Going to buy 21.5 iMac...need some help

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by ehduque7, Nov 17, 2009.

  1. ehduque7 macrumors member

    Jul 9, 2008
    Hi Everyone,

    I'm going to buy a 21.5" iMac and need some help regarding the video card decision. I will mainly use the computer to run the Adobe CS4 Design Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign) and Adobe Lightroom. I like to do some on-the-side graphic design work and am a amateur photographer using a Canon 40D.

    I will also be making use of iLife. iWeb to make a website for my upcoming wedding, iMovie to do some quick video editing, etc.

    I haven't decided if I will be running Windows in boot camp yet.

    I'm not a gamer and don't see becoming one soon. If I do end up decided I want to game, I'd probably get an Xbox or PS3 or something in the future. But over my life...never really got into computer games.

    With that said...my question is, will I see a significant increase in performance performing the tasks above if I upgraded and got the iMac with the dedicated video card? Or would I be better served with taking the extra money and buying other stuff such as an external hard drive and 2 more 2GB ram sticks to drop in the additional slots? Or an Apple TV. Or putting it towards my wedding haha.

    Thanks for your help!

  2. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    Congrats of your wedding! Am I invited? :D

    Anyway, 9400M will be fine for photo editing as it's more RAM and CPU intensive than GPU. Save your money towards external HD or more RAM
  3. ehduque7 thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 9, 2008
    Thanks for the help. So what is the GPU good for then? Does it really only benefit when playing video games? Does it help to rip and encode DVD's if I ever decide to build an HTPC or get an AppleTV that uses backups of my DVD collection? Or will the 8GB RAM benefit that more than the dedicated graphics card?

    Thanks again!
  4. js81 macrumors 65816


    Dec 31, 2008
    Mostly, but not only. :) Since the 9400M is a dandy of a integrated chip (esp. when compared to the Intel crap graphics, though they are getting better), it doesn't tax the system as much as others might. The only big negative to the 9400M is that it cannibalizes 256MB of RAM - but since the iMac comes with 4GB, a little bit of simple math tells you that that is only 1/16, or 6.25%, of your RAM. Upgrade it to 8GB (about a $60-70 upgrade when you do it yourself) and you can cut those numbers in half.

    In short, it ain't gonna hurt that much. And yeah, you can still play a lot of games with the 9400M.

    Personally, I've been weighing the 21.5's, too - and I've decided that instead of $300 to upgrade, I'll (probably) just go with the base model and use the $300 to buy a PS3 or XBOX. Then again, I REALLY want the 27"... sigh...
  5. Jedi macrumors regular


    Apr 28, 2008
    IMHO !

    I would get the $1499.99 iMac , the better graphics card will do more than just make games look and run better.

    Your whole computer experience can be greatly improved for a few dollars more.

    I can`t see going the extra for a .27GHz faster CPU , but the better GPU and twice the HD size , yup that would be the best buy !

    O__BTW , I saw on @ BB`s today , and the new displays on the iMac`s ( 21.5" ) are O__ so sweet !!

    Best of luck to you ! :D

    Gary 
  6. js81 macrumors 65816


    Dec 31, 2008
    I would agree if we were comparing it to an Intel GMA 950 or X3100, but the Geforce 9400M is actually a nice IGP. My sister has a year old unibody Macbook (base model) and it runs very nicely, including Age of Empires 3 at max settings and Bioshock at near max (both under Windows XP in Boot Camp).

    @ the OP: I think you'd be more than happy with the base model. As for $$$ for the .27GHz speed upgrade, that's up to you. Here's my thoughts:

    Will you notice it? Not much...

    Is it worth it, money-wise? Not really...

    BUT... can you upgrade it later? Yes, but its VERY hard and most people won't do it...

    But then again, by the time you'll need that extra speed, you'll probably be ready for a new computer anyway. :D
  7. ehduque7 thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 9, 2008
    Great advice everyone, I really appreciate it. Looks like I'm leaning towards getting the base model 21.5 iMac and then bumping up the ram by purchasing through newegg or crucial or something.

    With the little extra saved...I might pick up an AppleTV so I can start archiving my DVD collection.

    Does ripping DVDs rely heavily on the GPU and therefore requires the upgrade? Or will the base iMac still suffice?

    Also, I can add a second monitor to the 21.5 iMac right? I have a 26" monitor that I want to add for maximum real estate. =)
  8. Badger^2 macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2009
  9. eXan macrumors 601


    Jan 10, 2005
    Its all CPU and DVD drive speed..

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