iMac specs for Win10 in Parallels

Discussion in 'iMac' started by appleisler, Jun 21, 2017.

  1. appleisler macrumors member

    Oct 31, 2010
    Hobart, Australia
    I currently have a mid-2011 27" iMac with a 256GB flash and a 2TB internal HDD - pretty sure this was the maxed out version and it has been a fantastic computer. My work involves mainly spreadsheets and word processing but I also run a stock charting application (64bit Optuma, formerly Market Analyst 8) on Windows 10 via Parallels 12. I upgraded to 16GB of RAM a while back and most of this gets used when the VM is running.

    At the moment, I use the flash drive as my 'operating' drive with the OS and the VM and frequently used stuff while the 2TB HDD is for archive plus Phots and iTunes. I have 152GB on the flash drive and around 500GB on the HDD.

    So how best to spec my new iMac to get the best performance without over speccing? I haven't used Handbrake since Netflix arrived and I don't code and I'm not a photographer (well I am because I have kids but I don't do any editing or rarely and my camera is my iPhone). Most of the discussions around Specs and use cases seem to focus on coding, gaming, photography and video so I'm not sure how to evaluate what my needs are.

    I think the 8GB GPu is probably the way to go?
    But I cannot decide if I need the i7 or will the i5 be more than sufficient?

    If I get the 3TB fusion, I will have masses of room in a neat box and most of my operating stuff will fit on the SSD anyway? What advantage is there to going SSD for me do you think? I would be very reluctant to go less than 1TB for SSD and that would be a stretch.

    But maybe the i5 + 1TB SSD is a better spec for my purposes than i7+3TB Fusion?

    I would like to keep my machine for 5 years although curious about selling and upgrading more often and I don't want to have to boot camp ever (recently did it on my 2011 11" MacBook Air specifically for the charting software which has to run on Win7 on that machine - its given it a bit more life but would never do this on my iMac).

    I will upgrade the RAM when it gets here obviously and might even go up to 24GB...

    What do you think is the order of importance for the various elements - GPU, CPU, RAM, Storage?
  2. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    Any specs would be sufficient in that it'll run, but for the purposes of longevity (5+ years), to guarantee a significant performance boost over your current machine, and of course for your usage I'd suggest the following:

    - i7 over i5; the performance difference is huge and the hyperthreading in the i7 will vastly benefit VM performance (you can allocate double the amount of cores)
    - 8GB GPU as again the performance difference is great and this should allow great graphics performance/more VRAM allocation in VM
    - Pure Flash, don't go Fusion. Better reliability as you don't have a mechanical drive and considerably better performance. The read/write speeds would mean your VM runs like butter and general performance in every area will slay.
    - BTO RAM is inconsequential of course as you'll be looking to upgrade that yourself. But more RAM means more multitasking so a bump to at least 16GB is worth looking into down the line.

    If I had to pick in order of importance then I'd say:

    1) Storage (pure SSD, no Fusion). This will be the biggest real-world factor with regards to how snappy your computer seems.
    2) CPU. Again a huge bump between the i5 and i7.
    3) GPU. Better/smoother animations and a huge amount of VRAM to play with.
    4) RAM. Very important of course but as it's user upgradable you can simply throw in another DIMM or two if you find the system's paging under load, so with regards to your original BTO you don't need to immediately concern yourself with that.

    Again, I'd get the full potato and max out that beast. You're looking to keep it for 5+ years and it'll be reassuring to have the knowledge that it'll handle anything you can throw at it down the line.

    Sorry for the long winded reply though I hope this helped!
  3. appleisler, Jun 22, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2017

    appleisler thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 31, 2010
    Hobart, Australia
    It helps hugely. I've been going around in circles all day and sort of have it down to either the top end i7 with fusion or the top end i5 with 1TB ssd - a price difference of $480aud. But if I just max it and have both i7 and SSD it's $800 extra. Over 5 years, that's not that horrendous and it slides in under $5k which is what the old one cost me back in 2011.

    If it's not overkill, which it sounds like it's not, I'm happy (and even more confident as I would hate to nerf myself) to go full potato.
  4. nambuccaheadsau macrumors 68000


    Oct 19, 2007
    Nambucca Heads Australia
    Look at it this way mate.

    If you keep the new iMac for six years like the 2011 model, if you do not go for the i7 band Flash/SSD storage, you will regret it for the whole time you have it. I always find i7's are much easier to sell when the time comes, and with say the 3015 model, a few hundred bucks more.
  5. Robbo1 macrumors member

    Apr 4, 2017
    I just got my first iMac-- i7 580 1TB SSD 8GB RAM upgraded to 40 GB aftermarket-- replacing my seven year old Win 7 machine. The most important software I use is Quicken whose Mac version is still not up to snuff (particularly when it comes to investment tracking). I can say that so far the new machine runs like a charm. I installed Parallels 12 with Win 10 and Quicken 2015 for Win, which I run in coherence mode. Allocating 2 cores and 8 GB to the VM, it runs a very large Quicken file faster than my old PC. Using the SSD, launching Quicken in coherence mode when the VM is shut down takes a total of about 20 seconds. The computer is virtually silent and the fan never goes above idle on Parallels. I can't say if my setup is overkill (wanted to unify the house on one OS, try some video editing and maybe play some strategy games) but I am pleased with performance (and that gorgeous screen) so far.
  6. appleisler thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 31, 2010
    Hobart, Australia

    Sounds good - I've pulled the trigger on the same machine as you although aftermarket I will probably only go to 24gb RAM to begin with. I like to use Optuma in coherence mode as well so it sounds like I won't regret my decision...

    Next decision is a new external drive initially to help me move across to new machine and then to become my bootable backup. The drive I'm using for this currently is about the same vintage as the old 2011 iMac and therefore likely to be unreliable (and oh so slow)...

    Also I 'm thinking to use migration assistant for the first time - can it transfer data from 2 drives or only the drive that has the OS on it?

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