Getting my first iMac? Probably, but need a little help.

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Anastacio, Jul 1, 2011.

  1. Anastacio macrumors regular

    Apr 18, 2010
    Just like many other guys out there, I'm looking to buy my first iMac.

    I already have a Mac Mini (Spring 2010), iPhone 4 and the iPad, but I'm also doing my work (writing articles) on a Windows XP netbook, the Samsung NC10, for the past two years.

    Frankly, I'm getting a bit tired of such a small screen and I really adored the 27" When I tried it out at a store. Though, which of the models would you recommend me?

    I just got my first real paycheck yesterday and has landed a full-time job and have another one besides it. I will primarily use it for writing, surfing and doing all the basic stuff but having all of the apps in Lion open at once. Later on I would like to use it for HD video editing, Dreamweaver, websites, learning Xcode, Photoshop for huge editing etc.

    I plan to buy the 12GB of RAM later on, but is looking into just having a 256GB SSD and no HDD built in, just having it externally, or should I have one 1TB inside as well? I would like to have the 2GB graphics card as well, as it's not a huge difference in price. Is i5 and i7 a huge difference?

    What would you recommend based on all of this information?
  2. cloudTiger macrumors newbie

    Jun 27, 2011
    South Carolina
    Most depends on your workflow, and to what extent you plan to do the extremely power-hungry tasks. My suggestion is to spec the system for what you think you'll be doing 90% of the time. With a 256 Gig SSD and 12 GB RAM, it's going to zoom no matter what. The i5 or i7 will not be noticeably different speed wise UNLESS you spend a lot of time rendering HD video or something.

    On the internal 1TB drive - how much media do you have? You mention HD Video editing, and the media library for doing that a lot will quickly outgrow the 256. I've got 500 GB in my laptop, and am just north of 256 in space used (primarily a few VM's ... and I don't have much media to speak of except iTunes music). My guess is 256 alone is marginal. BUT, you can always upgrade that later cheaper than buying from Mac - same with the RAM. If money isn't a huge issue, just get the 1 TB in addition.

    All that said, I think you'll be well served with just about any of the 27" iMacs.
  3. Spike88 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2010
    I hear the i5 is better value then the i7 - for your specific tasks. i7 is more future proof but for some apps, there isn't a huge performance gain. Yes. Benchmarks look great but many of today's apps aren't true multi-thread (to fully utilize the i7's full ability).

    For internal drive, I would go with 2TB. From different computer store, buy an external 3 TB drive. Then, configure with included Time Machine - for automatic backups. FW connection is best for internal/external HDD backup file transfers.

    To save dollars (for external HDD puchase), I would purchase with defualt 4 GB of RAM and purchase more ram at different computer store. I hear buying ram at OWC type store is huge cost savings. Cost savings would cover some of the cost for external HDD - for backups.

    I hear the SSD that Apple provides is expensive and is only "average" performance. If you search this forum, I read others have discovered 3rd party SSD cost less and is much better performance. However, the 3rd party SSD must be DIY install. If uncomfortable with DIYs inside the iMac box, then one must go with Apple's internal SDD. Personally, I would go with 3rd party SSD and install it myself (or get my Tech buddy to install it).

    Hope this helps....

  4. jmpnop macrumors 6502a


    Aug 8, 2010
    Intel Core i7 is recommended if you're going to do editing in future. 2GB graphics is a waste, go with 1GB.
  5. Anastacio thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 18, 2010
    Thanks for your answers guys, got me thinking!

    I'll use it 90% of time for light work, for writing especially. So I'll mostly have documents saved and nothing else, thus' I didn't think I needed more than 256GB of SSD. Because I'll store home made videos and photographies on an external HDD or maybe even a NAS in the future.

    I would like the iMac to last at least five years, as I'll be saving up for other stuff as well.

    So an i5 3.1GHz Quad-Core is the recommendation?

    EDIT: And to the post above, could you elaborate on the 2GB graphics being a waste? =)
  6. TallManNY macrumors 601


    Nov 5, 2007
    Sorry if this post comes off as a little rough, but it really seems to me that you are talking yourself into a pretty expensive machine for someone who "just got their first real paycheck". I will throw my two cents in some based on experience and some based on technical knowledge.

    First, if you expecting the machine to "last at least five years" while also suggesting that you are going to do some fairly advanced stuff on it. That is unrealistic. Computer technology moves faster than that. Advanced users do not use machines for "at least five years", at least not non-cutting edge all-in-ones. Four years from now that iMac may not even be able to run the latest OS and it probably won't run the new advanced software that you will want to use. It certainly won't run it in a way that you will be happy about. You should think of this as a computer that you might replace in 3 years and will certainly replace in 4 years (yes, some people get more millage, but most don't). The point is don't plan on 5 to 6 years of use. Plan on dropping another $2,000 four years from now.

    The upgrade to i7 and an extra GB for the graphics card will not help in performance in most cases. You can argue that it will future proof your computer, but it really will only do so to a very limited degree. i7 gives you virtual cores, but most programs don't use them, most things you do on your Mac doesn't come close to pushing even one of your cores, and some reports show that for some programs the virtual cores actually slow things down a bit. As far as the graphics card, the on-board memory for the card really isn't a bottleneck at the 1Gb level. The second GB just won't really get used. There will be other limitations to that graphics card that will come into play long before the on-board memory. So you might feel like dropping another $300 will future proof, but I doubt it will. Most likely it will be something like improved screen technology or vastly faster processors that will someday sooner than you think make you feel like your computer needs to be replaced.

    So finally, if your planned work flow can work on it, and if I were just starting out and building a nest egg (or maybe paying down credit card debt or student loans, I'm just guessing), I'd look at the base level iMacs as a potential real bargain.

    That said, if I went the SSD route, I'd also get the internal hard drive. It is only $100 for ease of use and form factor and that seems reasonable to me on any budget. I'm not sure how much performance advantage an SSD will have for a desktop. I didn't get one myself. My plan is to eventually install additional memory and pretty much have all my main programs always booted. Obviously the computer rarely gets shut down and waking from sleep is nearly instantaneous. So I may not be reading and writing large amounts of data that often. But you sound like you might be and an SSD will help. But again, it is an expensive item.
  7. Anastacio, Jul 1, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2011

    Anastacio thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 18, 2010
    Your post doesn't sound harsh at all, it's really informative to me.

    Yes, I'm trying to talk myself into buying the most expensive, just because it's Apple and a premium product to me, but that's why I'm also trying to talking myself into getting a cheaper iMac, as I have been extremely careful with my money throughout life.

    I don't have credit card depth, student loans and actually have a very healthy economy in my savings already, though I will prefer to save as much as possible on any purchase.

    So let's say, is this good enough:

    iMac 27"
    2.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5 (what is the difference really, between 2.7GHz and 3.1GHz?)
    4GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x2GB (will upgrade to 12GB of RAM)
    1TB Serial ATA Drive
    AMD Radeon HD 6770M 512MB GDDR5

    I want it to feel snappier, faster and better than my Core 2 Duo Mac Mini as well, as that one loads very often. I would like to try out Amnesia (game) as well, but not be playing anything else really. I want to edit homemade videos and photos from vacations. I'm gonna use iPhoto, Safari, Pages (Word maybe), Final Cut Pro (?), Photoshop, CS5 etc. and hopefully be able to have numorious apps open at the same time without having to wait for it to load up the programs or the machine slowing down.
  8. AppleDApp macrumors 68020


    Jun 21, 2011
    The base model 27 inch iMac will be great for what you intend to do.
    The SSD upgrade is somewhat of a gimmick but it will make your computer boot faster. Once you feel like your iMac is lagging upgrade the RAM but not before.
  9. Anastacio thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 18, 2010
    Will it be able to run HD movies or 1080p clips/trailers?
    And I think I'll buy a desk for it tomorrow, so I'm pretty close to deciding.

    I'm thinking about the MacBook Air as well, but I think it would become redundant, as I have an iPad 1 and a Samsung NC10 netbook already.
  10. TallManNY macrumors 601


    Nov 5, 2007
    Some people swear by the SSD but others say it isn't very important for a desktop that has a lot of memory. Once you upgrade the RAM, you will have all of your programs loaded pretty much all of the time. So SSD won't make a difference there. You also will sleep your computer most nights, and not shut down. So the faster boot time that an SSD also provides you is kind of wasted on a desktop. (Not so on laptops which are often shutdown when one travels.)

    Others would suggest that not getting the 6970M graphics card is a mistake if you want to do any gaming (which you haven't mentioned). It is a top of the line mobile graphics card as is supposed to be a solid improvement over the 6770M. I'm not sure what kind of difference it would make for your work.

    The clock speed difference does pretty much what you would expect. The 3.1 GHz will be a little more than 10% faster than the 2.7 GHz model at most processor tasks.

    I went with the $2,000 top base model. But I do a little bit of gaming and so wanted the better graphics card. But some people will tell you that in this day and age, every computer should be purchased with an SSD. I've got one in my laptop and it does load programs pretty fast, but once things are running, I don't notice a difference.
  11. theSeb macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England
    Even a three year old iMac will play 1080p movies without issues. My 2009 13" MBP with a core 2 duo can do it.

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