Which iMac should I purchase for the following kind of use?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by zachlegomaniac, Feb 17, 2011.

  1. zachlegomaniac macrumors 6502a


    Sep 20, 2008
    Hi MR,

    So I'm going to pull the trigger and get a 27" iMac for my new business since spending large amounts of time (now) behind the 13" screen on my 2008 MacBook (originally intended for light, personal use) is driving me NuTs, and I guess I could use some more muscle than what my current machine provides. Plus, this waiting for a refresh thing just isn't working anymore.

    I use Quickbooks, MS Office for Mac, light photo editing, web browsing, and etc. right now. Really nothing heavy. I might purchase and run AutoCad somewhere down the road (anywhere from a year to three, depending on demand), but if that becomes a factor I would just sell my hardware and purchase a top-of-the-line computer at that point.

    That being said, should I buy a refurb? Also, should I go for an i3, i5, or i7? I'm assuming I don't need a SSD at this point. Everybody talks about "future proofing." That is my main concern, I guess. If I get an i3 will I regret it in a year or two? When I purchased this late '08 Aluminum MacBook, I opted for a setup with a little more power than I needed, and it's still going strong today (once I get the iMac the MB will come out into the field with me).

    Also, with the refurbs you can't get a rebate/deal on new printers, correct? I have my Cannon MP620 beside me and could sell it for ~$100 + rebate, and upgrade if I purchased new and print my own letterhead. There's an Apple store down the street from me here.

    I would love to hear your advice prior to my purchase, and thank you for your time.
  2. zachlegomaniac thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Sep 20, 2008

    sorry, how do i move this thread to buying tips and advice? my bad.
  3. biggd macrumors 6502


    Apr 6, 2008
    If it's a business expense, write it off
    Buy the most expensive you can, a few hundred $ may make the machine usable for a few more years. If it's usable for a few more years, that means you won't need to rebuy all that expensive software again either.
  4. guitardave62000 macrumors regular

    Oct 2, 2008
    If you go with a refurb you CAN still get the rebate for the printer, I just did it when I got my macbook air
  5. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    Don't obsess over it too much. You're probably going to end up with a new computer in the not too distant future under almost any set of circumstances. The best future-proofing is to save money now so you can spend it later; that gives you the most flexibility.

    I love the refurbs; bought tons of stuff from the Apple Store as refurbs over the years and never had a problem. Same warranty, and if you are paranoid buy more Apple Care coverage. Just got an I3 27" there, a very good deal. My uses are very similar to yours.

    It sounds like you don't need much in the way of pure processor speed, so the I3 would probably be enough. Use the money you save and get a second monitor; at work and even at home I find the increase in work productivity that comes from a second monitor to be the best investment I've made. You don't have to wait for windows to open if you can leave a whole bunch in view all the time. That works much better for me than a faster processor, even with a 27" iMac.

  6. jonnymo5 macrumors 6502

    Jan 21, 2008
    I would go with the i5.

    Choosing between the dual core or quad core would depend on how much photo editing you do and if you plan to do any auto-cad on the machine. The dual will be faster in every day single threaded applications while the quad will be faster if you do any image processing.

    No matter which 27" you get I think it will serve your purpose.
  7. zachlegomaniac thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Sep 20, 2008
    The best advice I've gotten so far over the past year was from a client who operates a large, established business himself, and that was to not over think my decisions too much as there would be always be many to make.

    That being said, I appreciate the advice of folks more familiar with this line of computers in particular. I think it's good to not over think things, but also to make informed decisions.

    It appears that the refurb is the best way to go, regardless, and it looks like they ship quickly. Has anyone purchased a refurb and got it within, say, a week?

    Also, if I do get a second monitor, are the cinema displays similar to the 27" iMac monitors?

    Thank you.
  8. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    My opinion: the only reason you should not buy a refurb is if you are doing a build-to-order machine.

    That being said, if you're going to use Office, and certainly if you're going to use AutoCAD, I would want the larger screen.

    You described your use as "nothing heavy," and I agree - until you mentioned AutoCAD. If you think you might use that, buy the biggest and baddest iMac you can, and buy it now - otherwise, an i3 should keep you happy for quite a long time.
  9. zachlegomaniac thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Sep 20, 2008
    Yes, the AutoCad probably won't be purchased this year, and when it is my business will have to be large enough to warrant another iMac. It would be great if it happened this year, but of course I can't forecast that with only one year behind me now.

    My inclination (of course) is to just get the craziest iMac Apple has to offer, but for my current uses (stated above) I probably wouldn't even notice a difference over the next few years.
  10. MacSignal macrumors regular

    May 8, 2010
    You will notice a difference between the i3 and i5 or i7. Right away. Doing trivial work (or play). The i3 would work well enough for your immediate needs, but you would still notice that the i5 or i7 is more responsive.

    From that perspective, an i3 iMac will meet your needs, but you will still notice (and probably enjoy) that a i5 or i7 machine is quicker. But if you go with the faster processors, do it because you will enjoy it (or just want it). IMO, the money spent paying for premium upgrades to "future proof" is usually better spent on the getting a newer machine sooner than later.

    Good luck!
  11. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    In most cases the performance difference perceived between the processors doing trivial things is almost zero. There may be a bit of a placebo effect, but the overall feel of the computer is going to be essentially the same. However there is a noticeable difference in loading times and overall feel of the computer with an SSD, as the bottleneck of operation is the hard drive.

    I'd suggest the i3 model in fact, although I'd go with the extra power of an i5 for extensive AutoCAD use in the future
  12. Tailpike1153 macrumors 6502a


    Aug 31, 2004
    Bellevue, WA
    spend the money

    Thought I bought a moderately price 24" Aluminum back in 2007. I spent money to max out the RAM in 3 months and after 6 months, my first hard drive upgrade. I thought I was being economical. BTW. don't forget your backup drive/array. Those Time machine backups seem to fillup faster than all brass. A couple of TB should be good for your business.
  13. TheNakedMan macrumors member

    May 20, 2007
  14. zachlegomaniac thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Sep 20, 2008
    good point, and on an unrelated topic: you have the best username ever IMHO.
  15. MacAndMic macrumors 6502

    Jun 4, 2009
    What kind of business are you starting that you may need AutoCAD a year or so down the road? Is it a CAD based business and you are running on another CAD suite?

    I own a company where I draft and develop add-ons with AutoCAD and am running an i7 2.93 with 12gb of ram. This machine crushes AutoCAD 09, 10, 11, Mac and RC 12.

    I don't know that I actually see a performance boost over a quad core i5 but I would recommend the quad core i5 at the minimum if you are getting into the AutoCAD world. I would also suggest at least 8gb of ram. Mine ran fine with 4gb but I definitely noticed an improvement when working on large drawings.

    Oh and as an addendum. If you are starting a business, you are only allowed to write off 1 computer and 1 laptop every 3 years. Make it count!
  16. zachlegomaniac thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Sep 20, 2008
    Wow, very good to know regarding the write-offs. I really appreciate that input as my accountant hadn't mentioned it to me. I run an estate care business that focuses on horticultural design, installation, maintenance as well as project management, but my background and undergrad are in horticulture, thus the AutoCad. I used it regularly at the first firm I was hired at (on a Windows machine) out of college in '05.

    Right now my drawings are by hand, as there hasn't been a demand for AutoCad rendered drawings yet from my clientele. It is hard to say what the next 3 years will bring. I turned a good profit in my first year and would be really excited to see the trend continue, but feel fortunate for the past 12 months in this economy.

    My gut says to go with the i7, especially if it will be a write-off, and I can only make one for the next few years on such a machine.

    Many thanks,

  17. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    I don't think anyone answered about the shipping time for refurbs.

    Mine came to me in Oakland from the online Apple Store within a week.

  18. zachlegomaniac thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Sep 20, 2008
    Thanks Rob.

    I just got my notification of delivery (all within one day)!

    After spending too much time, perhaps, figuring out which way to go, I went with the i7 as I, indeed, can only write off one desktop per 3 years for a small company of my size, and may use AutoCAD before then.

    I see they're releasing the new MacBook Pros with Sandybridge on Thursday and they are said to be a vast improvement (well, at least Intel and MR says so). I hope I don't regret not waiting, but I did get the refurb so I saved some money, regardless. I guess you can't beat an i7 with a $300 savings.

    Thanks everyone for your help.


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