Is an SSD worth sacrificing RAM and CPU?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by FubsyGamr, Jul 12, 2011.

  1. FubsyGamr macrumors regular

    Sep 20, 2010
    Basically, I am trying to keep my new iMac to $2500 (before taxes). Here is a list of the things that I would like to do with it:
    -Play Starcraft 2 (and similar, mac-compatible games) on the highest graphics possible
    -Stream Starcraft 2 in the highest quality possible
    -Record my screen while playing Starcraft 2
    -Be able to create, cut, and edit videos, then upload them to Youtube
    -Run long and complicated Matlab and programming files (studying in school for Computer Engineering)
    -Dabble in CS5, Aperture and Logic (I get them for free/cheap, at my school)
    -Run Parallels for basic programs in windows (nothing too intense, just some school programs that aren't Mac compatible
    -Make movies in iMovie (and I guess Logic, maybe) beyond my SC2 videos
    -Be able to show off my sexy computer :-D

    I already have a MacBook Pro that I will be taking around to school, and I have a 500 GB external harddrive, as well as a 2 TB external harddrive.

    I am planning on buying the 27" iMac. Here are my two options:

    Option 1: - $2499
    3.4GHz i7 CPU
    8GB RAM
    1TB HDD
    6970 2GB GPU


    Option 2: - $2499
    3.1GHz i5 CPU
    4GB RAM
    256 SSD
    6970 1GB GPU

    Basically, I would sacrifice a bit of everything else, in order to run the solid-state harddrive. I never would have considered it until I saw the video on youtube, where an iMac opens every one of it's programs in ~10 seconds. This really impressed me. However, I'm not sure the speed of the applications opening up will be worth sacrificing power in the CPU, RAM and GPU.

    I would love any/all opinions.

  2. MattSepeta macrumors 65816


    Jul 9, 2009
    375th St. Y
    Not sure how much memory WOW takes up, but I imagine if you get a big enough SSD boot/app drive WOW would scream.

    Keep in mind-
    You can always add more RAM later, you cannot add GHz.

    You CAN add an SSD if you want. I would say go for #1, but put the money spent on a 2gb gpu towards aftermarket RAM. 1gb GPU should be enough for most AFAIK.

    EDIT: I dont know much about gaming...
  3. RoyalFlushAK(s) macrumors member

    Jun 15, 2011
    don't sacrifice the CPU and the video
    the rest can be upgraded in the future but you can never upgrade the CPU or the video

  4. ZeD X macrumors regular

    Apr 26, 2011
    Go for option 1, for sure.

    Upgrade to SSD wen you want or when you can.

    You will "never" be able to upgrade the GPU and CPU.
  5. Michael383 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 17, 2011
    I'd get option 1. It's got the better CPU and GPU and you can get an SSD later if you need it.
  6. jive turkey macrumors 6502

    Mar 15, 2008
    If you are trying to configure through Apple, one thing to keep in mind is that they anally violate you on RAM prices. I'm not exactly sure what you need, but I would always suggest that you go with the bare minimum of pre-installed RAM and then load up through OWC or another Mac-proven retailer. You would save a fair amount of money that might let you upgrade another area.
  7. skasol macrumors 6502

    Sep 20, 2007
    you must not be using your student discount. that imac 27" with ssd and higher graphics card is $2700. why don't you just add the extra $200 and get it done with. I wouldn't buy 8GB from apple just get the standard 4GB and upgrade later on. just my .02 cents. I was about to buy this unit myself but waiting on new mac pro's to weight my pro's and cons. Good luck.
  8. itsmrjon macrumors regular

    Jun 11, 2011
    $2079 - 27" i7 iMac with student discount (base)
    $119.98 - 2x Corsair 8gb (2x4gb) kits [16gb total]
    $484.99 - OCZ Vertex 3 -
    Total $2683.97 + tax (don't where where you live, so I cant give an estimate on that)

    (Compare at Apple's $3249+tax price point for a similar, significantly slower build)

    Performance = ABSOLUTELY INSANE
    thread with benches for the aforementioned build

    My overall response... Buy the i7 imac and pick up the 16gb ram on newegg... throw in an SSD at a later date if you feel its necessary
  9. FubsyGamr thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 20, 2010
    Wow this looks great! I'm almost-definitely going to go with this route.

  10. solowmodel macrumors 6502

    Jan 11, 2011
    I used to game pretty heavily, Counter Strike, WoW, DotA/LoL and little dabbles in RTS (SCI mainly as I'm ethnically Korean^^).

    If you're serious about gaming, which from your 1st post you seem to be, I would highly advise against getting a 27" screen. It is just too big for serious gaming. Taking SCII as an example, it would not be possible to keep your main screen in your vision as well as checking on the minimap with your peripheral.

    Apart from gaming, the 27" will be killer for your needs.

    Up to you to weigh the trade-offs I guess :)
  11. Stygi macrumors newbie

    Jul 12, 2011
  12. iSayuSay macrumors 68030


    Feb 6, 2011
    Yeah, adding SSD later may get you cheaper and more performance compared to Apple's offering, but if you don't know how to diassemble or don't have the guts to do so, better wait for Thunderbolt external SSD.

    Your table may looks not as neat if iMac has internal SSD, but hey ... you can replace it or upgrade the capacity later. Thunderbolt open all the possibilities that could only be reached by internal drive.

    And also, if your iMac has some trouble in the future, you don't want to show up with iMac has been opened to install SSD, even if installation were done by authorized technician, it's still give them another reasont to deny your warranty or saying "you add hardware that is not authorized by Apple, so you screw your own iMac"

    Almost like going to hospital with shot wound and the bullet still inside :D
  13. Stygi macrumors newbie

    Jul 12, 2011
    They can't legally do that unless you damage something in the process.
    They CAN, however, remove and keep the drive or give you a different machine!
  14. MythicFrost macrumors 68040


    Mar 11, 2009
    If you want to play at native resolution (1440p) I highly recommend you get the 2GB graphics card. From what I know, StarCraft 2 chews up a lot of VRAM. The i7 CPU upgrade is the least needed imo. Do not purchase your RAM from Apple.

    I'd do this:

    • 3.1GHz i5
    • 256GB SSD
    • 4GB RAM
    • 6970M 2GB
    Purchase 8GB of RAM from OWC which costs $87. This'll bring your iMac up to 12GB of RAM.
  15. Kenndac macrumors 6502


    Jun 28, 2003
    I'd actually say option 2 - I have an i5 iMac with an SSD in it and use it for pretty much what you do - playing WoW and Starcraft 2, and using Aperture and Motion.

    This thing screams. The i7 may be faster, but the i5 is plenty fast enough! I upgraded the SSD in my iMac myself, and NEVER AGAIN will I attempt it. Even ignoring the warranty implications, it's such a horrible upgrade procedure - you seriously risk damaging your screen and motherboard in the process.

    Adding RAM, however, is super easy and cheaper if you buy it from somewhere other than Apple.
  16. sth macrumors 6502a

    Aug 9, 2006
    The old world
    Best solution IMHO, although I'm not sure if 2GB will make any difference in SC2.
  17. MythicFrost macrumors 68040


    Mar 11, 2009
    I think it will at 1440p. I've seen GTX 580 3GB cards advertise: "up to 2.5x more performance in StarCraft II at 1600p" than a 1.5GB card. Whilst maxing the game might not be possible with a 6970M, I'm convinced the VRAM will prevent bottlenecking.

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