Considering a 27" 3.5 GHz iMac from mid-2011 iMac

Discussion in 'iMac' started by 6BQ5, Aug 1, 2015.


Is an upgrade from a 2011 iMac to a Retina model worthwhile?

  1. Yes, the benefits would be immediate.

    1 vote(s)
  2. No, hold off. Waiting for the next generation is worth it.

    9 vote(s)
  1. 6BQ5 macrumors newbie

    Aug 1, 2015

    I own a mid-2011 2.7 GHz 21" iMac with a 1 TB drive. It has 20 GB of RAM. I am thinking of replacing it with a new 3.5 GHz 27" Retina iMac with a 1 TB Fusion drive but I am somewhat hesitant. My most intense application is photo processing with Capture One and web surfing. Capture One puts a strain on my computer and the display update can be a little jerky at times. It doesn't stop me from processing my images but the computer does get hot. I almost cannot touch the top of the aluminum case. Sometimes the fans will turn on if the day was hot too. Web surfing shouldn't sound like an intense activity but many webpages are very complex with lots of scripts and animations. The computer can become mildly warm. My iMac is running pretty hot as I type this long winded message.

    My previous iMac was a 2004 PowerPC based machine that I kept until 2001 when the power supply burned up and blackened the inside of the case. I had the computer repaired and sold it on eBay. That machine was eventually heavily loaded running applications like Handbrake. The jump to a mid-2011 iMac was amazing. Not only did I get a massive boost in speed by 3x to 4x but I also entered the Intel based iMac ecosystem.

    I feel that the jump from my mid-2011 iMac to a current model Retina system ought to feel the same as when I jumped from a 2004 to a 2011 iMac. Looking at the Geekbench 3.0 scores, I think the performance jump will be about 1.5x. Video performance is no doubt improved but I'm not a gamer requiring high refresh rates. The iMac Retina system is about $2200. That's not a small amount of money. I can eat and live on that for a long time. The upgrade better be worth it for that price! :)

    My other thoughts on upgrading my overall system would be to get a really nice 27" to 32" 4k display for easier photo editing, a Wacom Cintiq to get into digital art, or build up a film scanner outfit. I would run my current machine to failure and upgrade at that time. If my single past data point is to be my reference then I predict that I can get another 3-4 years of functional life out of my current iMac. I would not be surprised if the peripherals I mentioned load up my iMac and make me want to upgrade. Catch-22.

    My nearest Apple retailer is about 1 hour and 10 minutes away. I owe them a visit to experience the new machines.

    Is there something to be gained from a 27" Retina iMac that would enable me to do something that I can't do now? Would it enable me to do something that I do today but better?

    Thanks! :apple: ;)
  2. TechZeke macrumors 68020


    Jul 29, 2012
    Rialto, CA
    The current one would still be a MASSIVE upgrade over your 2011 21.5" iMac, but at this point I'd at least wait until the October keynote.
  3. 6BQ5 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 1, 2015
    Hi TechZeke,

    Thanks for the reply! What do you think we should be expecting from the keynote event? Are there rumors in the works for an updated product line?
  4. TechZeke macrumors 68020


    Jul 29, 2012
    Rialto, CA

    OS X El Capitan has hinted at a new 21.5" retina iMac and a GPU refresh coming soon:

    No one truly knows what Apple plans, but I'm confident we will see a new 21.5" 4K retina iMac with a new Late 2015 5K iMac refresh.

    As I said before, the current 5K iMac is still massive upgrade over your 2011. However, since your machine is still working you might as well wait a few more months for the Keynote.
  5. mrnoglue macrumors member

    Jul 14, 2011
    Hi TechZeke and 6BQ5

    Do you know if the updates to the iMac line include making fusion standard, or at least more affordable? I want to pull the trigger on a new iMac as well (upgrading from a 2010 MacBook Pro) but I don't want to settle for a spinning drive. Have you heard any rumors about hard drives in the new models?

  6. 6BQ5 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 1, 2015
    Hi TekeZeke,

    Thanks for posting the thread. It was a long, but interesting, read. I can understand your prediction of Retina displays across the iMac range. Perhaps that will drive lower prices across the entire product line since the volume of manufactured Retina displays will be higher.

    I can easily hold off until October. If nothing new happens then I know that the current line up will still be waiting for me.
  7. 6BQ5 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 1, 2015
    Hi mrnoglue,

    I can't imagine Fusion becoming standard without a non-Fusion option available. Solid state memory devices are not necessarily cheap and drive the final product's prices up. It would make entry into the Mac ecosystem difficult for some. I imagine that the lower priced models will always have a rotating drive in them and the upper end models will maintain their current storage option scheme. Maybe one day we will see solid state drives as standard and "normal" ... but that day is not today.
  8. jerwin macrumors 68020

    Jun 13, 2015
    What happens most of the time is that Apple introduces a great product at a price point that's just out of reach for some. Then, later, they release a "educationally" priced product that offers 50 percent of the performance for 90 percent of the price.It's not great value for the money, but it does meet a firm price point.

    Fusion drives are cheap for Apple because they can make or buy flash memory very economically for use in their iOS devices.
  9. 6BQ5 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 1, 2015
  10. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    They use vastly different and much slower flash drives in their IOS devices.

    They may go to all fusion as standard (the entry level 21.5 excepted, I don't think that'll get 4K either) accross teh lineup it seems that is the way they are going slowly.
  11. caralosdbernard macrumors newbie


    Oct 29, 2014
    Panama City Panama
    21.5 inch 5k retina screen on a iMac sound appealing to get. I hop also make changes on the chassis regarding a door to add more memory. I change 3HD to ssd on the 21.5 imac these week, a on the way we add more memory to 16. Let see if i can get one today.
  12. Taz Mangus macrumors 68040

    Taz Mangus

    Mar 10, 2011
    The 21.5" will be 4K more then likely.
  13. 6BQ5 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 1, 2015
    A 21.5" Retina iMac coupled with a larger external monitor could be a good combination. However, let's hope Apple adds user accessible memory as @caralosdbernard mentioned above. Not having a door could be a deal killer for a lot of people, me included.

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