iMac Retina, or iMac 3.2Ghz with 1Tb fusion hdd?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by macuser3112, Apr 12, 2015.

  1. macuser3112 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2015
    #1
    Hi,

    I'm debating whether to buy the standard iMac 3.2GHz with a customised 1Tb Fusion drive, or the Retina iMac 2.5Gz.

    I know the Retina has a great screen. To my understanding, this will be the same size as the other non-retina screens, same screen real estate in a retina view, but 4 times better. I mainly would watch movies on my screen, and I'm happy with my current 21.5" iMac (watching movies), so this isn't a deal breaker for my buying decision.

    My usage will be all day for multiple applications but mostly simple apps like multiple browsers, iTunes, Evernote, notes, Microsoft Word/Excel, Skype, GoToMeeting or video meetings, etc. A mix of "home" and "work".

    Speed and durability will be the deal breaker. Is the 3.2Ghz with a fusion drive very similar to the Retina? In some reviews, I'm actually reading that the standard 8Gb on the Retina is NOT ENOUGH - with basic apps like the above, it seems rather slow, and people recommended the 16Gb. This is something I read on a Google search today (other forum posts). Is it true?

    That makes me think, which is faster? Is Retina using up performance?

    I want to get the faster machine out of the two, the iMac 27" fusion or the iMac Retina. I need to pay around $350 more in my country (in Asia) for the difference. I would rather save money than get the amazing screen, BUT if the Retina is just faster/better for performance, I'd invest in the Retina for the bonus of the screen.

    If the Retina is SLOWER though (regardless of it having more video memory and a faster chipset), I'd definitely go for the iMac 27" standard with 1tb fusion.

    Please help me decide!!!! Is there a performance difference?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. andy9l macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2009
    Location:
    England, UK
    #2
    Yes, there is a performance difference - the base retina iMac outperforms the base 2013 iMac, based on benchmarks. Truth is, you'll never push your machine to benchmark limits, so you probably won't notice this.

    The bit about RAM is nonsense and is completely dependant on your own personal usage. You can upgrade the RAM yourself for a few $$$ (takes ~30 seconds and does not void any warranty) if you find your browsers and MS Office work are suddenly putting stress on 8GB. They won't, though.

    Go for the retina. Don't buy an already dated machine for the sake of the minimal price difference. The retina iMac will definitely not be slower than the 2013 iMac for the tasks you are doing.
     
  3. macuser3112 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Apr 12, 2015
    #3
    Decided :) Thanks so much!! I'll for the retina simply because it is newer, faster, with the bonus of the screen.

    ----------

    Also Andy, just something I found, here's a link to one of the "slow" issues of the Retina,
    https://discussions.apple.com/thread/6624344
    This particular issue discusses a lag on mission control. My main concern is that I don't want to pay more for any "disadvantage" - it should ideally be only advantageous to move from a iMac 27" 1Tb fusion to a iMac 27" Retina. Any thoughts are welcome :)
     
  4. andy9l macrumors 68000

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    Aug 31, 2009
    Location:
    England, UK
    #4
    So the M290X has indeed come with some quirks and negativity. Upon launch, it really seemed to struggle with the 5K resolution in certain animations (such as Mission Control).

    OS X 10.10.3 has recently been released and I've seen numerous threads in here recently with happy M290X users going as far as saying the latest updated has 'worked wonders' with their base iMac. 10.10.3 had somewhat of a focus on 5K resolution support as it brought 5K external display support to the Mac Pro and, I believe, iMac (requires dual DisplayPort).

    I'd advise you to have a look around, but bear in mind there will be a lot of negativity before this week, so you will get a skewed version of today's reality. If you can get yourself to a store - give the display model a good run before you buy it.

    Again, given your usage, I very highly doubt you'll have any issues. I do understand your concern, however. It's not a cheap machine.
     
  5. aevan macrumors 68000

    aevan

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2015
    Location:
    Serbia
    #5
    The 10.10.3 brings great improvements for the M290X, but the Mission Control can stil lag with lots of stuff open. Photoshop especially does it for me - open that, couple of safari tabs, Evernote, OneNote - and it definitely lags. However, it is better than it used to be - and quite usable (even if not perfectly smooth). But the lag is still there, no denying it. However, with just a few windows open, it's smooth and has no problems. Preview animations have been improved as well.

    Now, in my experience, everything else works really fast. I am not sure what is the deal with Mission Control, but throughout the years, a lot of different Macs with different versions of OS X have struggled with it. For me, it's definitely not a deal-breaker - it works fine, great at times, a bit choppy but usable at others.

    However, there is an entirely different area of performance where Retina iMacs, even the upgraded versions seemingly show worse results than the non-retina models. I say seemingly, because you have to take resolution into account. One such example is Lightroom. With Lightroom, a typical 10Mp RAW photo will be displayed in 50% zoom on a non-retina 27" iMac and all the effect previews will work with, essentially, a 5Mp image. Only after you press 'OK' will the effect be applied to the full photo. However, on Retina iMacs, the preview will work with a full, 100% sized photo (which can now fit entirely on the screen) and even with faster i5 and i7 CPUs, the preview will still feel slower. There are several examples of this, but at this point, it's just how it is. Lightroom is a good example as it doesn't currently use the GPU, only CPU. Even with brand new Skylake CPUs the difference will still be there, 4x the pixels is 4x more demanding. It will probably take a few generations for apps like Lightroom to seem as smooth as on non-retina models (although in reality they are faster, the effect is applied faster on the full image, for example).

    So, that's how it is. For me - the Retina resolution is much more productivity boosting than the speed in some areas. For you - it may depend on your preference. As others have pointed out - trying it for yourself may help you decide, if you're still having second thoughts. For me - I'd choose Retina over non-retina any day of the week.
     
  6. macuser3112 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Apr 12, 2015
    #6
    Thanks guys. I'm going to try to go to a store to check if out properly, but I'm not an "expert" Mac user. I use my current iMac 21.5" for lots of applications and I swipe to the corners of my screen to switch applications by using Mission Control regularly.

    I'll open Skype, Firefox, Chrome, possibly online meeting software (once in a while), Evernote, Notes, VLC media player, Word, Excel regularly. Sometimes iPhone and iTunes.

    So, I mainly want the 'right' 27" desktop that will both be long lasting (let's think like 5 years like my current desktop is), and will be "smooth". My current desktop is now just too slow for the above and so I need an upgrade so that everything works "smooth" and "fast".

    So I'm sure non-retina and retina will both meet my needs. As Andy said, go for the retina as it's both better on performance and a newer machine. Aevan you said you'd go for the retina for your own needs anyday.

    I'm inclined to go for the Retina. However, is there a risk of the applications above being "faster" at all on the non-retina? I sounds like not, and I was concerned that the "retina" factor could need more demand out of the processor (thereby causing a lag here and there), but as a retina user, do you see a possibility of "slowness" or "lag" (for everything other than mission control, which is established as having a problem and improvement with the recent OS upgrade). Also, does the non-retina not have this lag?

    Again it sounds like you both have a clear recommendation for me, but given my apps above I would appreciate some final thoughts.

    Thanks,
    Rishi
     
  7. aevan macrumors 68000

    aevan

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2015
    Location:
    Serbia
    #7
    The apps you mentioned will work faster or same on the iMac Retina. And the text will be much more clear and beautiful on the retina display. If you can afford it, there is no doubt, Retina is way to go.
     
  8. redheeler macrumors 603

    redheeler

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2014
    #8
    If you use Mission Control a lot try the setting System Preferences > Accessibility > Reduce transparency. In Yosemite this is known to reduce Mission Control lag.
     
  9. andy9l macrumors 68000

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    #9

    The apps above are one of the main reasons I'm recommending the retina over non-retina. You've got nothing demanding, no need for the upgraded processor or video card, no incompatible apps.

    The benefits of the retina outweigh the benefits of the non-retina for your use case.

    Remember you likely have a 14 day return period, depending on where you live (can't see your location on Tapatalk).
     
  10. aesc80, Apr 13, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2015

    aesc80 macrumors 6502

    aesc80

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2015
    #10
    OP - If money is absolutely not a problem, then getting a Retina iMac is a complete no brainer. Since money is no object, you can max out the thing and be future proof for a while.

    I will share that my case is different in comparison to most people here on MR. The primary reason why I went for a non-retina over the retina iMac is due to a small scope of reasons that does not apply to all - the need to go into Target Display Mode was 100% necessary. I use a retina Macbook Pro for work, and wanted a Mac for home as well as a display so that I can simply work on my MP off a display. Since the retina iMac does not support Target Display Mode, it become a huge negative for me.

    Sure, I could have bought a retina iMac and simply ran Screen Sharing, but the response time was just not to my liking. Plus, I get the benefit of my job providing a "free" copy of Adobe Photoshop Multimedia Suite on my MP. It would have been a pain to use Screen Sharing for Photoshop, and I was in no position to buy a retina iMac and my own copy of Photoshop, when I can get a non-retina and use my MP as I please at home.

    I'm a software engineer that does hobby programming on my iMac (Java, Ruby with some JBoss development), run a few virtual machines (though not all at the same time), and play with some emulators, along side the typical Microsoft Office and web browsing. While an i7 and an SSD would have made this machine excellent, an i5, external SSD and maxed out ram is more than enough to keep me happy. Trust everyone that you will rarely find yourself maxing out your machine (unless you're running Eclipse, a few JBoss servers, and a VM, then it can be murder).

    Simply weigh out what's more important to you and see if that all falls into place for you. I agree with most people here that the retina iMac would fit you perfectly, as you don't have an hard constraints that would make the retina iMac a negative. As a minority in the bunch, I had to get the non-retina - and I couldn't be happier with my decision.
     
  11. macuser3112 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Apr 12, 2015
    #11
    Thanks a lot guys! Really appreciate the detail! I'm going for the Retina. (Andy I'm located in Sri Lanka, no return policy but it's ok!) I have another question (you may think I'm a little Apple-crazy, but I'm just asking this question as this is a part of my purchase list in the long run).

    I also wanted to purchase a laptop that I can use for exactly the same applications when I'm on the go. It's between the Macbook Air and the Macbook (as I'd like something lightweight and good on performance for what I'm using, but ideally not heavy on price). The Macbook Air stands out because it has the USB ports that I need for my external hard drives. If I do go for the Air, I'd either want the 13 inch on:

    - 128Gb
    - 256Gb
    - 256Gb with 8Gb RAM (customised)

    For longevity, what would you recommend? Really, the 128Gb would suit my needs. But a few years down the line, this may be considered very small disk space. 4Gb RAM is also a minimum today, so I'm wondering whether an 8Gb upgrade would better suit my need for running multiple applications. As mentioned before they are:

    >My usage will be all day for multiple applications - namely Skype, Firefox, Chrome, possibly online meeting software, Evernote, Notes, VLC media player, Word, Excel. Sometimes iPhoto and iTunes.

    Any particular recommendations? I'm particularly wondering whether it is worth customising to 8Gb just to be safe or if the 4Gb is absolutely a great fit for my needs for the years to come, but also whether the 128Gb just could run out. It wouldn't be my primary machine since a lot of my stuff will be on an external drive, but HDD space is always useful.

    In addition, it would be nice to plug the Thunderbolt connector of the laptop to an external monitor (like a Samsung one) when I'm at the office.

    Thanks!
     
  12. aesc80 macrumors 6502

    aesc80

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2015
    #12
    Sounds like money really is no object! Unfortunately, I don't know enough about the new Macbook, but I can give a few pointers.

    - ALLOWS MAX OUT THE MEMORY on Macbooks (Air, regular, pro). The memory is usually soldered onto the motherboard at installation time, so upgrading is pretty much impossible after you've purchased it.

    - ALLOWS CHOOSE AN SSD ABOVE 256GB. While you may religiously stick all your non-app files in external drives or dropboxes, you'll want to house some of those files on the SSD at some point - either movies or if you're doing photo editing. If you're currently using an OSX device, check out how much space you've dedicated to app already. Then estimate the space given - current app space dedicated, and compare it to the number of files you're comfortable with putting on the drive. That should be able to give you some kind of feel towards the space needed. I'm easily occupying 300GB on my MP, though alot of that is servers, source code, scripts, and other items I need for work that I normally wouldn't want to house on an external drive.

    If outputing to an external monitor is important, it may be best to go with the Air. Having a single USB Type C and splitting them out with an adapter kind of kills the entire purpose of the Macbook anyway.
     
  13. macuser3112 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Apr 12, 2015
    #13
    Money IS an object :) hehe, it just happens that both my desktop and business laptop are old/slow and eventually the laptop will need replacing too. I thought this is a great place to ask while we're on the topic.

    Sounds like the Air is for me, at 256Gb. The question I am not clear about is the 4Gb (standard) vs. 8Gb (customised) memory. Is this something that I should upgrade to, given my app usage? Obviously I prefer to save, but again my goal is towards a long lasting laptop that I can use for years to come with these similar applications.
     
  14. Trhodezy macrumors regular

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    Dec 29, 2010
    #14

    Just read through all your thread - you're making me want a retina iMac again now! Haha.

    Go for the 8GB. 4GB is great on the MacBook Air if you're using applications individually, the moment you start using several it does occasionally slow down a tad. 8GB. Trust me.
     
  15. andy9l macrumors 68000

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    England, UK
    #15
    I think you'll miss the retina screen when you're using the Air.

    Just thought I'd mention it ;)
     
  16. macuser3112 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Apr 12, 2015
    #16
    Great! Thanks a lot! What amazing feedback, thanks guys :) Clearly the retina is coming your way on your next purchase Trhodezy!

    Andy, lol, probably, but hopefully not :) Thanks again for all the feedback.
     
  17. Trhodezy macrumors regular

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    Dec 29, 2010
    #17
    Oh yes, iMac 5K and a Retina MacBook I think. ;) all put on my business expenses of course...

    Good luck with whatever you choose; all the devices you've mentioned are awesome. Enjoy!
     
  18. macuser3112 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Apr 12, 2015
    #18
    haha!! Thanks!
     
  19. tillsbury macrumors 65816

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    #19
    The perfect combination without a doubt.... Roll on May delivery! :)
     
  20. redheeler macrumors 603

    redheeler

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    Oct 17, 2014
    #20
    Retina iMac + 13" rMBP is the perfect combo, but Retina iMac + Retina MacBook is a close second ;)
     
  21. tillsbury macrumors 65816

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    #21
    A luggable computer! How quaint... :)
     
  22. redheeler macrumors 603

    redheeler

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    #22
    That's why I ditched my 15"! The 13" rMBP is the perfect middle point between a luggable desktop and a glorified tablet :)
     

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