Need help with upgrading 2013 27" iMac, HDD and mainly GFX

Discussion in 'iMac' started by likwidsolutions, Jul 10, 2014.

  1. likwidsolutions macrumors member

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    Apr 17, 2014
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    Ohio
    #1
    I bought an SSD drive to install internally and bought the right mount and everything, found a place willing to do it for $70, just the install, which to me is worth it because I don't even want to try to take these new ones apart. At least pre-2011 you could easily take the screen off.

    Anyways, I don't know if there is a spot to put the mount (which has 2 slots for 2 x 2.5" drives), or if I have to remove the old Hard Drive to do it, in which case, I will need to buy at least 1TB 2.5" regular HDD, which I'd rather not have to do. I want to add the SSD in addition to the 1TB HDD it came with.

    Also, I need some advice on Graphics Cards and gaming. I'm not a HUGE PC/Mac Gamer, but have realized that PC gaming more console like in nature than it used to be IMO, especially with Steam; you don't have to use keyboard/mouse for everything. One one of the main reasons I want to get a new HDD, and a separate one, is because I'm having a hell of a time installing Windows via Bootcamp, refit, refined, whatever. Most of the time when I start windows install my mouse and keyboard don't work (I tried using USB Keyboards and Mouse, the keyboard was Windows keyboard). I tried parallels for the games I downloaded but only some work, and I have to put a lot of RAM and my 1GB of GFX RAM towards parallels just to play simple games.

    However, they work fine on my mac, assuming they are mac games. I bought a ton of games during Steam's Summer Madness sale and a few of them were windows and I thought I could get them to work but it's just not happening until I get windows installed on this computer, and that will be much easier with a new HDD specifically for Windows. Honestly I wouldn't mind installing both Mac OS X and Windows on the SSD and use the 1TB as my main storage, that way both Mac and Windows boot quickly and quietly. I bought a 256, and the only way I would forgo getting another regular SATA drive is if I could find at least 512GB for a decent price.

    Also, do I need to upgrade my graphics card? I'm not too knowledgable when it comes to graphics. 1GB does not seem like a lot, and like I said I am not a huge PC gamer so it's not like I'm going to being running super intensive games (except I have a few, like Witcher 2, which I hear is very demanding, luckily it's a mac game; and Dark Souls II which isn't available for Mac recommends at least 1GB ram, so I'm wondering if I should just upgrade to 2-3GB of GDDR5 RAM or if 1GB is enough for most games? I have a crappy little 4GB RAM/no specific graphics card laptop with Windows 8.1, and I can get Dark Souls II to run, but it's choppy. I don't mind playing the games off my laptop, since I just use a controller and hook it up to my TV (whether it's playing on my Mac or the laptop). So far 1 GB has been enough, but I'm wondering if since I'm going to have my Mac get a new HDD installed, I might as well have them do the graphics card at the same time, because it would cost less in the end.

    Any opinions on the graphics?

    As for the HDDs, that's my main question. Do I need to replace my standard 1TB SATA drive that shipped with my iMac or is there a spot for this 3.5 to 2.5 bay? It would be really nice to just be able to install the HDD without pulling out the old one. Either way, I'll probably take advantage of both slots on the bay (assuming the iMac has enough SATA III cables)
     
  2. Truthfulie macrumors regular

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    Dec 18, 2013
    #2
    You can't upgrade GPU in current iMacs. Your best bet is to run your games in Windows using Bootcamp. This will give you better game performances even with the games that are available for OS X. Luckily when you purchase a game in Steam, you have access to both Windows and OS X versions.

    Just partition your internally installed SSD into two and use one for Bootcamp and another for OSX.
     
  3. SaSaSushi, Jul 13, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2014

    SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

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    #3
    The HDD in the Late 2013 iMac is, in fact, 3.5" and I doubt very much that you can pop in any random mount (or any mount period) and make it fit. Also, since the SSD in the Late 2013 iMacs are PCIe, there is no second SATA connector in addition to the one for the HDD. Even if there were, you'd need to find some way to split the proprietary power cable to power both devices

    The best solution would be to get an external Thunderbolt enclosure and put the SSD in that to boot from. This way you don't need to open up the machine (voiding the warranty) and you don't need to worry about the other issues I've already mentioned either.

    I am using the Delock 42490 AC-powered Thunderbolt enclosure with a 500GB Samsung EVO SSD that is split equally between OS X and BootCamp. The 1TB Fusion Drive in my iMac is strictly used for storage. I get close to 400MB/s read and write and the machine boots to the desktop in about 12 seconds.

    I wouldn't dare do surgery on this expensive beast until the 3 years of AppleCare wears off at the earliest. I'm hoping by then that third party PCIe blade SSDs will be available and more reasonably priced.

    In fact, I had to send this machine in for AppleCare service twice recently. The first time there was a smudge under the glass panel on the LCD. Unfortunately the couriers dented the machine in the process of shipping it so I had to send it back again to replace the case. In the process, Apple service reformatted the Fusion Drive and reinstalled OS X. Having the OS here on SSD not only saved me from having to format the internal drives before sending it in but I didn't have to go through the hassle of restoring from local backup when it was returned either.
     
  4. likwidsolutions thread starter macrumors member

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    Ohio
    #4
    Thanks for the advice, I do have an External Thunderbolt HDD that came with a USB 3.0 base and I bought the Thunderbolt base adapter for it (Seagate 4TB HDD w/ Thunderbolt Adapter). The problem with putting an SSD on there is there is too much space on either side of the SSD and I'm afraid of it coming loose; never good to disconnect HDDs without ejecting. I could buy one of those adapters made for 2.5" drives w/ Thunderbolt, but will I get full SSD speeds? When I copy stuff to/from my 4TB HDD via Thunderbolt I definitely do not get near 6GB/s, which is what SATA III is supposed to run at, and if it can't go as fast as an SSD is made to go, then what's the point?

    It would be nice to install Mac OS X and Windows 7 on the SSD and use my internal HDD for files that I don't access regularly. Also, I just realized that the SSD that Apple puts in the 2013 iMacs is PCIe. Is there a free PCIe slot open in my computer since I just got the standard 1TB HDD? If so I might just get rid of the SSD I have and get a PCIe SSD, I just don't know what model to get or what would fit, most of the ones I've seen look bigger than the iMac's. Any thoughts on that?
     
  5. leman macrumors 604

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    #5
    If your Thunderbolt enclosure can fit a 2.5" drive, then it will fit an normal SSD just fine. You will also get as close to the real SSD speed as possible. The reason why you don't get 6GB/s with your HDD is because your HDD can't do 6GB/s. Actually, not that many SSDs can do that. The 6GB/s is simply the max speed SATA III can theoretically manage. Most of SATA III drives won't even get close to that mark

    It is a proprietary connector and only Apple makes matching SSDs for it. You can't buy them in a store.
     
  6. likwidsolutions thread starter macrumors member

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    Ohio
    #6
    Do you have any suggestions on External 2.5" enclosures with Thunderbolt. BTW, will it make a substantial difference if I use USB 3.0 instead of Thunderbolt? Every Thunderbolt adapter/enclosure I find is damn expensive, almost to the point where it's not worth the upgrade. So I was wondering if you knew of a certain one that is relatively well-priced?

    If I'm going to get similar speed via USB 3.0 as TB1, then I'll just get a USB 3.0 one, but obviously I want it to be as fast as possible, so if TB makes a huge difference, I will definitely want to go with that.

    Also, when I connect an SSD (or any HDD) via an adapter will it show up as a separate SATA Drive? Because ever since I got my late 2013 iMac I have had a hell of a time trying to bootcamp. I've tried boot camping, using refit, refined, etc, and whenever I get to the install screen my keyboard/mouse doesn't work (and I tried using a wired keyboard and mouse, and I even used a Windows Keyboard). Every once in a while the keyboard works (even my bluetooth one), but Windows still doesn't install for some reason. I am actually thinking about having a mac shop do it for me because I am so frustrated by the fact I can't get this to bootcamp. I want to be able to multi-boot so I can play my Windows Steam games with my Mac. The only other Windows computer I have is a laptop that isn't very powerful, so it would be nice to use the specs my Mac has.

    Also, if I install an SSD Externally the way you suggest, will my computer boot up faster if I install Mavericks on the external SSD versus the internal regular HDD? The only reason I don't want to have someone else bootcamp for me is because I will have to pay and because I would like to triple boot, using Windows 7 or 8, and Ubuntu or another Linux OS, maybe Mint or something. But it would be nice to use Ubuntu to play my steam games that work with Linux since Ubuntu runs so quickly. And before you suggest it, I've tried using VMWare, Parallels, and VirtualBox and although I can get the OS to install as a Virtual Machine, it doesn't play the Windows games for some reason (plus I would have to split my computer resources between Mac OS X and the Virtual OS, which is not that great when gaming).
     
  7. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

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    #7
    You must have somehow missed it but I already did recommend a Thunderbolt enclosure. The Delock 42490.

    http://www.delock.com/produkte/F_229_2-5_42490/merkmale.html?setLanguage=en

    http://www.amazon.com/Delock-External-SATA-Thunderbolt-Converter/dp/B00HESVYCE/

    You can get a nice bus-powered USB3 enclosure for as little as $18 with the Inateck FEU3NS-1E which I did a review of here:

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1712510


    As my head-to-head benchmarks against the Delock Thunderbolt enclosure showed, the Inateck was actually slightly faster. The reason I went with the Thunderbolt enclosure was that USB3 does not support TRIM commands which are essential to the long run performance of SSDs. Also, you will likely not be able to flash SSD firmware in a USB enclosure

    As mentioned, connecting an external SSD via Thunderbolt creates another SATA device which will be recognized properly by the system as such, thus enabling the passage of TRIM commands, etc.

    I am using BootCamp on the Delock 42490 so I can say with absolute certainty that it works. :)

    Yes, a lot faster. On my Late 2009 HDD-based iMac that preceded this Late 2013 I was booting at about 3 minutes by the end of its run with me. I boot to the desktop with the Delock in about 12-15 seconds.
     
  8. likwidsolutions, Jul 30, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2014

    likwidsolutions thread starter macrumors member

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    Ohio
    #8

    Thanks for the advice. One more question... do you know if my version of iMac (Late 2013 27") uses a 3.5" drive or a 2.5" drive? I am thinking of getting a 2tb Hybrid drive. Seagate's look pretty great, and they show the benchmark at just under SSD. If that's the case, I was thinking of reinstalling the drive in my mac (I sold the SSD I had, I'll buy a new one if I need it). But if I can get a 2TB SDHD installed, hopefully that will be enough. Then I will take your suggestion and ALSO install an SSD externally. I will probably go with that Thunderbolt adapter as well, but I would just like to find a nice SDHD and then a decent enclosure with Thunderbolt for an SSD. I found an SDHD with 8 GB of Flash Memory for it's SSD portion, which was way more than most SDHD's. I'm trying to find that one again.

    I have 16GB of RAM and sometimes my computer runs a little slowly, and it's pretty new so I feel like it's because I am a heavy user. I may not have a bunch of Adobe programs open all the time (except PS), but I often have 1 or 2 windows of Safari (I've grown to like Safari more than the other browsers), I have my torrent program almost constantly running (this takes up a ton of RAM but I need to keep it open to share because I am part of an invite only torrent group and you HAVE to share, but it's worth it), I also have another browser for something else; but the most intensive things I think are the stuff running in my menu bar. I use this app called Bartender that let's you keep things running in the menu bar but hide it or mask it under the Bartender Icon, and also allows you to move things around.
     
  9. likwidsolutions thread starter macrumors member

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    Apr 17, 2014
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    Ohio
    #9
    Okay so before anyone replies to my last post I'd like to throw this out there and get peoples' opinions.

    Basically I've tried to find a way to get an SSD and a HDD in my late 2013 27" iMac. First I thought I could install 2 2.5" drives but learned there's only 1 SATA cable. Then I was recommended to get an external SSD with a USB3.0/TB Adapter. BTW I found some Firewire ones (would that be a good alternative to USB and TB since it's a little cheaper (comes with USB 3.0 too), and by time Firewire 800 is obsolete, TB peripherals should cost much less.

    Okay now onto my main point. So after looking at all these options I decided to install a Hybrid drive (1-2TB) internally in my iMac and then an SSD externally via USB/Firewire 800/Thunderbolt).

    But now I've come across a product that might allow me to do all the things I want to do plus I still will always have the option to add an external SSD.

    So have any of you heard of the WD Black²? It's a dual hard drive. It's 2.5" and it comes with 120GB of SSD and 1TB of standard HDD space. It registers as two separate drives so it should make it easier to bootcamp, even so, I can install Mac OS X on it and boot thing much more quickly and keep my installed games and hardware intensive apps on the SSD portion. Then if I need more space (right now 1TB is enough internally, and I have a 4TB external HDD with a Thunderbolt Adapter, I could probably install a 3.5" Hybrid drive (SSD's are too small).

    Here's the problem. I know my iMac can't take 2 HDDs but can I still install 1 2.5" drive with the mount and it still work?

    Here's some info on the WD Black²:

    3rd party review and explanation: http://cl.ly/07463U0n2W3i

    WD page: http://cl.ly/0y2j0v0m2V1q

    Amazon page: http://cl.ly/2p0W3m0V1l3V

    If I can install 1 2.5" drive in my iMac, I think I just found it. Afterwards I will worry about upgrading more SSD once I feel like the prices have dropped significantly and/or a Thunderbird adapter comes out cheaply. With this though, I can get SSD and 1TB for 200 (less than the cost of say a 256 SSD with an external TB adapter). Plus I love how it actually is 2 drives. It's technically not a hybrid.
     
  10. p3ntyne macrumors 6502

    p3ntyne

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    #10
    Firstly, FireWire is now obsolete and way slower than USB 3 and Thunderbolt 1 - 800Mb/s vs 5Gb/s vs 10Gb/s respectively.

    About the WD Black2, it does not work with Mac. Also note that both the SSD and the HDD are both remarkably slower than two separate drives.

    Also, note that your iMac has a 3.5 inch drive not a 2.5 inch. Hence, you should install a 7200rpm 3.5 inch HDD for almost double twice performance.

    If you are going to open it up anyway, why don't you install the SSD internally and the SSHD in a cheap USB 3 enclosure. Better still, you could keep the internal HDD for data, an external SSD for booting and another external HDD/SSHD if you still need more space. This also ensures your warranty will be safe.
     
  11. likwidsolutions thread starter macrumors member

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    Ohio
    #11
    Damn. That really sucks the WD Black2 doesn't work with Macs, that is one badass HDD. I guess it's back to option A or B (basically the two options that you mentioned). I think I will install an internal Hybrid and then an external SSD when I need to (or if I feel the Hybrid isn't booting/running at the specs I had hoped).

    Any suggestions on a 3.5" Hybrid Drive? It seems like Seagate is mainly the only brand making them, I found a few WD's, but other than that, nothing.

    Also, IIRC, if I didn't get SSD storage from Apple when I bought the iMac, I don't have the connections to install the PCIe SSD do I? If not, is there any way to get the parts needed (like from OWC or something, or hell, even Apple, although I know the prices are outrageous. I tried to call them to get an estimate and they require phone support just to ask how much it costs for them to do upgrades. I told the woman sarcastically, "thanks for helping, I'm hanging up now, there's no reason I should have to pay 20 bucks just to ask how much they charge for this or that, when I can go online or call a store and get the info for free
     
  12. p3ntyne macrumors 6502

    p3ntyne

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    #12
    Huh? Do you mean you are going to install the OS on the SSHD not the SSD. It should be the other way.

    I still believe you should keep your warranty safe and get an external TB SSD and USB SSHD. Also, make sure the SSHD you buy is 3.5 inch too.
     
  13. flopticalcube macrumors G4

    flopticalcube

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    #13
    Black2 does work ith Macs, you just need to unlock the HDD under a Windows machine first. Then Disk Utility can format the entire drive. See here.

    They aren't the best drives, however. You are better off with a separate SSD and then a drive array in a USB3 or TBolt enclosure.
     
  14. likwidsolutions thread starter macrumors member

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    Ohio
    #14
    No I want the SSHD to just have a fast HDD internally (they come up to 2TB, which is twice the space I have)

    Then I will install my OS externally via the SSD drive. I think I will take the advice originally given to me. External SSD via USB3/TB on my Mac (maybe 2), it might be easier to bootcamp with 2 separate HDDs. I don't know why I have so much trouble with Bootcamp/Refit/ReFind. Every time I use either one my keyboard/mouse doesn't work on the install, or it works but it doesn't install correctly.

    Is there a certain reason the WD Black² doesn't work on Macs? Is there a way to get it to work externally?

    If not, no big deal, I can get a bigger SSD if I don't get the WD Black² and a SDHD, with all the peripherals I need for about $50 more than the cost of a WD Black². Although if I had a PC (I've actually been thinking about building an HTPC and/or a gaming computer (relatively cheap). Mainly because I'm tired of not being able to dual boot, and even if I can dual boot, I have to run a 20 ft HDMI cable across the room. If I build a Steam Box or an HTPC I can set it up right under my TV with my PS3/PS4/360.

    I might just get an external SSD for the mac and use that for the OS, then build a PC with a WD Black² and possibly another HDD. I haven't really used Windows regularly for years, until recently. I've been using this crappy laptop (it's not the worst to game on, but it's certainly not the best; I use a 360 controller, and I have a CronusMax device which allows me to use any controller on any last gen to current gen consoles and PC/Mac, as well as use a keyboard/mouse on consoles. The only console it doesn't work with is Wii and Wii U, but the Wii Controller can work on other consoles).

    Basically with the laptop I can set it up right under my TV so the HDMI cable isn't running across the room, but obviously the games that run on my Mac run better than on the PC. So I have all the Windows only games on the laptop and the rest on my Mac.
     
  15. p3ntyne macrumors 6502

    p3ntyne

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    #15
    I don't think we are on the same page...

    I still believe it would be best to keep the 1Tb and the warranty valid, and use an external SSD and SSHD (TB and USB respectively).

    About the WD Black, it needs special software in Windows to "unlock the HDD". Prior to that, it will only be a 120 Gb SSD however, flopticalcube said, the 1Tb can be unlocked in Windows and then used in Mac. I'm not sure if this is true though.

    Even if you could get it to work though take a look at these:

    The SSD portion of WD Black2: 362.1MBps Read, 150MBps Write.
    Samsung 840 Pro: 523.9MBps Read, 500.2MBps Write.
     
  16. dlim macrumors regular

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    #16

    Don't mean to hijack the thread but I'm in a similar situation. Thinking about picking up the 27" base iMac for $1550 from best buy, but I don't have an option to upgrade to the fusion drive.

    Considering getting an SSD and putting it in an external enclosure now, and I'm trying to follow what you're saying about TB vs USB, but I got lost with all the SATA and TRIM talk haha

    I won't need my iMac for heavy editing stuff or anything like that. I currently have a 13" rMBP and I miss having a desktop. I've been looking into getting an iMac over the past couple years, just been waiting on a good deal to come around. But since I'm used to my mbp, i'm used to having an SSD and can't go back to a standard 7200rpm drive.

    It seems like what you're saying is the performance of TB vs USB 3.0 enclosures are similar in terms of installing the OS on it and booting from it, but in terms of what's best for the SSD itself, the TB is better?

    I want to be able to treat the SSD in the external as I do the SSD in my MBP, and use the 1TB HDD in the iMac as storage
     
  17. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

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    #17
    USB 3 is actually slightly faster as indicated in my review of this Inateck UASP USB3 enclosure.

    In head to head with my Delock 42490 Thunderbolt 2.5" enclosure the Inateck was marginally faster but I still am using the Delock because of the ability to use TRIM commands with Thunderbolt. You can also do firmware updates via Thunderbolt and at least with the Delock, can run Bootcamp, none of which are possible with USB.
     
  18. dlim macrumors regular

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    #18
    Ooo thanks!

    What are TRIM commands used for?
     
  19. yjchua95 macrumors 604

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    #19
    Garbage collection and management, if I recall correctly.

    Even though some SSDs have built-in garbage management, it's nowhere as good as TRIM.
     
  20. likwidsolutions thread starter macrumors member

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    Ohio
    #20
    You didn't hijack my thread, in fact a lot of your questions are some of the same questions I have. Theoretically Thunderbolt should be faster (Thunderbolt 2 should certainly be faster but is only available on MBP's and Mac Pro's at the moment). The dumb thing is, TB2 is just regular thunderbolt but you connect 2 TB cables to the mac to take advantage of each slot. So even though the current iMacs have two TB slots, it doesn't have the ability to get TB2 speeds. Basically most if not all TB devices have 2 TB slots, mainly for daisy chaining. Like you can hook up an external HDD via TB, then another one connected to the HDD, and/or another TB device. I'm curious if there is a way to "unlock TB2" on current macs; if it's just a software thing, you'd think there would be a driver or patch out there. If it's Hardware based then I can see how an upgrade would be pointless, too hard/expensive, or impossible (I am pretty sure the Thunderbolt ports are soldered to the motherboard)

    But if what people are saying is true about External SSDs, Hybrids, and regular HDDs run almost as fast connected externally via USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt instead of the standard SATA III. Basically SATA is the type of connection to give power and connect to your computer, there is SATA, SATA II, SATA III (which is the current standard and each version is backwards compatible). SATA III runs up to 6GB/sec, and Thunderbolt can theoretically (but not in practice) up to 10GB/sec and USB 3.0 up to 5GB/sec (also not in practice). But even if it were connected via SATA I'm started to realize that the speeds wouldn't be increased by much if at all. So I think I might buy a 3.5/2.5" HDD enclosure, with multiple slots, at least 2. Install an SSD in one and another HDD or SDHD for extra space. It certainly is a lot cheaper than doing an internal upgrade (although if you order off Apple.com you can choose between a 1TB HDD, a 1 or 3TB Fusion Drive (basically a Hybrid SDHD), or SSD memory (I think only 512GB), or flash memory (even less space). Keep in mind, any HDD change/upgrade will cost 200 minimum, Apple milks customers buying a new computer. I wish the Mac Pro was still made in a tower format, I would've eventually upgraded to that and I think those are easier to add things to it because of it's shape/size...again not sure though.

    It should be noted that at the moment it's extremely difficult or even not yet possible that you can't find the right sized SSD blade that they use (they don't use a 2.5" drive, they use a PCIe blade, which is proprietary at the moment). Although I think OWC has come up with a solution, I haven't read into it much though.

    But the upgrades are not cheap. I think if you choose any other option besides the default it's $200+ for each other option. Personally I didn't have the option to upgrade because I purchased on Amazon something I recommend if you don't plan to add upgrades, because they charge less than apple, plus they don't charge tax and if you have Amazon prime you will have it in 2 days (or 11.99 for one day shipping, which is more than the standard 3.99 because of the item's size). You can use that extra money to get a square trade warranty (which is cheaper if you buy it on Amazon at the same time you buy the computer), which is a really cheap warranty (or they are upgrades you can do yourself, like RAM, but keep in mind the 21.5" has no user-accesible RAM (one of the worst decisions ever, or the smartest if it gets people to upbuy to the 27"). It made me upgrade to the 27", amongst other reasons like the obvious performance upgrades and the 27" screen is so beautiful and has amazing screen real estate at 2560x1400 resolution.

    You might benefit to wait til the end of the year. They are probably going to announce a 2014 version when they announce the iPhone. They already released a 2014 version, but only a 21.5", and it wasn't much of an upgrade, actually it was more of a downgrade, I think it had less powerful specs than the middle priced 21.5"/or the lowest of the late 2013 models. I could be mistaken about that. Either way, unless you want to pay 200 dollars for Apple to install RAM that costs about 75 dollars and is super easy to install on the 27", you're gonna have to pony up for the 27". 21.5" not only has no user accessible RAM but is only upgradeable to 16GB whereas the 27 is 32GB max. Apple likes to charge outrageous prices. Unfortunately the 2012+ macs have been more compact and so harder to repair/upgrade. I remember how easy it was to take apart my 2010 iMac (and although I made an error during the process, I was able to fix the mistake, and it was my first attempt at upgrading my Mac myself). I can upgrade a PC easily, but Mac's aren't really made to be upgradeable (which is why sites like iFixit.com is so great, although I don't like how Apple bought them out)
     

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