i7 or bigger screen?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by jacobo007, May 16, 2011.

  1. jacobo007 macrumors member

    May 14, 2010
    Hey, i was hoping to get some purchasing advice for a new iMac, i have basically narrowed it down to either the high-end 21.5" upgraded to the i7, 8GB of RAM and the 1TB HD + 256GB SSD or the base 27" upgraded to 8GB RAM and 1TB HD + 256GB SSD as well, both come out roughly at the same price.

    So, basically i have to decide between giving up on the better processor or the bigger screen given that i can´t upgrade the base 27" to the i7 and the high-end 27" is outside of my budget.

    I don´t do video editing or any kind of graphic/processor intensive activities but i do plan to use this machine for the next several years as i do not upgrade very frequently.

    What do you think guys? i appreciate your comments greatly
  2. iSayuSay macrumors 68040


    Feb 6, 2011
    i'd pick base 27" upgraded to 1tb +256 gb ssd, dont buy the ram, u can save urself some money by 3rd party ddr

    Its easy to upgrade your ram, not so much with ssd
  3. qzxyu macrumors member

    May 7, 2011
    Anaheim, CA
    I was contemplating the same thing. I decided on the 27" with the hope that one day there will be an easy way to add an SSD on top of the 1GB HDD. With an SSD the performance will be much better than that of an i7 and no SSD. And cheaper, I plan on getting a 60gb or so just to keep my OS and frequently used Apps... These are around $100. - Cheaper than the upgrade to the i7...

    Just an idea.

    Oh and upgrade the RAM yourself. Takes 2 mins and you will save a ton.
  4. tsugaru macrumors 6502

    Feb 9, 2003
    Base 27" at the very minimum. The i5 in the 27" will generally be faster than the i7 in the high end 21.5".

    Buy your RAM from a 3rd party. Mucho cheap compared to Apple, for the same stuff.

    Or get the high end 27" i7 and get the 2GB VRAM, and add an SSD at a later date, one that will most likely be faster than the one Apple provides.
  5. jacobo007 thread starter macrumors member

    May 14, 2010
    Yeah, maybe i should save on the RAM and add it latter.

    I´m thinking that because of my needs i´ll benefit more from the SSD than the i7 but i´m getting the SSD on both of the configurations so i´m still deciding on i7 or bigger screen but it seems the i7 will have little benefit for the things i do...

    So you´re saying that the i5 in the base 27" is faster than the i7 in the 21.5" why is that?

    I´m hesitant on adding the SSD later, i know it is expensive to buy it from Apple but i don´t really know how to do it myself and with all of this news of the drives being proprietary and non user replaceable i have decided to get them from Apple
  6. Badger^2 macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2009
    seriously -- the SSD is overkill for you needs. You will not see any speedup for day to day tasks with it. Not even huge photoshop files take advantage of the SSD.

    Since the i5 and i7 iMacs have the same GPU, playing games on them is *identical* performance.

    For the basic stuff you are doing you should be looking at the top of the line 27" i5, $1865 AR, no tax, free shipping. then add 8 gigs of ram for $100 = 12 GB total.

    Great deal on a really fast iMac that will last for years.

  7. tsugaru macrumors 6502

    Feb 9, 2003
    Wait. I fubar'd that. I thought you were comparing it to the high end 27".

    High end 21.5" iMac i7 - Intel Core i7 2600S
    2.8GHz base, turbo to 3.8GHz, 4 cores/8 virtual cores, 8MB L3 cache

    Base 27" - Intel Core i5 2500S
    2.7GHz base, turbo to 3.7GHz, 4 cores/no hyper-threading, 6MB L3 cache
  8. jacobo007 thread starter macrumors member

    May 14, 2010
    I see, but, i thought the point of the SSD was faster boot up times, applications open faster and in general an overall speedier performance, in fact i have a Macbook Air with the flash memory and i find it to be very fast and that is the main reason i´m willing to spend on the SSD but you seem to think i would see no benefit.

    What would the real benefit be, why is it an overkill?
  9. qzxyu macrumors member

    May 7, 2011
    Anaheim, CA
    Get the $1699 - 27", upgrade the ram and don't bother with the SSD. There are speed gains, but at this time it's not worth it unless you know you will the need it. And a year or 2 from now, SSD's will drop in price and the new iMacs have the port ready to go when they become a little less costly... And think about it, a couple years from now you can upgrade you iMac and it's almost like getting a new comp.
  10. tzd macrumors newbie

    May 8, 2011
    Get the 27" no question about that. Think twice about the SSD. It is expensive, and although it is very desirable in a portable, I don't think you'll feel the benefits as much on the desktop. I have a 24" iMac from 3 years ago and never felt that it is slow in waking from sleep or launching apps.
  11. mrfoof82 macrumors 6502a

    May 26, 2010
    Lawton, OK
    • The 27" screen has 60% more pixels than the 21.5".
    • The difference in CPU performance between the 2.7GHz i5 and the 3.4GHz i7 is about 40%. By default, you also get the 6970M instead the of the 6770M, which offers 70% better GPU performance and twice the texture memory (this will really only matter in games).
    When push comes to shove, you're more likely to notice the 27" display and SSD than you'd notice the CPU performance bump. If you really can't choose between which you value more, let me throw out the awesome option #3.
    • Wait 2 or 3 months or however long until you have the extra $300 and get everything you want.
  12. jacobo007 thread starter macrumors member

    May 14, 2010
    Ok, since there is no love for the 21.5" i have moved up to either the base 27" with the HD+SSD or the high-end 27" with the i7 and the 6970 with 2gb of GGDR5.

    Now the question is, will i benefit more from the SSD or the better CPU and GPU?
  13. mrfoof82 macrumors 6502a

    May 26, 2010
    Lawton, OK
    Average user will notice the SSD more than the CPU. Period. You say you don't do video encoding or other CPU intensive tasks, where waiting for things to complete would bother you.

    Granted, you could add an external SSD down the line. Upgrading the CPU is non-trivial in comparison.

    Why the 2GB of texture memory on the 6970M? Do you play games? If not, you won't miss the texture memory (seriously). A faster CPU will help in games, but odds are more likely you'd be GPU-bound than CPU-bound (save for... Civ 5, and some other exceptions). Again, if you can't decide, if I were you I'd wait until I had the cash to get everything I wanted, rather than rushing. The lead time on SSDs is 6 weeks for new orders anyways.
  14. seand, May 16, 2011
    Last edited: May 16, 2011

    seand macrumors member

    Mar 27, 2006
    San Francisco, CA
    In my experience day-to-day tasks are exactly the thing that SSD makes a huge difference for. It's the many small random reads that are sped up so much by the SSD, which you get hit with when booting or opening a bunch of apps or files or whatever. It's not going to help you much for hardcore photoshop work, because that's more RAM and CPU bound once you've launched photoshop and initially opened the file.

    It does make a big difference in how snappy the machine feels, even (actually, probably especially) for things like basic web usage.

    As far as the OP's question, I'd definitely go for the 27". You probably won't notice the CPU difference most of the time, if ever, but you'll notice the extra screen space all the time.

    Edit: With the new choice between base 27" + SSD or upgraded 27" without SSD, I'd go for the SSD if you can wait out the shipping times. Processor and GPU upgrades are only going to be noticeable if you're doing processor or GPU heavy things like video encoding or gaming. The CPU/GPU in the base 27" are still good, so it's not like you'll be cut off from doing those things if you don't upgrade. For general basic usage I don't think the upgraded CPU/GPU would be noticeable at all. The SSD, on the other hand, will make those basic things feel way faster. You'll be disappointed that your new iMac feels sluggish compared to your Air if you stick with a traditional disk.
  15. jacobo007 thread starter macrumors member

    May 14, 2010
    Yeah i could probably wait and just beef up the whole thing, if not then probably the external SSD may be the way... anyway at least i have decided on the 27".

    Thanks a lot you guys have really helped me.
  16. jacobo007 thread starter macrumors member

    May 14, 2010
    Yeah, that is my experience with the Macbook Air, for the things i do it just feels very fast... i think i have finally decided to wait a month or two and just upgrade the whole thing, maybe save a bit on the RAM since i do know how to replace that.
  17. iSayuSay macrumors 68040


    Feb 6, 2011
    The only SSD option from :apple: really hurt my wallet. I want 128Gb SSD for $200 instead of going crazy and add 256Gb for $600 !!

    I love the idea of SSD, the ¨illusion¨ of Macbook Air makes people think it´s a great computer. No doubt every computer manufacturer, especially laptops will follow MBA and using SSD.

    I personally going rebel for iMac SSD, whether ask a friend in AASP to install it inside, or waiting for Thunderbolt SSD and get 128Gb for speed nirvana :p
  18. iamthedudeman, May 17, 2011
    Last edited: May 17, 2011

    iamthedudeman macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2007
    How do you figure the i5 in the 27 is faster than the 21.5 core i7.

    The 21.5 will be almost twice as fast as the i5. Actually there is very little difference between the i7 3.4 and the i7. 2.8. They are the same processor, the i7 2600s has a lower base clock, but the same turbo speed of 3.8 Ghz. Other than that very little difference.

    Other than the K version. The i7 2600 is the fastest quad core processor currently in production. The i7 2600S is the second fastest quad core processor currently on the market. Take a look at these benchmarks. Real world bench marks.



    I ordered the 21.5 core i7 2.8 with SSD + 1TB HD. Montary issues were not my motivation at all.

    Other than the better GPU and extra thunderbolt port, there is very little difference performance wise between the 27 i7 3.4 and the 21.5 i7 2.8. Contrary to what others are telling you.

    Remember you cannot upgrade the processor. You will be stuck with the i5 for the life of the computer.
    I am going to give another aspect or point of view so to speak. I have a 21.5 currently, and have on order a 21.5 with 2.8 i7 and SSD + 1 tb hd.

    I use the 21.5 with a 27 cinema display. The Cinema display is superior in every respect than the imac 27. Less warm and no yellow hue to speak of. I own quite a few 27's and the majority of them have some type of yellowing issue.

    How many threads on here with people with the same problem?
    With using the 21.5 with another display and using the 21.5 as the extra display that is no longer a issue.

    Plus you are free to use any display you want, new OLED? New PLS?
    You have more options. With the 27 you can do the same, but is that even practical? More than likely you will use the 27 as your main display.

    Your stuck with the 27 for the life of the iMac. With he 21.5 with a Cinema display, you get two good glossy IPS panels that match as opposed to a 27 paired with a inferior display.
    Thet are the same display, but In my opinion it is superior. I own quite a few 27's and the cinema display is colder, has has more accurate colors due to it being less warm. The whites are accurate with no yellow hue to speak of.

    Why the difference I don't know, it is probably due to the iMac being a all in one and the extra heat. The all in form factor has to have a effect than a display without one.

    There are a few pics on the forum comparing the two.

    You also take advantage of the newest technologies such as PLS and OLED. Both which superior to IPS displays. Here is a samsung PLS screen which should cheaper than IPS screens.


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