iMac Specs and Size Decisions

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Shennaniah, Dec 5, 2010.

  1. Shennaniah macrumors newbie

    Sep 24, 2010
    Hi everyone! I'm kinda new here... :)

    I'm about to buy an iMac, and need some help in the final part of my decision-making.

    Many threads on this site have been very helpful for answering most of my questions, but now I just need some tailor-made advice for this last bit. Thanks in advance! :D

    Questions about specs first...

    I'd use the comp for:
    • the regular stuff (internet, email, word docs, music)
    • quite a bit of graphics work in programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and Painter
    • Bootcamp for a few graphics-intensive games (Cabal, Assassin's Creed, ...Maplestory? lol)
    • Bootcamp for graphics programs that aren't available for the mac os

    So, on the following 2 specs, please tell me which option would be good, but not redundantly powerful.

    Core2Duo/ i3/ i5/ i5 Quad/ i7 Quad
    ATI Radeon... 4670 with 256MB/ 4850 with 512MB/ 5670 with 512MB/ 5750 with 1GB

    I'm also trying to decide on size. 21.5" is actually a fine size for me, but the maximum specs for 21"s are 3.6GHz, i5, 5670 with 512MB. If this is enough ("comfortably enough"... I don't want "just enough") for my needs, then great. Otherwise I'll have to look at the 27"s for better specs-- unless you know how to beef up the 21" while keeping it cheaper than the 27"s.

    Price isn't tooo much of an issue. I can afford up to a 27", 2.93GHz, i7 Quad, 5750 with 1GB. But if my maximum uses require significantly less than that, then I don't want to pay for power that's so far beyond necessary.

    "Buy the best you can afford" is tempting, but in the end I'm a little too pragmatic and stingy for that. ;)

    Any advice/pointers/stories from experience would be welcome! Thank you! :D
  2. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    The screen estate that 27" offers is really amazing in photo editing. If you can, definitely go for the 27", it's worth it.

    As for the specs, go for quad core as that is more "future-proof". You also mentioned gaming and some other graphic apps so I would go for the high-end (i7 + 5750). Your usage should benefit from the better CPU and GPU as graphics apps can be very demanding and fast CPU and GPU will cut down the rendering times.
  3. biggd macrumors 6502


    Apr 6, 2008
    Truely the best you can afford is the best option
    Lets say you spend an extra $300, that may result in you having increased usability (power or speed wise) for another year or two.
    Only real power users (*sighs* and fanboys...) should be updating their Mac's on a 2-3year rotation. Outside of that, your Mac should last a normal user 5-6 years, depending on RAM and maybe a harddrive swap to prolong life.
  4. SpitUK macrumors 6502


    Mar 5, 2010
    East Yorkshire, UK
    If you can afford it then go for the i7 27", you will not be disappointed!
  5. Shennaniah thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 24, 2010
    Wow guys, thanks for all the quick and helpful responses. :D Seems like you're all going for the 27" i7.

    Are you recommending the 27" more for the size or the specs? I'm not a multitasker (at least on computers), so I really don't need that kind of size... and I'd hate to be guilt-tripped every time I used a 27" and see inches of unused space along the sides!

    Whether 21" or 27", is 3.6GHz i5, Radeon 5670 with 512mb really not enough? (Sorry, I do get your points about the i7 Quad. I just want to make absolutely sure that I'm not throwing away the extra $450. I'm not in the US earning USD, and $450 is a pretty hefty amount in our currency.)

    At the Apple store, they said that i7 Quad is overkill for me, and I'm inclined to agree. I know that pros and serious gamers would definitely get the i7 Quad, but I don't think my uses would be quite as heavy as theirs, and therefore I wouldn't need the top-of-the-line like they do... ..right?

    Another question on a slightly different line. Which is better: 2.8GHz i5 Quad, ATI 5750 with 1GB /or/ 2.8GHz i7 Quad, ATI 4850 with 512MB? 4850 sounds way too weak for a 27", but maybe the i7 compensates enough.

    I've heard that the same graphics card on a larger screen isn't as good because it has more screen space to manage. Is there a big diff between a 5670 with 512MB on a 21.5" and on a 27"?

    Okay, I'll write out the specs of the ones I'm trying to decide between. They're refurbs, and I've included the links in case you want to see the full specs. Please compare and tell me what you think! (Although you kinda already have, lol.)

    21.5" 3.6GHz i5
    5670 with 512MB GDDR3

    27" 3.6GHz i5
    5670 with 512MB GDDR3

    27" 2.66GHz i5 Quad-core
    4850 with 512MB GDDR3

    27" 2.8GHz i5 Quad-core
    5750 with 1 GB GDDR5

    27" 2.8GHz i7 Quad-core
    4850 with 512MB GDDR3

    27" 2.93GHz i7 Quad-core
    5750 with 1GB GDDR5
    $1900 (ouch..)

    Thanks, all! Without your help, I'll be stuck in indecision limbo forever and end up not getting an imac! :eek:
  6. JustSomeDude macrumors regular

    Apr 10, 2010
    How long are you planning on using this computer as the primary computer for the tasks you described? This should factor in - you want something powerful enough to handle more powerful graphical effects in future versions of photoshop and the like and future games in the categories you like. Of course, if you're only going to hold on to the computer for a short time, you don't have to factor for this.

    Also, you have to figure how much you value your time. Then you have to figure out how much time the different performing computers save you. Even if you don't use the computer for work, you should assign some value to your time (in fact, some people may assign more value to their 'free' time than their work time).

    You'll have to look at benchmarks to figure how much time is saved. Some of the benchmarks may not be available for the mac platform, but you should still be able to find ones for the different processors on the windows platform, which should still give a fairly good idea of the time savings.

    There's also the annoyance tolerance factor. If you bought a computer that was sufficient 95% of the time, but really bogged down the other 5%, how much would it bother you? For some people, it wouldn't be a big deal, for others it would drive them nuts. The higher end computer should have much less of these annoying moments, or at least be more tolerable when they occur.

    Personally, I'm the type that would rather overbuy to some degree. I just look as the amount spread out over the time I will use the computer and find the difference per month to be small enough to not worry (or course if you update often you may not find that to be true.) For example, if you use the computer for 4 years, the difference between the low and high end is about an extra $9.40 per month. To some that would be worth the difference, but others may not think so.

    Of course, the other thing you should consider is what you would do with the money you saved if you bought the cheaper computer? You should consider the opportunity cost. What would you be unable to do if you bought the more expensive computer?

    But as for as my actual opinion, I would tend to side with hellhammer's suggestion.
  7. Shennaniah thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 24, 2010
    Hey JustSomeDude, :)

    Most of me is in agreement with you and all the other replies- to go with the best specs.

    But at the same time, there's that little niggling feeling. I know that the IT world (and especially Apple) is set up to make consumers spend more than they need to. "Oh, just $100 more for this... $75 for that... $120 for this... I might as well get these upgrades since I'm spending so much anyway..." But then we end up paying for oomph that we end up not touching at all (not even a few years down the road). I'd go straight for the 27" i7 Quad if it wasn't for the little voice in my head telling me not to get suckered by clever marketing!

    I do plan to use this imac for maybe... 6 years-ish? So that's $6.25 extra per month, lol!

    And yeah you're right about that annoyance tolerance factor. That's a point I brought up when discussing with my parents. The whole reason I'm upgrading from my little 13" MBBlack is so I can have my application and game graphics run smoother/faster. Would be a pity and a pain to scrimp on a few hundred bucks, and then find that things still don't run perfectly well. Hurts just thinking about it!

    But it's also not a great thought that I might spend all that extra money to buy power that I might potentially NEVER touch.

    So my question is: what are good specs for my uses?

    From there, I'll over-buy a little. Like if i5 is good enough, then I'll get i5 Quad to factor in future usage. If 4850 GDDR3 with 512MB is fine on a 27", then I'll get 5670.

    As for "what would I do with the money I saved if I bought the cheaper computer", well, I'm not the one paying for it. I'd be fine with splurging if it was my own cash, but this is a combined graduation & Christmas present from my parents, so I want to be considerate and not take advantage of their money.

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