Time to upgrade - iMac or Windows PC?

droobage

macrumors newbie
Original poster
May 27, 2009
8
1
TL;DR-- if not new iMac, then what?

Would love some advice from people here. I read through the 23 pages of comments on the article about the recent iMac upgrades, and while there's a lot of complaining on there, there's essentially no "help" or suggestions. So maybe this new thread will be more constructive and useful.

I'm rocking a mid-2009 24" iMac, and with Mojave's release, I finally CAN'T upgrade my OS any more. So I've been anticipating an upgrade for a while now. This machine has served me well, and lasted longer than I ever expected, so I've been happy with it.

But... I'm not an iPhone user, and when I look at https://www.apple.com/imac/macos/ there's a big long list of apps that are unique to Mac that I don't use. Really, the only Mac app that I use is Photos, and it's fine, but I don't love it (I hate how it organizes photo files when I import them, and I hate that after they killed iPhoto, I can no longer have finder open the location of the actual file).

So I have started to consider a Windows machine. All of the things that used to be unique to MacOS, and the reason I bought my iMac 10 years ago, are now all possible on Windows (multiple desktops, QuickView, Mission Control). The main things I do on a computer are also system agnostic (Chrome, Photoshop, Lightroom, Excel).

So after the upgrade, I've done some research to compare a brand new iMac to some of the other All-in-One options out there (I want an AiO... I just like the look and feel on my desk). I was a bit surprised to discover that (at least the machines I found) the iMac wasn't as far behind the crowd as many commenters here lead me to believe. The RAM is not great (8GB), but I can purchase afterward and upgrade myself; and the base HDD is bad, but I would upgrade it to the 2TB Fusion drive, so I'd at least have 128GB of SSD, which is actually somewhat similar to what many Windows machines offer. Anyway, here's the breakdown of the machines I considered:

UpgradeOptions.jpg

(Green = best of the comparison; Yellow = middle; Red = worst)

Each one has pros and cons. The iMac only performs best in regard to the screen. I was surprised to see that it has a better GPU than the Asus and HP. The Dell is fugly and has an old processor, but the best GPU. The Asus is maybe the closest thing to a "winner" but it's not as cut and dry as I thought it would be. And the prices are also a lot closer than I thought they'd be (I thought the iMac would be much more expensive than anything from Windows). After this research, I'm starting to wonder if maybe I just stick with Apple after all, since it'd be the easiest upgrade, and since I trust I can rely on their machines to last a decade.

For all those who are complaining about the new iMac, is there a different AiO that you'd recommend? What would you do?
 

Steve121178

macrumors 603
Apr 13, 2010
5,018
4,056
Bedfordshire, UK
If you are not tied to the Apple ecosystem and your decision is primarily financial, then it's hard to overlook a PC. Having said that, AIO PC's are horrific with crap displays, so you are probably best with the iMac given that it will easily last 6-8+ years. When you look at the cost of the Mac spread out over 6-8+ years, it doesn't seem so bad.

If you have no pressing need to upgrade aside from your Mac not supporting the latest version of macOS I'd be inclined to wait for the redesign. Surely a refresh must be announced later this year as it's long, long, long overdue.
 

dfgddikf

macrumors regular
Sep 10, 2015
126
62
If it has to be a Mac, I'd get a Mac mini with a good 3rd party display.
If Windows is an option, I would definitely not get a prebuilt PC but build my own from parts.
 
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adamk77

macrumors 6502a
Jan 6, 2008
513
149
If it must be an All-in-One then I would go with an iMac. The screen is too good to overlook.

If not, then I would do a PC in a heartbeat but not an AIO. I'd do a Hackintosh. Unfortunately for me, I need Apple hardware for development.
 

macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
10,827
14,067
Central U.S.
With upgradeable RAM and Thunderbolt 3 for expanding fast storage and eGPU the iMac could easily last you much longer than everything else. If you want it to last 8 years or more get a better CPU and at least a smaller SSD (Apple uses about the fastest blades available) and just store your media externally. My buddy is also upgrading from a 2009 iMac to this new model. Macs—especially desktop ones—last a very long time.

Caveat: The one thing that may limit the OS upgradability of this machine in the long-run is a switch to Apple CPUs. That’s the big unknown right now. But Apple hasn’t been adding very many features to macOS lately, so it might not matter much until the security patches stop, which would be a while.
 

Cashmonee

macrumors 65816
May 27, 2006
1,168
832
If you must have an AIO, then honestly the iMac is really the only game in town. PC manufacturers have never really been able to put together a compelling AIO option that legitimately competes with the iMac.

Having said that, if I were you, I would absolutely consider a non-AIO solution. Frankly, AIOs are a compromise in so many ways. They are thermally constrained, not easy to work on, expensive to repair, and rather large paperweights if something major goes wrong out of warranty. With Apple, there is not a ton of choice. If you want a desktop with a dGPU, you can get an iMac, iMac Pro, or Mac Pro. So most of us are stuck, but you have zero reason to use macOS. That means you are free! I wish I had the same freedom! In your shoes, I would be looking at a small tower and a nice display. With a budget of $2000, you could easily get a machine that would absolutely smoke all of the AIOs you listed with a pretty nice display, even if you went prebuilt. Then you would have flexibility to upgrade in many ways. You could add RAM, storage, new GPU, new CPU, dual monitors, whatever you wanted. If I did not need a few Mac-only apps, I would have gone Windows with my last computer purchase.
 
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JohanCruyff

macrumors member
Nov 14, 2007
43
6
Italy
If I decided not to buy an iMac, I would opt for a HP Z2 G4 or a Lenovo P330 Tiny plus an Eizo 27" monitor (VESA Mount, kind of a partially expandable all-in-one).
 

Rockadile

macrumors 6502
Jun 11, 2012
458
178
I'm surprised the Microsoft Surface Studio 2 isn't in your comparison. Have you checked that out?
Its got to be the best PC AIO right now.

If not an AIO, then use a boutique PC building company (Maingear, AVADirect, Digital Storm, etc.) if you don't want to build it yourself.
 

droobage

macrumors newbie
Original poster
May 27, 2009
8
1
Thanks for the replies, everyone. You gave me a lot to think about, and after further research here and researching other manufacturers, I've decided that I'm going to (most likely) stick with iMac.

Based on discussions on other threads, I've decided that rather than upgrade to the 2TB Fusion, I'll go to the 512 SSD. It's more money, but it sounds like it'll probably keep me happier in the long run. And I plan to keep this machine for another decade, so "the long run" is long and important.

I won't be buying until May, so I'm going to keep my eyes peeled for either a screaming deal on the Asus Z272SD (which was the machine I liked most out of the non-iMacs) or for new AiOs that come out from other manufacturers (HP launched one last April, so maybe they'll refresh soon).

In the end, the things that have helped me finally decide to stay with iMac are the longevity of my current machine, combined with the surprising lack of any other manufacturer who seems to care at all about the AiO space. I really thought there would be some better competition out there from a manufacturer who cared more than Apple. But it seems like NOBODY cares about making a good AiO. HP and Dell have surprisingly terrible sites and don't even really try to market their products, or make it clear what they offer or whether I can customize. Asus was the only one close to Apple, and honestly, I really like their machine. But I couldn't find any real, reliable reviews on the web (Amazon has 2, B&H has 3), and since I can't see the machine IRL at a store, it gives me pause. Plus, I don't know how long it'll last...

So! iMac it (probably) is!
 

Rockadile

macrumors 6502
Jun 11, 2012
458
178
Thanks for the replies, everyone. You gave me a lot to think about, and after further research here and researching other manufacturers, I've decided that I'm going to (most likely) stick with iMac.

Based on discussions on other threads, I've decided that rather than upgrade to the 2TB Fusion, I'll go to the 512 SSD. It's more money, but it sounds like it'll probably keep me happier in the long run. And I plan to keep this machine for another decade, so "the long run" is long and important.

I won't be buying until May, so I'm going to keep my eyes peeled for either a screaming deal on the Asus Z272SD (which was the machine I liked most out of the non-iMacs) or for new AiOs that come out from other manufacturers (HP launched one last April, so maybe they'll refresh soon).

In the end, the things that have helped me finally decide to stay with iMac are the longevity of my current machine, combined with the surprising lack of any other manufacturer who seems to care at all about the AiO space. I really thought there would be some better competition out there from a manufacturer who cared more than Apple. But it seems like NOBODY cares about making a good AiO. HP and Dell have surprisingly terrible sites and don't even really try to market their products, or make it clear what they offer or whether I can customize. Asus was the only one close to Apple, and honestly, I really like their machine. But I couldn't find any real, reliable reviews on the web (Amazon has 2, B&H has 3), and since I can't see the machine IRL at a store, it gives me pause. Plus, I don't know how long it'll last...

So! iMac it (probably) is!
What made you pass on the Surface Studio 2?
 

fathergll

macrumors 65816
Sep 3, 2014
1,414
793
As others said Windows AIO are in general horrible. As much as we complain about lack of updates for the iMac it's a different world for Windows AIO. You have no history for any of them and who knows when you will get a new update even if you get a decent one. Besides all of the other pros listed consider if you get an iMac with a SSD you can bootcamp into Windows and that the iMac actual has resale value on the used market.

If you had to go with Windows AIO then a Dell XPS 27 might be a worth while machine assuming Dell updates it this year. Aesthetically not as nice as an iMac but offers an interesting take on AIO(apparently those ugly speakers are actually quite good). Honestly if Dell released a highly speced one I might consider it. Probably not though....


 

fathergll

macrumors 65816
Sep 3, 2014
1,414
793
What made you pass on the Surface Studio 2?

Extremely nice AIO but specs for the price is a killer on the wallet(soldered RAM and a quad core I7). $4200 will get you a quad core I7, 32 GB ram and 1 TB SSD. If they would have at least put in a current CPU at that price it would take some of the sting off. GPU is nice and I love the aspect ratio of the monitor.
 

theluggage

macrumors 601
Jul 29, 2011
4,171
2,879
For all those who are complaining about the new iMac, is there a different AiO that you'd recommend? What would you do?
If you definitely want an all-in-one then I think the 5k iMac is probably still the best - provided you can afford to avoid the rubbish hard drive provision in the base model.

My main dissatisfaction with my current iMac is that I don't really want an all-in-one but doesn't Apple doesn't offer a viable alternative. As an all-in-one, on an "it is what it is" basis, I'm perfectly satisfied with it. If I dump it for a PC it will be because I want to be able to get a regular desktop system so I can choose the exact combination of CPU, GPU, storage and display(s) I prefer, and have space for internal expansion & upgrades.

The Dell XPS was interesting when it came out a few years ago (and seemed to be more upgradeable than the iMac) but it looks as if its gone to seed now. The Surface Studio is a beautiful concept but the price is ridiculous for mediocre (apart from the screen) specs, unless you compare it with an iMac + expensive LCD graphics tablet.
 

macgeek18

macrumors 68000
Sep 8, 2009
1,800
617
Northern California
I had an Inspiron 7775. It was a really nice machine and upgradable. Thermals were an issue though. Cooling that thing would have required a box fan behind it in the long run with the back cover off. iMac is truly the best in the AIO space.
 

familychoice

macrumors member
Mar 5, 2015
44
3
The Dell XPS was interesting when it came out a few years ago (and seemed to be more upgradeable than the iMac) but it looks as if its gone to seed now.
I've had XPS's for years - using one at the moment, that's going on 9 years old that still has all the original components, though it's starting to show signs of wear and tear so I'm looking for a replacement.

I took a look at the Dell site a few days back, and was disappointed to see they don't provide the option to customise a package any longer, and that most ship with a standard HDD.

This, along with the fact I'm not keen on Windows 10 has had me considering an iMac or Mini, though the eye watering upgrade prices have stopped me diving in just yet. Then again, compared to the Surface Pro prices...
 

Rockadile

macrumors 6502
Jun 11, 2012
458
178
AIO to Windows is like cMP to Mac.
[doublepost=1553724205][/doublepost]
Extremely nice AIO but specs for the price is a killer on the wallet(soldered RAM and a quad core I7). $4200 will get you a quad core I7, 32 GB ram and 1 TB SSD. If they would have at least put in a current CPU at that price it would take some of the sting off. GPU is nice and I love the aspect ratio of the monitor.
I assume with the R&D cost and low volume segment, it has to have a higher price. The screen is more ergonomic and practical. Computer system is detached to the base. Microsoft should also sell that screen as a standalone monitor.
 

droobage

macrumors newbie
Original poster
May 27, 2009
8
1
What made you pass on the Surface Studio 2?
As others correctly guessed, yes it was the price. $3500 base was too much for what I need out of my home computer. It looks VERY nice, in about all aspects, but just too much $$!
 

theorist9

macrumors regular
May 28, 2015
148
82
The general rule of thumb, which has applied historically and (IMO) continues to apply today, is that (with a few exceptions, e.g., the MBP's were among first to feature multi-lane PCIe-based SSDs), you don't by a Mac for the computing power, you buy it for the ergonomics, i.e., how easy/comfortable it is to interact with the computer and how much it facilitates your workflow. This in turn comes down mostly to the OS, but also to some of the hardware (e.g., display, keyboard [pre-butterfly], and noise [though they seem to be getting noisier]). That's the paradigm I'd use to make a decision.