Base retina upgrade from Late 2009 i7?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by jazzer15, Nov 21, 2014.

  1. jazzer15 macrumors 6502

    Oct 8, 2010
    I am considering upgrading from my late 2009 i7 2.8 ghz w/ 2TB hdd and getting a Retuna iMac. I have some concerns about getting another iMac generally because of the cost and difficulty of making repairs/upgrades in the future, but that is probably for a different post.

    Assuming I do decide to go with another iMac, I was wondering if the base Retina (or possibly a Retina and adding a 3TB fusion drive) would make a big difference, or if I really should go with another i7. I generally keep my computers for quite some time, ultimately passing it on to my wife who uses computers primarily for web and email.

    I use the computer for work (documents/text), Lightroom photo editing (perhaps to include Photoshop and/or other various editing plugins in the future), some recording with Garage Band (not too many tracks usually), as a server to stream music wirelessly, web, email, etc. Less often, but other things that I do from time to time might include ripping Music CDs or Movies, light video editing with something like iMovie, etc.

    Thanks for thoughts.
  2. InfoTime macrumors 6502

    Jul 17, 2002
    I'm in a similar situation. I've got the same machine as you. Don't need a ton of power but am thinking that I would upgrade the processor and the video card if / when I get that machine. I've had mine for 5 years and would keep the next one for a while too. It'd be nice to know that I didn't cheap out.

    The biggest reason is that you can't upgrade those later. RAM can be upgraded. There are no official upgrades from Apple for storage but I'd expect that before too long there will be kits where you can upgrade the SSD and / or hard drive.
  3. jazzer15 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 8, 2010
    Thanks for the response. I was beginning to wonder if I asked a forbidden question. lol

    Power is not the reason I would upgrade at this point. The computer does everything I need it to do, although I am sure more slowly than current models. And as much as a nice new shiny retina is tempting, I don't necessarily feel the need to have the latest and greatest. However, I am starting to see some faint lines on the screen under certain situations and while I generally don't notice it and can live with it for awhile, it is a little annoying when editing photos against certain colored backgrounds. (Apple tells me I need an LCD replacement for $550, which even they didn't recommend for a 2009 computer).

    I was just trying to figure out if I upgrade, whether a base model would in fact be a a significant performance boost or if I really would need to go for another high end machine (i7 with upgraded GPU) to make the purchase worth it.

    Since my current machine has a standard HD, I suspect getting a fusion drive alone would make a big performance difference.
  4. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    The biggest power/speed boost in real use is gonna be the flash storage in the riMac, whichever model you get. It's huge.

    You can go look at the geekbench scores for your processor vs the riMac; either riMac would be a very significant improvement in raw processor speed. But for quad core performance the 4.0 is twice as fast, the base model probably 70% faster.

    So yeah, a base model is probably gonna be very noticeably faster for a lot of stuff, from starting up to LR edits to application launching. And much much more pleasing to look at. It really would be an order of magnitude sort of leap.

    I prefer going with more flash than a Fusion if you're upgrading; it's pretty easy to store stuff on a pretty fast USB external, and odds are you'll have that for backup. The 256 option, which is included in the price, will do for most people, and with the money saved by not going 3TB Fusion or 512 flash you can get a lot of external storage.
  5. fruitpunch.ben macrumors 6502a


    Sep 16, 2008
    Surrey, BC
    I have the same computer as you. At the time I paid the $200 upgrade for the i7, thinking that it would future-proof it nicely with the hyper threading . But for my workflow (which doesn't even really include much photo-editing) I never have the CPU above 50%. It's most often below 25%, even 5 years later!
    The problems I'm having with this machine are mostly graphics card related, I believe, and perhaps RAM.
    So install iStat menus, and play around on your 2009 iMac, and see how much CPU usage you get. If it's often pushing 80+%, then maybe pay the upgrade for future proofing, but otherwise save the money, spend it on SSD, or aftermarket RAM.
  6. ECJ macrumors 6502


    Jul 5, 2006
    Memphis, TN
    I also have the same Late 2009 iMac 2.8 i7, and have thought about the riMac upgrade. I've upgraded my current iMac to 32gb of ram, 256gb SSD, 3TB hard drive and 802.11ac/BLE 4.0. If I do upgrade, I would have to max out the CPU and GPU to get the same life that I have out of my 2009 model. That model would cost me $3,599.

    I would at least get the 256gb SSD. At least with that SSD you can upgrade to 512GB or 1TB version. They sell those drives on eBay from $400 for the 512GB and $700 for the 1TB version. Thats how I upgraded my rMBP from 512gb to 1TB.

    Per the Ram is upgradeable very easily. The HD, SSD and CPU can be upgraded with a little more work.
  7. InfoTime macrumors 6502

    Jul 17, 2002
    Do you have any links to those?
  8. ECJ, Nov 23, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2014

    ECJ macrumors 6502


    Jul 5, 2006
    Memphis, TN
    Sure. Here is the eBay seller that I purchased from. Fast shipping and good service. 1TB for $725, but he accepts offers.

    512GB for $500.

    1TB auction that will end about $650, but shipping from South Korea.

    FYI try and get the Samsung version of the SSDs. They are the fastest, compared to the Sandisk versions. I'm getting 900mb/s read and 950mb/s write with my 1TB.
  9. jazzer15 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 8, 2010
    I think I tend to over buy with the the idea of future proofing -- a habit from the old days when a 3 year old computer was a dinosaur. Probably not necessary today, I guess, but with the difficulty of upgrading an iMac down the road I still have the same mindset.

    If I am honest with myself, I probably don't push a computer very hard -- I'm more of an average user than a power user.. I'm probably better off buying somewhat less and upgrading a little more often.
  10. rainydays macrumors 6502a

    Nov 6, 2006
    Thank I would suggest that you stick with the base CPU. The upgraded GPU can be beneficial when it comes to photo editing however. But keep in mind that it will run very hot if you play games with it.
    You should be fine with the base GPU however. I think that Adobe will make sure to optimise their apps a bit better for the retina as well.

    Unless something dramatic happens in the software world the base retina should be good for 5 years to come really, if not more. Better to spend that money on something you're actually going to enjoy. :)

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