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Old Jan 1, 2013, 01:29 PM   #1
mkre
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Join Date: Nov 2012
How much faster is the new iMac? Should I buy it?

I currently own the mid 2011 base model (i5), and I've been wondering.. Should I buy the new iMac? How much better will it perform? And would it be the right move for me?

I mainly use my current iMac for my work, Music Production & Sound Engineering.

As you can imagine, for this line of work you need a pretty decent machine to run the necessary software, the CPU-draining sound manipulation effects and to handle the huge sample libraries, in real-time.

However, I have found that over the past 6 months I have been happy with it's i5 performance and have hardly ever maxed the CPU load within my music production (DAW) software.
In those rare and extreme few cases that I did, it was near the completion of my projects and I could quickly overcome the problem by freezing a couple of tracks. (For those that don't know, freezing - bouncing down the audio tracks along with any post effects, so they are no longer being processed in real-time)

Also the fact that the SSD drive isn't a stock option, and is an additional option, turns me off.

So if the CPU performance of the new iMac isn't THAT much better, I could boost the performance of my current model with a few cheaper upgrades.

I'm thinking about purchasing an external thunderbolt SSD, maybe a LaCie, and using that as my boot drive. (or combine it with the internal and roll my own fusion drive).

Secondly, I could further expand my 8GB ram to 16, or even 32, if that is possible on my current model.

Thirdly, upgrade my external storage from my current WD MyBook Studio II 2TB Firewire, to something like a LaCie 2TB (or 4TB) Thunderbolt. This external storage would be used to store and run all my project files and huge sample libraries.

Lastly, and something that is not really necessary, I could also purchase a Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock, which will add USB 3.0 ports. Would only consider it if it is reasonably priced.

I think that these smaller upgrades would give me the boost in performance that I am after, and that a new base model iMac wouldn't make a big difference.

What do you guys think?

Last edited by mkre; Jan 1, 2013 at 01:48 PM.
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Old Jan 2, 2013, 04:06 AM   #2
mkre
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Bump..

Does no one have any opinions or suggestions on this?
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Old Jan 2, 2013, 08:34 AM   #3
ctdonath
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Geekbench scores:

iMac (21.5-inch Mid 2011)
Intel Core i5-2400S 2500 MHz (4 cores)
7175

iMac (21.5-inch Late 2012) (base model)
Intel Core i5-3470S 2900 MHz (4 cores)
9200

iMac (21.5-inch Late 2012) (top model)
Intel Core i7-3770S 3100 MHz (4 cores)
12367

Depending on what you get, you're looking at 1.3x to 1.7x faster.

If you sell the old one, what's the upgrade cost vs patching the old one?

Given your work, I'd be concerned about stagnation. What you have now may be fine for now, but reaching "it's not fast enough" could be a brick-wall problem; may want a preemptive upgrade to ward off an "oh crap, I need a new machine NOW" moment.

Having done plenty of piecemeal upgrades before, I'm now leery of doing so beyond the most straightforward low-impact memory & bulk storage changes. Computers are, when done right and used hard, finely-balanced systems; knowing how "it works, but..." can lead to endless tweaking and hassles, I'd rather buy a box designed by people paid well to ensure every tiny detail works together smoothly.

(This said by someone driving an 8yo subnotebook into the ground before getting a 27" iMac.)
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Old Jan 2, 2013, 09:00 AM   #4
tobiasluke
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Join Date: Jan 2013
mkre, my main advice to you is to have a look into what options you can get into with the upgraded I/O of 2 thunderbolt ports and 4 USB 3.0's.

the main advantages, i would suggest, can be found there. with the *near* infinite amount of daisy chaining you can do with external devices and storage on Thunderbolt, you will find a greater amount of flexibility in the future with those I/O options.

as far as your comment about creating your own SSD/HDD hybrid, the apple option is a much cheaper option in the end. it also leaves the possibility of still using those TB ports for more SSD storage in bulk, leaving it where you know you want it. (not at the mercy of fusion drives AI)

that being said, if you're looking at future proofing as much as possible, there's no point going with a base model. therefore the whole endeavour is likely set you back a fair bit of coin, and for an incremental upgrade in *internal* parts, that may not be your best bet.

hope that helps and makes sense
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Old Jan 2, 2013, 12:52 PM   #5
nec207
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Join Date: Mar 2011
I have read that the new iMac will be 20% or 30% faster than the old one but we will all know when the new iMac comes out some time this month and people start doing benchmarks just how much faster.
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