How to Buy Used Apple Desktops and All-in-Ones

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How to Buy Used Apple Desktops and All-in-Ones

Apple computers have always been distinguished by elegant case design, intuitive user interfaces, a strong brand identification with those who work in the arts, and the large memory required by many creative projects. For many, there simply is no other choice. Those who prefer Apple systems love them and have loved them since they bought their first Mac as much as 30 years ago.

To purchase a used Apple desktop or used Apple all-in-one computer, it is most important to know what applications are to be run and how much material is to be stored. Over the run of each model, specifications change and various upgrades have been available, so checking a model number is not sufficient. A buyer who checks the details of a specific computer against the requirements of his or her specific uses can  make a good choice among the used Apple computers in the market, whether in a local shop or among the wide selection on eBay.

Desktop or All-in-One

Those who use Apple computers on their desktops often use an "all-in-one" without thinking about it. Apple only has three models in its current desktop computing lineup: the MacMini, the Mac Pro, and the iMac. The Mac Pro is the powerhouse machine that produces entire movies for Hollywood distribution, runs major animation studios, and mixes the professional music people download to their listening devices. The Mac Mini is a pocket-sized box that can function as a desktop or a server. The iMac is the computer most people think of when they think of an Apple desktop computer, and technically it is an "all-in-one". The processor is contained in the same unit as the monitor and its stand. Set it behind a wireless keyboard and mouse and it's pretty much ready to run.

Used Apple All-in-One Computers

When purchasing a used computer, it is of primary importance that it can run any contemporary applications of importance to the owner. Therefore, some of the specifications characteristic of used Apple desktop computers are summarised in the table below.

Desktop

Years Made

Processor (GHz)

Memory

Hard Drive (GB)

Display (in)

Other

iMacG4

2002 - 2004

G4: 700 - 1.25

128 MB - 2 GB

40-80

15

Considered obsolete

iMacG5

2004 - 2006

G5: 1.6 - 2.1

256 MB - 2 GB

80 -250

17-20

Some are VESA-mount compatible

Poly- carbonate iMac 4.1 6.1

2006 - 2007

1.83 - 2.33 GHz Intel processor  with 2 -4 MB on-chip L2 cache

512 MB - 3 GB

160 -500

17 - 24, 16:10 aspect

First Intel processors; iSight camera, AirPort Extreme standard

Aluminium iMac 7.1-9.1

2007 - 2009

2.0 - 3.06 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 4 - 6 MB on-chip L2 cache

1 - 4 GB

250 GB - 1TB

20-24, 16:10 aspect

iSight camera, AirPort Extreme standard

Unibody iMac

10.1 - 12.2

2009 - 2011

At least 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo -  with 3MB on-chip L2 cache 

4 - 32 GB

500 GB - 2 TB

21.5 - 27, 16:9 aspect

FaceTime HD camera, video out display port standard

Unibody iMac

13.1 - 13.2

2012 -

At least 2.7 GHz Intel Core i5 with 6 MB on-chip L3 cache

8 - 32 GB

1 TB - 3 TB

21.5 - 27, 16:9 aspect

Mini DisplayPort to VGA, DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort adapters offered

As may be seen, because any model was produced over several years, a particular model may have run more than one operating system running at different speeds with various amounts of memory. Some models allowed for certain upgrades as well. Confirming the features of a particular used machine with the seller is important to ensure that it does what is required to operate the applications the buyer plans to run.

CD-RW, DVD-R is available on the Combo Drive through G5 while the ability to write DVDs requires replacing this with the Super Combo Drive. Bluetooth and a Wi-Fi connection, which Apple calls AirPort Extreme, becomes standard with the second of three versions of the G5.

At the time, the G5 was the slimmest desktop computer on the market, weighing in at as little as 7 kg depending on whether the machine was made of plastic or aluminium and glass. The reviewer at the Wall Street Journal called it "the gold standard of desktop PCs".

Graphics Users and Used Apple Computers

Graphics cards began to take off in the iMac G4 series. These empowered design users for creative work, reinforcing the loop of identification between the brand and creative users. The table below summarises the graphics cards and screen features for each major segment of the all-in-one line.

Computer

Lowest Graphics Package: Card, Memory, Screen

Highest Graphics Package: Card, Memory, Screen

iMacG4

nVidia GeForce 2 MX with 32MB of DDR SDRAM; 15 inch screen

nVidia GeForce FX 5200 Ultra with 64MB of DDR SDRAM;, 20 inch screen

iMacG5

nVidia GeForce 4 MX graphics processor with 32MB of DDR SDRAM; 17 inch screen

ATI Radeon X600 XT graphics processor with 128MB of DDR SDRAM; 20 inch screen

Polycarbonate iMac 4.1 - 6.1

ATI Radeon X1600 with 128MB of GDDR3 SDRAM; 17 inch screen at 16:10 aspect ratio

nVidia GeForce 7600GT with 256MB of GDDR3 SDRAM; 24 inch screen at 16:10 aspect ratio

Aluminium iMac 7.1-9.1

ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT with 128MB of GDDR3 SDRAM; 20 inch screen at 16:10 aspect ratio

nVidia GeForce GT 120 with 256MB of GDDR3 SDRAM, plus GT 130 or ATI Radeon HD 4850, both with 512MB of GDDR3 SDRAM; 24 inch screen at 16:10 aspect ratio

Unibody iMac

10.1 - 12.2

nVidia GeForce 9400M with 256MB shared memory; 21.5 inch screen at 16:9 aspect

AMD Radeon HD 6970M with 2GB GDDR5 SDRAM; 27 inch screen at 16:9 aspect

Unibody iMac

13.1 - 13.2

Nvidia GeForce GT 640M with 512 MB of GDDR5 SDRAM; 21.5 inch screen at 16:9 aspect

Nvidia GeForce GTX 680MX with 2 GB of GDDR5 SDRAM; 27 inch screen at 16:9 aspect

 

Because of the range of specifications and upgrades offered for any model, a buyer should confirm that a particular computer meets the specifications necessary to do the work planned. Especially in the later years, the difference between 256 MB and 2GB of memory, not to mention processor speeds summarised in the earlier table, can make a significant difference in the performance speed when editing video or other large projects. Other issues of concern to the buyer are likely to be listed on a seller's product page.

Used Apple Desktop PCs

The most serious Apple users are likely to be running a Mac Pro. These are the machines that power major motion pictures and advertising agencies, animation studios and music production companies. Like the all-in-ones, the Mac Pro has undergone many transitions over the years, with various upgrades and improvements. Current users run two quad core or two dual core processors. Earlier equipment upgraded over the years.

MacPro Base Software and Utilities

Available software and utilities are extensive. Apple has built into this system much of what this user may desire to operate the daily business. Built-in software and utilities include those noted below:

Software

Function, Notes

Final Cut Pro

Video editing

Maya

3D rendering

Adobe Creative Suite

Video, photo, and graphics production and editing

iLife

iPhoto editing, iMovie video editing, iDVD mastering and burning

iTunes music management, GarageBand music editing, iWeb website creation; iWeb available since 2006 only

iWord

Microsoft Office, Pages desktop publishing product

Utilities

Apple's Mail, iChat video conferencing, iCal calendar program

Options

ComboDrive for DVD Read-Write; AirPort Extreme Wi-Fi card for earlier models before Wi-Fi is standard; Airport Extreme Base Station: secure wireless network for up to 50 people; Cinema Display monitors: 20-inch, 23-inch high def, 30-inch high-def

When selecting a Mac Pro, review the system specifications against the user's current requirements. Older Mac Pro equipment can be cost effective solutions for those who would like to use an Apple system as long as they do what is required.

MacMini

The MacMini has varied slightly in size over its lifetime but currently is a coat-pocket-size 6.5 inches square and 2 inches high. It runs an Intel Core duo processor with a hard drive of 60-80GB. Loaded with iLife software, it is prepared to do most of what an ordinary office user might need. Just select an appropriate monitor, mouse, and keyboard.

MacMinis also are used as small servers in offices. Different MacMinis are designed for use as servers and as free-standing machines, so check the usability of a machine under consideration for the desired application.

MacMini Home Theatres

Some early MacMinis have video connections suitable for HDMI outputs, making them appropriate home theatre centres. These are generally those made before 2009. Check for information about video outputs if this is of interest.

Buying Used Apple Desktops and All-in-Ones on eBay

The computer user who prefers an Apple machine can find a good selection of used Apple desktops and used Apple all-in-ones on eBay. To make sure that the selected computer selected is able to  run the software desired, start by checking the specifications of the general class of computers as noted above against the software specifications. Then the search for computers can begin with the kinds of computers most likely to work. Using the Search window on any page of eBay, type in the name of the kind of equipment desired, such as "Mac Pro". Before making a final selection, however, review the full specifications on the product page to confirm that the specific model and year, with any upgrades, meet the requirements of the user.

Protecting the Shipment

To make sure that the shipment arrives safely, check to see if the seller plans to insure it. If insurance is not included in the shipping price, ask the seller to have it insured.

Conclusion

Selecting a used Apple desktop or all-in-one computer is a good way to find the Apple brand that is desired while evading the brand-name price bump.

Apple computers have always been distinguished by elegant case design, intuitive user interfaces, a strong brand identification with those who work in the arts, and the large memory required by many creative projects. For many, there simply is no other choice.

When purchasing a used Apple desktop or used Apple all-in-one computer, it is important to ensure that the required applications can be run on the system. Confirming that the computer's specifications match the user's needs is paramount. Since specifications have changed with each model, and various upgrades have been available, buyers must be sure to check the details of a specific computer against their specific requirements. Once the required specifications have been identified it is a simple matter to choose the right Apple computer from those on the market, whether in locally or among the extensive selection available on eBay.

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