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Old Dec 11, 2012, 12:26 PM   #1
pcorrado
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Mobile i7 v desktop i5

Hello all,

Forgive I know this thread is very similar to about a hundred others on this forum but I can't seem to locate one directly on point.

I currently have a MacBook Pro from April of 2011. Is is 2.2ghz i7 quad core with high res display. 1gb discrete graphics and 16gb ram.

My photography has really taken off and as I get more and more work (it's only a side job btw) I have found that I would prefer a desktop with a large display. I'm finally ready for an iMac and I'm trying to decide my options. The on sticking point is the processor -

From I have read, it appears the i5 higher end model will be perfect for me but I can't help it wonder if I should upgrade to the i7 or even purchase an i7 refurb instead.

Any thoughts if, after having a mobile i7, I will feel stifled by a desktop i5?

For reference I use aperture extensively. The only other applications I use are the basics (web, email, word, iTunes) and occasionally handbrake (which I know does benefit from the i7 but I don't use it a lot to justify the i7 on that alone).

Thanks for your help.
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Old Dec 11, 2012, 12:48 PM   #2
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Performance would be similar, probably a little faster on the desktop i5

your i7 is

4 real cores plus 4 hyperthreaded cores

the desktop i5 is

4 real cores plus 0 hyperthreaded cores

For an app that uses 4 cores or less then the clock speed is the key number and the desktop i5 has a faster clock speed (I assume, you didn't say which one you wanted). For single core speed, the number to look at is the turbo clock speed, and these might actually be quite similar for the laptop i7 and desktop i5.

Upgrading the desktop i5 to an i7 will get you a little more speed, a little more cache, and 4 hyperthreaded cores.
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Old Dec 11, 2012, 01:10 PM   #3
derbothaus
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FYI. If fully needed the i7 mobile parts can use all cores at 3.1, 3.4 and 3.5GHz.
The listed clocks are the relative base.
The Macbook Pro's are just as fast as the 3.4GHz i7 from 2011.
Geekbench 32-bit:
Macbook Pro 15" (2.3GHz - 2.7GHz): 10800-12300
iMac i5: 3.1GHz i5 = 8362
iMac 3.4GHz i7: 11580.
http://www.barefeats.com/imac12b.html
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Old Dec 11, 2012, 01:15 PM   #4
MacVibe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by derbothaus View Post
FYI. If fully needed the i7 mobile parts can use all cores at 3.1, 3.4 and 3.5GHz.
The listed clocks are the relative base.
The Macbook Pro's are just as fast as the 3.4GHz i7 from 2011.
Geekbench:
Macbook Pro 15" (2.3GHz - 2.7GHz): 10800-12300
iMac i5: 3.1GHz i5 = 8362
iMac 3.4GHz i7: 11580.
I'll trust your numbers are right but I think the mobile chips you are talking about are for ivy bridge and the OP was making a sandy bridge comparison.
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Old Dec 11, 2012, 02:00 PM   #5
derbothaus
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I'll trust your numbers are right but I think the mobile chips you are talking about are for ivy bridge and the OP was making a sandy bridge comparison.
Yes. Sorry. Drop the numbers a few hundred points for the mobile then:
2.2GHz - 2.5GHz Sandy: 10010 - 10800
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Old Dec 11, 2012, 06:32 PM   #6
pcorrado
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Thanks guys. I was looking at either the 3.4 refurb i7 from last gen or the 2k base model i5 from the current gen.

After seeing those numbers, I think the refurb is the best value for me - sure slightly older tech but still pretty spectacular for my needs. Especially with the addition of a ssd and more ram later.
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Old Dec 11, 2012, 06:39 PM   #7
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Forgetting raw performance numbers for a second - if you run the Macbook Pro up at 100% CPU (or even nowhere near, just "under significant load) the fan noise will be insane (it is literally my ONLY complaint about my 2011 cMBP).

I suspect the iMac in desktop form factor will be alot better due to the fans being bigger and in general having more room for cooling.
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Old Dec 11, 2012, 11:30 PM   #8
The DRis
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I was considering a 2011 refurbed, but then I realized it won't have USB 3. So a new one it is.
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Old Dec 12, 2012, 03:28 AM   #9
iMikeT
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I was considering a 2011 refurbed, but then I realized it won't have USB 3. So a new one it is.

Question, does anyone really need USB 3.0? Further, does anyone really need USB 3.0 when Thunderbolt is available?

Personally, I don't even need the USB 2.0 ports on my 2011 iMac. At most, I have one port used at all times and that one use is for my Apple wired keyboard with the 10-key and the Mighty Mouse attached to it. I occasionally connect my iPhone via USB for copying photos and syncing large apps, any other times, I sync to iTunes wirelessly via wi-fi.
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Old Dec 12, 2012, 03:52 AM   #10
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Question, does anyone really need USB 3.0? Further, does anyone really need USB 3.0 when Thunderbolt is available?

Personally, I don't even need the USB 2.0 ports on my 2011 iMac. At most, I have one port used at all times and that one use is for my Apple wired keyboard with the 10-key and the Mighty Mouse attached to it. I occasionally connect my iPhone via USB for copying photos and syncing large apps, any other times, I sync to iTunes wirelessly via wi-fi.
Personally I upgraded my Mac Mini by adding an SSD in a $15 USB 3 enclosure and that gives me over 180 MB/s, whereas USB 2 would have given me a little over 20 MB/s and Thunderbolt would have cost me about $200 more.

Of course not everybody will want to boot their Mac off of a cheap USB 3 drive but if you use external drives for any reason, like backups or transferring large files, USB 3 basically means five times the performance for hard drives and over 10 times more for SSDs.
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Old Dec 12, 2012, 04:17 AM   #11
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Why don't you just get an external monitor if the big screen is the number one reason for getting an iMac?
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Old Dec 17, 2012, 10:40 PM   #12
iMikeT
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Personally I upgraded my Mac Mini by adding an SSD in a $15 USB 3 enclosure and that gives me over 180 MB/s, whereas USB 2 would have given me a little over 20 MB/s and Thunderbolt would have cost me about $200 more.

Of course not everybody will want to boot their Mac off of a cheap USB 3 drive but if you use external drives for any reason, like backups or transferring large files, USB 3 basically means five times the performance for hard drives and over 10 times more for SSDs.

As I previously mentioned, who in their right mind would use USB when other I/O solutions like Firewire and Thunderbolt is available especially if you are going to be keeping an external drive connected to it indefinitely?

I think USB is a good option for certain things like very quick file transfers (thumb drives, cameras, card readers, etc.) and low-level devices. But to use it for backups and large file transfers, really? And especially to have it affixed to a computer full time is such a poor implementation when factoring the overhead required with USB.
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Old Dec 17, 2012, 10:43 PM   #13
Gelite55
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Desktop i5 FTW!
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Old Dec 17, 2012, 10:49 PM   #14
motrek
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Originally Posted by iMikeT View Post
As I previously mentioned, who in their right mind would use USB when other I/O solutions like Firewire and Thunderbolt is available especially if you are going to be keeping an external drive connected to it indefinitely?

I think USB is a good option for certain things like very quick file transfers (thumb drives, cameras, card readers, etc.) and low-level devices. But to use it for backups and large file transfers, really? And especially to have it affixed to a computer full time is such a poor implementation when factoring the overhead required with USB.
Care to explain why you think USB is any less appropriate than the alternatives for a boot drive, backups, etc.? All of these things--USB, Firewire, Thunderbolt--are just cables with chips at the ends transmitting data. The only difference is protocol.

I've been using my external USB 3 drive as a boot drive for over two weeks now and it's been working like a champ, as expected.
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Old Dec 18, 2012, 01:04 AM   #15
iMikeT
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Care to explain why you think USB is any less appropriate than the alternatives for a boot drive, backups, etc.? All of these things--USB, Firewire, Thunderbolt--are just cables with chips at the ends transmitting data. The only difference is protocol.

I've been using my external USB 3 drive as a boot drive for over two weeks now and it's been working like a champ, as expected.

Not really, too tired after a long day. At the moment, the best I can come up with in terms of protocol is:

Thunderbolt>Firewire>USB
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Old Dec 18, 2012, 03:26 AM   #16
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Not really, too tired after a long day. At the moment, the best I can come up with in terms of protocol is:

Thunderbolt>Firewire>USB
Ah yes, I see that you used greater-than signs in your analysis. Very scientific.

Interesting that you trust wifi for sync'ing your iPhone despite the almost-constant contention and interference on the public 2.4GHz band and more recently the 5GHz band, but you seem to distrust a shielded copper connection between two USB controller chips to transfer your data reliably...
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Old Dec 20, 2012, 12:36 PM   #17
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As I previously mentioned, who in their right mind would use USB when other I/O solutions like Firewire and Thunderbolt is available especially if you are going to be keeping an external drive connected to it indefinitely?
You keep confusing your needs which =/= the majority of users. If you have no need for USB, good for you. There are plenty of others who need it. USB does not necessarily mean external drive. Open your eyes a little.
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Old Dec 20, 2012, 01:40 PM   #18
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For photographers, USB 3.0 is an amazing step forward. Transferring files on my home PC with USB 3.0 is a pleasure compared to using the USB 2.0 on my Mac Pro at work, and previewing photos without copying them first is actually possible, while over either USB 2.0 or Firewire 800 it is painfully tedious, even with JPEGs (my camera produces 36 megapixel images).

Yes, Thunderbolt would be better, but it lacks the ecosystem of devices and adapters that USB has. And I doubt that's going to change soon.

The desktop i5 is a great chip, and plenty fast on my PC I use for photo editing at home. Obviously an i7 does a lot of things faster--particularly multi-threaded processes--and is the better choice if you've got the cash. However, the time-consuming parts of photo editing (filters and transformations) are increasingly being moved to the graphics processor. Faster OpenCL performance and more video RAM may make for a more noticeable improvement in your workflow than CPU performance. It certainly makes a difference in Photoshop CS6, but I don't have personal experience with Aperture. So, if you're looking for where to spend money strategically, you might want to compare Aperture performance gains between the video card options.

This article at Macworld might be helpful in comparing processors. It's for the 21" model, but I think it's still relevant to this discussion.
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