New iMac Advice

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by ivanhoe888, Jan 31, 2016.

  1. ivanhoe888 macrumors member

    Jul 20, 2011
    I'm looking to replace my 21.5" iMac of the last 6 years, and I understood there are a number of similar 21.5" models, including one with a 4K screen. 27 inch is out of my budget.
    I'm not what you'd call a "power user," a lot of Internet, writing, ocassional photo editing, etc. May use it for streaming as well (we have an iPad an plan on an Apple TV maybe).

    Any thoughts?
  2. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Aug 5, 2001
    Get a 2TB Fusion Drive for sure, as it will make the iMac so much faster.

    And then I would recommend getting the 2.8 Ghz model, since it packs so much more bang for the buck, over the 1.6 Ghz model.

    This way you'll future proof your machine.
  3. ivanhoe888 thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 20, 2011
    Thanks for the quick reply!
    Is there really a difference between 1 TB and 2TB Fusion Drive?
  4. T'hain Esh Kelch, Jan 31, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2016

    T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Aug 5, 2001
    The 1TB Fusion drive only has a 24GB SSD, while the 2TB Fusion drive has a 128GB SSD, making the former pretty pointless for most cases where you read data from the disk.

    Edit: Former, not latter.
  5. RedCroissant Suspended

    Aug 13, 2011
    Is yours the late 2009 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo iMac? If it is, have you already upgraded the RAM to 16GB? Have you considered upgrading to a SSD? I know that it won't be a new computer, and not as great as a quad core machine, but even though your computer has been used for 6 years, I don't see why spending less now on upgrading your current machine wouldn't be worth it.

    The reason I ask is because my wife has that same machine and with only 8GB RAM. Most of her data is stored on an external drive (Time Machine, photos, other stuff that isn't accessed too often), it is still working fantastically well and her uses for it are similar to yours.

    You could get 16GB RAM ($115)and a 480GB SSD ($210) from OWC and have a a basically brand new iMac for 1/4 the price of a new one that won't do much for you considering your uses.
  6. ivanhoe888 thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 20, 2011
    I did not know that, thanks.

    My current iMac is a 2010 model i3 processor (1.6 GHz I think) with 4MB ram and a 500 GB HD that's pretty much at the straining point. It's making a lot of noise, which it hasn't done in the past.

    RedCroissant, your points are valid. For some reason I seem to recall that I could not expand the memory on this model. Need to check on it.
  7. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Here's my recommendations.
    If you can live within the SSD, then opt for the 256GB SSD, if not, then definitely go for the 2TB Fusion drive as noted above, you get more flash storage.

    Have you thought about the 4k model? I think the screen upgrade is a nice move that should provide a nice upgrade to what you have now.

    I don't know your budget or plans, but the 27" 5k iMacs have some advantage over the 21" but it all depends on what your plans are.
  8. ivanhoe888 thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 20, 2011
    While I'd love to get 27", it's above my budget. I think what I'll do is go for the 4K model and upgrade to a Fusion Drive.
  9. RedCroissant, Jan 31, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2016

    RedCroissant Suspended

    Aug 13, 2011
    It's probably making a lot of voice because either the HDD is full, or you upgraded to Yosemite/El Capitan. Either of those negatively impacts the system (the HDD being full for the lack of virtual memory). Upgrading to Yosemite is only a negative if you don't have enough RAM or enough free space on your HDD (which in your case is both).

    The current model is the 1.6GHz dual core i5 and you are correct that you can't upgrade the memory after the fact. However, THAT iMac is essentially the same machine as a MacBook Air and it does not give you a drastic performance boost that would justify spending $1200 on a new Mac with comparable performance specs, inability to upgrade, and with a display with the same resolution as yours.

    Now the retina 4K 21.5" is a much more powerful machine and definitely an upgrade. The fact that you want to configure it with a 1TB fusion drive though makes it cost $1600.

    You, however have the Mid 2010 3.06 GHz i3 and it is absolutely upgradeable. You have a potential max of 16GB of RAM that is installed underneath in the middle of the device that you can easily access with a regular phillips screw driver. The Hard drive can also be upgraded to a drive that's at least double the storage or if you don't use the superdrive, you could even put 2 drives in there (one for the boot volume that could be a SSD and installed where the superdrive currently is, and the other one connected to the other SATA connection).

    For ~$400 you could have

    $120 16GB RAM
    $115 240GB SSD
    $80 2TB HDD
    $30 Data Doubler (for installing a SSD in the superdrive bay)
    $35 External Optical Drive

    I know that $400 sounds like a lot, but even that is still 1/3 the cost of the base model 21.5" 1.6GHz model and 1/4 the cost of the retina 4K model!

    If I were you, I would seriously consider upgrading your current machine. And if you happen to live in Orange County, CA I would even upgrade it for you once you get all of the parts.
  10. MRrainer macrumors 6502a

    Aug 8, 2008
    Zurich, Switzerland
    Too bad people don't even relay the country they're posting from.
    But upgrading isn't such bad an idea. Especially as an SSD-only 4k 21" iMac probably comes close to 2k USD (it's slightly under 2K in my local currency, with tax, but I'd max it out with 16GB RAM and then it would be as pricey as a 27" 5K iMac with 8GB, which I could later upgrade myself... oh well).

    Maybe there's a broken fan somewhere in OP's iMac. After 6 years, I'd image most of the lube to have dried up. Or a bearing that is broken...
    If you have already decided on ordering, you could give it a shot and open it up.
  11. dwfaust macrumors 601


    Jul 3, 2011
    Confused... wouldn't a larger SSD in the 2TB drive in the latter configuration be more efficient for data transfers, where the former config (1TB drive) with a smaller SSD would be less efficient?
  12. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Aug 5, 2001
    Whops, typo! Yes, you are indeed correct. It makes the FORMER pretty pointless! 8)
  13. ivanhoe888 thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 20, 2011

    You're right. I currently live in Israel, where the iMacs are typically $300-400 more expensive than the US. But so are the components, such as memory, etc. Only the memory - 16GB - would cost about $300. So when you add it all up, upgrading the computer makes more sense than simply ugrading the parts.
  14. RedCroissant Suspended

    Aug 13, 2011
    Well then that makes it even more reasonable to upgrade the parts unless you want to pay for an iMac that will actually serve you better than your current machine. Just because I listed those parts doesn't mean that all of them are required in order to make your current iMac more useable.

    My wife's late 2009 iMac (with the 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo) has 8GB RAM and it is running El Capitan very well. And that should be an easy upgrade because your iMac has 4 RAM slots. 2 of them are already being used with 2GB RAM modules and you have 2 slots to do with what you want as far as configuration and price. So if RAM is double the price in Israel, get an 8GB kit (2 x GB modules) and then you'll have 12GB RAM and your computer will be brought back to life. Then get an external HDD and move some of your data to that drive (make it where your iPhoto library is located and where your iTunes media folder is located). If those are large in size, then just being about to allow for 20% free space on your HDD should also make your computer perform well again.

    Regardless of what you decide to do, your current machine could easily work well for another 4-5 years.

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