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Old Jan 14, 2013, 07:50 PM   #1
Flyswater
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New iMac - Best use of $200

I'm about to order my first iMac. Being on limited budget, I figure I can spend about $1750 for a new Mac. I've already decided that I want the 21" model with fusion drive. That leaves about $200 to spend on either the RAM upgrade OR upgrade to higher end Mac to get faster processor and better graphics but no RAM upgrade. I'm an architect, and I plan to use Bootcamp to run Windows so I can use my windows-based CAD and 3D modeling programs (AutoCAD, Revit). I also do some light photo & video editing and play a few games (I love Company of Heroes). What is the advice of the community on how to spend that extra $200: Ram upgrade or hi-end 21" Mac upgrade? Thanks.
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 07:57 PM   #2
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This is a tough call because it's also a slight faster processor on the higher end model. And it's also a tough call because the 21" iMac is not designed for the RAM to be user upgradeable.
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 07:58 PM   #3
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You're going to need RAM and you can't install it after you order it. I would go for RAM. $0.02
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 07:59 PM   #4
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This is a tough call because it's also a slight faster processor on the higher end model. And it's also a tough call because the 21" iMac is not designed for the RAM to be user upgradeable.
Yep. That is my dilema....
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 08:08 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Flyswater View Post
I'm about to order my first iMac. Being on limited budget, I figure I can spend about $1750 for a new Mac. I've already decided that I want the 21" model with fusion drive. That leaves about $200 to spend on either the RAM upgrade OR upgrade to higher end Mac to get faster processor and better graphics but no RAM upgrade. I'm an architect, and I plan to use Bootcamp to run Windows so I can use my windows-based CAD and 3D modeling programs (AutoCAD, Revit). I also do some light photo & video editing and play a few games (I love Company of Heroes). What is the advice of the community on how to spend that extra $200: Ram upgrade or hi-end 21" Mac upgrade? Thanks.
I would get an earlier version of the iMac from Apple refurbished since it is about $600 cheaper than your budget. This way, you get the ODD(or extra space for a SSD later on, user upgradeable RAM, and the processor is comparable.

You still get the awesome machine, but now you can upgrade to 32GB RAM and eventually get dual SSDs if you want.

After all, people have found a way to make their own fusion drive systems, so you could get the refurbished model, buy a SSD from OWC(make it a FD yourself) and then you still have some money left over to upgrade your RAM and still have money left over.
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 08:47 PM   #6
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As your main use sounds like it will be in windows (work,games ect) why are you even considering a Imac? You could buy a very nice desktop from Asus (all in one) for less $.

http://ca.asus.com/en/Allinone_PCs/

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Old Jan 14, 2013, 09:18 PM   #7
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As your main use sounds like it will be in windows (work,games ect) why are you even considering a Imac? You could buy a very nice desktop from Asus (all in one) for less $.

http://ca.asus.com/en/Allinone_PCs/

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Granted I currently operate in a mostly PC environment, but I am really tired of Windows and all of it's associated hassles (too numerous to mention here). I have to upgrade my old PC anyway, so now seems like the time to transition over to the "dark side". Over the last few years I've acquired other Apple goodies like Pads, Pods, & Phones, and I've become one of the converted. Now I want a Mac.
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 09:56 PM   #8
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I'd say get a base 27" with the money you have now. It has bigger screen too, and most importantly you can save money to upgrade RAM later so you don't have to push yourself through constant decision-making.

Yep, I hate the crippled down iMac 21.5" iMac which makes it totally disposable machine with no room for further improvement or self-upgrade, not even fricking RAM.
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 10:51 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by iSayuSay View Post
I'd say get a base 27" with the money you have now. It has bigger screen too, and most importantly you can save money to upgrade RAM later so you don't have to push yourself through constant decision-making.

Yep, I hate the crippled down iMac 21.5" iMac which makes it totally disposable machine with no room for further improvement or self-upgrade, not even fricking RAM.
The OP stated he's on a limited budget and only has $1750 to spend. The base 27" is $1799 plus tax.
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 11:11 PM   #10
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I would say save up a little more...
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 12:14 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Outrigger View Post
The OP stated he's on a limited budget and only has $1750 to spend. The base 27" is $1799 plus tax.
Well then he also would have remaining miney less than $200 since high end 21.5" iMac is $1599 plus tax.

OP can always wait and save a bit more. Paying extra $50 is nothing compared to what you'd get in the long run. It's a huge decision for most people. Save a bit more and OP would be good to go.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 02:05 AM   #12
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Have you considered a Mac Mini? As you already own a mouse,keyboard and monitor,it might be easy way to save a fair amount.Also it's very easy to upgrade ram and or add a nice ssd harddrive. (and can keep original drive for storage)
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 05:08 AM   #13
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Is it possible to save a bit more so you can get a pretty decent 27"?

If not, I would max out the ram on the 21" because in my experience RAM will future proof the most out of any other component. Also work is priority over games yeah? Not sure if you do any 3D CAD work but I would assume you would need RAM a lot more than the higher GPU. Anyway good luck!

PS. for a tiny bit more you can get the base 27" and then upgrade to more RAM later on
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 05:19 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Outrigger View Post
The OP stated he's on a limited budget and only has $1750 to spend. The base 27" is $1799 plus tax.
He's an architect, he can afford the extra $50. I'd second that. Go for base 27", that way you can add the extra memory if and when you need it down the road. It really is very easy to do DIY and there is NO point paying apple prices for it as you will get the same 3rd party components you could procure yourself for less than half the price.

If you know anyone at a university (you architects spend enough time there!), buy it via them so you can get the educational discount and that way you can afford the 27". For what you do, the extra screen real estate would be worth it
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 05:43 AM   #15
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Thumbs up Buy the 27"

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Originally Posted by Confuzzzed View Post
He's an architect, he can afford the extra $50. I'd second that. Go for base 27", that way you can add the extra memory if and when you need it down the road. It really is very easy to do DIY and there is NO point paying apple prices for it as you will get the same 3rd party components you could procure yourself for less than half the price.

If you know anyone at a university (you architects spend enough time there!), buy it via them so you can get the educational discount and that way you can afford the 27". For what you do, the extra screen real estate would be worth it
I second that, I run Bootcamp on a 20" iMac and use AutoCAD on it. I have a second screen attached (20" Apple Cinema Display). IMHO you can never have enough real estate for CAD work, and you'll love it for the games you play.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 07:32 AM   #16
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My suggestion is to go for the best processor and for the ram you can always take the machine to a apple authorised reseller and get that upgraded.

This way you can resell the original one you swap out, you don't pay the premium of Apple RAM and you should not break the bank!
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 10:16 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by iSayuSay View Post
Well then he also would have remaining miney less than $200 since high end 21.5" iMac is $1599 plus tax.

OP can always wait and save a bit more. Paying extra $50 is nothing compared to what you'd get in the long run. It's a huge decision for most people. Save a bit more and OP would be good to go.
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Originally Posted by Confuzzzed View Post
He's an architect, he can afford the extra $50. I'd second that. Go for base 27", that way you can add the extra memory if and when you need it down the road. It really is very easy to do DIY and there is NO point paying apple prices for it as you will get the same 3rd party components you could procure yourself for less than half the price.

If you know anyone at a university (you architects spend enough time there!), buy it via them so you can get the educational discount and that way you can afford the 27". For what you do, the extra screen real estate would be worth it
I agree. Its better to save a tad more and go for the 27". Since the OP is an architect, I don't think its too much assuming he's not an architect intern.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 10:55 AM   #18
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First AutoCAD has an OSX version and Revit is supported as well, look here: http://usa.autodesk.com/products/mac...tible-products

So you can avoid BootCamp if you so desire

Since you are a professional I would look at spending the little extra on the 27" and getting after market RAM in a few months. The extra screen real-estate will make for a better work environment and the more powerful GPU will be noticeable. You'll likely not notice a difference between the i5 and the i7 for the programs you're using so no need to pay to upgrade the CPU, nor are you likely to get much bang for your buck from a Fusion Drive (though it will feel snapper if you do get one).
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 12:11 PM   #19
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Get the 27", I want every inch of screen space I can get when working in Revit.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 12:18 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by FuriousGreg View Post
First AutoCAD has an OSX version and Revit is supported as well, look here: http://usa.autodesk.com/products/mac...tible-products

So you can avoid BootCamp if you so desire

Since you are a professional I would look at spending the little extra on the 27" and getting after market RAM in a few months. The extra screen real-estate will make for a better work environment and the more powerful GPU will be noticeable. You'll likely not notice a difference between the i5 and the i7 for the programs you're using so no need to pay to upgrade the CPU, nor are you likely to get much bang for your buck from a Fusion Drive (though it will feel snapper if you do get one).
Revit only works through bootcamp. They don't have a mac version yet.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 01:33 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by FuriousGreg View Post
First AutoCAD has an OSX version and Revit is supported as well, look here: http://usa.autodesk.com/products/mac...tible-products

So you can avoid BootCamp if you so desire

Since you are a professional I would look at spending the little extra on the 27" and getting after market RAM in a few months. The extra screen real-estate will make for a better work environment and the more powerful GPU will be noticeable. You'll likely not notice a difference between the i5 and the i7 for the programs you're using so no need to pay to upgrade the CPU, nor are you likely to get much bang for your buck from a Fusion Drive (though it will feel snapper if you do get one).
These are all great posts, and I appreciate everyone's feedback. Lots of ideas to consider. Especially funny is the post that says an architect can afford another $50 (Brotha, if you only knew...).

Anyway, the idea of a 27" has crossed my mind, but I had thought, and have read, that sitting in front of such a large screen can be overkill. And since I wanted fusion drive, it pushed the price to $2K, so I settled my mind around the 21". Based on everyone's comments, I'll reconsider.

Regardig fusion drive, I have read many posts that say the Fusion drive is a must have. Is it really? Can anyone let me know their experiences with the fusion drive, and if it makes as big a difference as I've read?
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 03:33 PM   #22
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Regardig fusion drive, I have read many posts that say the Fusion drive is a must have. Is it really? Can anyone let me know their experiences with the fusion drive, and if it makes as big a difference as I've read?
Well it depends. Fusion drives will be quicker when starting up, moving/opening/saving files, and the overall experience will feel "snappier" but applications will not perform any better. Additionally the "Fusion" part does not work when in Windoze, it just acts as a regular drive. So if you don't gripe about this right now and want to save money there is no need to get one, better to spend the money on either the larger machine or RAM.

As for the size, when you first get the 27" it seems enormous, but after a relatively short period of time you not only get used to it, you miss it when working on other, small machines. At least thats been my experience.
Especially when working on visual stuff, like drafting etc., the larger work area is a blessing.

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Revit only works through bootcamp. They don't have a mac version yet.
Good catch, I knew AutoCAD did and when I went to the site to confirm I missed the "Windows on the Mac" header over Revit.

Last edited by FuriousGreg; Jan 15, 2013 at 03:42 PM.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 03:40 PM   #23
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Granted I currently operate in a mostly PC environment, but I am really tired of Windows and all of it's associated hassles (too numerous to mention here). I have to upgrade my old PC anyway, so now seems like the time to transition over to the "dark side".
Understandable, but Windows is the OS known as the "Dark Side".

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Originally Posted by FuriousGreg View Post
First AutoCAD has an OSX version and Revit is supported as well, look here: http://usa.autodesk.com/products/mac...tible-products

So you can avoid BootCamp if you so desire
Exactly. OP this is the better advice. Either Mac you buy will be good but at the end of the day you said you were tired of Windows. Autodesk has done a great job with it's AutoCAD software for Mac and if you have an extra $200+ to spend, you should put it towards software so you can migrate away from Windows, afterall you have to buy a Windows license to install it on your Mac. Microsoft is counting on people that switch to Mac to not do their homework and find out there is much more software out there that runs on both Mac OS and Windows (henceforth they end up installing Windows) and many of those Mac counterparts have a better UI.

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Old Jan 15, 2013, 03:40 PM   #24
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Yea I am in the get the 27inch camp.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 03:48 PM   #25
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Revit only works through bootcamp. They don't have a mac version yet.
Oh, I didn't know this.
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