Reconditioned 2020 iMac vs. Mac Studio?

I’ve been using a mid-2017 iMac for the past five years and was planning to upgrade to its replacement when it was released. Well, it has been released, and I’m bummed by the cost (including the Studio Display) and the form-factor of the Mac Studio. I can’t imagine Steve Jobs letting it go out the door, let alone Jony Ive.

As a result, I ordered a reconditioned 2020 27" iMac from Apple and just received it, but now I’m having second-thoughts. It is a monster of an iMac (3.6GHz 10-core Intel Core i9, 64Gb RAM, 2Tb SSD, Radeon Pro 5700 XT with 16GB of GDDR6 memory).

However, I’m having “buyer’s remorse” and would appreciate your thoughts on whether to keep it or return it. The Pros are the capability of a machine that costs the same as an equivalent Mac Studio but comes with a built-in monitor which is a $1,600 saving plus it has an SSD which is an improvement over my current 3Tb fusion drive that has been spinning non-stop for 5 years now! The con is that it has an Intel CPU, and I’m afraid Apple will stop supporting the OS in a few years (as it has Mojave on my current iMac after only three years after its release), and the machine will have no resale value when Apple stops issuing new OS’s for it (probably three years from now).

I would appreciate some thoughtful responses as I must return it to Apple by 4/18/22 if I want a refund. Many thanks in advance.

If you’re satisfied with the performance for however many years you will have it…keep it. However…even my wife’s M1 nothing Air is faster than my 2019 iMac…and the Pro in my 14 MBP as well as the Max in the Studio I ordered to replace the iMac are significantly faster than the Air. Depends on what you’re doing with it…for myself using Lightroom to process photos is painful on the iMac compared to the M1 Pro MBP…so I was happy to spend the money. If you do email and web browsing…the performance differential probably isn’t worth the cost…but anything Mwhatever is a much better future proofing purchase.

Way back around 20 years ago or so, Just about 3-4 months after I bought my my Mac 9300, Steve Jobs announced that that the soon to be released OS X would not run on it. It would only run on soon to be released Intel Macs, and it was too late for me to return it. Until I replaced it with an original cheese grater a few years later, I was unable upgrade or buy the latest and greatest software. Though I did love the 9300, it was a bummer every day to hear about all the great OS X stuff I couldn’t run, and how much faster, etc. the new Macs were, and they didn’t cost that much more than what I originally spent on the 9300.

I don’t know if this will be the case with the new Apple silicon software, but I’ve read and heard that they are smoking the Intel models.

If you don’t like the Studio configuration a refurbished iMac Pro might be a better choice. I bought one three years ago and it has been the best Mac I have ever owned. Compared to the iMac 27 that you got, it will be somewhat slower for single threaded apps, but faster (and much quieter) for heavily multi-threaded apps. I run heavy image processing loads on my iMac Pro and it handles it easily and you can’t hear the fans at all. That being said, for the same processing load, my MBP16 M1 Max is significantly faster - so the new M1 SOCs are going to perform better (also without loud fans). I would think the Intel hardware will be supported for at least the next three years but of course there are no guarantees. I will be getting the Studio system later this year after supply stabilizes and prices come down a little.



The Studio most closely resembles the Cube, which was Jobs’ pride and joy.

In terms of your question, I’d be very leery of buying an EOL’d architecture at this point. Apple’s going to stop supporting it at some point, sooner or later, as will developers, and it’s likely to be a bit chaotic over the next few years. How long do you tend to hold onto a machine before you upgrade?

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Have you considered an Apple Silicon 24" iMac? It solves your form factor issue and uses current technology. Depending on your needs, it may have all the performance you need.


Food for thought from history
The last PPC Mac was released in 10/2005, with the Intel models starting in January 2006.
These were released with Tiger.
PPC Macs got one more release: Leopard in 10/2007. Snow Leopard (8/2009) did not contain PPC support.
Leopard stopped being supported in 6/2011.

Given that Apple sort of “pre-announced” that the Mac Pro will transition to Apple Silicon this year, 2022 is going to be the last year of any Intel models being sold.

My guess: Best case: Apple drops support for intel Macs with a release in 2024. Worst case, they drop it next year 2023. Given Apple supports macOS support release for about 2 years after the current release, that puts Intel Macs turning into pumpkins in 2025 or 2026. That’s 3-4 years.

Depending on how long you want to keep the Intel Mac how much you paid for it. your tolerance for running older versions, and application availability, an Intel Mac may not be such a good deal.

(I like to keep my Macs a long time, so I personally would not buy a refurb Intel model unless I absolutely needed it for something Intel).

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That’s the biggest reason not to buy any Intel hardware from Apple at this point…get something else even if it doesn’t meet your perceived needs as well as some piece of Intel hardware does.

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I wouldn’t buy an Intel Mac.

And I own that very iMac, a little less ram, the Vega Pro graphics card. It maybe a beast but my Max MBPro runs rings around it.

That’s a sizeable investment, I would be putting it into the new line of architecture.

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One more thing. IMHO, the Studio Display was meant to be the 27” iMac replacement. Why else would be as thick as it is? If the 24” new iMac could be as thin as it is, surely Apple could have released a stand-alone 27” display as thin as the 24” iMac. The only reason the Studio Display would have been designed thicker and with air holes at the top was because it was supposed to be a computer to replace the Intel 27” iMac. If only Apple had followed through with that plan.

The iMac 24 is 11.5 mm thick while the Studio Display is 19mm. That’s a really large conclusion to hang on a quite small difference in thickness.

See iFixit teardown, which MacRumors summarizes as follows:

“The Studio Display is using the exact same display as the 5K ‌iMac‌, and there’s an internal power supply, which iFixit says is an impressive feat of engineering. The internal power supply makes the Studio Display different from the ‌iMac‌ because it requires massive fans for heat dissipation, plus it requires a ~50 percent thicker chassis.”

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Seems like with an external power brick like the new 24” iMac, the Studio Display could have done away with the “massive” fans and added an M1 Pro or Max CPU and created a new, 27” iMac. Wish they had asked me :nerd_face:

If they’d wanted to replace the 27" iMac, they would have replaced the 27" iMac.


I agree completely…the Studio and display are the 27 iMac replacement…and mine is on order with trading in a 2019 27 for exactly that reason.

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Question: Do you need that 27” screen or will a 24” screen do?

That M1 is a beast. It’s performance amazes me. I bought my wife the one with only 8Gb of RAM because that was available that day at the Apple Store and her old iMac failed.

Even with this minimal configuration it blasts away my Intel based MacBook Pro. I am speechless at the speed.

Maybe if you’re doing a lot of photo editing of video processing, you need something more. Maybe if you need more than two screens, but otherwise, 95% of Mac users should be thrilled with this machine.

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Spot on…unless you need/want the larger screen or are doing photos or video the M1 is just fine as long as you give it the 16 GB because you never know what might come along you want to do. It’s even good enough for photos and/or light video work if budget is a consideration…and my wife’s M1 MBA is faster than my 2019 iMac but not dramatically faster.

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Thanks for the suggestion, but I do a lot of photo editing. The scree size would be acceptable if Apple decides to upgrade that iMac with an M1 Max or even an M1 Pro CPU with at least 32Gb of RAM and a 2Tb SSD.

I would go with the Studio then…that’s what I decided for photo processing. I went with the base Studio with M1 Pro, 32GB, and 2TB…and the Studio display. My LR catalog lives on a portable SSD that gets moved between mt M1 Pro 14 MBP and the Studio when it gets here for home and travel use.

I am replacing my MacPro (black bin) with a Mac Studio (32GB RAM, 2TB SSD), no point in buying Intel IMHO as they will get supported less. But for the display, I cannot justify spending £££££££s on an Apple Studio Display. So I have brought two LG monitors and a Ergoton dual monitor stand LX Dual Stacking Arm, Tall Pole | Ergotron for £500 less than the cost of a standard Studio display (I already have external speakers and a webcam).