2018 Back to School Buyers Guide: Which Apple iMac is best for education?

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited August 22
If you're going back to school this fall, and you need a new computer, you've got many choices when it comes to what to put on your desk. If you've chosen a Mac, AppleInsider looks at which model is right for you.

Apple iMac buyers guide


Apple, which sought to dominate the education market in its early years, fell behind in recent years, so the company launched a big push this past spring to reiterate its commitment to schools. And while the new product from that push was an iPad, Apple is clear that Macs are part of its education solution as well.

When it comes to choosing a computer to use in the fall, there are plenty of Apple-related options; AppleInsider already looked at iPads and MacBooks.

But if you're more interested in an all-in-one desktop Mac for school, here are your options:

The 21.5-inch iMac

21.5-inch Mac


The 21.5-inch iMac's advantages include considerable power at a decent price.

The smallest iMac, the 21.5-inch model, starts at $1,099 retail but is on sale for $949, which is one of the lower prices of any Mac and an affordable price to pay for a huge amount of computing power.

The entry-level model sports a "Kaby Lake" 2.3GHz Processor and 1TB Storage, along with 8GB 2133MHz memory, configurable to 16GB. That model also offers two ThunderBolt ports and Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640.

The next level up, priced at $1,299, adds a 4K Retina Display, while upgrading the processor up to 3.0GHz (the storage is still 1TB.) The memory is up to 8GB 2400MHz, configurable to 16GB.

The top model, retailing for $1,499.00, but on sale for $1,349 at Apple authorized resellers, keeps the Retina 4K Display and upgrades to a 1TB Fusion Drive. It features a 3.4GHz Processor, and features 8GB 2400MHz memory, configurable up to 32GB.

In our review of the current generation of iMacs in June 2017, AppleInsider wrote that the line "offers a great lineup for new buyers to jump in or a strong upgrade for users looking for faster, sustained performance in a great looking package with a breathtaking display and strong connectivity features."



The 27-inch iMac

27-inch iMac


The 27-inch iMac models are even larger, and more powerful, also coming in three configurations -- all of which sport a Retina 5K Display.

The entry model retails for $1,799 and is equipped with a 3.4GHz "Kaby Lake" Intel Core i5 processor, 1TB Fusion Drive, and a pair of ThunderBolt 3 ports. Shoppers can currently save $150 on the standard config at Apple authorized resellers.

The next model up, for $200 more, upgrades the processor to 3.5GHz, while keeping the same processor and Fusion Drive.

The high-end model, starting at $2,299, brings the processor up to 3.8GHz, while doubling the Fusion Drive to 2GB.

"The latest Kaby Lake iMacs deliver strong refinements to Apple's most popular desktop Mac line," AppleInsider wrote in our review of the systems. "The 5K Mac models deliver performance improvements at a better price than previous models, although we recommend users opt for at least the middle tier (or upgrade their Fusion Drive to the more SSD-rich 2TB or larger options)."

Watch our video review:



The iMac Pro

iMac Pro


The iMac Pro isn't particularly aimed towards students; Apple's website says it's for "everyone from photographers to video editors to 3D animators to musicians to software developers to scientists," with no mention of students.

But if you do decide you need that much power, the iMac Pro features a 27-inch, 5K Retina Display screen, and an 8-Core, 3.2GHz Intel processor, configurable for up to 18 core.

The iMac Pro retails for $4,999, but is currently on sale for as low as $4,599 at Apple authorized resellers.

AppleInsider reviewed the iMac Pro in January, stating that "the internals are way ahead of their time," and sporting "a ludicrous amount of power to be crammed into a thin all-in-one machine."



Which one you should buy

The equation on which desktop Mac to buy is pretty straightforward right now.

Apple also still offers the Mac Pro and Mac Mini, but AppleInsider does not recommend them for education purposes, as neither is close to current.

So, the the best iMac for you depends in many ways on your needs. As far as basic education goes, any model will help students crank out papers and research topics equally well.

If you're looking at a discipline like graphics design, the 21.5-inch model will cover nearly everything. Consider the larger 5K iMac line for a boost in power and for a larger screen for photo editing and other design needs.

The iMac Pro is an amazingly powerful computer, and is overkill for most needs. But, for 3D rendering and similar computationally intensive needs, it is the way to go -- assuming the cost isn't a consideration.

How to get the best price for education

Apple continues to offer education pricing to "current and newly accepted college students and their parents, as well as faculty, staff, and homeschool teachers of all grade levels." However, Apple authorized resellers often have even more aggressive discounts without the need to furnish a student ID or .edu email address.

If you're shopping for a new Mac for high school or college, be sure to check out our Price Guides to find the best deals and lowest prices on Apple hardware. Updated throughout the day, shoppers can redeem exclusive coupon discounts, as well as instant rebates, on current and closeout models at Apple authorized resellers. Current discounts range from up to $500 off current iMacs to up to $1,050 off closeout models. Many retailers also only collect sales tax in a handful of states and tack on free expedited shipping to a number of products, further adding to the benefits of shopping online.

Mac Price Guides

Need help? Send us a note at priceguides@gmail.com and we will do our best to assist.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    cecil4444cecil4444 Posts: 15member
    Is this the first year Apple has done away with their annual back-to-school promotion? There used to be free iPods, free headphones, free App Store credit, etc. but seems they’ve done away with that now. The existing discounts are great, but I’m surprised they’ve ended that bonus just as they make a renewed push in the education market...
    edited July 9
  • Reply 2 of 12
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,584member
    cecil4444 said:
    Is this the first year Apple has done away with their annual back-to-school promotion? There used to be free iPods, free headphones, free App Store credit, etc. but seems they’ve done away with that now. The existing discounts are great, but I’m surprised they’ve ended that bonus just as they make a renewed push in the education market...
    I don't think its started yet. I don't think it starts until around mid-July. 
    edited July 9
  • Reply 3 of 12
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,567member
    Don't have opinion on iMAC but Best Macbook Pro for students is the both 13"/15" without touch strip, base models starts with 8GB RAM/256GB SSD at price point well under $1300..Can be done.
  • Reply 4 of 12
    I’d buy an iMac if only I could get it with a MacBook Pro style keyboard trackpad, so I don’t have to move my hand back and forth all day. A trackpad beneath the keyboard beats a mouse any day for most tasks.
  • Reply 5 of 12
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,260member
    The best iMacs for students, or anyone for that matter, are the yet to be released ones with up to date hardware. Otherwise DO NOT BUY.
    commentzillaopencomment
  • Reply 6 of 12
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 967member
    Sadly the answer is probably none of them.  Apple has blown the ‘anyone who works with other people” market by not committing to groupware/group management products.  

    OSX/macOS server is a perfectly adequate group mgt product bu requires dedicated Macs to run it and organisations don’t need yet another server platform to use integrate and manage.

    All our kids are being forced to Google accounts which will see them revert back to GUIs and make Chromebooks more compelling.  Even though G-suite and Office365 are absolutely awful, totally fragmented (can’t even depict a group as a consistent entity across the product suite because of the legacy attempts) Apple’s total abstention gives us no choice.  Until Apple merge macOS server & iCloud and produce a compelling group offering, they can win a few more battles but have already lost the war.


  • Reply 7 of 12
    mcdave said:
    Sadly the answer is probably none of them.  Apple has blown the ‘anyone who works with other people” market by not committing to groupware/group management products.  

    OSX/macOS server is a perfectly adequate group mgt product bu requires dedicated Macs to run it and organisations don’t need yet another server platform to use integrate and manage.

    All our kids are being forced to Google accounts which will see them revert back to GUIs and make Chromebooks more compelling.  Even though G-suite and Office365 are absolutely awful, totally fragmented (can’t even depict a group as a consistent entity across the product suite because of the legacy attempts) Apple’s total abstention gives us no choice.  Until Apple merge macOS server & iCloud and produce a compelling group offering, they can win a few more battles but have already lost the war.


    Predicting doom since 1997!
    macxpress
  • Reply 8 of 12
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,260member
    mcdave has a point though.  This seems to me that Apple is doing a sad repeat of the early nineties. A disjointed, out of date product mix lacking features that help it play with others.

    This doesn't mean doom necessarily, after all Apple pulled itself away from the brink around 1996.  But it does require a direction change.
    edited July 9 mcdave
  • Reply 9 of 12
    harshbharshb Posts: 1member
    macxpress said:
    cecil4444 said:
    Is this the first year Apple has done away with their annual back-to-school promotion? There used to be free iPods, free headphones, free App Store credit, etc. but seems they’ve done away with that now. The existing discounts are great, but I’m surprised they’ve ended that bonus just as they make a renewed push in the education market...
    I don't think its started yet. I don't think it starts until around mid-July. 
    I'm actually looking forward to this promotion as well. I've been waiting months to buy the Macbook Pro, but I want to get the back to school promo with the free Beats as I'm a uni student.
  • Reply 10 of 12
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 967member
    mcdave said:
    Sadly the answer is probably none of them.  Apple has blown the ‘anyone who works with other people” market by not committing to groupware/group management products.  

    OSX/macOS server is a perfectly adequate group mgt product bu requires dedicated Macs to run it and organisations don’t need yet another server platform to use integrate and manage.

    All our kids are being forced to Google accounts which will see them revert back to GUIs and make Chromebooks more compelling.  Even though G-suite and Office365 are absolutely awful, totally fragmented (can’t even depict a group as a consistent entity across the product suite because of the legacy attempts) Apple’s total abstention gives us no choice.  Until Apple merge macOS server & iCloud and produce a compelling group offering, they can win a few more battles but have already lost the war.


    Predicting doom since 1997!
    On the contrary my posts are usually optimistic/over-optimistically Pro-Apple.  They’ve just blown this one by focusing on the device and ignoring the service which underpins it.  Please show the evidence of where they’ve gained educational market share.
  • Reply 11 of 12
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 967member
    They should have moved to SSD-first with optional fusion drives by now.
  • Reply 12 of 12
    FolioFolio Posts: 382member
    I see this piece is a repost from July, but I assume AI has updated the sales. One thing I'd add for students: the 27-inch screen is best if you intend to do a lot of research and writing. You can have THREE PDF's FULL SIZE on this screen, or equivalent in web sites, etc. While I also have other discrete laptops, being able to tap this huge surface area really helps (in ways that you must experience to appreciate). The sharp display means little to no eye fatigue. If in doubt maybe try it at a Store.
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