New 21.5 inch iMac - i5 vs i7

Discussion in 'iMac' started by mrschmitt, May 18, 2011.

  1. mrschmitt macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 18, 2011
    #1
    I am going to be buying the higher end 21.5 inch iMac in the near future. I am wondering if it would be wise for me to upgrade to the i7 chip (2.7ghz i5 to the 2.8ghz i7)? I don't really buy a new computer very often, in fact my current iMac is a 2.1ghz PowerPC isight. I want to make sure that whatever I get, that it will be powerful enough to last me for years to come. We do a little bit of video editing and quite a bit of photo editing. I know that the video card is probably a bigger factor with this stuff, but I really don't want to move up to the 27inch. Is the i7 upgrade worth it?
    Thanks,
    Matt
     
  2. Icaras macrumors 603

    Icaras

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Location:
    California, United States
    #2
    If you're going to do video editing, the i7 will definitely speed up your work flow. If "future proofing" is your concern, then I would pay the extra $200 for the i7.
     
  3. mrschmitt thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 18, 2011
    #3
    The i7 isn't a Sandy Bridge processor. According to the Intel website, this i7 was released Q1 2010 and this i5 was released Q1 2011. My concern is that I am buying last years technology. Stronger specs yes, but is it worse since it is last years tech?
    Thanks again,
    Matt
     
  4. Kerel, May 19, 2011
    Last edited: May 19, 2011

    Kerel macrumors member

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    Location:
    Weimar Germany
    #4
    i7 Sandy bridge

    The i7 is a Sandy Bridge.
    It´s an i7 2600S. A lower power version(65w) of the i7 found in its bigger sister.
    It wouldn´t make sense for Apple to keep the old i7 just for 1 model.

    I dont know much more performance the i7 would give you in photo and video editing but you would pay a lot $500 for the upgrades that are acually worth less than $200.

    because Apple opted for a quad core in the base model already the high end 21" isn´t that much of an upgrade. You get an i5 2500s instead of an 2400s (10%more performance) an overclocked HD6750(The HD6770 and HD6750 are basicly the same chip but the HD6770 will give you around 15% more performance) and a bigger hard drive.

    I would stick with the base model and keep the $500 and upgrade a couple of years earlyer.
     
  5. jruss77 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2011
    #5
    I'm in the exact same situation - ideally I want the fastest 21.5 iMac possible (I think the 27 inch is just too big for my desk apartment. I've already got a 32 inch TV and I don't want want to fill the place with enormous screens)

    The problem is Apple's sneaky upselling. €1,149 is a great price for the base model and all I'd want to upgrade really is the processor from i5 to i7, but they force you to go for the higher spec 21.5 which is €1449 and then add €200 for the processor making it a €500 upgrade. Admittedly you get a slightly upgraded graphics card and hard drive, but it just doesn't make good financial sense.

    However, the upgrade is much more appealing on the 27 inch iMac. You get a much bigger jump in graphics card spec and the i7 is clocked much higher.

    So for me it seems like all or nothing with upgrading to i7. Either go for the base spec or buy the 27 inch i7 beast.
     
  6. Dr. McKay macrumors 6502a

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    Jan 20, 2010
    Location:
    Belgium, Europe
    #6
    I'm also in more or less the same situation : I'm looking into buying a new iMac to replace my current one (early 2008 model, 24 inch, 2.8 Ghz Core2Duo).
    The base model (i5 2.5Ghz) is plenty fast for my needs. I only do basic stuff : browsing, some light photo editing, some iMovie and some gaming (World of Warcraft, Starcraft 2 and soon Diablo 3).
    The next step up only seems slightly faster but costs a lot more. However, the base model only has a 500Gb hard drive, a bit small especially when you want to create a Win7 bootcamp partition.
    What strikes me as odd, is that you can't configure the base model with a bigger hard drive, whereas with the 2.7 model, you can upgrade the processor and the hard drive. Replacing the hard drive myself is a no-no as it would void the warranty plus I don't feel too confident opening up my iMac.

    The way I see it, there's no way to order a 21.5 inch with 2.5Ghz Core i5 with a 1Tb HD instead of the 500Gb one. Or is there ?
     
  7. pcypert macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2006
    Location:
    Bangkok
    #7
    That upgrade to me is a no brainer. Look at the performance reports. The 21 i7 is almost as good as the 27 inch i7. I'd definitely swing the extra bucks and just go for that...the one constant in computers is the second you decide you don't need something, you need it.
     
  8. clark1 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 4, 2011
    #8
    I wish the i7 for the 21.5" was offered for the 27". I ordered the 27" i5 model, but thought a great deal about the 21.5" i7. Performance is excellent and cooler running.

    Will
     
  9. RoyalFlushAK(s) macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2011
    #9
    Lol, lol,
    Is this a serious issue about your Sandy Bridge processor? LOL, :confused:
    You wouldn't know the difference unless you design complex assemblies with 500 or more components/parts with SolidWorks or ProEngineer. Else for kids stuff like email, word processing, games and photo editing it makes no difference.

    Sandy Bridge, pardner?? lol, lol, - way to go - lol, lol, lol

    RoyalFlushAK(s)
     
  10. Bear macrumors G3

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    Jul 23, 2002
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    Sol III - Terra
    #10
    I think you would see a decent speed increase from going to the i7. I also suspect from what you've said, you'd need the larger capacity disk anyway. I would also recommend buying an 8GB ram kit from a 3rd party to bring your system to 12GB. And if that turns out to not be enough, you could alway upgrade the $GB kit that comes with the system to 8GB down the road.

    While it's nice to get new equipment, I can understand not wanting to upgrade for a while. So sometimes it's better to just get that bit extra to help lengthen the life of your new system.
     
  11. aggri1, Jun 15, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2011

    aggri1 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    #11
    I think the base model is the best value. Save the cash and upgrade earlier.

    EDIT: in a few years' time, whether you have the now-current i5 or the i7 will be irrelevant. Compared to the then-current chips, they'll both be obsolete. Therefore I personally don't at all buy the 'future-proofing' argument as a reason to get the i7.
     
  12. Michael383 macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 17, 2011
    #12
    I agree. The i7 will give you the best performance and longest life for your machine.
     
  13. darknite38 macrumors regular

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    Nov 18, 2010
    #13
    Yeah, because having an i5 processor will make his computer stop working a year before the i7 would, right?
     
  14. Icaras macrumors 603

    Icaras

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    Mar 18, 2008
    Location:
    California, United States
    #14
    Nope, unfortunately not. :(

    Yea, this is something a lot of people seem to be missing in the detais; how powerful the high end 21.5" is compared to the entire lineup, and in all Macs in general for that matter. In benchmarks, it consistently scores just right under the top end 27". And for the same exact price as the high end 27" i7, you can get the SSD BTO option on the 21.5". For me, that's such a better deal than the larger resolution and bigger display.

    Really? The i7 actually runs cooler than the i5?

    Yes, especially if you're going to handle multi-threaded apps.
     
  15. Dr. McKay macrumors 6502a

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    Jan 20, 2010
    Location:
    Belgium, Europe
    #15
    I was wondering : I have two external hard drives, one 500 Gb with dual interface FW400/ISB2 and one 1.5Tb with USB2.
    Is it possible to use the FW400 drive as a Win7 bootcamp partition : is it fast enough, and more importantly, can I boot from it ?
     
  16. Bear macrumors G3

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    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    Sol III - Terra
    #16
    According to teh Bootcamp documentation, the Bootcamp partition has to be on an internal drive.
     
  17. crghwkns macrumors member

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    May 31, 2011
    #17
    I've got the i5, and while that makes me feel less of a man than those with an i7, it still amazes me with its performance. Anything faster, quieter (nae, silenter) or cooler would seem like witchcraft.
     
  18. AppleFan360 macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    #18
    I have the higher end 21.5". Besides the slight performance boost compared to the lower end 21.5, having the 1TB hard drive is a no brainer for me. It gives me more room to run bootcamp and editing HD video.

    A lot of people say that the extra $300 for the upper end 21.5" i5 isn't worth the money but I disagree. Buying any computer with a 500GB hard drive these days is a crime in my book.
     
  19. Sirmausalot macrumors 6502a

    Sirmausalot

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    Sep 1, 2007
    #19
    I compromised on the 2010 27" iMac refurb. You get a 2.93 i7 (about 10% slower than the Sandy Bridge 2.8 i7) but with a bit more video ram and most importantly 27 versus 21.5. The 21.5 i7 21.5 and the 2010 i7 27" are about 1600.
     
  20. clyde2801 macrumors 601

    clyde2801

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    In the land of no hills and red dirt.
    #20
    Recently upgraded from a 20" white 2.16 c2d imac. In retrospect, I don't think the upscale model of it, with a 2.33 ghz chip, would have made a difference.

    Besides the higher clock speed of the SB i7 (which you'd probably have to be Mr. Data to notice in normal consumer use), it also has hyperthreading. IE, the ability to use 8 virtual cores instead of 4 if the program can take advantage of multithreading.

    My intuition is that unless programs and apps in general start to take more advantage of multi cores, the i7 probably won't make that big of a difference in a few years time. Ram, the graphics card and hard disk capacity and/or read/write times will probably make more of a difference.
     
  21. iamthedudeman macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2007
    #21
    Well I have the 21.5 2.8 i7 W SSD and it will not work waking my 30' Eizo Monitor from sleep via thunderbolt port. So Apple is sending me a 2010 I7 2.93 refurb with SSD only. Not a bad compromise. But I do not have good luck with my recent refurb purchases.

    How is the screen on yours? Condition?

    I figured I would get it shipped 'ground' in stead of two day, 'ground' is much safer. When shipped ground your imac is shipped with other items or 'boxed' in a container. With two day shipping your imac is running solo all the way from Cali getting banged up in the process.

    I have a 27 2.93 at the office and it gets around 10800 on 64bit geekbench where as the i7 2.8 gets 11300 on average.
     
  22. mennie macrumors newbie

    mennie

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    Jun 14, 2011
    #22
    i7 is faster than i5 not over 20% at "full load of CPU".
     
  23. Sirmausalot macrumors 6502a

    Sirmausalot

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    Sep 1, 2007
    #23
    Dudeman, mine is in transit. Coming from California, hopefully early next week (NYC). Now here's something you can't find out easily. We know the graphics card is better on the 21.5" -- for 3D and games. Except even on the high end it only has 512MB video ram.

    The refurb 27" has an older generation video card, but 1GB RAM. The card with more RAM will handle video editing better and anything that like open CL take advantage of the additional RAM. And there only seem to be 7 of your model left in the refurb store....

    PS Chris -- do NOT put HD video on your internal drive. You should have a separate external drive for each project.
     
  24. AppleFan360 macrumors 68020

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    Jan 26, 2008
    #24
    Yes, I know that. I move the project to a separate drive when I'm done. During the actual editing process, everything runs faster when using the internal drive.
     
  25. iamthedudeman macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2007
    #25
    Dudeman, mine is in transit. Coming from California, hopefully early next week (NYC). Now here's something you can't find out easily. We know the graphics card is better on the 21.5" -- for 3D and games. Except even on the high end it only has 512MB video ram.

    The refurb 27" has an older generation video card, but 1GB RAM. The card with more RAM will handle video editing better and anything that like open CL take advantage of the additional RAM. And there only seem to be 7 of your model left in the refurb store....



    The GPU is more powerful in the 2010 27 than the 21.5 2011. And has more ram. the 5750 that shipped in last year's iMac was in fact a rebadged member of the mobility 5800 series using the "Broadway" core instead of the "Madison" core used in Mobility 5600 and 5700 parts. The 5800 series has 800 shaders and not 400, so while the bump in the new 2011 iMac is still a decent one, it's not as monumental.

    I will be getting mine tomorrow and will let you know how it goes. :apple:
     

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