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Recipe for Best Deal on an iMac

2008-04-11 08:55:25

I'm kicking around the idea of getting a new iMac for home. It would be mostly for web browsing, email, encoding my DVDs to Apple TV and iPod, and playing some games.

First of all, why didn't Apple make the iMac with a user-accessible hard drive? I understand that the iMac is supposed to be a "consumer" computer, simple, all-in-one. Not expandable. Not for nerds like me who like to tinker with their computers.

But they made the memory user-accessible, which is actually more important because Apple charges insanely high prices for RAM upgrades: a 4GB upgrade for an Intel iMac is $400 from Apple, $100 from Why not the hard drive?

The one part on a computer that is most likely to fail, the one mechanical part on just about any computer (except for fans), is the hard drive. It's also something for which Apple charges an unreasonable amount (like RAM). An upgrade to a 1TB drive is $400! It's only about $250 at New Egg, including shipping.

You could get an external disk for more storage, but then you're ruining the nice clean desk that the iMac gives you.

This is mostly rhetorical: I know they probably didn't say "let's make it hard/impossible to upgrade the hard drive in this puppy." The Apple designers clearly wanted to make something beautiful, and they just couldn't work it out so the disk was user accessible. A hard trade-off, but that's something Apple does often.

So here is my current recipe for best value iMac: get a 20-inch Intel iMac, 2.4GHz processor, with 1GB RAM and 320GB Hard drive. 2.4 GHz processor gets you the good video card, if you don't care at all about games, get the 2.0 GHz. Then go to and get the 4GB iMac upgrade kit for $106. Total cost: $1605. If you want a big screen, get the same configuration in the 24-inch model, buy the same memory upgrade from Crucial, total cost $1905. Use a network drive for expanded storage.