Is it worth buying new 5k iMac or wait for next years update?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Smarky, Oct 30, 2015.

  1. Smarky macrumors newbie

    Oct 20, 2015
    Is it worth waiting for Thunderbolt 3/USB C? Why? / Why not?

    Are there other upgrade on the horizon that are even more important?
  2. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    At the moment thunderbolt 3/USB C are only any good if you are planning on running a second 5K screen or external dGPU, otherwise they'll make no difference to you whatsoever.

    The only other thing that may become more commonplace (or indeed included at all as I have yet to see any in the wild) is DDR4 RAM.

    So if a new iMac will help you out and is a significant upgrade over your current computing solution then a year of increased productivity and a 5K screen is worth more than some minor upgrades that will probably make no difference to your life in a years time in my opinion.
  3. vkd macrumors 6502a


    Sep 10, 2012
    Thunderbolt is simply a "closed" technology used by Apple to maintain their computers inaccessible by other PCs, for instance using an iMac's screen. It is virtually useless. I say 'virtually' as, although I cannot find a single instance of anything worthwhile to use the two Thunderbolt ports for on my mid-2011 iMac, there are products on the market with the interface, albeit extravagantly overpriced and with hugely limited variety or options. In other words, forget it. It is, for me at least, simply some tag-word for the manufacturer to use in marketing propaganda, that is of no real use to 99.9% of consumers. Please prove me wrong if you can. Thanks.
  4. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Thunderbolt in no way is exclusive to apple in fact it is intels technology anyone can buy it and use it in their devices.

    Thunderbolt 3 will be Display port 1.3 compatable and will mean you can drive a 5K screen through one cable, it will also be integrated into the next version of USB C and so should give all the thunderbolt 3/DP 1.3 (40GB/sec bandwidth) in a standard port for all devices.

    If you are using large raid storage devices thunderbolt 3 means you can take advantage of their speed, it also has a high enough bandwidth to allow you to leverage the full potential of an external GPU in a PCIe connected enclosure.
  5. Smarky thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 20, 2015
    It's an interesting debate, the issue being also that I am sure this time next year, there will be new iMacs but yet again there will be something new around the corner, it's about jumping at the best time.

    I tend to keep my machines for a long time and intend to do with this one (hopefully it is reliable!), the possibility of upgrading the GPU via Thunderbolt is one that interests me, although having said that gaming is not really a priority at all and I have no desire of additional monitors right now. I just want something with good performance and that will last.
  6. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Well then it's the best screen in a top performing all in one seems perfect for you.
  7. vkd macrumors 6502a


    Sep 10, 2012
    If I was you I would forget this dream immediately. Do your own research if you want but if you can find one video card with a Thunderbolt port I will eat my hat.
  8. biehl macrumors newbie


    Oct 30, 2015
    I hope for an update early 2016 with

    • DDR4 (and 16 GB default)
    • DP1.3 so as to be usable in Target Display Mode
    • The new generation of graphics-cards on 16nm and maybe with HBM2 (a stretch maybe)
  9. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    It's true that you're not likely to see a video card with a Thunderbolt port, but that's not the way it works. Already you can buy an external PCIe exclosure, put a high performance video card in it, and then attach that enclosure to a TB2 port on a Mac, and presumably on any other computer with TB2.

    I'm pretty sure that's what the poster Smarky was referring to.

    If you search around the forums here, you can find plenty of discussion of external TB PCIe enclosures and what can be done with them.
  10. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    The usual advice: if you need a new computer now, buy now, if you're just craving that "new computer" smell and want the latest bleeding edge tech, wait as long as you can bear.

    The problem with Thunderbolt 3/USB-C is that its anybody's guess whether either or both of these are going to take off, and if so, how quickly and completely. So far, there are a couple of recently announced (not shipping yet AFAIK) Dell laptops and one full-size Gigabyte motherboard with Thunderbolt 3 ports... plus approximately zero (I counted, twice) TB3 peripherals that you can actually purchase. USB-C is a bit further ahead (apart from the Dells and the Gigabyte , but not much. Even Microsoft haven't gone USB-C on their new Surface Book. A few motherboards (mostly the higher end gaming versions for some reason) have a solitary USB-C.

    Knowing Apple, they won't jump to TB3 until they can replace at least both TB2 ports with combo TB3/USB-C and completely drop USB A (at least from their laptops so they can move to a tapered case design). At the moment, that would mean that any external displays would need USB-C to DisplayPort/HDMI/whatever adapters and any Thunderbolt 1 or 2 devices you owned would need Unicorn's horn to Mermaid's hair adapters (i.e. all I can find via Google is the statement from Intel that Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 1/2 will be available).

    So, basically, if you want to get into USB-C/Thunderbolt 3, I'd give it a year anyway...

    ...and there's no actual products available now that do that anyway. The one 5k display that is currently available from Dell uses dual DisplayPort connections and that ought to run on the iMac 5k.

    Actually, its really confusing: DisplayPort-over-USB-C supports DisplayPort 1.3 (which can do 5k over a single 4-lane connection), whereas Thunderbolt 3 only supports DisplayPort 1.2 (but can carry two lots of DP1.2 data over one thunderbolt cable). Both DP-over-USB-C and Thunderbolt "Legacy" mode work by physically sending DP signals over some or all of the wires in the USB-C/Thunderbolt 2 connector (that's what happens when you plug a non-TB display into an existing TB port), whereas Thunderbolt can also encode DP signals into a Thunderbolt stream, and have them extracted by a TB controller chip in the display (that's how Thunderbolt displays work). Now, since TB3 is going to incorporate USB-C, DisplayPort-over-USB-C will presumably replace Thunderbolt "legacy" mode - except if its being driven by the Intel TB controller chip then it won't presumably, support DP1.3 that way. However, to pull its 2xDP1.2-over-1-TB3-cable trick, it will have to use 'DP-over-Thunderbolt' mode, which means that the display will have to be a Thunderbolt display.

    So, will future 4k/5k displays with USB-C inputs be compatible with TB3 ports?

    This sounds like a mess to me.
  11. Smarky thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 20, 2015
    I am thinking more likely I will go for this years model. I heard there are big gains coming in GPU's but how long before that makes it to the mac, there is a lot of hype of thunderbolt 3 with people expecting it on this years upgrade, but in terms of usage for me? The only thing that was tempting was external GPU upgrades to prolong the life of the machine, but then I was planning on getting the 395x anyway and not really thinking about gaming, so not sure what I would need that for.

    Perhaps in the future I will need a fancy audio interface for possible audio production work, but then again they all seem to work fine on current tech and I am yet to acquire the skills that would require me to do so.
  12. EssentialGadget, Nov 1, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2015

    EssentialGadget macrumors newbie

    Aug 30, 2013
    I use Thunderbolt to allow an iMac 2013 to be a second monitor for my iMac 5K. The other thunderbolt port connects to an HP 24 inch monitor. I will probably replace the HP with another iMac. You can find good deals on craigslist.

    Thunderbolt has also extended the life of my 2011 Mac Mini. It was way too slow and needed much more disk space. USB 2 wouldn't cut it so I added a OWC Thunderbay 4.

    I like Thunderbolt. Agree it is expensive but it works well for monitors and HDD expansion.

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