Need advice about whether an iMac 5K can completely replace need for at home PC

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by farmkittie, Jan 30, 2015.

  1. farmkittie macrumors 6502

    Jun 15, 2013
    I have been buying Mac laptops and minis for years now but now I may need to buy a new PC for compatibility with work. My home PC is 6 years old and is pretty slow with limited ability to increase memory much.

    My question: If I get an IMac or a new mini will I be able to use VMware fusion to do everything I could do with a PC? For example, VPN to work, run TurboTax (it's that season ;) - in other words import past year's tax data done in Windows, run Visual Studio, SQL Server, Office (including Access though I try to avoid it), script in powershell, etc?

    Thanks in advance for your help.
    P.S. I already have Fusion so I'd like to stick with that if possible unless Parallels it significantly better.
  2. bigrell486 macrumors 6502


    Jul 10, 2006
    Honestly, if everything you need to do is in Windows, you would be better off getting a Windows PC. I was in the same boat as you. I also use Visual Studio, SQL Server, Access, and minor scripting for work but my personal preference is Mac. I decided that the Performance trade off was not worth it especially if I need to use it all the time.
  3. glenthompson macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2011
    You can run the Mac version of Turbo Tax and import previous year's data from the windows version. Or do like I did and dump Intuit and go with H&R Block.

    I use Parallels and have no problem running Visual Studio and Access. I do all my Office work in the Mac version. Nothing complex so no issues trading documents with others.

    I prefer running native Mac apps whenever possible. That's why I switched from Windows to the Mac.
  4. bluespark macrumors 65816

    Jul 11, 2009
    New York
    Yes, the iMac will run that stuff through Fusion at blazing speed. Just make sure your Mac has plenty of memory and that you allocate a generous amount to Fusion.
  5. mroldguy macrumors newbie

    Jan 26, 2012
    Windows on imac

    I run windows 7 in Parallels on a late 2012, 27" imac. Top of line for that yr, think 3.09ghz, 24 GB mem, 1TB fusion drv. Comcast feeds 50-100mb/s.

    Because I prefer mac apps where possible a second 24" display is dedicated to mac os desktop.

    The main wind app on the 27" is a Schwab trading platform (edge), three tabs running ~25 subwindows, refresh rate 5s, which include 12 charts.

    Flawless, fast and stable. No problem running other apps simultaneously on macos and wind side.

    Only complaint can't find a reason to upgrade...
  6. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    You can run windows natively, i.e., bootcamp or within virtualization (Vmware Fusion). If you'll be doing that full time, then I'd question the purchase of such an expensive computer for your needs. Its a great computer but you want to find the best tool for your needs.

    I don't have a 5k iMac (I wished I did :) ), so I cannot comment on how well it runs windows but I know it can.
  7. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    If you wanna use the computer for Mac stuff, then yeah, virtualization is great. And remarkably speedy. Most Windows stuff runs just fine, and virtualization has some other benefits, as it's easy to customize "machines" or start all over if something gets borked. In my experience it's usually external connections to various devices that sometimes cause issues, although usually with older or more specialized stuff.

    But having said that, it's also true that you can get a PC for ridonculously low prices right now. And Windows 10 will apparently be a free upgrade. When you factor in the cost of the OS and the cost of the virtualization software it becomes a closer question. Sheesh, you might be able to run the Windows stuff on a tablet.

    But either way should work fine.
  8. farmkittie thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 15, 2013
    Thanks for all the good advice everyone! I am glad that I can run all the Windows stuff in VMware Fusion and that it will be speedy. I will get extra memory to put in the Mac. I want to max it out but I'll buy third party to install myself to save $$.

    I do have access to windows server at work and a company-owned work laptop but I want a new box for home. I started to look at PCs because I could get one so inexpensively compared to Macs but then I also want a new Mac so I would end up with both.

    I prefer to use a Mac for many reasons but one is that I like the unix command line. I'll see how much my tax refund is to decide what I can afford.

    Again, thanks for all the replies.
  9. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Why are you comparing "inexpensive" pcs with market leading 5K Retina iMac? Back in September 2014 Dell thought the 5K monitor ALONE will be $2500 for the display without the computer.

    First, you can't get a 5k retina PC.
    Second, an iMac will run VMware way faster than a 6 year old PC.
  10. farmkittie thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 15, 2013
    Huh?? I'm not comparing inexpensive PCs with Macs at all. Or any price PC with a Mac. I WANT a Mac but I need to be able to run some Windows applications too. My PC is old. It was a beast in its time but it very old. I also want a Mac. I would rather just buy the Mac that I want than a Mac AND a PC. I don't think PCs are inferior at all. I just want a Mac.
  11. Mcdevidr macrumors 6502a

    Nov 27, 2013
    There is a simple solution to your want. Whip out that credit card and go buy a fully maxed out retina iMac. And yes you should upgrade everything through apple. It always makes one feel better knowing they paid for the full retail price experience.

    In all honesty the retina iMac is awesome saw it at my school. I would get it if I could and had space for a desktop.
  12. Natzoo macrumors 65816


    Sep 16, 2014
    Not sure where i am
    Get a really nice windows PC. It will probably be cheaper than the 5k iMac. If you are going to be needing mac then get the 5k, depending on the apps you use
  13. farmkittie thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 15, 2013
    Then student discount pays for sales tax in my state so not quite full retail but it is depressing that discounts nullified by state sales tax. Now they're saying we should raise sales tax even more to pay for roads. Sorry for getting off on a rant....
  14. Panch0 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 23, 2010
    While I agree that everything you have mentioned will run under Fusion, my solution to work at home is a little different.

    I have a work provided workstation that stays at the office.

    When at the office, I connect to my workstation from a MBA with an external monitor. I actually use a Windows VM running under fusion and the built-in MS Remote Desktop Connection Client. MS has a very good remote desktop for Mac, but I require one feature that it still doesn't support (smart card pass through). The Windows client also seems to do a little better with multi-monitor support.

    When at home I use the MS remote desktop for Mac client from my 27" iMac (which I believe is a 2009 if I remember correctly). I will sometimes have my MBA on the desk next to me just in case I need to use that smart card feature.

    When on the road, I use the same MBA, just without the external monitor.

    Wherever I am, my workspace is the same. Also, no work files ever touch any of my personal equipment. This setup works well for me, because RDP will work very well over even a slow network connection. There are some things that you have mentioned that can be tedious over VPN even if you have a fast broadband connection. For things like getting a visual studio project from source control or connecting to a shared database server, the VPN latency can be brutal.

    This isn't really a Windows vs. Mac thing. I would be using Remote Desktop even if all of my devices were Windows.
  15. aloshka macrumors 65816

    Aug 30, 2009
    I'm a full time windows developer working on an iMac 5k and rMBP 13". I RDP into the iMac VM from the rMBP so I don't really sync anything.

    If you do a lot of development work in windows, I recommend doing everything in VMs. Environments get complex over time and nothing is better than if your computer crashes, you copy a VM and you have as much downtime as it took to copy one large file. As long as you have SSD (with a lot of space) and good amounts of memory you will not notice the speed difference at all. I use Parallels though, a little buggier than Fusion but much better performance IMO.

    There are a ton of other benefits with VMs over bare, but if anyone ever asks me, I always recommend. To me, I like the separation that my mac is all my personal stuff and my work "pc" (vm) is everything required of a work comp. So all IT required software, etc, is on that box. I don't worry about VPNs, or any of that, because none of it affects my mac.
  16. EssentialGadget macrumors newbie

    Aug 30, 2013
    The MAC plus Fusion will meet your needs well.

    I moved from windows to bootcamp then to OS X plus VMWARe.

    I prefer OS X turbotax over windows. Quicken 2015 is better than mac version so i run the windows version in VMWARE.

    Office apps - I run the MAC Version via office365. Access will need to be run in VMWARE. If you are a financial analyst - excel in windows is better than mac. Mac version is great for everyone else (including me).

    You definitely want an SSD and 16GB memory. Fusion drive will work well too.

    VMWARE can suck in your entire PC image.

    Go for it - you will be happy.
  17. triple-tap macrumors 6502

    Feb 18, 2013
    BUT!!!!! Do not buy the extra Ram from Apple. You can order the same thing for less money from OWC, Amazon, etc.
  18. grievor1988 macrumors newbie

    Jul 7, 2015
    Gonna get a 27inch 5k iMac myself soon. Planning to spec it out with a fusion drive and upgrading the ram myself to 24gb...cant wait!

    On a side note.. It's 24gb plenty enough in this day and age for 4K movie editing?
  19. h9826790, Nov 9, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2015

    h9826790 macrumors G4


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    I won't say it's plenty, but sure is enough to do that without any trouble.

    I have 32G of RAM, and my system use up ~20G regularly (without FCPX running) with another ~5G as cache. So, your 24G can go just like this.
    Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 00.00.56.jpg

    And after few minutes of a short (3:38) 4K video editing. The system used up around ~30G in total.
    Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 00.19.03.jpg
  20. grievor1988 macrumors newbie

    Jul 7, 2015
    Thanks for the feedback. I'll mostly be just doing simple edits in imovie in terms of 4k editing still learning to edit in 4k. Maybe when I transition to final cut pro x I'll add more ram. But my main usage will mostly be for lightroom editing. Should be more than enough for that right?
  21. h9826790 macrumors G4


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    Yes it is, Lightroom is a bit less demanding in RAM.
  22. grievor1988 macrumors newbie

    Jul 7, 2015
    Cool thanks for the tips. Any opinions on storage options? Thinking about either a 2tb fusion drive or 256ssd...seems like fusion is the way to go but I already have a 5 TB external storage in use... However 256gb ssd seems too little.. Plus I would want the option to run windows either in parallels or boot camp.. Heard it'll take about 80gb of space for it to have any meaningful use... Any suggestions?
  23. h9826790 macrumors G4


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    For parallel, minimum size of the image file would be the OS size. You can set it to expandable and only take up the space when require.
    For bootcamp, if it's properly installed, it can access the files inside the OSX partition. So, again, you may lower the Bootcamp partition's size if you want to. 80G is very reasonable, but not necessary require.
    If I have an external 5T disk for data storage. I will go for 256G SSD. Because all I need is speed now (in both OSX, Windows, and as scratch disk).
    However, if the external HDD is not always available to the iMac, then I will go for the 2T fusion. Because once the 256G is filled up, the Mac may become unusable. I wil need that 2T for temporary storage.

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