2009 iMac i7 versus 2010 iMac i5

Discussion in 'iMac' started by archmikus, Oct 28, 2010.

  1. archmikus macrumors newbie

    Apr 15, 2008
    I've been doing lots of research and narrowed my new work Mac down to a 27" iMac. I found 2 deals on the online Apple Store for refurbished 27" iMacs, both priced at $1699. They seem mostly identical, except for the processor (i7 vs i5) and video card. Here are my options:

    2009 iMac 27"
    • 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 (quad core)
    • 1066MHz RAM
    • ATI Radeon HD 4850 with 512MB of GDDR3 memory

    2010 iMac 27"
    • 2.8GHz Intel Core i5 (quad core)
    • 1333MHz RAM
    • ATI Radeon 5750 with 1GB of GDDR5 memory

    I do lots of work in Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Aperture, Lightroom and play the occasional game of WoW and Starcraft II. Overall, which machine do you think is the better value?

    Is last year's 2.8 quad-core i7 iMac much faster than this year's 2.8 quad-core i5? And how much better is this year's ATI 5750 versus last year's 4850?
  2. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    2009 has better GPU but 2010 has better GPU. It's a tough call. The apps you listed can't really take advantage of i7's Hyper-Threading, at least yet.

    If gaming is important, then I would get the 2010 model but if gaming isn't very big deal, then go for the 2009 as it has better CPU. The difference is GPU isn't dramatical though
  3. TMRaven macrumors 68020


    Nov 5, 2009
    The i7 will probably be virtually identical in everyday tasks' (including stuff like photoshop and light room) as far as speed as concerned, but will give you 20-30% performance increase for tasks that can scale up to 8 threads (lots of video encoders take advantage of as much resources as they can by default, as an example)

    The gpu-- the mobility 5850 (5750) is usually10-20% faster than the mobility 4850 (4850) depending on how your game was developed and coded. Sometimes you even get greater or worse percentage differences, but for the average game, not so much.

    I say depending on how you define "occasional game" should depend on your purchase. If you only game every now and then, then I'd say get the i7 model.

    About the ram speeds, those don't really matter at all.
  4. mocsharp macrumors member

    Dec 7, 2009
    I would go for the 2010 i5.

    I had 6 2090 27" and all with yellow tint or other weird problems.
    The first 2010 27" i5 i got is just perfect.
  5. dwd3885 macrumors 68020

    Dec 10, 2004
    I had this same choice a few months ago when the new ones came out. I decided to get the 2009 i7. I figured, the extra virtual cores in the i7 will be more beneficial in the long run than the slightly better video card in the 2010 i5.

    I think other than that they are virtually the same right?

    I do a lot of video encoding and ripping and the i7 is tremendous for that. Also, the more apps you have open, the more the i7 will help. I run EyeTV, iTunes, Aperture, iMovie, etc and while the ram bottleneck will be there, an i7 cpu will be HUGE for that.
  6. akm3 macrumors 68020

    Nov 15, 2007
    Get the 2010. I say this as an owner of the 2009.

    If it ever gets out of Applecare repair, I'll LOVE it. It was a refurb and so far it has had TWO new logic boards, a new LCD panel, and a new backlight.

    I haven't had it for two weeks now. When it was working granted it is freaking amazing though.

    The 2009's just had toooo many problems, go for the 2010.
  7. richpjr macrumors 68030


    May 9, 2006
    One thing to consider is that the 2010's use substantially less power than the 2009's - if that is important to you.
  8. TMRaven macrumors 68020


    Nov 5, 2009
  9. dwd3885 macrumors 68020

    Dec 10, 2004
    interesting. I bought my 2009 i7 refurb and it's been working like a champ. Maybe getting a refurb is better than the old new one. Keep in mind, the i7 is better than i5. That's all you need to know :)
  10. jazzer15 macrumors 6502

    Oct 8, 2010
    Ditto for me, except I purchased my refurb 2009 i7 less than a month ago. Gaming wasn't an issue for me, so the "older" i7 at the same price as the new i5 seemed to make more sense for my use.
  11. akm3 macrumors 68020

    Nov 15, 2007
    I know my results aren't 'typical', I just got a bad one. But I JUST heard from the repair shop...apparently the new backlight didn't fix the backlight problem either. Now they are going to order a new power supply, or something. He said after this they will have replaced the entire machine, and if it doesn't work they will lobby for a full replacement (*dear lord*)

    I'm been without the machine for over two weeks, one part after another being overnighted to the repair place, tried, and then a new one.

  12. dwd3885 macrumors 68020

    Dec 10, 2004
    good luck man.
  13. dwd3885 macrumors 68020

    Dec 10, 2004
    it's really a no brainer in my opinion. Get the i7. Gaming on a Mac? Come on man. That's ridiculous anyway!
  14. SpitUK macrumors 6502


    Mar 5, 2010
    East Yorkshire, UK
    I just upgraded to the 2010 from the 2009. Go for the 2010 its a no brainer. Big difference in WOW performance.
  15. akm3 macrumors 68020

    Nov 15, 2007
    I love gaming on my Mac. And the GPU is much more of a limitation to the whole system than the CPU, thus the 2010 is the better choice for more balanced overall performance.
  16. akm3 macrumors 68020

    Nov 15, 2007
    And...Apple didn't ship the next replacement part today, so now maybe it'll show up on Monday and maybe then I'll get my machine I haven't had for two weeks.


  17. rw3 macrumors 6502a


    May 13, 2008
    DFW, TX
    Don't forget that the Core i7 is a HyperThreading processor and the Core i5 is not....
  18. WilliamG macrumors G3

    Mar 29, 2008
    I would get the 2009 any day of the week. Gaming is not what you buy a Mac for, and the processor on the 2009 i7 is much faster than the i5 2010 model, period.

    To add to that, I got my 2009 iMac in January 2010, and haven't had a single problem with it. So nya.
  19. a3silver macrumors member

    Jun 16, 2010
    I picked the 2010 i5 refurb over the older i7, arrived this week absolutely perfect. No issues. I'm delighted. I've never had issues with the Apple refurbs.

    My thinking: the 2010 is 'upgradeable' (with some complexity) to a dual HD+SSD drive configuration, and the 2009's were fraught with so many issues, who needs that agitation. The graphic bump was really not a consideration, for me.

    I think it's a good choice to get at least the quad-core i5, given the smoothness that the 4 cores offer while multi-tasking. I considered the 2010 i7, it seemed like overkill for my usage.

    My advice - get it, if it works and you're happy, enjoy it. Don't go looking for issues (you'll find them).
  20. ias2010 macrumors newbie

    Aug 31, 2010
    i got 2009 refurb, i read the macworld article on the topic of 2010 vs 2009 imac, there is 6 percent gain in some tests on 2010 models, i saved around $450 getting refurb model (I5 quad core). apart from box no one can say i have refurb. model.
  21. akm3 macrumors 68020

    Nov 15, 2007
    Annnnd, Apple shipped the replacement part and it didn't work. They are now sending a new power supply.

    After the power supply is replaced (I'm quoting the technician) "every single part inside the iMac including cables will have been swapped out, except the hard drive."

    I asked what happens if that doesn't work...Answer: I get a new one.

    Please, everyone, buy a 2010 you may save yourself headaches.
  22. akm3 macrumors 68020

    Nov 15, 2007
    Annnnnd...Apple wants to try another Logic Board (4th logic board) Before lemon-ing it. But they are holding shipping the part to the repair facility, so for the past three days it's just been waiting for another part to try.

    I haven't had my machine since October 13th I believe. Still no end in sight, earliest possible would now be Thursday. Coming up on one entire month with no machine. Lame.
  23. bossxii macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    Kansas City
    I have the same choice in front of me, and while I purchased the 2009 i7 because it was 100 bucks cheaper, and was new in box vs a "open box" which I'm sure was a return 2010 i5 2.8, I am going to swap for the newer model as I found out it has a 3rd eSATA cable ready to accept a SSD. I didn't realize the 09' didn't have that option. The Hyper threading looks great on paper but the only program I can even get to kick in those additional threads is something like Handbrake, which I setup a Que at night and it runs while I sleep... saving me a few mins here or there really doesn't matter in the long run.

    I called them up and they will let me swap out this 09 for the 2010 open box model for the 100 dollar diff and no restocking thankfully. I figure may as well get the better GPU as it's always the bottleneck in iMac's anyhow as far as gaming and later on a sticking point for resell. I rarely keep a computer more than 2 years anyhow.

    Good luck!
  24. archmikus thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 15, 2008
    Well, the MacRumors forum members come through yet again. Thanks for all the helpful replies. I think I'm going to go with the 2010 model - the consensus is the newer models seem to have fewer problems. Thank you all for your feedback.
  25. richpjr macrumors 68030


    May 9, 2006
    I believe you posted this:

    That was one of a couple of posts I read here that seemed to indicate the newer GPUs took a lot less power. Is that not the case?

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