New iMac buyer : need help to choose from 3 options

Discussion in 'iMac' started by FrenchPB, Aug 8, 2008.

  1. FrenchPB macrumors 6502

    Sep 15, 2005

    I'm currently considering buying an iMac, for the following reasons :
    - I currently have a MacBook (2Ghz 2Go RAM) with an American keyboard (wrong one for me)
    - the new alu MacBook that should be unveiled in September will greatly affect the value of mine. If I want to resell it, I'd better do it before they update the MacBook design
    - I'm wondering whether it will fit my needs for the next 2 years (basically, should I keep it till it's useless for me, or should I try to resell it while it still has good value)

    Now, here are my needs :
    - web browsing, mail, office work (MS Office, iWork), iTunes ...
    - iPhoto, photo editing (casual, nothing professional here)
    - play high resolution video (sports games capped at up to 720p)
    - no gaming, almost no video editing

    Since RAM is cheaper elsewhere, I only consider getting the normal RAM setup on any option below, but I think I'll upgrade it to 4Go RAM once Snow Leopard will come out (I think it's supposed to really take full advantage of extra RAM, is that correct ?)

    Here are the three options I'm considering :

    - Option 1 : keep my current MacBook, change the keyboard with an azerty model, plan on reselling it in 1-2 years at a very low value (will make my next purchase much more expensive then)
    Cost : 150€ for the keyboard change

    - Option 2 : sell the MacBook on ebay (600€ or so), get the high-end 20" iMac (2,66 Ghz, 2Go RAM, 500Go HD), it fits my needs, will fit nicely on my small desk, and I'll be able to resell it in 2-3 years for good value with 4Go of RAM
    Cost : 1050€ (with edu discount and if I'm able to get the VAT back since I'm a young entrepreneur also) - MacBook sale = 450€

    - Option 3 : sell the MacBook en ebay (600€ or so), get the high-end 24" iMac (3,06Ghz, 2Go RAM, 500Go HD), this machine would just be awesome since it's the best, but might be more than I need and at a premium price (do I really need the better video card and the faster processor, I don't know...)
    Cost : 1500€ (same thing) - MacBook sale = 900€

    What do you think about my situation ? What should I do, what would be the smartest thing to do when analysing this situation ? Thanks for all your comments and advices. I plan on making my move in the next week or so.

  2. SkiHound macrumors member

    Jul 6, 2008
    I don't think there is a real way of answeing these kinds of questions other than to say that ultimately you have to balance the economic considerations with your wants and needs. Based on your stated computer usage, I think your current computer will meet your needs for the next couple of years, and perhaps longer. Economically, these things are kind of like cars; they're necessary, it's always nice to have a newer model, but they're depreciating assessets and the longer you keep them the less you spend in the long run. I also think you need to think about how you use the computer and how going from a portable to a desktop will impact you. I prefer doing most of my real work at a desktop but I have access to a portable as well. I don't use the portable much, but I'd be hard pressed to live with just a desktop if I didn't have access to a portable. As to the merits of the 20" and 24" iMacs there's been lots of discussion. IMO, they are both very nice and I think both LCDs look good straight on. That said, the 24" is not only a larger screen, it's better technology. If you're going for a desktop and have sufficient room I think the 24" is worth the extra money.
  3. BlackMax macrumors 6502a


    Jan 14, 2007
    North Carolina
    I always tend to purchase the most computer I can afford when I buy, but then I end up keeping my computers for 4+ years. So with that thought...

    You didn't mention anything in your requirements about needing to be mobile, so if you "have the money" I say you go for the 24" iMac and enjoy it. Not only is the 24" screen bigger, but it is of better quality too. Also, the 24" will hold its value longer than the 20".

    If you "don't have the money", go with the 20" or stick with what you've got because your MacBook has more than enough power to meet your current needs. Don't worry about what might be coming out in a few weeks or months, because these update cycles never end. Enjoy what you've got until it no longer meets your needs.
  4. FrenchPB thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 15, 2005
    I'm making the move from laptop to desktop because I now have a laptop for work. It's a PC, but it makes me use my MacBook at home only.

    The money argument is not the key factor, even though I'm being very cautious with how I spend my money. I could buy a Mac Pro and a large cinema display, but my needs do not justify such a purchase. I really want to make a smart move.

    Right now, I'm opting for #2, because :

    - having two laptops is not efficient, I'd rather have a good desktop and a laptop when I'm on the move (besides, a laptop takes all the risk, so it's kinda cool that it belongs to my company which could change it if anything goes wrong with it)

    - I'll get the best value from my MacBook if I sell it before the new design comes out

    - my needs do not require too much horse power, but by getting the 20" high-end iMac, I'd still get a much better computer, the possibility to go to 4Go RAM in the future, a much larger HD (I only have 80 on the MacBook), and I would gain in comfort by a large margin with it being a desktop

    - I have a small desk, so the larger screen would look weird, especially since it's in my living room. Besides, I'd sit quite close from the screen.

    Unless you guys think I'm making a mistake, I might go that road :eek:
  5. BlackMax macrumors 6502a


    Jan 14, 2007
    North Carolina
    Whatever works best for you is generally the right decision.
  6. The Hammer macrumors 6502

    The Hammer

    Jun 19, 2008
    Toronto, Canada
  7. tri3limited macrumors 6502

    Jun 5, 2008
    Chucking a bit of a spanner in the works i'd recommend the 2.8Ghz 24" iMac...

    I know, i know i keep pushing you for the 24" even with the small desk but as everyone who owns one has said "you won't regret it"

    I think if you're planning to spend this amount of money on a desktop computer, you will want it to last 3-5 years and i believe that the 2.8Ghz 24" model will deliver that best.

    Would it be worth getting the tape measure out? or visiting an Apple store to see what the difference is? You could then talk it through with a store sales person and get their advice.
  8. passingXstorm macrumors regular

    Jun 5, 2008
    I'd go with option 2. You'd be wasting to much money for the high-end 24". Even the low-end 20" would suit your needs.
  9. FrenchPB thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 15, 2005
    My parents have the 20" alu iMac, which is right in front of me now (I'm spending the weekend at their place). I have to say that it's a great computer, but the downer really is the screen resolution. I feel like I can't put so much more on the screen than what I used to have on my MacBook screen. It's obviously a bigger resolution, but it's not big enough for me to have multiple apps next to each other while working.

    Let's say I'm making a keynote presentation based on a Word document, I basically have to switch from one to the other permanently. I guess I wouldn't have that kind of problem on the 24" screen, which should allow me to have much more screen space.

    Now, my question is, why do you recommend the 2,8 Ghz model ? If I get the 24", shouldn't I be going for the faster processor and the better graphic card ? I know my needs do not ask for so much power, but I don't know about the future.

    If I get the 20", it won't last more than 2 years. If I go for the 24" and put more money on it, it'd have to last at least 3 years.
  10. BlackMax macrumors 6502a


    Jan 14, 2007
    North Carolina
    You will not notice the difference in speed between the 2.8 GHz and the 3.06 GHz, so don't waste your money. Also, you said "no gaming", so you have no need for the better graphics card (NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GS) as the ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO will more than meet all your needs. Again, don't waste your money.

    Get the base model 24-inch, 2.8GHz iMac, enjoy the larger better LCD screen and save ~$350. If you want to upgrade something get a larger hard drive. Then, after you purchase it, if you need to you can bump the memory up to 4GB. Just buy the memory somewhere other than Apple.
  11. nidserz macrumors 6502a


    Mar 28, 2008
    Dubai x Toronto

    i would also go with option #2. i picked up a 20" 2.66ghz iMac this summer even though i could have gotten a mac pro and cinema display. i could have even sufficed with the base 20", but i was convinced for the ATI2600 pro for future (same graphic card in the base 24" 2.8ghz).

    the 24" does have a better screen, but for my needs (similar to yours - browsing, office documents, watching videos) it wasn't worth it as i couldn't tell the difference until i saw them side by side.

    i think for the average user the 20" is plenty and everyone who sees my imac is just in awe with the beautiful screen.

    lastly, you mentioned the 20" will only last you 2 years, however i think it can last a good 3-4 years. however, if you feel the need that the 24" is a neccessity, i would go with the 2.8ghz and save a few bucks and put it towards other goodies.
  12. smoking monkey macrumors 65816

    smoking monkey

    Mar 5, 2008
    You Only Live Twice
    You just answered you own question re 20" imac

    AND there is YOUR ANSWER.

    It seems that what you are really after is screen real estate. And the best computer for your needs is the 24".

    Don't worry about the 24" feeling too big. You will get used to it after a week or two.

    and how small is your desk? my desk is 65cm wide x 71cm deep. and I have a 24" on it with no problems. I got the wireless keyboard and mouse option with it and that made a huge difference! so useful on a smaller desk.

    as to the difference to 3.06 and 2.8.

    sounds to me like you don't need the 3.06 but if you got the money why not.

    i agree that internal HD size is more important. with photo, video files and music files numbering in the 10s of thousands being stored on a home computer it makes sense to get a big HD. also the OS and fellow apps take up an amazing amount of space.

    IF you want to install production suite in it's entirety you will need about 90gig free!

    i got a 750gig hd and now wish I had got the 1T.
  13. FrenchPB thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 15, 2005
    Basically, the only time when I really push my computer to the limit is when I watch very high quality HD videos on my Sony Bravia 32D3000 HDTV via mini-DVI/VGA.

    Videos are sometimes compressed like this :
    Video Codec : 2-pass H.264 (.mp4)
    Video Bitrate : 5065 kbps
    Video Framerate : 59.94 fps
    Resolution : 1280x720
    Audio Codec : AC3; 48000 Hz; stereo; 448 kbps

    I don't do the encoding, but I watch tons of sports videos like those. For that kind of things, what is the most important ?
    - a fast processor
    - more RAM memory
    - or a great video memory ?

    My MacBook cannot play videos of that quality, which is one reason why I am considering getting an iMac.
  14. tri3limited macrumors 6502

    Jun 5, 2008
    Any of the iMacs should do the trick for you here. The processor speed is the main component that affects HD video playback.
  15. Fonzijr1964 macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2008
    Get the 24" 2.8 or 3.06Ghz and be done with it.
    (500GB HDD)

    It will last you a good wile

    all you will need is:
    ~1TB external HDD
    ~Lots of desk space:p

    You will never regret it EVER
  16. AceFernalld macrumors 68000


    Mar 3, 2008
    I choose option #2 for your needs. It seems like the best option for what you need.
  17. FrenchPB thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 15, 2005
  18. paduck macrumors 6502

    Jul 5, 2007
    I would seriously considering going with one of the bottom two 20" iMacs (oops, looks like you already did!). You save a ton of money and you appear to be the sort of person who wants to upgrade frequently, so this will be less of a hit to your wallet. You can get a nice new iMac in three or four years and still come out ahead on cost. Plus, you will have all the new bells and whistles and software.

    If money is no object, then do whatever you want. If it is, you should go lower end because your computer use is simply not pushing the computer, hence no need for a super fast processor. Plus, 20" is a lot of screen real estate compared with a MacBook.

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