Advice on configuring 27" iMac purchase?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by eas423, Sep 25, 2015.

  1. eas423 macrumors newbie

    Sep 25, 2015
    Looking to upgrade from my 6 yr old desktop PC to an iMac. Current hard drive is 1TB at 90% full, mostly photos.

    I'd like to get a 27" iMac, not sure that I require the 5K display. I use Photoshop/Lightroom for editing photos and a graphics program to run a digital cutter, along with docs and sheets, then the regular internet browsing and email checking. What specs would you recommend? Upgrade to 16gb memory? Am I better to get a 3TB fusion, or look to get a 1TB and an external HD? All flash storage is out of budget. And what seems like an after thought, preference on the magic mouse vs trackpad?
  2. pjfan macrumors regular

    May 24, 2009
    Columbus OH
    Sounds like a sweet upgrade you're preparing for!

    Here is what I would do if I were in your shoes:
    Start by choosing the top of the line iMac 5k, up the HDD to 3tb FUSION, and I would go with the trackpad. You can buy and install RAM at anytime from Amazon or crucial. Apple makes it incredibly easy.

    My reasoningor the above configuration would be 1), retina screen is amazing and your usage would benefit from it 2) the total US $2449 is only $100 more than the lower end iMac 5K speced out similarly, but you gain better CPU &GPU. 3) the fusion drives will offer great ease of use for your needs. 4) I love trackpads... totally personal, and maybe others in photography can help you with this question.

    Two notes, check the Apple refurbished store - it's an amazing way to buy quality Apple with 15% off if your setup comes available. I would be remissed if I don't reference the rumor that there is a 21" iMac upgrade that's likely to happen in the near future. Doesn't seem that you're interested in that size, so it might not matter.
  3. cincygolfgrrl macrumors 6502


    Apr 2, 2012
    Somewhere In Time
    The "5K at all costs" nerds are ubiquitous. Pay them no never mind. Yes, it's a great monitor, but it's not a necessity. I do Lightroom and stuff on a 27" non-Retina iMac with no difficulties.

    My internal drive is a 512GB SSD; I archive my photos on a USB drive. I keep current projects on the SSD. The 256 GB SSD probably would have met my needs, but I had the budget to get the 512 so I did. No regrets.

    I have 16GB RAM, which seems to be more than enough to meet my current needs.

    If I was on a budget and was speccing an iMac to meet my current needs and beyond I'd get one with an i7 processor and all the SSD I could afford. My only issue with fusion is that when the spinner inevitably fails (someday, but probably not anytime soon), replacing it will be a pain. External SSD drives are easily replaceable. Third-party RAM is more affordable than what Apple sells so I'd buy 8 and go to 32 from a vendor, if needed. I love my trackpad, but it's an acquired taste.

    We all have different needs so one person's perfect machine is likely different from everyone else's. You may find the 5K meets your needs better than a non-Retina or that the i5 is all you need. If you're not encoding video or gaming any graphics card will likely not disappoint. I made the decision to switch to a Mac almost four years ago and haven't regretted it. Good luck.
  4. garirry macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2013
    Canada is my city
    For your needs, you definitely don't need something crazy. 5K display isn't a requirement at all to be honest, it looks beautiful AF, but unless you're working with a massive amount of pixels, that isn't necessary. You can look at it in an Apple store probably, to see the difference and decide yourself. It's 200$ more than the standard model, so if you can, it might be a good option (also brings more performance), but once again, not a necessity. I recommend you get either a 3TB hard drive or 3TB fusion drive, the latter includes a 128GB SSD (for speedy program booting and data writing), considering your main space is almost full. Alternatively, you could use an external drive as you mentioned, but make sure it is connected via USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt. USB 2.0 drives are slow as hell. As for the specs, stay on the standard line, for photo editing you definitely don't need something crazy, the stock configuration will more than work fine. Don't upgrade to 16GB, because 8GB is more than enough for most people, and besides you can upgrade it yourself for cheaper than Apple suggests. Hope this helps.
  5. jerwin macrumors 68020

    Jun 13, 2015
    If you buy new, you won't be able to decide that an i7, or a gaming video card is more important to you than a retina screen. The 1440p imac comes with a lowest frequency i5, and a nvidea 755m-- period.

    Before you dismiss the 5k screen based on simply viewing video, or photographs, try it out with text-- that's where the most obvious advantage lies. Notice the apparent lack of antialiasing.

    You might even try looking at old books-- here's a page from the first folio, for instance

    crisp, is it not?

    The retina screen is quite helpful in photography, allowing you to pixel peep with minimal zoom. You can work on fine details while still paying attention to the image as a whole.
  6. James Craner, Sep 27, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2015

    James Craner macrumors 68000

    James Craner

    Sep 13, 2002
    Bristol, UK
    These are my thoughts. I am a keen photographer and have around 700 GB of photo's. I recently moved from an old Mac Pro to a high spec iMac.

    As your budget is constrained this is where I suggest you make your upgrades.

    Firstly the only thing you can upgrade in the 27 iMac after purchase easily is the memory. I therefore suggest you go for 8GB, which will be enough for the time being, and is something you can upgrade when you can afford. Focus your upgrade money on stuff you can't easily change in the future.

    The most important upgrade is to have some form of SSD. A SSD makes programs and files load significantly quicker compared with a standard drive. Ideally a dedicated drive. I was torn between fusion and a dedicated drive. Fusion appears to work well for most users, and gives you most of the speed benefits of a dedicated SSD. However as the iMac is basically a sealed unit, I knew that it would be difficult to replace if it failed. I had enough budget to put in a SSD 512GB drive and invest in a 3TB external thunderbolt drive. Based on you comments my advice is to go for the 3TB Fusion, unless you plan to keep it for more than 5 years, in which I would go for the largest SSD you can afford and a thunderbolt external SSD.

    Finally as a photographer I would go for the retina screen. Unless you have poor eyesight it will make a difference not just to photo editing but reading text. It is true once you use a retina screen you will not want to go back to a non retina screen.

    I hope this helps.
  7. Buerkletucson, Sep 27, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2015

    Buerkletucson macrumors 6502


    Sep 12, 2015
    $200 price bump for a 27" retina vs non-retina is insane to not recommend to anyone IMHO.
    May not be a "necessity" but with the small price difference its a no-brainer.

    Faster processor & better video card included in that slight price bump....

    Ridiculous to suggest otherwise......
  8. jerwin macrumors 68020

    Jun 13, 2015
    OK here's what you get with the various imacs.

    1799: 3.2 Ghz i5 (4570), 755m, normal screen, hard drive (flash adds $200)
    1999: 3.3 Ghz i5 (4590), m290, high res screen,hard drive (flash adds $200)
    2299: 3.5 Ghz i5 (4690) with BTO option, m290x with BTO option , high res screen, fusion drive (or 256 GB flash for same price)

    so unfortunately apple punishes those with strict budgets and rewards those with just little extra flexibility
  9. ryannel2003 macrumors 68000


    Jan 30, 2005
    Greenville, NC
    I wouldn't say that. I just bought a non-retina 27" iMac and I love it. I didn't feel the need to spend the extra $200 for the screen. I don't have 20/20 vision anyways so from where I sit at my desk the screen looks more than fine to my eyes. I spent another $50 and upped the RAM to 16GB and it's perfect for what I use it for.
  10. Buerkletucson macrumors 6502


    Sep 12, 2015

    The choice is yours and its your money to spend....
    My comments concern some members basically telling others the $200 bump for the retina is not worth it.....
    That is ridiculous advice.

    For $200 bump you can get one heck of a bang for the buck.

    btw - the retina would actually benefit those with less than ideal eyesight.....
    It's not just for movies or pictures......text is much more crisp and clear and easier to see/read.
    Before I purchased my system I seriously compared the two side by side under many different conditions/media...........IMHO there is no comparison.

    Good luck with your choice...
  11. cincygolfgrrl macrumors 6502


    Apr 2, 2012
    Somewhere In Time
    I rest my case.
  12. douber macrumors newbie

    Sep 27, 2015
    I agree with upgrading the RAM elsewhere than Apple, but from my experience with Lightroom as a photographer, 8GB is less than necessary. Work on some RAW files, use the brush, the spot removal tool, apply some presets. There, LR is already eating 5GB of RAM. The OS alone, your email and Safari (another RAM consuming program) easily eat up the remaining 3GB.

    Get what you want Retina or not Retina, the only cue I can give you is go for 16GB of RAM if you use LR6.
  13. Sirmausalot macrumors 6502a


    Sep 1, 2007
    I think this is the best advice you can get. If you are uncertain about the retina, be sure to check it out in a Mac store. But really, there is no comparison and it is the most important upgrade you can make. Hold off on the RAM upgrade as 1. 8GB might be fine for a while and 2. You can do it yourself later very inexpensively. I think the 3TB Fusion is the best bang for buck in terms of storage on that model.

    I am a filmmaker and photographer and unless you are video editing high end material, you'll be quite happy with that model with the fusion 3TB and the retina screen for many years to come. Without those upgrades, you will regret your purchase. Also,a re you somehow eligible for an educational or other discount? And wait a couple of days to see if they release an upgraded model with El Capitain.
  14. eas423 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 25, 2015
  15. troy14 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 25, 2008
    Las Vegas (Summerlin), NV
    I'm surprised no one has mentioned that the OP should really wait a month or two (or three?) and see what new ones Apple releases. We are so close and to not wait (unless the OP HAS to have a machine now) is crazy, I also second the motion to not spend the $200 on the upgraded display (5K) is absolutely crazy. $200 IS a lot of money, but not when we are talking $1500-$2500 machines. The extras you get for $200 are honestly a no brainer.

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