Is this iMac worth it/a good entry into Macs?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by VanHammersley, Jan 21, 2015.

  1. VanHammersley macrumors newbie

    Jan 21, 2015
    I've been looking for a jumping off point into getting a Mac (been on a PC forever), and found a system that "looks" like a good deal. I wanted to find out..
    1. if this system was priced well,
    2. is it worth buying an older system like this
    3. Would an iMac like this work for my needs (below)?

    I'm basically looking to use the Mac to do web design/dev (Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, etc), maybe some occasional simple video editing, and recording music/demos (mostly tracking drums/V-Drums using midi).

    I was also looking at some Mac Mini's, but haven't dug too far into research yet...

    Here's the iMac system...listed at $550

    iMac "Core i3" 3.06 (mid-2010)
    • Screen: 21.5-Inch
    • HD: 1TB
    • RAM: 4GB
    • OS: Comes with disks (OS 10.6 (Snow Leopard)). Seller has Yosemite installed currently, but was going to wipe it and reinstall 10.6
    • Condition: light scratches/dents on case. Screen in perfect condition. No dead spots/discoloration.
    • Keyboard/Mouse: Not included

    Any input / recommendations / information would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks! Van
  2. Natzoo macrumors 65816


    Sep 16, 2014
    Not sure where i am
    If you are looking at used macs, this looks nice. If your budget is at the 1k range , apple is selling a new 21" mac, or also go on their refurb store or go on macmall.
  3. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    Price seems a bit steep for an underpowered system.

    The 1TB HDD is pretty slow as well, and 4GB isn't going to cut it these days.

    I'd suggest a refurb iMac with at least a Fusion Drive.
  4. redheeler macrumors 604


    Oct 17, 2014
    This. A refurb late 2012 or late 2013 iMac with Fusion Drive or SSD would be a lot better performer.
  5. ecschwarz macrumors 65816


    Jun 28, 2010
    That should be a pretty good system for the money, although I'd try to negotiate since it doesn't come with a keyboard and mouse and is on the more expensive end of the range many would suggest for that machine. It's older, but certainly can give you a few years of use - we actually shuffled some iMacs around at work and I just set up a lab of the Late-2009 21.5" iMacs for light media work and basic productivity. They have a 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo processor, so it's similar. If anything, I'd upgrade the RAM to at least 8 (although 4 is certainly usable, especially with a newer OS that supports memory compression). Other than that, these machines are pretty capable for their age and I don't think it would feel "painful" for your tasks.

    If it were me, I'd save a bit more and try to get a 2011 version, as it adds a Thunderbolt port. This will give you some extra expansion options in the future, notably USB 3.

    As others have said, the biggest lag would be your hard drive, but it is a desktop-sized drive in these machines and should run at 7200rpm (so it's not as bad as on the MacBooks). You could always replace the optical drive or hard drive with an SSD.
  6. VanHammersley thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 21, 2015
    Thanks all for the input. I haven't pulled the trigger yet, and am taking all your comments into consideration. I'm going to do a bit more research/see what else is out there...don't want to make a hasty purchase and then regret it.
  7. chrfr macrumors 604

    Jul 11, 2009
    The i3 powered iMac was an especially stripped down model for the education market. I'd look around for an i5 or better if your budget allows.
  8. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009

    The system you listed above is ok @ $550, but nothing special.
    I would recommend OS 10.8.5 "Mountain Lion" for an OS -- more modern than 10.6 but without the HDD-related slowdowns you're likely to see with either 10.9 or 10.10.

    You can use any keyboard or mouse that you wish -- in fact, as a near-30-year Mac user, I recommend that you DO NOT use either an Apple keyboard or pointing device. You are likely to discover that they are more "for show" than "for go".

    Some other considerations....

    What's your budget?

    You must realize that the Mac above doesn't have USB3, I'm not sure if it has thunderbolt, either (others will correct me if I'm wrong on the last point).

    That means speeds will definitely be limited, insofar as connecting external drives is concerned.

    You do have firewire800 available, but its speed has paled in comparison to USB3 and thunderbolt.

    IF you can afford more, I would suggest that you "buy more" to begin with.
    For graphics-intensive apps, I would think you'd want the 27" display. NOTHING can compare to all that screen real estate.

    Again, how much are you willing to spend?
    I would suggest at least the entry-level 27" iMac.
    You can save by buying an Apple-refurbished model, which comes with the SAME 1-year warranty as you would get with a new one.

    You can keep an eye on what's available in the Apple refurb market at
  9. redheeler macrumors 604


    Oct 17, 2014
    The early 2013 i3 was, but the mid 2010 was a low-end offer for consumers. That being said I would much rather have the 2013 i3 or better yet an i5.

    You are correct, none of the 2010s have Thunderbolt.
  10. fathergll macrumors 65816

    Sep 3, 2014
    If you're on a budget and willing to open the computer and do some modifications I'd look into a used 2012 i7 Mac Mini. You can add in a SSD and your own RAM for very little cost.
  11. StockDC2 macrumors regular

    May 16, 2011
    If you could knock off $100-$150 that would be ideal. There are plenty of iMac 21.5 i5s (2011) that come up in my neck of woods quite often for $550. I'd suggest you just hang tight and keep looking.
  12. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    I would like to second fathergII's recommendation above for a 2012 i7 Mac Mini.

    Very nicely-equipped box at a decent price, if you are patient in finding one.

    Actually, the 2014 Mini isn't all that bad, IF you get the mid-range model and add the fusion drive as an option. Its main drawback is that it doesn't have a 4-core CPU...
  13. LaloG macrumors member

    Mar 29, 2013

    Which mac mini's are upgradeable? I want to buy my wife a new computer so she can do her photoshop/lightroom. Our budget is $1500. What system would you guys recommend for a photographer?
  14. redheeler macrumors 604


    Oct 17, 2014
    Considering a Retina iMac is out of your budget (a retina would definitely be the best choice for photography), a refurb late 2013 27".
  15. LaloG macrumors member

    Mar 29, 2013
    Thanks!! I saw a 27" for $1500 at the refurbished apple store.
  16. VanHammersley thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 21, 2015
    As far as Mac Mini's go...would something like this be a worthy starting point?

    Used Mac Mini "Core i5" 2.5 (Late 2012 - MD387LL/A)
    - $611
    - 500GB HD
    - 4GB RAM
    - User says it's "flawless", purchased brand new 5/28/2014

    This fits my budget a bit better (like to stay under $650), and can easily up the RAM a bit.
  17. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    It's a worthy starting point, but you really should consider throwing in an SSD instead.

    An SSD equipped system will boot up in around 12 seconds.

    And see whether you can get your hands on a quad core i7 variant or not.
  18. VanHammersley thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 21, 2015
    I did see several i7s on eBay, but they are a bit out of my range (most in the 1K+ range). I'll definitely keep an eye out though/take all that into consideration.
  19. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    The quad core i7 Mac Mini is more capable than you think.

    Some people even run server farms off these babies.

    It's a good system for number crunching and running VMs.
  20. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    LaloG wrote above:
    [[ Our budget is $1500. What system would you guys recommend for a photographer? ]]

    Get at least the midrange Mini -- much faster CPU (than entry model), 8gb of RAM, IRIS graphics.

    I would definitely consider the fusion drive upgrade. Even the 1tb fusion option will use the PCI-e connector with a blade drive, which should yield read speeds over 700mbps.

    Since your wife will be using PS/Lightroom, she might want to upgrade the RAM to 16gb. Apple -does- overcharge for the RAM, but if you think you'll need it, BUY it, because there's no option to upgrade "after the purchase".

    I would recommend that you look at a vendor called "". I bought my own Mini from them back in January of 2012. Good prices and good service.

    This will bring you in "under budget", leaving $$$ left over for a display if you don't already have one.

    I would recommend AGAINST buying Apple-branded keyboards or pointing devices, unless you have already used them and like them. "Third party" stuff works better, in my opinion....
  21. fathergll macrumors 65816

    Sep 3, 2014
    It's high IMO. There probably is a lot of price gouging for 2012 Mac Minis now it seems. I would think $500 is more appropriate but I haven't been following the used market. I just purchased a refurb 2012 i7 from Apple a couple months ago for $589 and mine has a standard Apple warranty so I would think $611 for a used i5 is high.

    The two biggest things you can do though are install an SSD and max out the RAM. You definitely dont want to cheap out on a old iMac like that when you could spend a little more on a Mini that will run circles around it.
  22. LaloG macrumors member

    Mar 29, 2013
    Thanks for all your help. I'm going to see if a 2012 mini quad core refurb pops up on the apple store. Just to be clear, these are upgradeable? Is it easy to upgrade to an SSD and add more ram?
  23. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    The RAM is, the hard drive I'm not sure. Should be, considering that it uses standard SATA3 drives.

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22 January 21, 2015