Considering an iMac soon, but is it upgradable?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by pilot1226, Mar 18, 2010.

  1. pilot1226 macrumors 6502a

    pilot1226

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2010
    Location:
    USA
    #1
    Hi everyone! Been following the website itself for about 6 years, and I used the priceless information on part of the buyers' guide to help me come up with a plan to purchase an iBook G4 back in 2004 right after Tiger launched. This was my first Mac and I enjoyed my switch. The primary purpose to get the iBook over another model was because I needed something that was more portable while I was at college, and paired with the iCurve laptop holder and an Apple Keyboard/Mighty Mouse, it surpassed all of my expectations.

    I still use a PC for some more intensive tasks, like gaming. I admit I am a huge fan of World of Warcraft, though my interest in it has dropped (and probably will stay low - between 30 minutes to an hour a day, maybe) until a new expansion pack launches. The great news is that Warcraft is playable on both my Mac and PC with the same account, so it's really easy to bounce between the two if I need portability.

    I have a big problem now trying to do some type of streaming task online. It bogs my Mac down to a crawl, serious lag. I'm guessing it's the fact that content, especially web content, is just that much more intensive than it was in 2004, especially with the advent of Facebook and the like.

    For reference, if anyone else is on Facebook, I'm unable to play the game 'Bejeweled Blitz" because of the CPU lag, it literally takes me 5 seconds to click on one jewel, move the mouse to another, and have it "do it". So, it's unplayable.

    Even Warcraft has been dreadfully slow since the previous Expansion launched (Wrath of the Lich King in Winter of 2008) and my iBook actually is below the minimum system requirements. It's alright as long as I stay out of towns or areas where there are a lot of people, but it does detract from the "heart" of the game (it is an MMO after all).

    I also do a little bit of recording with GarageBand and I definitely need productivity software (using MS Office for Mac `04 Student Edition right now).

    So, I know that the iMac is probably a better option for me than the Mac Mini because of my interest in games and music. And, I like the fact that they dual-boot into Windows if you have purchased a copy since my better half requires Windows for some of her applications that aren't compatible with OSX.

    How upgradable is the iMac? Is it possible to upgrade the video card, hard disk, memory itself or is this hardwired into the machine? I imagine the CPU and motherboard can't be, but I'll admit, I've never done a CPU upgrade because by the time I'm actually looking to upgrade (every 5-6 years) the technology has evolved and the socket architecture is different.

    The big thing for me would be to have the ability to not necessarily ADD an additional hard drive (because I could always pick up one or two 1TB external Western Digital or Seagate HDDs for mass storage and backup), but I definitely would want the ability to replace it if I had to. Are these slimline hard drives or are these the same exact 3.5" HDDs that would go in a PC? I have a lot of experience building PCs and probably have built over 15 in the last decade for friends and family and they are all still chugging along strong.

    How about memory? What restrictions are we looking at here? I know when I built my iBook, I had to choose either between a 256MB DIMM or a 512MB DIMM which was soldered into the laptop. I later chose to upgrade myself by buying some memory from Crucial and cheaply added another 1GB stick, for a total of 1.5GB.

    And lastly, the video card. I've upgraded this single component the most in my PCs out of any others. And if I could, I would upgrade the video card in my iBook in a second. These evolved so fast over the last 5 years or so. I would definitely need to have the ability to upgrade my video card.

    Whew, this was longer than I anticipated. Thanks for taking the time to read it and I look forward to your answers. I will probably wait for the next line of iMacs to come out because it's in the middle of a product cycle and then jump in!
     
  2. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #2
    RAM is the only easy part to upgrade because it has its own slot in the bottom. Hard drive can be upgraded but you need to take the glass and the screen off but you would probably handle it easily. You can also replace the SuperDrive with 2.5" HD or SSD. Upgrading GPU is possible but there are no GPUs you could use so basically it's non-upgradeable.

    So in a summary, RAM, HD and ODD yes but other no. If you want upgradeability, you have to get a Mac Pro
     
  3. tchockey macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2010
  4. pilot1226 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    pilot1226

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2010
    Location:
    USA
    #4
    Thanks for the information, pretty good points there. So, I need to make sure that if I *want* an iMac that I spend the extra bucks and get the better video card. I can always do the memory later if I need to.

    Taking a quick peek at the Apple Store, the iMac comes in 4 versions:

    1 - 21.5" 3.06GHz
    2 - 21.5" 3.06GHz
    3 - 27.0" 3.06GHz
    4 - 27.0" 2.66GHz

    So, let's look at the meat and potatoes:

    1 & 2 both are the same save for a few points: they both have the 3.06GHz Core2Duo and 4 GB of DDR3 (2 DIMMS of 2GB) Seems to be for both there are at least 4 DIMMs, since the second option gives you 4x2GB if you want it. Wonder what the max is... appears to be 4 DIMMs.

    The only differences between 1 & 2 are the hard drive (500GB vs. 1TB) and the graphics cards (GeForce 9400M vs ATI HD 4670). I'm reading reviews on the ATIs because I definitely would not want the 9400M after seeing other reviews (10FPS playing games? lol)

    No option to change the GPU with #2, stuck with the 4670 256MB. 256 seems so "low" in today's gaming environment.

    Definitely would get the Apple Keyboard *WITH* Keypad otherwise I'd go crazy.

    Since I have the Mighty Mouse and Regular Mouse (and prefer a trackball to all the options), I would probably take the default Magic Mouse and just throw it into my collection of mice. Nothing comes close to the ease of the Logitech Trackman Marble Thumbball :)

    I could potentially use an upgrade to Office for Mac 2008, but I imagine this will be cheaper if I buy this separately since I also want Microsoft Publisher. I've used iWork before and I'm just not a fan. OpenOffice is good too, but it's no substitute for MS Office.

    I'll probably also waive the AppleCare warranty. Seems like if something goes wrong, it goes wrong within the original warranty.

    Taking a look now at the 27". I really didn't want the 27" because it would be 200 more than I wanted to spend at this point (wanted to stay around 1500) and an additional 150 for the better graphics card (ATI HD Radeon 4850 512MB)

    So, now we're up to $1850 before tax and shipping. Maybe I can swing an education discount because my wife is an educator, but I'm not so sure how much that'll do.

    Or, I could spend another 150 and get the Intel Core i5 or 350 more and get the i7. I am having a hard time locating reviews for benchmarks between the models themselves.

    Does anyone have a link between the ATI-based 21.5's and both of the 27's?

    Thanks again for your response. I'm not too happy with the pricing for the time being and I most likely will wait for the next incantation of the iMac before I strike.
     
  5. tchockey macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2010
    #5
    refurb 27" imac c2d 1449.00 on apple site.
    hope that helps
     
  6. pilot1226 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    pilot1226

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2010
    Location:
    USA
    #6
    Thanks, I just looked at it.

    I took a peek at a few benchmarks between the C2D, i5, and i7 and the two ATI cards offered.

    It seems like for the typical user, the i5 is definitely the way to go (blows the C2D out of the water because of the actual design of the chip).

    The two ATI cards are extremely close in terms of benchmarking. We're talking a difference of around 10 fps.

    I think I would still want the faster ATI card at this point, but I would settle on an i5.

    I will hold off at this point since it is in the middle of a product cycle and hopefully they will introduce the i5 to one of the smaller ones.

    Thanks for the replies above!
     
  7. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #7
    If you go for the 27", get the i5 because it's twice as fast and doesn't cost much extra. ATI 4850 is definitely worth it over 4670, the difference is more than 10FPS, especially when playing at 2560x1440.

    Remember that the i5s we will see in 21.5" are not quad-core, just dual-core with Hyper-Threading and high clocks
     

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