OS X New iMac and Gaming Advice. Processor speed and Memory Qs

Discussion in 'Mac and PC Games' started by Stonebrook, Jun 30, 2014.

  1. Stonebrook macrumors newbie

    Jun 30, 2014
    Hi All,

    I've had a macbook pro for several years now. When I purchased it I travelled a lot, but now I'll mostly be living in one location so I felt that I could save a bit of money by keeping my 2010 macbook pro for document composition and purchase an iMac for home use and gaming and video playback (doubling as my TV). Right now my macbook pro is exuding some signs of fatigue at the current hoops I'm having it jump through (at four years old it doesn't seem to take much to tax it heavily).

    My Current Macbook Pro is the following:

    Mid 2010 15' Macbook Pro
    2.4GHz Intel Core i5
    4GB 1067 MHz DDR3 memory
    320 GB Hard Drive
    NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M 256 MB
    320 GB Hard Drive

    So the base model I'm looking at is the following:

    iMac 21.5-inch: 2.9 GHz
    2.9GHz quad-core Intel Core i5
    Turbo Boost up to 3.6 Ghz
    8GB (two 4GB) memory
    1TB hard drive
    INVIDIA GeForce GT 750M with 1GB video memory

    1. Some Gaming (mosly Blizzard games, and currently Diablo 3. Whatever else comes down the line?). Currently I play with most settings turned all the way down, and see some slowdown due to processor speed, and long load times on SC2 and Diablo 3. I know that some of the online load time issues may be in part related to my net connection, but I do wonder how much of it is hardware and how much of it is having poor upload speeds/being wireless.

    2. I'd prefer not to purchase Windows and swap between bootcamp. I did this with my last desktop and never felt like I got my moneys worth for my purposes.

    3. VLC or Streaming playback (So, day to day is nothing much taxing).

    1. There is an option to upgrade the Processor from 2.9 core i5 to 3.1 core i7. In terms of Gaming and/or desktop longevity (hopefully 4-5 years of life?), what kind of difference would this upgrade make?

    2. There is an option to upgrade the memory from 8GB to 16GB. Same question as 1 (gaming and longevity). I don't believe this model allows me to swap out the memory on my own, though I could be wrong.

    3. These are the only two considerations I was looking at for upgrades as I'm trying to keep costs low, but are there other considerations I should be looking at?

    Thanks for any advice you might have.
  2. saturnotaku macrumors 68000

    Mar 4, 2013
    The 1 GB GPU is going to be the limiting factor in that machine, especially if gaming is going to at all be a consideration. Newer titles can easily saturate it, and in just a short period of time you could be in the same boat you are now with your current MacBook Pro.

    I would instead consider purchasing a refurbished 27-inch iMac. This one has a 2 GB GPU, and a pretty good one at that. It will give you much more breathing room. You won't be able to play at native resolution, but even at 1200p, games will still look good on its display. You'll also be able to upgrade the RAM to 16 GB if you so choose, which as you correctly point out, is not an option on the 21.5-inch iMac.

    In case you didn't know, refurbished Macs carry the same one-year hardware/90-day phone support warranty as new and can be extended during that time with AppleCare (which I would recommend purchasing from someplace like B&H Photo or Adorama Camera as it can be cheaper by $100 or more over what Apple charges).
  3. fuchsdh macrumors 65816


    Jun 19, 2014
    In terms of longevity I always suggest upgrades, and since you're getting a 21-incher and RAM will be a pain to upgrade, I'd go for the 16GB now. I don't know how much the processor will matter for gaming—personally I tend to find the processor the least important component to upgrade these days. The clock speed boost isn't huge; the caveat is games are still really bad at multi-threading.

    The GeForce GT 750M is obviously a laptop card and that's going to be the biggest limitation for the future. Looking at benchmarks it looks like you'll definitely be getting decent framerates at native 1080p gaming on current (this year) games, so you should be set for Blizzard titles, which are generally well-optimized for Macs. You'll have to dial down the effects and the resolution to get 60fps in the future.
  4. Stonebrook thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 30, 2014
    Well, I'm trying to keep from going up to that next tier price range. I know much improves internally, but it's a limitation I've set for myself. Though I can upgrade to 16GB from purchase. I just wouldn't be able to purchase cheaper ram and install it myself (at least I wouldn't be able to with ease).

    Can you comment on Processor speed and memory upgrade options?

    Processor from 2.9 to 3.1
    Memory from 8 GB to 16GB (I've heard this may be unnecessary unless I plan on doing heavy video editing or running lots of background programs outside of a few browser tabs)? If graphics card memory limits are met, does it then pull from the 8/16 memory? Sorry, my computing knowledge is really dated.
  5. saturnotaku macrumors 68000

    Mar 4, 2013
    The CPU and RAM upgrades for the 21.5-inch iMac cost $200 each. If you went with one or the other on the system you're looking to purchase, you would be looking at $1699, the same price as the 27-inch refurbished system I referenced earlier.

    If you're dead set on the 21.5-inch, do not purchase any of the upgrades. The RAM is not necessary for the tasks you've described, and the CPU would be wasted for gaming because the GPU is not powerful enough.
  6. Dirtyharry50 macrumors 68000


    May 17, 2012
    I think that system even with the proposed upgrades may not be the best investment for you if you really want five years of gaming from it. I know that isn't what you want to hear but I am just being honest with you.

    I don't think within 5 years an i7 is going to often be a requirement to run a game, particularly Blizzard games which tend to run across a broad range of hardware on purpose. The RAM is probably fine as well but it is hard to know looking 5 years out. Not having the option to self-install an upgrade would worry me a little I think but I'm not sure it would be enough to get me to cough up the money for 16 now which you certainly do not need at all currently.

    The potential problem I see you running into within say 2 to 3 years time would be the GPU in that system. It would be fine for now, particularly with what you mentioned wanting to play but 4 plus years down the road I'm not so sure it would still cut the mustard.

    The thing is, you can give what you want to go with a shot and in the worst case scenario sell it earlier than planned and put the money towards a similar replacement if you come to feel you need it and maybe that is the best course that lets you keep spending where you want it now but doesn't mean you don't have options say in 3 years. Macs do hold their value very well compared to other computers.

    Whatever you do, buy AppleCare. Seriously, don't try to save money there. Mine has paid for itself 10 times over literally at this point after two LCD and glass panel replacements along with 3 fans, a DVD drive and 6970m GPU in a 2011 iMac. This was all done recently after me owning this computer bought new about two years ago. Had I not bought AppleCare, those repairs would have likely exceeded the cost of a new iMac, particularly given that AppleCare covered me to have them done in my home. I would never buy an iMac without AppleCare and I highly recommend you get it for the peace of mind and protection it offers.
  7. saturnotaku macrumors 68000

    Mar 4, 2013
    How did you manage that? I didn't think Apple provided on-site support. Did you schedule the repairs through a 3rd-party AASP rather than AppleCare directly?
  8. Dirtyharry50 macrumors 68000


    May 17, 2012
    On-site is included with AppleCare and it is covered in the AppleCare contract you get when you buy it. It is also advertised as a feature of it on the Apple site last I knew. However, you have to insist on on-site when you first call. Initially, they always try to get you to bring it to a store. I reminded them my AppleCare covers on-site and that is what I want. Once I did that, I was transferred to an AppleCare advisor who diagnosed the issues with me over the phone and then they setup the on-site service for me. Emails with details followed and ultimately a phone call from the on-site tech, etc.

    I wasn't aware of it initially either even though I'd bought it. I missed it entirely and only found out by reading somebody else's post in the iMac forum about it. Because of that, I put off getting repairs I needed done for months because I didn't want to be without my iMac. It's a good thing I visit MacRumors to be educated in all things Mac. :D
  9. saturnotaku macrumors 68000

    Mar 4, 2013
    I just did some checking, and though you're technically right, this type of support is somewhat limited in scope. According to this, it is up to Apple's discretion to allow for an on-site repair, and you also must reside within 100 miles of the top 15 US or top 5 Canadian metropolitan areas. Interesting that Phoenix, Arizona, is not on the list but Minneapolis, Minnesota, is.

    Still, this is good to know at least in my case. When the logic board fails on my 2011 MBP, I'll demand that Apple come to my home or office to fix it. :D
  10. Stonebrook thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 30, 2014
    Sorry Saturn, I didn't mean to ignore your refurbish recommendation. I've been shopping on the education site and my past experience shopping around seems to put a lot of refurbished items at about the same discount as the education discount. But the one you linked to is indeed a better product for the price.

    And if the GPU built in ram is in large part where my biggest weakness is currently (256gb in my old mbp GeForce 330M vs. 1 or 2gb in a newer Geforce), then it sounds worthwhile. Though, I do wish they had that option for the smaller monitors. While I plan to use this for watching shows, the 27 inch screen almost seems too much for desktop gaming (but maybe that's just my instinct going from a 15 inch laptop).

    Thanks for all who commented. Feel free to add any other advice to comes to mind. I'm moving soon and likely won't make this purchase for two or three months.
  11. saturnotaku macrumors 68000

    Mar 4, 2013
    It would be nice if they at least offered the Retina MacBook Pro's 2 GB GeForce GT 750M in the smaller iMac. Keep in mind, you don't have to run games at the display's native resolution. The iMac's screen scales pretty well, so even playing at 1920x1200 or 1680x1050 won't look bad.

    Keep in mind Apple updates refurb stock store pretty regularly, but systems can sell out quickly as well. Who knows what will be in stock when you're ready to make a purchase.
  12. happyfrappy macrumors 6502

    Oct 14, 2007
    Location eh?
    Processor wise I'd opt for an i7, back in 2008 I let a Microcenter floor guy help me choose parts for a DIY PC after they ran out of the faster Core 2 Duos so I ended up with a Core 2 Quad for the same price... the Quad still packed enough punch for several 2012/2013 games, learned one good lesson a quad is worth it even though I wasn't really in the market for it back then :cool:

    If you use EyeTV/Handbrake, an i7 will half the amount of time in transcoding...
  13. saturnotaku macrumors 68000

    Mar 4, 2013
    All iMacs, save for the $1099 base model, have quad-core i5 desktop-class CPUs.
  14. Dirtyharry50 macrumors 68000


    May 17, 2012
    What you are linking to there is the premium support package with on-site within 4 hours if call is in the morning, etc. I presume that is targeted to businesses and priced accordingly. That is not the consumer AppleCare Protection Plan which is highlighted on this page ( http://www.apple.com/support/products/mac.html ) where on-site is clearly indicated although there is a footnote stating it can vary by country and location of service center. There is no cities list linked to this page and incidentally, I am not within 100 miles of any of the cities listed on the other page but I had no trouble getting on-site here. In America where I live, Apple uses a company that also does work for Dell and other major computer makers as well as server support for businesses, etc. and they are in many more locations than a small limited list of cities. My tech came from a town called Wilson in North Carolina which is by no means a major American city.

    I'm sure it is possible that if you live in some very remote rural area you may need to mail it in with a box they'll provide you or they may opt to send do-it-yourself parts (as the site I linked mentions) but for a lot of America at least, on-site is available for AppleCare Protection Plan customers. The best point one can take away from this is they do endeavor to make repairs as painless as possible and having to lug the computer to a store is not something consumers have to do unless that happens to be more convenient for them than other options.

    I actually live in a rural place surrounded by acres upon acres of farmland and I got on-site service here.

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