Cheapest Mac with better than HD4850 (512MB) (Late 2009 iMac)

Discussion in 'Mac and PC Games' started by DracoDWS, Jun 26, 2015.

  1. DracoDWS, Jun 26, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2015

    DracoDWS macrumors member


    Aug 1, 2013
    My customized iMac (Late 2009 iMac) with upgraded 2.8 i7 chip and Radeon hd4850 is on its way out. I've replaced the graphics card 3 times and I'm just counting down until I have to do it again, but it's really old enough now to consider just buying a new computer.

    How cheap can I get away with and still get better graphics performance than what my iMac is doing?

    I know my iMac card is 512MB of RAM but even the lowest MacBook with integrated graphics - isn't that at least 1GB of RAM?

    From what I've read I think the Iris 6100 is 1.5GB isn't it? Would that really make it 3 times better?

    Considering that my iMac cost upwards of $2500 when I bought it, I'm not looking forward to spending that much money again, even though it's lasted me this long (going on 6 years).

    The 27 inch screen is really big on my desk and I wouldn't mind going smaller but I'm looking for the most bang for your buck over the life of the computer.

    I know that getting an SSD will really improve the speed I just want to get the smoothest performance I can from the few games I do play (mostly Blizzard games and maybe Marvel Heroes).

    What do you guys think I should get? I'm open to all choices from Mac mini to MacBooks to iMac.

    My iMac is still working at the moment so I have time to wait. I would like to wait until the Skylake chips are released but I just need to figure out which computer to consider.

  2. Cougarcat macrumors 604

    Sep 19, 2003
    Apple's lineup is pretty bad these days for GPUs. You want to avoid integrated cards like the 6100. If you can afford it, Apple has a refurb 4 GB 780M iMac for around $2000. There's also a 2GB 775M one for $1600.

    It also comes down to what you want to play. Games are getting VRAM-hungry these days and if you want to play the latest console releases, I personally wouldn't want to get anything less than a 4 GB card, especially with a 27-in display.

    SSDs are amazing but they just help with load times. Skylake will be nice for laptops (better integrated GPUs) but the CPU improvement will be small.
  3. DracoDWS thread starter macrumors member


    Aug 1, 2013
    Yeah, I think it's disappointing the graphics cards Apple is using, but I had such a jump in power in this iMac from my (I believe it was 128MB) old one.

    I think it was a 4x jump. I'm hoping for another 4x jump again.
  4. Fl0r!an macrumors 6502a

    Aug 14, 2007
    First of all, the amount of VRAM of your GPU does not determine the computational speed of your GPU, it just says how much stuff (e.g. textures) can be stored. The Iris 6100 is at the maximum as fast as your old HD 4850 (I guess it's slower).

    The current top of the line iMacs offer quite good gaming performance, but they are really expensive. You also have to consider that you could build a hackintosh for less than $1000 that would smoke virtually any Mac when it comes to gaming, so these iMacs are quite far away from best bang for the buck.

    If I were you, I'd either built a hackintosh or get a used MacPro (preferably 4,1) and upgrade its GPU.
  5. jerwin macrumors 68000

    Jun 13, 2015
    You could always run the heaven/valley benchmarks, on your machine, and post the results. I'll run the equivalent benchmark from my r9 m290x. I have only one machine, though barefeats has a slew.

    The "dx11" features, which your card can't enable, really slow down the results. So please note which features have been disabled.

    A 4850 is shown here, but it's using an older version of the benchmark.

    Here's a run on my machine.

    Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 9.57.50 AM.png
    Tesselation is quite impressive visually, and that score isn't sustainable.
    Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 10.05.48 AM.png
    Oddly enough, I got better results not running in full screen. (I have a 1080 secondary monitor, so no, fullscreen shouldn't by 1440p.
    Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 10.17.23 AM.png
    I don't think the Iris Pro chipsets will fare very well at this kind of thing, but I don't own one.
  6. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Video Ram while indicative of a better graphics card has a lot less to do with the speed of teh graphics card than you would imagine, so no 3 x the ram does not in any way make it 3x faster it just doesn't work like that.

    That being said the iris 6100 will do everything you are asking of it no worries.

    To be honest though if portability is not important you'll always get a better performance from a desktop so how about a refurbished high end imac 21.5 inch with the 750M graphics card, it'll be great for everything you are currently doing.
  7. Fl0r!an macrumors 6502a

    Aug 14, 2007
    For comparison: My 2010 rig (<600€ new) with recently upgraded GPU (190€).

    A classic MacPro should perform equally if not better with this card. This is what I'd get if I wanted to buy a genuine Mac with gaming in my mind.
  8. DracoDWS thread starter macrumors member


    Aug 1, 2013
    I wouldn't mind looking for refurbished, but what about PCIe? isn't that the latest and greatest when it comes to SSD? I'm definitely looking for 256 SSD at least, then getting a 5+GB External USB3.
  9. jerwin macrumors 68000

    Jun 13, 2015
    ouch. Well, I chose a 5k screen over a real video card.

    Still, I'd like to see the results for the 4850 and Iris Pro.
  10. Fl0r!an macrumors 6502a

    Aug 14, 2007
    Sure, it's an awesome machine (had an iMac some time ago, too, not 5k though), I only wouldn't recommend it as "best bang for the buck gaming machine" :)

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