iMac Graphics Cards - Does it matter

Discussion in 'iMac' started by hawk400, Jan 17, 2008.

  1. hawk400 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2008
    #1
    I am going to buy a new iMac. I am deciding between the two 20inch versions at $1199 and $1499. The difference between the two is that the latter has a faster processor (2.4 vs. 2.0), a bigger hard drive (320 gb vs. 250 gb) and a the memory card (Radeon 2600 w/ 256mb ram vs. the Radeon 2400 w/ 128mb).

    I plan to use the computer for basic stuff - surfing the web, photos, music/video, home movies, and will probably install XP to be able to use certain specific programs. I do want it to be somewhat future proof such that it can be used for the next 3 years at least for this kind of stuff.

    I think I can live without the faster processor and more hard disk since I will have a separate back-up hard drive with much more capacity.

    So my question is - is it worth it to spend $300 more for essentially a better graphics card with more RAM? I do envision getting an HD camcorder at some point for home movies - would the better graphics card make a differences in editing/playing back home movies in HD?

    Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

    Also, if anyone has a view on the AppleCare for the iMac, that would be great as well.

    Thanks!
     
  2. AlexisV macrumors 68000

    AlexisV

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2007
    Location:
    Manchester, UK
    #2
    The better graphics card is important if you'll ever play games. For everything else, it makes little difference.

    All modern graphics cards can do 2D work (web, email, movies) in their sleep. The extra graphics memory of the 2600 would be an advantage in high definition movie work, but it's 3D applications such as games and rendering that tax graphics cards.
     
  3. luffx macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Location:
    WI
    #3
    Making HD home movies isn't just buying an HD recorder. The standard minimum specs for encoding/editing an HD movie is a 128MB graphics card. But, if you want to make a 1080i HD movie, you should have at least 1GB of ram and a 256MB graphics card.

    If you are honestly looking for a machine that will be capable of making HD movies 3 years from now, I would go w/ the 2.4GHz, 256MB ATI model. Your best performance increase for HD would be more RAM.

    The power of the 2.0GHz model is equivalent to a standard laptop, which I would never use for anything video related.

    Is it worth $300? That depends on your interests. If it chokes when making/editing HD movies, would that be enough incentive for you to purchase a new computer? Keep in mind that these machines are hardly upgradeable.
     
  4. elcid macrumors 6502

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    May 5, 2007
  5. Action Bastard macrumors newbie

    Action Bastard

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    Jan 16, 2008
    Location:
    SoCal
  6. Chris204 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    #6
    I'd suggest throwing down the extra $300. That way you'll be prepared for editing HD movies without any hassle.
     
  7. snickelfritz macrumors 65816

    snickelfritz

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2003
    Location:
    Tucson AZ
    #7
    The Applecare is a good idea.
    Invest in a maximum RAM upgrade while it is dirt-cheap to do so.
    This will cost you ~$100 + shipping for 4GB from OWC.
    This is not "too much RAM" or "more than you need".
    http://www.macsales.com/

    If you invest in any other aspect of the system,
    start by choosing the larger 24" display.
    The difference in visual quality between the 20" and 24" is not subtle at all,
    and this aspect alone is the most significant "future-proofing" you can do.

    Ignore the video chipset specs, the CPU clock frequencies, and other
    technical gobbledy-gook.
    All of the iMac configurations function satisfactorily in Leopard and in the applications you listed.

    There are probably two things that will noticeably impact your experience
    with this computer over the next few years:
    Quantity of RAM (fast efficient workspace)
    Quality and size of the display.

    GL
     
  8. Everythingisnt macrumors 6502a

    Everythingisnt

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver
    #8
    I would go for the $300 upgrade. While you may be able to deal without a faster processor, you mentioned something about wanting your imac to be somewhat future-proof - which means that investing in a better graphics card is a good idea. Also, if you are planning on making HD movies of *any kind*, it's always a good idea to have the best possible GPU.

    For $300, the bump *does* seem like a good deal.
     
  9. pavelbure macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2007
    #9
    i agree and disagree with this part of your post. more screen real estate is nice. another option is this, instead of paying $300 more for only 4 in. more of screen, go out and buy a 2nd monitor with that money. if you have the desk space you will appreciate a 2nd monitor alot more than 4 extra inches of screen.
     
  10. snickelfritz macrumors 65816

    snickelfritz

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2003
    Location:
    Tucson AZ
    #10
    The main problem is that the 20" iMac display is basically impossible to calibrate for accurate and consistent color, due to the specific type of panel used in the display.
    I was able to see significant color and brightness shifts almost anywhere off the zero axis.
    Paying for a graphics chipset upgrade on this display is IMO a complete waste of money.
    The 24" iMac is significantly better in this regard, and IMO well worth the extra $300.00
     
  11. AlexisV macrumors 68000

    AlexisV

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2007
    Location:
    Manchester, UK
    #11
    You're basically saying the 20" display is poor - I don't see the relevance of not buying the HD2600 because of this.

    Games look great on my 20" and they wouldn't be half as smooth if I had gone for the 2400.
     
  12. hawk400 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2008
    #12
    Thanks to everyone for the great feedback. I think this board has convinced me that the bump is worth it. Apple has no doubt structured its offerings to make it really tempting! I am sure it makes a better margin on the higher end 20"! As a separate matter, the refurb pricing looks compelling so I think I will consider this as well.

    Thanks again!
     
  13. snickelfritz macrumors 65816

    snickelfritz

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2003
    Location:
    Tucson AZ
    #13
    I think my point is that The 24" display is definitely worth the price of the upgrade.
    It's not that the 20" display is "poor"; it simply is not in the same class as the 24" display.

    The HD2600 alone probably isn't worth the upgrade cost though, unless you play games.
    However, games were not on the OP list of applications, but movies and photos are, which will both benefit greatly from the larger, higher quality display.
     

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