What questions should I ask buying used iMac?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by altabear, Feb 14, 2017.

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  1. altabear macrumors newbie

    altabear

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2015
    Location:
    Edmonton, Canada
    #1
    I came across a previously owned iMac at a local store and they're selling it for a good price. It's 27" with 1TB drive, spotless and appears to be in good condition.

    It has the latest OS installed and running. We turned it on and I looked at the "about this MAC" section.

    As far as I can figure, are these the questions I should be asking?

    • what "season" was it from?
    • what type of RAM is required (it shows 4 slots, only 2 used, each with 4gb) * when you want more ram, do you have to take the whole machine into an Apple store?
    • do I need to examine the bottom to see if there is a usb port and internet (cat5) port?
    • try a cd in the drive of course

    *Apple has removed the "activation lock" checking page recently. At the store, we logged on using the store's user id and pw and that worked. Once logged on can I just add myself as a user/admin and then remove them?

    I am hoping that some of the knowledgeable Mac experts on here might have some advice?

    Thanks

    David
     
  2. Fancuku macrumors 6502a

    Fancuku

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2015
    Location:
    PA, USA
    #2
    About this Mac should tell you what model year it is. Since you mentioned it has a DVD/CD drive it means it's a pre-2012 model.

    RAM will likely be 1333MHz or 1600MHz. No you don't have to take the machine to Apple to add more RAM. The access to RAM is on the back and is easy to get to.
     
  3. MarvinHC macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2014
    Location:
    Shanghai, PRC
    #3
    The fact that only two of the RAM slots are used is good news, makes it easier to upgrade (often you will find 4 x 2 GB inside). RAM is fairly cheap so you can buy 2 x 4GB or 2 x 8 GB to get to 16GB/24GB. As mentioned above the upgrade is easy, just requires a Philips screwdriver.

    Things I would check:
    • what version is it? I personally would avoid any with discrete GPU since they seem to cause more trouble when getting older
    • take the serialnumber and go to http://www.appleserialnumberinfo.com/Desktop/index.php to confirm the specs (what is written in the 'about this Mac' section can be overwritten reasonably easily if one wants to trick a buyer)
    • ask if the harddrive is the original one. Often, when replaced, a non-Apple HD is used (cheaper) which will result in an error because of the missing temperature sensor. This can be fixed via software (for example mac fancontrol) but is a (small) downside that should be reflected in the price
    • run the built in diagnostics - hold D or command-D (depending on the model) to get there, then the mac will run a series of hardware tests by itself, so this will give you further peace of mind if it results in no errors found
    • not sure about your question regarding ports? They are all situated on the back side of the iMac on the right side (looking at it from the front). If it is 2011 or earlier the USB ports are unfortunately only 2.0.
    • Activation lock is not an issue on a Mac. What you want to make sure is that there is no firmware password set. You can find this out when starting in recovery mode.
     
  4. varian55zx macrumors 6502a

    varian55zx

    Joined:
    May 10, 2012
    Location:
    San Francisco
    #4
    "Does it even work?"

    :p

    Haha. I don't know of many but I would say to run the Apple diagnostics test, and check for UI lag. The UI lag makes them unusable so you want to make sure to not get stuck with one of those. GPU is a big factor in the 27 inch models.
     
  5. briloronmacrumo macrumors 6502

    briloronmacrumo

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2008
    Location:
    USA
    #5
    This can happen but not if an OWC( or similar ) sensor is used with the replacement HDD or SSD.
    If the machine does have its own GPU, ask if it has been replaced. Ask them if new thermal paste is part of their refurbishment process.

    Once you find out exactly which model/year iMac, go to the online resellers and find out how much they offer ( free quotes online for Gazelle.com and others ). This will give you some idea how much price wiggle room the seller has ( of course, they might have invested time/money, so ask about that too ) assuming their machine was acquired for approximately the same price.
     
  6. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #6
    "Has it been apart?"

    If the answer is yes:
    "What did you do to it?"
    "Does everything still work?"

    "Has the RAM been changed?"

    If the answer is yes:
    "Do you still have the original RAM?"

    "Will you offer any kind of warranty?" (even 30 days)

    A 27" iMac won't have a CD drive.
    It WILL have both ethernet and USB3.

    If it's in a store, have them boot it up and leave it on for a while.
    If possible, try Safari.
    Try a few other apps.
     
  7. altabear thread starter macrumors newbie

    altabear

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2015
    Location:
    Edmonton, Canada
    #7

    Thanks for the info!

    I found out that it's a "late 2009" model. woth 1067MHz DDR3

    I'm a power-user developer/software dev on my Windows machine, but would appreciate the convenience of my iPhone, iPad, Macbook Pro being all in sync with my home desktop, so it seemed that an iMac might fit the bill.
    --- Post Merged, Feb 15, 2017 ---
    Thanks for all that information! Particularly the serial number check - it got this info:

    iMac "Core 2 Duo" 3.06 27-Inch (Late 2009) 3.06 GHz Core 2 Duo (E7600)

    Intro.: October 20, 2009 Disc. July 27, 2010
    Model: A1312 (EMC 2309)
    Family: Late 2009
    ID: iMac10,1
    RAM 4 GB
    VRAM 256 MB
    Storage 1 TB (7200 RPM) Optical 8X DL "SuperDrive"
    Complete iMac "Core 2 Duo" 3.06 27-Inch (Late 2009) Specs

    If the above looks decent for what he's selling it for ($800) then I will try the diagnostics that you kindly mentioned.
    --- Post Merged, Feb 15, 2017 ---

    Hey thanks - I'll arrange to play with it for a while and check that out. Also the diagnostics test.
    --- Post Merged, Feb 15, 2017 ---
    Thanks for that information - at it happens it's a 2009 iMac, with CD drive. It was on at the store for about 10 minutes, but I'll take your advice and do some youtube / intensive stuff. Appreciate your info.
     
  8. briloronmacrumo macrumors 6502

    briloronmacrumo

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2008
    Location:
    USA
    #8
    Gazelle.com purchases this model for $233, so $800 sounds like a high price unless new hardware has been added. A 1 TB HDD and 4 GB of RAM is very minimalist these days and I would consider it under-powered for the development work you mentioned. [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  9. Zobrien macrumors member

    Zobrien

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2017
    Location:
    Tennessee
    #9
    DONT purchase it if it's $800. You can get a used 2011ish one with higher end specs for that much.
     
  10. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #10
    Agree with Zobrien above.
    Take your money elsewhere!
     
  11. Fancuku macrumors 6502a

    Fancuku

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2015
    Location:
    PA, USA
    #11
    Yuck, that's a $300 machine at best. $800 gets you 2012 i7 model.
     
  12. nambuccaheadsau macrumors 6502a

    nambuccaheadsau

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2007
    Location:
    Nambucca Heads Australia
    #12
    Just give it a miss at eight years old for a software developer.

    In your Windows spot, would you go back to say a machine that can run Vista?
     
  13. MarvinHC macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2014
    Location:
    Shanghai, PRC
    #13
    27" does have a DVD drive (up to model year 2011) and it will NOT have USB3 if it is 2011 or older.
    Of course either one will have ethernet.

    To the OP: I would not go any older than 2010, the core2duo is really too outdated now. For that spec I would pay a max of 300-400 USD if you still consider, 800 is a joke.
     
  14. varian55zx macrumors 6502a

    varian55zx

    Joined:
    May 10, 2012
    Location:
    San Francisco
    #14
    You certainly should.

    Unlike the "golden age" of Macs, somewhere around 2007-2008, many of the Macs being put out now don't work properly out of the box.

    I originally had an M380 27 inch iMac and it was an embarrassment.

    The graphics card is one of the worst on the market, so the UI lag was so extreme the machine wasn't usable (by my standard).

    I promptly sold the overpriced paperweight on Craigslist (for almost the same price as I got it for).

    The buyer ran Apple diagnostics but he didn't seem too savvy on the graphics card side of things. Needless to say this benefitted me, but he made a terrible, terrible purchase that day.

    I recommend no less than the M395 (due to the minor price difference between the M390 and 95).
     
  15. Spudlicious macrumors 6502

    Spudlicious

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2015
    Location:
    Bedfordshire, England
    #15
    A knowledgeable and helpful answer :)
     

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