Is the i5 upgrade worth $200 over i3 on iMac 21.5?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by lowrisk, Aug 1, 2010.

  1. lowrisk macrumors newbie

    Apr 4, 2005
    Columbia River
    It is a little confusing, but Apple is selling 2 different i5 chips. The one available in the 21.5 inch iMac is a 3.6MHz dual core, while the one in the 27 inch iMac is a 2.8MHz quad core. I'm not interested in the 27 inch (too big), so it's either the standard i3 (3.06 or 3.2) or the upgraded i5 (3.6MHz). Anyone have an opinion on whether the $200 upgrade (13 to i5) on the 21.5 iMac is worth it?
  2. MathijsDelva macrumors regular

    Feb 28, 2008
    It will always be 'an' upgrade, but looking at many other threads started about this specifically, the upgrade (i5 over i3) is not really worth the 200 bucks.
  3. iamthedudeman macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2007

    The i5 660 is about 7% faster than the Core i3 550 in the above mentioned benchmarks. Which is very little. The difference between the Core i5 660 and Core i5 680 is around 3% give or take. So the difference between the Core i5 680 and the i3 550 would be around %10.

    The difference between the i3 540 and the i5 661 is minimal in the below tests.

    Here are some geek bench scores for both the i3 540 and i3 550.

    And for the i5 imac one dual core and one Quad Core.

    Interesting that the dual core is a i5 661 and not the faster core i5 680. But it gives us a good premise on what the Core i5 680 could do.

    We don't know if it's a prototype or a hackintosh. But either way the score of 6345 for the Core i5 661 is just around 300 points better than the Core i3 3.2. I estimate the Core i5 680 would be around 6500 for a 32 bit test and 7000 for a 64 bit test.

    Compare that to 6000 for the i3 550 3.2 on the 32 bit test and 6700 for the 64 bit test.

    Not a big difference.

    Is it worth it for you, only you can say, but the numbers say no. If a 10% increase is worth $200.00 to you that is a call only you can make. I have the Core i3 3.2 and it is fast. Very fast compared to the previous gen C2D line.

    We will have to wait and see to see some hard data with the Core i5 680 but I don't think the numbers will change drastically from what I just described.
  4. J&JPolangin macrumors 68030

    Jul 5, 2008
    Thule GL @ the TOW
    ...that's the difference between a laptop dual core part in the 21.5" and a desktop quad core in the 27" iMac... if you stick with the 21.5" model I wouldn't say its worth it for my $$...
  5. iamthedudeman macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2007

    The dual core i3 and i5 Clarkdales in the 21.5 models are desktop processors. Not laptop. So you would be comparing a dual core desktop processor to a desktop quad core processor. They are not the same as the i3 and i5 in the laptops. The desktop i3 is faster than the laptop i5.
  6. LAPTOPODO macrumors member

    Aug 1, 2010
    So you think a quadcore (laptop) processor it's slower than a dualcore (desktop) i3 processor? I'm just asking.

    I would like to see a bench comparative.
  7. emaja macrumors 68000

    May 3, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    I was doing research trying to decide if I should upgrade my MBP or get an iMac and found that the 530 i3 had a score of 2728 and the m620 in the MBP scored 2753 on Passmark as found on

    I was surprised too.
  8. diegobgr macrumors 6502

    Nov 22, 2009
    So, the upgrade worths or not?

    I will use iMac for play games and edit photos. Yes, and lots of more things, but that two are the most intensive things that I will use it for.
  9. emaja macrumors 68000

    May 3, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Probably not in your case. The minimal increase in CPU power will mean little.

    EDIT: Probably not an anyone's case. It seems the upgrade is almost worthless in terms of actual computing power.
  10. Paul7 macrumors newbie

    Jan 19, 2009
    That's a very interesting point. You said that the i3 is very fast compared to the previous gen C2D, and yet, it's only 10% faster by benchmark! So by your own words, you are admitting that 10% increase in speed is noticeable. Maybe upgrading to the i5 really makes a difference.
  11. swajames macrumors regular

    Jan 29, 2003
    The i5 680 did in fact turn in better numbers than some of the posts here would have you believe...

    The 32-bit tests are hovering just below 7000, the 64-bit tests are close to 7800.

    Compared to the i3 results, even the 3.2, that's an appreciable difference.
  12. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    The i5 in the MBP is dual core as well (as is the i7). It should be a bit slower, considering it has a much lower clock speed than the i3 in the desktop.
  13. Elyquin macrumors member

    Aug 24, 2010
    RL terms?

    I would have gotten a 27" loaded (except for the SSD), but wife wanted this iMac to not take up too much counter space in our "closet office.'

    I got the most I could put in it since I won't be buying another iMac for hopefully 5- 8 years. Our G4 iMac from 2005 runs great except for graphic intensive websites. I think if you have the money ($200 is just one dinner at an expensive restaurant with some wine), then go for it.

    In real life, I bet there is not much of a difference between i3 and i5.

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