New to iMac need advice

SR 7

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Apr 30, 2009
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So I have always had a macbook but I have been thinking about getting an iMac of late.

I think I am leaning towards the 27" 5k Retina display iMac.
What are some key differences between say a late 14' model if I buy it used off ebay for example as opposed to a 15' model? or even 16'?

I don't really game anymore so its more for work or watching a movie once in a while. Just simple everyday use.
 

chscag

macrumors 68040
Feb 17, 2008
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Fort Worth, Texas
There is no 2014 or 2016 model iMac. There is 2013, 2015, and the last one - 2017. Stay away from eBay and instead go to the Apple on line refurbished store and purchase from there instead. A refurbished iMac from Apple will be like new and it will come with a full one year Apple warranty. You can even add Apple Care if you wish.
 

Cruciarius

macrumors member
Aug 18, 2013
84
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Massachusetts
There is no 2014 or 2016 model iMac.
That's strange... my 2014 model iMac is right here in front of me. I can touch it... seems like it exists.

As for eBay and computers, that's up to the buyer. Make sure the seller is trust worthy with stars or whatever the reputation system is. I would check up on frequent issues any of them have you look at. Personally, I'd only ever buy computers from Apple.

The 5K retina is amazing. Highly recommended.

For what's different between models, I'm sure a quick Google search would tell you port differences.
 

theluggage

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Jul 29, 2011
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What are some key differences between say a late 14' model if I buy it used off ebay for example as opposed to a 15' model? or even 16'?
Here's a useful resource for looking up the specs of historical Mac models:

https://everymac.com/systems/apple/imac/index-imac.html

Essentially, though, apart from incremental CPU/GPU improvements:
"Late 2014" = appearance of the 5k display
"Late 2015" = improved wide-gamut P3 5k display
"Mid 2017" = brighter display, 2xTB2/MiniDP ports replaced by 2xTB3/USB-C (...and in a sudden outbreak of common sense they kept the Ethernet, USB-A ports and SD card slot - woohoo!)
"Late 2018" = suffering from inexcusable lack of existence, when it would really, really have benefitted from the extra cores in 8th-gen processors.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
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Get an Apple-refurbished 2017 5k 27" iMac from Apple's online refurbished store.
You get the full 1-year warranty and you could even buy AppleCare for it, if you wish.

The 27" iMacs have user-upgradeable RAM that is easily accessed through a door on the back.

IMPORTANT:
I would recommend that you get one with an SSD drive and NOT WITH a "fusion" drive.
The SSD will run faster, and keep the Mac in top running shape for LONGER.

A 512gb SSD is fine, but even a 256 will do well enough.
If you need more "storage space", just plug in a USB3 drive (either a platter-based drive or an SSD).
 

SR 7

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Original poster
Apr 30, 2009
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1) they all say "fusion" I have yet to come across one with SATA.
2) Mac Refurb store is still too much for me. I don't really want to spend $1800.
3) I am assuming based on the information above that the 15' model has a better screen then the 14' model and the 17' would have the best screen of the 3?
 

_.adamjames._

macrumors newbie
May 24, 2018
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Internally, it depends on the iMac itself as to which is better, as some users tend to spec up their Macs when purchasing them. As well as this there were two released in 2015. The Mid 2015 actually had lower specs than the late 2014 27” iMac. Whereas the Late 2015 improved upon both those with the next generation of Intel CPUs and improved GPUs. The same again in 2017 with the CPU and GPU improving upon that of the Late 2015 iMac.

As ‘theluggage’ has said tho, the main differences are the wider P3 colour gamut introduced in Late 2015, along with slightly faster faster RAM (1867MHz vs the earlier 1600MHz). Then in late 2017 the Bluetooth was upgraded to 4.2, the Mini DisplayPorts/Thunderbolt 2 changed to USB Type C/Thunderbolt 3 ports, and the RAM upgraded to 2400MHz.

Yes, you are right in saying that the Late ‘15 has a better screen than the Mid ‘15 and Late ‘14. However the only difference between the screens on the Late ‘15 and Mid ‘17 is the brightness.

So unless brightness, USB Type C and faster RAM is a big dealbreaker for you, I wouldn’t break your budget by stretching to a 2017 iMac.

Also, depending on how technically minded you are, if you cannot find the iMac you’re looking for with an SSD fitted, you can always swap out the Fusion drive for an SSD yourself. There are quite a few forum posts, sites and videos instructing on how to do this.

Hope this helps,

AJ
 
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theluggage

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1) they all say "fusion" I have yet to come across one with SATA.
2) Mac Refurb store is still too much for me. I don't really want to spend $1800.
3) I am assuming based on the information above that the 15' model has a better screen then the 14' model and the 17' would have the best screen of the 3?
If you can't find an all-SSD iMac on your budget, and/or like the idea of having plenty of internal storage, the 2-3TB "Fusion" models might be worth considering - they have a fairly generous 128GB SSD component which ought to be big enough for your OS, Apps and temp files. The real catch is with the 1TB "fusion" models - sometime around mid-2015 Apple hit the iMac with the scrooge stick and quietly reduced the SSD part of the 1TB fusion from 128GB to a measly 32GB.

Basically - get a 256 or 512GB SSD if possible, consider the 2-3TB "fusion" as a possible compromise, avoid 1TB fusion and run, don't walk, away from the models that just had a regular 1TB hard drive.

As for the screen - the big difference is probably "Late 2015' when the wide-gamut P3 display was introduced, which makes a significant difference to the colour reproduction. The 2017 is mainly just brighter.
 
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BluefinTuna

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Feb 10, 2019
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Mac Refurb store is still too much for me. I don't really want to spend $1800.
I find it silly to buy a refurbished Apple computer from the Apple store because you're only saving 15%. Plus you have to pay tax on that. I simply go to eBay and find exactly what I want for much less. It might take some time and research but it's worth it. Last weekend I bought a late 2015 iMac 21.5" with every option upgraded to the max. This includes a 3.3 GHz i7, 16 GB's of ram and a 500 GB SSD (from Apple). Plus it still has two months of Applecare left. All for just under $1,000 with shipping included.

I would avoid any non SSD iMac. Nor would I touch the user installed SSD iMac's because you never know how careful the previous owner was. Stay away from the big resellers too. That narrows down your options because most older iMacs have standard or fusion drives and will be sold by eBay stores. However, if you're willing to put in the time you'll save a lot of money using eBay. It's just like buying a car. You want to buy from a person that actually used the computer and took care of it.
 
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SR 7

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Apr 30, 2009
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If you can't find an all-SSD iMac on your budget, and/or like the idea of having plenty of internal storage, the 2-3TB "Fusion" models might be worth considering - they have a fairly generous 128GB SSD component which ought to be big enough for your OS, Apps and temp files. The real catch is with the 1TB "fusion" models - sometime around mid-2015 Apple hit the iMac with the scrooge stick and quietly reduced the SSD part of the 1TB fusion from 128GB to a measly 32GB.

Basically - get a 256 or 512GB SSD if possible, consider the 2-3TB "fusion" as a possible compromise, avoid 1TB fusion and run, don't walk, away from the models that just had a regular 1TB hard drive.

As for the screen - the big difference is probably "Late 2015' when the wide-gamut P3 display was introduced, which makes a significant difference to the colour reproduction. The 2017 is mainly just brighter.
So as you and Adam James mentioned, it appears the late 15' is the best bang for the buck.
99% of the iMac i have found have the 1tb fusion drive. if you are telling me to run from these then what is my next option? Buy this and upgrade down the road or not even buy this until I somehow find one without the 1TB fusion drive?

If it comes with the 1TB drive, is there anything else that is different with this model which is why you say run from this or is it just the HD that is different?
 

Glockworkorange

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Feb 10, 2015
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There is no 2014 or 2016 model iMac. There is 2013, 2015, and the last one - 2017. Stay away from eBay and instead go to the Apple on line refurbished store and purchase from there instead. A refurbished iMac from Apple will be like new and it will come with a full one year Apple warranty. You can even add Apple Care if you wish.
Inaccurate. The original 5K was 2014. Not to be too nit-picky....
 

theluggage

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Jul 29, 2011
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If it comes with the 1TB drive, is there anything else that is different with this model which is why you say run from this or is it just the HD that is different?
You need to look at something like the Everymac.com page I linked to for all the details of CPU options etc. The "Gotchas" are the "Late 2015" models with the 1TB Fusion drive that only have a 24GB SSD component and the "Mid 2015" model which is actually just an economy version of the 2014 model. The 1TB HD-only models are what they are - they'll feel awfully sluggish if you're used to an SSD.

99% of the iMac i have found have the 1tb fusion drive. if you are telling me to run from these then what is my next option?
Well, maybe allow for bit of hyperbole. Personally, in 2019, I wouldn't consider a new or good-quality-used computer that didn't have a pure SSD as the primary drive (the fact that there are so many of the 1TB fusion machines for sale should tell you something) - I'd wait/save up if possible rather than blow precious cash on something mediocre. Its up to you to interpret that in the context of your budget, and the urgency with which you need a new computer.

If you get a 1TB fusion model then your options are:
1. make do and see how it performs with your workflow.
2. get an external Thunderbolt (preferable) or USB-C ssd and make that your boot drive
3. upgrade the SSD blade and/or replace the HD with a SATA SSD - this involves opening up the iMac - which is well documented but maybe not for the faint-hearted and, of course, if it breaks you get to keep both halves.

...a bit of googling will give you a lot of information and how-to guides on these options. The everymac page has links to companies selling upgrade kits.
 

Glockworkorange

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Feb 10, 2015
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If you can afford it, I suggest the SSD. If not, I would not buy a fusion drive less than 2 TB, because the 2TB and 3TB come with 128 GB SSD.

My first 5K was a 2014 base model with 1 TB spinner and 128 GB SSD. They stopped including such a larger SSD with the entry level spinners in 2015.

If you can live with your OS and most of your daily apps on 128, you should be okay with a 2 TB fusion drive if a pure SSD is not an option for cost or supply reasons.

The 5K's are great machines, however. Strongly recommended.
 
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