Buying advice for storage options and gpu model

Discussion in 'iMac' started by AlexGraphicD, Jul 16, 2016.

  1. AlexGraphicD, Jul 16, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2016

    AlexGraphicD macrumors regular

    AlexGraphicD

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    #1
    I am about to buy a new iMac and lord knows the amount of stress and trouble I've been for months trying to decide which option is best for my needs and if it's better to wait for the next iMac update instead that will have better gpu and cpu processors.

    I'm torn between going full ssd (prob. 500gb) vs 2 TB option.

    Right now I don't really need more than 500gb space for at least a couple or three years but on the other hand I don't feel comfortable with the thought that I might have limited space on my iMac. I don't really like the external drive options. I prefer everything be inside my iMac.

    I do a lot of graphic design (photoshop, illustrator, indesign) and web design and casual video editing in iMovie and FCP but in the future I plan to start doing more professional video editing (no 4K, *maybe after 5 years or so*).

    If I was rich I would buy the 1TB ssd in a heartbeat. Sadly I can't afford the premium apple tax and I have a somewhat medium budget of $2000.
    Thats why I'm aiming for a refurbished iMac from Apple so I can get a good deal.

    What I'm thinking is I can buy the 500gb ssd iMac and when the refurbished warranty and apple care end, I can take the machine to a service center and put another ssd of 1TB alongside the 500gb one. How much does a work like this cost, and is there enough physical space inside the iMac to put another ssd?

    Or else I'm gonna go with the 2TB version and when the warranty ends I'll take it to a service center and replace the HDD with a 1TB SSD so I can have 128gb ssd+1TB ssd.

    I'd appreciate your thoughts on the storage option as well as wich gpu model would be suitable for my needs.
     
  2. thats all folks macrumors 6502a

    thats all folks

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    #2
    you should probably wait as a new release should drive down the prices of the current models. but of the current lineup, with the way that ever more programs and processes are assisted by GPU computing, I'd highly encourage you to go for the top 395X/4 GB, especially in light of how many pixels you have to drive on that 5K.

    consider just the 500GB SSD, to hold OS, programs and some personal files and put all project based data on externals. I understand your wish to keep things clean and simple but that just aint the box for it. I'm holding on to my 2009 Mac Pro for it's ability to hold 6 drives internally. also leaving the spinner out of that poorly designed case will reduce heat and the need to pry it open.
     
  3. AlexGraphicD, Jul 16, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2016

    AlexGraphicD thread starter macrumors regular

    AlexGraphicD

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    #3
    Yes I'll probably wait but I'm afraid that the next update will be late '16 as the new cpu processors will be out late '16 early '17 and that's a lot of waiting...

    It's sad that for a graphic design / casual user I need to opt for 395X/4 GB as you suggest, as that is a very expensive option and makes me wonder what's the purpose of the lower gpu models if the 5k screen is so pixel heavy and anything below 395X is not enough for a smooth experience.
    *shrugs*

    So if I go with 512gb ssd can I install inside the iMac another ssd in the future when the warranty ends? Is there enough space? And how much does it cost for a service center to install it for me?

    Thanks.
     
  4. tubeexperience macrumors 68030

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    Feb 17, 2016
    #4
    If done correctly, you can install an SSD on your own (or have someone else do it for you) and it won't void your warranty.

    Look at my iMac SSD upgrade guide here: http://forums.macrumors.com/threads/guide-replace-the-hard-drive-in-your-27-imac-slim.1979747/
     
  5. AlexGraphicD thread starter macrumors regular

    AlexGraphicD

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    #5
    This is a great guide but Im too much afraid and stressed to tinker with such an expensive machine so I prefer if a qualified person would do it for me. Do you know what the cost is for this procedure from a service center? And how many ssd's fit inside a 5k iMac?
     
  6. CWallace macrumors 603

    CWallace

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    #6
    If you do not plan to do video work or gaming, the R395X is really overkill. For straight photo work, even the R380 should be sufficient and the R390 a nice upgrade.

    Honestly, I'd go with the 2TB Fusion Drive. It has a 128GB SSD which should be large enough to hold the OS and your most-often accessed programs and data. That gives you 2TB for data storage where access speed is not so important.

    Large SSDs are nice, but as you noted, very expensive. I have a 1TB in my current machine as the 512GB was too small for holding a large Windows partition for games and I stored a lot of large media files for short term (before deleting). I'm fortunate that I can afford such an expensive drive, but if I had not, I'd have gone with the 2TB or 3TB Fusion Drive.
     
  7. AlexGraphicD, Jul 16, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2016

    AlexGraphicD thread starter macrumors regular

    AlexGraphicD

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    #7
    No gaming, no professional level video editing just some casual family video in iMovie and FCP (maybe in the near future I'll do some professional level video).

    See this is what's making me stressed all this time. Some people say just go for the top line model cause anything else below than that is gonna be laggy and slow and others like you say even the m380 will be fine witch is something I find it hard to believe if I don't try for myself and see.

    Then there are those who say that the current gpu line is worthless and the new update will be miles better in performance and heat issues.
    It really drives a person nuts all this talk about wich iMac to choose.
     
  8. tubeexperience macrumors 68030

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    #8
    I have performed these upgrades, but the department paids me by month rather than for each specific job, so I have no idea how much the upgrade procedure would cost.

    The 5K iMac can fit two SSD: one proprietary blade SSD from Apple and one standard 2.5" SSD.
     
  9. AlexGraphicD thread starter macrumors regular

    AlexGraphicD

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    #9
    Thanks. The proprietary is the PCI connected ssd? What's the difference to the 2.5" ssd that you mentioned? Excuse me but I am not very familiar with computer tech.
     
  10. thats all folks macrumors 6502a

    thats all folks

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    #10
    I suggested the top spec due to your original description of what you do, but now you are saying it's as a casual user? In that case, get what you feel is right for the amount of money you are willing to spend. I'm not implying that you will have a "laggy" experience, only that you are leaving chips on the table with the lower spec models. looking at this as a 5+ year purchase, what it could have been may become an issue down the line. maybe your time frame is shorter? but if you are a professional graphic designer, time is money, no? if the better machine saves you 10 minutes a day, that becomes an entire week of work after just over two years. what is a week worth to you?

    Apple has, at least for the past several years, shipped their machines with unimpressive graphics capability. sometimes relief came from options offered by Apple, sometimes through 3rd parties. and as the machines become ever more soldered and glued shut, sometimes no relief at all. Looking at the 5K iMac, it is pushing 4 times as many pixels as the non-retina version, with a graphics chip meant for a laptop. I'm not telling you going with less than the best will be a disappointing experience, only to consider the choices you are making.

    and yes, try to wait until the next release before making that purchase. can I ask, what do you have now? why does that need to be replaced suddenly?
     
  11. tubeexperience macrumors 68030

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    #11
    The proprietary SSD is a thin blade, the same one used in the MacBook Pro Retina.

    A standard 2.5" SSD is too thick for a MacBook Pro Retina and that's why Apple uses this blade SSD.

    The SSD blade drive uses PCIe protocol, but it's a custom Apple-only drive and even other PCIe SSD drives won't fit.
     
  12. AlexGraphicD, Jul 16, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2016

    AlexGraphicD thread starter macrumors regular

    AlexGraphicD

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    #12
    Well I said I do graphic design and some casual video editing. I just had the impression that the top model gpu which you were referred to was geared towards heavy video professionals.

    The reason I want to upgrade is that I moved to the US and I need a machine to be able to work. Back in my home country I have a 2010 21.5 3.6 500gb HDD and I am pretty disappointed with its performance coupled with a factory defect of grey smudges appearing on the left side of the screen I just want a better computer that will last for years. Although I can wait until October before I make the purchase as I have a spare old iMac to do my work for a while.
    --- Post Merged, Jul 16, 2016 ---
    Thank you. So if I got it right the non Apple 2.5" ssd that I can add in the future inside the iMac can be PCI based just like apple's proprietary ssd?
     
  13. tubeexperience macrumors 68030

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    #13
    No, the 2.5" SSD is SATA.

    It basically takes place of a regular HDD.
     
  14. AlexGraphicD thread starter macrumors regular

    AlexGraphicD

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    #14
    Hmm...that's unfortunate. I imagined that I could fit another PCI based ssd in there...oh well. I guess sata ssd will still be a lot better than 7200 rpm HDD.
     
  15. thats all folks macrumors 6502a

    thats all folks

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    #15
    unfortunately screens die off faster than computers do. that is a serious downside of the built in display. when apple switched to LED backlights in 2012, the color gamut of the iMac screens took a serious hit in capability. the 2015 model is the first time they corrected that by switching to dual color LEDs. for that reason, I'm partial to the 2015s over previous models.

    but if your point of reference is a 2010 21.5" iMac, you can easily beat that for less than $2K.
    http://www.apple.com/shop/product/G0PG1LL/A/refurbished-27-inch-imac-34ghz-quad-core-Intel-Core-i5
    2013 non-retina 27", $1700.
    if you want more RAM, 3rd party will get you there for a lot less than Apple charges, for example,
    https://eshop.macsales.com/shop/memory/iMac/2012_27/DDR3L
     
  16. tubeexperience macrumors 68030

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    #16
    Unless you perform certain tasks, you won't even notice the difference between a SATA SSD and a PCIe SSD.
     
  17. AlexGraphicD, Jul 16, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2016

    AlexGraphicD thread starter macrumors regular

    AlexGraphicD

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    #17
    The screen defect started appearing after some weeks I purchased my brand new iMac and replaced the screen three times under warranty until the warranty ended and the smudges kept coming back :(

    Thanks for the suggestions but I really want a retina 5k this time and I am aware about the ram. Apple is not getting my hard earned money that easily. ;)
    I'll check the link you posted for the ram for future use. Thanks.
    --- Post Merged, Jul 16, 2016 ---
    Maybe I'll go with the 256gb ssd and if I need more space for media in the near future, I'll plug an external USB 3.0 ssd or HDD, after all I can't avoid putting an external drive on my desk as I will be using at least one external drive for time machine backups.
    And when the warranty ends I can install an additional ssd inside the iMac.
     
  18. tubeexperience macrumors 68030

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    #18
    SSDs are relatively cheap now. A 960GB SSD was on sale for $165 a couple of days ago.
     
  19. AlexGraphicD, Jul 16, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2016

    AlexGraphicD thread starter macrumors regular

    AlexGraphicD

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    #19
    Urghh..its just so frustrating that for the same price you have to choose between a very fast ssd of 256gb but with such a small storage capacity and a 2TB drive that's so much larger in general but slower and 128gb compared to the 256gb model.
    Apple sure knows how to put the price tag fair and wisely. :(

    Both of these refurbished models have the same price despite one having a capacity of 256gb and the other 2TB. Truly a difficult decision for the majority of people.

    http://www.apple.com/shop/product/F...uad-core-intel-core-i5-with-retina-5k-display

    http://www.apple.com/shop/product/G...uad-core-intel-core-i5-with-retina-5k-display
     
  20. thats all folks macrumors 6502a

    thats all folks

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    #20
    you seem to have a good grasp on what you want so I wish the best and hope your new iMac runs clean for years to come.
     
  21. tubeexperience macrumors 68030

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    #21
    Well, this is Apple. You know that you will be paying an arm and a leg.
     
  22. Goody13 macrumors member

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    Plymouth, UK
    #22
    This is the same problem I'm having (see my question yesterday on the M380/M390/M395/M395X thread). It appears your planned use may be only slightly greater than mine.

    I am going for the 2TB drive as, like you, I don't need it yet but want to stay flexible. I will upgrade the RAM myself to 16GB if I feel I need it and, whilst the M380 will almost certainly be fine for me, I have never had a high end computer before and I am thinking that if I am paying for that spec, another £70/ $100 (£63/ $90 for me after work affiliate discount and cashback on credit card) is not a deal breaker and will probably serve me better in the long term.

    I'm sorry that's not a detailed answer as to what you should go for but hopefully my thought process will help you.

    I was going to wait for the new range to come out but as the Pound is at its weakest against the Dollar for 30-odd years, I fear price increases in the UK soon so want to buy this weekend, just in case.
     
  23. Malus120 macrumors regular

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    #23
    This topic comes up often enough we should REALLY have an FAQ thread on it. The answer is actually surprisingly simple and hinges on two essential questions.

    1. How fast does your storage need to be? / How much of an impact will a PCIE based SSD have on the speed of your work vs a SATA SSD/Fusion Drive?

    2. To what degree do the applications you use/plan to use take advantage of a faster GPU?

    If you can get away with SATA SSD speeds (and lets be honest here, unless your working with extremely high end raw video footage, you most likely can), and can afford the extra desk space, then buy the absolute minimum that Apple sells for SSD storage (256GB, don't bother with the fusion drive) and then just add storage externally as necessary via USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt (if you need PCIE speed but still don't want to pay the "Apple tax").

    If you do this, you can then spend money where it belongs, on parts of the computer that can't be updated (at least not without voiding the warranty), namely the CPU and GPU. For those, buy as much as you can afford and then some if possible if you plan to keep the machine for a long time. IMO, aside from a bit more desk clutter (which isn't even really that bad if you get nice looking externals), this option is far superior to paying an insane amount of money for a 512GB or 1TB Apple SSD (UNLESS of course you actually NEED 1500+ Mbps). Buying a refurb is smart though as the difference between the 2014 and 2015 models really isn't that large.

    That said, as you yourself seem to be aware, the truly smart choice is to just wait for the 2016 models if you can. I know it's hard, but if it's a long term investment, you'll most likely be getting a good deal more bang for your buck, especially in the GPU department where these computers need it the most.
     
  24. Goody13 macrumors member

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    #24
    That's a fair comment, but equally applies to all modern technology. There's always going to be something better just around the corner, so you could chuck money away by always upgrading as soon as something new comes out or wait forever for the next best thing.
     
  25. Malus120, Jul 17, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2016

    Malus120 macrumors regular

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    #25
    I don't want to derail the thread so I'll try and keep this brief.

    I provided that advice after advising the OP on his/her current options. I understand and respect the fact that sometimes you just have to buy now. The important thing is being able to tell the difference between wanting to buy now and needing to buy now.

    Sure you can always buy now, but if you're already more than halfway through a products annual lifecycle, there is no real harm in waiting, and in fact you potentially stand to gain a lot (as long as what is gained by waiting outweighs the cost of waiting, which will vary from person to person).

    I don't see that as "always waiting for the next best thing," as much as just smart shopping.
     

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