I've decided on the new 27", but now what specs?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by catalyst1489, May 15, 2011.

  1. catalyst1489 macrumors newbie

    May 9, 2011
    Ok well the title just about explains it, but i have decided i will be getting the new 27" imac as my new computer to take the media load off of my MBP and free it up to be a work computer mainly. I am very excited but i'm not sure what specs i should get exactly. Here are my questions?

    1. Should i get more than 4gb of RAM?
    2. Should i get 2gb of graphics memory?
    3. Should i get 1 tb or 2 tb HDD?

    Note: I will be getting the 3.4Ghz processor and any other suggestions are really appreciated.

  2. iSayuSay macrumors 68040


    Feb 6, 2011
    1. Depends on what are you doing, but for me I ordered 4Gb standard and add then later, another 4Gb to make total 8Gb .. enough for me, even might be overkill since I never use anything more than 3Gb ... but having more headroom always recommended :) Especially if you´ll make use of VMWare or Parallel

    You can go to 12Gb (just add 2 x 4Gb from original) or 16Gb (you need to replace all original RAM), but I like anything symmetrical, so 4x2Gb looks better to me, and I don´t want to replace standard 4Gb RAM to make the warranty intact

    2. I recommend 2Gb VRAM. No significant difference today between 1Gb and 2Gb VRAM, but it´s something you can´t upgrade by yourself. So, better prepared well rather than sorry later. It´s only $100 BTO compared to another upgrade options

    3. I took 1Tb HDD .. anything more than that would go to my external. I really want the SSD option, but extra $600 for 256Gb turned me off. They should come with cheaper 128Gb SSD option too
  3. KylePowers macrumors 68000


    Mar 5, 2011
    1. What do you do for work? Do you use a lot of RAM intensive programs? I think iMac RAM is user replaceable... so it'd be cheaper to buy RAM elsewhere and change it yourself. I'd just go 4GB for now if you're not sure.
    2. Again, do you use anything GPU intensive? Personally, I'd go for 2GB... just for fun. Plus, this certainly isn't user upgradeable... so once you make your decision, you're stuck with it.
    3. Do you have a lot of files? Photos or something? I'd rather put my money toward an SSD. But then again, iMac hard drives aren't user upgradeable (at least, the 2011s aren't). You can get external 1-2TB external hard drives for pretty cheap... plus, in the future, you'll come across a lot of thunderbolt external hard drives. That may be something to consider. I'd probably just go for 1TB (+ SSD if you could) myself.
  4. zedsdead macrumors 68040

    Jun 20, 2007
    It depends on usage, but considering you are maxing out the processor for media work, I would max it out. Buy the 8 or 16gb of RAM from OWC though. 32gb is possible, but too expensive at this point.

    If you have the money, the biggest upgrade you can make is to add an SSD for speed.

    Only get the 2tb if you plan to store a lot of media internally. If you plan to use an external anyway, then it is not necessary.
  5. MythicFrost macrumors 68040


    Mar 11, 2009
    I suggest the 2GB 6970 for future proofing and intensive games that might make use of a lot of VRAM. Even Portal 2, according to Barefeats, was utilizing ~96% of 1GB VRAM. It's a good idea imo.

    Also, 2x4GB or 2x2GB RAM bought from OWC ($100/$50). Don't buy from Apple. Also, 1TB HDD and use externals imo.
  6. Badger^2 macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2009
    Since you have already decided to get the BTO and get the i7, get the 2 gig vram.

    Ram 3rd party: http://macsales.com/
    12 gigs. Original 4 gigs + 8 gigs @ $100 = 12 gigs for $100
    16 gigs means $200, so essentially $100 more for just a 4 gig increase.

    Replacing Apples stock ram with something else will NOT void any warranty.

    Skip the SSD unless you are video encoding.

    Honestly: For me in California -- an i7 is a bigger premium.

    BTO is Apple only, and tax and no rebates. $2200 + $200 tax = $2400, jsut for the i7.

    i5 is $1950 after rebate, no tax, free shipping. $450 difference.


    You didnt mention what you are doing, but odds are you dont need an i7.
  7. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    The SSD won't do anything for video encoding, that's one of the very few tasks limited by the CPU.
  8. iSayuSay macrumors 68040


    Feb 6, 2011
    Yes .. replacing the standard RAM won´t void unit´s warranty. But :apple: wouldn´t care about the RAM you bought separately.

    I thought if someone going to upgrade from standard 4Gb DDR to 16Gb DDR, most people would sell the stock 4Gb to gain some cash back from 4x4Gb upgrade, besides you don´t use the standard 2x2Gb either.

    If that´s the case, surely RAM warranty from Apple is gone, right?
  9. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    Yes, but any decent brand will have a lifetime warranty on their memory, as it very very rarely fails.
  10. iSayuSay macrumors 68040


    Feb 6, 2011
    Yep .. this is a few case when the speed of Macbook Air become obsolete. As I said, you may boot 10 seconds faster on your MBA, but it may encodes video 20 minutes longer than iMac i7 .. so the 10 seconds suddenly gone !!

    To get the best of both, you may get 256Gb SSD on iMac, it´s like buying a Ferrari (already fast) and add turbocharger to it (you might get killed for speeding) !! .. but the price tag killing me, not that they´re overpriced, but apple didn´t include the option of cheaper and smaller SSD
  11. johnfkitchen macrumors regular

    Sep 7, 2010
    A note on hard disk choice.

    Given the same amount of data that you plan to store, the 2TB drive is faster than the 1TB drive.

    It's not just a capacity difference, and given that the cost delta is small, AND it may not be the greatest idea to plan on replacing an internal drive, my suggestion is that you should consider the larger drive.
  12. TallManNY macrumors 601


    Nov 5, 2007
    That was really the wrong take away from the barefeats article. The point of it was that extra video ram often provides no appreciable difference in performance. The whole article was about that and they had just one throw away line at the end that said, but we happened to notice this odd thing about a game using lots of vram. Now I've basically seen you and a million other people quote just that one part of the article.
  13. iSayuSay macrumors 68040


    Feb 6, 2011
    Hmm .. yeah 2Gb VRAM upgrade is quite decent money, not that cheap .. but not expensive either. but I think it´s worth the money, in the old days when processor was slower, amount of RAM has been helping a lot to increase performance, so I think for incoming years, when 6970M is no longer can hold the tooth, extra RAM (and this is ultra fast DDR5 RAM) would give you more room for breathing.

    However, VRAM upgrade has prevent me to purchase this iMac along with AppleCare. I must delay it for purchase later this year since the budget is stretched further it´s a bit beyond my tolerance for iMac :D
  14. MythicFrost macrumors 68040


    Mar 11, 2009
    Not really. The fact is, 1GB of VRAM can be a bottleneck at 2560x1440, especially with high AA and high AF. Just look at Dragon Age 2's Hi-Res texture pack, which they recommend you have at the very least 1GB of VRAM.

    We can't know for sure how it will actually affect everything until thorough benchmarks are released, testing a large array of games such as Metro 2033, Crysis 2, Starcraft 2, etc.

    It's only $100 more, on a $2000+ machine, I say for future proofing alone it's worth it. And, the fact that Portal 2 does use that much VRAM likely means bumping MSAA up to 8x would push it over that limit and bottleneck the GPU.
  15. SmokyD macrumors regular

    Jan 1, 2007
    As others have said and IMO the best deal is:

    - Core i7 3.4

    - 4GB ram + 2x4 GB G.Skill as linked to above - this will give you 12 GB total for only $82 extra

    - 1TB HD (eventually I'd upgrade to an SSD and then use the thunderbolt ports to add external drives for future storage)

    - 2GB video card - can't go wrong for an extra $100. Eventually you'll use it for something.

    Total cost: $2299 + $82 = $2381 (less if you are a student)

    Best bang for the buck as far as iMacs go.
  16. patp77 macrumors member

    Jul 11, 2007
    My only real question is: What do you plan on doing with your computer? I hear so many people wanting the 27" i7 3.4GHz to do Office work, email, browsing and iPhoto / iTunes which is way overkill at an ugly cost. Unless you plan on using your iMac for high end video editing, sound editing, encoding, CAD, or gaming then there isn't really a reason to buy the i7. I'd personally recommend getting a refurbished 27" i7 for $1569 to save $700+ and when that computer finally starts lagging, then use the $700 you saved and the resale value of your iMac to buy a new iMac.

    So, until you tell us what it is you plan on using the computer for, none of the recommendations mentioned above make any sense. All they make sense for is if you want the most future proof machine currently available. Anyone who suggests otherwise is only basing their decision on benchmarks which may or may not have any real meaning in your purchase decision.
  17. likegadgets macrumors 6502

    Jul 22, 2008
    I opted for the 3.4 Ghz and 2MB Ram. Also went for the 2TB drive.
    These are components that you cannot upgrade yourself or at all. (HD you can but there are still conflicting reports of issues related to this).

    The memory I got from Crucial - with a coupon I found on the WEB it was around $180 for the 16GB.

    Whatever you do, don't buy the extra RAM at Apple - too pricey and to easy to install
  18. harcosparky macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    1) Upgrade RAM to 8GB minimum

    2) VRam? When I asked the question I was told, correctly so that the GPU is what is most important so 1GB or 2GB? 2G would be wasting money. ( use the money for more system RAM )

    3) 1TB or 2TB HDD? Well now on this one I would take the 2TB, but have one or two 3 TB externals to back it all up. Having said that if you think your libraries going to expand beyond 1TB or 50% of the internal drive, just get the 1TB and put your money in larger externals.
  19. catalyst1489 thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 9, 2011
    If i have the money should i go for the 256gb SSD? Is the small size but incredible speed really worth the price?

    My thought is because it is a desk top then in the future when thunderbolt drives are available i could get a big external HDD to store anything big or stuff i could hold on to for a while.

    Follow up: is there any worth to getting both a 1 tb HDD and a ssd?? I feel like THAT is not worth it.
  20. tsugaru macrumors 6502

    Feb 9, 2003
    1 - sure, but don't buy it from Apple. Use the money you save towards better components.
    2 - yup. Take the money you save from buying 3rd party RAM and put it towards the extra VRAM.
    3 - depends on how much storage you need. You can always add more externally, but it's nice to have a big drive all in one place. You can always replace it later (hopefully Apple lets you replace it properly sooner rather than later, but that's another thing.)

    Speccing out stuff, get what you can if you can, especially if it's not something you can change later. Like you can't change your processor or VRAM down the road, and you don't want to regret that in a few months.

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