i5 vs. i9

Discussion in 'iMac' started by papahemi, Apr 15, 2019.

  1. papahemi macrumors newbie

    Aug 26, 2010
    Hi there. I'm about to purchase a 2019 27" imac and wondering if the upgrade from 9th gen 3.7i5 to 9th gen 3.6i9 is worth the nearly $400. Also, I will likely be going with a 3TB fusion drive--would that render the increase in i9's performance moot? Also, I don't do any gaming so don't need performance increases for that. But I do plan to keep the machine for 5-7 years and thus want to keep it fresh for longer. Thanks for your thoughts.
  2. The Hammer macrumors 6502

    The Hammer

    Jun 19, 2008
    Toronto, Canada
    Why not get a smaller SSD say a 500GB and get the 9th gen 3.6i9? If storage is a concern there are external drives.
  3. briloronmacrumo macrumors 6502


    Jan 25, 2008
    Keeping a machine for 5-7 years and keeping it "Fresh" implies you will update to each and every of the 5 to 7 macOS updates during that time. Over time Apple's OS tends to get bigger and slower and the only way to keep up ( i.e. have the same performance in 5 years as you do today ) is to future-proof by buying the fastest machine. So you might want to think about what "Fresh" means and if you're willing to make adjustments ( maybe skip some macOS updates ) to achieve a 7 year holding. If possible I would skip the Fusion drive and go with SSD. Get the i9 if it's in the budget.
  4. mikehalloran macrumors 6502a

    Oct 14, 2018
    The Sillie Con Valley
    My wife and I both make our living behind iMacs. A new i9 is unlikely to outperform her 2011 i5 with her work. (I did replace the HDD a few years back and that made a huge difference)

    I took delivery on a 14 core iMac Pro last night and expect it to run circles around the i9 for what I intend to do with it.

    It all depends on how you're going to use it. There are plenty of threads on the subject. Spend some time reading them and figure it out.
  5. BJMRamage macrumors 68020


    Oct 2, 2007
    you say you won't be doing games but not WHAT you plan to do with it...other than keep it 5-7 years.
    I was looking into this the other day and had some trouble finding too much info. other than the 9th gen i5 performs similarly to the i7 in the 2017.
  6. Falhófnir macrumors 68030


    Aug 19, 2017
    The chips used are likely to either go to 10nm (intel) or custom ARM in the next few years either way, so there really is no such thing as future proofing a current machine. It's very likely the i5 (or equivalent) in the next machine will be faster than the i9 in the current machine, so it's not going to keep up either way. Considering it's a $400 premium, you'd be better off stashing it in a bank account and putting it towards an upgrade at the 4-5 year mark rather than spending it on the i9 and trying to stretch to 7 years.
  7. SkiHound2 macrumors regular

    Jul 15, 2018
    I really think you have to evaluate what you use the machine for. If you're doing extensive video editing and rendering, or music production with many tracks, or you're running a whole bunch of processes simultaneously, the i9 would likely be worth it. If you're using for email, office applications, we surfing, video streaming, occasionally editing family videos, etc., then it probably isn't worth it. The big difference really emerges only when you are doing things that exploit the extra cores and multi-threading. The i5 9600k is actually used a lot by gamers. I think for a lot of things an SSD will offer the most tangible benefit. As others noted, it's likely that in a couple of years mid range computers will have exceeded the i9 you buy today.
  8. orbital~debris macrumors 6502a


    Mar 3, 2004
    England, UK, Europe
    I like your thinking!

    This line of thought factored heavily into my decision to go with the 9th generation i5 CPU for my new iMac.
  9. smirk macrumors 6502a


    Jul 18, 2002
    Orange County, CA
    I've historically taken the stance that I should put money into the parts of the computer that can't be upgraded later, since those will be fixed for the life of the machine. So I'd invest a bit more in CPU and less in things like HDD and RAM. And this worked ok, but what I found is that occasionally there would be a change in something fundamental that makes your computer become obsolete more quickly, like the introduction of USB ports, SATA, Power PC processor -> Intel, bluetooth, etc. So it's hard to know when something like that will come up and disrupt your personal seven year computer use roadmap.

    That being said, a few years ago I replaced the mechanical hard drive in my 2011 iMac with an SSD + HDD home-made fusion drive, and it went from borderline unusable to blowing my mind every time I booted it up (like from ~50+ seconds to ~15 seconds). I also ran VMWare Fusion frequently, and that old computer handled it pretty well, I suspect from the i7 processor. In 2016 the video card broke and I replaced the computer with a Core i5 iMac (also with a fusion drive), and I have to say that the perceived speed/performance gains were not that great. The only thing I can conclude is that the newer i5 was not as capable as the older i7; it certainly has fewer cores to play with. It is fine for web browsing and typical home use, but VMWare guests run pretty slowly -- faster than the old iMac, but not as fast as I'd have expected.

    I think you need to determine what you'll be using it for, and then see if the i5's 6 cores seem like enough versus the i9's 8 cores + hyperthreading. $400 is a lot of money, though. I kind of think that most people will be fine with the i5.
  10. jerwin macrumors 68020

    Jun 13, 2015
    I have a i5-4590k. It can be beaten soundly by an i3-8100 with one third the memory, and a distinctly inferior GPU. The trick is figuring out why.
  11. mikehalloran macrumors 6502a

    Oct 14, 2018
    The Sillie Con Valley
    There's no trick. Comparisons work only when A/B'd in similar computers from the same year running the same apps. I would fully expect a 2018 i3 Mini to trounce a 2011 iMac i5 and give my 2010 i7 a run for the money with most apps.

    My core app... I've not compared it in a 2018 Mini or a base model 2019 iMac. My 2010 i7 beats out any 2017 i5, however. Weird, surprising... all the armchair experts know something can't be right with that... but it's true and I know the hardware and the app well enough to have expected that result.

    With that in mind, if my new (to me) iMac Pro doesn't run circles around the 2010, I will sell it immediately, downgrade to an i9 iMac and find another use for the $4,000 difference.

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