How to save $1,000 or more on a new iMac

“The time has finally come. After extending my 2011 iMac’s life years beyond its final end of life (i.e. the time when Apple stops shipping new macOS versions to support the hardware), it’s time to upgrade to a 2019 27’ iMac,” Anthony Karcz writes for Forbes.

“The problem, though, is that my OWC upgrades made my trusty ol’ iMac too good,” Karcz writes. “With 3TB of SSD storage and 128GB of RAM, in terms of day-to-day memory, it’s better outfitted then every base-model iMac in Apple’s lineup.”

“I could upgrade, but upgrading directly from Apple is a fool’s bargain. Sure, it’s convenient, but you’ll end up paying $2,000 or more for storage and memory you could pick up for less than $1,000,” Karcz writes. “So obviously, taking the DIY upgrade route is the only way to ensure that you get a new iMac with the specs you need that doesn’t cost you as much as a used car. But first you have to do a little bit of homework.”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Karcz offers some good advice and sound tips to follow for saving beaucoup cash on your new Mac.


  1. Do it all the time. Just went through a company and upgraded all their old Macs with a new 256GB SSD and either 16 or 32 GB of RAM. Machines as old as 2012 iMac 12,1 or 12,2 are now really fast as heck. To the person using the computer, start up is so fast it feels like a new computer. Most of these folks are lawyers, administrators, Doctors, etc. They aren’t rendering the next Avengers movie. So it does save them a great deal of money.

    If you’ve got 40 computers and they’re starting to look a bit sluggish under Mojave, and you can buy a new computer for at least $2000 or spend about $700 on an upgrade, you’re saving at least a grand a station. That’s $40K that can be put back into the technology budget or used elsewhere in the company.

  2. Much of the business community replaces their Macs or PCs every 3-5 years or so because other advancements occur besides just SSDs.

    If you’re using a 2012 iMac 27″, that means you are settling for:
    – 2560-by-1440 resolution screen
    – a 7 year old CPU (i5 or i7)
    – 1600 MHz speed RAM, limited to 32 GB
    – a 7 year old GPU with a maximum of 2 GB memory, not Metal compatible.
    – obsolete Thunderbolt ports
    – 802.11n WiFi
    – Bluetooth 4.0
    – no ability for any internal expansion of any kind.

    Don’t get me wrong, such an iMac may be fine for the casual home user. But if you want modern performance for maximum productivity, the iMac is (and long has been) a bad bargain. It’s a laptop that isn’t portable. Who benefits from this????? There are too many bottenecks in the all-in-one form factor. It is too bad that Apple is so wedded to the aging iMac design that the user cannot update all the other things that hold it back.

    It didn’t used to be this way. With a 2012 Mac Pro, you could at least install new GPUs, new CPU, new PCI cards, up to 6 SSDs. You could bring Bluetooth and WiFi up to current spec. You could buy a new monitor with higher resolution or greater size. When you want, as you need to. User control. What a concept. Apple of course decided to price its workstation out of reach for budget constrained small businesses and home users.

    Could Apple offer a small tower Mac with user expansion and customization, less costly than the similarly non-upgradeable Trashcan? That’s what Mac users have been asking for well over a decade.

    Cook doesn’t condone delivering high value because in his narrow minded view, Mac users are to be milked for all they are worth, by planned obsolescence hardware designs if that’s what it takes. Every piece of hardware Cook makes is trending toward a glued shut planned obsolescence design, a hypocritical choice for a company that supposedly cares from the user and the environment. That is why the Mac desktops are not selling all that great. Apple practically doesn’t even exist in super high end computing anymore either.

    Your best value in lightweight computing (bang for the buck), sorry to say, is now:
    1 – Inexpensive Wintel PC
    2 – Used 2010-2012 Mac Pro with upgrades
    3 – Used late model Mac with lots of 3rd party accessories tailored as best as possible to your use case
    4 – Hackintosh (cheap to buy parts, but significant time investment)
    5 – a very expensive new Mac (which today are all highly restricted from future upgrades and customisation).

    1. People used to replace computers every 3 years. Not anymore. 7 year old machines are quite common. I see 7 year old Macs working away happily all over the place.

      Everything is document processing and document management. Core i3 processors would be enough for most people.

      Intel graphics as well.

      Your definition of settling is very different than mine. When people are accustomed to waiting and drumming their fingers while the computer starts up, and counting the bouncing icons as their computer starts up, and then you do this upgrade and all of it is pretty much instant, they don’t feel as though they are settling and we aren’t shoving money into Apple’s pockets for nothing. I just bumped their Internet speed up to 470Mb/s as well.

      If we bought brand new machines, we’d be out at least another $1000 and there’s be no additional productivity. This is the issue that as effected the industry for quite some time. Not just Apple. For your average Microsoft Office User, calendaring, web, CRM, database management, document management, a 6 or 7 year old Mac with 16GB or RAM and an SSD kicks ass.

      1. YMMV

        “Everything is document processing and document management. Core i3 processors would be enough for most people.”

        That may be true where you are, but if you are in the business of audio or video production, then everything you said doesn’t hold true. Since about 2015, the Mac platform fell substantially behind Windows workstations. Same for science, design, engineering, and medical fields. Statistics don’t lie. Mac market share has now started to regress when it was growing under Jobs’ leadership.

        Moreover, at the prices Apple charges, offering an i3 chipset is a huge slap in the face.

        I know I am not in the minority on this opinion. If Apple insists on being only a premium company, they need to start offering premium performance again — that is compared to current competition, not compared to the previous Mac hardware update that in many cases is years late. I blame bad leadership. Apple can’t even walk and chew gum at the same time. In recent years, it was all iOS. Now Cook has turned his attention to subscription services. Can someone explain why Apple cannot maintain its Mac lineup with class leading features and competitive performance at competitive prices?

        1. Don’t know if you’re in the minority, you’re opinion is valid for AV production but that is probably a fraction of a fraction of one percent of corporate workstations. In my work environment, where we have thousands of workstations, virtually everyone’s job can be expeditiously performed on a PC that’s 2007 vintage – Core Duo, 2-4GB RAM, spinny HD. Anything better is great, but amounts to sprinkles on the icing on the cake.

          1. That perhaps explains why Windows is eating Apple’s lunch. Apple is addicted to high cost fashion products, and it cannot manage to build affordable entry-level products anymore.

            It should be noted, when the Mac Mini debuted in 2005, it was offered at $499 to start. Assuming an extremely conservative 3% inflation rate , the current entry level price should be about $720.

            Instead, for $799 you get a Mac mini A1993 model with a Core i3 chipset and integrated graphics and a 128 GB SSD (not user upgradeable). Perfrect for office drones, but approximately 50% more costly than the equivalent Windows box.

            Again, Apple is losing its ability to compete because nothing it offers is cost competitive and user-upgradeable. Everyone knows it but as long as the iOS app store cash keeps rolling in, Cook feels free to ignore the Mac business. For shame!!!

  3. A “fools’ bargain” maybe. Just try to bring a Mac that was upgraded with third party items back to an Apple store for a repair. Not going to work, they won’t repair it or they’ll insist the third party upgrade is the cause of the problem whether it is or not. I speak from experience with a 2013 MacPro with defective video boards; first they said the upgraded SSD was the cause of the problem, then the upgraded RAM. Fortunately I still had the original parts so I put those back in and Apple finally acknowledged that the video boards were bad. So unless you have a friendly non-Apple authorized repair center, be careful with the third party upgrades.

    1. Apple Store? What’s that?

      I send the computers out to an authorized 3rd Party. It works for them, it works for us. The computers are already (obviously) out of warranty. They seldom fail. With the 3rd party upgrades they seldom fail. I can’t remember one failing.

      If one did though, I’d take it back to the same 3rd party who put the upgrades in. If it was the screen that failed, in the trash it goes. If it is the logic board, I can pick one of those machines up in working condition for $300 to $500. If the machine I purchase is in good enough condition, I’d just move the upgrades over there. If not, I’d use it for spare parts.

      1. Ever replace a GPU and have the presence of a fully compatible but non-OEM GPU block firmware updates so that macOS can no longer be upgraded? This is the trite Apple attempt at support:

        That’s just one example of thousands of boneheaded Apple Mac decisions. The internet is littered with horror stories from people installing Metal capable graphics cards into their 5,1 Mac Pros only to find that it blocked them for any major OS updates.

        Can you explain why Apple’s OSes can’t support GPU upgrades? What possible purpose would it serve to lock out OS updates based on Apple’s horridly managed video firmware?

        Oh yeah. Greed. The new Apple.

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