Researching a New iMac

I’m pricing out a new iMac 27” desktop. I’m very excited to update my five year old model and get a retina display along the way. Sometimes, old machines just get slow for seemingly no reason. C’est la vie.

I used to buy a new Windows PC every two years back in the day, but the processors were also jumping to new speeds quite often then, too. Things have slowed down in that regard, but I think five years is still a good run. Apple bloggers and podcast pundits would have you believing you need a new machine every 10 months, at worst, but let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment here: We don’t.

In pricing this new machine out, I came up against one of the usual issues with Apple’s computers. Over the years, people say that Apple has gotten better about the price of its RAM upgrades. Maybe that’s true with the laptops, but it doesn’t seem to hold up with the desktops. With the last two desktops I’ve bought, I’ve always taken the base model and then bought RAM separately from OWC or Crucial.

The 27” iMac comes with 8GB standard, which is just far too low, especially for someone like me who tends to have three art programs open at the same time (Acorn and Manga Studio, for starters, plus maybe Image Well or Image Capture or, heaven forbid, Adobe Lightroom) next to multiple web browser windows and a text editor or two, at the least.

You can upgrade from 8GB to 16GB for $200, which seems almost reasonable, or 8GB to 32GB for $600, which just blows the doors of reasonable, takes the rest of the car body to the junkyard, and has the Hulk do an Irish dance on top of it.

Installing new RAM on an iMac 27” machine is still as simple as it gets. It’s the one remaining hold out for upgradability on a Mac machine. The smaller 21.5” iMacs do not allow for RAM modification without pulling off the screen, which I would never attempt. And it only has two slots, anyway.

I looked it up on OWC (which is, and they have multiple options to replace or add onto those 8GB. You can add two 4GB sticks to get up to 16GB of memory for a mere $63.75. Or, you can replace all four sticks with 8GB sticks for $224. Basically, for just a few bucks more than Apple’s upgrade to 16GB, I can go the whole 32GB. Sold!

From there, the prices jump up a bit. You can add two 16GB sticks to the extant 8GB for 40GB of memory at $359, or go all the way and plug in 4x16GB sticks (64GB, yowza!) for $699. I’m not a pro; that’s not necessary.

(There are a couple options inbetween, too, but I don’t want to split hairs.)

I’m going to go the $224 route and get 4x8GB sticks.

Then, I’m upgrading the 1TB hard drive to a 2TB fusion drive, because I get 4x the SSD memory with it: 128GB vs 24GB. Sure, I’d love to go all-SSD, but that would blow the budget, even for the tiny drive.

I’ll be ordering it in the next month or so, which gives me some time to clean up my current iMac, and start worrying about how I’m going to get everything set up on the new one. I could just copy everything over, but isn’t a new computer supposed to be the best time to clean old messes up? And the current one is bloated with stuff…