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kiwi_deeks

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 3, 2015
4
0
Brisbane
If you could only afford one of the following iMac 21.5 2015 options what would it be? They are all pretty close in final price.

21.5 2.8ghz i5 with added 256g SSD (add external drive later on) or
21.5 2.8ghz i5 with added 2TB fusion drive or
21.5 3.1ghz i5 Retina display with 1TD HDD.

Could up the RAM from 8 to 16 as well, or do a hybrid of 2 of the above options if had to push the budget, not sure if I need to??

It's to upgrade from my old 2010 MacBook that has done me well, it's for home use, web browsing, some home video editing, Microsoft office, emails, lite gaming, iTunes and home media use. I want to try future prof it as much as I can, be good if I could get another 5-7 years out of it.

Cheers guys.
 

daniel1948

macrumors 6502
Oct 20, 2015
342
186
Spokane, WA
You ask what I would get. I would, and did, get the i5 with retina display when I realized that the non-retina version had only the same graphics as my decade-old 5,1 iMac. I got the 256 GB SSD in part because it is quiet. I was always annoyed by the whirr of the HD in the old computer because I always felt like it was wearing itself out. In fact, it ran for the life of the computer and still works fine, but it annoyed me.

For my use (email, internet, journaling, calendar, trip planning, chess & solitaire, etc.) the i7 would be overkill, as would 16 GB RAM. And if I need to expand storage, an external HD or SSD is cheaper than getting 500 GB SSD from Apple.

All reports say that the Fusion drive works great and is super-fast, but I am a control freak, and I don't like the idea that the machine is deciding what goes on flash and what goes on the spinner. External drives are cheap, if I want to expand memory with a spinner, though I would more likely go with an external SSD. In fact, I got a 1 TB external SSD for backup.

The caveat to all the above is that I can afford all this. If I was pressed for money, I might have stuck with the straight HD, which is cheaper and bigger than my SSD.

The first couple of days were extremely exasperating, as I tried to get everything working. But Apple phone support was excellent, and I'm quite happy with the computer now.

Only you can decide whether you need the added storage of the 2 TB drive or whether the non-retina display will be adequate for you.
 

kiwi_deeks

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 3, 2015
4
0
Brisbane
Ch
You ask what I would get. I would, and did, get the i5 with retina display when I realized that the non-retina version had only the same graphics as my decade-old 5,1 iMac. I got the 256 GB SSD in part because it is quiet. I was always annoyed by the whirr of the HD in the old computer because I always felt like it was wearing itself out. In fact, it ran for the life of the computer and still works fine, but it annoyed me.

For my use (email, internet, journaling, calendar, trip planning, chess & solitaire, etc.) the i7 would be overkill, as would 16 GB RAM. And if I need to expand storage, an external HD or SSD is cheaper than getting 500 GB SSD from Apple.

All reports say that the Fusion drive works great and is super-fast, but I am a control freak, and I don't like the idea that the machine is deciding what goes on flash and what goes on the spinner. External drives are cheap, if I want to expand memory with a spinner, though I would more likely go with an external SSD. In fact, I got a 1 TB external SSD for backup.

The caveat to all the above is that I can afford all this. If I was pressed for money, I might have stuck with the straight HD, which is cheaper and bigger than my SSD.

The first couple of days were extremely exasperating, as I tried to get everything working. But Apple phone support was excellent, and I'm quite happy with the computer now.

Only you can decide whether you need the added storage of the 2 TB drive or whether the non-retina display will be adequate for you.

Cheers mate, thanks for your time. So you would go for retina with a 256gb SSD, keep RAM at 8mb. More then enough for every day home use and add a external HDD at a later date.
 

maflynn

macrumors Haswell
May 3, 2009
73,599
43,592
If possible, I'd go with the 4k iMac and slap a SSD into the drive. I think if you don't have the financial wiggle room for that, hold off, and/or see if you qualify for the education discount.
 
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daniel1948

macrumors 6502
Oct 20, 2015
342
186
Spokane, WA
Cheers mate, thanks for your time. So you would go for retina with a 256gb SSD, keep RAM at 8mb. More then enough for every day home use and add a external HDD at a later date.

Assuming the external HDD is even needed. Though I'd more likely make the external an SSD if I need more storage. Oh, and I got the 4K screen. I may have misspoken when I said Retina because I'm not sure if 4K is Retina or if they're different.
 
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Fishrrman

macrumors Penryn
Feb 20, 2009
28,491
12,625
You don't want any iMac UNLESS it has either an SSD or a fusion drive inside.
You don't want any iMac UNLESS it comes with 8gb of RAM.

That is all.
 
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tann

macrumors 68000
Apr 15, 2010
1,944
813
UK
Either get the SSD or the retina display but save for a fusion drive.

Just don't get anything without at least a fusion drive!
 

James_C

macrumors 68030
Sep 13, 2002
2,819
1,848
Bristol, UK
If possible, I'd go with the 4k iMac and slap a SSD into the drive. I think if you don't have the financial wiggle room for that, hold off, and/or see if you qualify for the education discount.

Completely agree that is the best option. iMac is effectively a sealed unit. SSD gives a great speed boost and reduces the risk of drive failure when the warranty runs out. Retina screen makes text and graphics really stand out.
 

bent christian

Suspended
Nov 5, 2015
509
1,966
The first one. If you're doing video editing having an SSD is a must.

If the OP is used to a 2010 MB, a 2015 with Fuson drive will be fine. It will be faster in all situations. I use a 2010 iMac at work. I have a 2015 iMac (Fusion) at home. My tests on both have shown that the 5400 RPM drive is almost twice as fast as the 7200 RPM drive that came in the 2010 iMac. That is just comparing spinning drives, not including files that hit the SSD.
 
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twilexia

macrumors 6502
Oct 16, 2015
282
59
If the OP is used to a 2010 MB, a 2015 with Fuson drive will be fine. It will be faster in all situations. I use a 2010 iMac at work. I have a 2015 iMac (Fusion) at home. My tests on both have shown that the 5400 RPM drive is almost twice as fast as the 7200 RPM drive that came in the 2010 iMac. That is just comparing spinning drives, not including files that hit the SSD.

How did you test just the HDD portion? And are you on a 21" since you have the 5400 rpm Fusion drive?
 
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bent christian

Suspended
Nov 5, 2015
509
1,966
How did you test just the HDD portion? And are you on a 21" since you have the 5400 rpm Fusion drive?

Yup, both are 21.5".

The basic Blackmagic test on both.

The 2015 seems like it hits the hard drive once the write second test begins. It can go anywhere from 80-150 MB/s (250-325 MB/s on the first test - this has to be the SSD working). 2010 is stuck around 50-70 MB/s always. The new 5400 RPM drives appear to be at least as fast as the "better" drives from five years ago. Sometimes they are faster.
 

kiwi_deeks

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 3, 2015
4
0
Brisbane
Tha
If possible, I'd go with the 4k iMac and slap a SSD into the drive. I think if you don't have the financial wiggle room for that, hold off, and/or see if you qualify for the education discount.

Thanks mate, I think I will do that and yes my Mrs is a teacher so we will go for the discount. From what I have read SSD is well worth it, so is the 4K retina, and I will not need to upgrade from 8 to 16gb of RAM. That is my budget maxed out.
 

Nia3088

macrumors newbie
Nov 21, 2015
13
3
Japan
If you could only afford one of the following iMac 21.5 2015 options what would it be? They are all pretty close in final price.

21.5 2.8ghz i5 with added 256g SSD (add external drive later on) or
21.5 2.8ghz i5 with added 2TB fusion drive or
21.5 3.1ghz i5 Retina display with 1TD HDD.

I'm in almost exactly the same situation as you, OP.

But I was moving from a 2010 MBA so I never even considered a HDD.

I also decided against a Fusion Drive cos I want to Bootcamp Windows to do some light gaming (need to catch up on some older games cos the MBA has been my main computer for the last 5 years!), and I read that Windows would have been installed in the HDD part of the FD, thereby giving slowing me down significantly.

So I settled on the 256 SSD; but I then started thinking about whether I needed to upgrade anything else to future proof it. After some research, I figured that I didn't need any extra RAM since I wouldn't be doing anything 8GB can't handle, but the display really made me think. The 4K is pretty much DOUBLE the ppi of the HD display; and whilst I don't have much 4K content now, I probably will in the future. But, like you, I don't have an unlimited budget, so I didn't know what to do. I consulted this forum and @maflynn put it best when he asked whether I would look at the (1080p) iMac and have some level of buyer's remorse. I figured I would so I ended up going for the 4K (hopefully arriving today!), even thought that would mean tightening my belt for a month or two.

Sorry for the long reply, but I figured that since we have such similar situations, I figured that my thought processes in making my decision might be able to help you too!
 
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daniel1948

macrumors 6502
Oct 20, 2015
342
186
Spokane, WA
I disagree with people who say "Absolutely do not get anything without <this or that>" These things are not absolutes. They are balances of cost and features with an eye to the sorts of uses you have for the computer.

I much prefer SSD. I think it's the better choice. HOWEVER this choice comes at a cost in money and storage capacity. I have the money and I don't need a lot of storage capacity so I chose 256 GB SSD. However, one of Apple's selling points, which the folks complaining about the high price of its products fail to understand, is its commitment to quality. And if money is an object (which in your case apparently it is) an HDD will give you reliable storage at a lower cost. By getting the 265 GB SSD I got 1/4 the storage and paid an extra $200 plus tax. For me, that was a good choice.

But when someone says "Absolutely never get an HDD because they fail," well, the HDD in my old 9-year-old 5,1 iMac still works just fine and is likely to keep working for the next owner of that machine.

An SSD will be faster than an HDD, and might be faster for some kinds of disk usage than a Fusion drive, but again, only you can decide if that faster speed is worth the money. And a lot of people report that the Fusion drive is as fast or nearly as fast as the SSD, and provides a lot more storage for the price. It is for me. But that's me, and I can afford it. Consider your budget and how much storage you need.
 

MrNomNoms

macrumors 65816
Jan 25, 2011
1,157
294
Wellington, New Zealand
Personally, if I had a few extra dollars up my sleeve and I was you then I'd get the following:

Summary
21.5-inch iMac with Retina 4K display
  • 3.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz
  • 16GB 1867MHz LPDDR3
  • 256GB Flash Storage
  • Intel Iris Pro Graphics 6200
  • Magic Mouse 2
  • Apple Keyboard with Numeric Keypad (International English) and User’s Guide (English)
  • Accessory Kit
The buy an external hard disk then throw a few extra bucks to an off site place like Amazon's unlimited for offsite backups assuming you've got flat rate up in Brisbane. It would be a bit of an investment upfront but it'll provide a good basis for the future.
 

Jan.K

macrumors newbie
Nov 29, 2015
19
4
Always SSD! This is simply a no-brainer. Get a external hard disk (USB) for the extra space. (Or maybe a Thunderbolt SSD like me :)
 

daniel1948

macrumors 6502
Oct 20, 2015
342
186
Spokane, WA
Personally, if I had a few extra dollars up my sleeve and I was you then I'd get the following:

Summary
21.5-inch iMac with Retina 4K display
  • 3.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz
  • 16GB 1867MHz LPDDR3
  • 256GB Flash Storage
  • Intel Iris Pro Graphics 6200
  • Magic Mouse 2
  • Apple Keyboard with Numeric Keypad (International English) and User’s Guide (English)
  • Accessory Kit
The buy an external hard disk then throw a few extra bucks to an off site place like Amazon's unlimited for offsite backups assuming you've got flat rate up in Brisbane. It would be a bit of an investment upfront but it'll provide a good basis for the future.

Personally, I HATE the apple wired keyboard with numeric keypad. The key action is terrible. And while the "magic mouse" (which is not magic at all!) is better than other mouses I've used, it's also pretty dreadful. Also dreadful is the too-small Apple bluetooth keyboard without numeric keypad.

I use a Logitech wireless solar-powered keyboard and an Apple trackpad. That's the input combination I'd recommend. The key action on the Logitech is perfect, and the trackpad is much easier to use than any mouse or trackball. (Hint: I set the trackpad for tap-to-click.)
 
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vkd

macrumors 6502a
Sep 10, 2012
970
345
I'd get the one with the Fusion drive, and get a RAM upgrade from some cheaper vendor than $$Apple$$
 

MrNomNoms

macrumors 65816
Jan 25, 2011
1,157
294
Wellington, New Zealand
Personally, I HATE the apple wired keyboard with numeric keypad. The key action is terrible. And while the "magic mouse" (which is not magic at all!) is better than other mouses I've used, it's also pretty dreadful. Also dreadful is the too-small Apple bluetooth keyboard without numeric keypad.

I use a Logitech wireless solar-powered keyboard and an Apple trackpad. That's the input combination I'd recommend. The key action on the Logitech is perfect, and the trackpad is much easier to use than any mouse or trackball. (Hint: I set the trackpad for tap-to-click.)

I personally I don't use a mouse, I prefer using a touchpad but I couldn't bring myself to pay for the new touchpad so I decided to recycle the touchpad from my old iMac then sell the old iMac with the new mouse I received with my new computer. I am tempted to maybe look at the new touchpad later on but to be honest I'd really see 3d touch as a compelling feature. As for the keyboard itself, meh, I find it is good enough as I prefer the full size keyboard and I am more used to typing with a chicklet keyboard than I am with a traditional one give my long term exposure to Mac's.
 

maflynn

macrumors Haswell
May 3, 2009
73,599
43,592
From what I have read SSD is well worth it,
It is, and if your storage requirements are such, then the 256GB is fine.

I have over 500GB of storage and I've always used external drives. This time around I wanted something that could hold all of my data internally and I didn't have to worry about external drives - I know that may sound odd, but that's me :)
 
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