Help choose between 2 used 27 iMacs for design and vid editing

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by nfable, Jan 27, 2016.


So... Which one.

  1. iMac 1 - 27-inch, Late 2013

    0 vote(s)
  2. iMac 2 - Retina 27-inch, Late 2014

    5 vote(s)
  1. nfable macrumors regular


    Apr 9, 2007
    Hey all, here's specs on 2 iMacs I'm considering between. Please help me choose. I do about 80% photoshop and 20% fcpx.

    Any counter offer sugs welcomed too, and advice on what to check out before sealing the deal.

    iMac 1 -$1700 ... pros:hi graphics ram, big fusion

    iMac (27-inch, Late 2013)
    3.5 GHz Intel Core i7
    24 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M 4096 MB
    3TB Fusion Drive (3TB HDD & 128SSD)
    Applecare to 2017

    iMac 2 - $2000 ... pros: retina, ram

    5k Retina late 2014
    4 ghz Intel core i7
    32 gb 1600 mhz ddr3 RAM
    AMD Radeon R9 m290x 2048 mb
    1TB fusion drive
    No apple care mentioned.

    Much thx,
  2. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    Have you done any work on a retina screen? I'd say that should be an important part of your decision.

    You're going to end up using externals anyway, so I wouldn't worry about the 1 TB drive in the retina vs the 3 TB one in the other. I do the Adobe Creative Suite on my 27" retina iMac and like how it behaves. FCP X is very fast. I haven't used the m290, though. I have the m295x.
  3. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    They will be very similar performance wise. If your apps leverage CUDA get one with NVIDIA graphics if you don't then the retina screen would be more important to me.
  4. nfable thread starter macrumors regular


    Apr 9, 2007
    I haven't done any work on a Retina, thought I've used them a bit and see the advantage of general 'space' for stuff to work on. I have a Dell U2413 and the last of the 17" MBP breed right now (modded w/ssd data doubler from OWC and 1tb regular hard drive + 16gb ram). I use the Dell to layout / view video on and the MBP screen for palettes / workspaces b/c of the matte screen and the color accuracy.

    I like the non-retina b/c the 4G of vram, which to my knowledge cannot be upgraded, but the system RAM could be. But the retina newer hardware, more ram, and screen call to me as well.

    (This is hands-down the best of my life's delimmas right now :)
  5. miffytherabbit macrumors newbie


    Jan 28, 2016
    It seems weird to say this, but I really didn't see the point of a Retina iMac - until I had one in front of me. It's really hard for me to get out and I couldn't get to an Apple Shop before I bought my two-week old 27" Retina iMac and I had never sat in front of a Retina screen before. My last iMac is a 2010 27" non-Retina iMac, and in all honesty I'd always thought the screen was the bees-knees.

    Whilst it is going to be less of a shock for people who know what a Retina screen is like in real life, I was really amazed at the massive difference between how the screen on my old iMac looked, and how the screen on the Retina iMac looks. I just think it looks incredible, it's very easy on the eyes because text and imagery is so easy to read or view. I don't do image-based work like you do, but I am using it for music and Logic Pro X. Because I'm short sighted, this screen is an absolute blessing.

    Everything about the "iMac 2" that you have quoted seems preferable to the "iMac 1". A friend of mine has the exact same model as the late 2013 model you refer to, and uses it for image editing. At the time they purchased there was a Retina option (though it was the high-end off-the-shelf version), and they have said more than once that they regret having bought the non-retina version. Having said that, they are really pleased with the performance of it and it hasn't skipped a beat since they bought it.

    Thanks ^^
  6. nfable thread starter macrumors regular


    Apr 9, 2007
    Thanks, Miffy - well put! I'm on the fence about the Retina being a keystone factor. I know how nice they are but I don't want to go over performance / capability.

    I do not do such hi resolution work where I'd directly benefit from it, but the day to day fatigue relief on the ole' eyeballs and the pixel space for stuff are the only two concrete, objective benefits I would realize if using a Retina.

    And good to hear of your bud's experience with the 2013... I know I really can't screw up with either one, but I don't see many people commenting on the hardware differences between these two. The screen is more of a usability thing and the internals are more of an operative thing. And I could always get a 4k monitor if my work began to demand it. Nm, the 2013 max res for external is via EveryMac ... yet, on an Apple support page, it says the late 2013 iMac 27" do indeed support 4k... well that's conflicting and confusing. hmm.
  7. tjwilliams25 macrumors 6502

    Aug 10, 2014
    Performance-wise, they'll be pretty similar. I have the same 5k iMac, but with only 8 GB of RAM, and it handles everything that I throw at it with ease. I use Photoshop, Lightroom, and Final Cut Pro X on a pretty regular basis and I've never had any problems. The larger VRAM would probably be noticeable in really intensive rendering situations, but both machines have more than enough regular RAM for that to not even be a problem, really. I would say the 5k is definitely a great offer, especially if you want to have a 4k external.

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