Decisions, decisions ... 21.5" or 27"?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Sassers, Oct 7, 2018.

  1. Sassers macrumors member

    Dec 10, 2012

    I need opinions. I have about 5 days left in my 14 day return window for a 21.5" iMac. I love the machine, but I didn't spec it well enough for the programs I'm starting to use (Maya and Blender). I did get the i7 core and 512 SSD but only selected 16 gbs ram, and I'm running up to that almost all the time. I know I'll regret it down the road if I don't change that. My other problem is that while I love the smaller size of this it really is -sighs- too small.

    My options are 1) I could go to another 21.5" (i7, 512 Ssd, 32 ram) instead and look into dual monitoring to expand my screen real estate, but I've never done that and am not sure how much a second monitor will be.

    2) For $100 more I could get a 27" (i7 core, 512 SSD, 8 GB ram) and then purchase and install more ram myself. (It's still upgradable in the 27" model, right?) I'd stick with just the single screen.

    If I go with #2 - can you give me an idea of what type of ram to buy and a rough idea of cost? I'm relatively clueless about the various types and want to make sure I get something compatible.

    Thanks for any help you can give!
  2. niji, Oct 7, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2018

    niji Contributor


    Feb 9, 2003
    my own thinking is:
    1 i would first wait until the rumored october 2018 (Edit: corrected) event is over. while there has been no rumor that i have heard about new iMacs, always best to wait until that is over.
    2 i would eventually go with, even to the point of financing the purchase, repaying it on a monthly basis, with the iMac Pro base model
    no regrets.
  3. iTurbo macrumors 6502

    Sep 9, 2008
    My mom recently bought a new iMac to replace her 2010 21.5" iMac. At first she was going to get another 21.5" one, but I convinced her to go for the 27" model instead. She loves the larger and easier to read screen. Also, the fact that the RAM is user upgradeable is a huge deal for future proofing it a little better.
  4. Sassers thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 10, 2012
    Thanks for replying! I'm gonna assume you mean October 2018 because otherwise -yikes!-. Yeah, I am considering waiting for a few weeks just to see what, if any, upgrades or design changes might be announced. Although, even then it would probably be a month or two before they're even available. But at least then I can make a decision with all the facts. On the other hand ... I hate the idea of being without a desktop for that time too - definitely something to consider.

    I think the Pro is just ... too much for my needs.

    I did have a 27" before, and the screen was beautiful, but it always felt like I had to actually turn my head back and forth to see the whole thing, which is why I really wanted the 21" to work, but alas, between the real estate and the upgradable ram, you are right and I'm thinking I do need the 27" one. Thanks!
  5. Lioness~ macrumors 65816

    Apr 26, 2017
    Go for the 27" you’ll love it.

    Don’t buy more ram then you need from Apple, just silly unless you bath in money.
    Buy and put in yourself. Just be very thorough with the details what fits exactly for your Mac.
    The bigger places where you buy it have it detailed though.

    Here’s 2 threads about ram, there’s probably more of them.

    I maxed my 27" 2013 with 32GB 5yrs ago and never regret it. Still going strong.
  6. niji Contributor


    Feb 9, 2003
    thanks for the correction needed. yes 2018...
  7. Hater macrumors 6502a


    Sep 20, 2017
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    You could upgrade the SSD, RAM and CPU of your current machine yourself.

    You'll lose your warranty*, but the savings you'll make doing it yourself vs. paying Apple for the upgrades mean you'd be 80% of the way to buying a whole new machine anyway.

    *Maybe, depends on the mood of the Genius, if they even pick up on it having been opened.
  8. hassel macrumors member

    Oct 18, 2016
    You could wait for a refresh but dont forget also the price will be refreshed too, plus any new 2018 imac not be RAM upgradable. alas lose the opportunity of buying a 2017 model.
  9. Sassers thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 10, 2012
    I am tending towards the 27” and yep - if I go that route I’ll definitely go with 8 and upgrade on my own. Thank you for the links - that’ll get me started!
    --- Post Merged, Oct 7, 2018 ---
    Oh - if I were more sure of my skills I’d consider that but I know me and I know I’d totally mess it up. And I’m pretty sure I really do need the larger screen, so although I love my 21” I’m gonna to have wish it a fond farewell and send it back.

    I’m such a ditherer and now you’ve given me something else to consider...non-upgradable ram, darn it. My secret dream is that the iMacs get Touch ID (maybe a small area on the back of the lower right edge just big enough for a fingerprint...) and I’d be so bummed if I bought now and they came out with that. And yet, if I keep on waiting I can see me next year going through the same thing! And really, if it’s just going to be a spec bump, I’m perfectly fine with buying now. At least I have a few days before my current one goes back to finalize the decision.
  10. bbnck macrumors 6502a

    Mar 19, 2009
    I guess another benefit of the 27-inch display is its larger HiDPI resolution, because it means you can adjust the display's UI scaling and still get a decent effective resolution for the size of the display. When you change the resolution of a Retina display in System Preferences, the options presented simply change the UI scaling size – the actual resolution of the display doesn't change (options to change the actual resolution are hidden by default).

    I wouldn't mind a 21.5-inch iMac, but I like the extra screen space on a 27-inch iMac and being able to reduce the UI to 2.5x creates an effective resolution of 2048 x 1152 which is still higher than many other 27-inch displays available today.
  11. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    OP wrote:
    "For $100 more I could get a 27" (i7 core, 512 SSD, 8 GB ram) and then purchase and install more ram myself. (It's still upgradable in the 27" model, right?) I'd stick with just the single screen."

    The LAST THING you will ever hear the owner of a 27" iMac say:
    "I wish I had gotten the smaller display instead...." ;)

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10 October 7, 2018