27" iMac 3.06 C2D vs. 21.5" iMac 3.2 i3

Discussion in 'iMac' started by LaMerVipere, Oct 16, 2010.

  1. LaMerVipere macrumors 6502a


    Jan 19, 2004
    Greetings Mac Rumors forum members, I don't do this often but am looking for your sound advice on which iMac should be next computer.

    I just sold my trusty 15" MacBook Pro which I've had for two years now. The specs on that machine were 2.4GHz C2D, 4GB of RAM, 500GB HD, Nvidia 9600M 256MB.

    I want to jump to the iMac and I want to buy refurbished. There are currently two great options in the Apple online refurbished store that are the exact same price! Oy, what a dilema. They are....

    1) 27" iMac 3.06GHz C2D, 1TB HD, 4GB RAM, ATI 4670 256MB

    2) 21.5" iMac 3.2GHz i3, 1TB HD, 4GB RAM, ATI 5670 512MB

    Besides the usual word processing/internet browsing which I realize almost any system does well, I will be doing the following:

    Editing long (hour+) HD video in iMovie, large batches of RAW image files from time to time, and lots of general Photoshop graphic design.

    The reason I sold my MacBook Pro is because it just doesn't cut it for the video. Shorter videos were fine, but anything longer than 15 minutes killed it. Also, any time I had to to serious work it was parked on a desk anyway, and I have an iPad to take with me places and onto the couch, etc.


    How would these two systems compare for my tasks? Would there be a significant speed difference or would they be pretty much neck in neck? Does the 27" screen outweigh the internal advantages of the 21.5 iMac? I'll admit to not knowing how vast they would be in real world practice.

    Any advice would be appreciated, thanks!

    PS, both are priced at $1269 currently and that's really the max I am budgeted to spend before tax

  2. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    Here are some benchmarks (looks at the "27-inch Core i3/i5 iMac benchmarks (29JUL2010 and 03AUG2010 and 13AUG2010 and 23AUG2010)"). The i3 is faster, epsecially when you're importing or exporting something with iMovie.

    Would you prefer 27" or 21.5"? The 27" is amazing but it's slower. However, if you're editing is just home videos (i.e. not in hurry and faster machine doesn't mean more money), then I would get the 27". You can leave it encoding while you go for dinner for example, or to bed etc.

    So, if it's work related, then get the faster machine (faster machine = more productivity = more money) but if it's just a hobby, then get the 27". You can always buy an external monitor for 21.5" if you need more pixels
  3. LaMerVipere thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jan 19, 2004
  4. LaMerVipere thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jan 19, 2004
    I hate to bump my own thread, but can anyone else offer any insight? Pulling the trigger tomorrow or Tuesday at the latest.
  5. Spike88 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2010
    To me, the 1st decision is the screen size. Some folks feel the 27" (especially coming from a previous 15" screen) is "too much". Yet, others feel the 27" for video editing is perfect. Available desk space can determine what physical size of screen as well. Pick screen size 1st. Then, pick the CPU size. Perhaps you can afford a 27" i5 from Refab? For video editing, I'd get the higher end i5 or i7. Especially if you use your system for 4+ hours each day. To me, screen size slection is most important.

  6. Smileyboy macrumors 65816


    Aug 6, 2008
    Interesting thread. Same question I have. My Macbook pro 13 isn't cutting it, the more I get into photo and videos.

    I'm looking at a iMac 21 vs 27 myself. I think the screen size is the most important for my videos and photos, having room for my growing iTunes library and being able to sync our iPhones and iPad.

    I can't justify dropping more money into my Macbook Pro and I'm getting a iMac... just gotta find out which one.
  7. mpe macrumors 6502

    Sep 3, 2010
    For me a processing speed is not just the CPU horse power. It is also about all that things you don't have to do on larger screen.

    For photo and video editing work I would definitely go for 27" screen. The 27" is 3.7 megapixels vs 2 megapixels of 21.5" model (almost twice as much) and it is a huge difference. In reality it means a significantly less time spent on scrolling, zooming in and out, entering and exiting full screen mode, hiding popups, collapsing/expanding of elements, moving windows, etc.

    So ideal configuration for you is the refurbished quad-core i5 27" model (late 2009). If I had to choose between two models you mentioned I would go for the 27" model even with Core 2 duo CPU. The i3 model is noticeably (but not dramatically) faster, but the 27" 3.06 is not slow and offers better overall experience for your tasks.

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