apple store support didnt have an answer for me. macrumors?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by demarcopbl, Mar 14, 2010.

  1. demarcopbl macrumors member

    Apr 28, 2009
    Below is a transcript from a chat I had with someone over at the apple online store. Im trying to decide between the $1199 imac, and the $1499 imac. The larger hard drive is of no relevance to me, since I have 2TB of external storage already and I only keep current projects on my machine. So the question I had is about the graphics card. As a graphic designer and web developer, this is obviously important. Im trying to figure out if its worth the upgrade to the radeon HD model.

    A few things to note, here. This machine will not be used for gaming. Nor will it be used for watching movies - purely a work machine.

    My idea is to get the $1199 model - without the dedicated graphics card, and upgrade to 8GB of RAM. Photoshop, Illustrator, Firefox, Safari, WDT and CODA are always open on my machine.

    The question is, is a dedicated graphics card even necessary or are they simply trying to sell me a more expensive option? My argument was that if any of my applications are struggling to render graphics, they have an ample memory pool to pull resources from, therefore making the extra 256MB dedicated to the card somewhat irrelevant. Im not sure if this is how works, but I struggled to get an answer.

    You are chatting with XXXXXX, an Apple Expert

    Hi, my name is XXXXX. Welcome to Apple!

    Good evening.

    How may I assist you today?

    hi, i have a question about imacs

    I'm happy to assist.

    i am looking at the 3.06 21.5 inch imac listed at $1199 versus the one at $1499, what advantages would the HD graphics card have for someone who would use the machine solely for graphic design and web development?

    The NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics is an integrated graphics card for everyday graphics. The ATI Radeon HD 4670 is a dedicated graphics card for high-end graphics card for gaming, graphic design, video editing, etc.

    It will give you better performance for graphic design.

    performance how?

    if you could give me an example of the difference in photoshop, for instance.

    With integrated graphics (ie. no separate graphics card), the system has to dedicate some of its memory to graphics generation. Dedicated graphics cards have their own memory to drive the graphics, leaving the system memory to handle the computation. Dedicated graphics cards are superior in almost every aspect.

    By taking this task away from the main processor, a dedicated graphics processor also makes the entire system faster and more responsive.

    would it be more viable to install more ram, 8 gig, versus the standard 4? this would mean a larger memory pool to run graphics and eliminate the need for a self driven card?

    I would still recommend dedicated graphics card. It won't be the same with 8GB.

    When are you planning to place your order? We do have some great promotions you can take advantage of right now.

    When i figure out what the best option is. Im trying to understand why a dedicated card would be better if the graphics have 8GB of memory to pool whatever the program needs from, versus 256 dedicated.

    Also, i dont see any promotions on the site.

    apart from the credit card offer

    Thanks for waiting. I'll be right with you.

    Getting a dedicated graphics card means it has its own RAM and doesn’t share with the main system. This will make graphic design software run much faster.

    but if the main system has more ram anyways, whats the difference?

    I'm happy to explain...

    When the dedicated card has its own ram, it processes the information faster and easier. It helps your processor run at optimal speed

    At this point I had to leave my desk, so I ended the conversation. Although informative, I didnt get a specific answer and felt like he danced around the point. Also, since CS4 doesnt render in HD (print colors would be unreliable for a start) what is the true advantage to me (if any) of this card?

    my apologies for the long post!!

    any help is appreciated!!
  2. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    You are pretty correct, if you have enough RAM then it shouldn't be an issue. Those apps you're running should run just fine using the $1199 iMac with the 9400m graphics card. I would, however, actually go with the dedicated graphics just to keep memory resources free. That would be what I would do if design was my livelihood.
  3. DoFoT9 macrumors P6


    Jun 11, 2007
    all apple techs are idiots.

    go the 9400M model and the 8GB of RAM. the programs that you use arent very GPU intensive, so i say save the money and go the RAM!!!
  4. MacVibe macrumors regular

    Dec 21, 2009
    I think the Apple chat person did answer you and I agree completely. A card that has/uses its own memory will free up your memory for your applications. With the prices Apple charges I'm not sure why they even go with integrated anymore even though the 9400m works very well. The 4 gigs vs 8 gigs is something you need to to decide based on your own use. If you have used 4 and find things paging in/out (system monitor) then go with 8. If you can wait for the 8 then you may save money doing your own upgrade later.
  5. DoFoT9 macrumors P6


    Jun 11, 2007
    Wirelessly posted (nokia e63: Mozilla/5.0 (SymbianOS/9.2; U; Series60/3.1 NokiaE63-1/100.21.110; Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 ) AppleWebKit/413 (KHTML, like Gecko) Safari/413)

    op: from personal experience with my imac I have found 4gb not enough. with such a large screen you start multitasking a lot more with tons of stuff! 8gb is a min.
  6. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    Ask yourself this: Do any of the programs that you use render 3d? Photoshop is not a 3d program, nor is CODA (I believe). So would the extra 3d performance help? Probably not.

    If you never plan on using and 3d programs, I don't see why you should get the better 3d card.

    Cheers! :)
  7. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    In addition to the memory aspect, don't the discrete graphics cards have the ability to offload processing from the CPU during rendering, making the overall rending job complete more quickly?
  8. Menge macrumors 6502a


    Dec 22, 2008
    I find it funny how you complain that the tech is ignorant and didn't answer you correctly. He DID.

    He said what you needed to hear: Integrated is slower, discrete is faster. Why? Because integrated uses system RAM and discrete uses dedicated RAM. (techical: system RAM has higher latency than dedicated video RAM cause it's both further away and it's technically less performant). There's also the fact that the video chips themselves are different. The 9400M is geared towards casual use and the 4670 is more like real gaming stuff (I know. I have a 9400M AND a 4670 at home and the difference in games is HUGE).

    You wanted concrete numbers on a specific case, which is very unlikely that he'd be able to provide.
  9. demarcopbl thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 28, 2009
    First off, thank you all for taking the time to answer my question.

    @ Jessica

    good point about this being a livelehood machine, thankyou. When I look for a new machine I buy whats necessary for the task, and nothing else. Im trying to figure out if the added performance warrants the extra dollars.

    @ DoFoT9

    Im absolutely going to upgrade the RAM, regardless of which graphics card I choose. Im not a person who likes to wait for my computer to compute, so $200 is a small price to pay for my sanity.

    @ MacVibe

    Like I said in my original post, he answered me in a round about way. He alludes to the fact that not sharing RAM with the main system makes design software run faster. I was looking for an example.
    I understand that with dedicated graphics, none of the background computations are using resources from my memory pool. My point was, if there are more than enough resources available anyway then whats the point of dedicated?

    I see a rare occasion that the programs listed would be using anything CLOSE to 8GB, so what noticable difference is 256MB - a fraction (maths anyone?) of the main RAM going to change in a pinch? This thread isn't questioning the employees technical knowledge, im simply looking for an answer here.

    @ thejadedmonkey

    I use After Effects, but thats fake 3D. I didnt even mention it in my OP since I use it so little. I dont use it in any professional capacity and it runs sufficiently on my 4GB Macbook pro, so im not worried.
    But you are suggesting that it would help to render 3D objects? I suppose this is why it lends itself to games. BTW, coda is a text editor for writing a variety of code languages. I doubt it takes up much memory.

    @ aristobrat

    I dont know. Anyone?

    @ Menge

    When did I say he was ignorant? This thread isnt about an apple tech's technical prowess, its about me trying to figure out the best course of action.
    Thanks for your comparision of the two, though.
  10. Gav2k macrumors G3


    Jul 24, 2009
  11. macrumorsMaster macrumors 6502

    May 20, 2008
    If the software is designed for it, the dedicated card with take over some processing, thus alleviating the strain on the cpu. Adobe already is doing this:

    By using the dedicated graphics memory, the new Rotate View tool is instant, fast, and smooth. Great for tablet sketch artists, this feature matches the natural arrangement of pencil and paper - simply grab and spin to any orientation you want without extended conversion wait-times.

    However, you did not say what programs you use. Also, it may be anywhere from a few second savings, to minutes.

    So if you can wait the extra time, than integrated graphics are fine. I know a freelance video editor who said he uses a blacbook mb with final cut when I was asking about a similar question.

    So unless that time factor is a problem(or you're going to be doing heavy 3d or calculation intensive software or what to take advantage of current and future Adobe enhancements), save your money.
  12. demarcopbl thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 28, 2009
    @ macrumorsmaster

    thankyou so much for the link - some interesting reading. Youre right, i didnt tell the tech what programs I would be using, although i did mention photoshop.

    Most of what I consider to be 'intense' computations would be design. The largest physical files I work with are for billboard ads, and they're specced out in 47 inch (wide) 'rolls' then put together. I have attempted this on my 4GB/2.4 GHZ macbook pro and it handled it, albeit with a lot of beachballing. Those file sizes are few and far between, though.

    Most of what I do on the design side is magazine layouts, page ads and outdoor advertising. As I mentioned earlier, I really dont like to wait for my computer to do things like rotations, no matter the file size. I feel like it interrupts my workflow. Which, after your explanation and the advice of others on here makes me think more seriously about the HD card.

    Chances are it will see me into CS5 (or whatever they decide to call it) so it would be ideal if thats how adobe are tailoring their products.

    Its interesting that the advice I have been given thus far has been almost a 50/50 split. At the risk of derailing the topic, what do you guys use your macs for?

    once again, thanks for all your input!
  13. DoFoT9 macrumors P6


    Jun 11, 2007
    thats ok :)

    you also dont want to be wasting money though, you need to figure out what you will be doing, and at what times. will you have all the programs you listed open at once? or just one at a time? if the latter, 4GB is fine! i multitask HEAVILY using 4GB. i have a VM open 24/7, my ps3 media server (java based, so heavy on the RAM) open 24/7, safari (20+tabs) itunes, mail, adium, blaablaa and i do have TONS of page outs, but freezes are very far and few between.

    but yes, 8GB would be nice to have. im upgrading to 12GB soon.

    can you purchase 1x4GB stick stock with apple? i would do that, then go to an external website and grab another 1x4GB stick. a tiny bit more expensive, but WAY more future proof :)
  14. DesignerOnMac macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2007
    1. The technician at Apple did answer your questions, even though your not sure the technican did.

    2. As a graphic designer and is in business, either employed or a freelancer, whatever iMac you buy is IRS deductible over a period of time. The price difference isn't going to really matter as it will all be a business expense. All that will matter is will the iMac do what you want it to do in a timely matter, and of course the added video cards initial cost.

    3. As my registered name implies, I to am a graphic designer and I use all the programs your using.

    I have a first generation alum 24", 2.8 Extreme, with the RAM maxed out @ 4 GBs and a 500 GB HD. I have the ATI, Radeon HD2600.

    I have no issues running any of these programs, but I will admit that the newer iMacs would run rings around what I am using now.

    I do not do gaming or do 3D yet, but who knows what the future will hold?

    Hope this helps.
  15. al2o3cr macrumors regular

    Oct 14, 2009
    One thing I didn't see anybody mention: more GPU power may help you more in the next few years than you think. Even though you're not doing anything explicitly 3D, there's a big push (via things like OpenCL) to offload vectorization-friendly work off the the GPU - so a better GPU will end up making, for example, Photoshop plugins go faster. Not many apps do this at the moment, but it's certainly something we'll be seeing more of over time.
  16. Jazwire macrumors 6502a


    Jun 20, 2009
    I'm not even a raging fanboy, and I have to agree the Apple Support person answered your questions fairly thoroughly.

    It seems to me you are trying to justify buying the cheaper machine, even though you think you need the higher priced one and people are telling you the same story.

    Which really is fine either machine will work great, although the one with dedicated graphics will absolutely be better. In your case, mainly because it has it own ram and wont be taking from the system. Plus you never know what the next version of Photoshop will entail.

    Personally I would get the one with the dedicated graphics card model no questions asked, if I was in your shoes.
  17. ttopp macrumors regular

    Mar 1, 2007
    if you play any games then always get the biggest graphics card!!!

    y? because they will run better and the boost will flow down to other apps too.

    also if you want to sell it on later then it will help get more cash back for it too...

    if you can always get the fastest biggest best!!!!
  18. Badger^2 macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2009

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