How worth is the iMac?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by skaertus, Oct 11, 2017.

  1. skaertus macrumors 68040

    skaertus

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2009
    Location:
    Brazil
    #1
    I was just thinking of buying an iMac as a new desktop computer. General usage. Browsing the Internet, word processing, PDF reading. But lots of software opened at the same time, and absolutely zero patience for any lag or slowdown.

    Basically, the all-in-one design is great and it just takes less space than any other desktop computer. In addition, the screen is just gorgeous (especially the new one with 500 nits) and I cannot stop looking at it. But then I was just thinking if it would be worth it considering what I could get for the same price in the PC world.

    The iMac configuration would be as follows:

    27-inch 5128x2880 screen
    Core i5-7600K 3.8 GHz
    8 GB 2400 MHz RAM
    2 TB Fusion Drive
    Radeon Pro 580 8 GB
    2x Thunderbolt 3.0
    Mac OS High Sierra

    The PC configuration (not all-in-one) would be as follows:

    27-inch Dell U2718Q 3840x2160 screen
    Core i7-7700K 4.2 GHz
    16 GB 2666 MHz RAM (Corsair Vengeance)
    480 GB SSD (Kingston)
    3 TB HDD 7200 RPM 64 MB cache (Seagate)
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 8 GB
    Windows 10 Home

    The PC configuration seems superior to me. However, it is not an all-in-one, which means lots of cables and stuff. And the screen is not in the same league. As I have never seen the Dell screen in person (and I will not be able to, since I will have to order it online before even seeing one), I wonder how does it compare to the iMac screen. Both Mac OS and Windows are fine for me. I care more about the quality and speed of hardware, including the screen, which is very important to me. Which would be more worth it, taking into consideration not only the specs but also the quality of the screen and the overall setup?

    Plus, let me tell you that these are the models I found in my country (Brazil). So, any recommendation of a store in the U.S. or elsewhere, with better or cheaper parts, are of no use for me, since I will not be able to buy them here. Thanks for your help.
     
  2. cynics macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2012
    #2
    If you have no tolerance for lag then you'll want a pure SSD for the iMac. You can use external drives if you need more storage.

    Spec wise your PC config is clearly more powerful in nearly every regard. However is that SSD Sata or M.2? And does the motherboard offer TB3/USB-C?

    Dell monitors are very good. The Dell will be calibrated to a wide color space RGB (Adobe RGB) and the iMac will be calibrated for a P3 color gamut. Splitting hairs for most people however depending on your workflow if you deal with photos and print you'll probably prefer the Dell and for video editing you'll probably prefer the iMac.

    Both will look really good with the iMac having the capacity of a higher resolution. Which IMO is only important if you deal with editing 4k content. But different strokes for different folks.

    The most important thing for me though is MacOS vs Windows. I don't have a problem with Windows 10, I actually like it. However its integration into my Apple ecosystem (or any ecosystem for that matter) is lackluster at best. I send and receive phone calls and SMS from my Mac, use ApplePay, hand off, AirPlay, Notes, Reminders, etc etc etc. When I use Windows I feel disconnected. Although Windows 10 has its fair share of pros, like software support especially when it comes to gaming. MacOS ends up being a freebie that I would gladly pay a premium for.

    Personally in your config I would make the Mac more expensive with an SSD and than external SSD. And I would make the PC cheaper by ditching the 3tb HDD (unless you need it for media or something) and considering a less powerful GPU (unless you plan on gaming, and if you do then forget about the iMac anyway lol).
     
  3. skaertus thread starter macrumors 68040

    skaertus

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2009
    Location:
    Brazil
    #3
    Thanks for the answer, very helpful indeed.

    I have little or no tolerance for lag, and I would like to know how the Fusion drive performs. Does MacOS use the SSD part for storing the software? If I install Windows on BootCamp, will it be installed in the SSD part or in the HDD? I suppose that if Windows is installed in the HDD part, it will be laggy (especially because the HDD is 5400 RPM).

    As for opting for an SSD version, I would lose a significant discount I would have if I bought the standard version. I would pay the standard price for the customized version which would increase the price even more than the premium already charged by Apple. So, I would have to be really sure that this is definitely the way to go.

    I think the SSD in the PC configuration is SATA. Does it make a lot of difference? I am not sure if the motherboard supports TB3/USB-C, but I could probably change it.

    The iMac monitor has bright colors and the screen is very clear and bright. I have a 27-inch LG monitor (2560x1440) which is not as good-looking. How does the Dell monitor compare here? The iMac is somewhat glossy, what about the Dell?

    How do the Dell monitor and the iMac compare in terms of resolution? Are the pixels clearly visible on the Dell, since the resolution is lower? Is there a significant difference?

    I will not use the computer for photo or video editing (perhaps once or twice, but not regularly). I will use it heavily for web browsing, research, and Office productivity (mainly word processing, presentations). Heavily.

    As for the OS, I get along with Windows well, and all software I need is available for Windows. I do not really need Mac OS, even though I think it is perfectly fine as well. I cannot use Linux, though.

    As for the PC configuration, I could keep the HDD since it is cheap and I can use it for storage. As for the video card, I can use a less powerful one. Which NVIDIA card is comparable to the Radeon card in the iMac?

    Thanks again.
     
  4. cynics macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2012
    #4
    I believe the Fusion drive uses a 7200rpm HDD portion. Its performance is subjective, personally I've found them to be great and its block level algorithms used by corestorage set it apart from the competition. However by its very nature its a compromise of performance, cost, and storage size. Its smart enough to keep the stuff you most commonly use on the SSD. If you exceed that then HDD portion will be leveraged for real time use. Bright side is since it operates on a block level portions of your commonly used programs (commonly used parts of commonly used programs) can be put on the SSD and the rest on the HDD thus utilizing the SSD space more effectively then you could manually.

    SATA wont have the same performance but its still good, better than a HDD all day long. The SSDs found in a Mac, even the SSD portion of a fusion is a proprietary PCIe SSD that is much faster than SATA SSDs. Whether you can tell a difference or not is subjective and based on specific workload.

    Honestly I wouldn't worry about the monitor. Since you aren't professionally editing photos or videos both will look great. At a normal viewing distance the resolution wont matter too much, you'd need eagle vision to see pixels on either. However I prefer the scaling options of MacOS vs Windows 10 (or at least I did a couple years ago, haven't used a high res screen since).

    GTX 1060 or 1070 when compared for gaming. Outside of that it can be a mixed bag but nVidia has a clear advantage with CUDA task, AMD seems to do well with Vulkan gaming. What do you intend to be using the GPU for?
     
  5. skaertus thread starter macrumors 68040

    skaertus

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2009
    Location:
    Brazil
    #5
    Thanks. I am not sure whether it is 5400 or 7200 RPM.

    Thanks. I don't think there would be too much of a difference.

    I don't mind the scaling of Windows. Scaling in MacOS is better, but then it consumes a lot of processing power from the GPU.

    I am asking because I have a 27-inch LG, the 27EA83R (http://www.lg.com/levant_en/monitors/lg-27EA83R), which should be similar to the one in the 27-inch non-retina iMac. However, I have always found the iMac monitor brighter and more pleasant to look at, with more vivid colors. Not sure why. I wonder if I will feel the same about the Dell model.

    Not much really. Mostly for making sure the 4k video runs well. And some casual gaming, especially if I go with a high-end video card.
     
  6. cynics macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2012
    #6
    Well the difference between performance of SATA and PCIe is vast. Since I move around large files (30+gb) the difference is obvious. However in day to day stuff a SATA SSD is still pretty quick. Consider a motherboard with m.2, it may already have it anyway since its becoming common place now. You can upgrade in the future.

    I can't comment on processing power required for scaling. I've never done any testing or anything but even iGPU Macs handle it easily, at least from what I noticed. Its just better system wide scaling so you can see text and such better.

    I would find some reviews on the monitor if I were you. From what I'm reading it has the capacity of being brighter (nits) than the iMac. RARELY do people keep their monitor on max brightness though. I would think you'd be fine.

    4K video....what is the source of the video?

    Just 4K h264 and h265 files both systems will do fine. Both have the appropriate hardware decoders that make that a relatively simple task. The CPU is powerful enough in both to decode 4k in software as well. Thats a none issue.

    Streaming 4K is a different bag of worms. Windows 10 will currently offer a better experience. Netflix 4K is supported in Windows 10 with the 7th gen Intel CPU (in their app or Edge), not currently supported in MacOS. Apple doesn't natively support Googles VP9 encoder used by Youtube for 4k content. This means on a Mac you'll need to run a browser other than Safari to watch 4K YouTube (but its not like you'll be using Safari with Windows anyway).

    Also there is a UHD BD drive available for Windows machines. However I don't know how well it handles UHD BD themselves.

    Honestly, if you don't appreciate what MacOS offers than its kind of pointless to buy a Mac IMO. Even more so if you don't mind or enjoy Windows.
     
  7. skaertus thread starter macrumors 68040

    skaertus

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2009
    Location:
    Brazil
    #7
    Thanks, I will take a look at that.

    I am not sure about it.

    I had a 15” MacBook Pro (early 2013) with an NVIDIA GT 650M video card. When I upgraded it to Yosemite, it struggled to display the resolution which resembles 1920x1200. In fact, the video card was rendering the images of Yosemite at 3840x2400, and this put a lot of stress on it. It lagged sometimes.

    I like to use the maximum resolution possible so I can have the most real screen estate that I can. In case of a 5120x2880 screen, that would mean a resolution that resembles 3200x1800 I guess. This would cause the GPU to render images at 6400x3600, which is a lot of pixels. I was wondering whether that would put too much stress on the GPU.

    Reviews are fine, but they do not compare the screen directly to the iMac, which is my point. Most reviews will say the monitor is fine, because it surely is, but that is not really my point.

    4K video....what is the source of the video?

    Thanks. I don't think streaming 4k video would be a problem in this kind of machine.

    I do appreciate what MacOS offers. I like the smoothness and the integration. However, Windows also has its strengths. For instance, Office is superior on Windows, and it has more software available. For this reason I do not have a clear preference here. Any of them is fine, as long as they are running smoothly and flawlessly on great hardware.
     
  8. nambuccaheadsau macrumors 68000

    nambuccaheadsau

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2007
    Location:
    Nambucca Heads Australia
    #8
    You will have to compare oranges with oranges. The Fusion Drive would be the last choice option and the 128GB Flash Storage would be barely big enough fro both Mac OS X and Windows running via BootCamp. Price the iMac against the Dell after increasing memory also to 16GB, after purchase is much cheaper, and say a 512GB PCI-e Flash Drive and a 7200rpm 3.5" hard drive running as an external drive.

    Then make your decision.
     
  9. Samuelsan2001, Oct 12, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017

    Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    #9
    Windows will only install on the HDD in a fusion drive on boot camp you would have to unfuse the drives and manually manage your files on the HDD to have both OSes on the ssd portion.
     
  10. alien3dx macrumors 6502a

    alien3dx

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2017
    #10
    What ! for windows specification ?
    I used windows,apple and linux. Windows screen much better .. and for lag loading apps.. SSD will solve it.. For copy between file SSD . For copy file from pc /imac to external..Thunderbolt 3 will solve it or usb 3.1 gen 2 .. At least not windows 10 home.. take windows pro or enterprise if existed.. For windows, you can maximize startup but in osx you still can optimize startup but not "SERVICE/daemon" like linux and windows..

    If you need super speed read and write.. Just make raid..

    But still why you need those dam speed ?

    not sure intel optane will help you any of this need for speed issue.
     
  11. skaertus thread starter macrumors 68040

    skaertus

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2009
    Location:
    Brazil
    #11
    I don’t need it to be ultra-powerful. Just to be fast and not laggy. A desktop-class Core i5 or i7 should be fine, as well as some 16GB RAM and SSD. A dedicated video card could be welcome.

    I just want it to be good and fast for a few years to come. And not frustrating like a lot of computers have shown to be.
     
  12. skaertus thread starter macrumors 68040

    skaertus

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2009
    Location:
    Brazil
    #12
    Really? Then I will have HDD speeds on Windows? A Fusion drive then should be out of question.
     
  13. alien3dx macrumors 6502a

    alien3dx

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2017
    #13
    for power user, imac is frustated to me.. espcially office. If you colig using windows office better stick windows. I once suggest open office but in the end they fall back to microsoft office.. For long term, dust is your enemy either windows platform or mac. Graphic card for normal is okay, no use if you buy 300 dollar or 600 dollar.. For long term e-gpu because you can buy separate but kinda pricy
     
  14. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    #14
    Yes pretty much. Or you can install it on an external ssd and boot from that.
     
  15. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    #15
    OK, so that establishes that MacOS vs Windows isn't the issue here. If you're happy to use Windows, and don't care how "pretty" your computer is, then you'll get better value for money - and far more choice of components - with a Windows PC. You can either assemble your own (or find a PC dealer that will build-to-order) and get exactly the components you want. Of course, more choice means that you have to make choices, but...

    Apple have glaring holes in their product line in the shape of a straightforward, expandable desktop or a basic, affordable laptop. There are "business model" reasons for that from Apple's point of view, but for the customer, it sucks. Apple still make nice machines - provided that they make what you want and that cost is no object. If what you want is MacOS or MacOS applications on a regular desktop, then you will have to compromise on specs.

    That said, the iMac 5k is Apple's best-value machine, the 5k display is almost unique (last I looked, all the 5k displays for PC had been discontinued), you can at least expand the RAM yourself, and the SSD is super-fast (I'd go with an SSD-only version and supplement it with external or networked storage).

    However, I have a 4k display alongside the 5k display and although 5k is sharper, 4k is pretty darned good - and you can choose displays with better ergonomics (height, tilt, swivel adjustment, glossy or matt screens, sizes other than 27"...) and which you can connect other equipment to (that 5k display only works with your iMac and dies with your iMac). Go PC and you can have a decent-sized SSD (PCIe too, if you want) and a huge internal hard drive and upgrade them easily if better options appear in the future.

    FWIW I ended up getting a 2017 iMac - I'm pretty pleased with it so far but its not exactly what I wanted - the deciding factor was that I preferred MacOS over Windows (and had tried a Hackintosh but found it too glitchy), or I'd have built my own desktop PC.

    One thing though - you should maybe read this review of the display that you're looking at:

    http://hexus.net/tech/reviews/monitors/109724-dell-ultrasharp-u2718q/

    ...TLDNR: you're paying a premium for HDR, and the review wasn't impressed with how well HDR worked. Other Dell Ultrasharp displays have a fairly good rep, though.
     
  16. skaertus thread starter macrumors 68040

    skaertus

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2009
    Location:
    Brazil
    #16
    Well, the cheapest Thunderbolt SSD I could find for sale around here costs around USD 600, so I guess it should not be a very reasonable option.
    --- Post Merged, Oct 13, 2017 ---
    Thanks. Yes, Microsoft Office is one of the main applications that I use. I could use OpenOffice.org, or LibreOffice, or anything else, but then again, I keep coming back to Microsoft Office.
    --- Post Merged, Oct 13, 2017 ---
    Yes, I am pretty sure I can have a better machine if I choose to build my own PC. My points are (i) the iMac got more powerful in the last update, making it more worth from the bang-for-the-buck perspective; (ii) the display is just amazing and cannot be compared to anything else; and (ii) the all-in-one setup is cleaner and takes less space. This is why I am considering the iMac, and not a Windows vs. MacOS choice.

    I understand Apple's business model. While I cannot say I fully agree with it, I can say that works well. I have no real problem in compromises with the specs. I don't need the absolutely fastest machine, but I need a fast one. I don't care having the most powerful video card, or even a Core i7 CPU. But it needs to be fast and lag-free, so I have to be careful about the bottlenecks. An HDD, for instance, would be a no-go. An integrated video card, if I will run a 4k or 5k display, also seems to be a no-go. And so on.

    The 5k display is the main reason why I am considering an iMac. The 5k retina display is simply jaw-dropping. I couldn't find that same quality in any other display that I have seen.

    Thanks. Which 4k display do you use? How does it compare to the 5k display in the iMac? Apart from the sharpness, I mean? Are the colors as vivid? What about reflection? Glare? Do images look as beautiful and colorful? I can say I have an LG 27-inch IPS 2560x1440 display and the display in the 5k non-retina iMac still looks way better.

    OK. This is a non-issue for me. I will have to have Windows in any case. Office for Windows is better, and I have software that requires Windows. So, while MacOS is great and everything, as a practical matter, I will have to have both if I buy an iMac.

    Thanks. I will take a look at that.

    In any case, the offers of 4k monitors here in Brazil is very limited. I can buy an IPS Dell monitor (and not all models are available here), which takes around a month to be delivered. Or I can get a TN display from other manufacturer (usually Samsung or Philips), which is cheaper and can be delivered in a few days for a cheaper price. I was under the impression that TN monitors don't cut it due to their lower quality, but I may be wrong. I have never seen one of these 4k TN monitors in person; how do they compare to an IPS model?
     
  17. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    #17
    Apart from the sharpness, it really doesn't - but then it is a cheap'n'cheerful Dell S2817Q with a TN panel. Got it as a cheap option when I was playing with a Hackintosh and was not 100% sure if 4k would work, with the specific intention of "upgrading" to either a better 4k display or an iMac and using the cheap one as a secondary display for extra screen "real estate" when coding - for which it is fine.

    Pin-sharp, surprisingly good viewing angles for TN but the colour just isn't in the same league as more expensive 4k displays (like the Dell Ultrasharp range), let alone the iMac. Ergonomics are poor too. Not recommended as a primary display for photography, graphics etc.

    If you're in love with 5k displays, the iMac is probably the way to go.
     
  18. skaertus thread starter macrumors 68040

    skaertus

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2009
    Location:
    Brazil
    #18
    Thanks. I am not going to use it for photo or video editing, or any other professional use involving graphics. So, there is no requirement for it to have 100% accurate colors. In fact, I am using it as a home computer, for web browsing, word processing, and so on.

    However, despite this lack of need for color accuracy and so on, I found the display on the 27-inch retina iMac to be absolutely amazing. Of course I have little basis for comparison. The 27-inch retina iMac has the only computer external display to have a resolution above 2560x1600. I have seen of course displays of laptops and tablets (such as the MacBook Pro, the iPad, the Dell XPS, the Surface Pro, the Samsung Series 9, the Lenovo Yoga, and so many others), as well as displays in 4k TVs. However, there is a serious lack of high resolution computer displays in the market here in Brazil, so I have never seen another 4k panel, either TN or IPS, for sale to compare it with the iMac screen. I can buy one to test, but then I cannot take it back if I do not like it.

    The screens of the mobile devices do not look to me as good as the retina iMac. The iMac looks really more impressive, perhaps because of its size? The 4k TVs usually look amazing, as they sometimes use OLED displays and are sharp and vivid and very colorful with very high contrasts. But then again, I think these two should not be the basis of comparisons. I wonder how a monitor, either a TN or an IPS one, sold by Dell, or Samsung, or whatever, fares against the one in the iMac. Not from a professional perspective, since I do not need absolute color accuracy. Will a Dell IPS 4k monitor, or even a Samsung TN 4k monitor, show an image which is nearly as impressive as the one displayed in the retina iMac on the store? This is what I am trying to figure out.
     
  19. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    #19
    Nothing wrong with the sing a usb 3 device was instead.
     

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18 October 11, 2017