Downsizing to a 24-inch iMac 🖥

I’ve just ordered a new 24-inch iMac in blue. I dithered a bit beforehand because I’m downsizing from a 27-inch, but after visiting the local Apple store, I placed my order. There were several factors to consider; here’s how I reached my decision.

My current machine is a 2017, 27-inch, 3.4 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5 with 16gb of RAM. I bought this unit from the refurb store a few years ago, possibly in 2017; I’m pretty sure it wasn’t very old at the time. It’s been a great, reliable daily driver. There’s nothing wrong with it, but these days I’m inclined to upgrade my workhorse computers before I’m forced to do so because of some kind of failure. You know how it is: once bitten, twice shy. Given what I’ve learned about the new M1 desktop Macs, and all the reviews and comments I’ve seen, I decided now’s the time. As I’m a writer, raw power wasn’t my primary concern; what worried me was the smaller screen size.

my computing priorities have changed

Advice in computing magazines back in the day was that screen quality and size are hugely important factors. You can never have too much screen space! writers would proclaim. I think that got drummed into me, and I know that upgrading to a larger screen has made a positive difference in the past. When I bought my 27-inch iMac, I was using large Excel spreadsheets a lot, and the extra width reduced the amount of scrolling I had to do. But I don’t do that work any more, so my computing priorities have changed: I now need a fast, reliable machine with a top-notch display. The lower price of the 24-inch iMac compared to the larger alternative means I can afford a slightly higher-spec.

Given the ports on the new iMacs – or lack thereof, being limited to USB-C – I’ll need to buy some kind of hub or adaptors for my accessories. As I’d also like a new SSD drive for Time Machine, this is a shopping list that’s adding up. So while I did consider waiting to see what Apple replaces the current 27-inch iMac with, I know it’s probably going to cost more than I want to spend. And if its screen is even larger than 27 inches, then I’m certainly not going to want it: even now, the 27-inch can feel too big: apps such as Ulysses, Scrivener and iA Writer can look a bit lost, and because I wear bifocal glasses, the height means I sometimes have to tilt my head back to get the clearest view. That can be a real pain in the neck. (You’ll see what I did there…).

Comparing these machines side-by-side in the Apple store, the true size of the 27-inch unit, and the slender aesthetics of the new model, really became apparent.

The RAM upgrade decision was made easier by the substantial trade-in value Apple offered on my current iMac

The next consideration was the RAM. Again, I’ve always understood that more is better, so I thought about this a lot. The guy I spoke to in the Apple store said 8gb is more than enough for most people because of the way the M1 chips are made. And he’s probably right. But like screen size, the more is better mantra runs deep, and I can’t add more RAM myself further down the line. This was the point at which I faltered when ordering my new Mac. In the end, I went for the upgrade to 16gb. It might just make the machine that bit more snappy, and as people say, it’s wise to consider not just your current needs, but what you might want in a few years’ time.

The RAM upgrade decision was made easier by the substantial trade-in value Apple offered on my current iMac: £575 (more than US$790 at the time of writing). This seemed like a great offer. I was surprised it was so much, and when I mentioned it to the guy in the Apple store, he seemed surprised too. If a new Mac is something you’re considering, and you don’t need to keep the one you have, check the trade-in value. It means that even with the £200 cost of the RAM upgrade, I’m still quids-in.

The final issue, of course, was the colour. I’m luckier than a lot of people because my desk faces away from the wall, so I’ll actually get to see the back of the machine; even so, it’s the front I’ll spend most time looking at. When browsing online, I was drawn to the silver. I know that would be no change, but I liked the almost invisible nature of that colour, coupled with the white bezels. Even so, I wanted to see them in person, as one or two of the other options were also appealing. I’m glad I did, because in the store the blue really caught my eye. In that light, the rear looked almost black, and the front a sort of pale grey rather than pale blue. I really liked it. The silver, by comparison, looked very bland. Having seen it in the flesh, I can’t see many people choosing that one.

So, with greater insight, I headed home and placed my order: 24-inch iMac in blue, 512gb of storage, 16gb RAM. I was surprised by the lead time of just over a month, but this gives me time to look into hubs and backup drives, so I’m cool with that. Now, I’m really looking forward to having a smaller but nonetheless powerful computer on my desk.

I’m a novelist and scriptwriter, Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow and Advisory Fellow, workshop lead and creative coach. Click here to get the lowdown on updates, insight into projects, and a look behind the scenes on creative stuff. You can also follow TFW on Twitter, or like the Facebook page.

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