Help deciding which iMac

Discussion in 'iMac' started by MadMitch89, Aug 14, 2010.

  1. MadMitch89 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2010
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    #1
    Hey guys, I'm having a dilemma deciding which iMac is best for me. I spend a lot of time:

    typing in Word

    internet browsing

    converting video in handbrake for itunes etc.

    I have a large itunes library around 1 gb on my external hardrive - mostly tv series that i watch when working/studying

    I definitely need to run bootcamp with Windows 7 for office as I use onenote religiously as well as outlook.

    I have both an exchange account from work and am planning on ordering a mobileme subscription with my iMac to use iDisk etc. on my iPad

    I definitely want a quadcore iMac - I just can't decide on the optional extras . Should i get the i5 or the i7, 2TB hdd, 8 gb of ram? What are your thoughts? Money isn't a big concern but I don't want to add SSD as I'll upgrade to that with my next iMac/PC...

    Thanks in advance :)
     
  2. lilcosco08 macrumors 65816

    lilcosco08

    Joined:
    May 27, 2010
    Location:
    Dayton
    #2
    Definitely don't think you even need a quad core

    Honestly, the Base 21.5 will suffice

    EDIT:
    Or the base 27, if you really want the 27" display
     
  3. Spike88 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2010
    #3
    To me, the first restriction is physical screen size. Can your desk area accept only the smaller 21.5" screen, or can it also accept the larger 27" screen? Can your eyes only handle the 21.5" screen, or the 27" screen? To me, "physical screen size" is the first major deciding factor.

    For your "slightly higher then typical home user" usage needs, I'd probably target the i5 processor. Some might think the i5 processor is a little over kill (for your needs) but video encoding can demand extra CPU power. The i3 might struggle on some of your "high demand" encoding and will struggle with your parallel Windows 7 tasks. IMO: Windows is a CPU hog. For Windows xx, I recommend folks only focus on i5 and i7 CPUs. For only Mac OS, i3 and above works great.

    I'd defiately get the internal 2 TB HDD. Get an external FW800 HDD (and use with MAC OS included Time Machine application) for data backups as well. As a suggestion, look at the WD Studio II and go with RAID technology (for only a few dollars more). For backups, only connect the FW800 device - which is much faster then USB 2.0 - for huge amounts of data transfers.

    For your computer needs, it sounds like "minimum default" 4 GB of ram will do. However, 6 GB for video encoding and parallel Windows xx would create much less "memory paging" overhead. If wondering, my wife has a new iMac 21.5 3.2 GHZ with default 4 GM Ram and it often has 2.6 GB of remaining memory. And we do slightly less apps then you. (NO video encording or Win XX for our iMac system). As a suggestion, get 6 GB of Ram and use Actvity Monitor (that's included within Mac OS) and analyze its "remaining" memory usage. For optiminal performance, one should try to stay under "on average" 80% memory usage. As a suggestion, For now, use 6 GB of Ram and "see how it goes" from there.... If more Ram is needed, I'd buy non-Apple memory - which is much lower selling price. For now, I would install 6 GB of ram and with its remaining budgeted dollars (from buying less then 8 GB of Apple memory), I'd install a much larger RAID backup HDD. Especially for your large amount of very important data files.

    Good luck....

    .
     
  4. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2007
    Location:
    Singapore
    #4
    6GB RAM? why are you recommending 6GB? 2x2GB + 2x1GB? that is the most absurd recommendation i have ever heard of. :rolleyes:

    2x2GB + 2x2GB sounds a bit better, but for the tasks that the OP is doing 4GB will be perfectly fine.

    the top end i3 or low i5 sounds fine, depending on the screen size that you are after.
     
  5. Spike88 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2010
    #5
    mmmm.... I don't remember specifying exact combo of memory simms...

    For most optiminal memory size, what will its Activity Moniotor show? Great little "included" tool. And it shows more then folks realize....

    .
     
  6. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2007
    Location:
    Singapore
    #6
    it doesnt matter, 2x2GB + 2x1GB is the ONLY way to get 6GB running off of that machine. you cannot run non-paired memory sticks in the imac, e.g. 2x2GB + 1x2GB. that will not run in the system. trust me, i know ;)

    the imac comes with 2x2GB, so there is no other way to get to that configuration.

    i have Activity Monitor.app 24/7, i am constantly monitoring my memory usage - i am well aware of how it works. and yes it reveals ALOT about your computer. for general consumers, if you use more then 50% of your memory for swap size - then you should consider upgrading.
     
  7. MadMitch89 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2010
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    #7
    I think I did under expose my usage requirements. I will definitely be getting the quad core, I just can't decide between the i5 or the i7 - if anyone has a run down on the inherent advantages of the two, It would be much appreciated.

    If I do utilise visualisation to run Windows 7 in OS X, would you recommend 8 Gb of RAM? I'm in Australia, anyone that knows of the best place to purchase extra RAM would be a big help. I'm savvy enough to install it myself, obviously knowing how easy it is.

    The 2TB drives makes sense seeing as how I will be running a bootcamp partition.

    Thanks for your helps so far guys.
     
  8. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2007
    Location:
    Singapore
    #8
    im in australia - :)

    i purchased my memory from OWC (macsales.com) in the US, because they WERE the cheapest to get them from! even once shipping etc came into it. they also offer an lifetime warranty etc.

    for VMs etc, you are best off to have 8GB RAM yes - i was running 2 VMs there for a while off of 4GB RAM and it was HORROR. 2xVMs + 90 tabs in Safari = 40GB swap file, which ISNT fun. would take 5 mins to open up a tab in Safari sometimes.

    as for i5 v i7, you are looking at a 25% increase in performance for simply enabling HT alone for applications such as HandBrake conversions - most of the other applications wont really see an increase, and in some cases HT (in i7) will cause a decrease in performance. HT for multiple applications will help, as it will generally be able to spread the load around more evenly :) this 25% increase is then heightened by the fact that the CPU is slightly higher, so allow maybe another 5% increase.

    hope that helps.
     
  9. Spike88 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2010
    #9
    Based on details from "DoFoT9" and double-checking myself, it appears the iMac can only be configured with either 4 or 8 combos. For your usage, get the 8 GBs. Less VM (virtual memory) swapping to disk, the better. VM swaps because is lacks enough physical memory. More memory the better. Thus, go with 8 GBs.

    Good Catch by DoFoT9.
     
  10. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2007
    Location:
    Singapore
    #10
    i only caught it due to the fact that i experienced it myself :mad:

    you CAN run 6GB RAM, but it MUST be paired (e.g., both slots must have the same sized RAM in there - and preferably the same brand/batch too).

    e.g. the following will work.
    2x2GB + 2x1GB = 6GB
    2x2GB + 2x2GB = 8GB
    2x2GB + 2x4GB = 12GB (what i have now)
    2x1GB + 2x4GB = 10GB.

    the following will not work.
    2x2GB + 1x2GB = 6GB
    2x2GB + 1x2GB + 1x4GB = 10GB
    2x2GB + 1x4GB = 8GB
    etc
     
  11. adjuster macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2007
    #11
    Get a refurbished i7. In a few years, you will appreciate the power you don't need now. New i5 = $1,999. Refurbished i7 = $1,699.

    I always get refurbished if possible. Just ordered two refurbs including an i7.

    Get the memory from MacSales.
     
  12. MadMitch89 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2010
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    #12
    Just ordered this:

    2.93GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7
    4GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x2GB
    1TB Serial ATA Drive
    8x double-layer SuperDrive
    ATI Radeon HD 5750 1GB GDDR5 SDRAM
    Apple Keyboard with Numeric Keypad (International English) and User Guide (English)
    Magic Mouse + Magic Trackpad
    MobileMe

    + an 32gb 3G iPad

    Looking into getting a new Sony Vaio Z for work as well... Very pleased with my order. Thanks a lot guys!
     

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