Time to retire my 2009 iMac... which Mac should I upgrade to?

It’s time I retire my late 2009 iMac 27” which has been an unbelievable workhorse. I’ve lived in 10 cities in 4 different countries in that time and this has been with me the whole time. When I bought it I didn’t think I’d move at all otherwise I would have gotten a laptop - but would have missed the awesome 27” display. I will not move as I did last decade - maybe once or twice.

That being said, which newer Mac should I get? I’m tempted to go for a Mac Mini as it’s easily transportable but it always needs a monitor. I’m also tempted to get a MacBook Pro but can only afford the 13” models as it gets in the $2000+ area with 15” and 16” models. I figure 13” is enough when I want to work outside or in a cofffee shop then hook it up to a large monitor in the studio. The other option is to get another iMac. I’m torn!

My other question is what kind of processor should it have and how much RAM? What speed? i5? i7? i9? Does it matter how many cores when working with DAWs (I’m using Bitwig Studio and Studio One Pro)? Is 8 Gb RAM enough or I’ll need at least 16? Even with 8 Gb RAM and an upgrade to SSD hard drive, my 2009 iMac now easily struggles with DAW work once the tracks and plugins increase.

Note: I already bought an interface (Tascam Model 12) and plan to use my non-Elektron stuff with it and new computer and hook up my DN and DT via OB. Btw, I plan to buy from B&H Photo.

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If you can possibly wait,
Apple are transitioning to Arm processors so I’m waiting for that …
The ‘issue’ is we don’t know which order each model will be updated - so it could up to a long wait for some models.


I’ve heard of ARM processors but since there was no mention of anything Mac related at their latest event, this may not happen till 2021 or 2022. And not sure if I want to risk buying 1st generation of a new model considering their keyboards from 2017-2019 have had issues. Or should I just buy a used 2017-2018 model for the next 2-3 years then upgrade?

The dev conference announced transition plan - first models this year, all models over 2 years.
The dev kit ( Mac mini’s) were also shipped at that time.

But as I said we don’t know order of release so hard to plan …

Of course Macs bought today will be still supported for quite a while and if you need one today buy it :slight_smile:
but I do think the transition is important - particularly in the laptop area.

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Only you can know whether you should get a desktop or laptop Mac. You need to decide that before making any other choices.

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I went from an 2010 imac to a 2018 mac mini I5. Got a good deal as the 2020 mac mini was launched. For my use i like it alot. I dont use alot of softsynths, but mostly the standard channelstrips in cubase. Only time it makes noise is when exporting. Really enjoy the silence.

I’m in a similar situation with both imac and macbook pro being old and they no longer update, many apps are coming out that need 10.14 upwards.

I’m tempted to buy a 5yr old machine (or something that can sill update … and perhaps run massive X )…
get. machine that bridges the gap between ‘old’ and the new shiny machines…
maybe even wait till ‘new shiny machines’ come out and the current machines will possibly die in value.

ive been through this is ppc to intel, firewire to usb , 30pin connector to lightning … its annoying but ultimately it all gets quicker and more powerful … and no longer hindered by legacy olde worlde.

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Get the biggest iMac you can afford. That one will last at least another 11 years (typing on my 2017 27" Retina 5k iMac)…

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I would recommend you to watch this video. My english is not that good to explain everything in my own words. I hope this will help you.


Another vote for the ‘wait for ARM’ brigade here.


My order of preference is MacBook Pro, then Mac Mini and last is iMac

True but then there’s the whole portability thing which is why my order of pretense is MBP, Mini then iMac

Whatever you do, do not get a laptop that has Apple’s butterfly keyboard.


Any low spec Mac will fly compared to your 2009. The low spec 16” isn’t a bad deal, sometimes you can find it with couple hundred bucks off here and there. Otherwise if it was me buying today I’d 100% get the 5600m upgrade, but graphics performance is important to me.

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excellent advice. I will add that I went from a late 27 imac 2009, to a speced out macbook with butterfly and that stupid bar thingo. Returned it the next day - overheating cpu. Picked up a hauwei AMD matebook with touch screen - haven’t looked back and I’m enjoying win 10 with the amd cpu.

I’m actually OK with the touchbar. It’s decades of tradition that third party apps are required to make Apple products work like they should, and BetterTouchTool makes the touchbar truly useful. The butterfly keyboard’s problem was that, whether you like the feel or not, it needs to go in for repair every few months. It’s an expensive repair because Apple has to replace the whole top case, so once you’ve gone beyond the 4-year quality program free replacement dedicated to this problem, you’re screwed. And the OP like to keep a computer a long time.


I can’t imagine going back to Windows after being on Mac since 2006. Up until then I had gone through 3 PC’s the previous 10 years and ALWAYS experienced problems with audio interfaces, DAWs and, unlike my iMac, none of them really lasted more than 3-4 years. Maybe PC’s have improved in the last 15 years. I don’t know and not sure I want to take that chance.

I keep a computer for a long time because I can’t afford a new one every few years. Not because I like to. I still use an iPhone 6.


Even if I can afford it, only circumstances ever force me to upgrade. When I do upgrade, I go high end. My iPhone 6S got stolen, and I got the iPhone 11 Pro Max. I hate it. I maxed out the memory, so at least I can carry 500GB of music FLAC’s with me. My 2013 MacBook Pro simply wouldn’t run certain software anymore, so I upgraded to a new MacBook Pro 2017. Butterfly keyboard forced me to upgrade to the MacBook Pro 16" less than a year ago, and I was so happy to be out of the whole butterfly nightmare that it doesn’t matter if there’s no difference in UX. I also had two MacBook 12", which were great, but: butterfly. All got traded in for a second MBP 16" to be a cloned backup to the first. It’s a satisfactory setup, but quite a lot of money.

Go for the new imac 27 with the i7 cpu, 8 gb and upgrade to 1TB
Buy some Crucial ram from another vendor 16 or 32 gb
After six months or so you can buy a external thunderbolt SSD with the money you saved of not buying 2tb in the apple store :wink:

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