Sigh. Probably giving up hope on 2012 imac: Help me choose refurb specs?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by staceyneil, Sep 25, 2012.

  1. staceyneil, Sep 25, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2012

    staceyneil macrumors newbie

    Sep 25, 2012
    Hi guys. Like many of you, I have been waiting for the elusive 2012 imac refresh. But I've about given up... have a big job upcoming and my 2006 MacBook Pro is just not gonna cut it. I may give it another week or two, but I'm thinking I may just get a refurnished or Craigslist older one instead.

    A couple of questions I hope you can help with:
    Is there a major reason why a 2010 souped-up model would be a worse choice than a standard 2011 one? In other words, what changed that's WAY better in the 2011 model? (There's a mid 2010 27" i7 2.93 gHz, 8GB, 1TB for sale locally for $1000.)

    If it helps, I was planning on getting a 21.5" standard model if the new ones came out. But I want to spend <$1300 (which is the price on for a refurb 2011 i5 1TB 4GB.

    Also: I need it for graphic design. I understand the HD is tough to change but it's not that hard to add memory... I haven't done that since my old Mac desktop, which was so easy to work on, so I'm kinda nervous... Will I be happy with 4GB, 500GB... or do I really need 8GB/1TB? I'd see myself using this machine for 3-4 years, at least... and I do often have several big programs open at once (Illustrator, InDEsign, Photoshop), so maybe I need more RAM....... how easy it to add myself or should I just pay extra for 8GB right off the bat?

    As far as my useage: Occasionally I work on large trade show photo-montages, which are probably the most difficult to process thing I do. My old MacBook Pro about has a heart attack every time I open a file like that. But mostly we're talking about web design, scanned illustrations being edited in Illustrator, fairly large graphic-heavy print booklet layout jobs in InDesign... stuff like that. But I don't need to do any animation or gaming or movie editing.

    it's really hard to compare the specs of various models when I'm not 100% sure which things affect which type of performance and are more likely to matter to me - I'm hoping you kind folks can help me out!

    Thank you,
  2. 12dylan34 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2009
    I'd go with the 2010 model. Google "geekbench Mac benchmarks" and find the machines in the list to see which one is actually faster processor-wise. I feel like it's probably the 2010 with the i7. Also, it already comes with 8GB of RAM, so that's a plus.
  3. Mike Valmike macrumors 6502a

    Feb 27, 2012
    Chandler, Arizona
    The 2011 can do Airplay mirroring under Mountain Lion, but the 2010 can't. Also there's Thunderbolt, and IIRC the RAM clock is higher (1333 instead of 1066). In each case the 2011 is preferable. If you're already certain to get refurb, you of course will have a limited selection open to you -- I'd take the beefiest 2011 model you're offered.
  4. staceyneil thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 25, 2012
    Thanks, that is pretty interesting. I'm not really sure what the numbers mean, but you are right, the 2010 27" i7 2.93 scores (9123/10556) are higher than the 2011 21.5" i5 2.5 (7241/7970).

  5. The-Pro macrumors 65816

    Dec 2, 2010
    Well for your tasks you won't benefit form the i7 in the 2010 on single bit. The applications are will not be able to make use of 8 cores.

    RAM is seriously cheap nowadays, 2x4GB sticks cost you about 40$. An iMac has four RAM slots, located on the underside of the machine. There are three screws which hold the aluminium covering them up. Unscrew it and you will see two slots used and two free (that is if it has the standard 4GB). Slot the new memory into the empty slots, screw the piece of aluminium back on and your done.
    Apple overcharges for RAM extremely so dont get it through them.

    Despite the 27" i7 having theoretically having too much power for you, its great to have it and for that price its very good. Also you will absolutely love the 27" screen. So much space to work on, much nicer then the 21.5" 8GB all ready installed is great, once you start working on your stuff, open activity monitor and check under the system memory tab how much RAM your using. If you always have no free RAM and lots of page outs it means you need more RAM. Like stated, its cheap-
  6. fastlanephil macrumors 65816


    Nov 17, 2007
    The 2010 27" sounds like it will work for you. A larger screen is always a big plus. I'm not sure if the i7 CPU will be of great benefit to you as it needs multithreading aware applications to be much better than the i5 CPU besides having the 2.93 Ghz speed . Both CPUs are multicore for applications that can use them but the i5 has faster Turbo Boost for applications that only use one core.

    The 2010 27" iMacs can take up to 32GB of memory but you can try eight and bump up to 12 or sixteen if you need to. Use the Apple activity monitor in the utilities folder to monitor your memory usage.
  7. Tankmaze macrumors 68000


    Mar 7, 2012
    2011 have thunderbolt, and can support 2 external monitors easy.

    and 32 GB ram is definitely working for the 2011 iMac, not sure about the 2010 iMac
  8. philipma1957, Sep 25, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2012

    philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    interesting question. I say get this:

    here is my logic.

    2x thunderbolt ports


    the hd 6970m gpu is a very good gpu..

    the i7 cpu is killer.

    this machine will be future proof for years to come.

    I have many long posts on this site about thunderbolt as a boot drive..

    I am typing this on a 2 lacie bd daisy chain with 3x 256gb = raid0 768gb ssd booter and a 1tb hdd in the other slot for backup.

    I laugh at anyone that does not like thunderbolt and owns a desktop. (not mobile users).

    I build 480gb ssd raid0 booters for under 600 even under 500 bucks.

    short cash a 1 drive 240gb booter is around 300

    so this machine and raid0 ssd booter is ff'ing silly good. the 2010 does not give it to you.

    thunderbolt threads

    so 1869 plus 300 for a 1 drive booter or 500 for a raid0 booter and your imac is a killer
  9. The-Pro macrumors 65816

    Dec 2, 2010
    Good advice no doubt, but the OP said he would spend around 1300. 1869 is all ready a lot over that. Just saying
  10. staceyneil thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 25, 2012
    Thanks guys!

    I will have to look up those Thunderbolt threads. That's interesting, though, that the applications I use don't need the i7.

    Philipma1957, thanks for the link to that machine, but it's WAAAAY out of my price range :)

    The guys with the 2010 27" has a bunch of interested parties, so I'd have to decide by the morning. argh. Will look up this Thunderbolt issue after dinner.

    keep the advice coming! Thank you!
  11. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    MISSED the 1300. still thunderbolt and imacs really work well.

    maybe this one at 1469

    the cpu is good not great and the gpu is also good not great. still gives him the 2x thunderbolt option. I can't stress how big thunderbolt can be with an iMac. It is really a stable boot drive if you want. which really opens up the iMac to expansion .
  12. staceyneil thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 25, 2012
    OK, so Thunderbolt is cool and all, but not sure it benefits me all that much. I don't have anything hooked up to my computer other than a printer and an external HD for storage, both of which are several years old (USB 2.0?).

    I'm most interested in speed when I have multiple image-heavy files in multiple applications open and am switching between them and saving.

    Sounds like the memory issue is not a big one at all since even with a base model 4GB I can easily add more myself, correct?

    2010 27" w/1TB HD (Craigslist. Applecare till early 2013) $1000
    2011 21.5" w/500GB HD Apple refurb $1000
    2011 21.5" w/1TB HD Apple refurb $1250

    wait another few weeks and hope for the 2012 refresh?? (at which point I would be buying the base model 21.5 for presumably around $1200.)

  13. mrmarts macrumors 65816

    Feb 6, 2009
    Melbourne Australia
    I have a 2010 model with 8GB of ram and runs great like my macbook retina
  14. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    It's an okay gpu, and it's definitely good enough for the OP's uses. I haven't looked up the OpenCL version supported. Things like fill rates and gaming qualities don't matter at all in the applications cited by the OP. It's pretty much a matter of meeting the OpenGL version requirement. For some gpu accelerated functions to run on the gpu they have a slightly more stringent vram requirement and OpenCL version requirement.

    I know this seems nitpicky, but I caution anyone against saying this. Looking at Apple's history, you can realistically count on 4 years of being supported on the latest OS. What you need to remember is that it's not an issue of raw computation most of the time. Apple tends to drop stuff that doesn't support certain hardware features. A couple things were dropped due to gpu support with mountain lion, but they were basically integrated graphics machines from the time when intel didn't put as much effort into them. Given Apple's heavy focus on OpenCL, that may be another thing that gets some machines in a couple years. It could be OpenCL 1.1 compliant gpu as a hard requirement in some future release. Anyway just don't take anything as a guarantee.

    Once again since the OP mentions Adobe, they tend to pull software support whenever Apple pulls it. They de-supported all machines that didn't make it to mountain lion, although many of them would still be supported under Windows.

    Thunderbolt has some limitations over regular displayport connections. The lacie thing doesn't seem that great unless you're willing to spend quite a lot. I noticed your adjustment to that. I still find thunderbolt to be somewhat of a niche item thus far for desktop users. It is not as fast as some PCI based solutions if you truly require huge amounts of bandwidth. For the users who don't, usb3 peripherals cost less if comparing equivalent items. For the OP's use, I'd really just say overdo the ram and set the allocation generously. Adobe's applications tend to have some measure of memory management in that you can set limits in their preferences. They are all pretty ram hungry. Photoshop and After Effects are the worst in this regard, but considering the cost of ram vs the cost of ssds, it doesn't come out too bad.

    The 2010 isn't a bad option. The really enormous gain from Sandy Bridge was on the lighter end where some machines jumped to quad core cpus. This was also the case with the notebooks. That makes a major difference. The low end models just caught up somewhat. I haven't seen as many newer imacs. The ones I have seen haven't shown as many display issues as some of the older ones. That's a positive thing. Things I still hate are the display is still too glossy. I'm guessing they'll use the same style of laminated polarization if it's feasible on a 27". It works quite well on the rMBP. I will say to upgrade ram. 16GB is well worth it for multiple adobe applications. They have some tuning available in their preferences, and you have to make sure you aren't starving the system by allocating too much of it.
  15. mrjose macrumors newbie

    Sep 25, 2012
    If it were my choice

    For the apps you're considering, I'd buy the one for $999, Applecare for $169, and 8GB RAM from OWC to upgrade it (~$60). (OWC has great youtube videos.) Then you have 3 years warranty in case something goes wrong.

    Having enough RAM is key to running these types of applications. See, which describes a more powerful MacPro. But, it's clear that more RAM is better for Photoshop and other apps dealing with images.!

    If, in the future, the 500GB ends up being too small, the 2011 model allows you to add a Thunderbolt external drive (~$260 for 1TB at current prices).
  16. G-Mo macrumors 6502


    Nov 6, 2010
    Auckland, NZ
    2011 allows you to add a second 2.5" HDD behind the ODD (most people go SSD), 2010 will not.
  17. liudekhua macrumors newbie

    Apr 15, 2011
  18. comatory macrumors 6502a


    Apr 10, 2012
    I'd go with 2010 model.

    Having bigger screen will be bigger benefit than faster CPU/Thunderbolt to you. You sound like you don't care about those features, really. You sound like you really want to buy 27" but want to know opinion.

    Honestly you have a really good deal and if you reserved cash for the entry 21.5", you can now use the saved money to put a lot of RAM into the 2010 machine. Having more RAM will benefit you much more, plus it's cheap.

    Down the road, let's say one year from now, you could choose to have SSD installed in to the machine. Just today I checked with Apple repair center how much they charge for installing SSD (and leaving the HDD inside as secondary drive) - it was around $90 if you bring your own SSD. They add mounting bracket, wires and do all the fiddling around (plus they said I'd get warranty on it).
  19. davidgnomo macrumors 6502a


    Feb 16, 2012
    Imola (BO) - Italy
    I'd wait for the next iMac ... it's imminent !

    :D :D :D :D :D
  20. G-Mo macrumors 6502


    Nov 6, 2010
    Auckland, NZ
    I missed that the 2010 was 27"... I thought it was all 21.5" (it was late!)...
  21. staceyneil, Sep 26, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2012

    staceyneil thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 25, 2012
    G-Mo, Thanks.... so would you change your vote knowing that the 2010 is a 27"?

    My thinking now, after all the GREAT advice from you folks (thanks!) is that these are the variables important to me:

    screen size: I feel like the 27" will be too huge on my little desk, however I thought our TV would be too big and now it feels too small, so I bet I'd feel the same way about this. My eyes are failing badly (only 45 years old!) so maybe the bigger screen would be better... on the other hand even the 21.5" will be a big improvement over my current 15"

    Memory and HD size
    : I can easily/cheaply add RAM, so a 4Gb machine is fine. I can add a thunderbolt drive (easier) or an add'l HD to a 2011 or 2012 (easier) or an additional HD to the 2010. If I find I need it. So that's not a deal breaker either.

    Age re: warranty. Seems more appealing to have 3 years Applecare rather than just the 10 months left on the 2010 Applecare (through August 2010.) But that adds $169 whereas it's included in the 2010.

    Age re: OS and software compatibility
    . Is this an issue at this point? I know I can't run Lion on my current machine because of the Core 2 processor. Do you think that the difference between the 2010, the Sandy Bridge, and the possible Ivy Bridge (if waiting for a 2012 refresh) is still a concern for me in this regard?

    I'm going to the Apple Store this morning to see how I feel about the 27" screen.

    Keep your thoughts coming..... you've all been so helpful!
  22. staceyneil thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 25, 2012
    I am going to meet the guy with the 2010 27" i7 this afternoon.
    Does anyone have any recommendations what I should look for or test on this machine? Any known issues I should check for?
    I'm pretty excited to finally be getting an iMac after 8 months of waiting...
  23. liudekhua macrumors newbie

    Apr 15, 2011
    probably just look out for major scratches on the aluminum or the screen. if it boots fine and the specs are correct from 'about this mac', you should be fine, since it's still covered by apple care.
  24. staceyneil thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 25, 2012

    I bought the 2010 27" iMac! Thanks all for your help. I appreciate your time and advice.

    I am enjoying the 27" but the screen is sooooooo massive. Hoping I'll get used to it!


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