21.5″ iMac Pricing Guide

Lets get this started, the Apple iMac. Now I know I do laptop pricing and not really desktops, but I’ve had a few iMacs for sale and they are decent machines. I did daily a 2008 2GHz Core 2 Duo for eBay posting and it did the trick in 2017. The major complaint is that they run hot under load, mostly due to their exhaust design, but otherwise they are a well received product & I argue they look damn good too. This guide will be about the 21.5″ although I will briskly talk about the 27″ iMac, a guide on that will be later. 🙂

Common Upgrade Pains on most iMacs:

  • Installing a bigger HDD or SSD can make the fan run at 100% – MacFan Control to ‘fix it’
  • RAM upgrading is a pain – some 2009 – 2012 iMacs are more picky & don’t boot from RAM
  • CPU upgrading is a gamble – iMacs won’t just boot, specifically the i7-3770s working but i7-3770 wont for you, but to others… it can work just fine

This page was made in November 2017, so prices should depreciate from 5% to 20%.
There are about 3 distinguishable versions so far, the original Aluminum iMac with a black plastic rear, the other Aluminum iMac which has the glass cover to the edges, & the Tampered Edge iMacs which are thinner, removed CD drive & (mostly) lost easy upgrade ability.

Identifying an iMac

Sorry I won’t cover the CRT iMacs & eMacs, the white plastic iMac G5 & Core Duo, nor the strange base flat panel iMac that came out prior to those.

A good way to identify any iMac is looking at the serial number and going to EveryMac.com to do the lookup function. From what I gathered, it is 90% accurate, because it might post a few models. The serial can be seen at the bottom of the display stand.

Aluminum iMac – Core 2 Duo – 20″ & 24″ – Mid 2007 to Mid 2009 – ‘Black Back’ 

Easily distiguishable with the silver bezel around the display and lack of SD card
These come in 20″ WSXGA+ and 24″ WUXGA Displays.
A1224 is the 20″ body, A1225 is the 24″ body
They are more ‘square’ than later units
The glass over the display does not run to the ends of the top and sides
None had a Core 2 Quad, some BTO/CTO had a Core 2 Extreme (uncommon but not rare/collectors)
OSX 10.11 El Capitan last supported OS (came out in 2015)
Black Back isn’t the official name, but it seems I’m not the only one who calls it that
Both models have 2 RAM slots on bottom, these can be really picky about RAM.

  • 20″ iMac 7,1 – Mid 2007 to Early 2008 – WSXGA+ Display, Upgradable CPU, DDR2 RAM
  • 24″ iMac 8,1 – Mid 2007 to Early 2008 – FHD Display, Upgradable CPU, DDR2 RAM
  • 20″ iMac 9,1 – Early 2009 – WSXGA+ Display, Upgradable CPU, DDR3 RAM
  • 20″ iMac 9,1 – Mid 2009 – WSXGA+ Display, Soldiered CPU, DDR3 RAM

I’m not doing big data analysis, but from what I gathered deals are at $50 to $120 locally, maybe up to $220 online, $300 if it comes with everything. Perfect for people who only need office, facebook, spotify & youtube but want an AIO with a ‘secure’ nom-botchy OS. Sometimes I come across models that have dead backlights or ‘blank screens’ to a non-techy seller. These have CCFLs which die over time, in addition to this, they are dual CCFLs, much difficulty to replace.

 

Aluminum iMac – Core 2 Duo & Core i3, i5, i7 – Late 2009 to Late 2011 – Flat edges

New design has glass go from end to end, only the aluminum bezel is on the bottom.
Both models come with LED backlit IPS display & decent speakers.
These exactly like the ‘Tampered Edge’ iMac from the front.
Right side has a DVD drive & now an SD Card Slot.
Now in 21.5″ FHD & 27″ QHD (4K) Displays. The previous 24″ model is discontinued.
These have 4 RAM slots & are accessible from the bottom, these aren’t that picky on RAM but sometimes they can be.
Late 2009 27″ iMacs can be equipped with a Core 2 Duo or i5/i7, so be careful if bidding in the dark, expecting an i7 from someone who doesn’t “have a power cord”.
Any HDD will work, but some won’t come with a temperature sensor the iMac can use, so they’ll blow the fan at 100%. Fix this by using macfancontrol & limiting the HDD fan intensity. Don’t worry, the CPU has its own fan and the GPU uses the ODD fan.

Tampered Edge iMac – i3, i5, i7 desktop and ultrabook – Late 2012 to Current

 

For the 21.5″ iMacs, they relocated the RAM slots to the back of the unit.
The 27″ iMac has a removable cover to access it, but for the 21.5″, you have to remove the entire motherboard to get to it.
Additionally, Apple decided to downgrade the HDD speed to 5400RPM. They also started pushing their hybrid SSHD drives, or as they call them ‘Fusion Drives’.
Oddly
Possibly one of the worst features Apple decided to do was a complete redesign of the fans.
These don’t have a top vent, only one exhaust fan, GPUs have been known to throttle because of this.

Disclaimers:

You’ll get mixed results on upgrading the processors on the 27″ model, not sure about Core 2 Quad/Extreme or i5/i7 on the 21.5″. Also you can supposedly upgrade the GPUs on these machines. But this post will mainly focus upon finding a good deal to buy or one to flip. Another thing on these GPUs is that they use laptop or mobile versions of the graphics card. So my Passmark scores might not be that completely accurate because these were tested on a wide range of machines that has different heatsink designs, voltage input and (most importantly) different dedicated RAM configurations, so just take it as a ballpark.

To make things easier, we are going to start with the common iMac, 21.5″ (A1311 or A1312 model body). These machines are becoming fairly cheap now, and this will most likely be a great gift for anyone who wants to replace their old desktop. I am going to start detailed information upon them all and then do the price comparisons, then the same sequence with the 27″ iMac. All of these iMacs are High Sierra compatible, not so sure if they’ll work on the next OS update, as Apple seemed to kill off the 2009 Mac Pro & even the latest Mac Mini.

Abbrevations… just in case you don’t know them 🙂
DC – Dual Core
QC – Quad Core
CPU – Processor, Central Processor Unit, the computational power (word, calculations)
RAM – Random Access Memory – Higher = more tabs on chrome, layers in photoshop, tracks on music programs
BTO/CTO – Build or Configure to Order
dRAM – Dedicated RAM for Graphics Cards
HDD – Hard Disk Drive
SSD – Solid Disk Drive (fast)
Fusion or SSHD – Solid State Hybrid Drive –
PM – PassMark Score – Higher the better, note CPU and GPU scores are different from each other.
There are two scores for passmark, the first is the score total for the CPU, and the second is the single core/thread, some applications are limited to single core performance or dual core performance, which quadcores aren’t needed.

Power Rankings – From Best to worst

  • Best – The best you can get for that year, sometimes a CTO option
  • Better – High end model, but might be limited in some way
  • Good – You’ll might be likely to feel some constraints if you wish to push it
  • Mid – Middle of the road, standard model.
  • Fair  – Typically these have a better CPU than the entry model if you spring cash for it.
  • Base – Entry model, for those who need the bare necessities
  • Edu – Education model, downgraded CPU, RAM and HDD size, but still decent for photoshop.
  • Budget – A base model with slower CPU, cheaper HDD, less RAM, and/or downgraded GPU

Power Ranking only apply on units of the same year, always go with passmark score for proper deciding, e.g. An older ‘best’ i5 might beat a late model ‘better/mid’ i7).

Puget systems made a great post about the differences between X, K, S, T processor variances.

  • i5-2500 – 2.7GHz, standard processor chip, good clockspeed and perforance
  • i5-2500S – Lower power draw, decent clock speed & performance
  • i5-2500T – 2.7GHz, Lowest power draw, limited performance for low wattage
  • i5-2500K – 3.3GHz, unlocked processor, higher clockspeed, can overclock
  • i5-2500X – Not real, but this would be the ‘extreme’ version, which is greater than the K variant

Before you buy checklist

Always test the iMac you are buying! Bring a friend if you don’t feel comfortable going to their home.
If you buy it elsewhere without testing, well don’t get upset if the person ‘ripped you off’, they might just be dumb about what they are selling.
Turn on the iMac and on the top left corner click the Apple logo and see ‘About my Mac’.
It will show the specs of the unit, storage and all that good stuff.
On some older OSX versions, it won’t say what year/model it is.
Click more information and it’ll give you the serial number and model number too. Go to everymac to reference it or check the serial.
If they can’t remember their password, check the serial number that is on bottom.
Best of luck if its iCloud lock, or because you don’t want to get a refund and be a good person, you can always try to do a clean install.
You could always make a new user via Single User mode to test it out. Steps are here. Takes about 15 minutes.
Don’t pay extra for pirated software, pay extra if they have disc, box and serial numbers.
If the seller wants to keep their keyboard and mouse, you can use a regular PC one just fine. If they want to sell it for extra…

  • Wired White Plastic G4 keyboard – $5 to $20
  • Wired Aluminum – $10 to $30
  • Tenkeyless Bluetooth – $15 to $40 (MC184LL/B)
  • Wired Mighty Mouse – $10 to $20
  • Magic mouse – $20 to $50 (Runs off two AA batteries)
  • Magic Mouse 2 – $45 to $80
  • Power cord – $4 to $20 (Any 3 Pin PC/TV/Appliance cord will work)

Price and specs

21.5″ Late 2009 – iMac 10,1 – Core 2 Duo – 4GB RAM standard

109 total sold: 9 refurbs, 87 used, 13 for parts
As Is – $40 to $130
Used – $150 to $250 // $350
Average Price – $200
Lot price – $60+ each

  • Base CPU – 3.06GHz E7600 w/ 3MB – PM 1997 & 1251 Single thread
  • Better CPU – 3.33GHz E8600 w/ 6MB – PM 2412 & 1373 Single thread
  • Two HDD options – 500GB or 1TB 7200RPM Drives
  • nVidia GeForce 9400m   w/ shared RAM – PM 190
  • ATI Radeon HD 4670m w/ 256MB dRAM – PM 465
  • I don’t know for how long Apple will support this model
  • This would be a great gift for someone who wanted an iMac and doesn’t do much on it.

21.5″ Mid 2010 – iMac 11,2 – i3 or i5 1st Gen – 4GB RAM standard

118 total sold: 12 refurbs, 97 used, 19 for parts
As Is – $60 to $150
Used – $170 to $300 // $370
Average Price – $190
Lot price – $90+ each
i5 not that common, 7 sold listings

  • Base Model – 3.06GHz DC i3-540 w/ 4MB – PM 2691 & 1221 Single thread
  • 500GB HDD & ATI Radeon HD 4670m w/ 256MB dRAM – PM 465
  • Good Model – 3.2GHz DC i3-550 w/ 4MB – PM 2836 & 1300 Single thread
  • 1TB HDD & ATI Radeon HD 5670m w/ 512MB dRAM – PM 714
  • Better Model – 3.6GHz DC i5-680 w/ 4MB – PM 3508 & 1537 Single Thread
  • 1TB HDD & AMD Radeon HD 5670m w/ 512MB dRAM – PM 714

21.5″ Mid 2011 – iMac 12,1 – i5 or i7 2nd Gen – 4GB RAM standard

195 total sold: 32 refurbs, 144 used, 19 for parts
As Is – $70 to $200
Used – $190 to $400 // $600
Average price – $330
Lot Price – $120
i7 – $360 – $570
16GB – $280 – $665

  • Base Model – 2.5GHz QC i5-2400S w/ 6MB – PM 4936 & 1605 Single thread
  • 500GB HDD & ATI Radeon HD 6750m w/ 512MB dRAM – PM 949
  • Good Model – 2.7GHz QC i5-2500S w/ 6MB – PM 5294 & 1812 Single thread
  • 1TB HDD & AMD Radeon HD6770m w/ 512MB dRAM – PM 992
  • Better Model – 2.8GHz QC i7-2600S w/ 8MB – PM 7066 & 1799 Single thread
  • 1TB HDD & AMD Radeon HD6770m w/ 512MB dRAM – PM 992
  • Anecdotal – I sold i5 models for $270 locally & $320 + Shipping in October 2017

21.5″ Late 2011 – iMac 12,1 – i3 – 2GB RAM standard

19 total sold: 2 refurbs, 14 used, 3 for parts
As Is – $120
Used – $165 to $280 // $450
Average – $230
Lot Price – $100

  • Edu Model – 3.1GHz DC i3-2100 w/ 3MB – PM 3670 & 1583 Single thread
  • 250GB HDD & AMD Radeon HD6770m w/ 256MB dRAM – PM 992
  • basically its the mid 2011 w/ less CPU, RAM, HDD and dRAM in the GPU
  • Anecdotal – I sold i3 models for $220 locally w/ 4GB RAM in Oct 2017 locally

Slimmer Tampered Edge iMacs

21.5″ Late 2012 – iMac 13,1 – i5 or i7 – 8GB RAM standard

101 total sold: 7 refurbs, 83 used, 11 for parts
As Is – $130 to  $260
Used – $250 to $530 // $650
Average – $470
Trending – $500, $595, $675 on model type
Lot price – $150
i7        – $540 – 650 // 800 – 10 sold
16GB  – $400 to $590
Fusion – $410 to $530

  • Base Model – 2.7GHz QC i5-3335S w/ 6MB – PM 5768 & 1669 Single thread
  • 1TB HDD & nVidia GeForce GT 640M w/ 512MB dRAM – PM 942
  • Good Model – 2.9GHz QC i5-3470S w/ 6MB – PM 6278 & 1858 Single thread
  • 1TB HDD & nVidia GeForce GT 640M w/ 512MB dRAM – PM 1213
  • Better Model – 3.1GHz QC i7-3770S w/ 8MB – 8876 & 2019 Single thread
  • 1TB HDD & nVidia GeForce GT 640M w/ 512MB dRAM – PM 1213

21.5″ Early 2013 – iMac 13,1 – i3 – 4GB RAM standard

10 total sold: all used
Used – $330 to $530 // $710
16GB – $330, $360 & $530

  • Edu Model – 3.3GHz DC i3-3225 w/ 3MB – PM 4333 & 1768 Single thread
  • 500GB HDD & Integrated Intel HD 4000 – PM 454
  • Few of these had been upgraded to 8GB and 16GB, not all were 4GB units.
  • This unit missing the dGPU is a major setback for photoshop or gaming

21.5″ Late 2013 – iMac 14,1 or 14,3 – 8GB RAM standard

165 total sold: 8 refurbs, 147 used, 6 for parts & 4 ‘New’
As Is – $240 to $350
Used – $320 to $650 // 780
Average – $550
Trending – $550, $610 & $725
Lot Price – $200+ each
i7 – $650 to $820 // $900 ~ 6 Sold
16GB – $320 to $700 // $820 ~ 37 Sold

  • Based Model – 2.7GHz QC i5-4570R w/ 4MB – PM 6689 & 1866 Single thread
  • 1TB HDD & Integrated Iris Pro 5200 – PM 1175
  • Fair Model – 2.9GHz QC i5-4570S w/ 6MB – PM 6725 & 2001 Single thread
  • 1TB HDD & nVidia Gefore GT 750M w/ 1GB dRAM – PM 1287
  • Best Model – 3.1GHz QC i7-4770S w/ 8MB – PM 9322 & 2169 Single thread
  • 1TB HDD & nVidia Gefore GT 750M w/ 1GB dRAM – PM 1287
  • The Base Model, runs Iris Pro graphics, which is almost as good as the nVidia GPU, and its processor isn’t that bad either.

21.5″ Mid 2014 – iMac 14,4 – 8GB RAM standard

36 total sold: all used
Used – $380 to $700 // $790
Average – $550
Trending – $599

  • Edu Model – 1.4GHz DC i5-4260U w/ 3MB – PM 3560 & 1513 Single thread
  • 500GB HDD & Integrated Intel HD 5000 – PM 595
  • Apple gimped this model out big time. I was quite surprised how high these sold for
  • Performance wise, this machine is about equal to the Mid 2010 iMac with an i5…
  • It uses the same processor as an Early 2014 Macbook Air
  • I’d say skip this one

21.5″ Late 2015 – iMac 16,1 & 16,2 – 8GB RAM standard

133 total sold: 24 ‘New’, 2 refurbs, 100 used, 2 for parts
As Is – $200 to $285
Used – $495 to $900 // $1300
New – $750 to $1050
Average – $780
Trending – $619, $650, & $1022
i7 – $1015 to $1500 ~ 8 Sold
16GB – $790 to $1300 ~ 19 Sold
Fusion – $500 to $1270 ~ 11 Sold
Retina – $710 to $1150 ~ 55 sold

  • Base Model – 1.6GHz DC i5-5250U w/ 3MB – PM 3620 & 1446 Single thread
  • 1TB HDD, FHD Display & Integrated Intel HD 6000 – PM 830
  • Mid Model – 2.8GHz QC i5-5575R w/ 4MB – PM 7434 & 1884 Single Thread
  • 1TB HDD, FHD Display & Integrated Iris Pro 6200 – PM 1494
  • Better Model – 3.1GHz QC i5-5675R w/ 4MB – PM 8061 & 2064 Single thread
  • 1TB HDD, 4K Display & Integrated Iris Pro 6200 – PM 1494
  • Best Model – 3.3GHz QC i7-5775R w/ 6MB – PM 10960 & 2250 Single Thread
  • 1TB HDD, 4K Display & Integrated Iris Pro 6200 – PM 1494
  • Apple had introduced a new 4K display for the 21.5″ as an upgrade.
  • The 1TB Fusion drive was downgraded, with only 24GB for the SSD instead of 128GB previously.
  • The base model uses a

21.5″ Mid 2017 – iMac 18,1 & 18,2 – 8GB DDR4 RAM Standard – Latest Model

16 Sold: 8 New, 3 Newish, 8 Used
Used – $865 – $1050 // $2500
New – $1090 – $1471
Average – $1090
Trending – $1100
Retina – $1130 – $1500 // $2500 ~ 10 sold

  • Base Model – 2.3GHz DC i5-7360U w/ 4MB – PM 6080 & 2068 Singe Thread
  • 1TB HDD, FHD Display & Integrated Intel Iris Pro 640 – 1485
  • Fair Model – 3.0GHz QC i5-7400 w/ 6MB – PM 7417 & 1955 Single thread
  • 1TB HDD, 4K Display, & Radeon Pro 555 w/ 2GB dRAM – PM 3141
  • Good Model – 3.4GHz i5-7500 w/ 6MB – PM 8102 & 2119 Single thread
  • 1TB Fusion (32GB SSD), 4K Display, & Radeon Pro 560 w/ 4GB dRAM – PM 3605
  • Better Model – 3.6GHz i7-7700 w/ 8MB – PM 10807 & 2342 Single Thread
  • 1TB HDD or Fusion, 4K Display & Radeo Pro 555 or 560

 

 

 

 

 

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