Advice plz for iMac configuration

Discussion in 'iMac' started by WannaSwitch, Jul 15, 2010.

  1. WannaSwitch macrumors member

    Feb 27, 2008
    Hi, all, thought I would see if I can get some advice on a new iMac that I'm going to surprise my wife with for her birthday soon. Was originally going to wait for the refresh, but from all the comments here there doesn't see to be a whole lot of difference in what's expected for the refresh so I'm going to go ahead and bite the bullet now. Currently, she has a 2008 model iMac 24" that's been given us some problems trying to run all the apps she tends to have open - Photoshop/Bridge CS5, Lightroom 2, MS Office (mostly Entourage), GarageSale (eBay listing app) and Safari/Firefox with entirely too many tabs open. It's a C2D system with 4GB RAM currently, but she has issues with locking up and general system speed. We've had various issues with that system as a whole, repaired a couple of times for bluetooth and superdrive problems. With all the photo editing she does, I wanted to get her the 27" iMac, and I'll wipe the 24" and give it to the kids or something :)

    Anyway, with those apps - would the 3.06/3.33 C2D system be snappy enough or should I spring for the i5/i7 system? I was planning on starting off with 4GB of RAM, but it seems common thought is that those apps need more RAM than processing power. So, my thoughts were around sticking with a C2D system and popping 8GB RAM in there instead of going up to the i5/i7. Seems to be some talk about whether or not a graphics upgrade would help with the Photoshop stuff (going from the stock ATI 4670 in the C2D system to the 4850) so I'm not sure if that's a worthy upgrade. I welcome any and all advice or thoughts on what might be the best route to take, thanks all!
  2. alph45 macrumors member

    Jun 2, 2010
    would def. go for i5 with all the photoshop / lightroom work. would only rec. i7 for peeps doing serious video work. would not recommend a cd2 system at this point unless it's for a casual comp. user.

    ram is cheap and can always be added after the fact. 8GB is nice for a 4 core machine if it's being put through it's paces, but if it's a $ issue you can run on 4 and gauge performance with istats or activity monitor, then decide to add more or not.
  3. NeverHadWindows macrumors newbie

    Jul 15, 2010
    I'm in the same situation

    Really puzzled as to what to do. I want to be a new iMac BUT all the advice is to wait for "the refresh". Nobody has a clue as to what will be updated or when it will happen.
  4. wordoflife macrumors 604


    Jul 6, 2009
    I would go for an i5 with 8GB ram. I say the i5 because it has multiple cores to manage the load instead of 2 cores on the Core 2 Duo.

    This should cost $2,199.00 without tax.

    But to be honest, I think if you just upgrade the ram on her iMac, I think a lot of problems will be fixed. However, to make sure it's really the RAM she needs, I would open up activity monitor while she is doing her stuff, and see how much free ram is left. Then you can go from there. Perhaps upgrade from 4GB to 6GB in her current machine... and when the new iMac come out, you can buy her a new one.
  5. thelumpya2 macrumors regular


    Nov 24, 2008
    Interesting, I just picked up the cd2 system the other day basically for the sole purpose of running lightroom/photoshop..

    Something tells me it will be more than enough computer, in comparison to my 6+ year old dell that I was doing my lightroom/photoshop work on before.. and even that wasn't struggling too bad until a nasty virus took over..

    you must have extremely high standards.
  6. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    Get i5 or i7. RAM you can always add later on but CPU isn't upgradeable. 2x2GB only costs ~100$ anyway. If you're on budget, take a look at refurbs, i5 is only 1699$ from refurb store
  7. Commenter macrumors member

    Jun 27, 2010
    Wannwitch (if I may call you that), is that Entourage 2004 by any chance? Seems weird that those programs would really "lock up" a fast computer with 4GB memory (and Entourage 2004 can bring Intel machines to their knees)…

    I'd say if heavy Photoshop/Lightroom use, a quad i5 would be very nice, memory is cheap, and just the graphics update doesn't make much sense ($150 more gets you the i5).

    I'd say try it with just 4GB, especially isolating a misbehaving app (probably either Entourage or I don't know if Office installs buggy background processes—I don't use it, thankfully). If you find you want more, memory is cheap from, and you can add it progressively (trying adding some first, and soon or in the future adding more).
  8. WannaSwitch thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 27, 2008
    Well, the name "WannaSwitch" is a little outdated now I guess, since I started here in the forums before I got my first Macbook Pro coming from a nasty experience with Dell and Vista and soured me on Windows.

    She's using Entourage 2008, I tried to get her to switch to using the Mac Mail client but she is too used to many many years of Outlook on PCs and feels more comfortable in Entourage so I just let her be. I'll check the activity monitor tonight and see how her RAM usage is currently with all the apps she opens up. The biggest problem is Photoshop and Lightroom, especially if she tries to open them at the same time. She has 4GB today, and I can only bring that iMac to 6GB maximum, I think. Sounds like a new 27" (that's the big selling point anyway) with the i5 and 8GB RAM is going to seal the deal.

    So here's a related question, expanding on your comment about finding a buggy app or process. Say there is something buggy going on in an app that's hogging resources or otherwise slowing things down. If I get a new system, and restore all of her data from the Time Machine backup she has, would that just potentially restore a buggy app? Would I better off setting the new system up from scratch, loading the apps fresh, and just copying her data files from the old system rather than restoring from Time Machine right when the new one starts up?
  9. Commenter macrumors member

    Jun 27, 2010
    I really like doing a completely clean install and then manually installing one by one the apps I need (sometimes a lot of apps one used to have aren't really used), and making all configurations as I miss them. But that's pretty OCD. If you don't want the hassle, it shouldn't really be a problem to restore from a Time Machine backup with Migration Assistant. As far as I know MA does it quite cleanly.

    I'd do it the clean way because I like it; if it'll be a hassle, you could try restoring from the backup, and reformatting and starting clean is always a possibility.
  10. WannaSwitch thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 27, 2008
    I've always done that as well, back in the Windows days that was the only surefire way to fix things it seemed. Since it's her machine, I know I'll miss something, some weird way she's got something set up, and then I'm desktop support again. I'll probably go ahead and use the MA and Time Machine backup first and see how she fares. If she still has problems, I'll start it fresh and take the OCD approach.

    Great advice, all, think I'll be ordering that system tonight or tomorrow then to make sure it gets here in time for her birthday :)

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