i3 or i5 iMac?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by webcity, Sep 30, 2011.

  1. webcity macrumors member

    Sep 16, 2011
    United Kingdom
    Having just ordered the mrs a 21.5" 2.7GHz i5 iMac, I'm now looking for one myself. However, I'm looking at the 2nd hand market.

    I've come across a few Core i3 3.06GHz iMacs and I'm wondering if there's much difference in real terms performance between the two.

    I know the i5 is a quad core and has thunderbolt but other than that is there much difference?
  2. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    Depends on what you use it for. Since you're asking, probably not.
  3. Macman45 macrumors G5


    Jul 29, 2011
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
    It's What You Do

    More than anything else....There is a big difference yes, but if you just surf the web and play music, you probably won't use the grunt.

    I have a new iMac 27" top spec. but I need the power for work. I think a new one is a better choice overall though.
  4. webcity thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 16, 2011
    United Kingdom
    My main use will be web design so photoshop, coda, etc..

    Won't be using it for gaming or anything though.
  5. Macman45 macrumors G5


    Jul 29, 2011
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
    Graphics Need Grunt

    Go with your initial choice, and consider a VRAM upgrade to at least 1GB better with 2.

    Buy The Quad...You will use the extra power!
  6. malias4 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 21, 2011
    Greece and Holland
    i just got the 21.5 i5 2 weeks ago, its prety strong just the ram needs a bit pushing to 8gb but for the rest i think if u could get a second hand i5 would be better of the i3 !
  7. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I'd also say that an i5 would be a better choice given that you want to use photoshop and what not.
  8. Macguy76 macrumors regular


    Feb 9, 2011
    I would go with the Quad-Core i5 if possible.

    The i3 series was a good upgrade from the previous generation Core 2 Duo, but with the addition of Sandy Bridge and a more efficient power consumption, I would go with the newer.

    Unless...you find one really inexpensive.

    For "Most Consumers" that is probably all they will need.

    My parents are in their 60's and have the 21.5" i3 as it suits their uses and even exceeds their use on a daily basis.

    I use a 27" i7 with Thunderbolt for my photography and editing some Final Cut Pro X projects.

    There is an iMac for just about everyone.
  9. jackoatmon, Sep 30, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2011

    jackoatmon macrumors 6502a


    Sep 15, 2011
    I'm inclined to disagree with the consensus here. An i3 3.06 should be fine for virtually anything Photoshop does. If you were going to throw some AfterEffects or video stuff into the mix, I would be singing a different tune, but for just straight Photoshop design, you'll very rarely need more than the i3. I have an old tower with a core 2 duo 2.93 in it that I'm selling to a friend and I've never seen it hang up on Photoshop in years of using it.


    That's just strictly processor talk. The video card might end up being a determining factor though. I definitely agree with the poster that said vram is better at 1g than 512 m (though 2g is overkill) for reasons of texture loading, esp if you'll be editng (very) large files (let's say 5000x3000 DSRL photos or something).

    Overall I think the cheaper rig will be fine, but just won't last you as long before you need a new rig.

    I should also mention that I do not use Coda and thus don't know what its resource draw is like.
  10. Spike88 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2010
    Remember that today's "enough power" is tomorrow's "under power". With that in mind, get the i5. Especially if you plan to keep your system 4-5 years. Yes. The i3 will probably be good enough today. But, tomorrow will need an i5.

    Hope this helps...


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