Newbie still undecided on the new iMac - please help

Discussion in 'iMac' started by PEAB, Oct 31, 2012.

  1. PEAB macrumors newbie

    Oct 31, 2012
    Hey all - long time reader, first time poster. Just need a bit of guidance if you don't mind.

    I'm on the hunt for my next desktop (my last one being bought ages ago and still running Windows XP!) and I waited on the announcement of the new iMacs before committing to anything. I've always been a Windows user - simply because it's what we had around the place when I first discovered computers and Apples were always out of my price range - but I was tempted to go the way of the iMac this time until I saw the unveil.

    Basically I intend my next computer to last about four/five years. My concern with the iMac is that, whilst aesthetically pleasing, it's components are not the height of what is on the market at this time? The last time I bought a desktop it was towards the top end of what was on offer and that's probably why it still gets by today. We're talking about eight years. My fear with the iMac is that, if it can already be bettered today, what chance will it stand way down the line? Anyway, I'm not as clued up as many of you on here so if I'm wrong I'm hoping you can set me right. Please excuse my ignorance.

    Ideally I need a system that can manage heavy use of Adobe inDesign and Photoshop, can do all the usual stuff like store my music etc, but can also be used for games. I'm not a hardcore PC gamer by any means but occasionally I will find something I'd prefer to play on my desktop. I've read that the new iMacs won't be able to handle the top graphics of some current games - is this true? Whilst I won't be a regular gamer the machine is no good to me if it can't handle the one top of the line game I do eventually decide to play, be it now or in a year's time.

    Basically, had a new iMac come out with specs that were towards the top of what was on offer today then I would be confident it will serve me in the long term and would happily pay the premium that apple products cost. The issue is I don't won't to blow a sizeable amount of money on something that can't tick all the boxes for me so I'm hoping you might be able to give me a better idea of whether it can. When I read specs it's like reading a foreign article using an online translator - I sometimes get the idea but quite often I'm left more confused than when I started! The iMac is a beautiful machine and I would love to have one but it has to be practical too. Currently the alternative is something like this:

    Cheers for your help people. Sorry for the essay!
  2. mac.ross, Oct 31, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2012

    mac.ross macrumors member

    Oct 27, 2012
    Hey there

    Hi there, I'm on the same boat as you and I'm going to be going for a 27" iMac as my first Apple machine.

    I'm a Computer Science student and would rather have the big monitor real estate than using two monitors in my small apartment. (Mainly why I looked at the iMac and comapred it to all the competitors offerings)

    As far as the Hardware goes for the iMac, it is VERY good compared to normal, this is the reason I'm even considering one, that and the 15% student discount.

    The processors are high end i5/i7 Ivy Bridge, some of the best processors on the market (Not including the chips made for overclocking).

    The screen is beautiful, the only off-putting thing for me was the glossiness - but apparently they are reducing the glare on the screen, I like this a lot.

    As far as an all-in-one desktop solution goes, the iMac is one of the best, if not THE best, choices available.

    The graphics cards on the high-end 27" and the BTO machines are some of the best chips available for the form factor - they are slightly downclocked chips of the full cards, not a 'mobile' version.

    If you look at the synthetic benchmarks here, specifically the 'Geforce GTX680M', this is a rough guide to how powerful the cards will be.

    The stock option for the 27" high-end is the GTX675MX, this should perform a little under the 680M (assuming that it is underclocked, it might not be and will yield even better performance) and the highest end card in a built-to-order is the 680MX which is a mor epowerful card than the 680M.

    If you look at the table, the 680M is the 12th most powerful card overall out of ALL cards on the market (at stock clocks), the cards for the 27" iMac will be both slightly over and slightly under this card - brilliant performance for the majority of games.

    The only way you would struggle is if you were playing in full resolution maxed-out, which would make almost any card strugle with such a high resolution.

    The iMac should definitely last you that time nicely.
  3. nuckinfutz macrumors 603


    Jul 3, 2002
    Middle Earth
    The problem with PC comparisons is this.

    No matter how good HP or Dell or [insert PC brand] hardware specs are they will not match the the iMac and here's why.

    "They don't control the OS"

    Apple has direct control over the configuration of all the Macs and those configurations are adeptly supported by OS X. From a stability standpoint OS X just runs like a champ on new hardware.

    I'd say the 27" is ideal. Two Thunderbolt ports means you could flank two additional displays to the left and right of the 27" and still have the ability to daisy-chain another 8 devices or so off of the Thunderbolt ports.

    The RAM slots are user-accessible so 32GB of fast RAM can be easily installed and the 1TB or 3TB of Fusion Drives means we've got a solid compromise between SSD speed/cost versus capacity.

    Plus it's well known that the Mac will retain more of it's resale value years later when the HP's value plummets.
  4. MagicThief83 macrumors 6502

    Jun 12, 2012
    No comparison!

    It's actually quite interesting, as I was looking at other all-in-ones from several other PC vendors, and none of them have the sophistication (in terms of design or technology) of Apple's iMacs. The current 21.5" bests most 27" non-Apple all-in-ones. The Fusion Drive and flash SSD (27" only) options aren't found in alternative all-in-ones. Even the graphics card in the 21.5" (GT 650M), outdoes the competitions' (GT 630M and GT 640M at most). I would strongly urge one to consider an iMac, and not even think about a non-Apple all-in-one, because they will regret it down the line (performance & value wise) if they don't purchase an iMac. There are quality all-in-ones out there (i.e. Dell's XPS)-but they just aren't on par with Apple's iMacs. By the way, speaking of performance, do you think the GT 650M in the high-end 21.5" iMac will fare well, gaming-wise? That is the model I'm highly considering because my workstation is rather small, and I can max out the 21.5" and still be under budget, whereas getting the high-end 27" will force to exceed what I'd like to spend. I'm not a heavy gamer if that helps.
  5. mac.ross macrumors member

    Oct 27, 2012
    The GT 650M is a solid card, I doubt it will max out games fully, but you should be able to play medium/high on most games at 1920x1080 easily enough.

    Some benchmarks here showing performance.

    The DellXPS One 27 seems to be unavailable in the UK online now, they might be getting refreshed soon, I'd be thinking, nice machines too though.
  6. MagicThief83 macrumors 6502

    Jun 12, 2012
    What if you lower the resolution a little to let's say, 1680 x 1050, and keep settings on high, will that allow for smoother FPS (>30)? As I said, I'm a casual gamer, and a lot of steam games I would like to play are much older games like Batman Arkham Asylum and Borderlands, which I plan to beat once I get the iMac.
  7. triweaver2 macrumors newbie

    Jun 22, 2012
    Hi PEAB,
    Wish I could help more on this. It does look like the CPU on the HP tower you are looking at is the same or similar to that on the maxed out 27" iMac (at least maxed out on the CPU anyway). What I cannot find is any reference to the GPU on that tower (NVIDIA GeForce GTX 640). I see references to a plain GT 640 but not a GTX 640. So maybe someone can point you in the direction of a site that has some benchmarks on that GPU and the GTX 675MX and GTX 680MX. It does appear that the HP tower graphics card will have more dedicated memory.
  8. mac.ross macrumors member

    Oct 27, 2012
    Well, the link I showed you has benchmarks for both Arkham City and Borderlands.

    Arkham City runs at ~51 FPS on average at 1366x768, should run 30+ easily enough if you bump up the resolution - if not, some settings medium some high will definitely do it.

    Borderlands 2 at Ultra 1920x1080 gets around 35FPS, on high you should get 40+, maybe even 50.

    You normally have just have to play around with the settings and tweak each game, some 'enhancements' take a lot of CPU/GPU power but don't really improve the game all that much.
  9. Payton macrumors regular


    Nov 23, 2006
    Portland, OR
    I think the important thing is to not get caught up on exact specs, processor speeds, etc. You said yourself the last PC you bought runs XP and you purchased it ages ago.

    In terms of longevity, here's my experience:

    I'm a creative professional who uses a 2007 MacBook Pro (maxed out ram and an SSD installed) as my main machine. It's over five years old.

    I also own a 2005 iMac G5 which only runs Leopard (Yes, 10.5!) and it works great. No, it's not as quick as a brand new machine, but my family uses it on a daily basis without any trouble.

    Yes, an iMac purchased today will work fine in 4-5 years.

    The question you need to ask yourself is whether or not you want to use OS X on daily basis or continue to use Windows. That should be the deciding factor for someone who's debating the switch. I'm a Mac user because of the operating system, beautifully designed hardware, and Apple's customer service. Does practicality come down to how the computer performs, or numbers on a page?
  10. mac.ross macrumors member

    Oct 27, 2012
    I think that's a little typo on the webpage.

    The only card it could possibly be is a GT640 (no such thing as a GTX640), and by the looks of the specs (3GB Memory) it has to be a stock OEM card, specs can be found here - it's the middle card.

    As you said, it does have more memory but the card will most definitely not be close to the performance of the 675MX/680MX.
  11. triweaver2 macrumors newbie

    Jun 22, 2012
    That's what I was thinking too (just a GT 640). Yes, the 675MX/680MX look to be real beasts!
  12. d0nK macrumors 6502


    Nov 4, 2011
    OSX is good to use but unless you're going to spend mega-bucks for the 27" iMac with BTO options (decent laptop gfx card (yes they use laptop gfx cards >.<) & decent speed HD) or build a hackintosh, then you may be disappointed.
  13. Tri-stan macrumors 6502

    Oct 27, 2012
    So which card should you go for, the 675MX or the 680MX? bearing in mind nobody wants to completely blow the budget on this thing but it does have to last for some time?

    I have to go for the i7 so that leaves not many choices for the gtx and my budget. I don't want to have that guilty feeling when I know I could have go by on a lower spec and the money could have been spent more productively on something else. Maxing it out is not cheap. . .
  14. RobinHood5 macrumors regular

    Apr 23, 2012
    You dont take into consideration that a mac will inherently last longer than a windows box.
  15. mrbrycel macrumors member

    May 18, 2010
    Man I wish that were true.. Realistically their student discount is only about 5%. $50 off the low end models, $100 off the high end models
  16. mac.ross, Nov 1, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2012

    mac.ross macrumors member

    Oct 27, 2012
    My university discount gives me what seems to be a flat 15% on the high end models and ~14% off the lower models.

    Off the top end iMac (last model) and all of the current stuff I easily get off around £200 ($320).

    On top of that AppleCare is discounted from around £150 to £40 - a very nice discount.

    That's because it is patently untrue.

    Both a Mac and a PC will last equally as long, the PC can last generally longer as it is easily upgradeable, easily increasing the lifespan past that of a Macintosh.
  17. ahbdesign macrumors member

    Mar 13, 2011
    Melbourne, Australia
    This probably holds true for an iMac vs PC, as PCs will probably last as long but they will slow down over time. This happens to macs too but is not that pronounced.

    However when it comes to notebooks, the macbooks will definitely outlast most other laptops.
  18. dontpannic macrumors 6502


    May 16, 2011
    Orpington, Kent, UK
    Lets put it this way. My father currently uses my sisters old laptop - it's a base model 2009 Plastic MacBook. It's got an old dual core processor, upgraded to 4gb ram, and with an install of mountain lion it still outperforms my 2010 custom build top spec PC on most basic tasks.

    I also know an app developer who regularly still uses a 2007 iMac - with Lion, hasn't been reinstalled since launch, and he still uses Xcode on it!
  19. mac.ross macrumors member

    Oct 27, 2012
    Both systems will slow over time but with proper regular maintenance both systems will be fine.

    You are correct concerning notebooks but I was referring to the iMac in question, being that it was the topic of discussion, not Macs in general - I should have been a bit less vague. :)

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