Considering switching to iMac from mid-2012 MBP Retina

Discussion in 'iMac' started by UnstrungHarp, Apr 5, 2014.

  1. UnstrungHarp macrumors newbie

    Apr 15, 2008
    Hello! :)

    I'm hoping to get some honest opinions from the folks here about my plan to buy an iMac and sell my MBP. I have the mid-2012 Retina, Intel Core i7 2.3 GHz, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB flash HD (purchased from Best Buy shortly after the Retinas were first released, so no upgrades or customizations). I've been absolutely thrilled with it, and actually still am for the most part... just a few minor complaints. I'm a freelance designer that works at home, and although there was a time that I needed the portability of a laptop, now I'm thinking I'd like to have one of those massive iMac displays instead. But I'll need to sell my laptop to help pay for it.

    The thing is, I'm afraid I won't be able to afford an iMac that works at least as well (or better) than my current laptop. I am accustomed to the speed of the flash hard drive - which I've nearly filled to capacity. (I do have a 2 TB external hard drive that I use for backups and storing files I'll probably never need again.) I looked at the 21.5" and the 27" at Best Buy last night, and I haven't even decided which size I like better, but I'm also thoroughly confused by the different processors offered. I think all of the 2013 iMacs have the Haswell processors, but what do "Core i5" and "Core i7" mean, and what about the different GHz options? I guess I'm asking... would any of the new iMac processor options be better/faster than the one I currently have, no matter which one I choose? Or is that not as important as the RAM and/or the Fusion drive? I'm already accustomed to 8 GB RAM, and as I mentioned before, I'm accustomed to a flash hard drive. I'm really spoiled on how fast the Creative Suite applications open. So... is it an absolute must for me to at least get the Fusion drive?

    Basically, my question is what are the minimum specs I should be looking for in order to not feel like I've downgraded once I move from the laptop to a new iMac? I've accepted the loss of the Retina display already - mine has three of those glowing white spots (mura), plus it does that ghosting stuff that really gets on my nerves. I've also thought about just getting a Thunderbolt display and keeping the laptop, but that set up is just not what I really want.

    Anyway, thanks for any advice! :)
  2. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    Although both i5s and i7s used in iMacs are quad core, the i7 has double the threads of the i5 (i7s have 8 threads, i5s have 4). However, only hyper threaded apps will make use of all 8 threads in the i7 (i.e. video editing, encoding, audio production, rendering...those media production stuff).

    All processors used in the iMac are Haswells.

    In order not to feel like you've downgraded, you'll need at least a Fusion drive upgrade (but personally, I'd stick to pure SSD for pure speed and reliability. As the FD still has a spinning HDD sector, if that breaks, the entire FD is toast. Think of an FD setup as a HDD and a 128GB SSD merged in a RAID 0 fashion).

    If you go for a 21.5" iMac, RAM isn't user-upgradeable. However, it's user upgradeable on the 27".

    I'm suggesting a 21.5" iMac with a 2.9GHz i5 or 3.1GHz i7, with 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. If you don't do hyper threaded work, you can stick to the i5. On my 21.5", I went for i7, 16GB RAM and a 256GB SSD because I do video editing. All my projects are stored in a Promise Pegasus R6 12TB, with only raw footage and the project that I'm working on stored in the internal 256GB SSD.
  3. UnstrungHarp thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 15, 2008
    Thanks!! Now I am thinking more seriously about the 21.5" with the 2.9 GHz processor, sticking with 8GB RAM, and getting the 256GB SSD. I was thinking the SSD upgrade was more expensive than the Fusion upgrade, but either upgrade is $200. And I would keep 8GB RAM for two reasons: to keep the cost down and because that's what I have in my current MBP which has always worked wonderfully for me. So essentially, I would be keeping the same SSD and RAM I already have, upgrading the processor (That is, I assume! I'd be going from i7 to i5, but the speed would be 2.9 GHz instead of 2.3 GHz...maybe I'm looking at that the right way?). And of course, gaining a nice big display! :)

    So, I just have to go through with placing the order on the Apple site which may take several days (or weeks!) of talking myself into actually spending the money. :\ If I could feel fairly confident that my laptop will bring at least $1300 or so on eBay, I'd feel better about it!
  4. yjchua95, Apr 6, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2014

    yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    A 2.3GHz i7 is actually faster than a 2.9GHz i5 because the i7 has 8 threads, while the i5 only has 4 (even though both are quad core). However, the i7 will only be faster in hyper threaded tasks (basically audio production, encoding, rendering, video editing, Photoshop...all the media production stuff).

    You can see the comparison between the 2.3GHz i7-3615QM (mid-2012 retina MBP) and 2.9GHz i5-4570S (late-2013 21.5" iMac):

    In single threaded tasks, the iMac is faster, but in hyper threaded tasks, the rMBP is faster. So it depends on what you're doing.

    EDIT: I've also added a comparison between the 2.9GHz i5-4570S and the 3.1GHz i7-4770S (the i7 machine in the link is actually mine).
    As you can see here, in hyper threaded tasks, the i7 is much faster, but not so much in single threaded tasks.
  5. aggri1 macrumors 6502

    Jul 21, 2010
    You don't have to get the Apple Thunderbolt Display: you could much more cheaply get any old DisplayPort monitor if you'd prefer to just have the larger screen, but retain the laptop's portability when needed... This might be the cheapest option.

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