getting new iMac 21.5", but which model?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by j518bear, Aug 24, 2010.

  1. j518bear macrumors newbie

    Jun 10, 2008
    Hi all,

    I'm selling an old Macbook Pro (circa 2007) so I can replace it with one of the new 2010 iMacs (I no longer need it to leave the house).

    I want to spend as little as possible, so I have already confined myself to the two 21.5" models with the i3 processor. However, I'm pretty torn as to which of the two to get (3.06 GHz or 3.2).

    I'm a science PhD student, so I will primarily use it for Matlab and graphic design (I use both Photoshop and Illustrator extensively), along with all the usual entertainment stuff (music, movies, etc.). I might like to play games every now and then (e.g. Starcraft II, some of the Valve games), but that's not too important. The boost of 0.14 GHz seems pretty negligible to me (doing the additional upgrade to the i5 would certainly be nice, but that's getting outside my price range). And I don't care about the extra 500 GB of hard drive; I'd rather invest in external drives. But the main important difference seems to be the graphics card (4670 w/ 256 MB versus 5670 w/ 512 MB). While I know this is most relevant for gaming, I realize that the OS itself (and some non-gaming applications) increasingly rely on the GPU, or will do so in the future.

    But, is it worth the extra 300 bones? Do you think the graphics card upgrade would affect performance in, say, Adobe CS 5 applications, or would it only matter for gaming? Can anyone describe their experiences with these two models (or these two graphics cards), or direct me to some direct benchmark comparisons?

  2. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    I think you may notice a bit of a difference between the two for 3d modeling and such, but maybe not a huge difference. Gaming is definitely where you would notice the biggest difference, and probably a pretty big one at that.
  3. Adam69 macrumors newbie

    Jul 16, 2010
    I am sitting on the fence with these two 21.5inch models as well so anymore info would be great.....the only reason I am thinking of going for the 3.2 is the graphics card, I have been told on here by a member that the graphics card in the 3.2 is nearly twice the power of the 3.06 21.5 inch.

    I dont want to spend anymore I am in the same boat as blu using it as tv for a consle machine at 1080p.....its everything I want....but not enough and thats why I refuse to spend dad has the 27inch i7 and the playback of dvds was not as great as I was expecting. A nice LED machine plays a better picture all day long.
  4. kazmac macrumors 604


    Mar 24, 2010
    On the silver scream
    don't you qualify for educational discount?

    To the OP, I can't answer about the applications but as far as saving $ as a graduate student you still qualify for the educational discount so that would probably bring the cost of the higher end 21.5" down.

    As someone who may again dabble in light web design, etc. I got the cheapest model with no customization..
  5. yuenadan macrumors newbie


    Sep 3, 2010
    Taipei, Taiwan
    I face the same dilemma

    I am also torn between which of the two iMac 21.5" models to get, although I'm leaning towards the higher-end one.

    Although I have plenty of options regarding video games (see my sig), I have to admit that it's been a long time since I played video games on my computer and I miss it. The addition of steam to the Mac as well as the release of Starcraft II make Mac gaming very appealing to me.

    Now, the higher-end model comes with 500GB of extra hard drive space. This I put at a value of about NT$3000 (which IIRC is about the cost of a nice 2.5" bus-powered external 500GB hard drive). Sure it's nice having it all inside the unit (as oppose to external), but then you also have the problem that if the drive dies, you've lost 100% of your 1TB of data. So either way has a tradeoff.

    As I understand it, the slight increase in CPU speed should amount to diddley squat when it comes to real-world performance.

    So that leaves the graphics card. I just have to ask, is the extra graphics power worth NT$8000?

    That seems like a fair chunk of change, considering I could buy a whole new XBOX 360 with probably a couple free games thrown in for the same price or less. I could also go to a nice restaurant, have a couple of beers and stuff myself like a fat turkey, and do the same thing again 19 more times for NT$8000.

    Is there anyone who can explain to me the difference between the two cards? Would I really notice that much of a difference on a 21.5" screen? Also I don't plan to use bootcamp, I plan to play video games exclusively on the Mac platform.

    Also, I have an interest in possibly editing HD video in the future (720p). Would the better graphics card help with this or is it only for 3D stuff?

    I just want to make an informed choice, that's all. Any info is greatly appreciated, thanks!

    PS I'm new to this forum, this is my first post.
  6. Adam69 macrumors newbie

    Jul 16, 2010
    Would be very interested to hear peoples thoughts on this as sitting on the bench for these two 21.5 inch models as well.

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