Stock Retina 4k iMac for my Mom... How's the performance?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by DakotaGuy, Sep 14, 2016.

  1. DakotaGuy macrumors 68040

    DakotaGuy

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2002
    Location:
    South Dakota, USA
    #1
    My Mom called me yesterday and was in a panic because her 2008 iMac 20" is starting to die. It's grinding a lot and she is getting beachballs that spin and spin and spin even after restarting. I told her it was probably the hard drive going and it's not worth fixing.

    Anyhow she needs a computer right now so there is no waiting a month or two to see if Apple is coming with something new. She wants me to pick one up at Best Buy and bring it to her. She is 74 years old and the only thing she really does is Internet (she LOVES Facebook and YouTube) and digital photography. She might type a Christmas letter to send out or view pictures. That's about it. So anyhow it's mainly an Internet machine.

    She DOES NOT want a laptop. I think it is sort of her age. Anyhow I read through the 3 different 21.5" options for the iMac at Best Buy (the 2 non Retina and the Retina) and she wants the base Retina 4k with the "dreaded" 5400 RPM HD. Best Buy has it on sale for $1,349. Now I know how an iMac with a stock HD performs and my 2011 with the 7200 is certainly acceptable, but I keep hearing horror stories. How bad do these things really perform? I'd have to think the performance would still be a HUGE step up from her 2008 20" 2.4 Core 2 Duo with 4 GB of RAM.

    She wants the Retina because she thinks it will be easier to read text with her 74 year old eyes. Any truth to this? Anyhow she wants a computer very soon so any opinions would be great. I just want to know if the stock 4k iMac would be a good machine for a light user.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    #2
    Yes the retina is much nicer for text , in fact that's why I love my rMBP so much it's much easier on the eyes more like reading print.

    To be honest you already know the limitations of a hard drive over flash storage nothing we can tell you will change that but wether your mum will notice or care only you can answer. Even the 1TB fusion with your mums usage would make it a far nicer machine I'm sure but that's an issue if you just want to go into a shop and buy.
     
  3. IngerMan macrumors 6502a

    IngerMan

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    Michigan
    #3
    You could save some money and upgrade from the Apple refurbished store.

    Screen Shot 2016-09-14 at 9.18.55 AM.png
     
  4. DakotaGuy thread starter macrumors 68040

    DakotaGuy

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    #4
    She wants the Retina model and looking at the list you posted the refurbished doesn't save a lot.

    I'm sure it will be just fine for her use, but I was just curious if anyone had the stock Retina 21.5" and could comment. I'm sure boot up is slower, but once things are up and running does it perform well? I understand it won't run with a Fusion or SSD model. Thanks for the input.
     
  5. tyche macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2010
    #5
    The base Retina 4k model is fine and will be a huge improvement over the dying computer you have. You don't have to get caught up in incremental upgrade choices.

    An SSD is of course a huge speed boost on new models but other than a web browser and maybe 1 or 2 apps what exactly is the drive doing to require that.
     
  6. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #6
    If you find an iMac with a platter-based HDD that is otherwise acceptable (I'm thinking of the refurbished retina as shown in reply #3 above), you might consider also buying a USB3 SSD that is "plug and go", and set that up to be her boot drive instead.

    They aren't expensive and you could velcro it to the back of the iMac's stand, out of the way.

    Once set up, your mom wouldn't notice that she was using "an external booter", but she WOULD notice that the iMac ran fast and smoothly.

    I'm thinking of something like this:
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00ZTRY532?tag=delt-20

    You could tell her to just ignore the internal drive... ;)
     
  7. tubeexperience, Sep 14, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2016

    tubeexperience macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2016
    #7
    Why didn't you just replace her hard drive in her old iMac with an SSD?
    --- Post Merged, Sep 14, 2016 ---
    You can always replace the internal hard drive with an SSD.

    Crucial MX 300 seems pretty decent.

    The whole process should take 40 minutes:
    https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/iMac+Intel+21.5-Inch+Retina+4K+Display+Hard+Drive+Replacement/64107
     
  8. DakotaGuy thread starter macrumors 68040

    DakotaGuy

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    Jan 14, 2002
    Location:
    South Dakota, USA
    #8
    We'll she's paying for it and wants something new. I think the screen alone will still be a huge upgrade over the 2008 iMac and spinning drive or solid state the Core i5 quad has to move quicker then a vintage 2.4 Core 2 Duo. The other thing is the older iMacs are starting to lose support for the newer MacOS.

    Anyhow I'll just go with it and I'm sure she'll be very happy. Heck I could probably just swap my 2011 iMac with that new Retina 21.5" and she'd never know the difference, but I'd never do that especially to my Mom. :)
     
  9. tubeexperience macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2016
    #9
    I would go with the base model.

    You can also later replace the hard drive on your new iMac with an SSD.

    https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/iMac+Intel+21.5-Inch+Retina+4K+Display+Hard+Drive+Replacement/64107
     
  10. DakotaGuy thread starter macrumors 68040

    DakotaGuy

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    South Dakota, USA
    #10
    I think it will be fine as well. If she had a choice between a Retina 4k display or a faster internal drive she would pick the better display because at her age I think it will be easier to read text.

    Anyhow I'm not sure what to do with that 2008 iMac 2.4 Ghz with the failing drive, but I'll probably just give it away to someone who wants to replace the drive with either a new HD or SSD.
     
  11. saberfi macrumors member

    saberfi

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2015
    #11
    If you love your mother, you won't get her a machine with a standard spinning HDD (ie. what the base model has).

    The fusion drive or let alone pure SSD is a small price to pay for a superior user experience. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise.
     
  12. JEDB macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2016
    #12
    Dunno if my experience could be of any value to you, but I have built an experimental Hackitosh out of some old hardware (O/C Xeon X5650 @ 4.2 Ghz, 24 gb DDR3) and since I had no spare SSD I just used an old WD Scorpio 5400RPM HDD.
    Actually I was surprised on how well it performs!
    Booting times are longer, sure, but once macOS has booted, performance is fine. I also played some Starcraft 2 and loading times were acceptable, frame rates were very good since I have a very first gen Titan inside, but that's another story.
     
  13. DakotaGuy thread starter macrumors 68040

    DakotaGuy

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    South Dakota, USA
    #13
    I love my Mom very much. With that said my 2011 base 2.5 i5 quad with a 7200 HDD and 8 GB of RAM works just fine for browsing, photos, email, MS Office and a few other light tasks. Sure it takes awhile to boot, but once it's up and running it's still pretty quick.

    She wants the Retina for her aging eyes, but she's not going to want to spend anymore for a new computer then the $1,350 I quoted. If the base 21.5" Retina has such poor performance for even a light user then Apple is going backwards because my 2011 is completely fine and fast for a light user.
     
  14. JonnyBlaze macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #14
    Sounds like you're getting the help you need in terms of the iMac. I'll just ask, if you'll permit me, whether you have shown her an iPad? I know you said no laptops, but my grandma (85) is getting annoyed with the screen/slowness etc of her desktop, and when I gave her my iPad to play on for while she loved it. She was expecting it to be a big heavy thing that she wouldn't be able to hold from how I described it to her, but when she got it in her hands she was amazed. The retina screen was the clearest thing she'd seen in years, it was easy for her to use, and she realised she wouldn't have to go to the study every time she wanted to use it.

    Just a thought. Im sure you'll find the right thing for your mom.
     
  15. johannnn macrumors 65816

    johannnn

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    Sweden
    #15
    Please don't buy a computer with a spinning hard drive. Not only is it not an SSD, it's not even 7200 rpm.

    Maybe I missed it, but has she looked at non-retina and retina iMac side by side? I think everyone should do that before they buy either of them.
    Old people normally just want big ass fonts anyway. And screen resolution can be set on all computers.
     
  16. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    Boston
    #16
    Perhaps if she doesn't want to spend the money to upgrade to the SSD, perhaps as a gift you could kick in the price difference.
     
  17. inhalexhale1 macrumors 6502a

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    Location:
    Ridgewood, NJ
    #17
    I just picked one of these up on craigslist for $750 (couldn't believe it). I needed a larger screen for work, but didn't want to buy from Apple with a refresh likely, since I'd go with a top spec 27". My 4K is the stock model.

    After using SSD's for years, the HDD is noticeably slow. It's not as if every single thing I'm doing takes forever, but I've seen my share of beachballs, and it can be annoying. Of course, I'm probably not as annoyed by it since I paid 50% retail and it's not a permanent solution (otherwise I would have put an SSD in myself already).

    Aside from the HDD, the CPU is fine. Intel's graphics are actually quite good. I loaded a game to see how it would do, and it seemed to be about the same as the 750m in my MacBook Pro (and that's at a higher res). Screen is obviously stellar.
     
  18. DakotaGuy thread starter macrumors 68040

    DakotaGuy

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    South Dakota, USA
    #18
    I delivered it to her and it runs surprisingly well. Sure it takes a bit when you boot it up, but once it's running it's quick and smooth without many beachballs. Now I would special order one with a Fusion drive (it should be standard) but for her she is thrilled with it. The display is great even with the text slightly enlarged. Looks smooth and clear.

    I appreciate the input that everyone had. I just wanted to be able to pick up an iMac at Best Buy and take it to her. It's certainly faster then my 2011 even though it has a 5400 drive. I can understand why Apple sells a 1 TB stock in this market because space is more important to these buyers, but a standard fusion drive would be a nice feature.
     
  19. varian55zx macrumors 6502a

    varian55zx

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    San Francisco
    #19
    Perhaps she doesn't know jack about computers and won't understand what an SSD is, or the fact that if you buy a Mac with a pure HDD, under all circumstances, you have wasted your money.

    I'd rather take no computer or a smartphone over a spinning disk monstrosity, but that is because I don't like wasting money.
     
  20. DakotaGuy thread starter macrumors 68040

    DakotaGuy

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    #20
    Says the guy who has one of the biggest monstrosities Apple ever built as an avatar. She's extremely happy and that's all that matters. You aren't using it.
     
  21. varian55zx macrumors 6502a

    varian55zx

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    #21
    Well I'm very happy that she's happy, that is what is important to me too.

    I had thought you were deciding but if the purchase has been made, more power to you!

    And the machine in my avatar is a wonderful machine.
     
  22. DakotaGuy thread starter macrumors 68040

    DakotaGuy

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    South Dakota, USA
    #22
    I got it all set up for her and considering what she does on it it's almost overkill, but she's happy. I was expecting it to feel like a 10 year old machine when people talk about the 5400 HDD, but once booted it flies along. Now that's not an excuse for Apple still peddling base models with standard HHD's in them and hopefully Fusion drives will become standard which should mix SSD speed with the built-in HDD capacity that this market likes.

    I owned a computer like the one in your avatar and if you could live with the "slow as molasses in January" G3 processor and the heat radiating off the small CRT it was an ok machine. The flower power and dalmatian models were an abomination, but the other ones looked ok.

    I find it funny that you would think an old slowly clocked CRT G3 iMac that would grind and grind on it's hard drive to get anything done is a wonderful machine, but you would go computer-less if all you could buy is a new 4K Retina Intel Quad Core with a standard HHD. The logic just doesn't make sense.

    Anyhow she loves it and that's all that matters. I'm not going to argue because what Apple has done or I should say "not done" to their Mac line is a disgrace, but I didn't want to shift her to Windows to get more value in a computer. I got it on sale and she loves the clean crisp text on it even when enlarging it. Have a great day!
     
  23. varian55zx macrumors 6502a

    varian55zx

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    #23
    It's very simple, HDDs were the premier technology at the time, now they are not.

    If you gave me the option of a computer with an HDD in 1998, of course I would take it.

    Now I'd much rather take the SSD, because we have it now.

    That imac is still a beautiful machine. I think the old iMacs, even the candy colored ones, were wonderful.
     

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