Intel Imac 20" (Graphics Memory question)

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by fanmac, Jun 26, 2006.

  1. fanmac macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2006
    Ok I need some advice if possible please. I'm a home user - I do quite a lot of Photoshop and Dreamweaver and then normal web, etc use. (This is not a question about Rsoetta and slowness - I get all the issues on that front)

    I have a choice between 17" and 20" (either will have 2GB RAM and 250GB hard drive). Now that means £1,288 for 17" or £1,478 for 20" with 128 SDRAM. I figure the 17" will be fine for my needs, but for £200 more!!!

    BUT, is it a requisite that I should upgrade the SDRAM to 256mb for the 20"? I'm not a gamer, but will the larger screen size suffer on 128mb SDRAM?

    Thanks for any advice
  2. neomancer macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2006
    Wrong memory?

    The imac comes with 512 MB of ram (DDR2-SDRAM) standard. I recommend that you upgrade to at least 1GB to ensure that everything runs smoothly. I guess you where refering to the video memory. The ATI Radeon X1600 graphics processor comes with 128MB of GDDR3 SDRAM. You can upgrade it to 256MB. Both configurations can handle the imac 20' quite well. ;)
  3. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    Short answer -- 2D applications have little or no benefit from expanded VRAM.

    All the hysteria over the MacBook for example "OMG the machine has only 64 Mb Video memory it'll be useless for Photoshop" is uninformed blathering. Do you know what Adobe says about VRAM? Nothing. "1,024x768 monitor resolution with 16-bit video card" that's it. In all their pages of performance enhancements for Photoshop they do not mention VRAM once.

    128 Mb VRAM - and indeed 64 Mb VRAM - is far and away enough to handle a 20" screen at full colour. 1650 x 1080 = 1.8 megapixels. at 24 bit colour (8 bits per R,G,B) that's still -- 5.4 Mb of data. Throw in an alpha channel etc. and you're still looking at less than 16 Mb required. OSX Quartz uses some more VRAM -- but you get the picture.

    A software program only benefits from additional VRAM if it is programmed to use that VRAM -- which you typically see only in games and in video based applications, perhaps in 3D modelling and animation programs.
  4. mmmcheese macrumors 6502a


    Feb 17, 2006
    If you happen to connect a second monitor to it (which you might be considering if you use photoshop a lot), remember that an extended desktop halves your video memory and allocates half to each screen (so 64MB each). This should still be lots, even for the 24" screen, but it's something to consider. (I don't think the 30" is supported on the iMac, is it? If it is, you might want to consider the higher video memory.)
  5. fanmac thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2006
    Thanks for the comments, much appreciated. As I don't play games at all, I'll save myself £50 then by not upgrading the graphics memory.

    Thanks all
  6. j26 macrumors 65832


    Mar 30, 2005
    Just a little thing to think of if you plan on selling it on - people are more impressed by bigger numbers, and 256 sounds a lot more than 128 (even if it makes no difference. Some people always have to have the biggest spec possible.

    Whether that's worth £50 more is questionable (will it add £50 to its resale value), but may be worth considering.
  7. QCassidy352 macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    I think that's a good point. I think it will add at least that much to the resale, not to mention that you might find yourself wanting the extra VRAM later on. IMO it's usually a good idea to spring for (relatively) cheap upgrades that can't be done later.
  8. shaolindave macrumors member

    Jul 19, 2006
    what about gamers

    primarily i want to do video editing, AMVs and such. i also do online comic strips so i'll be using graphics programs similar to photoshop. 128 is obviously more than enough for that.

    but i am also a gamer, i do intend to dual-boot my imac so i can play some great high-demand games that i already have, like half-life and f.e.a.r.

    f.e.a.r. doesn't have very high system requirements, but you have to have a system far beyond the requirements, even higher than the recommended requirements, to get the visual effects that make the game great. the PC i currently use has 256MB AGP, that runs f.e.a.r. about the same quality as the 128MB laptop (AGP? who knows?) that i just got rid of.

    i'm not sure wether i need to stay with 256 to keep this video quality, or if the jump from AGP to PCI-express will be enough. also, i want this imac to be great for future games as well.

    in the grand scheme of things, how much does VRAM help gaming?

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