Buying Advice, 21.5" or 27" iMac?

RotaryP7

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Original poster
Aug 31, 2011
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I already have a MBP; I wanted to swap my Windows 7 gaming rig and just get an iMac for the wife and me. I'll probably do some casual gaming, mostly Blizzard games. Everything else is home use and school work. Especially for her.

I actually wanted to stay around $1,800.
Is i7 over i5 worth it? Or would you rather add 16GB of RAM instead of 8GB?

It's tough.
 

tyche

macrumors 6502
Jul 30, 2010
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It's tough.
Apple does make it tough by purposefully making each upgrade a separate and fractional cost that almost always needs to be done at time of purchase (27" memory excluded).

First decision is if you want a 21.5" or 27". You may want to go see them in person because that 27" is big.

Regardless of size, I would want 16gb ram, an i5 and 750m video (on the 21.5") as a base.

You should also look at the refurb section. You might be able to "buy up" from there while keeping your cost the same.
 

RotaryP7

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Aug 31, 2011
687
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Miami, FL
Apple does make it tough by purposefully making each upgrade a separate and fractional cost that almost always needs to be done at time of purchase (27" memory excluded).

First decision is if you want a 21.5" or 27". You may want to go see them in person because that 27" is big.

Regardless of size, I would want 16gb ram, an i5 and 750m video (on the 21.5") as a base.

You should also look at the refurb section. You might be able to "buy up" from there while keeping your cost the same.
Well I do get education pricing since I'm a student so that knocks off $100. I've seen them both, did think the 27" was a little too big. Then again, I'd think most people would get used to it. The other reason why I was thinking of a 27" instead of a 21.5" was because of the RAM slots and being able to upgrade whenever. But the i5, 16GB RAM, 750m 1GB video 21.5" iMac sounds good.
 

yjchua95

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Apr 23, 2011
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Well I do get education pricing since I'm a student so that knocks off $100. I've seen them both, did think the 27" was a little too big. Then again, I'd think most people would get used to it. The other reason why I was thinking of a 27" instead of a 21.5" was because of the RAM slots and being able to upgrade whenever. But the i5, 16GB RAM, 750m 1GB video 21.5" iMac sounds good.
I went for the 21.5" i7/16/256/750M and it absolutely flies in professional work, but not really in gaming.

Newer games may not run smoothly unless you play everything at low, or bump down the game resolution to 1600x900.

The GDDDR5 750M performs somewhere between the GTX 660M and the GT 755M.

It's already a pretty old card, but still useable.

Given your needs, I don't think you need the i7 or 16GB upgrade. Just get the baseline 2.7GHz iMac (or 2.9GHz if you want to be safe with the 750M), get a 1TB Fusion Drive upgrade and there you go.
 

Meister

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Oct 10, 2013
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Given your needs, I don't think you need the i7 or 16GB upgrade. Just get the baseline 2.7GHz iMac (or 2.9GHz if you want to be safe with the 750M), get a 1TB Fusion Drive upgrade and there you go.
Good advice, as usual.
OP will be perfectly fine with the base model.
 

twoehr

macrumors member
Jul 3, 2013
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East Coast US
Well I do get education pricing since I'm a student so that knocks off $100. I've seen them both, did think the 27" was a little too big. Then again, I'd think most people would get used to it. The other reason why I was thinking of a 27" instead of a 21.5" was because of the RAM slots and being able to upgrade whenever. But the i5, 16GB RAM, 750m 1GB video 21.5" iMac sounds good.
I think you are narrowed down to the two best options. I'd get the 27", it is only $100 more @ 8GB of RAM, but you can upgrade it later. I'm not a gamer so I can't speak to how much better, or the same those two video cards are. Definitely get the fusion drive.
 

panzer06

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Sep 23, 2006
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I think you are narrowed down to the two best options. I'd get the 27", it is only $100 more @ 8GB of RAM, but you can upgrade it later. I'm not a gamer so I can't speak to how much better, or the same those two video cards are. Definitely get the fusion drive.
This^

The 21.5 with no RAM upgrade and low end dedicated GPU is a no go for me. The 27" is beautiful and more likely to last longer from a performance standpoint.

Cheers,
 

Samuelsan2001

macrumors 604
Oct 24, 2013
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SSD best bet...

For your implied use case any Imac (except the baseline 1.4ghz dual core) will do you proud so buy what you like.

I would reccomend that an SSD or fusion drive is the best single upgrade you can get and will make your computers response times and fluidity much better than the standard HDD. For your implied use case Fusion would seem to be your beat all round bet..

For RAM take a look here

http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1756865&highlight=meister+ram

You will only need 8GB I would think...
 

RotaryP7

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Aug 31, 2011
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^ The good thing with RAM is if I get the 27" I can purchase at anytime and upgrade whereas the 21.5" I cannot.

When was the last iMac refreshed? Late 2013 is the newest version? Not counting the Retina iMac. But thanks for the replies so far.
 

joema2

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Sep 3, 2013
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...I've seen them both, did think the 27" was a little too big. Then again, I'd think most people would get used to it....
I had this same concern for my wife's iMac 27 since her desk is so small. However the 27" is so thin, and visually so well designed with a small desk footprint that it works well. It blends into many decors. Just carefully measure the vertical space in case there's an overhanging bookshelf. It's about 20" high from the desktop surface to top of the screen.

For general use the i5 is fine. My main advice is don't get the plain HDD, get either Fusion Drive or SSD.
 

Icaras

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Mar 18, 2008
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I already have a MBP; I wanted to swap my Windows 7 gaming rig and just get an iMac for the wife and me.
It's been well over 5 years now since I've ditched my gaming PC and have been gaming exclusively on a Mac ever since. I've never looked back since and I couldn't be happier. It's a quite a load off your shoulders once you realize you don't have to upkeep a second computer, especially if its a Windows PC.
 

RotaryP7

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Aug 31, 2011
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Miami, FL
It's been well over 5 years now since I've ditched my gaming PC and have been gaming exclusively on a Mac ever since. I've never looked back since and I couldn't be happier. It's a quite a load off your shoulders once you realize you don't have to upkeep a second computer, especially if its a Windows PC.

Awesome. Curious, what iMac did you eventually purchase? I'll probably get an iMac refurbished after looking at some options online.. Leaning towards the 27".
 

FroggyTaco

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Feb 25, 2015
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I'm a 20 yr PC gamer that is going all iMac albeit boot camped. I have had a 21.5" for 16 months & I regret not getting the 27" version which is now on the way.

The i5 is more than what you need, stick with 8GB of RAM & you can upgrade if you actually need more.

I would get either the 256GB SSD or a Fusion option. However if your going to bootcamp for Windows only games the the windows install will not be on the SSD part of the fusion "array".

I personally like the idea of SSD only to avoid the inevitable spinning HDD failure inside a "sealed" present day iMac. OC sells a decent TB external HDD that can have the drive swapped for a much cheaper priced SSD that will augment the internal storage & can have larger cheaper future SSD installed in the future. Of course there's USB 3.0 external enclosures everywhere but you lose 100-200mb/s if that's important to you compared to the SSD OWC option.


I would also spend a bit more for the 3.4 i5 & spend the extra $150 for the 780m. 2560x1200 is a lot of pixels & since we can't upgrade the graphics "card" at a later date it's much better to have "too much" graphical horsepower rather than too little. Especially since that card has 4GB which will "future proof" any foreseeable 1440p graphic ram needs since most iMacs seem to stay in service far longer than PC machines.
 

Icaras

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Awesome. Curious, what iMac did you eventually purchase? I'll probably get an iMac refurbished after looking at some options online.. Leaning towards the 27".
It's the iMac in my sig, which is a 2012" iMac 27-inch. I purchased the BTO GPU upgrade because I game extensively and with a lot of modern games.

You mentioned you wanted to do some casual gaming so I'd think the stock 2013 high end 27-inch iMac with the 2GB GPU would quite suffice. Here's a discussion on the 775M and perhaps some insight on how it fares for casual gaming: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1649166

I checked the online Apple Store and I see that they do have that model I mentioned above for $1869. But although this is perfectly within your budget, I can't stress enough that you should seriously consider getting either the 256GB SSD or the 1TB Fusion Drive upgrade (leaning heavily toward the 256GB SSD) as FroggyTaco just pointed out. This alone will make your iMac running smooth and fast for years to come. If you intend to install Windows on a bootcamp partition, then upgrading to SSD or Fusion is even more valuable. Since you'll be rebooting back and forth between Windows and OS X, the SSD will scream and you will save an insane amount of time loading. As an example, my load time for the Apple logo/start-up chime to OS X login screen takes literally no more than 5 seconds. But, when booting into Windows (which has to reside on the mechanical drive of a Fusion drive), it can take up to a about a couple of minutes or so And going for the SSD only configuration should cut that 2-3 minute Windows loading time considerably, shaving off even more load time. But you'll have to weigh the pluses and minuses of speed vs storage capacity when deciding which drive to get.

Unfortunately though, this configuration isn't at the moment selling as refurbished. It would also probably be around $2K. Yes, that's $200 above your budget, but I strongly believe that the SSD is well worth the extra price. You will NOT regret it. :)
 
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panzer06

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Sep 23, 2006
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He makes a very valid point re:SSD. I've been running on SSD only for years and just recently tried using Windows on a Thunderbolt based HDD and I wanted to blow my brains out for how slow it seemed. I immediately cloned the install to an SSD I had lying about.

Soon much better!!
 

Lankyman

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May 14, 2011
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He makes a very valid point re:SSD. I've been running on SSD only for years and just recently tried using Windows on a Thunderbolt based HDD and I wanted to blow my brains out for how slow it seemed. I immediately cloned the install to an SSD I had lying about.

Soon much better!!
I just love these threads about how much faster this is than that etc.

One of my favourite pastimes is reading with our grandmother clock behind me. The silence is only interrupted by the tick tock tick tock of the clock, such a soothing noise.

Why everyone is rushing towards their grave is beyond me - you'll be dead soon enough, slow down and enjoy.
 

matreya

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Nov 14, 2009
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Why everyone is rushing towards their grave is beyond me - you'll be dead soon enough, slow down and enjoy.
Yes, but we already know you're not a very demanding user :)

SSDs are the way of the future... those of us enjoying their speed think they're worth every cent
 

panzer06

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Sep 23, 2006
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I just love these threads about how much faster this is than that etc.

One of my favourite pastimes is reading with our grandmother clock behind me. The silence is only interrupted by the tick tock tick tock of the clock, such a soothing noise.

Why everyone is rushing towards their grave is beyond me - you'll be dead soon enough, slow down and enjoy.
Haha, I remember a nun once commenting that the long red lights in her city gave her time to contemplate God while on the road. It was a very nice sentiment but I still prefer a road with no traffic lights.

SSD FTW!
 

Traverse

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Mar 11, 2013
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Well, I don't have an iMac, but I've used equivalent screens. I love the large 1440p, but for a casual us the 21.5" 1080p is fine.
 

Lankyman

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May 14, 2011
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Yes, but we already know you're not a very demanding user :)

SSDs are the way of the future... those of us enjoying their speed think they're worth every cent
So in any one week, if you add together all these milliseconds (or being generous full seconds) how much time will you have saved, and what have you done with it?

We're not talking cart horse versus Concorde when comparing these products.
 

matreya

macrumors 65816
Nov 14, 2009
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So in any one week, if you add together all these milliseconds (or being generous full seconds) how much time will you have saved, and what have you done with it?

We're not talking cart horse versus Concorde when comparing these products.
Actually, if you were to actually experience a Mac with an SSD, you might be able to appreciate that it speeds up web browsing heaps too...

With my online share trading, I can make money by being just a little quicker to buy and sell shares... it adds up over time.

But you can't appreciate it because you have already stated that you're a pedestrian user, not someone who wants a zippier mac.
 

FroggyTaco

macrumors newbie
Feb 25, 2015
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So in any one week, if you add together all these milliseconds (or being generous full seconds) how much time will you have saved, and what have you done with it?

We're not talking cart horse versus Concorde when comparing these products.
I consider it from a convenience POV. Once you get used to the speed difference going back to the slower version is very annoying.

Kinda like being a kid & riding a bike to being an adult driving a car. If you had to go back to bicycle only it would be slow & annoying.
 

Lankyman

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May 14, 2011
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Actually, if you were to actually experience a Mac with an SSD, you might be able to appreciate that it speeds up web browsing heaps too...

With my online share trading, I can make money by being just a little quicker to buy and sell shares... it adds up over time.

But you can't appreciate it because you have already stated that you're a pedestrian user, not someone who wants a zippier mac.
Well first off I have experienced a Mac with an SSD installed.

However that isn't really my point. I have personal experience of someone who was persuaded to buy something by an enthusiastic person on a web forum. The purchase turned out to be completely inappropriate and this person got themself into a lot of unnecessary debt.

Would it not be far safer to qualify your advice by stating you are not an expert and to seek proper advice before parting with any money?

It's fine to impart your own experience but it should come with that caveat.
 

matreya

macrumors 65816
Nov 14, 2009
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It's fine to impart your own experience but it should come with that caveat.
We're talking about investing in an SSD, not a large outlay by any stretch of the imagination...

You make it sound like someone is investing in a house or something :)
 

FroggyTaco

macrumors newbie
Feb 25, 2015
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I have personal experience of someone who was persuaded to buy something by an enthusiastic person on a web forum. The purchase turned out to be completely inappropriate and this person got themself into a lot of unnecessary debt.

Would it not be far safer to qualify your advice by stating you are not an expert and to seek proper advice before parting with any money?

It's fine to impart your own experience but it should come with that caveat.
While that's a sad story it's more indicative of your acquaintances poor/inexperienced life/fiscal choices in letting a stranger influence them rather than doing ones own research & knowing what they need & making a sound purchasing decision for themselves.

But that's also largely part of of growing up. We learn best from our mistakes because we don't want the same negative end result we received the first time. I hope your acquaintance learned a valuable lesson from that experience.