21" iMac vs. 27" iMac

Discussion in 'iMac' started by jlseattle, Jul 5, 2017.

  1. jlseattle macrumors 6502

    jlseattle

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2007
    Location:
    Seattle WA
    #1
    Hi all,

    I'm terribly confused about the difference between the 21" iMac and the 27". I purchased the 21" with the fusion drive (1tb) ($1499) but upgrade the processor to the i7 option. I was working with it and it is slow as a dog. I then figured out they had mitigated the fusion drive to 24gb ssd and a 5400 drive. So upgrading the processor was a moot point because the hard drive was so slow. The video card is decent and great processor but the drive was the stopping point. The computer was so much slower than my 1000 13" macbook pro. It had choppy gaming experience and the operating system would pause routinely while doing stuff. The 13" works like butter versus the 21". I'm guessing that the fusion drive with a 5400 disk is just a very bad design decision. Any thoughts?

    So I returned the 21" and upgraded to the 27". That machine is much better. It's pretty much amazing. I got the ($1999) one and really am happy. BUT I'm really unhappy with the performance of the 21". I felt like they took great components (processor, display, graphics card) and combined with a really bad component (hard drive). Why did they do this? It almost felt like they were trying to force users to the more expensive models. It's really a waste of components capabilities to put that drive (5400rpm) in the machine. Thoughts?

    Thanks!
    --- Post Merged, Jul 5, 2017 ---
    BTW, I will acknowledge that I might of had a bad machine. The geekbench test put the 21" iMac at 18000 on all cores so the processor was definitely working. But my experience working with it for 10 hours was OS slowness (pauses to think) and choppy video during gameplay. Maybe the video card isn't as decent as I thought it was as well.
     
  2. Chupa Chupa macrumors G5

    Chupa Chupa

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    #2
    But that's nothing new. The HDD has long been the biggest bottleneck in computers -- not just the 21" iMac. A Fusion drive is still a HDD at heart. Don't let the marketing fool you. My iMac is arriving today and the only time I'll boot up with the Fusion drive is the first boot to set up my ext. SSD.

    Specific to the 21.5", it has been the red headed step-child at least since the first 27" model came out. It can cost as much, even more, than the 27" model depending on how it's spec'ed but it still lags in features and performance. Apple does it's best to push people to the 27". I didn't really want a 27" but it didn't make $ sense to buy a 21" and pay Apple prices for 16GB RAM.
     
  3. jlseattle thread starter macrumors 6502

    jlseattle

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2007
    Location:
    Seattle WA
    #3
    I totally agree! How do you configure your SSD on your iMac to just use that instead of the fusion drive? Do you have a specific SSD drive you are using? What port are you connecting it to? Might do that setup myself. :D
     
  4. QCassidy352 macrumors G3

    QCassidy352

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2003
    Location:
    Bay Area
    #4
    The current 21" 4K is a great machine if you get an SSD in it. The spinning hard drives are obviously a cruel joke in 2017 but other than that it's finally a very capable machine.
     
  5. Taz Mangus macrumors 68040

    Taz Mangus

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2011
    #5
    You select the startup drive from System Preferences->Startup Disk. The best option would be to use the Thunderbolt 3 port because of Trim which is not supported over USB. USB enclosures are going to be cheaper though.
     
  6. jlseattle thread starter macrumors 6502

    jlseattle

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2007
    Location:
    Seattle WA
    #6
    Thank you for the response. :) I'm looking at SSD drives now. Any recommendations for brands and speeds to look for?
     
  7. nambuccaheadsau macrumors 6502a

    nambuccaheadsau

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2007
    Location:
    Nambucca Heads Australia
    #7
    For mine PCI-e Flash Storage is the only way to go.

    The 1TB Fusion with its miserable 24GB of free space is like tar or molasses.
     
  8. colodane macrumors 6502a

    colodane

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2012
    Location:
    Colorado
    #8
    I am not surprised but still disappointed in the 21.5 inch 2017 storage offerings. I totally get why the base entry level off-the-shelf model might have an old and slow hard drive so that they can advertise a low entry price. But why on earth don't they allow some decent fusion offerings on BTO machines for those willing to pay extra ?? 1 TB isn't enough. There should be 2 and 3 TB fusion offerings with reasonably sized SSD partitions and fast hard drives.
     
  9. jlseattle thread starter macrumors 6502

    jlseattle

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2007
    Location:
    Seattle WA
    #9
    I don't mind the 1TB fusion speed so far but definitely going to explore hooking up a flash drive via USB3. Just want to get good speeds out of it and then use the fusion drive to store files.
     
  10. Chupa Chupa macrumors G5

    Chupa Chupa

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    #10
    Yes. Didn't mean to state 21" isn't a nice, quite capable machine. My only point is that for the money Apple does dumb them down compared to the 27". The 21" top end doesn't even get the 570 of the 5K, though same amount of VRAM. No user accessable RAM, smaller selection of CTO options. Like I said, I would greatly prefer a 21". The only difference between the 21 and 27 SHOULD be the screen size. But that's not how Apple plays it unfortnately.
     
  11. jlseattle thread starter macrumors 6502

    jlseattle

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2007
    Location:
    Seattle WA
    #11
    I agree wholeheartedly. It was a major smack in the face to have the system so compromised by one component. It's almost a waste to even put those components together. You'll never realize the full potential of the i7 processor when it is running with a 5400 rpm disk. It's ridiculous.
    --- Post Merged, Jul 5, 2017 ---
    I agree with all that. I even was ok with the RAM not being upgradeable. That was a compromise that I knew going into the purchase. I just had no clue until I got the iMac home and it was running slower than my 13" laptop (that was $700 cheaper) that the 5400 rpm hard drive was slowing it down to a crawl.

    If I got a redo, I would get the 21" but do the SSD and 16gb of ram over the faster processor. I just got the 27" because I didn't want to wait for a computer anymore (waited a month for the i7 processor in the 21"). I'm glad I went with the 27". It's a large screen for my space but boy does it look good.
    --- Post Merged, Jul 5, 2017 ---
    BTW, I hope this thread helps others that are researching between the 27" versus the 21". I kind of wish I could have found this thread a month ago.
     
  12. colodane macrumors 6502a

    colodane

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2012
    Location:
    Colorado
    #12
    Yes, it is too bad. My wife will be getting a new 21.5 later this year (she likes the size). Will advise her to get 16 GB RAM and the 512 GB SSD, even though a well-designed 1 or 2 TB Fusion would be a better solution for her.
     
  13. Floris macrumors 68020

    Floris

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #13
    Upgrading to just having that 2000/2500 SSD nvme is worth it
    5400 rpm, what a joke.. Apple should be a little ashamed in 2017.
     
  14. QCassidy352 macrumors G3

    QCassidy352

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2003
    Location:
    Bay Area
    #14
    Ah, gotcha. I totally agree in that case. I understand if certain options like the highest end GPU can't be included because of heat (less space for cooling), but other than that, there's no reason smaller should be lesser in other ways. I, too, prefer the 21"; it's always just felt like the perfect size screen for what I do.
     
  15. Velin macrumors 65816

    Velin

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2008
    Location:
    Hearst Castle
    #15
    "Fusion" drive should be eliminated. Apple should move to SSD-only, and because of fewer configurations and a tighter supply chain, reduce costs to the consumer.
     
  16. Blazer5913 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    #16
    Completely agree with the complaints above that spinning drives shouldn't even be in these iMacs anymore. Maybe, maybe, maybe include the Fusion drive but people have to do their research and understand how it works and also the partition of space among the 1TB vs. 2TB/3TB (aka getting significantly less SSD storage in the 1TB option). I researched for hours on this debate (Fusion and more space vs. SSD and smaller space) on Macrumors and youtube; at the end of the day, I would always be wondering if my fusion drive could be running faster had I bought the SSD instead. That drove it home for me. I was going to get the 256 SSD initially but ended up getting 512 SSD just to future proof a bit. However, I think if there's any debate at all in your mind, GET THE SSD AND DON'T LOOK BACK. Just buy a USB 3 attached external drive (or if you really need insane speeds, get an external SSD and hook it up TB3). But remember that this is a desktop computer so will always be attached to your desk and sitting there - it's not a big deal to also have a drive or two hooked up to it peripherally if you need more storage. But stop the debate, stop arguing, and stop disappointing people that spent $1000+ on a machine only to find out it's as slow as their last computer due to the spinning drive.
     
  17. jclardy macrumors 68040

    jclardy

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2008
    #17
    Gonna have to disagree, unless you are only talking about the 1TB Fusion. The 2TB fusion drive has been smooth as butter for me because of the 128GB SSD size. And that is comparing it to a 2016 rMBP with a 256GB SSD. Basically it means it can hold startup, apps and my current projects I'm working on.

    The 1TB fusion is terrible though, 24GB will basically speed up your startup, but that is all, everything else is going to hit the slow drive.
     
  18. Blazer5913 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    #18
    Completely agree about the 1TB fusion - would go nowhere near either the spinning HDD or the 1TB fusion. However, in my mind, although you say the 2TB (or 3TB for that matter) is smooth as butter, I just feel that I would always be asking myself could this be faster. Any time I waited longer than I thought was appropriate or any time I saw the spinning beachball, I would think to myself about the SSD vs fusion debate. I didn't want this to torture me forever. Also, yes it's smooth like butter now - but you've had it for a few weeks. Wait a year until the 128GB SSD portion starts to fill up a bit more and gets more confused with the natural junk that starts to accrue on computers with time, and then let us know how it's doing. Honestly, would be curious to know if it holds up.
     
  19. Chupa Chupa macrumors G5

    Chupa Chupa

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    #19
    I'm not sure exactly what you are disagreeing with. Overall performance of a Fusion drive isn't ever going to match that of a 256GB SSD from a hard numbers perspective. Maybe psychologically it "feels" as fast, but that's mostly because it's new. At the point the 128GB SSD gets filled up and has to revert back to the HD and swapping files with it the drive performance drops dramatically.
     
  20. JustMartin macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2012
    Location:
    UK
    #20
    I have a late 2012 iMac with the 1TB Fusion (128GB SSD) - after nearly 5 years usage it's currently 75% full and still running very smoothly - no beach balls, reboot is still less than 10 seconds and app startup is similarly fast. No complaints about fusion here.
     
  21. fathergll macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2014
    #21

    How do you know the inner workings of Apple's supply chain better than them? For all we know the HDs they have are basically of no cost to them and they have a warehouse the size of the one at the end of Raider's of the Lost Ark filled to the brim with them. Im sure they use fusion drives because of the price.
     
  22. Nails1 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2010
    #22
    Can you guys using external SSD drives provide a link to the device you're using? I've looked for an external enclosure for an SSD but can't find one that seems decent and inexpensive.
     
  23. JasonMovieGuy macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2010
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    #23
    What's interesting is that on the MacBook Pros, Flash storage is standard. Why isn't it standard on the iMacs? You would think it would be the other way around.
     
  24. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    #24
    One would think so.....that is one reason why, after looking at the specs on offer for the then-new retina version of the iMac in the fall of 2015, I gave up on that particular product altogether and went with a 15" rMBP that I use as a desktop replacement and to this day this machine more than takes care of my needs in addition to offering flexibility and portability. So when the updated iMacs were released this summer, I took a look at the specs, hoping things had changed somewhat, that the platter drive was history, and instead found myself staring at the specs for the 21.5" iMac in dismay. "What is Apple THINKING?"!! 5400 rpm platter drives in 2017? A measly 24 GB (or something like that) capacity SSD with the 1 TB fusion drive? WTH? No options for a 21.5" purchaser to improve things significantly? Anything else needs to be ordered BTO and not is simply available for a consumer in the market for a 21.5" iMac to walk in and purchase off the shelf at the B&M Apple store?

    One issue here is that many customers are not going to know the difference about what is available at their local Apple store and its limitations vis-a-vis what they can order BTO from the online store. I wonder how many customers will go into an Apple store and buy the latest 21.5" iMac off the shelf and get home and then be really, really disappointed....... The thing is, for many reasons some people cannot purchase or do not want to purchase an iMac that is larger and heavier than the 21.5" -- they may not have desk space at home, they may not want the large screen, whatever........and the BTO options are significantly limited on the 21.5" as opposed to the larger 27"......

    As for me, after viewing the latest specs and even the BTO options for the 21.5" iMac, the bottom line is pretty clearly outlined: I probably will never buy another iMac again.
     
  25. Ph.D. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2014
    #25
    Because they haven't changed the form factor yet and the space for a 3.5" drive is still there. Plus some people do want a lot more space than is affordable in SSDs.

    Unless SSD prices keep climbing, this will likely be the last iMac with the option for a spinning drive. Next up: a notebook-thin iMac, with almost no bezels except for a vestigial trademark chin.
     

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