iMac 27" 2009 i5 vs. 2010 i3?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by kixx, Apr 24, 2011.

  1. kixx macrumors member

    Aug 16, 2010
    Ok i am looking at the refurbished iMacs, the two differs in price by $20.

    2009 iMac has:
    -i5 2.66Ghz quad core
    -1066Mhz RAM

    2010 iMac has:
    -i3 3.2Ghz duo core
    -1333Mhz RAM

    Firstly i have been looking at the, the 2.66Ghz i5 scores 4296 while the 3.2 i3 scores 3088.

    Then i look at the video cards. HD5670 scores 1247 while Mobility HD4850 scores 1124.

    So i think the difference in graphical performance is smaller than i expected. As the i5 did score more than the i3 by over a third in benchmark testing, i am not sure if the practical difference is that huge as not all the programs are designed for quad core CPU. Also i have no idea how much performance it will gain by having 1333Mhz RAMs.

    So which model should i get?

    I will mainly be using it for light purposes like surfing web, but occasionally i would use it for photo editing.
  2. gdeputy macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2008
    New York
    4850 is better than the 5670, I would personally get the i5, but that's just me.
  3. brachson macrumors member

    Nov 14, 2010
    out of these 2 i5 would be better - you sure you dont want to wait for 2011? It should be stone throw away from the release so I think its worth to wait for it.
  4. kixx thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 16, 2010
    Yeah, but i am not after a new iMac anyways, and since the refurbished price will not drop dramatically straight after the release of new iMacs is there really a point for me to wait :confused:

    Im not really after a cutting edge computer anyways, i rather use the money i save from buying a refurbished on getting a SSD and install it myself.
  5. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    Refurb prices will drop immediately when new ones are released. It's up to you, wait and save maybe a hundred or two or buy now and enjoy it ASAP.
  6. kixx thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 16, 2010
    Is that Apple's common practice? If so, then i will definitely wait for the new release and if apple really does deliver something completely new and different, i will just buy the new iMac.

    Thanks for your information.
  7. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    Yeah. When Apple updates a Mac, the refurb prices of that certain Mac will immediately (or within few days) drop and often this drop is hundreds. The 2009 model you linked used to be 1699$ I think. The 2009 iMac may not be dropped that much this time though, if it is going to be available in the first place.
  8. kixx thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 16, 2010
    Then i could always buy the 2010 i5, if the price will level the 2009 i5 today. :)
  9. spacepower7 macrumors 68000

    May 6, 2004
    If I recall correctly, the dual core i3 should drop in price to somewhere between 1269 and 1329.

    I remember thinking about buying one (2009 low end 27" imac) bc it was only ~$300 more than a $999 apple 27" LCD display. A whole freaking computer much faster and cheaper than a Mac mini with Apple 27" LCD.
  10. kixx thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 16, 2010
    Yea i think the refurbished iMacs are really good offers for me since i do not demand much.

    Hopefully by the time new iMac releases, i will not face the same question of whtether to get 09 i5 or 10 i3, the price of a mid spec 10 will be the same price of 09 i5 today. :rolleyes:
  11. mpe macrumors 6502

    Sep 3, 2010
    Quad-core i5 is almost twice as fast in CPU intensive tasks than dual-core i3. However, only some apps (such as video encoding) can really use the additional performance in the way that you can really notice it.

    There is absolutely no real-world performance difference between 1066 and 1333 MHz RAMs. Moreover, 2009 i5 can take 1333 MHz modules too.

    4850 is just a slightly faster than 5670 in games. 5670 is potentially better as it support newer OpenGL/OpenCL features.

    However, these differences are nothing compared to the fact that 2010 iMac can be ordered with SSD which is the most important performance difference between these two models. Any iMac with SSD is magnitude faster that those with conventional HD.
  12. kixx thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 16, 2010
    Thanks for the information. In the case that the i5 and the i3 will make hardly any difference in real world everyday use of the iMac, then i will choose the i3 over i5 due to its better 5670 graphics card supporting newer technologies. I will not be playing any games on the iMac, but watch a lot of videos or movies.

    Just a question, you said that the 2009 iMacs can take 1333 RAMs too, does that mean i can just take the 1066s out and put in some 1333 myself?
  13. RollTide macrumors 6502


    Mar 9, 2006
    Just a question, you said that the 2009 iMacs can take 1333 RAMs too, does that mean i can just take the 1066s out and put in some 1333 myself?[/QUOTE]

    Yup. iMac ram is user accessible.
  14. kixx thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 16, 2010
    Yup. iMac ram is user accessible.[/QUOTE]

    Yup i know that they are user accessible but my question was more directed to confirm that 2009 iMacs motherboard are compatible with 1333 RAMs :)
  15. ZeD X macrumors regular

    Apr 26, 2011
    No, it's not just you :p

    Definitely go for the i5.

    It will be much faster than the i3 2010, for EVERYTHING.

    Yes, but you need to get CL7 memory or you will get random Kernel Panics.

    These memory are a lot more expensive. Don't worth it.
    Go for the 1066mhz and be happy. I guarantee that you will not see any difference.
  16. maclaptop macrumors 65816


    Apr 8, 2011
    Western Hemisphere
    Benchmarks are just that, simply a measurable guideline.

    For real world usage, id choose the 2010 with the faster ram.
  17. mpe macrumors 6502

    Sep 3, 2010
    No, you don't need low-latency CL7 for 2009 iMacs. CL9 are just as fine for 1333 MHz modules. In fact most standard DDR3-1333 MHz modules are CL9 rated.

    You just need to get compatible modules - prevent high-density and exotic memories for overclockers and mixing different brands and configurations. There is no guarantee so it is better to be able to be able to return them in case they don't work.

    The reason why late-2009 iMacs didn't ship with 1333 MHz is simple. Core i5 or i7 equiped iMac was the only model compatible with 1333 MHz modules at the time. Core 2 Duo models can take just 1066 MHz modules. So for Apple it was simpler to supply just one type of RAMs in all models. As of 2011 there are no Core2Duo iMacs so they could switch to 1333 MHz modules.

    But, as others said - there is zero real-world difference between 1066 and 1333 MHz as there is no bottleneck on memory bus.
  18. kixx thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 16, 2010

    This is getting a little confusing @_@
  19. mpe macrumors 6502

    Sep 3, 2010

    Some people just read benchmarks and are impressed by these scaled bars in graphs and don't spent any time on thinking about evaluation of real world benefits. In fact contrary to the past today's apps are rarely limited by CPU performance.

    It really doesn't matter if you get 88fps or 81fps framerate in Call Of Duty game (real difference between i5 and i3 2010 iMacs according to Macworld) or if the import or batch of RAW files to Aperture takes 1:47 instead of 1:59. The user experience is still the same.

    What does matter is the SSD. Disk drive performance is a bottleneck of most apps. Computer with SSD will open apps in milliseconds instead of seconds and user experience is much better.

    I would wait just a few days as new versions of iMacs are expected to be announced very soon. As result of that all recent versions of iMacs could sell for lower price.

    If you don't want to wait I would get any of recent iMacs with SSD and don't care about raw CPU speed or memory speed.
  20. drew.bowser macrumors regular

    Sep 23, 2008
    I agree and disagree at the same time.

    I am a photographer and I shoot in RAW. I then edit the files rescipes and do a batch export and render all the files at the same time. my 2010 mac mini with a 7200 RPM drive is light years behind my quad imac i5 with the same speed HDD. The difference is not hard drive speed but CPU. (both running 8gb of the exact same speed RAM)

    I agree that an SSD would speed the user experience up a lot, but for the creative professionals that render video and process RAW files (5dmkII) in my case, the Processor speed is more of a factor to me than the hard drive speed...not to mention GPU speed.

    RAM is cheap, hard drives can be replaced, but the CPU you buy is the CPU you will most likely keep. with TB the hard drive speed is becoming less relevant in the machine if you are worrying about file access...

    a $600 SSD (I know that there are some cheaper...just an example) is an expensive upgrade just to have your machine boot quick and programs start fast. I would rather have my render times cut in half which can literally save me HOURS of production time when rendering 40gbs of RAW 5d2 files or 1080p video from the same camera.
  21. kixx thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 16, 2010
    Yup i perfectly understand what you mean. My 2010 Macbook Air opens applications faster than my gaming PC which has an overclocked 4.2Ghz i7 CPU but a 7200rpm HDD. That is why i am planning to chuck a SSD into whichever iMac i buy.

    SSD is probably the one single most important thing that would improve everyday light weight user experience. But having to spend virtually the same amount of money, i would still love to pick the iMac that better suits me regardless of SSD.
  22. archer75 macrumors 68020

    Jan 26, 2005
    That's why I use two drives in my system. All downloads and extractions go to a secondary drive. Also all my video encoding is done on the 2nd drive.

    Then I can use the main system as if nothing was happening and still get full speed there.

    An SSD would be nice. And someday i'll get one. But right now I don't need one.
  23. kixx thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 16, 2010
    Just wondering, if you have two drives, one SSD just as a boot drive for the OS and all other applications, and one HDD for all your personal files, would it be slow for iTunes to load music, or for iPhoto to load photos from the HDD?

    Right now for my MBA, everything loads extremely fast, for iPhoto i do not need to wait for photos thumbnails to appear, and for iTunes, the song plays instant when i click on it.

    For my PC, i have no access to iPhoto so i can not compare, but for itunes, it usually lags for about half a second before the song i clicked plays.

    Would that still happen if you have two separate drives?
  24. archer75, Apr 27, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2011

    archer75 macrumors 68020

    Jan 26, 2005
    itunes in windows sucks. It has some serious performance issues. But on a mac it's fine. Both it and iphoto load just fine on a mechanical drive.
    I've never tried to load it from the app on one drive and the music on another. You can but I haven't had the need.
  25. mpe macrumors 6502

    Sep 3, 2010
    Mac mini and iMac are different animals. Mac Mini has all mobile components - Mobile Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz, NVidia 320M integrated graphic card and 2.5" hard drive. I just can't compete with desktop-class components of iMacs

    Aperture is also far more reliant on GPU power. Integrated nVidia 320M can't compete with discrete Radeon 4850, 5670 or 5750.

    There will be much less performance difference between i3 3.2 Ghz and i5 2.66 GHz based iMacs.

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