Answers: Which Retina iMac do I Get?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Sirmausalot, Oct 16, 2015.

  1. Sirmausalot, Oct 16, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2015

    Sirmausalot macrumors 6502a

    Sirmausalot

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2007
    #1
    I was going to make a fancy flow chart. But here is a list with recommended configurations for the new 27" and 21" Retina iMacs

    1. Video/graphics professional. 27" i7 4.0Ghz m395x with 4GB RAM 512 Flash storage. Trackpad
    2. Audio Professional 27" i7 m395 with 2GB RAM 3TB Fusion Mouse or Trackpad
    3. Graphic Designer/Gamer 27" i5 3.3 GHz m395x with 4GB RAM 512 Flash or 3TB Fusion Trackpad
    4. Performance on a budget 27" i5 m395 with 2GB RAM 2TB or 3TB Fusion Mouse
    5. Budget 21" 3.1 i5 2TB Fusion Mouse Upgrade to 16GB RAM from Apple (no do it yourself option)

    Notes: No one should get less than the 2GB fusion as the 1TB only comes with 24GB Flash, not 128. Upgrade the RAM yourself.

    If you can afford the 1TB Flash instead of 512GB, more power to you. The 512GB Flash seems like the best bang for buck and is fantastic performance. When Flash/SSD prices fall you can add an external one in thunderbolt. The i7 processor supports multi-threaded processing -- which is useful for video and audio professionals and not many others. The i5 turboboosts up to 3.9GHz for fantastic price/performance

    Money Saving Tips
    1. Remember that many credit cards DOUBLE the standard 1 year warranty. So if two years warranty and no extended support is enough for you, then you don't need AppleCare. Cards also come with cash back and other reward incentives.
    2. Most people, 95%, even power users, don't use beyond 16GB RAM. The sweet spot is to purchase an additional 16GB of RAM for around $90 and install it yourself for a total of 24GB RAM. Budget minded can simply get an addition 2X4GB Ram for a total of 16GB.
    3. If you qualify, education discount is great. If you have a friend who works at an Apple Store, they can get you a friends/family discount.
     
  2. kmpowell macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2003
    #2
    Worth noting you can't do this on the 21.5", because its soldered in.
     
  3. SBruv macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2008
    #3
    Not sure I'd go with the i5 for 'audio'. Serious music production needs all the threads you can throw at it, and with Logic, Ableton Live and just about every other DAW on the market able to fully utilise the hyper-threading of the i7, it's well wroth considering.
     
  4. Sirmausalot thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sirmausalot

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2007
    #4
    Thank you. Edited.
     
  5. Sirmausalot thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sirmausalot

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2007
    #5
    Edited. Thank you.
     
  6. adgoodma macrumors newbie

    adgoodma

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2015
    Location:
    Boulder
    #6
    What is your rational for not listing the m380 graphics card as a way to save some money. Is there any evidence that shows the m395 is much 'better' than the m380 other than the fact that it has a higher number?
     
  7. Sirmausalot thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sirmausalot

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2007
    #7
    A good question. Since I consider the 2TB fusion a minimum for a proper harddrvie for these machines, you only save $100 by getting the lowest configuration with the m380. So for a hundred bucks more, you might a well get the m390. But I could be wrong here as honestly I don't know the real world difference between the 380 and 390. What do you think? Should I change it?
     
  8. adgoodma macrumors newbie

    adgoodma

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2015
    Location:
    Boulder
    #8

    I think this is a question that is being asked all over these boards...
    I don't think people have used these machines enough to know what the differences really are.

    Someone will post some sort of tests eventually on all of these cards! Apple could certainly be more forthcoming with the tech specs!
     
  9. twilexia, Oct 16, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2015

    twilexia macrumors 6502

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    Oct 16, 2015
    #9
    Was curious in what way would one notice the difference the i7 might add to using a DAW like Logic?
     
  10. Cody1992 macrumors member

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    Jun 5, 2015
    #10
    In terms of budget and performance I ordered last years 5k iMac with the 1TB fusion and m290x. My reasoning was that the GPU is most likely better than the m380, m390 and possibly even the m395 as it's a high end card; as there was only one model with it's high-end counterpart i7 and m295x, it seems to be pretty heavily specced. In regards to the Fusion drive it has the full 128GB SSD which is nice. I would have liked the newer peripherals and display, but the whole refresh seems like it is just a placeholder for newly redesigned iMacs next year that should come with all the nice features Skylake supports (USB-C, TB3, DDR4). If they received Target Display Mode I would be bummed, but hey.
    What do ya'll think?
     
  11. Sirmausalot thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sirmausalot

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2007
    #11
    In general, refurbished are a great option and I think last years model will have similar performance to this years -- with the exception of the flash storage. The screen is a bit better on the new model, but maybe not hundreds of dollars better. I'm not sure about your analysis of the video cards. I think the 395X is very, very similar to the 295X and the 290 and 390 will also be virtually the same. But no one is sure yet. Also, I haven't priced out how much savings you are getting versus a similarly spec'ed current iMac. But again, I think refurb, especially if you don't qualify for an educational or other discount, would be a good way to go for this model.
     
  12. Cody1992, Oct 17, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2015

    Cody1992 macrumors member

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    Jun 5, 2015
    #12
    I actually meant the m395, I wouldn't really consider the m395X as that would bring the total to 3.5k after taxes. I bought the refurb for 2650$ taxes in (taxes are 15% where I live, so it adds a hefty amount for whatever price). The fact that the m395X is supposed to be a rebranded m295x with a little more oomph is exactly why I don't think it's all that worthwhile, in fact for my purposes I decided the upgraded video card just isn't worthwhile at all. From what I have read, the m290x is a high end video card, whereas the m380, m390 and maybe m395 are midrange cards, towards the top of the midrange.

    I was comparing it to the newer lower end 27" with m380 graphics, the pluses of which was the newer keyboard, mouse and display (2 of which I wouldn't use, you can figure that one out). I would have also considered 256GB of flash storage in that case, since thats actually cheaper here than the 2TB fusion, which was the big point of contention.

    To add insult to injury, apple prices have increased anywhere between 15%-30% in Canada due to the weak CAD and strong USD. I was even considering a 2013 but they are, and I am not joking, the same price today as when they were released 2 years ago.

    edit: it does seem that any video card that ends with "X" is better, so much so I expect the m290x to match the m395.
     
  13. jerwin macrumors 68000

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    Jun 13, 2015
    #13
    Benchmarks abound.

    The m395 is, on paper, and under certain benchmarks, 20 percent faster than the 290x.

    I'd expect the m390 to be on par with the m290-- though I don't recall seeing any benchmarks of the m290. As for the m380 -- who knows. It could be "not bad". It could be "barely adequete".
     
  14. Cody1992 macrumors member

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    Jun 5, 2015
    #14
    Fairly sure the m290 is a card that was specific to the mid 2015 5k iMac and hasn't been used anywhere else, probably safe to assume just a lower clocked m290x.
    I would be happy if the m290x sat in between the m390 and the m395. It might even match the m390 then, as its possibly just clocked a little higher in the same way the m395x is to the m295x. It would only be a few hundred more dollars for that m395 version, which comes with a 2TB fusion standard. The problem is that it's always only a few hundred dollars more... thats exactly what made me discount the 21.5". Reasonably specced and its already 2.3-2.5k, and it has intel iris pro? No thank you.
    You people and your facts... more seriously I am certainly not spec chasing but spending almost 3k on a computer is nothing to scoff at.
     
  15. jerwin, Oct 17, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2015

    jerwin macrumors 68000

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    Jun 13, 2015
    #15
    Recall this table?

    Screen Shot 1.png

    And yet the imac's m395 video card has 1792 stream processors running at 834 Mhz. You'd never know that from the marketing literature.

    http://www.amd.com/en-us/products/graphics/notebook/r9-m200
     
  16. Cody1992, Oct 17, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2015

    Cody1992 macrumors member

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    Jun 5, 2015
    #16
    I am confused, I can't tell if you're agreeing with me or not. I would say you can't tell because the card is not listed there. Just in case, we are talking about the m395, not the m395x. That table does not mention the m390 either.

    edit: I don't know much about these things, only that at a glance and using those tables, I would wager that the m290x is somewhere between the m385x and the m390x then.
     
  17. jerwin macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2015
    #17
    Here are the cards available:

    m380: $1799 mac (likely to be just enough to drive the 5k screen)
    m390: $1999 mac (likely to be equivalent of m290--whatever that might have been)
    m395: $2299 mac (proven to be slightly faster than the m290x)
    m395x: optional on $2299 (likely to be the equivalent of a m295x, closest we get to a "gaming" card

    A lot of unknowns-- that can be filled in with some cooperation.
     
  18. Tanax macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2011
    Location:
    Stockholm, Sweden
    #18
    Not sure your analysis of each card is correct.
    According to some reviews of the 4K 21.5" iMac, the Intel HD6200 seems to be quite alright for driving that display. 5K isn't THAT much more pixels to drive, and the M380 is quite a lot better than Intel HD6200, isn't it?

    I'm sure that the M380 is quite alright, even for some gaming (obviously not native resolution, but still).
     
  19. Cody1992 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2015
    #19
    You'd think so but that would be wrong. Even with the iMac 4k being a true 4k display, the 5k iMac still has 5 million more pixels! 4k iMac = 9,437,184 vs 5k iMac = 14,745,600
    Believe it or not if the 5k iMac represents 100%, the 4k holds 64% of that area.
    Personally I think Apple realized they could get away with a little less on the graphics side this refresh and introduced the weaker m380, as in its most likely the weakest card Apple has put in the 5k as of yet. Like you said though, I am sure the m380 is an alright card.
     
  20. SBruv macrumors 6502

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    Sep 25, 2008
    #20
    Way more plugins, essentially, thanks to Logic seeing the i7 as eight cores rather than four.
     
  21. twilexia macrumors 6502

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    Oct 16, 2015
    #21
    Thanks, this helped me justify getting the i7 vs the i5. Now if only I could mentally justify getting the 1TB Flash SSD over the 3TB Fusion...
     
  22. fat jez macrumors 68000

    fat jez

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2010
    Location:
    Glasgow, UK
    #22
    Buy the 512GB SSD and a USB 3TB hard disk (or network attached storage, if you prefer).
     
  23. twilexia macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2015
    #23
    Thanks. But one thing I'm worried is if I unplug the USB hard disk one day in a wrong way, the external disk will break and I'll lose all my files. I have an unnatural fear of this...
     
  24. Sirmausalot thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sirmausalot

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2007
    #24
    yes, it is unnatural as that is unlikely to corrupt an entire disk. but you can also end up with corruption on an internal disk and there are power failures. so whatever you do, you must have backups of your files! whether it be local or in the cloud. the best advice is to go for the best performance for your budget and that is all solid state flash.
     
  25. twilexia macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2015
    #25
    Thank you. I think I'm getting ready to pull the trigger on the 512 gb flash configuration.

    Do you have any thunderbolt external hd recommendations? So far I've seen that the thunderbolt configurations are more stable than USB and also faster.
     

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