Refurb'd iMac preferable to new, for user who likes to tinker?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by LolaBooth, Mar 26, 2013.

  1. LolaBooth macrumors newbie

    Nov 5, 2012
    Hiya I would like some advice about a desktop computer for home. My current set-up is a late 2008 aluminum macbook. I recently installed a bigger hard drive and more ram, taking it to 750 GB and 8GB respectively.

    So, I am not afraid to tinker. I got a real kick out of updating my MB, took me back many years to the time I first cracked the case on my Mac SE to add two 256 MB ram chips!

    All this to say, I kinda like the idea of being able to update my computer, rather than replace it.

    That being said, I am wanting a desktop machine. I can afford the latest whiz-bang iMac, but my research suggests that they are not as readily customizable as I might like. Is that correct?

    My inclination is to buy a refurbished 21.5" iMac from Apple. Would the 2011 spec be more adaptable than the 2012?

    I spend a lot of time on the computer, but never doing anything particularly taxing -- browsing, itunes and iphoto, and updating my websites.

    I would appreciate any advice. Thanks.
  2. iSayuSay macrumors 68040


    Feb 6, 2011
    iMac 2009 - 2011 has heat problems affecting the screen, HDD, or even any other failures.

    I am one of the victim of 2011 iMac (screen had been dirty after many times and replacements). Luckily Apple has replaced my machine with the new 2012 iMac and all I can tell is, yes it's less upgradeable (even by DIY methods). But it runs cooler, much much cooler than previous gens iMac.

    Need more time to prove it, but I think 2012 iMac is a great machine and more trouble free. Get the new 27" and you'll still get accessible RAM slots just like it used to.
  3. Andrew*Debbie, Mar 26, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2013

    Andrew*Debbie macrumors member

    Nov 6, 2010
    North Wales, United Kingdom
    Easy enough to install more RAM on the new 27" iMac.

    At the moment I've got a brand new iMac 13,2 and an mid-2010 iMac sitting on my desk.

    The late 2012 is much better. But upgrading anything besides the RAM isn't easy. I'm not about to attempt it.

    If you really like to swap in hardware updates maybe you'd be happier with a refurbished MacPro???
  4. forty2j macrumors 68030


    Jul 11, 2008
    How desperate are you? The Mac Pro is the official "tinkerer's" Mac, and we're expecting Apple to say something about the next version/replacement in June. (No guarantees here but it's way overdue and makes a great WWDC topic.)

    With sufficient skill and patience, you can take a 2012 iMac apart and put it back together, but there isn't much interesting to do while you're inside. Install your own blade SSD? Replace the 3.5" HDD with your favorite brand or another SSD? Swap the CPU for anything else that fits the socket? That's about it.
  5. LolaBooth thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 5, 2012
    I didn't know about the heat problems, that is helpful. And pleased to hear you are happy with your 2012 iSayuSay.

    And thanks for pointing out I can access the RAM on a 2012 iSayuSay and Andrew*Debbie.

    forty2j that's a good point, what exactly do I need to swap out?

    Are there any serious downsides of the 2012? There's no Superdrive, is there?
  6. HenryDJP macrumors 603

    Nov 25, 2012
    United States
    As an owner of a 2011 iMac I can honestly tell you to go ahead and get one of the new 2012 models. I love mine and I have zero issues with it, but these generations of iMacs 2007-2012 aren't really "tinker's machines". Most people don't generally upgrade their iMac because the hard drive is outdated, it's usually something you (as the user) can't replace (or easily replace) such as the CPU or the GPU or even the screens. If it's basically about storage and ram solutions for you, you can get an SSD external and just max out the ram on any of these Macs with an i7 CPU and you'll have a very fast and updated computer. Tinkering CAN lead to a voided warranty on an iMac, just sayin'.
  7. LolaBooth thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 5, 2012
    Thanks Henry. When I say "tinker" I mean RAM and hard drive, so ya, that's what I was getting at.

    So how do you get CDs into your itunes library on the 2012 iMac? External drive, I presume? If so, that seems awfully inelegant.
  8. Andrew*Debbie macrumors member

    Nov 6, 2010
    North Wales, United Kingdom

    No there isn't but I don't see that as a serious downside. If you only need one occasionally you can share from another Mac. Apple sells an external. Many 3rd party drives work too.

    Optical drives aren't as necessary as they used to be.

    Adobe now offers all of CS6 as cloud subscription.
    I installed a legal copy of Office from a disk image on a memory stick. I don't know if that is available without a site license. At least not yet.

    There is a USB key for X-Plane 10. No need for a DVD drive to play.


    I've got my existing CD library on a 1TB external drive. I haven't bought a CD in years.

    I get new music from iTunes, NoiseTrade or directly from the artist's website.

    We did get an external superdrive with our 27" iMac. I haven't opened the box yet. Might not need it at all. We'll see.
  9. LolaBooth thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 5, 2012
    How interesting, all the work-arounds available for not having a disc reader.


    Gonna have to think about this.
  10. FreemanW macrumors 6502

    Sep 10, 2012
    The Real Northern California
    I thought tinker was why there are Windows computers.

    You get the opportunity to tinker whether you want to or not. :D

    Seriously, you would love the new iMac and wonder why you felt the need to tinker in the first place.

    If it is in your bones, wait for the new Mac Pro and have at it. Keep in mind that no one has the slightest clue about the new Mac Pro and what type of case/design/form it may take; at least, no one that might know is talking.

    Unless the coming product refresh take a drastic departure on form, the Mac Pro is your chance to open a computer case and tinker.
  11. LolaBooth thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 5, 2012
    Ha, Windows, good one!

    I guess I have been lucky, choosing a computer with relative staying power for the tasks I require. And then either adding RAM or hard drive to extend usefulness, or getting a new one.

    Perhaps I need to look again at this latest crop of iMacs.
  12. Andrew*Debbie macrumors member

    Nov 6, 2010
    North Wales, United Kingdom
    You could always build a Hackintosh.

    That gives you the all the tinkering options that come with a DIY Windows PC along with as much instability as you might wish for.

    If you want to use a computer get a new iMac.
  13. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    If you haven't already, why not browse the repair manuals at Those will give you a great idea of the kind of tinkering that's possible with each model.

    Personally? I really don't mind having a machine that has little or no need for tinkering (or is tinker-resistant). Been there, done that, for far too many years.

    The previous iMacs are eminently more repairable than the current model, but you also have greater likelihood of needing to repair the older models. In my experience, the optical drive is most likely to be the first thing to go (I don't count RAM upgrades as tinkering), so I think Apple's right to move the (optional) optical drive outside the machine. The money saved by non-tinkerers on repair labor (and Apple's costs for in-warranty repairs) is going to be substantial, and considering the small price gap between the internal replacement part and an outboard drive? Buy one or two specialized tools (like good suction cups) and any savings evaporate. Even tinkerers have been known to replace a bad internal optical drive with an external.

    Is a Mac Pro (or Windows tower) a tinkerer's machine? As far as I'm concerned, only if you have to replace the power supply or motherboard. Otherwise? Slapping in a new drive or PCI card seems too easy with those babies. ;) The fun for me on a Mac Pro is simply admiring the build of that chassis!

    Laptops are far more challenging (it's nice when you can strip one down to bare bones, put it back together, and not have any screws left over).
  14. LolaBooth thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 5, 2012
    Very good points. I don't think I want to build anything.

    Thanks everyone for your input and opinions. It's very helpful to hear such good feedback on the latest iMacs. And to learn that if I want to upgrade the RAM, for example, it's no biggie.

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