Comparing mid 2011 iMac 27" to late 2014 iMac 27" retina

Discussion in 'iMac' started by sawyer1370, Nov 5, 2015.

  1. sawyer1370 macrumors newbie

    Nov 5, 2015
    So after having my iMac in 2 different shops over the past 2 weeks, it looks like I have a bad video card. I know there is a recall but I am past the 4 year support period for that unfortunately. Both shops tested the computer for almost a week, and neither were able to reproduced the issue I was having with the computer, as I am a web and UI designer and ask a lot of my computer daily.

    A new 1gb video card is about $1000 for parts and labor. So after many days of dreading making a decision, I opted to get a refurb'd late 2014 iMac 3.5 i5 retina with Fusion drive.

    My question is, what is the speed and performance difference between my old computer:

    mid 2011 3.4 i7
    12gb ram
    1gb vid card
    1tb standard hard drive

    and my new computer

    late 2014 3.5 i5
    24bg ram (I'm adding 16gb to the existing 8gb with 2 new 8gb dimms)
    2gb vid card
    1 tb fusion drive

    Does the more ram in the new computer, along with the fusion drive off-set the i7 vs. the i5?

    Please help reassure me I made the right decision. So once I sell the old iMac for parts, I am at about the same as I would have been to repair the older computer, at least that was my line of thinking.
  2. roadkill401 macrumors 6502


    Jan 11, 2015
    Without knowing what sort of computing you will be doing, it's a tough call to make. the newer i5 is actually faster for single thread applications. For most people, you will never be running enough applications to max out 4 cores. The memory is faster, there is a whole load going for it.

    However, if you are doing movie encoding where you will push all the cores/threads that you can get your hands on, then it will be a slower machine.

    But then there is the screen. Sorry, but the newer retina screen blows away the old mac hands down.
  3. sawyer1370 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 5, 2015
    I work in Photoshop mostly, along with some other UI design programs like Sketch, Pixate, Flinto and Principle for UI and UX design. I do a little bit of work in Adobe After Effects too, but I am getting away from that more and more as other great apps are available to do the same type of stuff I need at half the time.

    I often have Photoshop, excel, chrome and pixate open at the same time. That is what caused me to see the issue with the video card. Both mac repair shops couldn't replicate my issues because they weren't pushing the machine hard enough I suspect.

    I've read some of the benchmark stuff, but I don't know if the software I use needs the hyper threading or not.

    I do some gaming too, but not that much.

    The i5 is 3.5 with a 2bg vid card. My older i7 was a 3.4 and had a 1gb vid card. I figured between the slightly faster processor (well not really it's an i5 vs an i7) the fusion drive, 8gb more ram and a 2gb vid card, it would be about a wash.

    Was I correct in my assumptions?
  4. iemcj macrumors 6502


    Oct 31, 2015
    From the numbers I saw, you're not going to see a real difference. A second here and there, but that's about it
  5. sawyer1370 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 5, 2015
    I would think with the fusion drive, start up and getting programs running will be much faster, won't it? I just wanted to make sure the computer won't be slower because of the 3.5 i5 instead of the 3.4 i7.
  6. aevan, Nov 5, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2015

    aevan macrumors 68030


    Feb 5, 2015
    I had the exactly same upgrade - upgraded a fully maxed out 2011. iMac (i7, AMD 6970 card) to the i5/M290X Retina iMac. The new iMac feels a lot faster (and is faster) but probably not for the reason you think.

    1. On the CPU side, the new i5 will be faster even in multi-threaded tasks, but you probably won't notice any difference in Photoshop and similar apps when it comes to computing tasks. And no, it won't be slower, of course. A Devil's Canyon Haswell i5 beats a Sandybridge i7.

    2. You will not notice any difference in Photoshop and other apps you mentioned between 12Gb and 24Gb RAM. 24Gb RAM is definitely overkill for them and you won't really notice any real-world difference. You probably think you will - but you won't :) Still, RAM is not expensive, so, no harm in getting more. Even 8 would be enough, 16 is a bit better.

    3. The new GPU is massively faster than the one in 2011. You will see great improvements in 3D apps/games.

    4. A fusion drive is massively faster than the HDD. This alone will make your computer seem a lot faster than your old one and you may (falsely) attribute this to CPU, GPU or RAM. While 2015 1Tb Fusion Drives have only 24Gb SSD storage, the one in the 2014 model is 128Gb, which is great. As a lot of people here will tell you (and in this case, they would totally be correct) - the difference between a HDD system and a Fusion Drive/SSD system is night and day.

    In any case, you will get a faster computer with a slightly better CPU, a lot better GPU, and a massive boost in speed due to the Fusion Drive. It will also have that 5K screen which alone may be a reason to upgrade, even if there was no speed increase (though, there is).

    Hope this helps.
  7. sawyer1370 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 5, 2015
    aevan, thanks for the details. That is exactly what I was looking for. I tend to run 4-5 apps at the same time, as I have to jump from one application to another in my work flow process in designing. I would think the extra ram is going to help with that, but I'm not a techie on this stuff, so I could be wrong.

    Great info, and you confirmed what I thought the benefits would be. It sucked having to buy a new computer but for about the same price (after I sell the old iMac for parts) I am getting a brand new, better computer.
  8. roadkill401 macrumors 6502


    Jan 11, 2015
    The 2014 iMac Retina was the machine that moved me off of Windows. I did get the i7 and the 512SSD but that was because it was on the refurb machine at a great price.

    I run multiple apps like Photoshop, 8-10 chrome browser tabs and pages and haven't seen my memory pressure get above 8gb. The only time I have seen it jump is running VMware Fusion with a bunch of vm's running. I have 20gb ram.

    When I do video conversion or encode audio files, I can peg all the CPU's to near 100%. Otherwise the CPU sits mostly idle. Having many apps open doesn't really eat up much, it's having them actually running stuff in the background that does. Modern computers do a wonderful job of swapping unrequited apps and memory to disk.

    I am sure you will be very happy with your new iMac. The only issues I have had is from very buggy OS. Yosemite and El Capitan have been awful for me. I am sure it's not the mac hardware, but terrible OS that just contains too much garbage.

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