21.5" i3 or i5 for basic home use?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Timechaser, Oct 19, 2010.

  1. Timechaser macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2010
    #1
    I have finally decided that the 27" iMac may be over kill for my needs since I can't really think of a time I wished my 19" HP TouchSmart had a larger screen.

    So now my delima is 21.5" i3 or i5 - I am constantly checking the refurbished inventory and all I've seen were the i3's lately.

    My family will be using this new computer for homework, iTunes, iPhoto, Garageband, copying dvd's with handbrake and of course browsing the Internet. Oh and we would like to be able to use the computer for other tasks while it's making digital copies of a DVD instead of having to wait until I'm at work or sleep to run handbrake.

    So you can see that the multitasking I'm into is not that intensive, but will I be ok with just the i3 or should I step up to a i5 - money is not the big issue if I make my purchase from the refurbished stock but it's just that waiting for a i5 to pop up online that is starting to get to me.
     
  2. TMRaven macrumors 68020

    TMRaven

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2009
    #2
    i3.

    Even though the i5 with its turbo boost will help a tiny bit for encoding dvds, it really won't make a difference if you're just doing it casually in the background every once in a while.
     
  3. C. Alan macrumors 6502

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    Jan 23, 2009
    #3
    Save some money, get the i3. Heck, my 2006 Dual Core machine can encode DVD's. Now it may take a while, bit it can do it.
     
  4. alust2013 macrumors 601

    alust2013

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    #4
    i3 would be fine for that, and you can use it for other things while encoding, although you will want to avoid stuff like flash video, etc.
     
  5. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #5
    SuperDrive is the bottleneck when ripping/encoding DVDs, not the CPU so i3 will be just fine.
     
  6. TMRaven macrumors 68020

    TMRaven

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    #6
    Only for ripping. After you rip a dvd the encoding is all cpu.
     
  7. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #7
    You can use HandBrake to "rip" (don't know how it actually works but it's like encoding any file, just select the DVD as source) them as well, no need to rip with a ripper first. Then the SuperDrive will again be the bottleneck. IMO it's useless to rip it first and then encode unless you want to keep the huge file that ripping produces
     
  8. krimsen macrumors member

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    Dec 15, 2005
    #8
    Another vote for the base model. It is definitely more than fast enough for everything I've thrown at it (casual gaming, Logic). If you're into games you might want to research the different GPU benchmarks, though.
     
  9. TMRaven macrumors 68020

    TMRaven

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    Nov 5, 2009
    #9
    Handbrake isn't supposed to be used as a conventional ripper. I've spoken to their developers a couple times and it's definitely more or less just copying data from dvd to computer rather than actually decrypting it, etc.

    Ripping from the dvd and encoding in the same time will result in your superdrive being put to use during your multi-hour encode, so that would wear down the superdrive faster (possibly)

    As far as ripping first and then encoding unless you want to keep the huge file, I assume you meant it's useless to rip at first and then encode if you want to keep the huge file that ripping produces.
     
  10. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #10
    Thanks for the clarification. So, if you "rip" with HandBrake (from the DVD) and use e.g. .mp4 as output, will it encode it or just copy data from the DVD? I haven't done much ripping nor encoding so this is one topic where I'm a newbie. I tried it once but for some odd reason, I only got the director's interview and other extras, not the actual film :p It was quite fast compared to RipIt though
     
  11. benpatient macrumors 68000

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    Nov 4, 2003
    #11
    I'll put it this way...if the disc is going to fail, wouldn't you rather find that out during a 10 minute rip before doing a 3 hour encoding job?

    I rip and then encode, because I've had too many DVDs that didn't like the DVD drive for one reason or another. Also, if you have the open space, it's better to rip several DVDs at once, and then encode them all in a batch process afterwards.
     
  12. Spike88 macrumors 6502a

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    Jan 25, 2010
    #12
    Since 27" screen in "too much", may I suggest one goes with "middle of the pack" IMac 21.5" models (which is i3 3.2 with larger HD and better video card). With money saved (instead of going with i5), I'd buy more memory for the i3. Go with 8 GBs of RAM. More RAM means less page in/outs and thus, less HDD access. Less HDD "thrashing" the better. Besides that, I hear multiple apps love RAM. Go with 8 GB ram and with money left over, buy a 1 TB FW800 drive (to use with within included Time Machine feature). Works for me (see below signature file). LOL!!!!

    .
     
  13. Mr Kram macrumors 68000

    Mr Kram

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    Oct 1, 2008
    #13
    handbrake does the encoding. it uses the vlc library to bypass copy protection. i've ripped over 600 dvd's so far with 200 to go. i've only had a couple that handbrake could not handle. i don't see the point in ripping first unless you have multiple super drives and a cpu that can handle the work.
     
  14. TMRaven macrumors 68020

    TMRaven

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    Nov 5, 2009
    #14
    Sorry meant to put an "isn't" in that quote. No, handbrake does do encoding while it copies from the dvd. It's just personal preference if you want to rip before encoding or not. Personally for me, ripping first is the safer, more flexible option than copying from dvd while encoding. Ripping itself doesn't take much time at all-- a fraction of encoding. And as you said earlier, the superdrive is a bit of a bottleneck when it comes to extracting and encoding at the same time.

    I also personally don't use handbrake, I think it's rather limited in what it can do. Avidemux and avisynth are much better options for encoding for me.
     
  15. Timechaser thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 3, 2010
    #15
    Thank you all for taking the time to help me with this issue.

    I am using a few different programs for encoding and although time is a big factor for that type of thing it's the quality of the finished digital file that is most important. I still have a lot to learn about the whole process, it's just that right now I can't do much else on my current computer while it's encoding and I don't want to have the same problem on my new iMac.

    I'm also ordering a time capsule and a new ATV so part of my plan is to use this new iMac as a media hub and from what you all seem to be saying I may as well go ahead and add 4GB of ram and just get my mind off of the i5 for this purchase.
     
  16. Spike88 macrumors 6502a

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    Jan 25, 2010
    #16
    media hub??? FYI.... The new iMacs will NOT support Jumbo Frames. Therefore, converting it to a media hub or a end client off the media hub will be slow. Suggest doing some research and pick an Mac model (like mini-Mac) that supports Jumbo Frame sizes.

    .
     
  17. Timechaser thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 3, 2010
    #17
    Ok - may be I'm not sure exactly how a media hub works so I will be doing more research but for every thing else the iMac is what I want - so again thanks for replies.
     
  18. Spike88 macrumors 6502a

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    Jan 25, 2010
    #18
    Jumbo frames allows the ability to pack lots of data into a single packet. When end client receives this packet, it simply strips the header/footer and uses the data. With smaller sized packets, both systems (sender and receiver) must send smaller size packets. Thus, each system is slower. Vision snow ball fights. One can throw lots of little snow balls back and forth or 1 super large ball. The super large ball "amount" is much more efficient. For more details, perform an internet search of MTU. For example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maximum_transmission_unit

    Hope this helps...

    .
     
  19. mpe macrumors regular

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    Sep 3, 2010
    #19
    I am pretty sure that the absence of Jumbo Frames in iMac is insignificant for any home use. The interoperability of SoHo Jumbo Frames enabled devices is pretty bad and often it creates more problems than it is able to solve.

    Contemporary network players hardly support gigabit and Jumbo Frames. For vast majority of HD content the fast ethernet is enough.

    Preferring a Mac mini over iMac just because of Jumbo Frames support is a bad choice.
     
  20. mpe macrumors regular

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    Sep 3, 2010
    #20
    Not exactly. Jumbo Frames don't make your transfers any faster. Media speed or bandwidth is still the same - 1000 mbit/s. They just enable you to send the same amount of data in lower amount of Ethernet frames. The benefit is that the CPU utilization is slightly lower as there is less overhead in arranging the transfers. The negative is that the latency (network lag) is higher. There are often interoperability issues.

    Jumbo Frames were designed for special purpose networks. In normal home use where you transfer a media file from one device to the other they have almost no benefit - just the much worse interoperability and higher lag for interactive use.
     
  21. MassMacFan macrumors newbie

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    Jul 30, 2010
    #21
    Go wtih the i3 and buy in-person at a retail store, and un-box and set up onsite if you can. After a month of frustration with 2 returned BTO 21" i5 with massive yellow screen issues, I went for a 27". Good luck!
     
  22. Phil A. Moderator

    Phil A.

    Staff Member

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    Apr 2, 2006
    Location:
    Shropshire, UK
    #22
    the i3 is certainly no slouch (after all, it's a dual core, hyperthreaded processor running at over 3Ghz!): I went with the entry level i3 21.5" and doubled the memory for around £60 from Crucial and it's handled everything I've thrown at it without missing a beat.

    Admittedly, I don't do heavy graphics or video manipulation (It gets used for development), but I can run 2 windows virtual machines in Fusion and Eclipse, Office, Photoshop and iTunes without any issues at all.

    In fact, I virtualised my old Windows 7 laptop (which was a dual core AMD processor) and in fusion I get a Windows experience of 6.5 which is pretty good (for comparison, the laptop itself only got a Windows Experience rating of 3.2!)

    I'm sure that a lot of people will need the extra grunt of an i5 or i7 (large photoshop files, Final Cut, etc, etc) but don't worry that the i3 is only good for light web browsing: It's capable of far more than that!
     
  23. Spike88 macrumors 6502a

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    Jan 25, 2010
    #23
    In my definition of "basic" home usage, people don't run Media Hubs. IMO, Media Hubs are for "advanced" Home Users. Since the usage of Media Server suddenly came up, it appears the OP has increased his usage scope. re: Gone from "basic" home user (as seen in opening post) to "advanced" home user.

    Regarding Jumbo frame being sent at "faster transmit speed", didn't think I said that. I wrote the "packet size" is much larger with Jumbo frames. Therefore, more data contents is delivered - instead of little packets. Even provided a URL for more defination.

    And yes, lack of jumbo frame ability is a made/break deal for Media Server configurations. Within this forum, do a search of Jumbo Frames (or lack of Jumbo Frames) in mid-2010 iMacs. There's a few "advanced" Home Users who won't buy an mid-2010 iMac - because they current very won't support Jumbo Frames. If wondering, at work I've seen Media Servers configured with and without jumbo frame ability. When "streaming video, without Jumbo Frame is "jitter" video. With Jumbo frames creates a smooth picture. With Jumbo Frames create much faster data copying / backups as well. If given a choice on Media Servers, give me Jumbo Frames. If Media Server is a "key required" (not a "nice to try"), then get a systems (media server + end clients) that supports Jumbo Frames.

    .
     
  24. mpe macrumors regular

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    Sep 3, 2010
    #24
    I am personally streaming 1080p video content at very high bit rates from my NAS device to the video player and no matter if I enable Jumbo frames or not (my NAS, player and switch all supports jumbos) I see absolutely no impact on image smoothness, etc.. Theoretically I can imagine situation that the jitter can be even created by Jumbo Frames due to increased latency and retransmission (see the wikipedia link you linked above for further details).

    OK, let's be accurate. You are right in saying that more data is delivered by Jumbo Frames. Let's calculate it. TCP header is 32 bytes. Data payload is 1468 bytes or 8968 bytes when jumbo frames are enabled. So you save no less than 160 bytes by sending one 9000 packet instead of 6x1500. So it means that the bandwidth is 1.014% higher due to lower protocol frame overhead. I can guarantee you that you'll never see that when streaming videos or making home backups. What is very likely is that you'l have to face interoperability issues with home networking devices, laptops, wireless routers and obviously imacs :)

    So if somebody got Mac-mini over iMac just to get Jumbo Frames for media streaming he made a wrong decision.
     

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