ANY reason to get 256MB card for non gamer (24" iMac)?

jsw

Moderator emeritus
Original poster
Mar 16, 2004
22,819
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Andover, MA
A coworker is about to take the Mac plunge by purchasing a 24" iMac.

She is debating between just going to the local Apple Store and buying a stock 24" vs. ordering one. She doesn't game but does intend to do a lot of photo/video work. She doesn't need a bigger HD (she has plenty of external storage). She intends to buy RAM elsewhere.

I have told her that there is absolutely no reason to spend money on the 256MB 7600 upgrade, especially as she wants the Mac now and doesn't want to worry about being home to receive it if its ordered.

Given that she doesn't game, and given that her sons have gaming PCs and so she has no reason to ever game on this, am I missing some reason why she should spend the money and time getting the better card? I've seen nothing so far in my searches here indicating that the better card helps with anything but 3D/gaming type apps.

If I bought one, I'd just get the stock model. Am I steering her wrong and missing some non-gaming need for more video RAM? Because, if I am, and she realizes that after the purchase, she will not be happy, esp. because its due to my evangelizing that she's getting it in the first place. :)
 

ChrisBrightwell

macrumors 68020
Apr 5, 2004
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Huntsville, AL
OS developers (esp. Apple and MS) are making more and more use of the GPU with every iteration. Some of Apple's Pro Apps use the GPU quite liberally. Many non-gamers find a game or two worth playing (ie The Sime 2, WoW, etc.).

If she can afford it, the GPU upgrade is a no-brainer, IMO. It's one of those things that you *can't* upgrade later.
 

emptyCup

macrumors 65816
Jan 5, 2005
1,483
1
At the moment more video memory is useful for people who want to drive a second monitor or who keep loads of windows open. As a non-gamer, who plays occasional games, I am happy with the 64 MB in my G5 iMac. I would not buy it on the 20" iMac, but on the 24" it comes as part of a better video card (which is worth considering). As Chris (from my hometown) says, it does help future proof the machine. I wouldn't worry either way.
 

jsw

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Original poster
Mar 16, 2004
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Andover, MA
Thanks, guys.

I think I'll stick with my original advice, esp. because of something I forgot to include: she lives near the New Hampshire border and would buy the Mac there. As there is no sales tax in NH, the decision to upgrade the card would involve not only the additional expense of the card (which, I agree, is minor), but also tax (it'd be shipped to MA), making it a $250 or so bump. Given that, and the fact that she's not going to put another monitor on it (she's getting the 24" specifically so she won't feel the need to do that), I think the 128MB one will be fine. I completely agree that the 7600 would be better, but I don't think it's $250 better. :)
 

clintob

macrumors 6502
Feb 16, 2006
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New York, NY
It's worth noting that you can customize any machine in the Apple Store. You probably have to wait for shipment to come in, but they will custom build a machine in the Store for you (RAM, HD, etc). I'm sure they'll swap out a graphics card as well if you're willing to wait a few days/weeks for parts, shipment, etc.

That said, I personally am a huge proponent of buy what you need. We all turnover our computers faster than necessary nowadays anyway, so why spend an extra couple of hundred bucks if you'll probably upgrade your machine in a couple of years anyway. While Apple does tend to make GPU-intensive software, 128 is more than enough for virtually everything (other than heavy video editing). The difference will only really be noticeable when trying to render real time effects and things of that nature. Otherwise, it's a fairly nominal difference. Spend the money on RAM... you'll get more bang for your buck.
 

jsw

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Original poster
Mar 16, 2004
22,819
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Andover, MA
clintob said:
It's worth noting that you can customize any machine in the Apple Store. You probably have to wait for shipment to come in, but they will custom build a machine in the Store for you (RAM, HD, etc). I'm sure they'll swap out a graphics card as well if you're willing to wait a few days/weeks for parts, shipment, etc.
Unfortunately, the last time I asked (admittedly, long ago), the New Hampshire store wouldn't do custom orders to be picked up in-store. Alas....

Anyway, I agree with the buy-what-you'll-need-during-the-too-brief-lifetime-of-the-computer philosophy as well. I'd probably spend the $250 needlessly just because I'd hate knowing I could have gotten it, but she'll never notice the difference, and, besides, she's itching for it now, and I'd hate for her to cool off enough to browse dell.com. ;)
 

bossass

macrumors regular
Aug 27, 2006
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clintob said:
It's worth noting that you can customize any machine in the Apple Store. You probably have to wait for shipment to come in, but they will custom build a machine in the Store for you (RAM, HD, etc). I'm sure they'll swap out a graphics card as well if you're willing to wait a few days/weeks for parts, shipment, etc.
This is completely untrue. They will upgrade RAM and that is all. The ONLY way to get a GPU upgrade is online. When you order something at an apple store, you order it online on one of their computers. It has to get shipped to you.

The only exception is the Mac Pro, where you can upgrade GPU, HD, and RAM.
 

ipoddin

macrumors 65816
Jan 6, 2004
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Los Angeles
bossass said:
This is completely untrue. They will upgrade RAM and that is all. The ONLY way to get a GPU upgrade is online. When you order something at an apple store, you order it online on one of their computers. It has to get shipped to you.

The only exception is the Mac Pro, where you can upgrade GPU, HD, and RAM.
Agreed. I called two different stores in my area and was told the only thing they will upgrade on the iMac, in store, is RAM.
 

Bibulous

macrumors 6502a
Jan 19, 2005
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Don't some Apple Stores stock "Ultimate" configs of systems so you can take it home that day?

May also include upgraded ram and HDD but it could also be an option.
 

Macmadant

macrumors 6502a
Jun 4, 2005
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I'd go for the higher 256MB, this is bound to make the most of the visual effects of the future, in leopard and such and beyond, plus it will help drive that big display and make thing's run smoother, not that they wouldn't with the 128.
 

ipoddin

macrumors 65816
Jan 6, 2004
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Los Angeles
Bibulous said:
Don't some Apple Stores stock "Ultimate" configs of systems so you can take it home that day?

May also include upgraded ram and HDD but it could also be an option.
Both stores I called only stock base configurations. Most probably aren't going to stock ultimate configs b/c there's no way of knowing which specs people want.

A non-gamer isn't going to need the 256mb card, but don't you think Time Machine in the upcoming Leopard is going to require some graphical horsepower for that interface?
 

mclihah2

macrumors member
Sep 12, 2006
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I don't think that Leopard's time machine feature will cause any significant strain on the graphics card, because it will be utilising the new core-image feature.

I would bet that the core-image feature is integrated and applied in an efficient manner. This isn't Microsoft that we're talking about here.
 

akadmon

Suspended
Aug 30, 2006
2,007
2
New England
jsw said:
Unfortunately, the last time I asked (admittedly, long ago), the New Hampshire store wouldn't do custom orders to be picked up in-store.
I had the same experience at the Apple Store in Salem and at the CompUSAs in Nashua and Salem. However, there is another dealer in NH that will have the BTO machine shipped to their store so that you can avoid the Mass tax. I won't name the dealer here, in case this is something that would get them into hot water with Apple, but you can ask me via email (akadmon@comcast.net) :)

BTW, these guys not only give you a break on the tax, but they will also take an extra $50 off Apple Care (at least on a MBP).