5K iMac Purchase Advice

Discussion in 'iMac' started by drpje2000, Jan 24, 2016.

  1. drpje2000 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2009
    #1
    I am about to purchase the new base model 27" 5K iMac and need purchase advice. I will install more
    RAM at a later date but am undecided about the Hard Drive. I live in Mexico and the upgrade options here
    are more expensive than in the US. I would prefer a 256 SSD drive over the spinner or Fusion drive. I am
    about to sell an older Mac Mini that I installed a 256 SSD drive and it made a big difference in performance
    and less fan noise. I am sold on SSD. My options here would to purchase a BTO with the 256 SSD which
    would cost around $300 USD more or get the base model with 1TB spinner and get 10% off and 6 months
    no interest financing or regular price and 24 months no interest financing. On the BTO there is no discount
    and no interest free financing options. If I purchase the base model with 1TB spinner my plan would be to
    order the Samsung 1TB 850 EVO SSD at Amazon for $290 and purchase a Thunderbolt case and use this as a boot drive. In terms of performance and less fan noise, which is more important than performance, does this
    option make sense? Will the fact that the 1TB spinner is inside the machine increase fan noise if I am using the SSD as a boot drive? The other option would be to order the BTO version with the 256 SSD and add
    the external SSD at a later date. I use my computer for Filemaker Pro, music server, Handbrake, and photo editing using Photoshop. I plan to keep my iMac for a while like I did with my 5 year old Mac Mini.
    The screen on the 5K iMac is stunning. Thank you very much
     
  2. BluAffiliate macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2010
    #2
    I wasn't aware you can upgrade the RAM on a 5k iMac - can you tell me more details?
     
  3. sevoman macrumors member

    sevoman

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2016
    Location:
    Ancient Egypt
    #3
    In my opinion - a few things.

    1- Buying an iMac with a spinner and then using an external ssd to boot from would sort of defeat the purpose of having an all in one. Aesthetically speaking. But that is your decision.

    2- From your question, it was not clear if 256 gb space was enough for you as you said even if you got the iMac with built in 256 SSD, then you would still add another external 256 ssd later. So you need 512 storage? If 256 storage is enough then go for the BTO, because in the long run it would be better to have everything built in and not have to have an external drive sitting next to your computer.

    3- Having an external ssd boot drive and an internal spinner would not noticeably reduce fan noise, it would only decrease boot time. Reason being, the fan increases speed when the system is under higher load... processing power, as in rendering video, gaming, etc... Simply transferring files, read/write whether to ssd or hdd does not put the chip or gpu under that much increased stress, so having an external vs internal ssd won't effect fan noise to the point where it would be 'worth it'.

    My 2 cents worth:

    -if you are getting an all in one, then do as much as possible at the time of purchase to not be dependent on external items. You are moving from an mini to an iMac, so maximize the benefit by not having wires and cables all over the place.

    -if you need 256 gb of room, get the internal ssd and BTO
    -if you need 512 gb of room, the either get the 512 ssd internal option, or if you must, get the 256 internal and add the 256 external later.

    Another minor point - if you look online (YouTube) you will see many videos comparing boot up time and performance of pure SSD vs fusion drives. The fusion drives boot up exactly equal to ssd as the boot IS from SSD, so no difference there. Also, as long as you are using files less than 4gb in size, only the ssd is being used so again no performance difference with pure ssd. You may see a little slow down if you are accessing read/write giant files with fusion. Your best choice may be the 1tb fusion (which only has 32 gb ssd) or if you bump up to 2tb fusion, you will get 125 gb ssd.
    --- Post Merged, Jan 24, 2016 ---
    5k iMac has a user access to the RAM - there is a little door at the back right where the stand is. The 21.5 inch iMac does not have that option.
     
  4. drpje2000 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2009
    #4
    Thank you sevoman for the reply. Your advice makes a lot of sense. I am more concerned about less fan noise than boot up time. The other reason for preferring SSD over fusion is longevity. I assume that a SSD will have less failure rates than a spinner or fusion. A 256 SSD is plenty for the OS and Filemaker Pro Files which is my main use for the computer. Any music, video, or photos will be stored on external hard drives. Having the SSD inside the machine will mean less cables,
    and I assume better performance than an external Thunderbolt SSD as a boot drive. The only reason I mentioned the 1TB Samsung SSD was to show that it is the same price as the BTO 256 SSD. I would have to purchase the Thunderbolt case and cable which would be extra. Thank you
     
  5. MadDane macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2015
    #5
    Is there a 10% discount on all standard configurations or only the base model? If there is on all models then the top end iMac might make sense with the 128GB SSD instead of the low end + SSD upgrade.

    From the options you have stated I would go with stock configuration and a 1TB external SSD. Since you mention other external hard drives you seem to be the kind of person (like me) who are not too concerned about one extra wire. That way you will get a lot more high speed storage compared to the BTO option for roughly the same amount of money.
     
  6. drpje2000 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2009
    #6
    --- Post Merged, Jan 24, 2016 ---
    The 10% discount is only on the versions with the 1TB spinner 1TB Fusion and 2TB Fusion. There are no standard
    versions with SSD here. Would an external SSD connected via Thunderbolt make a difference in fan noise over the
    1TB Spinner? How about launch times. Thank you
     
  7. MadDane macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2015
    #7
    Then you could get the model with a 2TB Fusion Drive since it contains a 128GB SSD. I don't know how that comares with the low end plus 256GB price wise though but my guess would be rather similar?

    I have never myself been running a computer from an external disk (I have a 2009 iMac with USB2 and no Thunderbolt as well as a 2013 MacBook Pro).

    The SSD's in the late 2015 iMac are a lot faster than SATA SSD'S, although I don't know how much of a difference it gives in real world usage. From what I have read there is not that much of a difference unless you often move very large files around. Regarding the fan noise of either of the models I do not know. Do you have a store near you that you can go to and listen for yourself?
     
  8. Alexmonty macrumors newbie

    Alexmonty

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2016
    #8
    Just remember that 1TB Fusion drives only have a 24GB size SSD, the 2TB and 3TB models have a 128GB size SSD. I can't find any Thunderbolt 2 enclosures cheaper than $250 usd plus Import Fees and shipping to Mexico, it's something to consider if you want to take the External SSD route.
     
  9. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #9
    If you're sold on the SSD, then I personally would opt for the BTO option, why sacrifice or cut corners. I understand there's a financial implication but if you're spending a lot on the iMac you are, then get the one that best fits your wants and needs.
     
  10. drpje2000 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2009
    #10
    I have narrowed down my options to the following:

    BTO with 256 GB Flash
    Stock with 1TB Fusion

    The BTO with Flash will cost $100 more and no interest free financing
    The Stock with Fusion will cost $100 less and 6 months no interest financing
    The difference in price is not the issue as $100 on a new computer is not a deal breaker.
    The 6 month no interest will help but again is not a deal breaker
    What I am concerned with is the following:
    Fan noise and longevity. I will place the iMac in a quiet room and do not want to hear fan noise as I listen to a lot
    of music when I am working on my FileMaker database. I am about to sell my 5 year old Mac Mini which has served
    me well. I had upgraded the RAM and replaced the stock spinner with a Samsung Evo 850 SSD. I do not plan to
    buy another computer for a while. My only changes will be to upgrade the RAM to 16GB and purchase an SSD external
    HD for my music and video files using a USB 3 case.
    After seeing the iMac in person and reading your comments I am convinced that the base 27" 5K iMac will serve me
    well. The monitor is stunning. What are your opinions on fan noise and longevity between the Flash and Fusion drives?
    I was unable to evaluate the fan noise in the stores here as it is not a quiet environment and there are no Flash iMacs
    here. I only have my 5 year old Mac Mini that I upgraded to SSD as a reference. Switching from a spinner to SSD made
    a big difference. The only time I hear the fan is when using Handbrake and I use the computer all day.
    Thank you
     
  11. MadDane macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2015
    #11
    Unless there is a manufacturing defect of some sort, you can expect the SSD to outlive a spinner. So in terms of longevity I would only consider an SSD. I do not know about noise but if there is any difference it will be in favor of the SSD.
     
  12. Alexmonty macrumors newbie

    Alexmonty

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2016
    #12
    I bought the 4Ghz iMac 5K retina with the Radeon R9 M395X and 512GB SSD last month, I use it for Photoshop from light to heavy work while watching netflix/youtube on a secondary monitor (I have 2 monitors attached a 1080p and a 1440p) the computer is completely silent most if not all the time (99%) with the fan spinning at 1200rpm, it's really hard to push it to a level where you start hearing the fan and usually it's only when you put the GPU to do very heavy work (I don't play games on the iMac but this will be the main reason you will be hearing the fan) It takes playing 3 1080p videos while watching Twitch to make the fan spin at 1900 rpm to notice a subtle and low noise coming from the fan, the highest I have had the fan spinning is 2200rpm which it's quite noticeable but not terrible loud and trust me I have owned several Mac Pros and a Power Mac also known as Wind Tunnel.

    I don't know how CPU intensive is Filemaker but I find hard to believe that even while hearing music and/or watching videos on a secondary monitor you will be ever hearing the fan and that is considering you getting the stock GPU (Radeon R9 M380). I can't test how much Handbrake would make the fan spin since "el Capitan" makes difficult to install it on mi iMac but It's safe to say it would at least make the fan spin at 1900rpm while using it.

    And for longevity in the disk category there is a reason I chose the SSD over the fusion drive and it's that mechanical drives are more prone to fail and memory RAM aside replacing anything would be a big hassle on the iMac.
     
  13. loekf macrumors 6502

    loekf

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2015
    Location:
    Nijmegen, The Netherlands
    #13
    Just a 256GB SSD is a bit tight. If you install programs like Office 2016, Photoshop, Lightroom, LibreOffice, Pages etc. will easily fill up the 256 GB. 512 GB is a safer choice.

    A fusion drive with 128GB SSD is fast enough for most of us, but you could (OSX 10.10/11) still be met with the occasional spinning wheel. An application like Word loads in ~10 secs. Not sure if a full SSD is much faster.
     
  14. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #14
    I have all those on my 2012 rMBP and they fit fine, what pushed me over the edge with the 256GB not having sufficient space, is my Music library (about 100GB) and my Lightroom catalog/images (about 300 GB).

    If the OP's needs are such that he doesn't have libraries for music, images, or other media, then the 256 will be enough and the 512GB may be over kill. Plus as noted by his posts, he may be a bit budget conscience and doesn't want to needlessly upgrade and spend more money.
     
  15. drpje2000 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2009
    #15
    I placed the order for the 27" 5K iMac with the 256 GB SSD. I will upgrade the RAM to 16 GB and purchase external SSD for my music, video, and database files. Thanks to your advice and replies I feel like I made the right decision. The reasons for the SSD are longevity, less fan noise, and quicker boot times and program launching. It was worth spending the extra money to get the SSD over the 1TB spinner as it was the equivalent of $200 USD. If the 512 GB SSD would have been more reasonable in cost I would have opted for that option. Why is it that Amazon sells the Samsung Evo 512 GB SSD for double the price of the 256 GB and a
     
  16. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
  17. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    #17
    Apple use very expensive 4 lane PCIe ssd's with just about the fastest sequential read/write speeds available on on consumer tech, you pay for the best.....
     
  18. cmm macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2006
    Location:
    Manhattan & Zürich
    #18
    Just keep in mind that if you buy an external SSD it will most likely interface via USB which will drastically decrease the performance of an SSD as USB is limited in the amount of bandwidth it handles. Unless you get a Thunderbolt enclosure or a Thunderbolt external SSD, I rarely would recommend someone buying a USB3 external SSD drive.

    It sucks, I know.
     

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