iMac 5K Purchase (College Student)

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Dylqn, Oct 16, 2015.

  1. Dylqn macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2014
    Location:
    Canada
    #1
    Hello Everyone,

    I am a college student that has been interested in purchasing an iMac 5K for quite some time now, but a couple of factors have been stopping me from making my final decision. I would GREATLY appreciate some helpful input from anyone who is willing to take the time in reading what I have to say.

    I cannot make a decision on which iMac 5K model is right for me. What really throws me off are the new models that were just released this month.

    I would greatly appreciate some input from your perspective and I would make my purchase based off of everyone's comments. I will try to make this as easy as possible so I will list a few things that I will use this iMac for.

    * = Daily
    ** = Weekly

    What I will use this iMac 5K for:
    • Browsing the web (Netflix, social media, online blogs, emails)*
    • Listening to Music*
    • Editing photos in Photoshop CC*
    • Editing (1080p) videos in Final Cut Pro & Premiere Pro CC/After Effects CC*
    • Using Illustrator CC (along with all of adobe’s CC applications)*
    • Playing video games occasionally (Call of Duty 4, Shovel Knight)**
    • Lastly, using Microsoft Office (2011 and 2016)*
    For my budget I am very limited on the amount I can spend which is why I cannot make a final decision on which model I should purchase. I would say the most I could spend is $2,550. I do not know which of these are more important to upgrade (Processor, Graphics Card, or storage).

    I do not use 3D editing software, but I do not know if 2GB video memory is enough for the future if I were to keep this machine for more than 5 years (which I plan on doing). The confusing part is that Apple now has 3 new Graphics Cards (R9 M80, R9 M90, and (R9 M95 which can be upgraded to 395X)) and I do not know which would suit my needs based on the list above.

    Another thing I get stuck on is storage, I am a person who does not NEED a lot of storage on my machine because I have external 3.0 HDDs so I am debating on a 2TB Fusion drive (for the included 128GB SSD) or the 225GB SSD (which is less likely to produce heat). As for RAM, I will keep the 8GB of RAM since I can upgrade that in the future.

    Please keep in mind that I will be using the Education discount so the base prices will be lowered.

    Just for a side note:
    I do own a Macbook Pro Retina 13 inch and using all of the above software runs smoothly on this machine.

    The specs are:
    2.4 GHz, i5
    4GB RAM
    Intel Iris 1536 MB

    Thank you again to those who are willing to help me!
     
  2. macs4nw, Oct 17, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2015

    macs4nw macrumors 601

    macs4nw

    #2
    "I do own a Macbook Pro Retina 13 inch and using all of the above software runs smoothly on this machine.
    The specs are:
    2.4 GHz, i5
    4GB RAM
    Intel Iris 1536 MB"

    With the above I think you've partially answered your own question. And I say partially because the only caveat is that the base 27" config while exceeding all of the above specs, has 2GB of Vram to push all those pixels of the much larger screen. Unfortunately to move up to 4Gb of Vram you have to go to the top tier, and than select the $250 R9 M395X upgrade which puts you way out of your price range. The mid-tier model's video card (R9 M390) while better than the base's R9 M380, still only gives you 2Gb Vram. Education pricing is approx 10% less. For your stated purpose I would say graphics, processor, storage in that order, and with your existing external USB3.0 HDDs and budget constraints the 256GB SSD would be my recommendation. I also agree with the base 8GB Ram (to be upgraded later).

    I see three scenarios you might want to consider:

    a) If you're not in a huge rush, wait a few months for these units to show up in the refurb store. Usually 15-25% off, immaculate condition, full warranty, APP available and same-as-new return privileges.

    b) Go for the base tier 27" 5K iMac with the above mentioned 256GB SSD upgrade, that's in your price range, and try it out with your usual applications. If you're not happy with the graphics performance, you've got that two week return window.

    c) If you're not dead-set on the latest and the greatest there are great deals to be had in the above mentioned refurb store, both non-retina 2013 models, as well as the late 2014 5K retina models; I would highly recommend you check these out, availability fluctuates daily, check often. If you see what you like, move fast, they often don't last.

    Best of Luck!
     
  3. MRrainer macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2008
    Location:
    Zurich, Switzerland
    #3
    I would go for the smallest GPU, the largest CPU and the largest SSD you can afford - I'm not really convinced about the whole "Fusion" concept. Trading-off CPU against SSD-size is probably a good choice. Over time, more stuff will end-up on the SSD (esp. after five years).
    It's not a gaming PC - so why bother? In five years, whatever GPU you have now will be useless for gaming.
    I/O is the thing that brings Macs to their knees in old-age.
    I've got no idea of CA edu-pricing, sorry. So you've got to do the math yourself ... ;-)

    Starting with 8GB is probably OK, if you never need to run multiple VMs at the same time.
    But I'd watch RAM-prices over the years. The prices flatten out over time and when a new technology hits the market, older RAM-chips start getting more expensive again.
     
  4. AFEPPL macrumors 68030

    AFEPPL

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2014
    Location:
    England
    #4
    Put in as much RAM as you can afford, don't worry about the processor or storage as they can be changed. (storage could also be increased by simply adding an external drive/NAS).

    Personally i'd look to replace the existing MBP with either another 13 or 15" and you could fund that partly with a sale of the existing unit...
     
  5. Jamalien macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2014
    #5
    Haha, don't give advice if you don't know what you are talking about :p

    For your budget, I'd personally get the $1,999 base model and configure it with the 256gb ssd upgrade as this by far makes the biggest difference to performance for the money. You can just about afford the 512gb ssd upgrade if you use the education store. But as you said, since you have hard drives already you could save money by just getting the 256.
    Fusion drives - obviously don't get the 1tb fusion because of the tiny 24gb ssd that comes with it and I'd probably just stick with the ssd and keep external hard drives for all your video files etc as it is a desktop and more internal storage isn't really anymore convenient than external drives.
    Graphics and processor upgrades - don't bother with these. Both the 295x and i7 throttle significantly when it matters most (when rendering) so are pretty worthless upgrades.
     
  6. MRrainer macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2008
    Location:
    Zurich, Switzerland
    #6
    The i7 is only available in the top-end BTO model, anyway (IIRC).
     
  7. Dylqn, Oct 17, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2015

    Dylqn thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2014
    Location:
    Canada
    #7
    This is something I would love to learn more about. I don't know if 2GB Vram is enough to power the larger display and still run all of my applications smoothly (not all at once of course). I do not know which Graphics Card to settle for as well when it comes to M80 vs M90 (If I do not end up getting the M95/M95X).

    With the Education pricing I can afford the 4GB Vram that comes with 256 SSD (free) due to me giving up the included 2TB Fusion drive. If I choose the low or mid tier models, I still have to pay to upgrade to the lowest capacity SSD.

    I will post some images of what I could purchase, and if you wouldn't mind please let me know which one looks better. Keep in mind that I would not "like" to spend $2,550, but if it would be the smartest choice for this investment I have no problem with that. I have read somewhere online that a Graphics Card is what will make your Mac outdated sooner than later in the future, and this is why I am thinking the 4GB version would be best for keeping it longer than 5 years.

    Purchase Choices
    Low Tier Model (With SSD)
    Mid Tier Model (With SSD)
    Top Tier Model (With SSD)
    Top Tier Model (With SSD & Upgraded Graphics)

    To view them all together at once

    I would not like to purchase the top tier model with 4GB if it is not essential for me to get. I only think I should get the upgraded one to prevent my iMac from becoming "outdated" sooner than later in the future like mentioned above. If the 4GB Vram is not essential I would not mind giving it up as you can see the price drastically increases when upgrading it.

    Thank you again for your helpful input so far, it has really helped me and I hope to hear from you soon!
     
  8. Dylqn thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2014
    Location:
    Canada
    #8
    These are some great points! I could upgrade to the 512GB sad and it would still be cheaper than the top tier model with the upgraded graphics card. If you do not mind, check out my response to macs4nw and see which configuration would be good for me in the images I provided (Base Model mid tier vs top tier base model). I think if I do go with the M390 model (mid tier), I would be saving a lot of money compared to the top tier model. Let me know what you think, I would love to know which Graphics Card I should get now (M390 vs M395), I will not be getting the M395X now because of the throttle.

    I did not know that the M395X Graphics Card only throttles when needed rendering so that does make it worthless to me after all.

    Thanks for your helpful input as well, I hope to hear from you as well!
     
  9. Jamalien, Oct 17, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2015

    Jamalien macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2014
    #9
    No problem. And I'm sorry, I wasn't familiar with the new graphics options in the 2015 models and have provided you with some potentially wrong information (and the greater number of options make the decision a bit trickier). What I said about the m395x throttling most likely still holds true as the architecture is very similar, but I was actually referring to the previous generation m295x graphics in the 2014 model.

    I'm also not saying that you should consider the m395x out of the question because as macs4nw said, it does have double the vram of the m395 which would definitely benefit you in rendering and handling large projects - especially in premiere pro. Whether the difference is noticeable enough to justify the price increase over the m395/390 in your situation nobody really has a definitive answer to, as these gpus have very little information or benchmarks published about them.

    However from the purchase options you provided above, I would either go for the top tier model or the top tier model with upgraded graphics. You have already spent a lot on this machine and the price increase from the m380/m390 to the m395 I personally think is worth it, especially considering the 5k resolution of the display you are trying to drive and the type of work you are doing on it. However whether the significant price hike to the m395x is worth it is up to your judgement and how much you push your machine. Adobe premiere could probably benefit from the 4gb of ram whereas everything else is either not that taxing on the gpu or well optimised enough to not be affected too much (i.e. final cut). Finally, you mentioned that you edit only in 1080p at the moment, and if that is unlikely to change to 4k during the lifetime of your machine, I would save the money and stick to the 2gb of ram.

    And have a look at this thread if you haven't already. It might help make your decision easier.
    http://forums.macrumors.com/threads/m380-m390-m395-m395x-thread.1928278/
     
  10. AFEPPL macrumors 68030

    AFEPPL

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2014
    Location:
    England
    #10
    I actually do know what I'm talking about.. ;)
     

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