2012 iMac 21.5 vs 2011 iMac 27

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by coreytime, Dec 4, 2012.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Dec 4, 2012
    I have an opportunity to buy a 2011 iMac 27" 2.7 GHZ for $1200. I was also looking at the 2012 model in the 21.5" for $1299+Tax... My question is arent both machines basically the same in regards to the system specs? Trying to justify buying a year older with the bigger screen.. More importantly is the price good on the 27 @ $1200?

    One last thing, warranty ends in a week on the 2011 model and I can purchase Apple care for $119... Worth the investment?
  2. macrumors member

    Nov 12, 2007
    Lincoln, Nebraska
    It's hard to know how performance will compare without knowing which processor, which video card and the amount of RAM in the 2011 model. Having said that though, I think most people will notice a bigger real-world productivity boost from a larger screen than a faster processor. So, I'd personally go with the older 27 inch.

    As for the Apple Care, I'd get it. Hopefully you'll never need it, but if you ever do use it, it will more than pay for itself.
  3. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 4, 2012
    sorry... old imac is Processor
    2.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with 6MB on-chip shared L3 cache
    8gb ram
    AMD Radeon HD 6770M graphics processor with 512MB of GDDR5 memory

    Both machines look like the same processor
  4. macrumors 65816


    Oct 19, 2012

    the price would look better in the range $1000-1150 tops. AppleCare will be worth the extra cash, some trouble occurs in the future (hopefully not!:)). Also, you can benefit of plenty of FireWire peripherals (most cheap than Thunderbolt in many cases) and in case of some need, also will have a ODD

    Not knowing your intended use, I would say 8 GB of RAM must suffice

  5. macrumors 65816


    Oct 9, 2010
    Get the 27", RAM is cheap and you can upgrade it to 16 or 32GB if you want unlike the new 21" is not meant to be user upgradable for the RAM which only has two slots anyway. The big screen makes a big difference. Plus it will hold it's resale value when you come to sell it.

    The new 21" has ivy bridge instead of sandy bridge on the 27" but that is not really a big deal.

    You can get cheap applecare on ebay.
  6. macrumors 6502a

    Feb 27, 2010
    If you're sure you want the larger screen, go for the 2011 27". It can be had for $1359 on the apple refurb store, so if the other one is more than a year old and has no more warranty, I'd consider the refurb route instead.

    As for the 2012, it will most likely be somewhat faster since its running an Ivy Bridge CPU vs Sandy Bridge in the 2011. All things the same, the Ivy Bridge is seen at being anywhere from 7-15% faster at the same 2.7 speeds (note, I'm taking this from an article where they compared the 3.4 i7 Ivy and Sandy CPUs). And since the 2012 has two Thunderbolt ports, you have pretty comparable machines outside of the screen size.
  7. macrumors 6502


    Dec 10, 2003

    while the new processor probably feels a little faster if they're side-by-side, the 27" screen will ALWAYS feel much larger. i have the 2011 core i7 27" and it's great.
  8. macrumors 6502

    Jul 24, 2002
    New Jersey
    The bigger issue to me would be the lack of USB 3.0 on the 27". FW800 is fine for small amounts of data, but if you move a lot around on external disks, you'll appreciate the benefits of USB3. There are Thunderbolt or USB3 to eSATA solutions, too.

    I just went with a 15" retina MBP, and the speed difference for USB3 and Thunderbolt/eSATA vs. FW800 is dramatic...

  9. macrumors 6502

    Jul 7, 2004
    What I like about the 2012 iMac is that the glass is fused to the LCD. With the previous iMacs, dust could collect behind the glass over time -- and you had to take it off to clean it. It seems that this won't be happening on the 2012 iMac anymore!
  10. macrumors 68030


    May 20, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    So between those two models, you have a couple key differences (save for the obvious difference in screen size):

    1. Ivy Bridge Core i5/i7 vs. Sandy Bridge Core i5/i7

    2. Desktop Components vs. Laptop Components

    3. Gamer-Laptop-PC form-factor AMD GPU of last year vs. traditional laptop form factor NVIDIA GPU of today

    4. 7200RPM drive vs. 5400RPM drive or Fusion Drive

    Given this, let's analyze the differences. For one, Ivy Bridge on the newer 21.5" iMac will be faster than Sandy Bridge on the older iMac, hands down. So that's one point in the newer iMac's favor. The chipset in the older iMac is a desktop chipset, so that would likely offer greater overall throughput speed, but with a mobile version of that chipset's successor, the pissing contest over chipset (motherboard north and south bridge) speed between the two is likely a toss-up. The NVIDIA card of today ought to handily beat the AMD card of yesterday. Lastly, if you configure the iMac with a Fusion drive, your day-to-day performance ought to be faster than the 7200RPM drive in the 2011 27" iMac. If you don't, performance ought to be slower.

    Given all of that alone, I'd go with the 2012 21.5" iMac over the 2011 27". Though, to add to it, a lot of the reliability problems with the 2009-2011 iMacs seem to not exist in the 2012 21.5" iMac, so there's also that. Having to shell out the money to max out the RAM at 16GB and get the Fusion drive is annoying, but if you can spend that money, I'd say get the 2012 21.5" iMac instead.

    Nope...new iMac carries Ivy Bridge (3rd Gen) Core i Series processors whereas the old iMac carried Sandy Bridge (2nd Gen) Core i Series processors, and there is a speed difference between the two.
  11. macrumors 6502a

    Oct 29, 2008
    Get the 2011 27" unless 1) you need USB 3.0 2) you require the best GPU performance within your budget. CPU difference is negligible.

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