advise on upgrading an iMac as I buy it.

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Gravis30, Jan 24, 2011.

  1. Gravis30 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2011
    #1
    Okay I'm new to this so go easy on me. Sorry for the huge post LoL It really is a simple question of which up-grades would be a good idea or unnecessary.

    I'm currently several months away from starting a 4 year design degree in industrial design. I am about to order the latest iMac 21.5 inch screen. With the intentions of buying the CAD v5 software from the apple site, plus other software and games :eek:.

    The spec of the iMac that comes as standard for the model I've chosen:

    3.2GHz Intel Core i3
    1920-by-1080 resolution
    4GB (two 2GB) memory
    1TB Hard Drive
    8x Double-Layer SuperDrive
    ATI Radeon HD 5670
    with 512 MB

    The up-grades listed are upgrading to a 3.60 GHz Intel Core i5

    upgrading to 8GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM - (4x2GB)

    and up grading from 1 TB to 2 TB Serial ATA Drive

    The iMac will be used for day to day things, like e-mailing, web browsing, researching, saving images and photographs, writing in iwork and general things. But I also want it to perform well using 3D software.

    My question is asking about advice on the up-grades apple offers as I purchase the computer. I have the money to up-grade. However do not wish to if it would be unnecessary. If what the computer already comes with would be enough. I just don't want to get 2 or 3 years down the line and wish I had upgraded to an i5 processor from the i3 or wish that I'd upgraded the Ram. After 3 years of acquiring thousands of research images, inspiration and photographs, music, video's, 2D and 3D design work and so on.

    After reading another post on here about memory. Someone suggested in that post to invest in external hard drives instead of up dating the iMacs internal storage.

    I really don't know enough about these things to know if I even need to up grade or what kind of storage capacity I will even need because I have no experience with using CAD it's all completely new ground to me.

    My thinking at present is to upgrade the processor to i5 in order to increase it's performance and possibly up grade the Ram too. But buy external hard drives to increase storage when or if needed down the line. Because they would also double as back up hard drives and secure the work in case anything happened to the iMac hard drive.

    Any advice from people with experience in these things would be much appreciated.

    Thankyou
     
  2. Photics, Jan 24, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2011

    Photics macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2011
    #2
    I use a Mac Mini with significantly less power than you listed. I don't see a need to upgrade right now. Why do you?

    ===
    RAM
    ===


    When I got my Mac Mini, the RAM was pitiful... 1 GIG. I upgraded to 4 and it's been phenomenal. I don't think I use the full 4 GIGs either. Right now I'm only using 1.94 GB. So, I have some room to work.

    Is it worth it to upgrade to 8 GB? I don't know. Yet, if you're able, you can probably do this yourself later. When I added RAM to my computer, it felt like I got a new computer. It was a nice refresh that prolongs the life of my computer.

    Basically, launch Activity Monitor and see how much RAM is being used. If you're not hitting the 4 GB mark, you don't need to upgrade. If you have a rough idea of how much RAM is needed to run your programs, you can better answer that decision.

    I don't know about you, but I definitely would not buy additional RAM right now. I'd see if what I had was enough. I saved money by installing RAM in my Mac Mini later. It was cheaper because I did it myself and that's a year of price drops in hardware.

    ===
    CPU
    ===


    I really don't see the CPU doing that much lately. I remember when I first started using computers. Wow... an upgrade was a big difference back then. Lately, the GPU is doing more and more of the work. I don't get too picky about the processor. If I was picky, I'd probably want an i7 instead of an i3 or i5.

    The problem here is that it's not easy to change your mind. You're stuck with it. Although, since I have to click "About this Mac" to even be sure of what speed my Mac Mini runs at, (it's 2 GHz) it hasn't been an issue.


    =======
    Mac vs. PC
    =======


    Technically, I think my PC has much better specs. It has much more RAM, much more hard drive space and the CPU is probably faster. (I'm not turning it on right now to check.)

    Yet, I use my Mac Mini. It boots faster. It runs smoother. It uses less electricity (saving me about $30 a month) and it quiet. When I started using Macs, I used a Quadra 800. It likely had 33 MHz CPU with 8 MEGs of RAM. Am I 1000 times more productive today? No. I pretty much do the same stuff... web browsing, desktop publishing... I even played Marathon, a 3D shooter.

    =======
    Disk Space
    =======


    This is tricky. I'm actually surprised that I'm using more than 50% of my Mac Mini's storage space. It's a 120 GB drive. I probably wouldn't even notice, but I realized it was an issue if I wanted to create a boot camp partition. If I left 30 MB of space for Windows, that would leave me very little space for everything else.

    Yet, you're basically starting with a 1 TB drive. That's a significant amount of space. If you need more than that, is it wise to keep it all in one spot? It's not easy to backup such a large amount of data. Maybe if you had like 1,000 CDs. Maybe an external drive might make more sense. I hate having to run additional gadgets though. I like how my Mac Mini doesn't take up a lot of desk space.

    Basically, if you think you need that much space, it might be worth it. I probably wouldn't buy that upgrade. The problem with investing with an iMac is that it's an all-in-one. If one part fails, it's a big headache. Right now, if my monitor goes bad, I can buy a new monitor. If my Mac Mini starts to feel old, I can get a new one for about $700.

    Which is better... to spend $600 in upgrades right now... or get a whole new machine in 2-3 years? A new Mac Mini is like $700. 2-3 years from now, I can get a new one... with new software and new specs!

    =======
    Conclusion
    =======


    So basically, I probably wouldn't get the iMac at all. HA HA! (I got a Mac Mini.) I certainly don't see the need for the upgrades, but your situation might be different. I don't use CAD for Industrial Design, but I've done some 3D Animation for video games. The Mac Mini has been fine for me.

    Looking at the requirements for TurboCAD, I'm thinking even the basic iMac or Mac Mini is sufficient. It looks like you can save about $600 by skipping the upgrades. In 2-3 years from now, the computer will likely feel old regardless of what Apple upgrades you get now.

    Also, if you're a student, you might want to look into student discounts if you haven't already.
     
  3. prss14 macrumors regular

    prss14

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2009
    Location:
    Kentucky
    #3
    I would only upgrade the CPU. You can do the RAM later and always add external HD for more memory.
     
  4. pancake1 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2010
    #4
    Whatever you do, don't get your RAM from Apple. Get the least amount possible then fill it by a reputable 3rd party Apple specific RAM vendor.
    Look for vendors offering Lifetime Warranty, many do but Apple only give 1 year warranty on everything including RAM.
     
  5. panzer06 macrumors 68030

    panzer06

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2006
    Location:
    Kilrath
    #5
    Since all the new iMacs come with 4 RAM slots and only 2 are filled with the std 4GB build it is much easier just to add the extra 4GB later. There are tonnes of 4GB kits pulled from iMac 9,1 and MBP laptops for $25-$35 here and on ebay.

    Upgrading the hard drive internally on the new 2010 iMacs is not that easy (The prior models were a bit easier and did not have the extra clips on the glass nor the new temp sensor that only works with certain aftermarket drives). If you can afford it and you think you'd like 2TB internal, buy it. I agree with everyone that an external is probably just fine but sometimes you want it all inside. Besides, the 2TB upgrade @ $150 is not as bad as the crazy memory disparity.

    Cheers,
     
  6. Stan Mikulenka macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2009
    Location:
    Calgary, Canada
    #6
    Hi Gravis30,
    as Photics says, I wouldn't get the iMac for the simple reason that with 'all in one' you're severally limited with any upgrades - and what if there is something wrong with any part of this?
    I have a Mini with all (and more) you'd want to have on your Mac.
    As you can see: 4GB RAM, SSD hard drive, AutoCAD 2011 for Mac, 2TB back-up.
    And 28"+ 27" monitors...
    Check it out:
     

    Attached Files:

  7. splashnader macrumors 6502a

    splashnader

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2008
    Location:
    Via Satellite
    #7
    To me upgrading a computer is only really beneficial if you plan on keeping that computer for 3 or 4 years or preferably longer. If you end up buying a new computer every time their is a minor refresh then the benefits of the expensive upgrades are wasted, and you almost always lose the value of the upgrades when you try and resell down the road. Believe it not more people would rather buy a used computer that is standard for a lower price, while adding their own cheaper upgrades themselves, then to pay more for a used BTO computer.

    Also as others have said the base model should be sufficient for what you plans.

    Just my two cents.
     
  8. walterwhite macrumors 6502

    walterwhite

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2011
    Location:
    South Central PA
    #8
    From someone who worked for Apple in the stores for 8+ years and bought a couple CTO (Configure to Order) machines... I would never buy one again. It always seemed that the CTO's had way more issues out of the box than the stock machines. and when there is an issue, you have to have it fixed... it is very difficult to get it replaced.
     
  9. GoDuke1 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2011
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #9
    I think you shouldn't upgrade a thing from the factory, and get a 4GB RAM kit from Crucial and you'll be a happy camper. My i3 3.2 has been fine and I do everything you mentioned except the 3D. It's plenty fast as is, at least for me.
     
  10. KiraDouji macrumors member

    KiraDouji

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2007
    Location:
    First loop of the Bible Belt D:
    #10
    I'm actually a fan of iMacs and have personally upgraded my own rather than spending the money up front. Both the current mac minis and iMacs have the same user accessible parts for upgrade; the RAM. Thus, this is the one area you can sit on when purchasing and upgrade later as needed.

    Breakdown:

    RAM - 4GB is fine for pretty much everything, so don't sweat it.

    HDD - Get the space if you need it! If you're doing CAD work, games and have any hobbies in video then upgrade to the 2TB now because it will be aggravating to do so later. Just remember that you'll want a backup drive AT LEAST the same size... so if you think 2000GB will take you more than a year to acquire, stick with 1TB and spend the money on an external HDD for backup!

    CPU - YES UPGRADE THIS. You cannot change this. Ever. It's part of the logic board and if you'll be industrial design, you want as much bang for your buck as possible. i5 all the way.

    Also, don't forget the AppleCare - I swear so many people think they're saving money NOT buying the incredibly cheap 3yr warranty on these things and then freak out later when they get quotes for maintenance repair in two years.

    Most of all though? I'd wait until you've been accepted to a school because the education discount is easily the best in the company.
    :apple:
     
  11. GoDuke1, Jan 24, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2011

    GoDuke1 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2011
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #11
    +1 dat here was some good werds. . I recommend Apple Care too. All it takes is 1 out of warranty repair and you'll be glad you had it. :)
     
  12. bigbro1096 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2010
    #12
    Sorry to be a grammar Nazi, but the "advise" that you used in your title is talking about like warning someone. The right "advise" you were meaning to spell is advice; advice is when your asking others opinions for help.
     
  13. GoDuke1 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2011
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #13
    Thank you grammar police.... nothing better to do? :rolleyes:
     
  14. wfriction macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2011
    #14
    I would recommend that you purchase a new SSD.
    That should be a great upgrade - they really are a huge deal faster than regular HDDs.
    If you want some help choosing the best one, let me know.
     
  15. Jarooda macrumors member

    Jarooda

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2007
    Location:
    Ottawa
    #15
    This is an easy question:

    The two upgrades to get from Apple:

    1) Processor for sure - look at benchmarks and you will see it is only slightly slower than the quad-core i5 available in the $2000 model.

    2) HDD - very difficult to upgrade later - buy external for backup only.

    Then buy either a 4GB kit or for the same price buy an 8GB kit for the same price Apple would charge for the 4GB kit.

    I have a question for you OP:

    Can you wait until the inevitable refresh? There will most likely be an i5 model available as base plus other worthwhile upgrades.

    Just a thought.
     
  16. bigbro1096 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2010
    #16
    No, not really. It was almost my bed time.
     
  17. ngenerator macrumors 68000

    ngenerator

    Joined:
    May 12, 2009
    Location:
    USG Ishimura
    #17
    Actually, they could be [asking people to] advise [the OP] on upgrading an iMac as [they] buy it, therefore you aren't necessarily right.

    Do you have anything constructive to add to this thread? If not, then why post?
     
  18. Gravis30 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2011
    #18
    Thanks everyone for your advice including the spelling LoL

    I am planning on keeping the same computer for quite a number years before changing it. I had never considered the mac mini but I'll check it out. But I did come across some posts about the fact the iMacs will be refreshed in the second quarter of 2011. So I can wait for the refresh and see if they come with an i5 as the standard I want. I can't buy a 27 inch screen because I have a cabinet that it needs to go in and a 27 inch screen is too wide.

    Haha I know you don't buy a Mac for your furniture you buy furniture for your Mac. :p but I love my cabinet.

    So hopefully I'll get the processor I want out the box and not bother up-grading anything. And buy external hard drives as and when I need them.

    thanks to all
     
  19. walterwhite macrumors 6502

    walterwhite

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2011
    Location:
    South Central PA
    #19
    The iMac is the toughest to change out a HD... IF you need all the power and space... might as well get it at the beginning and have the factory do it. The memory is the only thing that is easy to upgrade.
     
  20. ngenerator, Jan 25, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2011

    ngenerator macrumors 68000

    ngenerator

    Joined:
    May 12, 2009
    Location:
    USG Ishimura
    #20
    If it helps any OP, I'm looking at the same exact configuration as you. I'm possibly going to wait to see what any potential hardware upgrades are this spring or summer before pulling the trigger. I could see the i5 being the new base system, but I would definitely go with the lowest memory available (4GB) and just check out OWC or crucial in order to upgrade to 8GB. I'm also going with the 1TB HDD since dealing with two external HDDs is annoying, and I can only imagine they'd be even more annoying on a device that isn't shut down daily.

    Edit: changed my mind, pulled the trigger this morning :)
     

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