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Archive for the ‘Desktop Computers’ Category

by Tom Nelson

Stock remains in good supply this week in the Mac refurb store, though I’ve decided to drop the Mac Accessories category from the Steals & Deals weekly posting. Apple hasn’t updated any of the models in this category since 2013. The refurb AirPort Express is a 2012 model with out-of-date Wi-Fi technology. The AirPort Time Capsule is from 2013, and while the Wi-Fi technology is a bit more current, the drive used for the Time Capsule section is highly overpriced, even by Apple standards.

For the time being, I suggest a good USB or Thunderbolt external drive for use as a Time Machine backup device. If you’re looking for a wireless router to use in place of the old Apple AirPort, may I suggest you look at Bradley Mitchell’s “Best 802.11ac Wi-Fi Routers for Home Networks” article.

With that out of the way, on to our deals this week.

MacBookPro15Yosemite

Image courtesy of Apple

Deals of the Week

The first deal this week is for one of the more popular configurations of the 2015 15.4-inch MacBook Pro. This model includes 16 GB of RAM, a speedy 512 GB PCIe-based flash storage system, and dual graphics, with Intel Iris Pro for when you don’t need advanced graphics capabilities and want to save on battery run time, and an AMD Radeon R9 M270X system for when graphics performance is top priority.

This MacBook Pro would easily work for just about any back-to-school need, or for the pro-am photographer or multimedia specialist.

Our second deal is for a 13.3-inch version of the 2015 MacBook Pro. This deal probably better fits most pocketbooks, with 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB PCIe flash storage system. It may be a bit less well equipped than the first MacBook Pro offering, but it still has more than enough performance to be a wonderful back-to-school choice.

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by Tom Nelson

This week, we welcome the Mac mini back to the Mac refurb store. We also welcome a newcomer: the iPad Pro, specifically, the 12.9-inch Retina model, which is making its first appearance in the refurb store.

The Mac minis are available in both the base configuration, with just 4 GB of RAM, a model I highly recommend avoiding since the memory in the 2014 Mac mini isn’t user upgradeable, and 4 GB just isn’t sufficient to run your Mac and do anything really productive. Personally, I’d like to see Apple stop selling the 4 GB models. Luckily, the refurb store has Mac minis with 8 GB and 16 GB of RAM available.

MacBookPro15Yosemite

Image courtesy of Apple

Deals of the Week

Our deals this week are for a pair of iMacs. The first is a 21.5-inch Retina iMac configured with 8 GB of RAM and a 1 TB Fusion drive. This iMac would make a pretty nice desktop Mac for general use.

Next up is the larger 27-inch Retina iMac, also configured with 8 GB of RAM and a 1 TB Fusion drive. Although the two iMacs are configured similarly, the larger iMac is better suited for more demanding work. This is due to two primary reasons: the graphics engine is quite a bit more powerful than the one in the smaller iMac, and the RAM in the big iMac is user upgradable, letting you add RAM as needed.

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by Tom Nelson

Ever since the introduction of the Mac in 1984, Apple has included built-in networking support. Nowadays, an Ethernet port or built-in Wi-Fi is not only expected, but quite mundane as well. But in 1984, having a computer with built-in networking was a bit revolutionary.

MacIntoshPlus

Apple originally made use of a networking system it called AppleTalk, which allowed those early Macs to not only communicate with each other, but more importantly, to share what was, back then, very expensive laser printer systems. These printers became part of the desktop publishing revolution that the early Macs tapped into.

To understand the importance of AppleTalk, and later, EtherTalk, systems that Apple used, you have to go back and see what type of networks were available in 1984.

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by Tom Nelson

Mac minis continue to be out of stock, but that’s OK; the rest of the store is full up, with tons of choices for back to school.

With the start of the school year quickly rolling our way, I decided to look for two MacBook models that would meet the needs of most students, educators, and parents. Actually, I wouldn’t overlook either of our deals this week for personal or office use as well.

MacBookPro15Yosemite

Image courtesy of Apple

Deals of the Week

Our first deal is for a 2016 model of the 13.3-inch MacBook Air. It comes equipped with 8 GB of RAM and a 128 GB PCIe flash drive. While some may question the small flash storage space, you probably won’t question the small price this Mac is being offered for.

The second deal is also for a portable Mac, in the form of a 2015 15.4-inch MacBook Pro. This i7-equipped Mac includes 16 GB of RAM, a super-fast 512 GB PCIe flash storage system, and not one, but two graphics processors. The first is an Intel Iris Pro that can take care of most of your Mac’s graphics needs while conserving power and extending battery life. When you need some graphics horsepower to get your work done, the AMD Radeon R9 M270X can kick in and take the graphics to a new level.

That makes this MacBook Pro a versatile workhorse for just about any use.

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by Tom Nelson

The 27-inch iMacs introduced in late 2009 included the first version of Target Display Mode, a special feature that allowed iMacs to be used as displays for other devices.

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Image courtesy of Apple

Apple originally hinted at the iMac being used with DVD and Blu-ray players as an HDTV display, and even as a display for another computer. But in the end, Target Display Mode became an Apple-only technology that allowed Mac users to drive an iMac’s display from another Mac.

Still, it can be quite compelling to see your Mac mini making use of your older 27-inch iMac as a display, or for troubleshooting an iMac having display issues.

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by Tom Nelson

Most of the Mac models remain well stocked; the exception is the Mac mini, which is once again out of stock, at least for the time being. This still leaves plenty of other Mac models from which to choose this week’s deals.

But before we move on to the deals, a word about how I make the choices. The first thing I look for is value, which is one reason you rarely see Macs dressed up with every possible option. The other important criteria are that RAM and storage are adequate for the types of tasks the Macs will likely be put through. For RAM, I generally like to see a minimum of 8 GB; this is especially important on Mac models that don’t allow you to upgrade the RAM.

As for storage, I try to avoid Macs equipped with slow 5400 RPM hard drives, as these will always be a bottleneck in performance, not to mention day-to-day use. Fusion drives and solid-state flash drives are preferred, as they will help a Mac’s performance in routine activities. One of the things I don’t like is waiting for a routine task to be performed, so storage selection is important to me.

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Image courtesy of Apple

Deals of the Week

Up first is a 2015 15.4-inch Retina MacBook Pro with 16 GB of RAM and a fast 256 GB PCIe-based flash storage system. This Mac should work for anyone who needs to run a large number of apps at the same time, or one or two critical apps that can make use of the Mac’s fast storage or ample RAM.

Next up is a desktop Mac, for those who like to work from a comfortable spot, with a nicely worn chair and a desk that can accommodate a 27-inch 2015 Retina iMac. Equipped with 8 GB of RAM, this one just meets my minimum requirements. But the 27-inch iMac is one of the few Macs that still support user installable RAM, so you can upgrade this Mac at any time, and for considerably less than what Apple would have charged for the additional RAM up front. For storage, this iMac uses a 2 TB Fusion drive, which provides a nice amount of storage space.

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by Tom Nelson

In a bit of a surprise, the Mac refurb store has run out of stock of the Mac mini. I was beginning to think this summer was going to be a bit unusual, and that the store would remain well stocked through the back-to-school rush. Although the Mac minis are bound to be back in stock soon, it’s always a shame to see them gone; they’re a very popular option for students, small businesses, and home offices, as well as anyone who wants to build a home entertainment system.

iMac27Retina2015

Image courtesy of Apple

Deals of the Week

Our deals this week start with a 2016 model of the 13.3-inch MacBook Air. The 2016 models were refreshed last April, so this MacBook Air is about as current as you can get in the refurb store. Equipped with 8 GB RAM and a 128 GB PCIe flash storage system, this portable Mac provides a nice bit of performance in a small package.

Our second deal is for something a bit larger: a 2015 27-inch Retina iMac. Sporting a Quad-Core i5, 8 GB RAM, and a 1 TB Fusion drive, this iMac is nicely configured, and can be a great choice for those who need a desktop Mac and its large Retina display for working on photos and videos.

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by Tom Nelson

It’s the summer of miracles as the Mac refurb store remains well stocked with plenty of quality Mac products to choose from. This week, I’ve selected two deals for those looking for mid-tier performance, one of the better performance levels to shop for, as the overall value for this type of Mac is one of the best going.

2014MacMini

Image courtesy of Apple

Deals of the Week

Our first deal is for the ever-popular 15-inch MacBook Pro. This 2015 model comes equipped with 16 GB of RAM and a speedy 256 GB PCIe flash drive.

I like this MacBook Pro not only because of the larger 15-inch Retina display, but also because of the more than adequate RAM, and the very desirable flash-based storage system that gives the Mac a nice kick in the bandwidth when booting up or launching and using apps.

The second deal this week is for a 2014 Mac mini. This mini is outfitted with 8 GB of RAM and a 1 TB Fusion drive. Though not as fast as the MacBook Pro’s flash drive, the Fusion drive does offer considerably more storage space. And it offers this nice level of performance at almost half the cost of our first deal.

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by Tom Nelson

I found a few favorites in the Mac refurb store this week, and needless to say, they will make up our deals this week. We’ll get to the deals in a moment, but first, a few observations about the store.

Stock has been on an uptick, with quite a lot to choose from. This seems like the opposite of what I usually see in the refurb store during the summer. Instead of the cupboards being bare, the store is overflowing with stock.

This means the refurb store is going to be a great place to pick up a new Mac, especially for those heading off to school in the late summer. Pay particular attention to MacBook Pros this summer. At some point, it’s expected that Apple will introduce a new 2016 model, which could cause a slight price cut in the 2015 MacBook Pros in stock. So, be sure to watch this space for any info on new models and price reductions. If new models appear before students head back to school, I expect there will be a run in the store, so be prepared to act fast.

2015macbookair

Image courtesy of Apple

Deals of the Week

This week’s deals start with the smaller of the MacBook Air models. Equipped with 8 GB of RAM and a fast SSD, it’s a good choice for those who need good performance, but won’t be filling up the smallish PCIe flash drive.

Up next is a current generation MacBook Pro, nicely configured with 16 GB of RAM and a decent size PCIe flash drive. You also get the wonderful Retina display with this model.

Our next deal is for a Mac mini with a 1 TB Fusion drive and 8 GB of RAM. This is a pretty nice configuration that’s quite versatile and would work as a home or small office Mac, or even for a student who would like a desktop Mac instead of a portable model.

The last deal this week is for a slightly older 2014 27-inch Retina iMac. I like this iMac configuration because of the Quad-Core i7 processor running at 4.0 GHz, and the versatile 1 TB Fusion drive. Of course, I also like the fact that you can pick up one of the fastest Macs available for under $2,000.

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by Tom Nelson

The Apple iMac is a superb desktop computer that combines the power of the latest Intel i5 or i7 core processor with your choice of a 21.5-inch or 27-inch display, plus a large helping of Apple’s well-deserved reputation for style. The result is a gorgeous, all-in-one desktop Mac that has been setting industry trends since its debut in 1998.

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Image courtesy of Apple

Every all-in-one computer requires at least a few tradeoffs. Before you decide that an iMac would look stunning on your desk, let’s take a closer look at some of the tradeoffs and see whether an iMac is a good fit for your needs.

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