New iMac and Gaming Advice. Processor Speed and Memory Qs

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Stonebrook, Jun 30, 2014.

  1. Stonebrook macrumors newbie

    Jun 30, 2014
    Hi All,

    First off, I've double posted this here and in the gaming forums to get a wider survey. Please forgive me for the double posting.

    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, 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. Thermonuclear macrumors 6502

    May 23, 2009
    For video adapter benchmarks, see:

    In summary, none of the integrated graphics machines come close to any of those with discrete graphics with respect to video performance. Also, there is not all that much difference among the discrete graphics cards on the current iMac models.
  3. MartinAppleGuy macrumors 68020


    Sep 27, 2013
    I have the 750m GPU and it is handling any game I threw at it. As for CPU, you won't benefit from an i7 when gaming, and that will not prolong the lifespan of the computer.

    RAM wise, 8Gb of RAM is more than enough for those games (and really any PC games for that mater). You can't upgrade the RAM after purchase but I'd just stick with the 8Gb and save the money. If your not benefiting from 16Gb right away (running VM's...) and you are getting it for the longevity of the Mac, you are only going to see yourself getting one or two more OS X updates in say 6-8 years, and by that time the CPU and GPU are already going to drag you down that the difference in RAM won't matter. RAM compression is Mavericks is another reason not to bother spending the money, I have been able to push my 8Gb of RAM all the way to 18.5Gb before heavy Swap started. Performance was flawless up to around 15Gb, where it start to lower slowly.


    I'm not sure, but that link may be showing the results of the GDDR3 750m, not the faster GDDR5 version. That would yield around 10-15% increases.
  4. joe-h2o macrumors 6502a

    Jun 24, 2012
    I assume you mean on just the 21" iMac model, yes?

    There is a considerable difference between the 750M and the 780M.

    If you really do mean that there's "not all that much difference" between the 750M and the 780M then can I have some of what you're smoking please?
  5. thesimplelogic macrumors regular

    Jun 27, 2014
    One consideration I think would be worth it would be looking at getting a Fusion Drive, if it is in your budget. You said about slow load times etc, if you are playing a game a lot, this will make it a lot snappier :)
  6. Gloops macrumors member

    Mar 3, 2009
    All the iMacs have mobile GPUs, so running most current games at the display's native resolution is going to make them struggle. Even the GeForce GTX 780M upgrade in the 27" is going to chug at 2560x1440.

    The GT 750M with GDDR5 performs slightly better than the GTX 660M, so the stats for that card should give you an idea:

    Mac gaming really depends how much of a hardcore gamer you are and if you want the best visuals. I can run Skyrim comfortably on my new 21.5 iMac (i7, GT 750M, 16GB). The game auto selected 'ultra', but thats only if for people who don't mind playing at 5 FPS. I finally settled for mostly 'high' settings at 1600x900 and that achieves around 60 FPS, occasionally dipping to the 40s. The game looks pretty good.

    If you're going to get the 21.5 inch I'd advise upgrading to at least the fusion drive. The 5400-rpm HD is sloooow. With the fusion drive OS X boots in about 4 seconds. My Windows 7 partition on the mechanical drive takes almost a minute.
  7. noke macrumors newbie

    Jun 25, 2014
    Ssd >>> hdd

    Always spend the extra money on the SSD.
    U wont get a bigger benefit from any other investment. Its a big bottleneck.
    HDD makes no one happy (especially not the 5400rpm HDD in the iMac)

    Dont know about the FusionDrive, seems halfhearted to me. It buffers what u are using often, but cant buffer anything. So opening programs u dont use often is still slow.
  8. Tjosansa macrumors regular


    Jul 27, 2013
    I got 27" i7 780m and fusion
    Two weeks ago i bought a 21" i5 750m and standard harddrive 1 tb for my daughter. Nice computer just smaller than mine :)
    She play Sims 3 alot.
    I have never felt that it is slow.. But it can get hoter than my 27" imac. Thats about it.
  9. MartinAppleGuy, Jul 1, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2014

    MartinAppleGuy macrumors 68020


    Sep 27, 2013
    The 5400RPM drive is not slow. Have you tried it (in a current iMac)? I was having a shot of MB's in a store today (13" MBA with PCIe SSD, 13" retina Pro and 15") and all still taken time to open apps. Is this because it was in a store so people would be using them all the time and they never get a shut down? Because the app launch times were either slightly faster than my 5400RPM iMac or exactly the same! This was not apples to apples like (I have a 2.9>3.6 quad core i5, 8Gb RAM and 750m, 1TB HDD, the MBPr was a 2.4Ghz dual core i5, 8Gb RAM and Iris GPU, 256Gb SSD) but I'm really not seeing this SSD magic (or at least I never seen it today on the floor MB's).


    Mine boots in 35 seconds (when I restart once every 3 months), and most apps still launch instantly (iMovie can take 7-9 seconds, and Maya can take 5 seconds).


    It doesn't take 4 seconds on a FD does it? I thought the pure SSD was still 10-12 seconds...
  10. Truthfulie macrumors regular

    Dec 18, 2013
    Once the app is launched and cached in RAM, they will launch rather fast even with HDD but obviously slower than SSDs. And yeah FD doesn't boot that fast. SSD boots mine, 2013 with 256 SSD, roughly in 10 seconds.

    to OP: Current Blizzard games aren't too demanding. You should be fine for now but GPU was never the strength of iMacs. You will have to compromise on settings for demanding new titles.
  11. MartinAppleGuy macrumors 68020


    Sep 27, 2013
    Yeah. I do love my App Cache though on OS X :)
  12. Gloops macrumors member

    Mar 3, 2009
    Yeah, I got a bit carried away there! Mavericks boots in about 10 seconds, thanks to the SSD part of the FD. Conversely, the Windows 7 partition installed on the spinning platter takes 1 minute 56 seconds to reach the desktop (I just timed it). Windows 8.1 may do better.

    The 5400-rpm HDD is definitely pedestrian compared to the 7200-rpm HDD in my 6 year old iMac. Apple should be doing better.
  13. Truthfulie macrumors regular

    Dec 18, 2013
    I think it boots within 10 seconds even with not so fast SSDs. That's from power buttom to start screen. It's only few seconds but Windows 8 is fast as hell when it comes to booting.

    Agreed. With the SSD prices falling rapidly, they should at least offer FD as a standard on their desktop line-up.
  14. MartinAppleGuy macrumors 68020


    Sep 27, 2013
    Use the same OS if you are going to compare! My 5400rpm HDD boots mavericks in 35 seconds!
  15. librarian macrumors regular

    Sep 24, 2011
    The 750 m is enough for the games you want to play, even in full hd res.
    I5 processor is fine. 8gb should be enough. You must get an ssd or the fusion drive, unless you enjoy loading lag and stuttering during a sc2 match. Blizzard games are hdd intensive under osx,and things had indeed slowed down with mavericks.
  16. Irishman macrumors 68030

    Nov 2, 2006
    Maybe you can provide some insight into something for me: How many OSX-native games go up to 2560x1440? How many display visual detail improvements going from 1920x1080 to the higher resolution? I game on my 21.5' iMac, so its native res is a tv-friendly 1920x1080.

    What am I missing?
  17. kitsunestudios macrumors regular

    Apr 10, 2012
    I recently upgraded from a 21" 2011 iMac to a 27" 2013, so i might be able to answer a few of those.

    Most games in the past 5 years or so will do 2560x1440. I play Portal2, Civilization V, Diablo 3 and XCOM at that resolution. If I was still playing WoW, I'd play that too. Haven't tried logging back into Guild Wars 2, but I'm sure that would play at similar resolutions.

    Do you actually gain a lot from going from 1080 to 1440? Not really. It's a little sharper and smoother on a big screen. If I were getting a gaming PC, I'd probably just stick with 1080P.

    With the iMac, there's less choice; playing at 1080p on a 27" iMac won't be as sharp as 1080 on a 21" iMac or 1440 on a 27" iMac's desplay, just because of the wa LCD monitors handle image scaling. (Edit: if you have a second 1080p monitor or TV attached as your primary gaming monitor, then feel free to play your games at 1080p on it)
  18. Gloops macrumors member

    Mar 3, 2009
    You probably aren't missing anything if your 21.5" iMac can play all the games you want it to. The 27" has a fractionally higher pixel density, but the screen isn't noticeably sharper to my eyes, just bigger.

    The only native Mac game I own is Marathon from 1997, so I couldn't tell you if any of the current crop support 2560x1440! But I'd imagine the mobile GPU would struggle rendering that many pixels for most current and future 3D games. You'd probably have to scale it down to at least 1920x1080, which would make the image appear to blur slightly anyway.

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