Recommendations on used 27" iMacs

imrazor

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 8, 2010
132
40
Dol Amroth
A couple of local deals have come up on used 27" iMacs have come up, and I'm wondering which I should consider. Here are the specs

27" iMac 2009
16GB RAM
i7-860
Radeon 4850 512MB
1TB hard drive

-OR-

27" iMac 2011
8GB RAM
i5-2500S
Radeon 6770M 512MB
1TB hard drive

Believe it or not, the 2009 model is $100 more than the 2011 model. In spite of that, it's more appealing to me for two reasons. The hyper threaded i7 is better for virtualization - not to mention the 16GB of RAM - and the 2009 iMac can be used as a mini-DP monitor for PC gaming.

Are there any other factors I should consider in my buying decision?
 

nambuccaheadsau

macrumors 68000
Oct 19, 2007
1,740
409
Nambucca Heads Australia
If the budget runs to it, consider a 2012 model. They come with USB3, a huge consideration, a better, stronger graphics card, faster memory and if possible avoid the 1TB platter drives. They are like treacle compared to an SSD. Note an SSD can be ran as an external boot drive, and with the 2012 model using USB3 or Thunderbolt, and the 2011 for that matter using Thunderbolt.

The performance is almost as good as an internalSSD without the problem of needing a thermal sensor kit if installed as the internal
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,194
5,543
OP:

As mentioned above, you should not buy any iMac UNLESS it has USB3, at the very least.

Primary reason:
The internal platter-based hard drive is going to be VERY SLOW with any of the modern OS versions. You're not going to like that.

With USB3, you can plug in an EXTERNAL USB3 SSD, set it up to be your "external booter" (this is trivially easy), and enjoy speeds 4x that of an internal platter-based HDD.

If you're in the USA, you should be looking at Apple refurbished iMacs...
 
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imrazor

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 8, 2010
132
40
Dol Amroth
Sadly, anything newer is out of my budget. There is one local deal for a 2013 iMac, but it is over twice as expensive as the 2009 model. For a sense of perspective, I'm used to my old 24" iMac's 2TB 5400 RPM drive.

Money is a very tight, and this will not be a primary computer - it will be used in the bedroom for light usage - media consumption, email, etc. I do know that an SSD will speed up operations considerably, but this does not have to be a lightning fast machine.

How hard is it to take apart either the 2009 or 2011 models and upgrade the hard drive? I have taken apart a 2007 24" iMac before to replace a bad hard drive.

EDIT: Took a quick look at Thunderbolt enclosures and they seemed *very* expensive. Would either of you recommend a 2012 21.5" model? I had wanted the big 27" screen for movies, videos, etc...
 
Last edited:

mbosse

macrumors 6502
Apr 29, 2015
364
88
Vienna, Austria
Sadly, anything newer is out of my budget. There is one local deal for a 2013 iMac, but it is over twice as expensive as the 2009 model. For a sense of perspective, I'm used to my old 24" iMac's 2TB 5400 RPM drive.

Money is a very tight, and this will not be a primary computer - it will be used in the bedroom for light usage - media consumption, email, etc. I do know that an SSD will speed up operations considerably, but this does not have to be a lightning fast machine.

How hard is it to take apart either the 2009 or 2011 models and upgrade the hard drive? I have taken apart a 2007 24" iMac before to replace a bad hard drive.

EDIT: Took a quick look at Thunderbolt enclosures and they seemed *very* expensive. Would either of you recommend a 2012 21.5" model? I had wanted the big 27" screen for movies, videos, etc...
Just take a look at the iFixit guides:
Its of similar difficulty compared to the 24 you have repaired, and easier than a 2012 or newer. I have worked on all of those...

Best,
Magnus
 

imrazor

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 8, 2010
132
40
Dol Amroth
The best deals seem to be available from local sources and there are no Minis for sale that I can find. The 2012 Minis on eBay cost more than I want to spend.