I need your advise for my future iMac buy.

Discussion in 'iMac' started by MacedonianGR, Jul 1, 2012.

  1. MacedonianGR macrumors newbie

    Jul 1, 2012
    95 % of my computer use is browsing, e-mail, office suite, tv and movies.
    1 . What is your suggestion from the current IMac range, considering that I want to keep my iMac for at least 4 yeas.
    2 . Do i need more than 512 Mb of video memory ?
    3 . How much RAM do i need?
    4 . Do i need an ssd ?
    5. 21.5' or 27' .

    Thanks in advance.
  2. overanalyzer macrumors 6502a

    Sep 7, 2007
    Boston, MA USA
    All of these are subjective questions that you'll likely get a mix of opinions on, but here would be my thoughts, based on your use:

    1) Any of the current iMacs will be good options for your usage. I wouldn't bother waiting indefinitely for updated models to be released, but I would wait through Mountain Lion's release in July, in case there's any update to the iMacs at the same time, unless you really need to buy a computer now.

    2) Your usages will be fine with 512 MB of video memory, though you might feel differently 4 years from now. This is one place I'd consider upgrading now, if your primary goal is to continue using the computer happily for 4+ years, as 1GB-2GB+ will likely be standard on computers by then, so this might be the place the current iMacs would most underperform 4 years from now.

    3) Get 4GB for now. You can upgrade to 8GB or 16GB down the road when you need to. RAM prices generally only go down.

    4) No, I don't think you need an SSD for your usage, and the cost is still high to upgrade to one, absent a particular need. It's also possible that you could upgrade the hard drive down the road if you really wanted to. It's a much more difficult upgrade than the RAM (which is just one screw, and Apple considers end-user serviceable), but at worst you'd just pay someone a nominal fee to do the hard drive upgrade for you.

    5) Monitor size is totally personal preference. But since it seems we're culturally heading toward larger and larger displays, you'll probably think the 21.5" is small in 4 years. My old 24" iMac was already seeming small by comparison to the 27", which I've quickly gotten used to.


    By the way, keep in mind that the 27" vs 21.5" is a $500 upgrade for the entry-level model of each. You also get a faster processor, larger hard drive and slightly better graphics card for the price difference, but it's worth considering whether you'd rather buy the cheapest computer you'd be happy with now, keep it for 3 years and replace it with the cheapest computer you'd be happy with then, rather than buying a more expensive computer now in hopes of being happy with it for an extra year or two. You might just end up spending more money in the long run that way.
  3. MacedonianGR thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 1, 2012
    You are an overanalyzer for sure! Thanks for your response.

    Your last paragraph is very very useful. I didn't even think about this solution and i think you are right.

    Do you think that i should upgrade my RAM right after i buy the new iMac?
  4. Azzin macrumors 601


    Jun 23, 2010
    London, England.
    Only if you feel you "need" to.
  5. moldy912 macrumors member

    Jan 11, 2012
    I will skip the first part, because the answer to the other four will help you make your decision.

    2. No. If you are doing light work, with the most video intensive work being video watching, 512mb is almost more than enough.

    3. 4GB would get you there, but 8GB may make a medium size difference. Not huge, but you will probably be happier with it. Try to buy 8GB aftermarket, because it is much cheaper than configuration on apple.com.

    4. If you want your computer to last 4 years, you might want to look into it. I would say no though, unless you can easily afford it.

    5. 21.5" because the larger size is for picture and video editors who need to large screen and resolution to fit lots of stuff on the screen at once. This size will fit everything in a browser window and maybe something on the side.
  6. Nova Sensei macrumors 6502

    Feb 26, 2012
    This was a great response.

    Just wondering, when people talk about upgrading the video memory - are they talking about after-market upgrades through someone other than Apple? When I like at the Apple (Australian) online store I can't see an option to upgrade video memory.

    Thanks :)
  7. Rlnplehshalo macrumors regular

    Jan 28, 2011
    As stated above the 27" would be well worth it for your Movie needs, you can always look in store and compare the two sizes.
    If you plan on playing any games you would need to opt for a 1GB graphics card to future proof the machine to be able to play the next generation of games.

    An SSD is not needed in your situation either, its more for people who transfer large amounts of data with editing programs and such.
  8. Spirax macrumors newbie

    Jul 1, 2012
    Sunshine Coast, Australia
    My Opinion

    I bought my iMac in 2008, it is still a great computer and does all what I want.

    Even though i'm buying a new macbook air this month. I'm still going to use my iMac.

    My suggestion to you is to wait until the next release of iMacs.

    You can look on the buyers guide of this site, it has been 426 days since the last update. So you can count they will be releasing new ones soon. around october time.

    The base model would be perfect. although putting a bigger hard drive in it may be a good idea, seeing you can't upgrade. It is fully capable to play games like Diablo 3 etc.

    but the choice comes to you, if you want a bigger screen, more performance etc.

    My opinion is cpu's are so powerful these days that most people don't even come close to using them to there full potential. and things like iPads do everything the average consumer wants to do. So the base model will do everything and more.

    My predictions for the next iMac is a Ivy Bridge 2.8 ghz cpu. With 1tb HD for base line. Which would be great for you.
  9. overanalyzer macrumors 6502a

    Sep 7, 2007
    Boston, MA USA
    Thanks :)

    Unfortunately, I believe in the current iMac configurations, the only option to upgrade the video memory is by purchasing the top-end 27" model, which comes with 1GB standard and a $100 USD (not sure on Australian pricing) optional upgrade to 2GB. There may be third-party options for upgrading, but I personally would tend to avoid planning on upgrading internal components of an iMac other than RAM, at least until the machine was out of warranty, as it's not a particularly easy process, and in many cases will void the Apple warranty. So that would mean with the purchase of Apple Care that you're waiting until you've owned the machine for 3+ years, at which point many people would rather just hold out and save the money toward a new machine another year or two after that.


    You're welcome :)

    You probably won't need to upgrade the RAM right away. I think you'll be perfectly happy with 4GB for your usage at the moment. 4GB sticks are still a little pricey, so you'd do well to wait a year or two and buy 4 x 4GB sticks for 16GB of RAM, probably at a comparable price to what you'd by 4 x 2GB sticks for now. If you really wanted, you could buy one 4GB stick now, and have 8GB, including the 2 x 2GB sticks it comes with. That'll definitely be more than enough RAM for general usage. I believe sticks don't have to be matched or paired in the iMac, but any of the online memory buying guides can confirm that (i.e. that you can mix and match 2 x 2GB and 1 4GB together).
  10. mojothemonkey, Jul 2, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2012

    mojothemonkey macrumors regular

    Oct 23, 2005
    I wont get verbose, as you can read the analysis from other people, but I will explain where I disagree with some.

    Based on your usage, the only place where you would ever notice your dollar affecting performance is in buying an SSD drive. But, frankly, the junk SSD drive that Apple offers isnt worth what they're charging you... and even then it wont be that big of a difference for your described usage.

    You will never max out 4GB of ram for the usage that you are describing. Trust me. Moving to 8GB might make you feel like a big man, but unless you're running a number heavy-hitting pro-level media editing progs simultaneously, it's just marketing. (the same way the compact camera megapixel race is marketing... after a certain number, its all about the lense and using the pixels you have... and you frankly need an SLR... otherwise you're just buying higher-resolution grainy distortion) I cant tell you the number of people who go out and upgrade from 4 to 8 (or more) gigs and dont realize that they have never even come within a gig or two of maxing out their 4.

    Long story short: unless you make your living by editing media or are an avid computer gamer, there is no convincing argument that you'll need anything over the lowest spec system.

    It's been quite a while since the tech available has surpassed anything that the typical user can throw at it, thus eliminating any REAL need for spending that money on incremental upgrades. (i.e., spending that extra $200 to go from 2.2 to 2.4 ghz)
  11. topocalypse macrumors member

    Apr 13, 2011
    you absolutely do not need anything beyond the cheapest iMac. altho you might want it. me personally wont need anything more than the cheapest one, but i would want more than even the most expensive one. its just another wants vs needs. but absolutely certainly u wont need more than the cheapest one. i do tho.
  12. jmgregory1 macrumors 68000


    Jun 24, 2010
    Chicago and a few other places around the world
    I'll chime in here. It's true that you really don't need anything but the base model (in either size), the thing I know I will NOT ever go back to is a spinning disc HDD. The difference in speed doing just basic things is so dramatic that I will never put up with a HDD again.

    That being said, the current cost for upgrading to ssd in an iMac is overpriced. But I do expect that the next iteration of iMac will make ssd a cheaper addition or potentially a standard config. If you need a computer today, I would not hesitate to recommend an iMac with ssd upgrade. For $2000 you can have a blazing fast iMac with 256gb ssd and 4gb of ram that will last you years to come. If you find your ram deficient at some point, as others have stated, the price will only come down and you can add that at any point.
  13. dast1g macrumors regular


    Oct 23, 2009
    Personally I'm in the same boat about to purchase my first mac in 2 weeks , il be buying the 27" i5 but was wondering will this model be good enough to game on ? My main usages for the mac will be Internet video and a lot of office work for college . I'm going to wait until ML is released and see what happens . But was just wondering about the graphics card as I may game on my mac from time to time , will 512mb be enough? To say run games such as battlefield maybe as an example?
  14. mojothemonkey macrumors regular

    Oct 23, 2005
    If you're interested in gaming, go with the highest end available in the 27" inch imac, or you might not want to bother with anything beyong medium settings in the current games for the very near future, then much less.

    The cards they put in most of the imacs are the mobile versions of the GPUs. The last iteration (current) 6970M was respectable, however, and can put up some legitimate gaming numbers. There is a significant drop-off, however, after you leave the "flagship" cards in the mobile range.

    This is unfortunate, because both nvidia and AMD/ATI have a much more gradual decline from the top in their full desktop cards. So with the imacs (running the mobile version of the graphics cards) go big or go home for gaming purposes. All other versions are fine for everything else, including 2D gaming or something like minecraft.
  15. Mike Valmike macrumors 6502a

    Feb 27, 2012
    Chandler, Arizona
    I would suggest doing so only because the prices of RAM are mostly excellent right now. Use OWC (macsales.com) or Fry's Electronics, just tell them which Mac you bought, and they'll provide the RAM. I put 16GB into a 2011 Mac Mini last month for $106 from Fry's. Easiest upgrade decision ever.

    Also you may want to wait just a few weeks for the Mountain Lion release before buying an iMac as there is a fair chance of a new iMac refresh at that time.
  16. russofris macrumors regular

    Mar 20, 2012
    Purchase the low-end 27" when the 2012 models are released.

  17. mojothemonkey macrumors regular

    Oct 23, 2005
    Ha. I love it. Please explain to me why you put 16 gigs in your mini; the actual purpose.
  18. Mike Valmike macrumors 6502a

    Feb 27, 2012
    Chandler, Arizona
    I do a lot of consumer-level video editing and encoding, and also usually have a lot of background apps running since my Mini is a server handling the backload for the entire household. But mainly I went to 16GB because it was only about $30 more than doing 8GB... it's like when you are at the food counter and you can buy a shot glass full of soda but for only ten cents more you can get the thirty-gallon jug. Even if you aren't that thirsty, you go ahead and buy the jug every time.

    Also, since the Mini has only two RAM slots (your iMac will have four) any upgrade necessarily required replacing BOTH RAM sticks, since RAM has to be paired for proper performance. You could get an iMac with 4GB or 8GB in there and just flat out ADD more RAM in the other two empty DIMM sockets without changing the memory that's already in there. For the Mini, I took out the 4GB (2 x 2GB) it came with and put in 2 x 8GB = 16GB. I put the 2GB sticks on the shelf in case I need them again later due to hardware failure or what have you.
  19. mojothemonkey macrumors regular

    Oct 23, 2005
    A rational answer for your specific needs. I can't argue with that.
  20. bungiefan89 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 5, 2011
    This may sound like a lame answer but if you're sure that 95% of your computer use really is web browsing, e-mail, office suite, tv, and movies... and you're sure you plan on using it for just that over the next 4 years, then just get the low-end 21" iMac. Or go with the low-end 27" iMac if you feel you need the screen space.

    The tasks you've listed don't exactly require SSDs, large amounts of RAM (which you should ALWAYS buy 3rd party anyways), or juiced-up graphics cards. If anything, I'd suggest you go with a refurbished iMac to save money, or maybe get yourself a laptop instead of a desktop.

    BUT if you think you'll do any gaming on your computer or any sort of video processing or photography work any time in the next 4 years, definitely invest in a more powerful machine. Future-proof the computer while you can.

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