Late 2013 21.5" iMac or Late 2012 27" iMac?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by MVP6, Jan 2, 2014.

  1. MVP6 macrumors newbie

    Jan 2, 2014
    Hello everyone,

    so I am in a bit of a dilemma trying to figure out which iMac I should go for. I have narrowed down my options to the following 2:

    A 21.5" iMac (Late 2013) with fusion drive or a 27" iMac (Late 2012) with the regular 7200 rpm HDD.

    Here are the basic specs for both:

    Late 2013 21.5" iMac

    2.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 Haswell processor
    Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz
    8GB RAM
    1TB Fusion HDD
    Intel Iris Pro graphics

    Price - $1499 (before taxes)

    Late 2012 27" iMac

    2.9GHz Quad-core Intel Core i5 Ivy Bridge processor
    Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz
    8GB RAM
    1TB 7200 RPM HDD
    512MB NVIDIA GeForce GTX

    Price - $1599 (before taxes)

    Both are brand new, and not refurbished (Which is something that I prefer).

    I am a student so I will be doing some basic word processing, however I will also be doing a lot of video editing using iMovie and Final Cut Pro, as well as picture editing with Photoshop. Garageband will also be used heavily. As for gaming, I will be doing very light gaming (just some Left 4 Dead 2 or League of Legends sometimes).

    With all that in mind, which one do you guys suggest I should get?
  2. biggiet4jets macrumors member

    Dec 30, 2013
    I am in the same dilemma. Except I have had great luck with apple refurbished products before so going refurbished doesn't bother me as long as I can save money. College books are expensive! lol Let me know which model you end up getting?!
  3. Twimfy macrumors 6502a


    Sep 11, 2011
    Personally I'd go for the 27" for the screen real estate and it's likely to hold its value more than the 21".

    I'd also rather have the Nvidia Graphics over Iris and yeah the 7200RPM drive is going to be a bit of a performance set back BUT we've been using those drives for years and getting along just fine. You can always upgrade to an SSD later.
  4. jbg232 macrumors 65816


    Oct 15, 2007
    Upgrading the hard drive of a 2012 or 2013 iMac is not for the faint of heart... Just watch the OWC videos to see what I'm talking about.
  5. Twimfy macrumors 6502a


    Sep 11, 2011
    Good point. I keep forgetting that it has gotten more difficult over the years.
  6. AppleFan360 macrumors 68020

    Jan 26, 2008
    Tough choice. It really depends on what you want.

    The Fusion drive adds speed to the system. Boot time is about 10 seconds.

    The 27" will give you lots of screen real estate.

    On the other hand, you can get the newer 21.5" model with the Fusion drive and add a second 27" screen. That might be a good option.
  7. xsasha92x macrumors newbie


    Jun 24, 2011
    Massachusetts, US
    For $100 more dollars, the screen upgrade alone is worth it. Also, the dedicated graphics will help tremendously with LoL and video editing. You might even be able to add a Thunderbolt External SSD when you have some more money in your pocket if the hard drive speed is an issue. Also, RAM is upgradable in the 27" iMac and not upgradable in the 21.5".
  8. ioannis2005gr, Jan 6, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2014

    ioannis2005gr macrumors 6502


    Aug 10, 2013
    Actually, you can add a second non-APPLE 4K 32'' monitor in less than 4-6 months when prices drop to a desirable level...Iris Pro runs 4K analysis, adequately! ;)

    PS: BUT... first you need to check something! I am not sure whether or not late 2013 iMacs supports DP1.2 while the previous DP1.1 isn't strong enough to support 4K, as far as I know....
  9. xraydoc macrumors demi-god


    Oct 9, 2005
    The 27" is the better deal. Larger screen, upgradable RAM, discrete graphics. You also could add a thunderbolt SSD at a later time for a speed boost (no surgery on the machine required).

    The newer 21" might be a smidge faster at CPU-bound computation, but you're unable to upgrade the RAM (which, depending on what you do, could hamstring the "faster" machine), and the Intel graphics will be slower.
  10. bflowers macrumors 6502a

    Jul 19, 2006
    I would take the 2012. I have a similar machine (specs higher than the one you are looking at) and I can't say enough about the extra screen size. Sure you could add an additional monitor later, but I think for the money, get the 27. The ability to access the RAM will be big later on too.
  11. ElectronGuru macrumors 65816

    Sep 5, 2013
    Oregon, USA
    There's no substitute for screen space. And everything else can be upgraded.

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