Core i7 and 780M important? 1TB SSD too much?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by ventuss, Sep 30, 2013.

  1. ventuss macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2011
    #1
    Ok. I decided to drop Fusion Drive and go for 512GB SSD Drive. I never managed to fill my old 320GB iMac, so I bet it's good size.

    I plan on using the iMac for the next 3-4 years. Will 512GB holds fine? I'm going for the i7 3.5GHz, 16GB RAM and GeForce GTX 780M. What if I go with standard i5, 775M and the 1TB SSD instead? Would I lose much gaming performance?

    I don't live in the US and have to wait a month to get my iMac after ordering, so there can't be any mistakes, it has to be bullet proof after shipping.
     
  2. cycledance, Sep 30, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2013

    cycledance Suspended

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2010
    #2
    i ordered a new imac and i'll just tell u my reasoning for my choices.

    - 27" because bigger screen, cheap user upgradeable ram and bigger max ram.
    - 3.4ghz i5 cause only very specific apps under heavy load go beyond the typical 3% speed advantage of the i7.
    - 256gb ssd because thunderbolt and usb 3 ports allow excellent external storage and boot options.
    - 8gb ram cause no need to buy this expensively from apple.
    - 780m cause double the performance for little money, opencl and gpgpu are probably the future.
     
  3. bp1000, Sep 30, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2013

    bp1000 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2011
    #3
    If you game i would definitely upgrade the GPU to 780m

    You could leave the ram providing you can get a 16GB upgrade kit.

    3.4GHZ i5 is a safe choice. i7 will be quicker, perhaps around 15% at some heavy duty tasks like video work, the quad i5 is plenty quick enough.

    512GB SSD is a serious amount of space if you consider SSD is primarily used for OS and apps and small file random access. It is kind of a waste to store lots of data like music and dvd rips on the SSD, its an expensive way to do things. If you are not editing and dont need raw read/write speed a simple 2.5" external HDD, bus powered would be more than adequate for your music library and movie library and MUCH cheaper.

    However if you edit a lot of photos or edit movies you might want to think about work flow. You could edit on the SSD and merge libraries, keep in mind iMovie for example will import a project to memory if enough is available, you would just want good write out performance. You would either want to edit on SSD and move or get a faster 3.5" external disk. Or if you do have the cash and dont expect to exceed 512GB an SSD might be marginally faster for large data editing projects. Most home hobbyists fine the 1TB or 3TB fusion ideal. Some serious hobbyists go for SSD + external raid arrays but i dont think many people store vast amounts of media data on SSDs.

    I think 1TB or 3TB fusion, most popular choice and best overall or 256 SSD and buy an external HDD to suit your needs. You can always add a USB 3.0 SSD at a later date.
     
  4. cateye, Sep 30, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2013

    cateye macrumors member

    cateye

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2011
    #4
    Upgrades and choosing the right Mac are an interesting topic to me.

    Despite the slow overall uptake for Thunderbolt, it presents some unique opportunities for those of us who buy all-in-one machines. We can actually plan to have better, cheaper, larger high-speed storage in the future without having to perform surgery on the box itself. $1000 for a 1TB SSD is a lot to spend. Not only do you have Apple's usual markup, but SSDs of that size are still new and a bit of a novelty. The value just isn't there, even if the money isn't an issue.

    Likewise, I'm always a little surprised how many people (at least here on MacRumors) choose both the graphics and processor upgrades.

    $200 for the i7 is a ridiculous amount of money for what amounts to an indistinguishable speed increase—with the exception of a few, narrowly-defined, highly-parallel tasks. If you do certain types of processor-constrained 3D rendering, or a lot of video encoding (h.264 in particular; most other codecs benefit less), then the i7 upgrade is a good idea. Almost all other tasks (including much of the CreativeSuite besides AfterEffects rendering, games, all basic tasks like browsing, etc.) are speed-constrained and no number of extra cores will solve that. It used to be the i7 upgrade also bought you a reasonable increase in speed over the baseline option—so if you had the money, you could at least say you were getting a GHz premium, even if hyperthreading didn't benefit how you use your computer. But considering the difference in both base speed and TurboBoost between the top-tier i5 and i7 is just 100MHz, it's not even worth considering for speed alone. The only reason to upgrade to the i7 is because you need the additional, virtual cores.

    This doesn't mean we should all still be running single-core processors. OS X takes good advantage of a multi-core system, but those benefits drop off sharply after 4 cores. Even the gains in going from 2 cores to 4 isn't as big as you would think—the other advances in modern processors (larger caches, on-die MMU, etc.) have done more to improve performance since the Core2Duo days than extra cores.

    The graphics update is similarly over-sold, especially in the latest iMacs. If you go by specs alone, the 780M seems to be a significant upgrade from the 775M in the top-tier, $1999 27" iMac. Yet, benchmarks show there's only a moderate difference between the two. What made the 680MX such a worthwhile upgrade in the 2012 iMacs was the 2GB of VRAM, allowing the GPU to keep more textures "close by" without having to page it out to system RAM and destroy performance (that Apple still sold Macs in 2013 with 512MB worth of VRAM is ridiculous. That's barely enough to do basic window compositing for a 2650x1440 resolution screen without paging). Now that the top GPU options have 2GB or 4GB, the advantage is smaller, and you're more likely to run into processor speed constraints than GPU constraints. That being said, texture-rich, AAA-level games will benefit from the 780M's ability to throw textures around faster. If you're a hardcore gamer, use Windows in Bootcamp to play them, and can settle for nothing less than full-quality at native resolution, then it's a worthwhile upgrade. If you're not, I have a hard time seeing the value, even for future proofing.
     
  5. ventuss thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2011
    #5
    My main concern about 512GB is not my media files, but some game sizes.

    Bioshock Infinity - 19GB
    The Sims 3 - 23GB
    Diablo 3 -12GB
    Max Payne 3 - 32GB.

    I know I can delete Max Payne and Bioshock Infinity after playing, and most every once and a while games are not going to exceed the 100GB mark, but more and more games are comming to Mac, and file sizes are huge when compared with 5 years ago. Next Bioshock Infinity may be even bigger than Max Payne, am I wrong?

    There is Bootcamp, where I play another couple of games. Since 512GB is not as big as I wish, I plan on using Parallels to play them though VM.

    I'll use the computer to deal with 3D art and rendering and some image composition. Photoshop, ZBrush and Maya and couple others. I've been working on a Sony Vaio for the last year, and it's pretty lame, too slow, it has i7 Dual Core 2.8GHz and Radeon 480.. something like it.

    I know I have enough storage space to games and apps, thing is, for how long? I don't plan on updating my iMac anytime soon.
     
  6. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2010
    Location:
    Poole, England
    #6
    Whatever you do, please do not try to use a Virtual Machine (like Parallels) to play games. You might as well buy an MBA if you plan on doing that since a VM installs a generic graphics card driver and your 780M will be used as if it was an entry level graphics card. Throw that idea out of your head right now.
     
  7. Confusius macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2012
    Location:
    New York
    #7
    My plan is to get the 3TB Fusion drive and allocate 1TB to bootcamp, which should be enough for my inordinately large Steam games collection.
     
  8. cateye macrumors member

    cateye

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2011
    #8
    But the thing is, there's little about storing installed games that's speed-constrained. Most games load assets in batches, during cut scenes or as-needed at fixed moments where pulling data off storage won't affect gameplay. So if you're concerned about space for larger games, invest in a large external drive (or NAS, or whatever) and put the game installs there. That way they're not taking up space on your smaller internal SSD where you can focus on putting things where the high-speed access of SSD will be beneficial—your operating system, programs and data that need to be accessed often while you're working on them, etc.

    Yes, this will involve some manual management of where you store things, and is one of the reasons why Apple's Fusion system is an interesting solution. But it really is unfortunate that the SSD portion of the Fusion drive is only 128GB. I just don't think that's enough high-speed storage if your library of stuff is at all large.

    For newer games, yes, you're absolutely correct. But I've been pretty surprised how well Parallels can play older titles (think older than 2-3 years). It's a convenient and perfectly workable option for a lot of games. Of course, the more speed sensitive the game is (e.g. FPS's), the less workable a solution this is.
     
  9. ventuss thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2011
    #9
    I didn't know I could storage game folders. Is it possible to drag the game folder to the external drive, and a couple of months back move it back, no reinstall, you simply click and play? If that is true, 512GB is more than enough.

    I cancelled my iMac 3TB Fusion Drive and decided to go for quality over quantity, so now I am exploring possibilities so I don't have any surprises later.
     
  10. cateye macrumors member

    cateye

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2011
    #10
    It is dependent on the game/program. I remember some older games that got very fussy if they weren't installed in /Applications on the boot drive, but it's been ages since I've seen any program that cares about where it ultimately lives. The worst you might have to do is uninstall/reinstall, versus just copying a folder to move it (since there can be some location dependencies with preference files and the like set at the time of install), but that's not that big a deal.

    That being said, I'm more of a console gamer, so maybe others can comment on whether they've seen modern games on the Mac dictate specific install location or not.
     
  11. page3 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2003
    Location:
    Vicar of Dibley-land, UK
    #11
    I've done:

    - 27" because bigger screen, cheap user upgradeable ram and bigger max ram.
    - 3.4ghz i5 cause only very specific apps under heavy load go beyond the typical 3% speed advantage of the i7.
    - 1Tb Fusion because 128gb ssd will be enough for OS and I have a media server for content. I want photos local though as pulling them over the network is too slow. I don't want external devices connected directly for aesthetic reasons.
    - 8gb ram cause no need to buy this expensively from apple.
    - 755m because all the other cards meant spending at least £150 more. Upgrading from a NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT 128 MB so anything will I'm sure be an improvement! :D Ps. I don't play games.
     
  12. Erphern macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2013
    #12
    My take: ~$500 more for something you're planning to keep for four years is a drop in the ocean. Especially given that upgrading later would be a pain in the ass, and second guessing is no fun at all.
     
  13. bluescale macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    #13
    I don't know if I'd call it a drop in the ocean, but if it gives you peace of mind, and you have financial flexibility, I think it makes sense.

    I went with the 780M GPU, even though I probably don't need it. In my current machine, GPU is the biggest bottleneckm and I don't want to be in this position again for at least 5 years.

    On the flip side, I didn't feel I could justify the i7 processor. I keep thinking I *want* it, but I can't convince myself that I'll ever seen any appreciable difference there.
     
  14. Erphern macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2013
    #14
    Processor is the trickiest to justify, for sure... The laptop I'm typing on now apparently has an i7 (Q720, 1.60GHz) and I'm sure it's several years old - yet still keeps up with most applications just fine. I'd imagine my incoming iMac will outperform it significantly, but it's amazing how long processors are viable these days.
     
  15. Bluebros macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Location:
    Austin
    #15
    Agreed. After losing sleep for a couple of nights, I went with,

    3.4GHz Quad-core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz
    8GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2X4GB
    1TB Fusion Drive
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M 4GB GDDR5

    It was hard to justify spending the extra cash on the i7 processor. I do some work in fxpx but nothing too crazy. While I'm not a gamer, the 780m GPU seemed like the best thing to max out.
     
  16. ventuss thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2011
    #16
    I'm still not convinced about how Fusion Drive would behave six months from now. The idea of not being able to move and manage my own files. A tecnology not fully tested and understood. :confused:
     
  17. Bear macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    Sol III - Terra
    #17
    I'd go with the i7/780M/512SSD configuration. Buy 16GB (from somewhere other than Apple) and you'll have 24GB total and save some money.

    And if you need more disk space later, you can add a USB 3 drive to it - hard drive or SSD depending on what you will be using it for.
     
  18. Bluebros macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Location:
    Austin
    #18
    Well, it seems that the only ones that are showing concern for Fusion are the ones who don't have it. I'm sure there must be someone but from what I've read, all the folks who have Fusion are very excited and happy about their choice.

    Also, any issues 6 months down the road will be fixed under your warranty or up to 3 years with the Apple Protection Plan. Just make sure you backup, (which you would do with flash drive anyways.) Until I see a thread started by Fusion owners who strongly dislike it... I'm going to keep on believing! :)

    Or... I could be wrong ;)
     
  19. Ice Dragon macrumors 6502a

    Ice Dragon

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    #19
    I took a look at the BTO processor in the ultimate 27" iMac and it has hyperthreading, although the 21.5" i7 BTO also has it as well. If you don't feel you need it, then that's okay. I would absolutely pay $150 more for the 780M because you get double the graphics memory in a better card.
     
  20. ventuss thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2011
    #20
    I ordered 3TB FD last friday and was fine until I read an Article at AnandTech, so I really wish I could know more, and feel confident to go back to 3TB order. Since I live in Brazil it takes a month to my iMac get here, and Apple Protection Plan doesn't work like in the US.
     
  21. in4fun macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2012
    #21
    - if you're OK with only 128 GB SDD then go ahead
    - if you're OK that you have no control over what is stored on SSD and what on HDD then go ahead
    - if you're OK that your iMac doesn't run completely silent then go ahead
    - if you're OK that you loose a little bit performance compared to a pure SSD+external HDD solution go ahead
    - if you're OK if one drive fails that you loose both then go ahead

    I think it's the perfect solution for people who don't want to bother at all with what their drives are actually doing and just want to enjoy the "turn on & it works" mac experience.
     
  22. page3 macrumors 6502

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    Feb 10, 2003
    Location:
    Vicar of Dibley-land, UK
    #22
    I've only ever had two drives fail and both were SSD, without any warning. I don't think SSD technology is there yet and wouldn't rely on it solely.

    Fusion drive can be split very easily if that's your kind of thing.

    Looking forward to it just bring handled for me.
     
  23. in4fun macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2012
    #23
    May I ask within what time frame these drives failed?

    I agree that this technology is not 100% fail safe and it's still to early to talk about any long term statistics but rumor has it that if your SSD is good within the first couple month it practically goes on for the next 10-15 years (some hardware report I read they estimated '18 years' as a rough figure if you use it daily for 8 hours)
     
  24. page3 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2003
    Location:
    Vicar of Dibley-land, UK
    #24
    First about an hour. Replacement around 4 months.

    Time machine came up trumps both times.
     
  25. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

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    Aug 10, 2010
    Location:
    Poole, England
    #25
    I would not rely on anecdotal evidence gleamed from forums and friends to make your purchasing decisions. I have had more mechanical hard drives fail than I care to count.
     

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