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Dr. Benway Level 1 (0 points)

Recently the hard drive on my late 2006 Imac failed. I am now trying to decide what to replace it with and can’t settle on a comfortable solution.


I am a print designer who works on catalogs and photobooks and also does some web design. Until it died, the Imac was adequate. Though it had only 1GB of ram and a 250GB hard drive I was running CS3 comfortably on the machine. I had about 100GB of data that I accessed regularly from an external drive and was using about 175GB of the machine’s internal hard drive.



I’m hesitant to spend $1299 on a new Imac because money is a bit tight and I have some reservations about working on a glossy screen. I was immediately attracted to buying the basic Mac Mini for $599 and a monitor, which I figured would cost me about $200, saving me around $500. I see that the Mini has a dual-core processor (same as my old Imac) and 4gb of memory (4x that of my old machine). This would be a step up, but will it be adequate working on modern browsers and new CS software 3-4 years down the line? Additionally, I’m rather clueless about monitor technology and, after some research, it seems I may have to factor more into my budget than $200 for one good enough to display accurate colors and render typography well.



If processing power and memory would be an issue, I could increase the memory of the basic Mini to 8GB for around $60 with aftermarket ram or buy the Mini with a quad-processor and 4GB of ram for $799. Add the $200 (or more) for a monitor and I’m creeping closer to the cost of the new Imac. I’ve all but completely ruled out the purchase of a Macbook Pro (which I desire for it’s portability) because the basic model is comparable to the basic Mini in terms of processing power and $600 more. I’m also considering buying a used machine where I could get a more power for less money.


Any thoughts that may help me come to a decision would be much appreciated.

  • britny Level 1 (125 points)

    have you thought about replacing the hard drive in the imac you have?

  • Dr. Benway Level 1 (0 points)

    Yes I have. I got a quote of $200 from a local shop. I considered it but since the machine is becoming obsolete, I feel that it may be a waste of money. How many years can you expect to get out of an Apple computer?

  • Mike Osborn Level 4 (1,205 points)

    For your uses, I'd probably recommend the iMac, as it simply has more horsepower than the mini.  But....and this could be a big "but"...the memory in the 21.5" iMac is not user upgradeable. Because of this, I normally recommend spending a bit extra and getting it equipped with 16GB of RAM.  Set up this way, I think it would provide you with a longer useable lifespan.


    You say you're concerned about the glossy screen of the new iMacs, and I've heard this concern before.  I can't say mine bothers me, because it doesn't...and the new iMacs use a different display construction than previous models that, in my opinion, is an improvement.  This being said, Apple has a 14-day return policy, so if the ambient light in your workspace isn't conducive to the iMac's display, you can return it.  (And there's really no way to judge this until you bring it home).


    To keep costs down, I would also suggest you look at refurbished iMacs.  They come with a full Apple warranty, and in many cases offer a substantial savings. The new iMacs may not have hit the refurbished store yet, though, so you might have to wait if you want the current model.

  • rkaufmann87 Level 9 (55,218 points)

    britny wrote:


    have you thought about replacing the hard drive in the imac you have?

    Tough question to answer as everyone's use is different. My old 2007 24" iMac is runnng like it was new. Obviously it's dated like yours but assuming proper care is taken my guess is 5-6 years is good. However as computers get more capable there comes a time when you simply may want a new machine.

  • Dr. Benway Level 1 (0 points)

    I'm curious how the display construction of the new Imacs differs from that of previous models. I'm currently looking at 2010-2011 models on Ebay assuming that they're relatively comparable to the newest release. I looked for refurbished Imacs on Apple's site before and didn't see much. Here's what they have today []. About the ram, 16GB seems like overkill. Wouldn't a quad-core processor with 4GB be plenty to run just Photoshop, Indesign and Firefox at once? Thanks for your thoughts.

  • Dr. Benway Level 1 (0 points)

    Six years is what I thought a computer should last. I always wondered if I could have taken better care of the machine. I tried to use only 1/2 of the hard drive's capacity and restart the computer every couple of days. Towards the end it would freeze somewhat regularly and I would have to manually shut it down which, I'm sure, is bad for the hardware. What kinds of things can one do to increase the lifespan of a computer?

  • Mike Osborn Level 4 (1,205 points)

    Dr. Benway,


    Here's a review from Engadget of the new iMacs.  Scroll down to read about the Display improvements.


  • MichelPM Level 6 (11,344 points)

    Everyone is going to have an opinion here.

    Here's mine for what it is worth.

    IMHO forget eBay for purchasing a used Mac and look to Apple Aurhorized  Resellers that sell used Macs that have, at least, some decent warranty time (like 90 days to six months) for free replacement or repairs or return.

    You'll pay a little more for used Macs/iMacs, but the Macs they get are looked over and checked for sound operation and ard priced based on condition and features.

    Some times with  Macs that are sold on eBay, you inherit other users' problems and most times, you never get the original discs that came with the Mac and force you into procuring these or installing a new version of the OS on your own.

    I Would look at iMac models from 2009 to 2011.

  • MichelPM Level 6 (11,344 points)

    Darn iPad,



    4 GBs of RAM is no where near enough RAM for running both OS X and heavy CPU, GPU, RAM and disc intensive apps like from Adobe.

    OS X, by itself ( especially Snow Leopard, Lion and Mt. Lion) need 2-4 GBs of RAM alone to ensure speedy, smooth and efficient operation.

    If you run other apps alongside OS X with only 4 GBs of RAM, your Mac is definitely slowing down.

    Adobe PS alone needs scads of RAM and hard drive/scratch disc space, and it uses lots of CPU and GPU cycles, too!

    If you are running the entire Adobe Creative Suite, the faster the CPU, GPU and as much RAM as you can afford or the Mac can take, the better!

  • britny Level 1 (125 points)

    another thing to consider. how old are your adobe programs? if they are real old they may not work on a new mac.

  • Dr. Benway Level 1 (0 points)

    Good point. I was running CS3. I'll have to see if that's compatible with the new OS.

  • Dr. Benway Level 1 (0 points)

    This article is extremel helpful. The 2013 Imac is sounding better and better. The $400 difference between the basic model Imac and the Mini + monitor seems entirely worth it.

  • Dr. Benway Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks, I didn't even know there were authorized resellers.

  • Mike Osborn Level 4 (1,205 points)

    Dr. Benway,


    Glad the article was enlightening.


    I would echo what MichelPM has said, in that the applications you'll be running most often are, for the most part, very hungry for RAM, GPU, and CPU cycles. Having as much RAM as possible would provide the best possible experience and, as I mentioned earlier, offer a degree of "future proofing" for you.


    If you're looking for authorized Mac resellers, I can recommend Smalldog and MacMall.  Both have been around for a long time and have a lot of loyal customers.


    Also...don't forget to budget for AppleCare.  You'd be shocked if you found out how much it could cost to take apart one of the new iMacs and replace an internal component...and that's just labor!  Our son had some liquid spilled on his MacBook, and was told it was going to cost a minimum of $700 to repair it (his AppleCare had expired...his MacBook was 5 years old). He ended up buying a new MacBook Pro as a result of this.

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