Upgrading my iMac with a $2,000 budget

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by alakazzam, Jan 13, 2013.

  1. macrumors member

    Mar 7, 2010
    Hi everyone - Looking for some help with how I should go about upgrading my current iMac with a budget of around $2,000.

    The Current System:
    21.5" Late 2009
    3.06 Core 2 Duo
    4GB RAM
    ATI Radeon HD 4670 256mb

    Lately I've gotten into photo and video processing and am finding this computer to be a bit outmatched to what I've been asking it to do. It's been a good machine for many years, but with the changes in technology I'm sure I'll see some vast improvements.

    Any thoughts on what to do with my budget would be awesome though!

    Thanks :)
  2. macrumors 601


    Feb 19, 2008
    2012 iMac

    Other than throwing in an SSD and maxing RAM, not much you can otherwise do.
  3. thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 7, 2010
    That was my feeling.

    The two options I've come up with are....

    21.5" with i7, 16gig RAM and Fusion Drive (is that really worth it?) $2149


    27" with i5, 8gig (upgrade later), and Fusion Drive $2049

    I guess the only real benefit with the 27" other than the size is the GPU and ability to upgrade with 3rd party RAM, but then I'd lose the i7.

    I'm also a bit worried that the 27" might be too much screen for me to handle.
  4. macrumors 603


    In your first post you mentioned video editing, is this with FCP, reason I ask is if you use FCP and Fusion drive you might get into troubles, there have been reports of corruption and losing projects with FD.
    Do your research, it was also here on MR people had problems with it.
  5. thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 7, 2010
    Yes I use FCP. I really just started looking into upgrading so I haven't done much research - I'll look into it - Thanks for the heads up.
  6. macrumors 68020


    Aug 13, 2011
    I know I'm coming in a little late in this conversation, but throwing in RAM and a SSD will do much more than you think it will and will save you a lot of money as well. Your machine maxes out at 16GB RAM. You can probably also benefit by removing the ODD and making it external and replacing it with a SSD. I think you might be underestimating what these two upgrades could do for your system and think you should reconsider them.

    I upgraded my 2.66GHz C2D iMac with 8 GB RAM(maxed for my early 2009 model) and put in a seagate barracuda 3TB HDD. Comparing my current setup to the standard one would be unfair as that was 2GB RAM and a 320GB HDD.

    You should be able to get a 16GB RAM kit for about $100, and even using a smaller SSD for booting up but storing your info on the standard HDD will make you computer seem like a new machine. You could make your computer awesome again for less than $600. This way, you extend the life of your machine, save money, and have more later for an even bigger upgrade.
  7. thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 7, 2010
    I was thinking about doing this as an option - but my thought process was as I'm going more and more towards video editing jumping to a quad core and a better GPU would out weigh a simple RAM upgrade. Though I'm not an expert by any means - just my thinking.
  8. macrumors 68030


    Dec 7, 2002
    Florida, USA
    For video editing, jumping to a quad core will certainly be the best option.

    I would recommend the base level 21.5", or 27", iMac with 16GB of RAM and Fusion Drive. The 21.5" without the Fusion drive is definitely limited by the 2.5" drive Apple has installed.
  9. macrumors 603


    And as I said above there are issues with FCP and Fusion drive, there is a guy here on MR which sent his FD iMac back and went for the HD only version.
    A Project of his crashed and lost it, if you look on the internet there are similar stories.
    I for one would not trust FD and FCP, at least not now.

    As for the 2.5" drive, it's overblown, they are denser than their bigger brothers so it will seek faster, they are by no means the drives from years ago.
  10. thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 7, 2010
    Yeah I did a lot of research and it seems like the FD is having issues with larger FCP projects. There also seems to be a lot of people who feel that the 250 dollars is better spent on upgraded ram/processor speed or a fast external drive.

    I think I'm going to do the 21.5" with 16gig and the i7 for 1899 and save the 250 for something else. I'm sure it will be much better than what I have.

    Thanks for the help folks!

  11. macrumors 68000


    Feb 16, 2009
    As someone mentioned RAM and SSD are basically it. If you want a new system you could probably sell your iMac for $600-700 (haven't really checked out what they are going for now) then add that to your $2000 budget. A refurb Mac Pro can start as low as $1800 and give you enough money for a cheap Korean 27" LED monitor and some external storage and RAM upgrade. If that is too much computer for you, the new i7 Mini is another great option with max RAM and a SSD plus new monitor.

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