For the Web designers/creatives out there - GPU for my needs....

Discussion in 'iMac' started by bunsco, May 11, 2008.

  1. bunsco macrumors newbie

    May 11, 2008
    Hi All

    This is my first post here and I need help in deciding which graphics card i need to get with one of those new 24" 2.8ghz Imac's with 500GB HD.

    Im not really a PC gamer (though not to be completely discounted) - so thats pretty low on my list of priorities.

    My primary use is [ in this order ]

    a) Web design -[ Dreamweaver/Flash CS3 and VirtualStudio 2008 ]

    b) Photography (so heavy use of Photoshop/bridge and maybe aperture or lightroom)

    b) Print based design.

    My 'suite' so to speak, will include the need for some form of virtualization - be it VMWare or Parallels to test/use and possible authoring purposes for various PC environments.

    As a side question - is it good practice to have both Bootcamp AND either Parallels or VMWare as I aim to do half of my web authoring in VirtualStudio 2008? also which of the 2 environments is best for a web designer and which can run VirtualStudio 2008 the best?

    Encoding H.264 stuff for my ipod classic and general itunes batch encoding is of importance too.

    Most thanks to those who can spare the time to help me.
  2. vendettabass macrumors 6502a


    Jul 8, 2006
    Wellington, New Zealand
    sounds like you should get the low end 24", and maybe even bump the 2.8 > 3.06 if you feel like it - it'll certainly help with the video encoding!
  3. bunsco thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 11, 2008
    As stated earlier, the design work is the priority - the video encoding is more of a 'like to have' than a necessity.

    Its the GPU issue that im pondering over as im pretty much set on the 2.8ghz machine.

    In fact - does the GPU play a major role in virtual environments and/or bootcamp?
  4. xxjuicymintxx macrumors regular

    May 2, 2008
    Grand Rapids, MI
    I don't think the GPU would have as much to do with the Virtual OS as much as the RAM or the CPU speed would. It might though, I'm not too sure. Just throwing my thoughts out there.

    I use the MBP with 256mb GPU [GeForce 8600M GT], 4GB RAM and the 2.4C2D. I use Photoshop, Aperture & Final Cut, but not HEAVILY, and it seems to perform just fine.

    Personally I think the 2.8GHz iMac w/ 4GB RAM and the stock GPU [256mb] should do you fine, but I don't think that you'd be disappointed either with the bump up to the 512MB.

    I would bump up if I could, but as I said I'm not a heavy user, so there's not much need.

    Oh and I forgot to mention that I use VMware Fusion, and I've also used Parallels [which I like more], and it runs smoothly as well. It's quick, responsive,

    ...and it just works. :D
  5. Suanmiao macrumors member

    May 3, 2008
    I use iMac 24'' 2.4Ghz C2D with 4G of ram for heavy photography work.
    Aperture runs really well with a 100G photo library, so I think you should be fine with the newly updated 24" iMacs.
    Just make sure you max out the ram.
  6. yagru macrumors member

    Mar 10, 2008
    i ordered the 2.8 with the 8800gs myself. I also do web development. I doubt it has any or little effect on graphics work.. but my opinion was if Im going to be getting the new machine with such a large investment I might as well take advantage of a GPU option that will be able to do anything else I want to throw at it. (plus the 512 vs 256 vram has to be good for something)

    IF i was going to just get the ATI card then I would have just gotten a refurb and saved alot of money. just my .02$
  7. PNW macrumors regular

    Feb 7, 2007
    Depends on what software you're running in the VM or via bootcamp, although I believe both GPUs are "Vista Capable" (XP runs just fine in a VM on our CD Mini's GMA 950).

    Aperture utilizes the GPU a lot more than Photoshop or Lightroom.

    Given that you can't upgrade the GPU down the road I'd spring for the better card. The one thing you will really want to do is bump the RAM to 4GB, but use 3rd party. Apple's RAM is way over priced and the iMac's ram is user upgradeable.
  8. mzd macrumors 6502a

    Jul 25, 2005
    "better" is relative. the last benchmarks showed the base ATI card to actually perform better in CoreImage tasks (apple pro apps / 2-D graphics) and the GeForce to perform better in OpenGL apps (games, 3-D graphics).
  9. D4F Guest


    Sep 18, 2007
    Planet Earth
    You also have to have in mind that the 512MB 8800GS is a quite new chip while the 2600 is pretty old now. nVidia will fix the issue sooner or later and the 2600 is already at it's max capability.
  10. bunsco thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 11, 2008
    thanx for the input so far guys.

    I too have heard the ATI's have quite a big advantage over the nVidia at core task stuff - which if im correct in saying is the large majority of what i'll be using my mac for.

    But on the other hand - if the general consensus is that nVidia would address the core task issue then its a different ball game - as some have said 512mb is not to be sniffed at!

    In fact - being a bit of a newbe on the GPU front - how would/does one improve the synergy between graphic card and machine - through a firmware update or something similar - and is that standard practice when new cards come out?

    thanx again all for the help, as i've a bit to learn with this stuff.
  11. Muncher macrumors 65816


    Apr 19, 2007
    Hold on, the 2600 is not old. It's not recent, but it's not old. Old is the 7600GT. Old is the Radeon 9200 in the crappy sony I had to put up with until I got my mac. So don't tell me the 2600 is old, because old to you isn't old to me or many others.

    Bunsco, you won't need a GPU for any non Apple pro app (generally). CS3 and the others depend entirely on processor speed; they do not use core image/video. A few third party apps use the core libraries, but not many.

    If you want the most speed out of your windows programs, you'll want to use bootcamp. Otherwise, parallels is pretty good.
  12. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040


    Aug 8, 2007
    Takamatsu, Japan
    Here we go again. What's to "fix"?

    To the OP I recommend the HD2600 if you're going to be using Apple pro apps. Really, aside from gaming (especially in Bootcamp) I recommend the ATI card period. Why pay an extra $150 for a part you don't need?

    The HD2600 got a bad rap when it was initially introduced in the aluminum iMac 8 months ago, mostly from those in the gaming community. That is despite the fact that it actually performs quite well and is seriously underclocked. It won't become "obsolete" any quicker than the 8800GS card will and at the moment the ATI card outperforms the nVidia card by better than 20% in Core Image apps.
  13. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040


    Aug 8, 2007
    Takamatsu, Japan
    D4F does love to talk out of his rear end, doesn't he? The Mobility Radeon HD2600XT was released on May 14, 2007. It's one year birthday is tomorrow. Assuming the nVidia card in the new iMac revision is the 8800M GTS, it was released on November 19, 2007. That's 6 months difference.

    ATi is not even close to stopping driver development on the 2600 at this point.
  14. Goldenbear macrumors regular

    Jun 30, 2007
    Los Angeles
    Unless you run software that uses OpenGL, such as some games and a few 3D CAD packages (primarily on Windows, I'm afraid), there's no reason to spend more money for the 8800GS.

    As people have already mentioned, Core Image operations run quite a bit faster on the ATI cards. Can driver updates close the gap with the 8800GS? Maybe. Can driver updates eventually make the 8800GS run faster? An even bigger maybe.

    But why in the world would you spend more money for something you know will work quite a bit slower, just on the off chance you might get a similar speed sometime down the road?
  15. Jack Flash macrumors 65816

    May 8, 2007
    Much greater resale value.
  16. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040


    Aug 8, 2007
    Takamatsu, Japan
    How so? It's a $150 option. How much added resale value do you figure this is going to give you 3 years from now, especially considering all of the unknown variables Goldenbear just eloquently described for you? :p
  17. Jack Flash macrumors 65816

    May 8, 2007
    Well, if we can call these the 2nd generation Aluminum iMacs, the card is already "1st Gen"

    Three years down the line, the 8800 GS will be showing its age no doubt, but it'l at least be a faster graphics chip than that old 1st gen. :p
  18. erummel macrumors member


    Jan 5, 2007
    York, United Kingdom
    For what you're doing, the integrated graphics on a mini or MB would be fine. Any of the discrete graphics offered on the iMac is serious overkill. Choose whichever fits your budget, because you're not going to notice any difference.
  19. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040


    Aug 8, 2007
    Takamatsu, Japan
    Only one problem with that theory: the ATI HD2600 is still the default card on 2 of the 4 "Second Generation" aluminum iMacs. On the 2.8GHz 24" iMac the nVidia card is just a $150 option. The nVidia card was released when the "First Generation" iMac was a wee 3 months old.

    Then there is the problem of the nVidia card showing it's double power primarily in games and underperforming the ATI in other areas as we've already discussed.

    I have serious doubts about your theory of greatly increased resale value. I think you can expect to get back the percentage of added cost at purchase for the nVidia so if gaming's your thing then go for it.
  20. Jack Flash macrumors 65816

    May 8, 2007
    There's no way to know until it comes time to resell. In my experience, things that can't be upgraded later should be given serious consideration as a factory upgrade.

    Just my 2 cents.
  21. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040


    Aug 8, 2007
    Takamatsu, Japan
    It's a judgement call and it's all about the needs of the buyer when it comes right down to it.

    My advice in this thread was specifically directed to the OP.

    When you said "much" greater resale value I just question the "much" part. You've also got a greater purchase price. It all evens out.

    In my experience Macs hold their value period, from top of the line to bottom. ;)
  22. nick9191 macrumors 68040

    Feb 17, 2008
    Don't get the Nvidia card. The drivers are sucky. The 2600 blows the 8800 away because of that reason. Of course its a different story if your in Windows.
  23. notguiltystyle macrumors member

    Feb 14, 2008
    Forget about the 8800 if your not a serious gamer! I have a 2600, its not as bad for games as everyone always apply's, I run Gear of War on it with no problems (not at full frames/res but still looking very good).
    Its not worth the extra cash to take a 22%-40% hit on core-imaging just to play some games (thats just my opinion). Yes NVidia says they will improve on drivers/firmware but with such a big gap it wont be easy (i personally doubt if they really could)
  24. Jack Flash macrumors 65816

    May 8, 2007
    I'm sure Apple and Nvidia will improve the drivers and Core Image compatibility to improve that performance disparity. The 8800M GTS is a much more capable GPU than the 2600 Pro overall
  25. gehrbox macrumors 65816


    Jul 5, 2007
    Apple historically good about NVidia driver updates?

    What is Apples history on NVidia driver updates? Have they improved the 7300, 7600 and 5600 driver performance after release or has it remained static for the most part?

    I plan on ordering a new iMac this week and have been trying to decide which video card would be the best long term investment.

    My main interest is in basic desktop performance and pro-apps. I expect to keep the Mac for at least 3 years. The extra cost of the card is not an issue. I have no interest in gaming at all. I looked at Barefeats results. Based on them, I leaned toward a ATI 2600 and 3.06Ghz BTO. However, some of the talk around here is that Apple will eventually update the NVidia drivers for better performance.

    So is Apple committed to NVidia or ATI or both? Did they release models with the 8800 to gain some sales to hardcore gamers who run Windows primarily or are they planning on a shift away from ATI? In other words as long as it works for games leave it alone.

    I started checking the Mac Pro forum for 8800 issues to get an idea what the performance and support is like with a similar card from Apple over a longer time period. It seems that they are also waiting on driver updates and have been waiting for a while now. Performance has been mixed. Seems gamers are happy, but desktop performance has been less then the ATI 1900. Though many don't expect their 1900's to last due to overheating issues. Basically repeating the results of BareFeats benchmarks in experiences.

    Another thought has been long term health of the iMac with a 3.06Ghz processor AND the added heat from the 8800. The 1900 is a good example of a problem with heat in the Mac Pro. Will we start seeing prematurely failed iMacs as a result down the road? I prefer to have reliability over cutting edge speed. The 3.06 alone or 8800 alone might not be a bad combination, but together will they have cause long term heat issues? Don't know.


Share This Page