of my fears. While the current base model with its 5K screen is of good value, it's still expensive for someone like me who is not using it for pro-use. I mean, speaking frankly, I'm paying a premium for the luxury of using OS X. At least the iMac has that 5K screen but for something like the Mac Mini, you really have to question is OS X is worth the 2x price tag over something like an Intel NUC with a i5 CPU (I've used those NUCs as HTPCs and they are great IMO). Anyway, if they raise prices and take away ability to easy RAM-updates, the price point will be too high (although I guess if they standardise SSDs, it would take away the need to pay BTO prices). So is the case with Mid-2017 5K iMacs the case of 'get them while they are still relatively cheap'?

Currently apple has had the higher end 27 i7 512 8gb for £2289 on the refurb store... add £200 for 32gb of ram and your sitting pretty.
Sadly, I'm currently residing in Finland and there is no refurb store. To give you an idea of the prices... The base model with BTO 256Gb SSD costs about $2490 with EDU discount. If I get the high-end model with BTO i7 and 512Gb SSD (as the smaller SSD is not available), the total is $3410 with EDU discount. That's just a ton of money. To put this in perspective, I can get a i5 NUC with SSD and RAM, a 27" LG 4K USB-C monitor and a PS4 PRO OR a NUC HADES CANYON (AMD Vega GPU) with SSD and RAM and the LG display for slightly under $2000.
 
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tomscott1988

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I would argue mac os is worth it and nothing you can buy in the windows world comes close to the form factor, ease, looks and user experience. Plus will the above be usable for 8 years... I would say probably not.
 
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ginhb

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Sep 8, 2018
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I just recently bought one. Moving away from Windows machines. My thought was, how much are these new coming iMac's going to cost? I imagine the price will be very premium and I was trying to stay within a certain price range. How much performance do I really need? I'm an average home user, photos, 4k video, internet of course, just common stuff. However I am not a gamer so I didn't need the performance of a high end gaming machine.

The 2017 27" iMac seemed perfect. I bought through Apple's refurbished program online. It was already configured with 16GB of Ram and a 512 SSD for internal storage. Then I added two additional external SSD's for even more storage, backups and a bootable clone of the computer's OS.

The computer runs like a dream. But of course I'm not running high end gaming graphics on it. It handles 4k videos from my drones and cameras just fine. No issues at all.

I had a 23" monitor before, was worried the 27" might seem a little too big but it's not. It's fantastic, I have a big enough desk to accommodate it. It should keep me going for a number of years at least. Couldn't be happier.
 

Tigerman82

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Original poster
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I would argue mac os is worth it and nothing you can buy in the windows world comes close to the form factor, ease, looks and user experience. Plus will the above be usable for 8 years... I would say probably not.
I agree, especially regarding iMacs and Macbooks. The Mac Mini is a harder sell for me because of the bottlenecks it has. Sure, you can take advantage of the modularity and start connecting via TB3 but is the form factor and ease of use still there, then. Plus the price will go through the roof. I mean if someone pays $4k-5k for a Windows-PC, they usually have this fancy setup where you actually see where the money went. Then there's folk who buy the maxed out $4k Mac Mini (add another $1k for those UltraFines) and while they get performance, you don't really see where the money went. It's fine if you need that Mac Mini but hopefully you'll understand if most people think it's madness.
 

thirdsun

macrumors member
Nov 16, 2018
92
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The thing is that I might as well continue using my Mid-2010 21.5" iMac which is still fast in basic tasks (as I manually put a Samsung Evo 850 SSD inside). If I buy the i5 Mini and use my age-old HP 22" 1080p display, the only benefits I'd get are the updated connectivity (USB, BT, Wi-Fi) and extra CPU speed I may or may not benefit from. That's not a whole lot for what the Mini just by itself costs. I wouldn't get any extra screen space, any extra crispiness in text and, because of the lackluster GPU, any performance upgrade that would enable me to things I cannot currently do because of the my iMac's old hardware.
Some thoughts:
  • The current 6 core i5 will be significantly faster than your 2010 CPU. I’d even recommend getting the i7 since it’s very capable, adds hyperthreading and makes the machine quite future-proof.
  • The display can be upgraded later. 4k 27”, while not ideal, can be found for very attractive prices. Unless you want a 5k display, which can only be found in an iMac (or the expensive LG Ultrafine) - in the case the iMac is your only reasonable choice. (I’m in a similar boat, currently waiting for the next iMac)
  • Your SSD, while significantly faster than a HDD, isn’t anywhere near Apple’s current SSD performance. You can expect 4-5 times of the Evo 850’s speed.
  • The tasks you mentioned should be easily handled even by Intel’s GPU. However forget about gaming, probably on any Mac, unless it’s very light.
I suggested the Mac Mini since it allows you start with a smaller investment and add a good monitor later. 5k didn’t seem to be a priority to you.
If macOS isn’t that important to you either, you can indeed have a performant system for much cheaper. I’m not sure if the NUC is a good alternative though - as far as I know it uses lower wattage mobile CPUs which aren’t comparable to the Mac Mini’s desktop variants. Heck, if you opt for a PC, just get an AMD Ryzen CPU, which offers an exceptional price/performance ratio.
 

tomscott1988

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Apr 14, 2009
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But thats the best bit about the mini the fact you can spec it from £700 to £4000. You can see it in 2 ways that its ridiculously expensive or that it suits a lot of different people and apple are giving people options.

4Tb is either fantastic for you or utterly crazy money. If your shooting with a higher end cinema camera with raw footage 4Tb isnt much storage you could consume that with a couple of projects. If its for business its written off as a business expense. There is ryme and reason it just depends where you sit and its hard for consumers to understand that from monetary point of view.

You could say get a windows PC for XX but premier wouldnt playback 4k raw footage smoothly..... final cut will.

Like I say its all relative.

At the end of the day I think they have added a poor graphical option because the majority of users will use this as a server or a render machine to offload work, devs running virtual machines, others a media centre all of those things dont need powerful graphics.

Some people will buy it because its small and compact but with a couple of additional items can be a powerhouse. Lets be honest with its form factor dedicated graphics would be pretty poor anyway and would make it run hot. It gives people a platform to build on. If your like me and the graphics card is a limiting factor then its ideal you not paying extra for a poor dedicated graphics card. You can add anything to this with an EGPU and upgrade it when new ones come out instead of how it used to be with being stuck with the the crap cards iMacs ship with.

You dont even need to spec this thing up that much for it to be decent value. The i5 512 and upgrade the ram yourself like £1250. The i5 is still 5k single and 20k multi that incredible performance for the footprint. For under £1500 you get a system that can be adapted very easily.

Then you ask yourself do you really need a 4 or 5k display, they are nice but I love my 2.5k 27" apple cinema display. The 2.5k monitors are cheaper far less taxing on the system giving a better overall experience. Its not as if you can really consume that much 4k content on the mac anyway, netflix for example will only play 1080 on the 5k display. So really its rental or purchase from the apple store or youtube.

The 5k display is lovely but there are far better ones available. In terms of colour for editing etc the mac mini is the only headless viable option currently. Again another reason.

At the end of the day you look at what you do and buy accordingly. On the other hand if you expect a machine to last 8 years then you buy a bit more than you need and it will allow you room to grow the upgrades may look more than you want to pay but if you break it down over the time frame its really not that bad. Plus you have resale too, how much is a PC going to be worth after 8 years.

My mac pro is 9 years old and in its spec I could move it on for £800-1000.

Depends on perspective.
 

Fishrrman

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Feb 20, 2009
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OP wrote:
"...the T2 chip issues..."

If you want a desktop Mac that DOES NOT HAVE the t2 chip, your only choice is one of the 2017 iMacs. The 2019 iMacs will most certainly have them.

A friend recently replaced his old (but still working) 2008 iMac with a 2017 27" 5k model. I coached him into buying one with a "straight SSD" inside (256gb will be "all he'll ever need", in 10 years he'd only used 80gb of space on his internal drive!).

It's a beautiful machine, nicest iMac I've ever used. If I needed something "right now", it would be a tough choice between a 2018 Mini or a 2017 iMac.

If you're going to buy a 2017, my advice would be:
- buy the MIDRANGE (3.5ghz) model instead of either of those you mentioned above. The midrange model has a 7600 CPU and better graphics than the entry level (which has a 7500 CPU), for only $200 more. If you've read much about the i7 iMacs, folks have complained about the noise from the fan. The midrange model offers "more power, but less chance of noise".
- And of course, get an SSD (even the 256gb). There is no good argument to buy any other type of drive "inside" now.

I sense that the 2019 iMacs will offer an even nicer display panel and improved internal cooling (a la the iMac Pro) --- BUT, the RAM may no longer be "user upgradeable" (due to the configuration of the iMac Pro chassis).
And they -will- be coming with the t2 chip.
I would expect to see the 2019 iMacs appear in May or June next year. Could be earlier, could be later -- we just don't know yet.

I -do not- expect any major re-design or re-styling of the iMac case.
We'll probably see space gray, and that's about it.
Look at how "changed" the exterior of the 2018 Mini is vis-a-vis the 2014.
All "the changes" were inside -- which is where it really counts.
 
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Tigerman82

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I suggested the Mac Mini since it allows you start with a smaller investment and add a good monitor later. 5k didn’t seem to be a priority to you.
If macOS isn’t that important to you either, you can indeed have a performant system for much cheaper. I’m not sure if the NUC is a good alternative though - as far as I know it uses lower wattage mobile CPUs which aren’t comparable to the Mac Mini’s desktop variants. Heck, if you opt for a PC, just get an AMD Ryzen CPU, which offers an exceptional price/performance ratio.
I guess my priority with this upgrade is to, well, have something that is better. As I'm currently running a 21.5" 1080p that is insufficient in terms of work space and resolution, I'd like something better. As monitors go, 5K isn't a priority. I'm only mentioning it because as a part of $2k iMac, it's of good value and guaranteed to work with OS X and the hardware without a hiccup. I do prefer OS X (just a beautiful user experience when compared to Windows although obviously Windows is better for gaming) and I only referred to NUCs as while I feel there are no real alternatives for what iMacs and Macbooks can do, I also feel the Mac Mini with its bottlenecks might not offer better value than the NUCs (provided you don't specifically need OS X) unless you start adding stuff like loads of RAM and an eGPU. I mean a powerful CPU is great and all but if a $1k computer promoting it's 4K and 5K monitor-driving abilities cannot drive a 4K monitor smoothly (I'm assuming most people don't have the eyes of a hawk and use native res), something's wrong.

My current plans for gaming are that I'd like to install Bootcamp to the iMac and play Arkham Knight which according to Youtube clips people have been able run with 2015 Macbook Pros with better-than-PS4 frame rates (although I'm sure in not-so-high settings and resolution). I already have a Nintendo Switch which I'm happy with but there's just a few games not available to the Switch, I'd like to have to possibility to play their PC versions to some extent.
 

thirdsun

macrumors member
Nov 16, 2018
92
93
I guess my priority with this upgrade is to, well, have something that is better. As I'm currently running a 21.5" 1080p that is insufficient in terms of work space and resolution, I'd like something better. As monitors go, 5K isn't a priority. I'm only mentioning it because as a part of $2k iMac, it's of good value and guaranteed to work with OS X and the hardware without a hiccup. I do prefer OS X (just a beautiful user experience when compared to Windows although obviously Windows is better for gaming) and I only referred to NUCs as while I feel there are no real alternatives for what iMacs and Macbooks can do, I also feel the Mac Mini with its bottlenecks might not offer better value than the NUCs (provided you don't specifically need OS X) unless you start adding stuff like loads of RAM and an eGPU. I mean a powerful CPU is great and all but if a $1k computer promoting it's 4K and 5K monitor-driving abilities cannot drive a 4K monitor smoothly (I'm assuming most people don't have the eyes of a hawk and use native res), something's wrong.

My current plans for gaming are that I'd like to install Bootcamp to the iMac and play Arkham Knight which according to Youtube clips people have been able run with 2015 Macbook Pros with better-than-PS4 frame rates (although I'm sure in not-so-high settings and resolution). I already have a Nintendo Switch which I'm happy with but there's just a few games not available to the Switch, I'd like to have to possibility to play their PC versions to some extent.
I see. Well, if you want more workspace you really need at least WQHD (2560x1440) and if you want that sharp and crisp at retina level pixel density you need a 5k display at 2x scaling. Remember that only 2x scaling offers scaling without compromise - that means with a 4k display scaled at 2x you’re back to 1080p screen real estate, just much sharper than before. You can scale to 1.5x but it will look slightly blurry and stress your GPU.

Get an iMac, either the current one, or if you can wait, the next one. Waiting for the next one will also give you the chance to save up and buy the machine you truly want, on day 1, with little compromise.
 

jschmitt

macrumors member
Jul 8, 2011
59
2
I was in a similar buying decision; I just pulled the trigger on a 2017 27 inch iMac; went with the maxed out spec (except for memory, which I maxed on my own; I got 5+ years out of my old iMac, and expect to do the same with this one; you will only ever be at the top of the curve with a new machine for a short while in any circumstance; the key thing is to be happy with what you have - and know how long you are willing to truly live with it; a new 2017 will not let you down in any situation for the first 3 years of your purchase;
 

Tigerman82

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jul 27, 2010
257
30
Well Black Friday didn't help my decision. The Apple Store in my location is offering a $230 gift card if I buy an iMac. The problem is that this doesn't apply to the Education store so the savings are minimal at best. I did notice that Amazon Germany is selling the high-end iMac (850 GPU, 2TB Fusion Drive) for $270 less than what it would cost in the Apple Store with my Education discount. Pretty good deal. However, I would be stuck with that Fusion Drive even if it does have a 128Gb SSD.
 

thirdsun

macrumors member
Nov 16, 2018
92
93
Well Black Friday didn't help my decision. The Apple Store in my location is offering a $230 gift card if I buy an iMac. The problem is that this doesn't apply to the Education store so the savings are minimal at best. I did notice that Amazon Germany is selling the high-end iMac (850 GPU, 2TB Fusion Drive) for $270 less than what it would cost in the Apple Store with my Education discount. Pretty good deal. However, I would be stuck with that Fusion Drive even if it does have a 128Gb SSD.
Apple never does big discounts on Black Friday.

Also I'd be wary of Apple products at Amazon Germany (until they are only listing official Apple-sanctioned offers - a process that is starting in the US right now) - there are lots of dubious sellers and scammers. Wouldn't be surprised if there were quite a few non-officially refurbished offers among those listings. Amazon feels like eBay for certain product categories. If you want to save a few bucks stick to official Apple resellers and partners, like Cyberport or mac-port.de, which usually offers good prices.

And again, don't get the Fusion Drive - it has no place in a modern computer, let alone a premium machine like this.
 

tomscott1988

macrumors 6502a
Apr 14, 2009
617
481
UK
I dont think the fusions should be completely discounted. The 2TB in the one I bought my dad is fast enough and gives you a bit more flexibility and saves you money.

As with everything depends what your doing. If you are a casual user then the fusion drives are absolutely fine. Detroit Borg on youtube used them pretty much until the iMac pro came out.

He saw nearly 770mb/s reads and 2305mb/s writes which is not slow by any means.


The only issue is that these are sealed so a mechanical drive dies then thats that.

You can split the fusion and use the 128gb as the main drive and either use the rest of the fusion for storage or buy an external SSD. 128 is small but is big enough for the OS Cache and programs for most people.

TBH IMO for the proce difference I would still buy a dedicated SSD probably the 512 or the 1tb.

Worst case you can buy it use it and sell it if something else comes along its doubtful you will loose any money.
 

thirdsun

macrumors member
Nov 16, 2018
92
93
I dont think the fusions should be completely discounted. The 2TB in the one I bought my dad is fast enough and gives you a bit more flexibility and saves you money.

As with everything depends what your doing. If you are a casual user then the fusion drives are absolutely fine. Detroit Borg on youtube used them pretty much until the iMac pro came out.

He saw nearly 770mb/s reads and 2305mb/s writes which is not slow by any means.


The only issue is that these are sealed so a mechanical drive dies then thats that.

You can split the fusion and use the 128gb as the main drive and either use the rest of the fusion for storage or buy an external SSD. 128 is small but is big enough for the OS Cache and programs for most people.

TBH IMO for the proce difference I would still buy a dedicated SSD probably the 512 or the 1tb.

Worst case you can buy it use it and sell it if something else comes along its doubtful you will loose any money.
Those read/write speeds of course only apply to the SSD part. The HDD portion will be slow and it will be much more noticable than any CPU, GPU or RAM limitations. The SSD/HDD is what makes your machine feel snappy or slow even in day to day tasks.
Ultimately it's up to OP, but I think it's absurd buy a premium computer with a price tag upwards of $2k with such an obvious bottleneck. If it's a budget issue, OP should save a little longer instead of rushing to such a significant compromise in my opinion.
 

Tigerman82

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jul 27, 2010
257
30
Well, I gave it another thought and I've decided that the current lineup isn't worth it to me. As there are no refurbs or stores that offer better discounts than the Education discount (at my EU location), I'd end up paying too much (the minimum for the base model + 256Gb SSD is $2500 where I live) for over a year-old tech even if it does come with a 5K display. Consequently, my plan is to wait for the next iMac.

The thing that made the Mid-2017 iMac such a good idea to me (apart from the 5K screen value) is that we can pretty much assume that the next iMac will A) be pricier and B) not have easily upgraded RAM (a la iMac Pro). The fear is that not only would the starting prices be higher, I'd have to pay those ridiculous Apple BTO RAM prices. However, there is another way to look at this. First of all, I think it's safe to assume Apple will start using SSD drives as standard (as no other computer in Apple's line-up is using mechanical drives/Fusion Drives anymore). This means I don't have to pay BTO extra for getting an SSD drive (I can get by with 256Gb). Secondly, it also stands to reason that Apple might start using 16Gb of RAM as standard for at least the 27" iMac. I mean they do this for the current 15" Macbook Pro lineup. This would again mean that not only would I not need to buy Apple's BTO RAM, I would not need a RAM upgrade period as 16 gigs is more than enough for me. Bottom line... Even if Apple does raise prices, there might not be need for any BTO buys whatsoever which evens out the raised price.

It does suck that I have to keep on waiting, though.
 
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