Considering iMac - do I need extra RAM?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by bingefeller, Nov 28, 2016.

  1. bingefeller macrumors 6502

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    #1
    Initially I was going to buy a new MBP but I've been put off by the price, the fact I'd need to buy adapters for my USB peripherals and the numerous complaints that are cropping up about it.

    I was looking at the iMacs and would quite like a 21.5 inch iMac. I'm wondering if I should upgrade the RAM? The only thing I do that would be considered RAM intensive is some recording with Logic Pro X. I don't really record that much and when I do the only real instrument I record is my guitar - the rest is done via midi.

    I'm also wondering about the hard drive. Would you recommend an upgrade the the 1TB Fusion Drive?
     
  2. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #2
    I'm not familiar with Logic Pro X, but if it were me, I'd upgrade them ram since you'll not be able to do it after the fact.

    My first choice would be to recommend a SSD over anything, if that is not within the budget, then skip the 1 TB Fusion drive and go straight to the 2 TB Fusion drive.

    The 1 TB fusion drive uses a paltry 24GB flash drive, where as the 2 TB has a 128GB flash drive. You'll get better performance with the 2TB model.
     
  3. Brian Y macrumors 68040

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    Oct 21, 2012
    #3
    Agreed - the 1TB fusion drive is a waste of money.

    It might actually be more beneficial for you to go for a 27. The 21 4k with 16GB RAM and the 256GB SSD is $1899. The 27 5k with 8GB of RAM and the 256GB SSD is only $100 more. You can upgrade the RAM to 16GB by adding 2 4GB sticks ($57 from crucial), or go higher, perhaps 24GB, by adding 2 8GB sticks.

    So for $150 more, you'll get a 27" display, the ability to upgrade ram as and when you need, and a dedicated GPU rather than the onboard one in the 21.
     
  4. keysofanxiety macrumors 604

    keysofanxiety

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    Nov 23, 2011
    #4
    Agreed with above points regarding SSD -- go pure Flash if possible, otherwise 2TB Fusion at the minimum.

    LPX can be very resource intensive, depending on how many plugins you're running at the same time. RAM, disk speed, CPU; all of these are hit equally. The newer i5 CPUs should be able to hack it, though I'd always recommend going for an i7 due to the hyperthreading and significant performance gains over the i5. My old 2.7GHz 2011 21.5" iMac w/32GB RAM kept hitting the CPU bottleneck on LP9 projects, though it was buttery smooth when running the same project on my 2012 15" cMBP.

    Personally I'd look towards the 27" iMac and upgrade the RAM yourself to 16GB or 32GB.
     
  5. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #5
    Good point, I was surprised by how close the 21" iMac was priced when I was looking to buy last year.
     
  6. Anonymous Freak macrumors 601

    Anonymous Freak

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    #6
    Not to be rude, but the original poster asked about making upgrades to a system that is either $1499 or less. ($1499 if he was considering the "Retina" 4K model.) Many of you are making suggestions that drive the cost over $2000. For most people, a 33% increase, $500, is not insignificant.

    If OP had specifically stated as a "starting point" the 4K model with 16 GB RAM and the 1 TB Fusion drive, and wondered what upgraded to add beyond that, suggesting a 27" 5K model might make sense.

    OP, my suggestion would be the Fusion drive - the 2 TB model or the 256 GB SSD if you can afford it. 8 GB of RAM really is "enough" for the vast majority of "simple" uses. Even some light Logic X work. But moving to an SSD or a Fusion drive will make the system "feel" significantly faster. When I upgraded my 2011 iMac from 4 GB RAM to 20 GB (added two 8 GB DIMMs) it got a little faster, and I could do a few things better than before. But when I added an 80 GB SSD and re-formatted as a "Fusion drive", it became *SIGNIFICANTLY* faster in everyday use.

    Yes, adding RAM does do a bit of "future-proofing," and on the 21" model, RAM is soldered to the logic board, so your only option is to upgrade when ordering. And yes, technically you can upgrade the storage after-the-fact on both the 21" and 27" models, it is very inconvenient.
     
  7. theluggage macrumors 68030

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    #7
    I think the poster was after technical advice rather than financial advice. Its one of those "lower sticker price" vs. "better value for money" dilemmas where the only person who can decide is the one who's money it is.

    The entry-level 21.5" 4k with 5400rpm mechanical hard drive is a receptionist's desk ornament: the SSD or fusion upgrade is a must. The "1TB fusion" only comes with a very small SSD component so the 2TB Fusion or 256GB SSD upgrade is preferable.

    The non-upgradeable RAM more or less forces you to buy an expensive RAM upgrade from Apple "just in case" (Logic Pro is just the sort of app that might need extra RAM if your use expands), whereas the 27" lets you start with 8G and upgrade with cheaper 3rd-party RAM if needed.

    Anyway, you missed the math:

    21.5" 4k + 16GB RAM + 256GB SSD = $1899
    27" 5k with 8GB RAM + 256GB SSD = $1999 (plus ~$60 later if you find you need more RAM)

    ...that's just $100, for which you also get a 5k display and more powerful GPU. If $100 is a deal breaker, you should probably be looking at refurbs or used.

    True - you wouldn't want to upgrade the internal storage on the iMac until it was out-of-warranty/AppleCare.

    However, you *can* supplement mass storage with external drives - there's nothing equivalent you can do if you run out of RAM.

    With an iMac I'd go for a modest-sized "pure" SSD and add external terabyte-class storage as needed - most of the SSD speed up comes from having the OS, software, temporary files, swap files etc. on SSD rather than "document" access. The SSD is also going to help if you start running short of RAM and the system starts swapping to disc.

    (OK, budget permitting a bigger SSD would be better, but 256GB is liveable if its supplemented by external/networked storage for the bulky stuff).
     
  8. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #8
    the OP did not state any budget requirements or constraints, while there may very well be budgetary issues, the post does not state any. So our recommendations were fulfilling his query.
     
  9. bingefeller thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #9
    Thanks guys.

    Would the Apple Store be able to install an SSD for me when I buy the machine? I don't see an SSD as an option on the configure page on the Apple website.
     
  10. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #10
    No, they won't, its has to be selected at configuration time

    I selected the base 21" iMac and saw that you can select up to 256GB SSD and the 4k iMac has the option of selecting 512GB SSD, Are you not seeing that option when looking to buy the iMac?



    Capto_Capture 2016-11-28_01-14-48_PM.png
     
  11. CWallace macrumors 603

    CWallace

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    Seattle, WA
    #11
    SSDs are Built-to-Order options installed at the factory. Depending on the size of your local Apple Store, they might have iMac models in stock with SSDs, however. Best to call ahead and see what they have.
     
  12. bingefeller thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #12

    OK, sorry my mistake - I didn't realise flash storage is an SSD drive. I see it now on the configure page :)
     
  13. fishkorp macrumors 68020

    fishkorp

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    #13
  14. bingefeller thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #14

    Unfortunately I'm in the UK :(
     

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