Best iMac bang for the buck with 1Tb SSD?

Tumbleweed666

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Mar 20, 2009
1,650
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Near London, UK.
Well, best bang for the Pound in my case, but I suspect the same applies with dollars.
If it's a given I'm going To configure to a 1Tb SSD then the difference between 3.0, 3.1 and 3.7 narrows dramatically .
£500 from 3.0 to 3.7 before upgrades becomes only £250 with a 1Tb SSD and only £100 from the 3.1 to 3.7.
No-brainer ?
 

Zandros

macrumors regular
Sep 1, 2010
109
58
If you don't need the performance, stay with the base model. It is unlikely that incremental performance gains will make the computer stay usable for longer.

So, what are you going to use the computer for?
 

Tumbleweed666

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Mar 20, 2009
1,650
47
Near London, UK.
Pretty light use. No games, no big video edits. Maybe the occasional handbrake recode but mostly photo edits, web and a bit of spreadsheet.
But it seems a shame not to go for the faster processor and graphics card for such a relatively small uplift in price. And that may also pay back in say five years time when I come to resell, potentially could even break even on that ?
 

Zandros

macrumors regular
Sep 1, 2010
109
58
Pretty light use. No games, no big video edits. Maybe the occasional handbrake recode but mostly photo edits, web and a bit of spreadsheet.
But it seems a shame not to go for the faster processor and graphics card for such a relatively small uplift in price. And that may also pay back in say five years time when I come to resell, potentially could even break even on that ?
The price difference between the top-end and the low-end (equipped with a 1 TB SSD) looks to be £320 to me. The difference in price of the parts on the market is probably about £150. Apple isn't giving you any great deal.

If you need the performance, you have to pay what Apple charges. If you have no use for it, I suggest evaluating if you can't get more satisfaction for £320 elsewhere. Maybe a very nice pair of computer speakers, a new chair, a standing desk. Perhaps an Apple Watch. Or put it in the stock market and buy a new iMac a year earlier next time.

I know it looks like a small amount of money compared to the total price of the iMac, but it's still a fair bit of cash.

It might also be helpful to know that if you buy this iMac now, you're buying fundamentally old hardware. The design hasn't been updated since 2012, the CPU architecture is from 2015 and the GPU architecture is from 2016. Also consider that the lack of the T2 might be a clean cut-off point for future macOS updates.
 

gtg465x

macrumors 6502
Sep 12, 2016
272
247
Unless you plan to do some gaming, I wouldn’t upgrade just for the heck of it. The 3.7 GHz i5 is only about 10% faster than the 3.0 GHz i5 in benchmarks. Extra cores or threads have a better chance of keeping a computer feeling snappy 5-10 years from now, but unless you step way up to the i9, which is probably overkill for your uses, the i5s all have the same number of cores and threads and just slightly different clocks. The faster clocks plus the faster 580X GPU would be worth it for gaming, but for general purpose computing... web browsing, spreadsheets, watching videos, etc, you won’t notice the difference.

As to Zandros’ point about the lack of T2 being a good cutoff point for dropping macOS support, that’s probably true, but it’s not something you should worry about. I’m not sure if this is an official or unofficial policy, but Apple provides major macOS updates / support for a minimum of 7 years after a line of Macs is discontinued, plus 2 more years of security only updates. So even if Apple discontinued the current iMac 5K today for a redesigned model, you would still get major macOS updates until AT LEAST 2026, and security updates until AT LEAST 2028.

Also, to Zandros’ other points... if a redesigned iMac was released this fall or even in the spring, it would likely still be using “a CPU architecture from 2015” and “a GPU architecture from 2016.” Apple is using Intel’s latest chips, and I think the Vega 48 GPU is the newest architecture AMD has in the midrange price / performance segment. When Apple redesigned the MacBook Pros in 2016, they bumped the prices by 20%, so if there is indeed a new iMac coming soon, I expect you’ll be paying at least 20% more for the same specs. They’ll probably add smaller bezels, FaceID, always listening Siri, and T2, but I wouldn’t expect any life changing features.
 
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NewUsername

macrumors newbie
Aug 20, 2019
13
7
For your use, any Mac which supports macOS Catalina, has 8GB RAM and an SSD (internal and external) should be sufficient. Second hand iMacs are often quite cheap for what they offer.

If you want to buy a new 27-inch iMac, I would either:
a) get the base model, and add an 1TB external SSD (Samsung T5 or Samsung X5) and boot from this SSD.
b) get the base model but upgraded to 256 or 512 GB SSD, and then add the 1TB external SSD (Samsung T5). Boot from the internal SSD and use the external SSD for storage.
c) get the base model but upgraded to 1 TB SSD.

The RAM is easy to upgrade so you can do it once it is necessary — and it might never be necessary for you.

Definitely not worth it to upgrade the CPU. You won't notice the difference for the next few years, and once the more expensive CPU finally becomes a real benefit, the computer will already be outdated for other reasons.

I would only upgrade the CPU if:
a) you have heavy use, e.g. 4K video editing or gaming
b) if the difference is very big (e.g. i7 instead of i5, quad core instead of dual core,…) for little money

For example, if you would get the 21.5-inch iMac, the three models have very different processors and upgrading is definitively worth the money. For the 27-inch iMac: not so much.

Alternatively, have a look at the Geekbench scores, though benchmarks don't say everything of course: https://browser.geekbench.com/mac-benchmarks
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,189
5,539
NO iMac with a 1tb SSD represents "bang for the buck".

512gb... well that's a little better.
 

Zandros

macrumors regular
Sep 1, 2010
109
58
As to Zandros’ point about the lack of T2 being a good cutoff point for dropping macOS support, that’s probably true, but it’s not something you should worry about. I’m not sure if this is an official or unofficial policy, but Apple provides major macOS updates / support for a minimum of 7 years after a line of Macs is discontinued, plus 2 more years of security only updates. So even if Apple discontinued the current iMac 5K today for a redesigned model, you would still get major macOS updates until AT LEAST 2026, and security updates until AT LEAST 2028.
Yes, this is true. I was mostly pointing it out for resale value. In five years you might be coming close to the limit which might affect the price on the second-hand market.

Also, to Zandros’ other points... if a redesigned iMac was released this fall or even in the spring, it would likely still be using “a CPU architecture from 2015” and “a GPU architecture from 2016.” Apple is using Intel’s latest chips, and I think the Vega 48 GPU is the newest architecture AMD has in the midrange price / performance segment.
While we'll be stuck with Intel's Skylake architecture on the desktop for perhaps a year or so, AMD has released the Navi-based Radeon RX 5700 cards several months ago and announced the Radeon RX 5500 just a few days ago.

The point I was trying to make was that there might be some features in the next generation hardware that will be required by software later, which would make this particular moment a poor time to upgrade specs for performance-based longevity when it might get left behind on feature-based longevity, also hurting resale value in the future while also possibly reducing it even more because the design is not current any more.

It was not the point that the iMacs now available are a bad product, merely that the current iMac might be uniquely poorly positioned in terms of long-term resale value (especially since the "real" high end is the i9 + Vega 48) and that should not be a consideration when speccing it out.