1. toreroguysd's Avatar
    Hi everybody,

    My wife's 4.5 year old Dell Inspiron PC is circling the drain, and I've been eyeballing an iMac as its replacement ever since I got an iPhone and iPad (very impressed with Apple's product quality). We're life-long Windows people and know nothing about Macs, other than the fact we're ready to give them a whirl after several Windows-related frustrations. We're looking at iMacs instead of Macbooks because 1) we want to save money, and 2) it's a work computer for her and the bigger screen is essential. So my question is as follows: should we get a refurbished iMac or a brand new iMac? And I ask not as pertains to the safety of buying refurbished Apple products (I am eminently comfortable buying anything of Apple's that is refurbished), but rather as a means of comparing specs and feature sets.

    Here are the options: 1) the brand new, late 2012, 21.5" base model iMac (8 gb ram, 2.7 ghz quad-core Intel i5, 1TB hard drive), or 2) the refurbished mid-2011 mid-range 21.5" iMac (4 gb ram, 2.7 ghz quad-core Intel i5, 1TB hard drive). With the exception of the new iMac being thinner, the only differences I can perceive are that the new iMac comes with double the ram, and no optical drive. If we buy the new iMac we will have to buy an optical drive, so that's another $79. This refurbished iMac is $1189, and the new iMac is $1299 (plus the superdrive is $1378). Essentially that's a $189 difference between the two iMacs when the only difference, as I see it, is 4 gb of ram and a thinner design with less screen reflection (which I don't care about, at least not for another $189). Am I missing something? If I need an optical drive, is the better option the refurb and then I can always buy more ram later?

    I would really appreciate any insights or feedback. Thanks everyone.

    Unrelated - Parallels or VMware Fusion for running Windows 7 (and in turn Windows MS Office) since my wife works remotely and all her work software is Windows based?
    01-17-2013 03:35 PM
  2. Fausty82's Avatar
    Depending on screen size, memory may be a user-upgradeable item. The current 27" iMacs still have user upgradeable/replaceable RAM. The 2012 21.5" iMacs do not. This means that you will have one shot at a memory upgrade - and it will be done by Apple (at their RAM prices). The 2011 and previous models have user upgradeable/replaceable RAM for both screen sizes.

    Newer is always better in terms of future-proofing your purchase, but otherwise, there isn't much difference. Each year Apple bumps the specs a bit, but depending on what you will use the iMac for, processor speed may not matter that much. In fact, in your comparison, you mention identical processors, so thats a wash.

    As far as optical drives, you can use any external drive, you dont need to purchase an $80 Apple drive unless you want to. I have a $35 external Blu-Ray drive that works perfectly with my MacBook Pro...

    As far as MS Office, theres a Mac/OSX version available from Microsoft... but to run native Windows programs, you will need some sort of virtualization software. Parallels is a good choice... or partition your drive, use Boot Camp and install Windows 7 on the iMac. I dont do Windows at all, so I have no preference or point of reference.

    Good luck with your quest. And welcome to the iMore forums.
    01-17-2013 04:06 PM
  3. warcraftWidow's Avatar
    Most of what I was going to say is the same as above

    But even though the processors sound the same, the 2011 has an older model processor (Sandybridge vs Ivybridge are intel's code names for them). Does this really matter? In all likelihood not depending on the work your wife does.

    However, if you are going to run Windows virtualized, you definitely want more RAM. But as said above, on the 2011 model it is user replaceable. Get as much as you can afford, but at least a total of 8GB. Not sure what the max amount is that the 2011 iMac can support.

    I would also recommend Bootcamp over a VM solution if she is going to be exclusively using Windows for work. VMs are great when you want to do Mac and Windows stuff at the same time, but there is overhead associated with them that you avoid with Bootcamp.

    And I assume that you already have monitors that you used with the Dell PC. You should be able to drive at least one if not two external monitors off of either iMac so you could potentially be using three monitors. It's possible you would need adapters depending on the monitor output ports and the iMac inputs.
    01-17-2013 06:15 PM
  4. toreroguysd's Avatar
    Thanks everyone. My monitor output ports are old school monitor VGA (4.5 year old monitor). What sort of adapter would work to run that into an iMac? Sorry to sound ignorant...but I kind of am, coming from a 100% Windows background.
    01-17-2013 07:00 PM
  5. Fausty82's Avatar
    Thanks everyone. My monitor output ports are old school monitor VGA (4.5 year old monitor). What sort of adapter would work to run that into an iMac? Sorry to sound ignorant...but I kind of am, coming from a 100% Windows background.
    You aren’t ignorant. Ignorant people don’t ask questions.

    Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter - Apple Store (U.S.)

    For only $11.06 each when QTY 50+ purchased - Mini DisplayPort | Thunderbolt to VGA Adapter | Mini DisplayPort to HDMI / DVI / VGA Adapters

    I have used Monoprice (the second link) for cables and adapters for years with no problems. Their stuff is cheaper than Apple's but works just as well... and if you’re not happy for any reason, they have a very lenient return policy.
    01-17-2013 07:05 PM

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