Questions from potential switcher and complete newbie

Discussion in 'iMac' started by gbi, Jan 2, 2013.

  1. gbi, Jan 2, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2013

    gbi macrumors newbie

    Jan 2, 2013
    Hi all,

    first le me say this is a fantastic forum with lots of great contributions from its members! Well done!

    As the title says, I am a potential switcher looking to purchase my very first iMac.

    As I know virtually nothing at all about Macs here I am with a request for your guidance in choosing the right specs so as to make sure I spend my money wisely.

    I've ruled out the 27" as it's too big for my workspace.

    I use my computers for Internet, email, MS Office and some occasional desktop publishing (Quarxpress and InDesign). I am not a gamer, though I might be tempted to put the iMac through its paces, but I would probably go for car racing or flight sim at the most.

    What I would also like to do is record music (perhaps using Garage Band at first).

    I would also like to install Windows on my iMac. I understand this can be done quite easily.

    Do you think a 21.5" iMac with the following specs would suit my needs?

    Intel Core i5 quad-core 2.9GHz
    8GB SDRAM DDR3 1600MHz - 2 x 4GB
    1 TB Fusion Drive
    NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M 512MB GDDR5

    My questions are:

    1) Would I need the faster processor (Intel Core i7 quad-core 3.1GHz)? Would I notice the difference?

    2) Do I need an extra 8GB of RAM?

    3) I understand Fusion Drive is the way to go. Would I benefit from it considering my requirements? Will the Fusion Drive give me any problems if I also install Windows?

    Thank you for any advice you can give me!
  2. gbi thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 2, 2013
    hey guys, just waiting for you to give me the green light. Anxiously awaiting your feedback :)
  3. AT06 macrumors 6502


    Dec 30, 2012
    Winwick, UK
    I think that your setup should satisfy your needs. People on these forums will always say "if you can afford it, I would upgrade the..." so be wary of people's advice.

    Personally, if i were you I would get a Mac Mini i7 with a 24" 1080p IPS monitor. Put the minimum RAM in, and a standard hard drive and upgrade those when you get it to max RAM/SSD (it's VERY easy to upgrade the Mac Mini). That way, for the same price as the iMac you can get higher specs, and the option to upgrade your monitor/hard drive/RAM easily in the future. Sure you sacrifice the GPU, but if you aren't going to game on it (much) then it shouldn't matter too much.
  4. vannibombonato macrumors 6502

    Jun 14, 2007
    Hi there and welcome.

    1- No, you don't need any faster processor.
    2- Short answer is no, 8gb is fine, but this is a bit less straightforward: considering you can't upgrade later on the 21'', maybe if you can afford it 16gb is not to be discarded, even if you're forced to pay Apple the RAM way above its real market value (on the 27'' you can buy yourself the RAM at 20% of the Apple price and upgrade it yourself whenever you like).
    3- Definitely go for Fusion, that's the single thing that will make you feel your Mac blazing fast. Remember that the Windows partition that you will install will be running on the "standard" HDD part of the drive, which means that it will not feel as fast as the Mac OS part (which will be basically running from the SSD). From what i get at the moment Windows is supported only on the 1TB Fusion, not the 3TB without doing some hacking stuff that you probably are not much into at the moment.

    To add a bit of perspective, generally speaking i think with that machine you should forget about gaming. The GPU is simply not up to today's standards, and will be very very soon surpassed. Consider it if you want to game.

    This said, IF you have the money, i would consider a base 27'' with the 1TB Fusion, 8GB, and the top GPU. Reason being:

    1- Extra monitor space really improves any type of work you do, from design to music production.
    2- You can upgrade the RAM at any given time at a much more reasonable price.
    3- You can get a GPU that will allow you to game.
    4- It's reasonable to assume that it will hold its resale value quite well in the future, as it's a more "flexible" machine.

    Still, if you don't have the money / don't want to invest, the base iMac is perfectly fine, you'll enjoy it plenty. Do go for Fusion anyway, that's the single upgrade you want above all doubts.
  5. COrocket macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2012
    For your purposes, you don't need the upgrade in processor.

    The extra ram is definitely helpful if you are running windows simultaneously, but 8 GB would be adequate for a boot camp setup. Normally I'd recommend doing the ram upgrade yourself to save some money but the 21" isn't user upgradable.

    The fusion drive improve speeds all around in everyday tasks so it is a good upgrade. I'm not sure how it works running windows
  6. fitshaced macrumors 68000


    Jul 2, 2011
    If Windows is a must, then you'll need to go without the fusion.
  7. sounddesigner macrumors regular

    Dec 22, 2012
    As long as its 1tb there is no issue with bootcamp
  8. vannibombonato macrumors 6502

    Jun 14, 2007
    ?? Win runs perfectly fine with the Fusion 1 TB.

    I suggest to the poster to look into the Mac Mini option that was highlighted, some good advice there IMHO.
    As always, only hiccup is that with Macs unless you fork out big money (27'', top GPU) you're cut off from gaming.
  9. gbi thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 2, 2013
    I take it you mean 1TB Fusion Drive. Correct?

    Also, would Parallels be a viable option?
  10. AT06 macrumors 6502


    Dec 30, 2012
    Winwick, UK
    Like I said, I really think an i7 mini and external display is best. I have very similar needs to you, and got a 2011 27" top spec iMac, and it is way overkill. Moreover, it is difficult to upgrade in the future. In hindsight, I could have saved a lot of money - but I made the mistake, and have thankfully learned from it :)
  11. sounddesigner macrumors regular

    Dec 22, 2012
    Yep ment fusion. Parallels is good if they have a few programs that need windows otherwise its better just to use bootcamp since bootcamp will be the full environment.

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