iMac i5 vs i7 real life difference for average user

iMi

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I am getting ready to order the new iMac.

Here's where I am struggling with a decision. The upgrade to i7 is actually reasonable. The question is whether or not the extra power is really noticeable in real life situations. I've seen a lot of discussion on the topic, but most talk about either synthetic tests or specific applications (video editing or coding).

So, here's the questions. What about everyday use? Let's say a situation where you have several spreadsheets open (some with Macros) and email, calendar, a browser with a few windows. Maybe occasional Photos editing?

How about working with graphics intensive presentations and sales sheets? Long reports with lots of multimedia?

It seems like the i5 will handle all those tasks smoothly. Will i7 be better? If so, will the difference be noticeable?

Thanks for your input.
 

casperes1996

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I am getting ready to order the new iMac.

Here's where I am struggling with a decision. The upgrade to i7 is actually reasonable. The question is whether or not the extra power is really noticeable in real life situations. I've seen a lot of discussion on the topic, but most talk about either synthetic tests or specific applications (video editing or coding).

So, here's the questions. What about everyday use? Let's say a situation where you have several spreadsheets open (some with Macros) and email, calendar, a browser with a few windows. Maybe occasional Photos editing?

How about working with graphics intensive presentations and sales sheets? Long reports with lots of multimedia?

It seems like the i5 will handle all those tasks smoothly. Will i7 be better? If so, will the difference be noticeable?

Thanks for your input.
For normal use, CPUs don't matter too much beyond a certain point, and the i5 is beyond that point. With a display like the iMac's GPU is way more important. And for the use case you specify, RAM could be helpful too, along with an SSD or a large fusion drive, so you get a bigger SSD. Processor however is irrelevant
 
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Stefan johansson

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Depends on what you use it for. If you play fast paced video games,and do a lot of video editing or editing RAW files,there is a difference,for everything else the i5 works well.
 
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casperes1996

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Depends on what you use it for. If you play fast paced video games,and do a lot of video editing or editing RAW files,there is a difference,for everything else the i5 works well.
I would argue that even in games you're more likely to be GPU bottlenecked than CPU bottlenecked.
And if the software supports GPU acceleration, it'll matter more to the latter two scenarios too, although the more power you can throw at a video system the better.
But for "common" tasks, which is what the OP is asking about, it won't matter
 
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iMi

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Depends on what you use it for. If you play fast paced video games,and do a lot of video editing or editing RAW files,there is a difference,for everything else the i5 works well.
There is only one game that I play regularly where the i7 may make a noticeable difference and that is Civilization 5 or 6. I believe the turn computation is CPU intensive.

Again, how much difference? 5 seconds faster? Who knows... I am leaning toward i5 due to the processor running cooler.
 
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casperes1996

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There is only one game that I play regularly where the i7 may make a noticeable difference and that is Civilization 5 or 6. I believe the turn computation is CPU intensive.
I play Civ too, and even at that, I can definitively say that the difference is unnoticeable really. I play it on both my MacBook Pro and my iMac, and graphics quality aside, the turn time is faster on the iMac, sure, but I doubt it's more than 1,5 seconds.
 
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JonMPLS

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Hey OP, thanks for the thread! I have been watching this forum for weeks and will be ordering my iMac before too long. But I am not a power user like so many here are. No games, just occasional RAW processing of trip photos, Photoshop, Lightroom, etc. And even when I am processing photos, it's just one at a time and I am not in too much of a hurry. Sounds like the i5 would suit me too.
 
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casperes1996

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Hey OP, thanks for the thread! I have been watching this forum for weeks and will be ordering my iMac before too long. But I am not a power user like so many here are. No games, just occasional RAW processing of trip photos, Photoshop, Lightroom, etc. And even when I am processing photos, it's just one at a time and I am not in too much of a hurry. Sounds like the i5 would suit me too.
Yeah - The lowest end processor you can get will do fine, though bumping to 16 gigs of RAM (if you like to do multiple things simultaneously - and by multiple, I mean like 6+) and getting a slightly faster GPU than the entry-level one could help how the computer feels, if you're willing to drop the extra cash. Not at all necessary for a good experience, but 14,7MP is a lot of pixels to drive
 
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EugW

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I am getting ready to order the new iMac.

Here's where I am struggling with a decision. The upgrade to i7 is actually reasonable. The question is whether or not the extra power is really noticeable in real life situations. I've seen a lot of discussion on the topic, but most talk about either synthetic tests or specific applications (video editing or coding).

So, here's the questions. What about everyday use? Let's say a situation where you have several spreadsheets open (some with Macros) and email, calendar, a browser with a few windows. Maybe occasional Photos editing?

How about working with graphics intensive presentations and sales sheets? Long reports with lots of multimedia?

It seems like the i5 will handle all those tasks smoothly. Will i7 be better? If so, will the difference be noticeable?

Thanks for your input.
Core 2 Duo is fine for that.
 
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mollyc

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My main thing is editing raw files. I currently work on a late 2012 iMac with 32GB RAM and a 3.4 GHz Intel Core i7 processor. I also have the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX 2048 MB graphics card.

My computer *does not* to export more than 20 or so files out of LR before the fan starts spinning and I feel like it gets angry at me. ;) Which model would work best for my needs? I don't do any video, but my main camera is a Nikon D800 and it has pretty huge files. I also work in PS with lots of layers per document.
 
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casperes1996

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My computer *does not* to export more than 20 or so files out of LR before the fan starts spinning and I feel like it gets angry at me. ;) Which model would work best for my needs? I don't do any video, but my main camera is a Nikon D800 and it has pretty huge files. I also work in PS with lots of layers per document.

Fan spinning up just means that it's doing what its meant to. Can't directly infer computing power based on that. A really inefficient CPU could perform way worse and need way more cooling.

If you think it's fast enough, the i5 probably will be too. You'll go a bit down in export speed, but fans might kick in a bit later and perhaps not at the same loudness. What's your priority? Race-to-sleep or? The actual work process won't be too affected, but your export times probably will take a bit longer, but if it doesn't matter so much, the entry-level i5 is fine
 
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iMi

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My main thing is editing raw files. I currently work on a late 2012 iMac with 32GB RAM and a 3.4 GHz Intel Core i7 processor. I also have the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX 2048 MB graphics card.

My computer *does not* to export more than 20 or so files out of LR before the fan starts spinning and I feel like it gets angry at me. ;) Which model would work best for my needs? I don't do any video, but my main camera is a Nikon D800 and it has pretty huge files. I also work in PS with lots of layers per document.
That is a concern here. Not only noise, but the extra heat as well. It could have an impact on how long-term reliability. That's what I am thinking right now. Then I think, but all this extra power for not much more money. :D

Universe, please show me the way!
 
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mollyc

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I do feel like my computer is slower than it should be. I will probably go with the i7. I don't buy computers very often so like to buy the best I can at the time.
 
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iMi

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I do feel like my computer is slower than it should be. I will probably go with the i7. I don't buy computers very often so like to buy the best I can at the time.
I am still on the fence myself. I don't necessary need it, but again, the cost isn't very high. Why not buy the best, like you said.

So, the obvious question. What are some downsides of having the i7?

Heat, noise? Anything else?
 
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casperes1996

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I am still on the fence myself. I don't necessary need it, but again, the cost isn't very high. Why not buy the best, like you said.

So, the obvious question. What are some downsides of having the i7?

Heat, noise? Anything else?

Well, whilst it will generally not use it as much, the i5 and the i7 technically have the same power/heat budget to work with. They are the same TDP. And the iMac is made to handle the parts. You really won't need the power of the i7 and for the most part I don't think you'll notice it, but I don't think you should worry too much about heat.
 
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iMi

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Well, whilst it will generally not use it as much, the i5 and the i7 technically have the same power/heat budget to work with. They are the same TDP. And the iMac is made to handle the parts. You really won't need the power of the i7 and for the most part I don't think you'll notice it, but I don't think you should worry too much about heat.
You. Are. Killing. Me. :D
 
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casperes1996

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You. Are. Killing. Me. :D
Whilst it's slowed down substantially, especially on the CPU side, computer power has traditionally grown exponentially, doubling every two years. I've therefore never had much faith in the idea of "future proofing", cause a top of the line, best of the best, will quickly be a mediocre part in the future, especially on single-thread performance, which is what matters to "everyday" programs.
I'd recommend getting the i5 and putting the additional budget towards saving up for the next one you're getting, in 5 year's time or whatever it'll be.
 
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nambuccaheadsau

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Whilst I use the i7 for graphic design, when I give it away I would opt for an i5 with more than adequate memory and PCI-e flash storage. Having said that one thing I have noted over the past few iMacs I have had, an i7 always sells much faster on the used market and for a better price.

At the end of the day it is the buyer's buck and the buyer's decision which bis why I will be going to the iMac Pro when they become available despite 'geeks' here telling me I do not want one lol!
 
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casperes1996

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At the end of the day it is the buyer's buck and the buyer's decision which bis why I will be going to the iMac Pro when they become available despite 'geeks' here telling me I do not want one lol!

Well, if you can put the power to use, why'd they say that? It's absolutely brilliant! And for what it is, relatively cheap from what Apple has said.
 
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iMi

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Well, I just ordered the i7 version. Since the thermals and noise are expected to be the same as the higher-end i5 due to the same power consumption, why not go for extra performance. It's really not much more money.
 
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casperes1996

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Well, I just ordered the i7 version. Since the thermals and noise are expected to be the same as the higher-end i5 due to the same power consumption, why not go for extra performance. It's really not much more money.
Well, not exactly the same. The peak power consumption is the same on paper, but the i7 may be able to reach it with 'normal' float and integer calculus, whereas the i5 may only reach that TDP with AVX instructions. Regardless, the iMac can cool it down sufficiently. Noise may be a bit different, but don't worry about temperatures.
 
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BuCkDoG

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I think you answered your own question in the title of this thread. Average User = i5 all day long. The i7 is really for those who are NOT average users and in turn heavy power users who need hyper threading and higher clock speeds to render faster. Get the i5 for all day if your an average user but personally I would recommend the i7 since its the same 91W TDP on both the i5 and i7 so the cooler temperatures everyone is saying is not that noticeable.
 
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