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Old Feb 23, 2013, 02:10 PM   #1
cpb1231
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Should I Splurge for i7 or will i5 work?

I'm an architecture student and am wanting to buy a 27" iMac. I will be doing lots of 3d modeling (rhino, sketchup, grasshopper) with this as well as autocad and rendering...with these programs being open at the same time.

I dont want to go over $2,100 for it, but I'm not sure if I should upgrade to the i7 processor or the GeForce 680 graphics card. Which will I see the most improvement? Or will just getting the base model iMac be sufficient?

I currently have a early 2011 MacBook pro with a 2 GHz i7 and 8 gigs of ram. (although I'm upgrading the ram to 16 gigs and was going to fill my iMac with the 8 currently in my MacBook so I dont need to upgrade ram for now)
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Old Feb 23, 2013, 02:12 PM   #2
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If you will be doing a lot of what you mention, I would get the i7 so as to accomplish the renderings a bit faster. Plus I'd get as much RAM as you can afford if you plan on running these apps at the same time.
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Old Feb 23, 2013, 02:21 PM   #3
cpb1231
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ok thanks! my school recommends a gaming computer, so that's why I'm having trouble deciding whether to upgrade the graphics card, but if it would be more processor heavy then I've had the right idea on upgrading that instead

Yeah, I'm planning on maxing out the ram eventually, but that's pretty easy to install so I really want to spend my money right now on what is more difficult to go back and upgrade.
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Old Feb 23, 2013, 04:22 PM   #4
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If your apps support CUDA then the best Nvidia GPU you can get is the way to go, the CPU i5 upgrade to i7 wont have that big an impact if the GPU is doing most of the work..

However, if your apps are massively multi-threaded, then the i7 is the way to go, those extra 4 virtual cores will make all the difference...

look at the software, and what it recommends.

As for RAM, id always say, put as much in as you can afford, or MaX out what the system will take. For the iMac, buy it with the minimum, then pay for your own upgrade, apples price per GB is outrageous
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Old Feb 24, 2013, 10:51 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpb1231 View Post
ok thanks! my school recommends a gaming computer, so that's why I'm having trouble deciding whether to upgrade the graphics card, but if it would be more processor heavy then I've had the right idea on upgrading that instead

Yeah, I'm planning on maxing out the ram eventually, but that's pretty easy to install so I really want to spend my money right now on what is more difficult to go back and upgrade.
You need the best graphics card the iMac offers as it's already very limited compared to what a PC will give you, and thus what fellow students will have and the school might expect.
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Old Feb 24, 2013, 04:07 PM   #6
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The i5 is sufficent enough just get the 680 and upgrade ram yourself. I5 has plenty of jam to get through your needs gpu is what your really need to have and the i5 won't bottleneck that gpu
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Old Feb 24, 2013, 06:35 PM   #7
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You need the best graphics card the iMac offers as it's already very limited compared to what a PC will give you, and thus what fellow students will have and the school might expect.
Excuse me, but what PC gives you a CPU comparable with that of the iMac, and what PC gives you a screen comparable with the iMac?
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Old Feb 25, 2013, 12:30 AM   #8
flat five
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpb1231 View Post
i will be doing lots of 3d modeling (rhino, sketchup, grasshopper) with this as well as autocad and rendering...


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Quote:
Originally Posted by nightarchaon View Post
if your apps support cuda then the best nvidia gpu you can get is the way to go, the cpu i5 upgrade to i7 wont have that big an impact if the gpu is doing most of the work..

However, if your apps are massively multi-threaded, then the i7 is the way to go, those extra 4 virtual cores will make all the difference...

Quote:
Originally Posted by paskell View Post
the i5 is sufficent enough just get the 680 and upgrade ram yourself. I5 has plenty of jam to get through your needs gpu is what your really need to have and the i5 won't bottleneck that gpu
Quote:
Originally Posted by umbongo View Post
you need the best graphics card the imac offers as it's already very limited compared to what a pc will give you, and thus what fellow students will have and the school might expect.
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sorry guys but with those apps, firstandforemost, you want the fastest possible clock speed of any single core..

they're not multi-threaded (can't be) and they're very heavy on calculations.. and the slower your cpu, the longer you wait... same goes for model size-- the slower your cpu, the earlier(less geometry) your model will get sluggish

some of the renderers have support for gpu acceleration via cuda and openCL but even then, the fast clock (and multicore which renderers love) will also be welcome in rendering situations..

point being, if i were faced with a situation of only being able to do one upgrade over the base model... and i was planning on working in those types of apps, i'd definitely go with the i7 3.4..

the base ram and graphics will be fully acceptable.. and can also be upgraded down the line when money allows..

do yourself a favor and get the i7 right away..



[edit] and you can see this for yourself on your mbp.. open activity monitor.. open sketchup and draw a high poly sphere.. make a linear array of around 100 of the sphere..
watch the cpu usage in activityMonitor..
(one core at 100%... 3 sitting idle..)

Last edited by flat five; Feb 25, 2013 at 01:11 AM.
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