Need advice about 21 vs 27 iMacs. Go get a beer first.

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by rotorblade69, Nov 27, 2015.

  1. rotorblade69 macrumors regular

    Jul 1, 2006
    North West Georgia
    Right now I have a late 2012 13" MB Air. It runs well and is good shape. The air just had the SSD wiped and a clean install of the OS. Will wait to go to OS10.11 if an updated driver for my printer is released.

    I use it for surfing email picture editing. Very little heavy lifting stuff. Small drawing program I use for rough sketches when out and about but the iPad Pro with the pencil amazes me and will improve my work flow.

    IF a functioning usable version of Solidworks were to be release for the iPad Pro I would be in hog heaven. Getting a new solid works box next year so no need to get a really powerful version.

    I could keep the Air and get a new printer (hence the driver issue) and the iPad Pro and be done.

    SO the question.

    I have been wanting a full up all around general desktop computer, a Late 2015 4k iMac 21" and upgrade the memory from 8 to 16Gig, 5400 to SSD would be nice.

    BUT the 21 is Broadwell and does not have a discrete Graphics card. A 27" is just to big to me. But at least it has Skylake and a discrete graphics card.
    Apple reps in the Best Buys tell me to just get the 5K 27" with a fusion drive and be done with it.

    Is the 4k 21" with Broadwell and iris pro that bad????? Would waiting for the 21" 4K to get Skylake be worth the wait?????

    Are the Apple reps at the best buys right just get a 5k 27" with fusion drive off the shelf and be done with it even though I think its too big for me????

    This computer will be mainly for email, web use, word processing, very light picture editing cropping and such, maybe some 1080p video in the future but no rendering just simple editing. I will not sell the Air just keep it as a mobile use until I can get an iPad pro.

    ALSO price makes NO difference just performance for now, value, and the space factor.

    What I could do::::?????

    21 4k -- 3.1GHz quad Core i5, 16GB, 256 SSD…. $1949 BTO

    27 5K -- 3.2GHz quad Core i5, 8GB, 1TB Fusion Drive, Radeon R9 M390…. $1999 off the shelf
  2. Essenar macrumors 6502a

    Oct 24, 2008
    No, the 21" 4K iMac is anything but "bad". It's quite a powerful computer for a regular user with light requirements. It'd be amazing at handling things like Photoshop, SolidWorks, BootCamp into Windows.

    However, the 27" has upgradeable memory. This effectively means that, in some ways the 27" iMac can compete with a lower level Mac Pro. The storage can be upgraded, ram can be upgraded and it has the better graphics card to boot.

    You don't need the R9 390M. You can get by quite comfortably with the R9 380M. You also don't need to upgrade the ram right away, since it's not soldered. The 4K 21" iMac is absolutely positively soldered, without a doubt or question in my brain. You can NOT upgrade the 4K beyond 16GB and it has to be customized to order.

    The 27" on the other hand, for $1799, will have a better GPU, the same processor, same memory, same storage (for now) but you can customize it later.

    27" fully upgraded can have 64GB of ram.

    Sure it's expensive, but if you compare prices: The Apple upgrade to order for 32GB is $600. Using Amazon, you can get 64GB kit for around $700. A 32GB kit would even be cheaper. 4x8GB would keep you very powerful and can be had for around $250-350. Maybe less.

    Go with the 27" base model. You won't regret it and it can be upgraded. Trust me, you don't want to stick to a two or three year commitment to a desktop and find out you need dedicated graphics later. It will be much harder to sell a 21" and then pay the difference to upgrade to a 27" later. You'll lose a lot of money in that upgrade, maybe even enough to have paid for the 27" and ram and maybe even an upgrade to an R9 390.
  3. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    I would get the 27 inch with a 2TB fusion (or 256GB ssd) as the 1Tb only has 24Gb ssd (I can usually see the sense in apples decisions even if I don't like them but this drop from 128GB to 24GB ssd in the new fusion 1TB drives is really indefensable).

    However nothing in your post suggests that the 21 inch iMac would not be great for you for another 5-6 years if your usage doesn't change to much.
  4. ggibson913 macrumors 6502a


    Sep 11, 2006
    I actually am having the same dilema. For me it is a space issue. I need to have the ability to use my work laptop on my desk in addition to a 24" Monitor as I work from home two days per week. For your Use Case, I would say that the 4K iMac would be fine. I would upgrade to either the 2 TB Fusion or pure SSD.
  5. MacRazySwe macrumors 6502a

    Aug 7, 2007
    I've had both the 21.5" iMac (2011) and now the 27" model (2013). I absolutely love the 27" display and wouldn't go back. The larger displays allow for so much more productivity. While typing on my bachelor thesis the other day I had two word documents open side by side, one Safari window next to those and one YouTupe clip showing in the smallest size.

    On the 21" model I wouldn't have been able to see more than the two Word documents side by side.

    The 27" model is also way better for Netflix, video editing, music production, or whatever you may use it for. Although you may not use the computer for such tasks, who knows what you'll be doing a few years down the line (it sounds like you're planning on keeping it).

    With the 27" iMac you also get upgradable ram and a dedicated GPU which would also make it a bit more future proof vs the 21" model.
  6. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    27" all the way. You'll very quickly get used to the size; who wants a 3.5" iPhone anymore?
  7. twilexia macrumors 6502

    Oct 16, 2015
    When it first came out the 3.5" iPhone was the biggest screen on the market ;) I still can't believe I read the entire ASOIAF series on that thing...
  8. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Broadwell isn't bad, they went with that generation of chipset because the skylake processors do not have very powerful iGPUs yet and driving a 4k display needs some horse power (why they didn't opt for a dGPU is beyond me).

    I like this option better, because you get a better dGPU, faster processor and a gorgeous 27" 5k screen.

    The 5k iMac is really a great computer and I'd choose that over the 4k model any day.
  9. imanidiot Suspended

    May 1, 2011
    Denver, CO
    Last December I went from a 21.5" iMac to 27" Retina iMac. I had the same concerns, and, at first, found the larger display somewhat overwhelming. This lasted for maybe 24 hours. It's astonishing how quickly you become accustomed to it. And I would never go back to the 21.5.
  10. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    I'd imagine they stayed away from the dGPU because this forum is covered with posts about failing dGPU's, it is the most likely thing to go wrong apart from an HDD. From a reliability point of view it's a no brainer, the IRIS pro GPU is fine for medium level gaming and pro apps and a dGPU would add little (the M370X from the 15 inch that would traditionally be an option here has hardly been a resounding success).
  11. whodatrr macrumors 6502a


    Jan 12, 2004
    Go for the 27, and don't look back.

    People make a lot of hoopla about horsepower driving productivity, but the ROI for most people's productivity is somewhat low. Screen real estate, on the other hand, makes just about every workflow more reproductive. personally, I find it difficult to crank work out with one large screen - my main system now has two 27" and a 34" screen.

    And if space is the issue, make more of it. You said you work from home two days a week, so this is what pays the bills. get a bigger desk, move stuff out of the way, do what you need to carve out the screen real estate to be productive.

    Besides, the 27 has much nicer guts than its smaller counterpart. Go big!
  12. rotorblade69 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 1, 2006
    North West Georgia
    Thank you all for your responses. You all helped out.

    I have decided to suspend my purchase of the iPad Pro. Solid works Will not offer anything other than eDrawings for the the iOS touch interface nor use the pencil. I know what did I expect?? I was hoping for something to use on site for rough ideas. OH well!!!!

    I am going to remodel the Command Center and get started on a solid works box. So no need for new iMac or iPad Pro just going to keep the MacBookAir for email and standard stuff.

    I will try for the iMac this time next year. Thats if the ACA hasn't killed whats left of my cash flow.
  13. sleven macrumors newbie

    Mar 28, 2011
    Bravo good sir.

Share This Page