iMac GT 130 or HD 4850: What's best for EyeTV/HB?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by ColeSQ, Mar 5, 2009.

  1. ColeSQ macrumors newbie

    Aug 13, 2004

    I'm trying to decide between these two GPUs for my purposes, which are:

    - no gaming
    - recording programs using EyeTV
    - transcoding those programs to AppleTV
    - using Handbrake to move my DVDs to AppleTV
    - running iTunes full time in support of a couple ATV boxes
    - using Aperture, iPhoto, iMovie, and Photoshop occasionally
    - run a VM or two

    At minimum I'd like to be able to have EyeTV transcoding video to ATV while HB is working since that combination tends to be more than enough to deadlock my MacBook Pro.

    I get where I need to be from a CPU and RAM perspective, but I have no clue regarding whether EyeTV Hybrid 250 or Handbrake exploit the GPU capabilities which differentiate, say, a GT120, GT130 with 256 or 512, or the 4850, particularly when moving TV shows from EyeTV native to ATV and Handbraking.

    That's my biggest bottleneck and if I can address it with any of these GPUs while using my iMac for more sophisticated photo and video editing and watching video on it - all in one stop - then I'd prefer to buy the cheapest graphics option and save some serious cash.

    And if I just need to bump to a GT 130 with 512, that works too.

    Thanks for your advice. Really appreciate it.
  2. Jimmdean macrumors 6502

    Mar 21, 2007
    Those applications are currently CPU-intensive only. None of these GPUs will make a difference (yet).

    In your case you really need a quad-core machine more than anything else.

    If that is not possible for you, then future-proof yourself as best as possible and go with the 4850.
  3. ColeSQ thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 13, 2004
    Do you think it's worth the extra $600? I'll drop in more RAM for dirt, but that's all I'd have to do with the base 24" to get what I need since I can't afford the Pro. Or is there a compromise on GPU that I should seriously consider?

    Thanks for your earlier reply and advice as well.
  4. avihappy macrumors 6502


    Nov 15, 2006
    Between the GT 130 and Radeon 4850, the 4850 wins out, and it's only a 50 dollar upgrade over the GT 130. So go with the Radeon 4850 if you can. The GPU is really going to be used a lot more in the future as a CPU. The Grandcentral tech in Snow Leopard will let developers really take advantage of faster GPUs.

    Currently though, you will want the iMac to have a good CPU as well, as that will be the item that will be taxed by your usage.

    What's your budget?
  5. Jimmdean macrumors 6502

    Mar 21, 2007
    If someone just has to have an iMac, then I'm for spending as little as possible. The fact is that you have to spend $1999 to get the 4850, an overall quality level that can be attained for so much less on a non-Apple machine - or even an EFI-X machine (if you're so inclined).
    In your case, don't discount one (or 2) mac minis or an older Mac Pro.
    2 Minis will burn through that work a lot faster than a single iMac for less money. And any recent Mac Pro has the kind of power you could use.
    Obviously with either of those choices you can get a nicer monitor than the one included with the iMac - it's nice enough, but it really straddles the fence with some people.
  6. ColeSQ thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 13, 2004
    Thanks for the information.

    My budget is necessarily restricted to any option, but I definitely need to try to avoid spending beyond my core requirements since I'm known to go back to the well from time to time. Totally agree about going the extra 50 bucks if the 4850 is the clear winner. Is there any understanding out there as to whether Grand Central will better utilize NVidia GPUs than ATI? With the Apple/NVidia alliance it made me curious.

    I guess the summary is that I want to avoid nonstop beachballing if I'm using the box to work while HB and EyeTV are cranking away, and I definitely don't want either compromising the other's end product and/or collectively deadlocking the system. If I can add the ability to watch live TV and/or a movie on the box that would be killer. But I would doubt I'd be working video in iMovie more than once or twice a week for an hour or so.

    Thanks again - really appreciate the help.
  7. ColeSQ thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 13, 2004
    That brings an interesting angle into it. I've still got an Apple 23 display and an old Mac mini with a CD CPU that's painful to use for any of the transcoding work - in fact it's unacceptable for converting EyeTV recordings to ATV compat profile - but I had considered doing two minis. What held me back were:
    - really need two screens of real estate (and planned to plug a MDP to DVI into the iMac to connect the monitor as an option to accomplish this
    - running VMs in Fusion hogs a lot of RAM (even 4GB is pushing it with anything else running), so I set 8GB as a minimum
    - have a FW800 Drobo handling all the storage as a DAS and didn't want to move video files over the wire nonstop

    Mac Pro would be great but haven't seen any real good deals out there and still doesn't address my desire to have another monitor in the deal. Thoughts? (Thanks again)
  8. Jimmdean macrumors 6502

    Mar 21, 2007
    The original Core Duos are pretty slow in comparison. You could upgrade the cpu in that mini (buy a T7600-Merom off Ebay) which would help with everything or buy the Turbo h.264 (also from Elgato) - that would help at least with the EyeTV transcoding, either would would bring that Mini back to life for you.
    I think you should also check out - that's all I'll say about that...
  9. chewietobbacca macrumors 6502

    Jun 18, 2007
    Personally I don't think Apple would push out a higher end GPU if it was going to be crippled once Snow Leopard hits. Besides, Grand Central uses OpenCL which is an API open to both Nvidia and ATI so theoretically, the ATI GPU provides more gpgpu power.

Share This Page