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In need of a new iMac
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sek929
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Mar 26, 2017, 02:59 PM
 
As most of you are well aware I am computer-less at the moment. Looking into refurbished and also checking against newer machines. Waiting until an entire line refresh is not really an option right now but I also don't want to buy something that won't have the legs I need it to for lasting me years.

My main concern is just how impossible it is to open these machines up, so if I want SSD and max RAM then I either config from apple for mucho bucks or try and find the sweet spot in the refurbished list. Either option carrying a rather hefty price increase for these upgrades.

The 27" machines have a much easier route to upgrade RAM but the entry cost of the 5k iMacs is a bit out of budget.

The front runner so far

Already has the SSD but only 8gb of RAM, though the price is pretty much perfect for us.

Thoughts?
( Last edited by reader50; Mar 26, 2017 at 03:18 PM. Reason: fixed link code)
     
reader50
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Mar 26, 2017, 03:26 PM
 
I like upgradability, so the modern iMacs make me nervous. Technically, they are easy to open with an adhesive-cutting tool. But to close them back up, you have to remove the tape remnants, and replace with a new set. Align things perfectly, or you have to repeat the whole process with another new tape set.

However, the last ones with suction-cup screen removal appear to be 2011 models, which is getting pretty far back today. So all I can say is I wouldn't buy anything less than 16 GB today. Either one that comes with 16, or can be easily upgraded to it. 8 GB won't last much longer.
     
sek929  (op)
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Mar 26, 2017, 04:05 PM
 
I guess I'm pretty hung up on the SSD since it was such a quantum leap in performance on my 07 Mac, but I'm also aware that it makes sense to max the ram whenever possible.

Adding both on a new machine from Apple makes me feel dirty. As much as I've loved my Macs over the years I always opted to do RAM and HDD upgrades myself.

Edit: Mac Mini isn't out of the question either, but those seem waaaaay overdue for a bump.
     
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Mar 26, 2017, 04:28 PM
 
[...deleted...]
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sek929  (op)
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Mar 26, 2017, 04:41 PM
 
Right now there's 0 refurbished iMacs with 16gb, but a couple MBPs and Minis do have maxed RAM like this one
( Last edited by sek929; Mar 26, 2017 at 05:28 PM. Reason: fixed link code)
     
reader50
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Mar 26, 2017, 05:13 PM
 
sek, your store links are breaking because of a parenthesis at the beginning of the URL. Examples:

URL="http... = broken
URL=http... = good

btw, beware the 21.5" iMacs. The RAM is soldered on these models today. You cannot upgrade the RAM after the fact even if you open them up.
     
sek929  (op)
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Mar 26, 2017, 05:33 PM
 
Yeah I'm checking all these options against iFixit repair guides and the new iMacs are terrible with user upgradability.

The Mini gets more tantalizing by the minute. Easier to upgrade (slightly) and already has 16gb of RAM and a Fusion Drive.

Would I really miss 2 extra cores on the i5?
     
reader50
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Mar 26, 2017, 05:47 PM
 
I would. There's a reason why 2012 Mac Minis with quad-core are going for higher prices on eBay than the current Mini does. It's not just the upgradable RAM.

It really depends on what you use it for. Or may use it for. I've found quads just run cooler and quieter than a dual-core.
     
Doc HM
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Mar 26, 2017, 06:17 PM
 
A late 2011 27in with 32GB RAM and an SSD is still a fine machine and in quad i7 guise still a good performer. If you need mass storage you can loose the optical drive to the SSD and fit umpteen TB of main drive, or build your own fusion drive.
Very flexible machines and virtually bullet proof.
This space for Hire! Reasonable rates. Reach an audience of literally dozens!
     
subego
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Mar 26, 2017, 06:20 PM
 
Also, isn't the Mini using a laptop chip?

IIUC, a laptop chip is significantly less powerful than a comparably specced desktop chip.
     
Doc HM
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Mar 26, 2017, 06:33 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Also, isn't the Mini using a laptop chip?

IIUC, a laptop chip is significantly less powerful than a comparably specced desktop chip.
and it uses main ram allocated to graphics ram as well.
This space for Hire! Reasonable rates. Reach an audience of literally dozens!
     
P
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Mar 27, 2017, 04:11 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Also, isn't the Mini using a laptop chip?

IIUC, a laptop chip is significantly less powerful than a comparably specced desktop chip.
If you're talking about the CPU, then no - the mobile chip is more or less identical to the desktop chip with the same clockspeed. The difference is that the laptop chips hae a lower TDP, so they will throttle sooner if loaded down, but they are just as "snappy".

Originally Posted by And.reg
Don't bother with any new (er, last year's) BTOs, except for a fusion drive and maximum RAM, these you will want to speed things up. The higher CPUs just get throttled down anyway.
No they don't. The upgraded i7 CPUs have a higher TDP, and will go at turbo speeds for longer before clocking down - and the base clock for them is higher than the single-core turbo on the i5 anyway.

Originally Posted by sek929 View Post
As most of you are well aware I am computer-less at the moment. Looking into refurbished and also checking against newer machines. Waiting until an entire line refresh is not really an option right now but I also don't want to buy something that won't have the legs I need it to for lasting me years.

My main concern is just how impossible it is to open these machines up, so if I want SSD and max RAM then I either config from apple for mucho bucks or try and find the sweet spot in the refurbished list. Either option carrying a rather hefty price increase for these upgrades.

The 27" machines have a much easier route to upgrade RAM but the entry cost of the 5k iMacs is a bit out of budget.

The front runner so far

Already has the SSD but only 8gb of RAM, though the price is pretty much perfect for us.

Thoughts?
That machine is a good model with no real weak spots. 8GB RAM burns a bit, but note that Apple sells very expensive 13" MBPs with 8GB non-upgradeable RAM and even the most expensive 15" MBPs are limited to 16GB. Apple will be strongly incentivised to keep 8GB Macs working well for a long time. At the same time, HDDs are going extinct in the Mac line, so I think getting an SSD as the main boot drive is going to be very important down the line.

I would suggest that you swing by an Applestore and take a look at a Retina display, though. They really look great, and it is clear that Apple is moving in that direction.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
sek929  (op)
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Mar 27, 2017, 09:41 AM
 
The fact that in order to ever have more than 8gb of RAM in an iMac I have to pay Apple ~200 bucks is ludicrous. The iMacs have never been particularly easy to upgrade but there were always ways to go about it, soldered RAM is a huge dick move.
     
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Mar 27, 2017, 09:44 AM
 
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subego
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Mar 27, 2017, 09:58 AM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
If you're talking about the CPU, then no - the mobile chip is more or less identical to the desktop chip with the same clockspeed. The difference is that the laptop chips hae a lower TDP, so they will throttle sooner if loaded down, but they are just as "snappy".
Thanks for clearing it up, I forgot the specifics.

The basic idea is there are use cases where you absolutely do not want a laptop CPU.
     
Laminar
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Mar 27, 2017, 10:29 AM
 
Do you game on the iMac?

Here's what I'd get:
iMac "Core i7" 3.4 27-Inch (Mid-2011) Specs (Mid-2011, MD063LL/A, iMac12,2, A1312, 2429) @ EveryMac.com

The last of the big-bodied iMacs. Max RAM of 32GB, i7-2600 3.4GHz processor, and two internal SATA ports so you can run a hard drive and an SSD together internally.

It won't quite have the raw horsepower of a late model i7, but Geekbench puts it ahead of the latest i5-6500 still.
     
Laminar
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Mar 27, 2017, 10:42 AM
 
I have the 2010 version of that model with the old 2.93 i7. I have a 3TB HD and 250GB SSD inside and 12GB of RAM. Runs Sierra perfectly, iMovie, Garageband, whatever I throw at it. I'll probably upgrade to the iMac 12,2 at some point but I have no reason to yet.
     
Waragainstsleep
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Mar 27, 2017, 12:52 PM
 
I've noticed that the newest iMacs often seem slow and overburdened if you don't spec them with an SSD. I have a couple running Windows VMs for Sage accounting and the 2016s are slower than some 2010s.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
subego
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Mar 27, 2017, 01:18 PM
 
On the flipside, the SSD on my "new" iMac ****ing screams.
     
P
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Mar 27, 2017, 02:23 PM
 
Originally Posted by And.reg View Post
I've seen reports online that people buy the maxed out 27" 5K iMac and the CPU does not stay at 4 GHz for the hours of video processing that they require.
They will drop down from single-core turbo (4.2) to base (4.0), but they will not do that sooner than the base i5 will drop from their lower single-core turbo (3.9) to base (3.3). Since the TDP is higher (81W compare to 65W), it can stay in turbo mode longer.

If you are doing video processing, you are likely using the AVX instruction set. The clocks when using AVX are actually lower (something Intel carefully hides deep in its spec sheets), so the base is not 4.0 but something lower - I think 3.8, but don't quote me on that. If the CPU is truly throttling by dropping the clocks - that is tripping PROC_HOT to reduce clocks, not just disabling turbo - then the cooling system cannot handle 81W. I would find that EXTREMELY unlikely, as it would be trivial for Apple to raise the max fan speed a notch to make sure that that doesn't happen.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
sek929  (op)
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Mar 27, 2017, 05:13 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
On the flipside, the SSD on my "new" iMac ****ing screams.
The Intel SSD I had in my 07 iMac turned it into a whole different machine. I never saw the beachball after that install.
     
sek929  (op)
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Mar 27, 2017, 05:21 PM
 
Just found a pretty enticing 21.5 on PowerMax

https://www.powermax.com/product/use...-5in-mid-2011/

I don't love that it's a 2011 model but I do love the 16GB of RAM, the SSD and the additional 1TB drive.
     
Laminar
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Mar 27, 2017, 05:28 PM
 
Dude, buy this thing before I do.

iMac 12,2 (mid 2011) 27 inch, 3.4 ghz. Core i7, 16GB RAM, 2TB hdd, HD 6970M gfx. | eBay

Apple iMac 12,2 (mid 2011) 27 inch

- 3.4 ghz. Core i7 quad processor
- 16 GB RAM
- 2TB SATA hard drive
- Radeon HD 6970M graphics

You can throw an SSD in with the 2TB HD.
     
sek929  (op)
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Mar 27, 2017, 05:35 PM
 
I'm a little sketched out by eBay TBH, but that is a beaut
     
P
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Mar 27, 2017, 05:54 PM
 
Isn't there a recall on the GPUs in the 2011 iMacs? Seem to recall that a lot of them broke over time.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
sek929  (op)
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Mar 27, 2017, 06:04 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
Isn't there a recall on the GPUs in the 2011 iMacs? Seem to recall that a lot of them broke over time.
There's certainly a lot of them on PowerMax....
     
P
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Mar 27, 2017, 07:18 PM
 
Googled it up. There was a replacement program for the Radeon 6970M in the 2011 iMac, but it seem to have ended. News quotes about it are available, but the Apple support doc is removed.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
   
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