About to buy a new iMac: advice appreciated

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by phammond, Dec 18, 2012.

  1. phammond macrumors newbie

    Dec 18, 2012
    Hi there,

    I'm about to buy a new iMac and would appreciate some advice on which one to go for. So, here are the options I'm currently considering:

    1) 21.5-inch: 2.9GHz
    2.9GHz quad-core Intel Core i5
    16GB memory
    1TB hard drive

    2) 21.5-inch: 2.9GHz
    2.9GHz quad-core Intel Core i5
    8GB memory
    1TB Fusion Drive

    3) 27-inch: 2.9GHz
    2.9GHz quad-core Intel Core i5
    8GB memory
    1TB hard drive

    Now, I'm a web developer and will use this machine mostly for work. I guess what I'm really asking is:

    1) Bearing in mind my line of work, do you think I would be better off investing my money on more RAM or on a Fusion Drive?
    2) I know this is entirely subjective, but I just can't decide whether to go for the 21.5-inch or the 27-inch. What would you do? Do you think the base 27-incher offers the same performance as the higher specced 21.5-incher? The good thing about the 27-inch model is that I could upgrade the RAM myself pretty easily.
    3) Do you think the differences between the base 21.5-inch model and the higher specced one are significant enough to justify the price hike?

    Thanks in advance, guys. Look forward to your answers.
  2. RedCroissant, Dec 18, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2012

    RedCroissant Suspended

    Aug 13, 2011
    1. I would go with the 27 simply because of the fact that it is user-upgradeable. That's not the only reason, and I'll give you a couple of others.

    2. If this is your work machine and you work from your home, then the 27" screen is great if you also want to use it to watch movies from a distance.

    3. The resale value of the 27" is higher than the 21.5" if you do plan on selling it in the future.

    4. It can utilize more RAM than the 21.5"

    I am not a web developer and don't know much at all about the resources you need to develop, but I would say being able to have up to 32GB of RAM would allow for more memory intensive applications running simultaneously and make your work easier.
  3. webster69, Dec 18, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2012

    webster69 macrumors newbie

    Jul 24, 2011
    I dabble with web development and I would go with the 27" hands down. I have a retina macbook with a 27" LCD and couldn't be happier.

    The 27" screen is so valuable for screen\page formatting, coding\error checking, picture editing\photoshop.

    You can always upgrade the RAM later but can't upgrade the screen size.

    I'm not sure about fusion drives (benchmarks etc.) so cannot comment on the value but for web work the screen size is more important to me than a bit of speed.

    It it was my choice I would go for the 27" with base ram (upgrade later) and look online to see what benefit the fusion driive offers. If it is a significant upgrade in performance I would do it now as you can't after the fact.
  4. Spink10 Suspended


    Nov 3, 2011
    I agree with the first person that responded in regards to getting the 27inch - I would disagree that the 27 has better resell value. The 21.5 will be a better resell - because those that purchased used computers are most generally looking to a computer at a low price - thus making the cheaper 21.5 more ideal for more people.
  5. jjhoekstra macrumors regular

    Apr 23, 2009
    Based on your work I would say a large screen and the fusion-drive are essential. So in your situation I would go for a 27" with fusion drive and add RAM later if the budget does not permit it now. More than 8Gb is anyhow almost never beneficial and certainly is less useful than a fusion-drive. The fusion-drive basically speeds up the reaction-time of your machine with a factor of 3. Very useful when you have a deadline for a customer!
  6. phammond thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 18, 2012
    @RedCroissant and @webster69: Thanks for your great responses. I think you might be onto something there. I certainly agree that having the extra screen real state is a huge bonus in web design/development, and the fact that the 27'' is user-upgradeable is also something to bear in mind.

    I didn't know that the resale value of the 27" was higher than the 21.5", but that is also worth considering. After all, I tend to change computers every three years and the ability to sell my old iMac at a reasonable price sounds very attractive.

    I've done some research online to find out whether the Fusion Drive is worth paying the extra bucks, but it really is hard to tell whether that's the case. Some people swear by it whereas others think fusion drives are the biggest rip off of the century.

    Considering your suggestions and my own research, I think I'm getting the base 27'' with a standard HDD drive.

    Thanks for your help.


    @jjhoekstra: have you had any experience using a fusion drive? Does it offer the same kind of performance you get from a standard SSD? I'd be interested to know from people who've had first hand experience with fusion drives.

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