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Old Oct 22, 2014, 06:00 AM   #1
qunit
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Any sweetspot on iMac5k

My 20" 2007 iMac Core2Duo has finally given up on me. With a little SSD upgrade it lasted me 7 years. Unfortunately bottom backlight is bad and experiencing hangs every 30 minutes or so.

Already decided to go for the 5K (don't really need it, really want it), however I am indecisive how far to go with CTO.

It will be used for:
- Software/Web development: Java, iOS
- Virtualization
- Photo-enthusiast stuff: (Aperture/Photoshop)
- Little video editing (for the coming time not even 4k)
- @home stuff: casual games, browsing, office etc, no heavy 3D stuff.

I do have a NAS for big stuff that needs to be accessed from multiple devices (mediaplayers etc).

I guess the M290X would be sufficient for my purposes. Additional memory will be installed by myself. However I'm indecisive (are they worth my hard earned cash) about:
- i5/i7
- 1TB/3TB fusion vs 256/512GB SSD

Any advice?

For reference: I'm also using a i7 2012 Retina Macbook Pro
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Old Oct 22, 2014, 06:05 AM   #2
maflynn
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I think the 1TB model with 8GB of ram is a nice configuration.
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Old Oct 22, 2014, 06:15 AM   #3
Serban
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better upgrade the GPU and go with the standard fusion drive or with the 512 SSD and get the i7 as well
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Old Oct 22, 2014, 06:24 AM   #4
qunit
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Originally Posted by Serban View Post
better upgrade the GPU and go with the standard fusion drive or with the 512 SSD and get the i7 as well
Why the GPU upgrade for my purposes?

The thing is: In the 30 years I have been active with computers I have never spent this amount of money on a computer. I could go all-in, but I want to spend up to $4000 "wisely".

----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by maflynn View Post
I think the 1TB model with 8GB of ram is a nice configuration.
Would I be able to add an external SSD (USB3/Thunderbolt) later and profit from the added speed? Or will this always be slower than an internal full SSD?
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Old Oct 22, 2014, 06:29 AM   #5
Serban
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yes you can add external with thunderbolt 2 hdd/ssd or wireless ssd/hdd. So no need for the internal to be so much higher capacity so i guess 256/512ssd is enough from performance stand point.
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Old Oct 22, 2014, 06:33 AM   #6
tyche
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I would get the 256GB SSD it's no cost difference and you have a NAS. Fusion is nice but it's still a platter disk that makes noise and heat.

I would get the i7 if you plan to keep this 5-7 years. The i7 is a beast.

Unless you're doing 4k video editing or expect heaving gaming (which you don't appear to be) the 295 video card can be skipped. I haven't seen any mention of the base video card not able to push 5k pixels.
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Old Oct 22, 2014, 07:20 AM   #7
Serban
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so to get a common config we all are agreed for you to get the
-i7
-8gb ram
-256 ssd
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Old Oct 22, 2014, 07:45 AM   #8
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What kind of virtualization ?

I upgraded the CPU and GPU and went with the 256GB SSD and will upgrade the RAM myself.

My reasoning is that I can always add more disk if I need to - I also have a NAS so I don't foresee needing much more space any time soon. Your storage needs may be different though. How much disk space are you using on your current machine ?

I do believe the i5 and 290X should be enough for casual usage, BUT I want to futureproof it if I keep it for a few years. If I'm going to spend that much money on a computer, I don't want to berate myself in a few years because I saved $400.

If money were a problem, you could always upgrade the RAM later.
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Old Oct 22, 2014, 08:27 AM   #9
qunit
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Originally Posted by pasadena View Post
What kind of virtualization ?

I upgraded the CPU and GPU and went with the 256GB SSD and will upgrade the RAM myself.

My reasoning is that I can always add more disk if I need to - I also have a NAS so I don't foresee needing much more space any time soon. Your storage needs may be different though. How much disk space are you using on your current machine ?

I do believe the i5 and 290X should be enough for casual usage, BUT I want to futureproof it if I keep it for a few years. If I'm going to spend that much money on a computer, I don't want to berate myself in a few years because I saved $400.

If money were a problem, you could always upgrade the RAM later.
I have a few purposes for virtualization:
- Remote login to work which only works in a Windows environment (ugh)
- The occasional webbrowser test
- Software development/testing of software which normally works in a distributed environment (JEE, MongoDB, HazelCast etc.)
(We're not talking about dozens of virtual machines at once though)

As for required disk space: Currently I have about 300GB worth of data which I prefer inside or close to my computer (not on NAS). This includes about a 100GB Aperture Library. I could move that to the NAS but I worry that Aperture performance will drop when stuff is continuously transferred over the (Gigabit) network to/from a slow DS209 NAS.

For sure: i7, 8GB, going for full SSD (no more platters)
Almost sure: 290X
Still a choice:
- 256GB SSD and immediately replace DS209 NAS with faster one for Aperture
- 512GB SSD and purchase a faster NAS when it fills up
- Other options? 1TB SSD = too expensive
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Old Oct 22, 2014, 08:44 AM   #10
pasadena
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Quote:
Originally Posted by qunit View Post
I have a few purposes for virtualization:
- Remote login to work which only works in a Windows environment (ugh)
- The occasional webbrowser test
- Software development/testing of software which normally works in a distributed environment (JEE, MongoDB, HazelCast etc.)
(We're not talking about dozens of virtual machines at once though)

As for required disk space: Currently I have about 300GB worth of data which I prefer inside or close to my computer (not on NAS). This includes about a 100GB Aperture Library. I could move that to the NAS but I worry that Aperture performance will drop when stuff is continuously transferred over the (Gigabit) network to/from a slow DS209 NAS.

For sure: i7, 8GB, going for full SSD (no more platters)
Almost sure: 290X
Still a choice:
- 256GB SSD and immediately replace DS209 NAS with faster one for Aperture
- 512GB SSD and purchase a faster NAS when it fills up
- Other options? 1TB SSD = too expensive
I would go for the 512GB SSD. You'd probably be better off with an external TB or USB3 SSD than the NAS if and when the time comes but they're pretty expensive so that wouldn't save you much and having enough space inside the machine is so much more comfortable (and faster, and more reliable). You're too close for the 256GB.

Keep the NAS for backups and media sharing. I have the DS210 and I love it

I wish my job would allow me to connect through my own computer too !!!
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Old Oct 22, 2014, 08:59 AM   #11
qunit
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Originally Posted by pasadena View Post
I would go for the 512GB SSD. You'd probably be better off with an external TB or USB3 SSD than the NAS if and when the time comes but they're pretty expensive so that wouldn't save you much and having enough space inside the machine is so much more comfortable (and faster, and more reliable). You're too close for the 256GB.

Keep the NAS for backups and media sharing. I have the DS210 and I love it

I wish my job would allow me to connect through my own computer too !!!
Sounds reasonable:
For sure: i7, 8GB, 512GB SSD

Unsure: 290 or the 295

I know that the 290 is probably enough for my purposes, but I'm still hesitating. With the processor and SSD upgrade it feels kind of silly not to upgrade the GPU. Kind of "unbalanced"

(I think I'm starting to reason like my wife when she wants something )
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Old Oct 22, 2014, 09:08 AM   #12
pasadena
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Quote:
Originally Posted by qunit View Post
Sounds reasonable:
For sure: i7, 8GB, 512GB SSD

Unsure: 290 or the 295

I know that the 290 is probably enough for my purposes, but I'm still hesitating. With the processor and SSD upgrade it feels kind of silly not to upgrade the GPU. Kind of "unbalanced"

(I think I'm starting to reason like my wife when she wants something )
Well... I did upgrade it and I don't do any video or photography work, so I didn't really have a reason except that yes, it did seem kinda silly and unbalanced not to. As I said, if I'm going to spend that much money on something, I'm not going to be cheap for $235.

But then I'm a woman, so maybe I'm closer to your wife than you'd wish lol.
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Old Oct 23, 2014, 04:55 AM   #13
hyune83
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Would definitely get the 295x to "future-proof" the iMac as it only adds $250 to the already $2500 computer. Even an OS X update may put more stress on the 5k display.
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Old Oct 23, 2014, 05:13 AM   #14
qunit
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Would definitely get the 295x to "future-proof" the iMac as it only adds $250 to the already $2500 computer. Even an OS X update may put more stress on the 5k display.
Last night I came to the same conclusion. This leads me to conclude that there are basicly two sweetspots (in my case).

Either the base model (i5, 290, 1TB Fusion), priced at 2.629,00
Or almost all-in(i7, 295, 512GB SSD) priced at 3.429,00

Both are more than capable of all the stuff I'm doing at least for the forseeable future. Are the additional costs worth it. On the one hand, it's "only" a 30% increase. On the other hand, an 800 difference. People buy entire PCs for just that difference .

Thank you all so far. Will be back soon with a decision.
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Old Oct 23, 2014, 05:22 AM   #15
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How about a third option:

Stick with the base i5 but get the 295x and op for the 256ssd over the 1tb fusion.
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Old Oct 23, 2014, 07:25 AM   #16
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Programmer here also. Here's what I'd recommend, after having to make similar choices:

CPU: i7 is a no brainer, every second or even ms counts for tasks repeated hundreds of times a day, whether compiling, running unit tests, refreshing pages, restarting services or VMs...

RAM: 8 GB is enough depending of the RAM you allocate to each VM* but 16 GB adds extra comfort. You can stay stock at 8 and buy 16 or 32 aftermarkets though rates have gone way up over the last year. Since Apple's 16 is 2 sticks, seems like a nice default+convenience combo despite the price, while still being upgradable and not have to sell the previous sticks.

Storage: A FD seems like a good compromise at first glance. I have one in a 21.5" but the HDD is 2.5" so quiet and lean aesthetically (yes it's inside but tidiness is ideal even unseen). A 3.5" seems so archaic at just 1 TB, I can't bear the thought of this old relic grinding inside such an otherwise modern piece of hardware. Not to mention noise, heat and fragility. So I'd go with an SSD, 512 GB if within budget.

GPU: That's a tough one in your case, because an M290X would suffice. Again, I'd have trouble buying an old architecture (Pitcairn) today in a brand new machine. Even purely to avoid buyer's remorse regardless of your needs, that would be the only certain decision of the lot: M295X (Tonga).

* You should look into lightweight containers (raw LXC or Docker) within a single VM, all sharing the same kernel.
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Old Oct 23, 2014, 07:44 AM   #17
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My only thought, from my experience, is get a bigger SSD than 256GB.

I bought a new Mac Pro with 256 figuring I could offload a lot of stuff onto my Thunderbolt Pegasus RAID.

Easier said than done! It takes constant vigilance to prevent "buildup" of files on the SSD. On balance, I'd rather do this less often, so if I had it to do over again, I'd get at least a 512GB SSD.

Also, people who know more about this than I do told me that there is a performance "hit" the more of an SSD's capacity is used. I don't know if this is true or how bad the "hit" is if performance degradation at higher capacity utilization is a fact.

I use my Mac for video using Final Cut Pro. I also do a lot of graphic work using Adobe Creative Suite CS6. Even though I do keep all the media files on the RAID, there still seems to be a regular accretion of space-hogging files on the SSD!
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Old Oct 25, 2014, 05:31 AM   #18
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Well, just ordered: i7, 295x, 8gb (will add more later), 512gb SSD. The price difference beteren normal and retina is too small to not do it. I also upped the specs. If I spent his much money on a new computer i might as well go "all-in".
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Old Oct 25, 2014, 05:32 AM   #19
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Quote:
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Well, just ordered: i7, 295x, 8gb (will add more later), 512gb SSD. The price difference beteren normal and retina is too small to not do it. I also upped the specs. If I spent his much money on a new computer i might as well go "all-in".
Good choice. This is the exact configuration I would go for, if I had to make your purchasing decision.
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Old Oct 25, 2014, 06:45 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by qunit View Post
Well, just ordered: i7, 295x, 8gb (will add more later), 512gb SSD. The price difference beteren normal and retina is too small to not do it. I also upped the specs. If I spent his much money on a new computer i might as well go "all-in".
I went for the exact same specs and popped in my own 32GB of RAM.

It's a beast. Enjoy it.
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