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A Very Tough Decision

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My old 2012 iMac is groaning a lot lately. I've had it for a few years and loved using it, but lately it's just gotten so slow that my frustrations often reach boiling point with it. The spinning beachball happens so often that I just can't rely on this old thing to get much done these days. 

 

So, the chap I bought it from, who specialises in pre-owned Apple gear, is selling a late 2015 5K version with the (then) top of the line Radeon R9 M395X (4GB) graphics card. The price is about half of what a brand new bottom end iMac 27" will cost here, but for me it's still an eye-watering amount to spend on a computer. My other option is to upgrade the HDD in the old iMac to an SSD and see if it will extend the life of that machine by a few more years. The cost of that upgrade including professional labour is about 30% of the price of the 2015 iMac, so I am concerned that I might be throwing good money after tech that isn't that good anymore. 

 

The upside of getting the 5K iMac are obviously a better screen, it still has Thunderbolt 2 which means I can retain the use of my 2 external Thunderbolt Displays, the ability to use the iPad Pro with Sidecar, which could make editing an interesting new experience using the Apple Pencil I recently bought. The downside is that the purchase leaves a significant hole in my wallet at a time when work has slowed down a lot. 

 

I know I am trying to justify this upgrade to myself, but maybe I am not seeing the wood for the trees as far as a solution goes? 

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The justification will be apparent when you first boot it up! 
Will it have a retina screen?

My 2019 iMac cost me approx £2800, new. My previous 2015 iMac was still a good machine, passed on to my granddaughter and her boyfriend?


Mike Gorman

 

Nikon Z6, Nikkor Z 24-70, 35, 85, FTZ adapter 

Lumix G9 , GX8 - Panasonic 15, 20, 25, - 8-18, 12-35, 12-60, 35-100

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It does have the Retina screen, but honestly, that's not what attracts me to it. All I want is the blimmin' thing to stop with the beachball antics. I think I'm 80% resigned to getting it. Have spent the entire afternoon trying to think about what else I could buy with the money. I could get a brand new Oly E-M1 Mk ii, or a Panny G9, or one of those Sony A7ii's (with a lens). But then if I am shooting higher res images on a computer that is slowly obsoleting itself, I'd be even more frustrated. 

 

The new 2019 iMac is just way out of reach for me, unfortunately. 

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Before buying a secondhand 5K iMac make sure it doesn’t suffer from the dust problem, that is dust between coverglass and LCD in both lower corners. Easy to see on a completely white background. 

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8 hours ago, Noct said:

Before buying a secondhand 5K iMac make sure it doesn’t suffer from the dust problem, that is dust between coverglass and LCD in both lower corners. Easy to see on a completely white background. 

 

Thanks! I will definitely look out for that. 

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So I got the "new" iMac 5K Retina. Very nice, but I have already encountered some issues that have me biting my tongue with Apple in general. One of the primary motivators for me to get this was so that I could use the new Sidecar feature with my iPad Pro, effectively turning it into a graphics tablet similar to the Wacom Cintiq jobs. If only it was that simple. I have discovered that Apple insist on you setting up 2-factor authentication in order to use this feature and let me tell you that so-called security feature is a complete pain in the arse! Whenever you sign into your Apple ID you have to verify it using another Apple device which in my case means any one of about 10 other devices. As I have them in different rooms, this often means I have to go scurrying to another room to get the code sent. There's probably a setting I can change somewhere, but it's really annoying to have to do this very unnecessary step. 

 

Getting the Sidecar feature to actually work was another story. I had to sign in about a dozen times on each device, then I also discovered that having 2 external Thunderbolt displays connected to the iMac doesn't help the situation much at all. Trying to find out where the cursor is at any time became not unlike an episode of The Amazing Race! :D 

 

On the subject of the external Thunderbolt Displays, these work great together with the iMac provided you have the iMac set to default scaling mode, otherwise if you ask for "more space" on the primary display the resolution shrinking means that the cursor doesn't track in line with the external displays. Hmmm... not what I was expecting, but I do understand that they are different resolutions to the 5K. So I have left the 5K screen on the default scaling. 

 

The new iMac came with the newer Apple Magic Keyboard and I find this to be not as good as the older ones I have. For starters the angle just seems wrong. You can't prop up the device unless you use something external and also the keys feel very weird to me with their short travel distance. 

 

Progress, eh? 

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UPDATE:

 

My 5K iMac had to go back to the seller as it was suffering from some serious image retention issues around the edges of the screen. Fortunately the guy I buy from has supplied me with another one, same model, but this one has the same issue. Some digging around on various Mac sites has revealed to me that these 27" models (late 2015) all seem to suffer from the same thing. They apparently have LG panels in them and there are a lot of disgruntled owners. I have been in touch with my guy and he says he has taken the one I first had back to Apple for them to replace the panel. As soon as it comes back he will swap it out again with this one I am using now. 

 

To be honest I am not very happy about this and I am thinking of canning this idea and going with something else. This drags me right back to square one again, what? The only feasible option I can see is a new Mac Mini, but they don't seem to have the same power that the iMacs have, especially as far as graphics and storage is concerned. 

 

And I sold the old iMac which didn't have any screen issues.

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That's bad luck, but you seem to have a decent vendor.

 

There are so many things that can go wrong with computer components, even from top manufacturers.

 

I would definitely take back the renovated iMac with the new panel.  The new screen should work properly, and whatever else you buy might have other problems of its own.

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I think I am going to ask for a refund and just buy a new iMac. After selling the old one I'm not that far away from the cost of the entry level 27". I may ask about changing the hybrid HDD into a full SSD. I'm not sure how much of those hybrids are SSD and how much are regular drives. 

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The Current Mac minis don’t look too bad aside from only intel graphics.  You can spec up to six core i7 processors.

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Posted (edited)

That sucks!

 

A new Mac Mini will work well for you, just add one of thee bad boys with a good GPU and it will outperform the 2015 iMac no problem.

 

https://www.razer.com/gaming-laptops/razer-core-x

 

A new iMac would also hit the spot and may end up costing the same.

Edited by Mexecutioner
Added info

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14 hours ago, crowecg said:

The Current Mac minis don’t look too bad aside from only intel graphics.  You can spec up to six core i7 processors.

If you really need the graphics, you could add one of these to the mini

https://www.apple.com/au/shop/product/HM8Y2X/A/blackmagic-egpu
 

if you don’t need the display, that leaves you in a similar ball park as the base iMac after swapping out the fusion drive for a real ssd.

 

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Those look like interesting options, guys. Thanks for the suggestions. 

 

I'll give the refurb my seller is going to bring to me a look over, but if there is any discolouration or ghosting around the edges I will reject it and will then most likely get a new 5K. I really do like the screen, even though it is complete overkill (zooming in on a 16MP image barely changes your view!). 

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The replacement 5K iMac was slightly better than the first one, but it was still not acceptable to me. So it has gone back to the supplier and I am now down to my 2012 MacBook Pro 13" and 2010 Mac Mini. 😬

 

I came to within a hair's breath of committing to a brand new 2019 27" iMac 5K which would have broken the budget and gotten me into debt, but after reading a lot of commentary about the lacklustre 1TB Fusion drive that ships with those machines I have decided to skip it. The whole reason for getting rid of my old iMac was because of the slow spinning drive. It's hard to believe that Apple are still putting those things into their 2019 hardware. 

 

The Mac Mini is still in my periphery but the specs don't look so good compared to iMac and once I've added the keyboard and Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 dongle (and an SD card reader) I'm already spending more than I did for the 2015 iMac with faulty screen... 

 

Ugh, technology is beginning to make me want to chuck it all in and go back to the 1980's. 

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1 hour ago, Mexecutioner said:

you can get any of the 2019 5K iMacs with SSD drives

 

Doesn't appear to be an option out here, unfortunately. See https://www.myistore.co.za. 

 

I'm leaning quite heavily towards the 256GB SSD i5 Mini now that I have had more time to think about it. I like that it's got upgradable RAM and the option for eGPU. And it also has both USB-A and USB-C ports. Seems foolish to not follow that path now. Quite weird that it will be exactly 10 years since I last bought a Mac Mini (Core2Duo) and that old silver girl is still going strong as a media server for the entire digital household...

 

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That's silly, but it is what it is.

 

The mini will do you well. I still have a mini from 2010 in the day that I run my security cameras from, recording 12 HD streams to the internal SSD, non-stop, all day long without a hitch

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And I thought Australia got screwed on product availability!  We do get an option of upgrading iMacs with either larger fusion drives or SSD with capacities ranging from 256GB to 2TB, depending on the model and your wallet.

 

given that you do have some decent monitors, perhaps the mini is the way to go.

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I got my new Mac Mini today. Oh the agony of setup has just gotten worse over time...

 

I thought I would be clever and restore my Time Machine backup onto this brand new computer. That worked, but then the computer was running Mojave, not Catalina which is what the backup was made on. Hours later I have finally got it to upgrade to Catalina and things are slowly starting to work, but for some reason all my passwords for the many email accounts I have didn't carry through so now I have had to update the passwords on every device for every domain name I use. I feel like I want to slit my wrists. I think Lasik eye surgery is more of a doddle than this password nonsense.

 

And of course Adobe CC does not recognise my password either. So all that stuff has to be re-installed too. 

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I don’t understand that problem Dallas as when I upgraded to Catalina the passwords app worked fine, even for FZ, very strange!


Mike Gorman

 

Nikon Z6, Nikkor Z 24-70, 35, 85, FTZ adapter 

Lumix G9 , GX8 - Panasonic 15, 20, 25, - 8-18, 12-35, 12-60, 35-100

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2 minutes ago, Mike G said:

I don’t understand that problem Dallas as when I upgraded to Catalina the passwords app worked fine, even for FZ, very strange!

 

Did I ever tell you that my middle name is Murphy? 

 

I know my email passwords, but for some reason this new Mac kept telling me they were wrong. All other passwords stored in the cloud were fine, but not the emails. Go figure...

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I'm sorry, Apple. This is just a bad joke. What the hell...? Now the trackpad won't work unless it's wired to the Mini, the keyboard randomly disconnects too, the OS has asked me to sign in no fewer than 12 times since I switched this new machine on. I'm about to totally loose my rag with this. 

 

 

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If it’s a new one take it back, that sounds awful.


Mike Gorman

 

Nikon Z6, Nikkor Z 24-70, 35, 85, FTZ adapter 

Lumix G9 , GX8 - Panasonic 15, 20, 25, - 8-18, 12-35, 12-60, 35-100

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There's some interesting things going on here. I did a bit of reading about the disconnecting magic input devices and the Mini. It seems that if there is stuff plugged into the USB-A ports it could interfere with the Bluetooth signal. I have removed the two drives I had plugged in there, plugged them into the Thunderbolt screen and the issue of disconnecting seems to have gone. For now. I also noticed that after unplugging those drives the Mini cooled down a lot - it was running really hot! 

 

I miss Steve Jobs. He took responsibility for his company's products. Cook only seems to care about profits. :( 

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