i5 with SSD or i7 without

Discussion in 'iMac' started by johnsmith153, Jun 21, 2011.

  1. johnsmith153 macrumors newbie

    Jun 21, 2011
    I am already way over the budget I wanted to spend, but will settle for one of the two:

    (both are the new 2011 iMac 27")

    (1) i5 WITH SSD

    (2) i7 without SSD

    I also intend to upgrade to 8GB of RAM, regardless of which I go for.

    Both are roughly the same price

    I know the answer may be depend on what I intend to do with it, so if your answer could include that, e.g "i7 if doing x, y or z OR i5/SSD if doing a, b, c"

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    i7 if you do something CPU intensive regularly, such as video encoding, editing, music or heavy photo processing or 3D rendering.

    If you don't, then the i5 with SSD.
  3. johnsmith153 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 21, 2011
    (1) Although the i7 also has improved graphics, and I do hope to play 'some' games, such as Call of Duty 4 etc.

    (2) Also, I intend to do quite a lot of app development for iOS and Android. Is that processor intensive? I know on my PC it's as slow as **** (3GB 32bit Vista Quad Core 2.66GHz)
  4. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    As long as you are looking at the $1999 iMac, the GPU is the same (AMD 6970M). If you are looking at the $1699 i5 model, then I would suggest you to go with the $1999 model due to the better GPU if you're going to game.

    Compiling the app (is that the right term?) could be CPU intensive but the i5 should be more than fine.
  5. Badger^2 macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2009
    You might want to flip back the last 10-20 pages, exact question seems to be asked a few times a day, you should find several long discussions.


    I play CoD4 on my 4 year old C2D.
  6. johnsmith153 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 21, 2011
    This is what I'm looking at:

    27" iMac (higher model) - $1999
    8GB RAM - $200
    Apple Care - $169
    i7 - $200
    SSD - $600

    = $3168

    Problem is I was looking at a budget of $2500 (actully I initially wanted to spend about $1800 but have already been pushed up)

    Do I lose the SSD at $600 or drop to the base $1699 machine saving $300 plus then saving the $200 i7 upgrade?

    You mentioned going for the $1999 machine AND the SSD but that isn't really an option.

    So it's base $1699 machine and SSD - OR - $1999 without SSD

    And I want gaming (sometimes), fast processing and a quick hard drive.
  7. macchiato2009 macrumors 65816

    Aug 14, 2009
    well well

    i used to have the new 21.5" iMac with i7

    and realized that no matter how hard i try to push the processor, the charge will never reach 100%

    i have tried exporting Full HD movies to H264, intensive gaming with max details, etc

    never reached 100%

    so i decided to return it and put the money into HDD+SSD option, now my 21.5" iMac i5 + HDD+SSD is way way way faster than was my i7

    even colleagues using Final Cut or CS5 intensively never used the i7 to his max potential
  8. johnsmith153 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 21, 2011
    Thanks macchiato2009,

    What about this though:

    (1) 8 vitual cores on i7. I like to hammer my machines and be doing all sorts of different things at once.

    (2) Dropping from i7 to i5 only saves $200, unless you drop the base spec of the machine which then also loses the improved graphics processor / graphics memory.
  9. caughtintheweb macrumors regular

    May 17, 2011
    I think both options have their merits, so it depends on your use. Either way you should not be upgrading RAM using apple.

    SSD is required in case you are doing disk intensive tasks, like photoshop, movie editing. For running multiple apps, i7 would be better.
  10. GraceMolloy macrumors regular


    Oct 28, 2006
    I also agree buy 3rd party RAM and save about $140 right there.

    - via iPhone
  11. macchiato2009 macrumors 65816

    Aug 14, 2009

    my colleagues and I, have tried both

    even during intensive tasks, we never noticed significant difference between both, will adding RAM and SSD to the i5 gave significant improvements

    8 cores, yes, but, not all applications can use it, even with Final Cut, we were not able to reach 100% with an i5
  12. macchiato2009 macrumors 65816

    Aug 14, 2009
    you'll notice a difference in everyday task no need to do intensive stuff like photoshop

    one stupid example: opening iphoto takes a blink of an eye, booting your mac

    yesterday for fun, i have launched 40 apps at the same time on my i5, it's just amazing

    as i mentioned earlier, most applications do take advantage of virtualized cores from the i7

    people seem to be convinced by marketing stuff like that

    my friends are creative people using most resources available for using garageband, final cut, premiere, photoshop CS5, Windows in Parallels or Fusion, none of them ever noticed a difference between i5 and i7 with 8 gb of Ram
  13. eggfoam, Jun 21, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2011

    eggfoam macrumors member


    Jun 21, 2011
    The SSD will do more to make the machine feel snappy overall. However, unless you are doing a lot of disk-bound tasks (processing many photos at once, moving large video files around) or running out of RAM (necessitating virtual memory) most of the benefit will be in things like booting, opening apps, and opening/saving documents. That is, once you're up and running for a given task, the SSD won't make as much difference.

    Unfortunately, if you want to play 3D games, the much better GPU in the higher model will be more important. Even the good GPU isn't particularly strong for games running at the native resolution, but the lower-end one will likely prove frustrating for any games of recent vintage. Check out Bare Feats' game benchmarks to get an idea of what frame rates you can expect with each one.

    So the trade-off is that the SSD will give you a (much) more responsive system overall, but you'll probably have to play games at a lower (non-native) resolution to have satisfactory performance.

    I'm planning to order an iMac later this summer, and for me the better GPU is mandatory. The SSD would be nice, but I'm not sure the cost/benefit is in its favor. There's also the hassle of either a 256GB space constraint if you get just the SSD or the semi-manual management of your files if you get SSD + HD. (Keeping big directories like your iTunes and iPhoto/Aperture/Lightroom libraries on the HD and everything else on the SSD is one way to go, but then you lose the speed benefit of the SSD for photo work. It's probably not important for music.)

    EDIT: The CPU difference probably isn't important. Your multitasking isn't going to saturate all four cores, with or without multithreading. The i7's single-thread performance will be better, but not noticeably for most tasks. The only situation where it would make a difference would be long-running, multi-threaded tasks, like rendering 3D models, converting/rendering video, certain scientific/statistical applications IF written to be multi-threaded, etc.
  14. iMikeT macrumors 68020

    Jul 8, 2006
    i7 without. You can always add the SSD in the future. Hopefully at some point in the future the price per gigabyte will be much more appealing than it is today.

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