Longevity of current iMac

Discussion in 'iMac' started by mattlong1978, Jul 26, 2017.

  1. mattlong1978 macrumors member


    Dec 4, 2008
    United Kingdom
    Hi, I've not been on here in a while and I'm looking for a little advice. I currently have a 2008 Mac Pro which I've been running since release, I've been really happy with the robustness and how long it has lasted.

    I've decided though either this year or next year I'm going to make the leap to a newer mac and currently the iMac seems to be the best option, my question is can you typically get the same sort of Lifespan out of the past few generations of iMac's? If i can get a good 8 years again I'll be more than happy :)

    Hopefully that didn't sound that stupid to ask. o_O
  2. nambuccaheadsau macrumors 68000


    Oct 19, 2007
    Nambucca Heads Australia
    I think you are asking a question no one can answer. I guess the solution lays somewhere i9n statistics. Some folk have Macs fail early, and some later.

    For mine all Macs are extremely serviceable. My first LC was purchased in 1991, and had one hard drive fail in the five years I used it. Then came a 5300, no problems, a 5500 Directors Special, no problems, a 350MHz iMac, no problems, G4 towers dual 450MHz and 1.25FW MDD, upgraded to a G5 Dual Core tower had an SSD fail in the warranty period, A Mac Pro 1.1 upgraded with 5500 processors, had a power supply fail but I believe that occurred when shipped from LA to Sydney Australia.

    A 2011, 2014 and now a 2016 iMac with no troubles at all.

    I do take care of my machines, covered when not in use, operating systems kept current and plenty of memory apart from the LC's outstanding 8MB!
  3. mattlong1978 thread starter macrumors member


    Dec 4, 2008
    United Kingdom
    Thanks for your reply, I guess i was worried Apple may have dropped the ball on quality of their products more than anything but as you say a failure can happen at any time.
  4. throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    No one knows for sure.

    However, i'd suggest that we are at a point where buying right now is probably not the best year to buy.


    Both AMD and intel are in a CPU core race right now since Zen was released.

    After about 7-8 years of "meh" performance updates from intel other than battery life (and in that respect, iMac = who cares about battery), things have finally kicked into gear because AMD can now compete.

    I'm not suggesting that any iMac you buy right now will be instantly obsolete, merely that if you can hold off, i feel we are at the beginning of a major resurgence in CPU improvements.

    The iMac Pro with up to 16-18(?) cores that is coming is only the start. Next year 6 cores will be mainstream on intel and AMD is already shipping 6-8 core CPUs as mainstream parts.

    i.e., if you are considering either this year or next - i'd hold off until next year, if you can deal with the current machine until then. i suspect it will be worth it. if you need now, buy now of course...
  5. madmin macrumors regular

    Jun 14, 2012
    Moar cores ! But wait, none of the planned 6 core+ CPUs are expected to have higher single thread speed than the current 7700K king. I guess it's pretty unlikely that the SSD speeds will be any faster. Maybe ram will move up a notch. The current machines may well seem snappier to most users under typical workloads.

    There's also a chance that Apple will update the iMac design and introduce new points of failure. If you want a machine that's good for many a year, perhaps the current mature iMac design is a safer bet. If they change the design, there's a good chance they'll remove some of the legacy ports (usb3.0, etc).

    I'd upgrade now rather than wait, based on the (limited) information at hand.
  6. Rok73 macrumors 65816


    Apr 21, 2015
    Planet Earth
    8 years is very long. I'd expect 4-5 years max.
  7. Ylan macrumors member


    Oct 27, 2016
    I think the hardware will last if your not unlucky, in the sense that it won't break.

    If you consider it usable is another question. We don't know how fast new computers will be (as already mentioned).

    My brother bought the last G4 Powebook, and it felt old really fast.

    I bought the first and only Macbook (non pro) Alu in 2008, and my daughter is still using it (with more RAM and home rolled fusion drive).

    I got a new iMac now because of the step up in GPU, which runs cooler and faster. I was waiting for screen target mode, but felt I couldn't wait any longer.

    Humbly, Ylan
  8. Ezcompane macrumors newbie

    Jul 18, 2017
    I typically keep my Macs in use for 6-7 years. This is my first iMac purchase so I have no idea exact amount of use I will be dedicating for it, but I purchased it with the intention of school / leisurely game usage.

    Outside of the RAM I chose the "buy once, cry once" approach and upgraded the CPU and went with the SSD options. I plan on immediately install 32GB of RAM the day it arrives, and will consider upgraded the hard drive down the road if it's something I need.
  9. padams35 macrumors regular

    Nov 10, 2016
    I consider 7-years par if you guess correctly when future proofing or can upgrade after purchase. Every iMac since 2007 has been able to run at least the 2nd newest OS for 8+ years after release, but they don't always hold up that long as a primary machine. I have family who think the late 2009 iMac is still a perfectly capable computer with just a ram upgrade, but I doubt that particularly model would have lasted me much more than 6 years tops.

    I'm currently using a mid-tier 2011 21". The 4GB ram that came with it off-the-shelf wouldn't have gotten me past Yosemite, but with an SSD upgrade and triple the baseline ram I'm hopeful I'll enjoy 7-8 years of use.

    Its plausible one could get 8+ years out of a new 2017, but I'd put that down as 'pleasant surprise' rather than a target you actively plan on.
  10. throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia

    single threaded performance is a thing, sure. but for almost anything you run on a mac that is cpu intensive, it will load all cores pretty decently as the mac has decent support for threading. i was seeing full 8 thread utilisation on my 2011 macbook pro 5 years ago in various tasks.
    --- Post Merged, Jul 26, 2017 ---
    plan/budget based on 3-4 year life, anything more is a bonus.
    --- Post Merged, Jul 26, 2017 ---

    spending 2x the cash to "future proof" out to 7 years still leaves you with outdated IO.

    spend half the amount of "top of the line" every 3 years instead and:
    • by year 4 after hardware refresh you are much more than the 10-15% faster than top of the line buys
    • you maintain warranty cover
    • you can actually get re sale on your old machine
  11. padams35 macrumors regular

    Nov 10, 2016
    Outdated IO is a point (it sucks not having USB 3.0 on my 2011), but spending 2x cash it "future proof" is a straw-man argument. "Future proofing" is more the difference between say, a $1400 mid-tier 4K with fusion drive vs $1800 for an entry 5K. 30% more for probably 50% longer life with much better speed for the interim.
  12. PopBodhi macrumors newbie


    Jul 23, 2017
    Dallas, Texas
    I have a 2012 iMac and haven't had any issues. I love it!
  13. dwig macrumors 6502

    Jan 4, 2015
    Key West FL
    I agree. "Future proofing" is generally a bad thing to attempt. It is not really an achievable goal.

    Buy what you need now and in the very near future and bank money for an upgrade rather than buying extra now in the hope it will increase the life of a machine. Buying extra performance now will cost far far more than buying it 3-4 years from now.

    That said, not buying a fully expanded machine now is not always a poor choice. It depends on the work you are doing now. I recently bought a new work computer (actually the photographer I work for paid for it). It is a completely maxed out iMac (current back in February so now "the previous model") that replaces a then massively expanded "ancient" Early-2009 PM. I need all of that performance now so buying less that the top iMac wasn't a valid option. I expect to need a new computer in ~4 years.
  14. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    Well, there's "top of the line" and "top of the line". We're not talking about blindly maxing stuff out here.

    The difference between the entry-level 27" iMac 3.4GHz/Radeon 570/1TB and the "base top-end" 3.8GHz/Radeon 580/2TB is only 30%. If that gets you 4 years rather than 3 years then you're even. Might make it easier to sell after 3 years, too - if a juicy new Mac comes out then everybody will be trying to dump their old Macs and the market could get flooded - the better models may be easier to sell.

    Then you have to look for the "sweet spot" with the other options. For example, the 2TB SSD option is horrendously expensive: you'd have to have a really good justification for needing 2TB of internal SSD to go for that. On the other hand, spinning rust on the desktop could be dead in 3 years (I daresay Google will be using it in their server farms for a tad longer) so a 512GB or even 1TB SSD could make for a considerably longer useful life (or better resell-ability).

    You also need to consider your possible financial position in 3 years time: upgrading every 3 years might seem like a good thing now - but if you get fired/married/retired/pregnant/sick between now and then you might be glad of a system that will still be doing what you need in 5 years time.

    In terms of long-term use: I've just got an iMac to semi-replace my 2011 17" MBP. Frankly, although the iMac is certainly a substantial upgrade, the only reason I needed a new machine is the Sword of Damocles that is the MBP GPU fault - my MBP has been repaired once (free, quickly, after 4 years) which is great but as I understand it the weakness was never actually fixed and, if it goes again, it is landfill. Otherwise, my main gripes could have been solved with a couple of Thunderbolt Docks (USB 3 + 2 external displays, albeit not 4k) now that they've dropped in price a bit - but I don't want to invest £300+ on a machine with a known ticking time-bomb.
  15. MacScott macrumors regular


    Jan 27, 2012
    My last 27 inch iMac was a 2010 and it was still going strong when I decided to get the new 2017 model. I have passed it along to the grandson to use (along with his mother). I could have kept using it but I felt it was time to get a little quicker machine and I also wanted to use the airplay feature.
  16. psiquest_x macrumors newbie

    Dec 6, 2016
    At work, I do graphic design (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign) and used a late 2009 iMac up to yesterday. Everything still worked and only the hard drive had been replaced.

    At home, I have burned through 4 iMacs in the same timeframe. Literally burned as 2 died due to overheating (thanks Jony!)

    So... yes, an iMac can last you several years provided that:
    - You don't buy the base model. Not only do you get more bang for your buck the higher you go, but the more powerful hardware will be sufficient longer. Get the highest model you can.
    - You keep software upgrades to a minimum. Something like Word won't dramatically require more and more power, but games and anything to do with graphics will. Keep your upgrades to must-haves and your iMac will last longer.
    - If you do anything that is really processor intensive, download something like SMC fan control. If you don't do anything that's processor intensive... then still download it.
  17. sboychuck, Jul 26, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2017

    sboychuck macrumors regular

    Sep 19, 2014
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    I have owned a total of four Mac's and all are stilling running strong. It started with a 17-inch MacBook Pro, then 24-inch iMac, and then a 2013 and 2015 27-inch iMac. The 17 and 24 inch have been repaired by myself a few times and now both have SSD's in them. My 10-year old daughter is using these two and she is thrilled with them. My mom has a 2012 21-inch iMac and I just put an SSD into it and maxed out the RAM, as she was doing more intense work on it. She said it feels like a new computer. So, my luck has been good and do not see any need for a new one in the future. I buy top spec. Mac's when I buy, just like the iPads I have. I still have one of the original iPads and it is running fine for basic stuff. The iMac Pro is interesting for a future purchase. I am not buying the first version though, until I am sure they can keep it cool and not melt down. Almost bought a Mac Pro a few times, but still got the iMac. I like the idea of the Mac Pro's and being able to add to them a lot easier than an iMac. At the end of the day, buy what you need and will make you happy. If you buy top spec. , install the extra RAM yourself to save money. It will be worth more in the future, and will help to "future-proof" your purchase, if your needs increase.
  18. btrach144 macrumors 65816


    Aug 28, 2015
    Expect 4-5 years but you'll have to pray for 6-8 years. My MBP gave out at 6 years.

    Keep in mind that Intel Xeon processors are typically binned and built for 24/7 server environments. Not to say you can't run a i5 or i7 24/7.

    You could wait till December to see if the iMac Pro, which uses enterprise grade hardware (CPU and memory at least) but that machine also has a starting price of $5k.

    The way I view it, anything beyond AppleCare+, 3 years, is likely to cost a lot to repair. I believe after 5 years, Apple stops stocking repair parts for particular models so then you're having to rely on 3rd parties at that point for repairs. A lot of time and money just to say your machine lasted 8 years.
  19. Appleaker macrumors 68020

    Jun 13, 2016
    In terms of longevity, it would be best to wait a year as next years iMacs should have Coffee Lake processors, which will be 6-core. A redesign can be expected around this time although it’s unclear whether that will happen next year or not, considering the iMac Pro. But even if it looks the same, there will be the standard advancements that’ll make it more future-proof.
  20. Ph.D., Jul 26, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2017

    Ph.D. macrumors 6502

    Jul 8, 2014
    I just moved from a Mac Pro 3,1 to a base 27" retina iMac with 512 GB SSD.

    My 3,1 lasted for 9 years, through multiple graphics card upgrades, numerous disk upgrades including PCI-based SSDs, etc., and it hummed away for all that time with hardly a reboot. No other Mac I've owned had that much robustness and life in it, and few if any ever will again.

    The iMac is simply better and faster in just about every way possible except for the lack of internal expansion. I bought it to tide me over until a real new Mac Pro is announced, but I've been very impressed with it.

    That said, and to answer your question: No, I do not foresee any iMac lasting 8 years in the sense of feeling up to date (physically, an SSD-only version may well survive just fine). You will be looking at a new one by years 3-5, depending on various advancements. On the other hand, I was ready for a new computer anyway around when the "trash can" Pro came out. By then, the 3,1 was also approaching obsolescence. I only kept it out of stubbornness.

    So, in summary, you would enjoy the iMac - it really is a very slick and quick improvement over a 3,1. However, expect to keep it only 3-5 years. By then, iMacs will likely have 7-10 nm CPU and GPUs, an OLED display in an even slicker package, etc. Don't go crazy with "future proofing" - there isn't any such thing. Heck, by then, we may all be using holographic implants or something.
  21. Mittis macrumors newbie


    Jul 26, 2017
    I got just about the same question as OP
    My macbook pro (retina15" mid2012, 2,6ghz) is struggeling with Lightroom andeling the Raw files from ly dalr medium format. It can manage but is getting slow. At this point im sceptical to install the lates ios generation i case it slows it down even further.
    I was joping to get 6-7 years out of it, but i realize i have to go for a stationary to do that, but is it true?
  22. Booch21 macrumors regular


    Oct 13, 2010
    My Mid-2010 iMac is running fantastic and, other than it's next in line to be no longer included in upgrades, I would have no qualms with keeping it around for several more years.

    I *am* eyeing up the new iMac Pro's as a possible solution for a long term replacement for my current machine. I'm very impressed with how well it's holding up and has not needed anything except more external hard drives for my stuff.
  23. propower macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2010
    Longevity is more about what you want it to do 5 years from now. If you buy one today and use what you have today for 5 years it will always feel young and fresh! The march of tech and IOS integration is now at a fast pace. Keeping your system in sync with all of these favors the users that keep up to date in SW and OS. If you are a casual photo, video, audio, web type - 5 years seems decent and your HW may or may not seem dated by then. For iMacs 3 years is the grace period with Apple Care. Past that any even small defect with the screen especially will carry a hefty price tag to fix. I got 3 years out of my 2013 MacPro which is now 4 year old tech. For the most part it did not feel dated at any point. When I played with the iMac screen for a while though - that was the thing that convinced me to go iMac. When that screen is available in the next few years (I hope) or even better ones - maybe I will go modular again.

    The Base 2017 iMac though (with SSD NOT Fusion) is a totally capable machine and should run with little feeling of being slow for many years. SSD tech will take a major next step to get any faster than what we have now - same with CPU speed. Graphics and gaming - will advance significantly though (IMO) :)
  24. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    It can last that long no problem. The bigger question is will the user experience of it be up to your standards in 8 years? That will all depend on what you do and how you use it.

    We are moving to High Sierra at the end of this year. The oldest iMac still supported is the 2009. So 8 years of OS updates isn't out of the question. Up to 2 OS's back (Yosemite which supported the 2007 iMac) get major security updates. So even at 10 years there is still some first party support.

    The hardware is fairly sound depending on your requirements. Even 8 year old CPU's are more than enough for basic task like Safari, Mail, Messages, etc. GPU could be an issue but again will just depend on what you are trying to do. That said newer iMacs have thunderbolt 3 which Apple implemented with minimal overhead so an eGPU can solve any bottlenecks from that. And they use PCIe SSDs which will be the best options for many years to come. And I think it safe to say 5k display won't be a problem even 8 years from now.

    You will miss out on newer standards though. Things like the next versions of thunderbolt, USB, bluetooth, etc. Maybe some proprietary Apple tech. Also there will probably be other proprietary standards you may want like some new codec support or something (like h265 with Kaby Lake currently). And of course the arbitrary software limitations Apple imposes ("you need a 2018 iMac for this feature").

    The only thing you may want to hold out for is the chance of a more modular Mac Pro. A Mac Pro that could be upgraded could not only last 8 years but still perform on par with newer systems. (I'm grinning at the thought of what Apple would charge for such a thing).

    Good Luck!
  25. throAU, Jul 26, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2017

    throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    Depends how far you go. Yes, future proof to a degree, but i see so many people spend say $4-5k on a machine that is just an expanded version of something you could get with much less severe upgrades for 2-3k (macbooks being a prime example of this - compare fully loaded BTO spec to the middle spec apple offer).

    If you need that spec TODAY and use it to generate money, go for it. But if that is the case you aren't likely pushing 7 years out of a machine, you upgrade to get better performance ASAP.

    As an example of over-buying... when i bought my 2011 MBP, 16 GB of ram for it cost $1500.

    18-24 months later, i picked up 16 GB for $300 or so. There is a sweet spot just before where spec improvement has still increased linearly with price rather than price going up exponentially. This is where you are best off buying, and typically this is the middle spec of Apple hardware, or at most default "high end" machine.

    Start doing lots of BTO upgrades and price blows out massively for much less of a performance improvement. And this is what so many people end up doing to try and future proof, rather than just spending less today, buying a new machine for the same amount they spend today and continuing to do that. On average you're using a machine that is 1.5 years old across your lifetime, rather than a machine that is 3-4 years old, on average, with outdated IO and lower performance because the gains you get from newer hardware at the same price are usually much more than the gains you get from much more money on the original box.
    --- Post Merged, Jul 26, 2017 ---
    Definitely, if having the additional performance TODAY will make your life easier or make you more productive (i.e., you are using the machine for making money or doing your job) to the degree you think it is worth it: go for it.

    Just don't try to buy TOO far into the future "just in case".

    Some things are reasonably easy to anticipate: RAM and storage requirements - and these things will give you real world benefits even today. Just be aware of the exponential price increase beyond the sweet spot.

    CPUs are a crapshoot. We've had 6+ years of meh. This is unlikely to continue for the next 2-3 years, due to renewed competition between AMD and Intel this year - if you're basing your decisions on CPUs today on the past 6-7 years of upgrades, this may be a mistake.

    IO (i.e., external ports, SSD speeds, wifi standards, etc.) do change frequently, and you can have the fastest machine in the world, but if you can't get data on or off it fast enough it's annoying.

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