New iMac: 17" vs. 20"

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by coconn06, Sep 20, 2004.

  1. coconn06 macrumors regular

    Jun 14, 2003
    King of Prussia, PA
    I'm going to be purchasing a new iMac soon, and I've been set on the 20" model, but recently I've started considering the 17". I can get the 17" with the same specs, but ONLY a smaller LCD for $300 less.

    Since I've been used to a 12" iBook LCD for the past 3 years, any change in LCD size is an improvement. But I was wondering if anyone has some insight on whether the larger 20" is really worth it.

    Btw, I use the computer mainly for Internet and email, programming/web design, and some gaming.
  2. jestershinra macrumors regular

    Sep 4, 2004
    I highly recommend the 20". It just fits better, plus if you are doing web design, you can view a preview and code at the same time w/o shifting windows.
  3. Flowbee macrumors 68030


    Dec 27, 2002
    Alameda, CA
    Well, since you live in King of Prussia and there's an Apple Store in King of Prussia, you should probably just head over and spend an hour or so with each.

    I think a lot of people don't really "need" a 20" widescreen display (especially for web surfing and email), but on the other hand, $300 isn't a huge price difference if you're planning to keep the computer for several years. And I'm sure it wouldn't take long to figure out how to use that extra screen real estate (especially with the coming "gadgets" of 10.5).
  4. FuzzyBallz macrumors 6502a


    May 2, 2003
    Home of Al-Qaida
    Or you can get the 17", use $200 for 2x512MB RAM, sell the 256MB that came w/ the iMac, and buy an iSight. Sweet.
  5. Josh macrumors 68000


    Mar 4, 2004
    State College, PA

    ^^^ best advice yet.
  6. coconn06 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 14, 2003
    King of Prussia, PA
    This is true, and I've been to the Apple store many times. However I find it difficult to get a feeling for how a computer will fit into my day-to-day life by standing inside a store and using it. I need my apps, and my setup, and to use it for a more extended period of time. Just standing there looking at them and playing with them doesn't really help.

    Thought I appreciate everyone's advice for me, especially because this is a difficult question to answer (it's mainly personal preference).
  7. edesignuk Moderator emeritus


    Mar 25, 2002
    London, England
    I think it depends on how long you plan to keep the system for. You pay quite a premium for the 20", which if you are only going to keep the system for 1-2 years personally I don't think is worth it. You will have paid all that money for a beautiful 20" LCD that will be of no use when you next upgrade. If however you plan to keep the system for 2 years plus, then I'd be tempted towards the 20". They do look fantastic, and if you are going to keep the system it is attached to then you should get your moneys worth out of it.
  8. friarbayliff macrumors regular

    Jul 20, 2004
    MN / IN
    I would tend to agree with edesignuk - the premium you pay for the 20" is just not worth the extra screen real estate, especially considering the idea that you might only have this computer for a relatively short time.
  9. segundo macrumors member

    Dec 9, 2003
    This issue is just killing me. Since there are two items that are not that important to me that come with the 20" (1.8 versus 1.6 G5 and the superdrive versus combo drive) the only real item that makes me look at the 20" is the available screen real estate. The 17" 1.6 seems like such a better value with a savings (albeit with a slightly slower cpu and a combo drive) of $400.

    However, there is this "go big" aspect of purchasing a new Mac when you think you might have it for 2 years. Argh. Is the 20" just that much sweeter compared to the 17"?

    postscript: Why would I almost prefer a combo drive to a superdrive? Because it rips and burns cd's at a higher speed and music/iTunes is almost the only thing I use the optical drive for. Besides, I have a superdrive on my powerbook I could always use when I need it.
  10. jxyama macrumors 68040


    Apr 3, 2003
    segundo: if you already have a powerbook, why not just get a big screen for it?

    20" screen is "better" than for the 17", i believe. i've read that the 20" is brighter...

    my boss has both the plastic and aluminum 23" displays. aluminum one is much brighter and the difference is quite remarkable when they are side by side... not sure about the iMac displays, but you should definitely take a look in person, paying attention to this aspect...
  11. iMax531 macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2003
    SF Bay Area/JHU
    The way I always look at it when buying macs is this: Always get the most you can with your budget, when it comes to things that can't be upgraded.

    In six months, you can always add more RAM if the computer needs it. You can upgrade the hard drive. But the screen will always be 17 or 20 inches, so if you get the 17 now, might you be regretting it in a year? If you have the computer for two years, thats significantly less than 50 cents a day to have that extra screen for watching movies, browsing the internet, playing games, and just day to day activities where screen real estate is always a plus.

    My 2 cents.

    And the fact is, in any case, you're getting an awesome computer. Period.
  12. QCassidy352 macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    the new imacs use the old cinema display screens (aka the plastic ones). So the screen quality of the 20" is considerably better than the quality of the 17".

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