Which iMac for long life but light usage requirements

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by parentaltechsupport, Mar 11, 2019.

  1. parentaltechsupport macrumors newbie

    Mar 11, 2019
    Hi all,

    I hope you can help. I'm trying to help my 70-year-old father get a second-hand iMac.

    His computer needs are writing (he's an aspiring novelist) and internet research and email. He's talking about getting Scrivener but currently uses Word. He's currently using a second-hand 2009 Macbook 13". He's struggling with the screen size and ergonomics and it's a bit sluggish and it 'gets hot'.

    Getting him to change his tech is always a major hassle of setup, and stresses him out, and we don't live in the same city, so ideally we're after something that will see him through at least the next 5 years of this sort of usage.

    We're thinking iMac 21.5", but I'm struggling to narrow down which one. Budget is quite a factor so ideally in the region of £300 to £500 max (UK).

    I'm a MacBook Pro user, so totally out of touch with the changes around iMacs. Is there a resource that summarises what to look for second hand? I've looked around, but don't feel confident with my findings. It seems the mid 2014 ones are to be avoided as they were under powered? I'm seeing lots of 2011 ones available, but am concerned they won't see him through the next 5 years.

    Any help gratefully received!

  2. cb3, Mar 11, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2019

    cb3 macrumors member

    Jun 5, 2017
    The 2015 iMacs have been great for me at work - no problems - knock on wood. I purchased models with SSDs - no hard drives.

    Older iMacs we had in the 2008 - 2012 range we had a few hard drive and video card failures. But very few. like 3 out a 16 machines.
  3. G5isAlive macrumors 6502a

    Aug 28, 2003
    First of all, I would not worry about any particular year model being 'underpowered.' People like to complain. Over and over you will hear people referencing the iPhone 6 'bend gate' as the end of the world. I kept my iPhone 6+ for three years, very happy with it. Apple puts out good products.

    Now, current wisdom is that to make an older machine come alive, or any machine these days, you want an internal SSD, not a HD. Many folks are upset about Apple hanging on to slow internal hard drives.

    Also the good news is, if you are looking at a WORKING older machine, chances are its a survivor and will keep working (except for a standard HD). So I would simply get the most iMac that you can afford. It doesn't have to be complicated. Your father's needs are modest.
  4. MRrainer macrumors 65816

    Aug 8, 2008
    Zurich, Switzerland
  5. ignatius345, Mar 13, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2019

    ignatius345 macrumors 68000

    Aug 20, 2015
    If his Mac is running "hot" take a look at Activity Monitor and see what's up. Even a 2009 MacBook should be able to do some word processing without slowing down unduly. If that was sorted, you could I suspect solve the ergonomic issue with an external keyboard and a laptop stand (or just a pile of books) to get the screen up to eye level. Or plug in a second-hand external monitor, even.

    As for an iMac, unless something is horribly amiss, anything fairly recent should be more than capable of that kind of basic usage. An SSD is nice to have, but since your budget is limited I'd put more priority on the general condition of the machine, and maybe splurging on a nice keyboard since this is a writing machine.

    Also, if you're doing remote "tech support" for an older relative, I very very much recommend installing the free version of TeamViewer on his machine and yours. I keep my 90+ year-old grandparents' Mac running this way and believe me it's a LOT better than trying to patiently talk them through various tasks. I'll literally get calls about Safari being "broken", share their screen and find that a window has been moved partially off the screen or behind another window. Trying to walk them through stuff like that over the phone was a nightmare and taxing to everyone.
  6. hanser macrumors regular

    Aug 29, 2013

    You don´t need Teamviewer, screen sharing works with iMessage, too.

    To the OP: What the others say. At work I have a late 2013 iMac with 256 SSD, it is working perfectly and will probably for many years.
  7. ignatius345, Mar 14, 2019 at 7:56 AM
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019 at 8:23 AM

    ignatius345 macrumors 68000

    Aug 20, 2015
    Sure, but can iMessage screen sharing work with zero intervention from the remote end?
  8. hanser macrumors regular

    Aug 29, 2013
    the other one has only to accept sharing, like with TeamViewer. Very simple, I am using it with my almost 90 yo father.
  9. ignatius345 macrumors 68000

    Aug 20, 2015
    OK, but the remote machine in TeamViewer can accept sharing automatically, no need to click on anything at all. "Very simple" is a moving target when supporting some users, and the ability to get in with zero intervention can be very helpful. I take your point that iMessage can do screen sharing, but "You don't need Teamviewer" is a bit presumptuous, mate.
  10. hanser macrumors regular

    Aug 29, 2013
    sorry, it just was that I found this function in message very recently and was happily surprised that I would not need Teamviewer any more which I found cumbersome and did not like to use. So I thought I would share this. no matter, back to topic. :)
  11. ignatius345 macrumors 68000

    Aug 20, 2015
    Fair enough -- I'd love to switch to iMessage (if nothing else but to close a potential security hole) but... one battle at a time when getting an elderly person to use a Mac :)

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