Question: Why do you suppose Apple still put mobile GPUs in the iMacs?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by jaxhunter, Oct 4, 2013.

  1. jaxhunter macrumors regular

    jaxhunter

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    Dec 14, 2012
    Location:
    Arizona
    #1
    So I'm just asking this question out of curiosity as to what people think:

    The Late 2012 and Late 2013 iMacs have their grpahics cards soldered directly to their logic boards instead of the MXM card used in previous generations. It made some sense before that iMacs used mobile chips because the MXM card is a mobile standard and with the exception of adding a large heatsink and heat pipe Apple did not change the MXM format for the iMacs. Now that they have ditched the MXM card why do you suppose they still use mobile GPUs? One of the more obvious answers is heat but I don't really buy that as the full reason. Is it more likely that nVidia and AMD (presuming AMD was at least optioned at one point) do not make a desktop card that can be soldered directly to the logic board? Or maybe they don't allow that to happen?

    I invite your insight and speculation... However, I also understand that there are many out there who think that Apple just makes bad decisions and expect their fans to mindlessly follow what they say. If we can now avoid those types of comments that would be great.
     
  2. leman macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    #2
    You do understand that mobile and desktop cards are exactly the same hardware? Mobile chips are often binned higher and have lower thermal consumption. For example, the 780M is a downclocked desktop gtx 770.

    As to the second part of your question, the main reason is thermal envelope. An AIO like iMac cannot handle the thermal output of a high-end gaming card. The 780 is on part with upper-midrange though, which should satisfy most. After all, its faster then ~98% of the GPUs currently begin used ;)
     
  3. topmounter macrumors 68020

    topmounter

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    #3
    Mobile chips make the iMac more mobile resulting in a reduction in packaging and shipping costs. Obviously.
     
  4. barkmonster macrumors 68020

    barkmonster

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2001
    Location:
    Lancashire
    #4
    Because the iMac is a giant form before function laptop for your desk. It's needlessly thin, it lack an optical drive simply so they can over-charge for £20 (at most) worth of USB DVD-R/W if you want one (or pay less than Apple charge and get a third party external Blu-Ray burner), it doesn't have any user accessible drive bays so they can charge you a fortune for a 128Gb 2.5" SSD and 3.5" HDD in a fusion configuration. It even comes with a laptop keyboard!
     
  5. jaxhunter thread starter macrumors regular

    jaxhunter

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    Arizona
    #5
    So, yes I do understand that they are (basically) the same hardware but that is the crux of my question... Why put in a downclocked desktop GTX 770 with, in some cases, fewer cores enabled when you could theoretically just put in a GTX 770?

    I also don't 100% buy the thermal envelope thing either. I do buy it, just not 100%. I think that this is just a question of Apple philosophy. The GTX 780 would probably be just fine in the iMac until it ran full bore. That would require the iMac's fans to spin up pretty high. This by Apple is an absolute no-no; the fans cannot spin up because it would affect the user experience. That is the reason why some of the iMacs experience early hard drive failure - Apple does not allow the fans to run at a higher speed because it would make them too noisy.

    I think this all boils down to user experience which is Apple's core focus. They make certain decisions based on the user experience that forces them to make performance compromises. Ergo, they could put full desktop cards in the machines but that would make the machine louder so they go with well-performing mobile cards that allow them to keep the fan noise down.

    The question that still remains though is if nVidia would allow them to solder a full desktop setup to the iMac's logic board. While the mobile chips may be the same silicon as the desktop chips the total packaging philosophy is different. So, in an imaginary world where Apple built a magical iMac cooling system would nVidia allow them to put a GTX 780 on an iMac logic board? Or would Apple have to find a way to fit a PCIe card into an iMac?
     
  6. joe-h2o macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2012
    #6
    The iMac, to play devil's advocate, is the ideal thickness. It lacks an obsolete optical drive that I'm glad is not bundled into the case since I can use an external one if I ever need it (going on 11 months now and I've used it once), and of course I didn't buy an Apple-branded drive.

    I find it hilarious that ignorance like "it comes with a 2.5" SSD" gets promoted around here alongside string assertions that the machine is non-upgradable. Given that you don't even understand what's inside it, how are you qualified to make that distinction?

    It comes with Apple's bluetooth chiclet keyboard by default, or for a free exchange during purchase, their wired full size keyboard. The bluetooth keyboard is the best one I've ever typed on (and I'm old enough to have used a Model M, so we can cut that debate off right now).

    The iMac is superbly functional for what I bought it for and I've been very happy with it.

    Edit: regarding the choice of mobile GPUs - it's entirely a thermal envelope and board real estate decision. Full fat desktop GPUs are noisy and physically large. Apple went down a route that meshes with their design philosophy and the near-silent-under-high-load iMac is something I am very grateful they decided on. They sacrificed some performance for this, but still managed to offer a BTO option that (in the 2012 version at least) had comparable performance to a desktop 660Ti card, which is no slouch itself. It managed this for lower power consumption and lower TDP.
     
  7. leman macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    #7
    TDP of GTX 770 is 230W, TDP of 780M is 100W. Do you see the difference? The amount of cores is absolutely the same, the clocks are around 30% lower.
     
  8. barkmonster, Oct 5, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2013

    barkmonster macrumors 68020

    barkmonster

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    Lancashire
    #8
    So you agree that they over-charge for the optical drive but don't see charging the same for a system that lacks an optical drive as they did for a comparable model that used to have one is price gouging?

    You expect to get better internal specs from one model to the next for a comparable price and from an I/O, CPU, GPU and internal storage point of view, that's exactly what you're getting but no optical drive and the lower cost of components such as RAM and HDDs/SSDs should instantly warrant a price reduction of £100 per model that didn't happen.

    I assume you're at least knowledgable enough to know a Fusion drive is just a 2.5" SSD and a 3.5" HDD?

    You only need to view the build to order options to "understand what's inside it" and facts available online make me "qualified to make that distinction".

    Does the 21.5" iMac even have user upgradable RAM?

    Does this take apart video showing how to upgrade a 21.5" to a 2.5" SSD and 3.5" HDD that Apple would have happily charged you £160 for having as a BTO option in a Fusion configuration look like a reasonable, user servicable thing to do when I, "don't even understand what's inside it?"

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmLLzkg3vI0

    It's even more rediculous when you consider that for what Apple charge to add a 128Gb SSD to the 1Tb HDD that's already there you could get a 256Gb SSD with plenty to spare for tools. (Or they could offer more realistic BTO prices like £100 maximum).

    You decided to ignore the BTO options I was obviously refering to when you claimed I said, "it comes with a 2.5" drive" and yet here you are refering to them yourself as the way you made your personal preference over what keyboard it came with. Pointless bragging about being old enough to have used a Model M doesn't have anything to do with anything.

    Now we get to the real point. The system suits you perfectly and you're insulted that I pointed out a few undenible flaws it has that mean it doesn't suit everybody.

    I couldn't agree more about the silence and the GPU being adequate for their purpose. I don't game or use any GPU intensive software myself and I'm glad my Mac Mini is silent and offers acceptable GPU performance for all the applications I use on it over 2 monitors but I'd expect performance on a par with a full desktop GPU for the price of the iMac without resorting to expensive BTO options.
     
  9. joe-h2o macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2012
    #9
    You're changing your argument. Now you're talking about price?

    Optical drive:
    You feel that the dropping of the optical drive (that costs a few pounds wholesale) should result in a £100 price cut across the board, without understanding that the retail price of an item is not determined this way. Plus, the design changed - there's nothing to suggest that the new case costs the same as the old one (with a delta of £100, perhaps), or that they're paying Nvidia the same for their GPUs as they were paying AMD for the previous generation. The profit margin on the new iMac is very likely different to the old one, but as is standard for Apple's retail lineup, the prices of each tier do not change much between generations.


    SSD:
    You claimed that Apple "overcharged for a 2.5" SSD", when this item is nowhere inside the iMac, nor is it available for sale from Apple. Apple do not sell 2.5" SSDs. You blow about "facts available online" but clearly demonstrate that you haven't actually made yourself aware of those facts. All of the SSD options in the 2012 and 2013 iMacs are blades.

    Keyboard:
    You claimed it comes with a laptop keyboard, when the options demonstrate that your choice of keyboard options include a full desktop keyboard with number pad and additional function keys (at no charge). I'm not "pointlessly bragging" about the Model M, merely qualifying my statement that the Apple chiclet keyboard is one of the best I have ever used. If I do not qualify that statement, as I have learned in the past, then the argument will switch to how the Model M is the clearly superior design and I clearly have never used one and if I had then I'd clearly not make the crazy assertion that the Apple kb is better. I'm merely heading that argument off at the pass.

    Insult:
    You're claiming that I'm insulted, but seem to have mistaken debate on a forum and an alternate opinion to yours for me taking offence. Not sure how that follows. You offered your opinion that the iMac is an oversized non-portable laptop (along with some factual errors). I pointed out those errors and offered my own opinion. I'm not offended that you think differently. Where do you debate where you assume your opponent is offended?!

    BTO Pricing:
    Arguing over the BTO pricing is a lost cause with Apple. Of course the cost of a 128GB SSD is going to be more than a third party 256GB one - Apple's BTO prices have historically always been over the odds (especially for RAM and storage), but for that price you're paying for the convenience. Prices for third party components do not include the time to fit them (whether that be you or a tech doing it after the fact, or paying for custom assembly at the factory when it is first made).
     
  10. barkmonster, Oct 5, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2013

    barkmonster macrumors 68020

    barkmonster

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2001
    Location:
    Lancashire
    #10
    Haven't changed my argument. You've just wasted a lot of time writing all that. If they remove functionality and then charge to add it back, that cost needs to be passed on to the consumer.

    I see your point about the blade SSDs but you can't compare component costs available to consumers and component costs available to Apple with the volumes they'd buy them in.
     
  11. Serban Suspended

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2013
    #11
    because thermals and dimensions of the dGPU and GPU
     
  12. TwoBytes macrumors 68020

    TwoBytes

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    Jun 2, 2008
    #12
    So they can call it one of the most beautiful thinnest desktop computers in the world. Personally, I'd rather have high performing parts and for it to be 2 cm thicker. I *use* the computer more than I look at how thin or thick it is
     
  13. Bear macrumors G3

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    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    Sol III - Terra
    #13
    True, one does look at the front of the computer and not the side of the computer. The question is how thick would the iMac have to be and what would need to be added to cool a desktop GPU. In other words how much noise would the cooling for a desktop GPU add?
     
  14. Ddyracer macrumors 68000

    Ddyracer

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    Nov 24, 2009
    #14
    Apple should have let the imac be the new mac pro and kept the old for die hards. An imac pro big enough to power a 780 with dual graphics would be killer.
     
  15. elithrar macrumors 6502

    elithrar

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    May 31, 2007
    #15
    This is the answer. A 130W increase in TDP is huge, especially when concentrated on one part of the board.
     
  16. kaellar macrumors 6502

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    Nov 12, 2012
    #16
    Guess what? Some mobile counterparts used in iMacs even cost more than their desktop brothers. Guess why? Because those are selected silicon units that are able to work at ~70% of big brother's clocks level while requiring 2+ times less power and producing way less heat.

    Surely, there are some purely marketing decisions in iMacs (RAM and storage base configs and BTO prices, for example), but mobile GPUs are not one of them.
     
  17. Gherkin macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2004
    #17
    oh my... didn't realize this was an option!

    my new iMac is shipping to the Apple Store for instore pickup this Friday.

    You think they will allow me to switch the wireless out in store?
     
  18. AaronM5670 macrumors 6502

    AaronM5670

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2012
    Location:
    London
    #18
    My friend tried to do this with last year's iMac but they wouldn't swap it (Covent Garden). They may do it at your store though.
     
  19. Gherkin macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2004
    #19
    honestly it's making me a little angry thinking they won't do it after I just gave Apple $2,500+.

    I use After Effects and Photoshop, so the bigger keyboard would be nice for keyboard shortcuts. Plus not having to deal w/ batteries and pairing.
     
  20. tomwvr macrumors regular

    tomwvr

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2012
    Location:
    Frederick Maryland
    #20
    i am going to chime in here for a bit

    1) when the 2012 came out I was a bit concerned about not having an optical drive.
    2) I was also concerned with the price of the fusion drive, and apples cost for memory.

    I solved two of these issues - 1 purchased 3rd party memory and a 3rd party drive (it was 29.99)

    The fusion drive - I took the hit on the price (went I5 instead of I7)

    The 29.99 I spent on the drive was a huge waist of money. I used it 1 time to install windows 7 (which after install have used very few times)


    And about the video card - the computer works great does everything I need it to do with out any issues and plays every game I have tried with no problems.

    Tom
     
  21. elithrar macrumors 6502

    elithrar

    Joined:
    May 31, 2007
    #21
    If you think reverting to the old 2011 chassis ("2cm thicker") would allow Apple to put a desktop class card into the iMac, you're way off.

    I'm going to copy+pasta this from the other thread on this topic:

    Two centimetres won't cut it.
     

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