Hardware

Is the £229 Wowcher iMac worth it?

Wowcher iMac
iLack: the iMac on Wowcher is very long in the tooth

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If you’ve spent any time searching for a second-hand iMac, you will almost certainly have been blasted with Google ads from the “deal a day” site, Wowcher.

I’ve been researching this for well over a month, and Wowcher seems to have a permanent deal on iMacs costing £229 – a huge 77% saving on the actual £999 price of the Apple desktop, if the site is to be believed. Is this a genuine bargain or is there the faint whiff of haddock coming from the Wowcher iMac?

How good is the £229 Wowcher iMac?

Wowcher iMac

The first thing to establish is that the Mac doesn’t come from Wowcher itself, but from a company called IT Trade Services. This company seems to sell all manner of refurbished IT equipment and has been going for about five years.

What about the Mac itself? Well, you probably won’t be shocked to hear it’s not the latest model, but you might be surpised to find out just how old it is.

The Mac in the offer is the A1224 model with a 2GHz processor, which according to the excellent everymac.com was first released way back in 2007. Twelve whole years ago. In computing terms, it’s the Duke of Edinburgh – it will likely crash occasionally and struggle to do anything meaningful for the rest of its life.

It has a 250GB mechanical hard drive, which if it’s still the original model, will be in serious danger of failing at any time – any mechanical drive has a limited shelf life and 12 years is right at the very top end of what you’d expect one to last.

The 4GB of RAM that’s included is the absolute bare minimum you’d want on any device these days. Most phones have more than that these days.

The company has put a relatively new version of macOS on the refurbed Mac – El Capitan, which was last updated in 2018. However, it’s worth noting that some of the operating system’s features won’t work on the 2007 vintage iMac, because they’re reliant on the Metal API that has only been included on Macs built since 2012.

The 20in screen has a resolution of only 1,680 x 1,050, which was perfectly spiffing when the iMac was released in 2007, but the world has moved on. Again, most phone displays will now have more pixels than that, in a tiny fraction of the space.

What about the “12-month warranty?”

You might be faintly reassured by the promised 12-month warranty, although you really shouldn’t be. If it’s the same standard warranty offered on all of IT Trade Service’s products, your warranty is “covered for labour and parts within the first 60 days of purchase, after the first 60 days your warranty covers labour cost only, if the device requires new parts after 60 days, we will require the cost of parts”. What’s more, you need to pay the cost of shipping the device for repair if it fails after the first 15 days. That’s more like a two-week warranty with benefits, in my book.

If you’re thinking this really doesn’t sound like a computer that’s worth a thousand pounds, you’d be absolutely right. Indeed, if you look into the small print on Wowcher’s site, even it confesses that the so-called 77% discount is on “IT Trade Service’s price of £999 (correct as of 27.12.17)”. That’s getting on for two years ago, and was steep even then.

Even at £229, your “fantastic deal” is likely to be a riotous disappointment. We wouldn’t prod it with a barge pole. Good luck if you decide to take a gamble.

NOW READ THIS: How do you turn a MacBook into a Wi-Fi hotspot?

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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