RAM or Fusion Drive Upgrade

Discussion in 'iMac' started by LeiQQ, Mar 20, 2013.

  1. LeiQQ macrumors regular


    Jul 20, 2011
    Taipei, Taiwan
    My father is about to replace the first mac mini that was ever released with a new iMac. He can only afford either the RAM upgrade or the fusion drive? He's looking at the base 21 inch model.

    What does he do? iPhoto, iMovie, MS Word, games, web, youtube...your average Joe user.
  2. eattherich macrumors 6502


    Jul 8, 2011
    I would definitely go with the Fusion Drive. The base 21" comes with 8GB RAM and in my opinion that's enough for the odd bit of photo editing, browsing etc. From what you mentioned he does, he probably won't ever need more than 8GB RAM whereas the Fusion Drive will give system-wide benefits for whatever he does - opening applications etc.
  3. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    I guess, compared to the previous post would go the other direction -

    If you plan to keep that iMAC for a while, max out the RAM. Since this cannot be done later without a major expense. So many options later for more drives and faster drives that can be added externally via TBOLT, USB3 etc. The point being is RAM is not such a flexible item and as time goes on, you may find that the extra RAM will be that padding needed for a few hungry apps or when multi-tasking.

    I use a Mac Mini with 16 gigs of RAM, I do Photoshop, have a virtual Windows running, browsers and more and that RAM is what allows me to do this easily.
  4. marc11 macrumors 68000

    Mar 30, 2011
    NY USA
    Generally 8 gb is enough for most users and based on his use 8 gb is more than enough now and generally in the future for a good long time.

    Keep in mind you can get an SSD with an external enclosure over USB 3 and have pretty much close to internal drive SATA speeds at a fraction of the cost and set up a fusion drive like that as well.

    So neither is a required upgrade, but the Fusion drive would give the best bang for the buck upgrade wise.

    Tough call, but if I had to upgrade one, I would do the ram as adding an external SSD is cheap and easy, ram, not so much.
  5. Shivetya macrumors 65816

    Jan 16, 2008

    If his usage patterns are as you suggest he is more than well served by the default 8g of memory.

    I would make a suggestion to watch the Apple refurb site if its available to you as an option. You can snag a nearly as new machine there with the configuration you want usually for good savings. There have been base model 21.5 with fusion drives on it before and will be such again. Being so price constrained I think it better if he were to go that route unless your able to avoid tax/shipping elsewhere which could limit the savings a refurb offers.
  6. Nightarchaon macrumors 65816


    Sep 1, 2010
    Fusion drive,

    Ram is only handy for idiot like me that have two virtual PCs and a virtual server running all the time as well as using the iMac as a primary work pc.
  7. Raima macrumors 6502

    Jan 21, 2010
    Fusion drive, no doubt.

    Fusion drive will make the biggest performance difference, and buying memory upgrade from Apple is expensive. If you need more ram later, it's easier to buy some more and install it yourself at a fraction of what Apple charges.
  8. jtrainor56 macrumors regular


    Oct 23, 2010
    Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania
    Go with the fusion drive, 8 gb of RAM will more then handle anything he will use the machine for.
  9. Mike in Kansas macrumors 6502a

    Mike in Kansas

    Sep 2, 2008
    Metro Kansas City
    Not on the 21"... which is why this is such an important decision.
  10. Raima macrumors 6502

    Jan 21, 2010
    Ah, i forgot about the non upgradable ram on the 21"

    Why not do a few extra jobs, earn the money and get both or a higher spec model?
  11. marzer macrumors 65816


    Nov 14, 2009
    Be a good son, tell him to get the RAM upgrade whilst you toss in the diff for the fusion drive :D

    P.S. Otherwise, the fusion drive will provide a much more noticeably improved computing experience.
  12. bill phillips macrumors regular

    Dec 8, 2012
    id say wait a little longer and save a few hundred more, buy the 27 and do the ram yourself and get the fusion. Basically pays for itself in the money youd save...******** apple ram and their garbage 21 inch with its soddered on ram lol
  13. drambuie macrumors 6502a

    Feb 16, 2010
    The 21.5" 2012 iMac's RAM is not soldered, it is socketed, but with only two sockets, so it can only take 16GB. The main problem is that the machine has to be opened to replace the RAM, but it can be done.

    Here's the iFixit guide for the RAM upgrade.

  14. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    This is correct it can be done - but to a typical end user not an easy feat.

    I tend to believe that maxing out the RAM at 16, and then leaving options open later for storage is logical. Getting by with 8 is fine but IF* some present or future scenario would benefit with more RAM, you are out of luck unless wanting to crack open your iMac 21" (again not easy) or paying someone else to do it or being stymied by doing no RAM upgrade at all.

    If by chance you decide to run Windows virtual, the RAM does come in handy as it also does for some games.

    USB 3 external with a cheap SSD card will perform similar to Fusion and at times better. TBolt with SSD beats both the latter.
  15. bill phillips macrumors regular

    Dec 8, 2012
    no i know this drambuie, although your correct it might as well be soddered on when your comparing just opening a door on the 27 to taking the whole computer apart on the 21....Ive done moderate work on my imac and my macbook pro myself, but to the average perso this just isn't an option, and quite frankly is unacceptable imho
  16. ssdaytona macrumors regular

    Apr 20, 2011
    I agree, get the base 27". Best of both worlds. RAM upgrade is easier in the future. You get a much nicer screen to boot
  17. Che Castro macrumors 603

    May 21, 2009
    How about a another Mac mini ?

    Since he already has the keyboard,mouse,motion

    Now he will have enough money to get SSD & 16gb ram
  18. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    I would also suggest Fusion Drive. The standard RAM will be enough for years to come.
  19. chuckiehina macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2007
    For the 21", get the RAM. You can always use an external drive, and with Thunderbolt the interface will not limit performance. But since you cannot easily upgrade the RAM on a 21", max it out now.
  20. LeiQQ thread starter macrumors regular


    Jul 20, 2011
    Taipei, Taiwan
    Thanks for all the input from everyone. I had no idea that the larger 27" still allowed a user to easily upgrade the RAM or I'm assuming the HD with ease. Although both my Dad and I are adventurous, I don't think we would want to tackle what would happen with the smaller sized model. I'm still considering the options and I will talk with him about it. I'm thinking that I could go ahead and buy the ram or hd for him if he doesn't want to get it. My stepmom wants him to go with the bigger model but he thinks the smaller screen size is enough. I live abroad but will visit him and discuss all the options in person. I'll let you know what he (we?) decide.
  21. LeiQQ thread starter macrumors regular


    Jul 20, 2011
    Taipei, Taiwan
    He bought the computer without letting me know what he decided on! :eek: I'm heading to the US next week and will find out.

    Right now he's having trouble hooking up his Sony DCR-HC42 NTSC since the new computer has a Firewire 800 instead of 400. What's the proper cable I should get him now? Is there a Firewire 800 9pin to a hookup (guessing 4pin) that will work?
  22. Acorn macrumors 68020


    Jan 2, 2009
    maybe something like this. firewire 400 cable would come out of camera and connect to female of this then the male end firewire800 would plug into imac.


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