Better processor and graffic card or more double the ram?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Timechaser, Jul 19, 2010.

  1. Timechaser macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2010
    #1
    We are planning to replace a 4yr old PC with a iMac for a family use.

    My husband is interested in music, iTunes, Garage Band and internet browsing.

    I'm doing some lite photo editing and interessted in coping our DVD collection and making digital copies that can be played on the iPhone and iPad (wanting quickest conversion time) - our 6yr old son just wants to play a few educational games at this point in his life.

    My husband thinks that the "refubished" 21.5" w/ 3.06GHz C2D, 4GB of memory, 1TB hard drive and ATI 4670 graphics card with 256MB would meet our needs at $1,299.00

    I'm more interested in the "refurbished" 27" w/ 2.66GHz Quad-Core i5, 4GB of memory, 1TB hard drive and ATI Radeon 4850 graffics card with 512MB at $1,666.00.

    I talked with a online Apple rep that suggested we go with a "new" 21.5" w/ 3.06GHz C2D, 8GB of memory instead of 4GB, a 500GB hard drive and the NVIDIA Geforce 9400M graffics card at $1,399.00 - the rep said that we would could then add a Time Capsule to make up for the smaller hard drive (we will need a back up device), he said this computer would be faster and the graphic card would not negatively effect any of the tings we are interested in doing.

    Now we are wondering which way to go - please help if you have any constructive comments worth sharing.
     
  2. Queso macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2006
    #2
    Go with the better graphics card. Although you don't need that performance with what you list today your use of the iMac may change once you have it. 4GB RAM is plenty for your initial needs and if you need more memory later it's easy and inexpensive to add. However you can't upgrade the graphics chip, so if that becomes an issue your only option is to replace the iMac entirely.

    The refurb 21.5" is the one I would go for.
     
  3. eawmp1 macrumors 601

    eawmp1

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2008
    Location:
    FL
    #3
    You don't NEED 8 GB RAM. And if you ever did it's CHEAP to replace. Apple sells RAM at a premium. SO, go for HD/CPU/graphics (all either harder, or impossible to replace).
     
  4. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

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    Location:
    Finland
    #4
    Definitely get the refurb i5, it will run circles around C2D in DVD conversion. RAM you can always add, 2x2GB costs only 100 bucks and that will make it 8GB but CPU and GPU are not upgradeable unless you teardown the whole machine.
     
  5. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604

    SnowLeopard2008

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2008
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #5
    No, they don't. Apple sells it for roughly ~$10 more than retail (although I'm referencing notebook memory). You have to factor in time and labor costs. It's not a premium if there is extra services for extra money. Anyway, 8GB of memory isn't cheap. At all. It's like ~$300 per 4GB module but the iMac has 4 slots so 4 x 2GB modules is $160. But this isn't relevant to the OP.

    To OP, you sound like you want a really high-end iMac. My MBP has much lower specs than either iMac model you mentioned. My CPU is slower and older, my GPU is slower and older, etc. Yet, my usage is much heavier and intensive than yours (and your husband's). I edit video in Final Cut Express, audio, photos in Aperture, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, InDesign and Flash. That $1,299 iMac should be plenty for both your needs. The extra $300 you spend results in a CPU and GPU you probably won't utilize to it's full or even half potential. Not many applications can use the GPU's 512MB of VRAM. Only 3D modeling, rendering, intensive gaming, etc. The Core i5 is slightly faster in certain tasks like video encoding, rendering. Light photo editing does not require a Core i5 processor, neither does ripping DVDs. DVD ripping is limited to the speed of the Super Drive.

    A good and frugal way to spend money (IMHO) is to go with the $1,299 iMac and spend the $300 somewhere else. Maybe a new iPod or even two. iPod nanos are $150 and iPod touches are $200. You can buy your son an iPod touch and still have $100 leftover. Get the most out of every dollar you spend. Peace. :)

    EDIT: I just read the third option. Definitely don't go there. The NVIDIA 9400M model. More RAM is meaningless, especially for your needs (and your husband's). And the smaller HD is not worth the extra price. I would go with the refurbished iMac with the ATI 4670 for $1,299. The GPU kicks the 9400M to pieces.
     
  6. Timechaser thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2010
    #6
    Thank you all for the thoughtful responces, you have all helped me see that although a i5 processor would handle more, I dont need to spend any extra money on RAM or the quad-core processor to do the basic things we want to do well and that the iMac with the ATI 4670 is worth the price.

    My son already has a iPod Touch - :)

    So how do you guys feel about a "refurbished" Time Capsule (1TB for $219) is it the best option for backing up our computers and home networking?

    Now I'm wondering would the 3.33GHz C2D be worth the extra $$$ over the cost of 3.06GHz C2D if I wanted to use the iMac with a better external DVD super drive for ripping and conversions?
     
  7. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

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    Finland
    #7
    4x2GB - 200$ (Apple's price) vs 100$ (NewEgg)
    2x4GB - 400$ (Apple's price) vs 230$ (NewEgg) AND you can keep the existing 2x2GB and make it 12GB

    So, you are paying about twice as much for Apple to do it. It takes 5mins to upgrade the RAM, that's 20$ per minute you are paying for Apple

    Ripping is but encoding isn't

    i5 is twice as fast in those, i7 would be even faster.
     
  8. Timechaser thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 3, 2010
    #8
    OK Hellhammer, I can see that you are all for the i5 when it comes to encoding the DVD's.

    My husband agrees that it would be better but thinks for the cost vs our needs it would be over-kill. He thinks I enjoy spending money :rolleyes:

    But I'm wondering would the 3.33GHz C2D be worth the extra $$$ over the cost of 3.06GHz C2D for faster encoding , would it make me feel better about not getting the i5 if my husband wont buy into it?
     
  9. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #9
    The 3.33GHz C2D ain't really worth it. How much will you do encoding? It takes 15mins to encode a 350MB .avi file to iPhone (H.264) with my 2.93GHz iMac. You can encode the DVD to iPhone/iPad friendly format straight away with HandBrake, no need to rip it first and then encode. That will speed up the process.

    C2D is just fine but if you do a lot encoding, then the i5 is really worth it.
     
  10. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    #10
    If you typically wait 4 years between updates, wait another couple months.

    We are hoping/expecting Apple to move the i5/i7 architecture to more of the iMac configurations -- should hopefully see it in the 21" machines.

    This would suit better over the next 4 years than the C2D machine.

    The C2D machine should be making one more curtain call in the entry level iMac before it exits -- likely similar to the Mac Mini with about a 3GHz clock.

    ---

    If you were of the mind to update the machine much quicker than that, it wouldn't matter too much.

    Our buyer's guide for the site says ... pattern shows new machines at about 09/2010 or 10/2010

    http://buyersguide.macrumors.com/

    Edit: if it were a simple speed bump, there wouldn't be a reason to wait, but it is the switch to the i5/i7 which offers a bit more of a leap in performance compare to most speed bump updates.
     
  11. Timechaser thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 3, 2010
    #11
    OK - I'm not doing small 350MB files, right now it takes a several of hours to convert a DVD but then again I am only doing 2 or 3 a week (while I sleep).

    So from all the advice I have gotten so far it seems we should go with the iMac my husband likes at $1,299 - and be happy :)

    Any advise regarding the Time Capsue new or refurbished?
     
  12. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604

    SnowLeopard2008

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    Jul 4, 2008
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    Silicon Valley
    #12
    Don't we all? :D

    A Time Capsule is worth it. Although, depending on how many Macs you have that you want to backup, 1TB might not be enough. Remember, it backups up all the files you have. So if I have 300GB right now but tomorrow I added another 50GB, the total space used is 350GB. But if I delete that 50GB and decide it's not necessary or needed, that 50GB is still on the Time Capsule. So it really depends on how many files you have and your current capacity used.

    Conclusion: A refurbished Time Capsule is worth it. It's got everything you need for a home network in one package. You can always add external hard drives to the Time Capsule which has 2 USB ports I believe. Correct me if I'm wrong and it only has 1 USB port or whatever.
     
  13. Timechaser thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 3, 2010
    #13
    Waiting two months to see what the new line up looks like does not sound like a bad idea but if we are waiting to spend more money on better technology we may not need then my husband will think its a bad idea - :confused:

    You have all helped with your answers and advice - thanks for giving me so much to think about before jumping in on this purchase.
     
  14. Jason Beck macrumors 68000

    Jason Beck

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    Oct 19, 2009
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    Cedar City, Utah
    #14

    c2d will begin to really show its age in the next year or two.
     
  15. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

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    Finland
    #15
    I highly doubt we will see Lynnfield in 21.5". Likely i3 in 21.5", possibly i5 (Clarkdale). They do offer a nice upgrade from C2Ds, especially in tasks like encoding where Hyper-Threading can be used but it isn't anything dramatic

    You would benefit from faster CPU but if the encoding isn't your main habit, then C2D is sufficient. Keep in mind that the new ones won't be available in refurb store immediately, it takes couple of months so you would have to buy the new one which costs more.

    And why is that? i3 is only marginally better. C2Ds are still great chips, the age has nothing to do with actual performance. Nehalems will be old soon when Sandy Bridge comes. The cycle is endless, there is always something better coming but it doesn't change the fact that old chips are still sufficient
     
  16. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604

    SnowLeopard2008

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    #16
    It all comes down to the real question. Do you "need" it now? If you don't explicitly need it now, then I doubt your husband will think it's a bad idea. Just say that waiting will result in a better and faster computer for the same price. And that there's nothing wrong with your current computer (it still functions and performs your daily tasks right?) so there's no harm in waiting. But if you actually "needed" it, then it's a different story.
     

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