Need better hardware - Will a new iMac cut it?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Slinkington, Dec 20, 2011.

  1. Slinkington macrumors member


    Jan 22, 2008
    Hi there,

    I've been using an iMac for the last 4 years and it's still going strong. However, since then I've started and completed University, so as you may imagine my work is getting better and my projects are getting bigger.

    Basically, I work in Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop and Final Cut Pro/Motion and I've noticed that my Motion 5 projects have really started to lag as I add more and more to them. Certain effects in Illustrator take quite some time to process too, which can be irritating to endure.

    Here are my current specs:

    20-inch, Mid 2007
    Processor 2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    Memory 3 GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM
    Graphics ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT 128 MB

    Of course I'd love to be able to go all out and buy a fully upgraded 27" iMac, but with Student fees to pay off this just isn't an option for me. I was wondering if the current base 21.5" iMac from Apple would help me out at all? naturally I'm not expecting miracles, but I just want that little extra speed with rendering in FCP and Illustrator Effects and to cut down on the lag in Motion. Do you think it could be up to the task?

    Thanks for your time. :)
  2. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    I think it will be a huge bump for you. You are going from a Core 2 Duo to an i5 or is it i7. I would definitely consider it. I'm using a 4 year old Macbook and I'm seeing the beachball too much during video transcoding so I'm considering a base 13 inch MBP or even one of the newer Macbook Airs as an upgrade to chase away the beachball. But an iMac is definitely the fastest Mac unless you are willing to consider the Mac Pro.

    I just went over to and configured a high end 21.5 iMac with i7 and 8 gig of RAM for $1899. The extra RAM and the i7 CPU were $200 each. Definitely a fast machine. No I'm not ordering one for myself but I just wanted to understand the iMac available configurations before making my recommendation. And yes I think the base model could work well, I'm just providing info on the high end if you can afford the extra $700 over the $1199 base model you'll be that much happier when it comes to performance.
  3. MacBoobsPro macrumors 603


    Jan 10, 2006
    I got a maxed out iMac. 3.4ghz i7, 16GB RAM, 2GB VRAM etc with SSD. Its so friggin quick I rarely get to sip my coffee anymore!

    I'm sure even a 21.5" iMac with decent CPU will be a good boost on your C2D.
  4. dXTC, Dec 20, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2011

    dXTC macrumors 68020


    Oct 30, 2006
    Up, up in my studio, studio
    I had your specific model iMac before I got the one listed in my sig, so I can provide a real-world comparison. Conversion via HandBrake (a very processor-dependent task) of a 90-minute movie to .m4v format using the iPhone/iPod Touch preset on the 2 GHz Core Duo iMac took about 32-35 minutes. The same movie can be converted using the same HandBrake specs by the mid-2010 3.06 GHz Core i3 21.5" iMac in 14 minutes. And that's not even current generation, which has all quad-core CPUs.

    So yeah, any current-gen iMac will be a bump and a half for you.

    EDIT: I noticed your budgetary concerns in the OP. Have you considered the Refurb section of the Apple Store?
  5. Slinkington, Dec 20, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2011

    Slinkington thread starter macrumors member


    Jan 22, 2008
    Oh wow, thanks guys - your posts have really given me some much needed insight. I feel pretty comfortable ordering a base iMac now, thanks a lot for your help! :)

    Edit: Oh I hadn't thought about the refurb section - thanks for bringing that up, I'll check it out before I make a decision. :)
  6. bocomo macrumors 6502

    Jun 29, 2007
    New York
    Get a much RAM as you can

    People often overlook that and it's essential for the apps you use
  7. Slinkington thread starter macrumors member


    Jan 22, 2008
    Thanks, I'm looking at getting 8GB of ram in the standard 21.5" iMac. What parts of the software I'll be using does ram affect the most? I'm guessing render times? Or would it also increase Motion's performance while editing too?
  8. electrolux76 macrumors member

    Oct 30, 2008
    If Motion is the main concern, you may want to consider getting a previous gen. iMac from the refurb store that has more VRAM.
    Nothing will help you more than VRAM when it comes to real time Motion effects. The CPU speed bump with the current models would be nice, but if you have the choice between 6770 card w/512MB VRAM in the current models and a 5750 w/1GB VRAM in the older model, the slightly slower card w double the memory will probably be a better bet.
    As an example there is currently a prior gen iMac with a 2.8 Quad i5, and 5750 w/1GB VRAM and a 27inch display on the U.S. refurb store for $1419.
    Here's the link:

    Do some googleing and see how much the amount of VRAM helps Motion. This isn't a major concern for most apps but with Motion it makes a big difference.

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