The thirteen and a half thousand dollar iMac

I bought the top end mid 2011 iMac back in the day and it came to about $3000 as I recall. I did install my own additional RAM.

Anyway, just max optioned a new iMac with Apple Care (a paltry $199) and this is what it came to:

You can save a whack by getting your RAM elsewhere. But still.

I spent about $5000 on an iMac some years back, I’d never spent close to that on a computer but I thought I’d get 5 years out of it. I got 3 years before it needed expensive out of warranty repairs. That sort of depreciation just isn’t in my budget, let alone what they cost now.

iMacs have always been a premium product but they’ve moved even further up market and out of the range of most private buyers.

We’ve still got a MacBook and a MacBook Air but we won’t be buying any more Apple desktops simply because of the price they’re charging now.

I was able to max up to A$14,357.98 with all the extras, might get two of them!

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I bought the iMac I’m on now in 2015, it’s a 27" 512gb SSD and i7 with 8gb of RAM (yes I know, not much!). But I have to say it’s been a fantastic machine. The SSD makes all the difference. The machine is still snappy/fast and been really reliable. I say this because when I bought it I remember spending about $3k on it. The new iMacs with say a 1TB SSD, 16gb RAM, i7 10th gen/etc come to about $5k. But then they are really reliable and solid and perform so well.

I was interested to see that the front facing camera has finally gone up to a 1080p and YouTubers are saying that in some tests, the 2020 iMac runs faster than the iMac Pro.

On the downside, it surprises me they still only have 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports on the top end flagship iMac, when all the MBPs have 4, they have 4 USBs when you could live with just two. But they still have the SD card slot and 3.5mm jack so not all lost.

RAM is horrifically expensive, I would buy it now with base RAM and just buy my own and add it in, thankfully they do offer user upgradable RAM still.

Anyway just a few random thoughts from me.

I spent $5k on an almost full-optioned Mac Mini recently if you included the keyboard and trackpad as well. Not hard to do.

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Back in 2008 I bought an iMac for $2000. I had a 350GB HD with 2 GB RAM. Eventually I had to replace the HD so a 1 TB was installed and upped the RAM to 4GB. This really improved the performance, with the reliability and stability of Snow Leopard made it a much valued machine. Unfortunately all the software is becoming superseded, especially the browsers which don’t handle current websites too well.

So we will be buying a new iMac in a few months time. I fancy the 3.6 GHz model with the Retina display. I need 1TB of storage so I will aim for the Fusion Drive. This will set me back $2000. I can’t really justify the $600 for the 1TB SSD, as much as I would like one. I have heard a few grumbles on these pages about the Fusion Drive but I don’t remember just what were the reservations. Can anyone enlighten me, please?

Apple reduced the amount of cache in the Fusion drives a while back which made the iMacs fitted with them act pretty much like they were fitted with a traditional hard drive than an SSD where as the intent of the Fusion drive was to maintain most of the everyday performance of an SSD without the extra cost.

Normally I’d suggest going into an Apple store and using the SSD version and the Fusion version back to back but that’s not necessarily possible right now.

We won’t be buying until we can go to a store and check them out. So a comparison will be a worthwhile effort. We don’t need to to heavy duty work with it, nothing much more than the old one copes with now.

I use a 13 inch MacBook Air which I find snappy enough for me. I like the idea of a SSD so I may try convince the Expenditure Review Committee to go the extra dollars. The comparison may convince her.

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Life is short. Spinning rust is slow. I would get a smaller SSD over a Fusion Drive. You can get very fast external storage now.

And internal SSDs in current Macs are insanely quick. My current model Mac Mini writes at about 2100 MB/s and reads at about 2800. A fast spinning disk will get 100MB/s on a good day with a tail wind.


That’s the one thing I regret about our last iMac purchase and I can’t stress enough how much this shouldn’t even be an option in 2020 (or even 2018 when I got ours).

This. Fusion drives are rubbish and not worth the space they take up. If there was a BTO option which provided dual drives like 256GB SSD along with a 1TB+ HDD I could see some purpose in that, but the Fusion drive is a travesty.

In our case we ended up with a Samsung T5 SSD 3M velcro’d to the back using a USBC/USBC cable as the boot volume. It was a billionty times better that the fusion drive. We also had a 2TB portable drive as the TimeMachine volume also velcro’d to the back and you never saw either of them since it was on a desk against a wall so it still looked just like an ordinary iMac from the front.

** I just looked at the Apple page to check how much the upgrades to SSD was so I could write something here… and it appears that Apple have ditched the Fusion drives across the range!!! Finally!*

I would recommend taking the 256GB version and sticking a 1 - 2 TB spinning disk on the back. There is even a range of 1TB external SSD’s for around $200 or so.

You overlooked the fact that the Fusion drive is still an option for all three 21.5" (mid-2019) iMacs, and for the base 21.5", the only storage upgrade option. I imagine that will remain the case until the next refresh which is most likely early to mid 2021.

2.3GHz 2-core i5: 256GB SSD - CTO 1 TB Fusion
3.6GHz 4-core i3: 256GB SSD - CTO 512 GB or 1 TB (SSD), or 1 TB Fusion
3.0GHz 6-core i5: 256GB SSD - CTO 512 GB or 1 TB (SSD), or 1 TB Fusion

I did look at a couple of the configs, although not that particular one, and did notice fusion was in the “upgrade” list but recommend a 256GB SSD drive + external for greater storage. Yes it’s not quite as neat, but for performance and livability, it walks all over the fusion drive.

We need at least 1 TB of storage, so a 256 GB SSD plus an external drive would do the trick, but may be a bit ‘inconvenient’ for my wife to navigate. It might take a bit of getting used to for her. I’ll have to try some dummy runs to see how it works for her.
I appreciate all the comments, they will certainly help me make the right choice when the time comes.