27-in iMac maxed out or middle-of-the-road iMac

Discussion in 'iMac' started by butterfly1981, Jun 16, 2011.

  1. butterfly1981 macrumors newbie

    Jun 16, 2011

    I am a grad student. I am currently learning InDesign and Final Cut Pro. I would like to use these professionally in the future, but I am not quite there yet. (Final Cut Pro X (soon) for mini-documentaries up to 20 min--probably nothing feature length in the future.)

    I am purchasing an iMac with the education discount, but not sure which configuration is best for me. This is my first Mac--and I am very excited! :)

    I am debating between getting:

    The top-of-the-line, new, 27-inch iMac, 3.4Ghz, i7, 2TB, 2GB graphics card, 4GB ram for $2304. (I will upgrade memory separately to save $.)

    Versus buying something more middle-of-the-road like a 21-inch iMac, 2.8Ghz i7, 2TB, 512 graphics card, 4GB ram (upgrade separately) for $1714. (No option to upgrade graphics card.)

    Or even the same 21-inch as above, but a 2.7Ghz i5 for $1534.

    Reasons for buying the big momma mac are that:
    --I am a broke student and don't foresee buying another new computer for as long as I can manage.
    --In the far-far-off future when I get a new computer, I won't have the student discount anymore.
    --I think (please correct me if I am wrong) that the computer is probably more than I need now, but it should be able to grow with me as I get my graphics and video editing skills to a marketable level, and I can work professionally on it then.
    --And, oh, that 27-inch screen is pretty. :)

    Reasons for buying the 21-inch:
    --I am broke student and can't afford either computer without loans I'll be paying off forever, so better to be conservative $-wise.
    --I am *not* using FCP or InDesign for income yet, even though that is my goal. If I don't reach my goal, I "overbought" with the big momma mac.
    --The 21-inch should be sufficient for my current needs. (This is where I'd really like some input--I don't have a good sense of the power needed for my programs to run well.)

    Thanks for your feedback!
    -B :)
  2. Badger^2 macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2009
    FC X wont take anything special, and ID takes even less.

    Have you actually priced the edu discount. It aint much. I can get a better deal buying from out of state and avoiding sales tax.

    why not split the best of both worlds with a 27" i5. 1 GB video, 1 TB drive and the 27" screen -- $1585: http://www.macconnection.com/IPA/Shop/Product/Detail.htm?sku=12811687&cac=BrandsItem

    if you feel the need to upgrade in a few years, you will still have a $1000 iMac to sell.
  3. Sirmausalot macrumors 6502a


    Sep 1, 2007
    Get Below Budget

    I would go for the entry level iMac. It's not what you want, but it will be more than fine for 20 minute documentaries (unless you're shooting on a RED, which you're not). You also get a $100 gift card to use towards Final Cut Pro X -- which will sell for $300.

    4GB should also be plenty of memory for what you're doing. So save that money as well -- for now.

    I shoot and cut features, so the i7 is a must for me. But I've been doing fine on a Core2Duo for a long while now, so the i5 is certainly plenty of power. For 20 minute pieces, encoding on an i7 won't make that much of a difference, for 2+ hours, it matters. Also, you won't be layering a lot of video effects for docs, so again, lower horsepower is fine.

    If you MUST have an i7 and a 27" screen, consider the refurbs. I just ordered one because at $1600, it's a steal and basically the 3rd highest speed CPU -- it benchmarks just behind the two other newer i7 models you mentioned and above everything else in the iMac line. (No student bonus with the refurb though)

    But I can't stress enough, if you are already in debt, the entry level iMac is a great deal and $1200 less than the top of the line model you were considering. Unless you are doing 3D modeling, long form movies or effects laden music videos, or gaming intensively, get the entry level!
  4. butterfly1981 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 16, 2011

    Thanks Badger! Thanks Sirmausalot!

    Refurb it is. $1570 i7, 27-in. Very happy. Thanks for the advice :)

    Mission successful.


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