Ram Or SSD more important in Retina 21.5 iMac

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Mg555, Jun 15, 2017.

  1. Mg555 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2017
    Location:
    Memphis, TN
    #1
    Hoping this forum can offer some advice. I want you buy the 21.5" new imac but do not know what would be more important, adding more RAM (16gb) or adding the SSA??? Interested in the 21.5" as the 27" might be too big for my needs. Computer will be used for photo editing (iphotos and photo shop), web surfing, word processing. No gaming or video editing. This is for the middle level 21.5" with the 3.0GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz

    Trying to buy a system that will future proof me for as long as possible. The consensus on this forum seems to be the SSD is the way to go instead of the Fusion and definately instead of the spinner. But what about ram? Is 8 enough? As the ram on the 21.5 is not user upgradable, possibly it can be upgraded sometime in the future through a computer shop? Just wish Apple had made the 21.5 size with "user" ability to upgrade RAM in the future!!

    Configured with SSD and standard ram ($1499):

    • 3.0GHz quad-core 7th-generation Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz
    • 8GB 2400MHz DDR4
    • 256GB SSD
    • Radeon Pro 555 with 2GB video memory
    • Magic Mouse 2
    • Magic Keyboard - US English
    • Accessory Kit
     
  2. CWallace, Jun 15, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2017

    CWallace macrumors 603

    CWallace

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2007
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #2
    16GB of RAM is more important than a full SSD, but you need to at least get a Fusion Drive so you benefit from some SSD performance.

    The 2017 iMac 4K does use socketed RAM so it can be upgraded by removing the LCD panel so an authorized repair shop or an Apple Store Genius Bar can do it.
     
  3. nambuccaheadsau macrumors 65816

    nambuccaheadsau

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2007
    Location:
    Nambucca Heads Australia
    #3
    Will never happen again as it has been five years since that changed and being soldered in would require a complete tear down of the machine.

    Suggest you seriously consider a 27" with 1TB SSD or even better PCI-E Flash Storage.
     
  4. logicstudiouser macrumors 6502

    logicstudiouser

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    #4
    My recommendation would be to go with 16GB ram and either 256GB or 512GB SSD storage, the best you can comfortably afford. There is simply no going back when you go SSD. The great news is that you can easily expand your storage by adding an external hard drive. You don't need to keep photos and music in your internal hard drive, save that internal storage for applications you use on a daily basis.
    On the topic of external hard drives, thunderbolt drives are still quite expensive, but down the line, buying an SSD with a thunderbolt connection will be more affordable, especially with Intel dropping licensing fees - there will be more players in the marketplace. In the mean time, USB 3 drives are great for storing and accessing media, even quicker if you buy a USB 3 enclosure and an SSD (like an evo).
     
  5. Fishrrman macrumors G5

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #5
    SSD will give fastest performance over the life of the computer.
    That should be priority #1.

    Even the 256SSD is worth the upgrade for your boot drive.
    You can always add external storage if you need it.

    Since you're not going to be doing much video editing, 8gb of RAM should do fine.
     
  6. jrv1985 macrumors newbie

    jrv1985

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    Jun 16, 2017
    Location:
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    #6
    Absolutely go with SSD over Fusion.

    One hack to "add" storage to your SSD is to consider using your SD Card Slot for something like the iTunes Library.

    I bought an iMac two years ago and was torn about going with 1TB or 512GB SSD (it was a huge price jump). I decided to go with 512GB and just load my 200GB iTunes library onto an SD card that lives more or less permanently in the back of the computer's SD Slot (and works seamlessly once you point iTunes to always look there for the library).

    There's never been an occurrence where I needed the SD slot at the same time as iTunes, so for me, it has been amazing. Makes it feel like I have a 768GB SSD.

    It might not be the solution for you, but there are always creative ways to make things work with less storage. Might help you make the leap to more RAM investment.
     
  7. Mg555, Jun 16, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2017

    Mg555 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2017
    Location:
    Memphis, TN
    #7
    Thanks for the replys! I am trying to stay under the $1500 threshold so this can be purchased during our states once a year Sales Tax free weekend. At 9.75% sales tax, its a nice savings. Unfortunately has to be $1500 or less for computers. A 27" is too big and too expensive for my needs to justify the added expense. The 21.5" size is fine for me.

    So, to stay under that $1500 threshold, sounds like the SSD is the way to go. And the standard 8GB of RAM should be adequate for my needs, I guess as I don't do intensive programs?? I am not that computer savvy, but I just want to make sure that this investment in money / new machine is done correctly. Thanks for any suggestions!
     
  8. epca12 macrumors regular

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    Jun 11, 2017
    Location:
    UK
    #8
    Personally I would upgrade the graphics as well to the 460, but with your budget it is quite hard to have the best of all scenarios. In that case SSD might be best
     
  9. kschendel macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2014
    #9
    Actually, it seems that the RAM on the 2017 21.5 inch models is NOT soldered in, although you have to tear the machine apart to get at it. So I'd go for SSD if you have to pick one or the other, and if necessary you can open it up at some point and add RAM. 8 Gb RAM should be workable if not ideal.
     
  10. cynics macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2012
    #10
    The RAM in the 2017 21.5" is user replaceable however like mentioned requires a teardown. Probably not something I'd recommend on a new machine but good to know for when it gets older.

    The 8gb of RAM on the base model should be fine for your workload.

    I would prioritize the SSD for five reasons. Firstly, 8gb is well over minimum spec of MacOS and sounds like enough for your workload. Secondly the reason more RAM makes a difference in some systems is because the storage medium is so slow so paged files take forever to reload, and SSD help to reduce that obvious bottleneck. Third, Apples new file system (coming out later this year) is actually tuned for better SSD performance further increasing realized performance. Forth, just overall better system performance. And fifth, if you ever decide to use Bootcamp its much easier to utilize the SSD for better Windows performance.

    My current iMac has a 1 tb HDD with 24gb RAM and I feel I have better performance on my 2011 ThinkPad with 8gb RAM because I stuck in a mid grade SSD.
     
  11. Chupa Chupa macrumors G5

    Chupa Chupa

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    Jul 16, 2002
    #11
    My money says RAM because you can't add RAM, you can always add an ext. SSD.
     
  12. Fishrrman macrumors G5

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #12
    Chupa wrote:
    "My money says RAM because you can't add RAM, you can always add an ext. SSD."

    In times past I would advise that as well, BUT...
    ... the internal SSD's that Apple installs today are an order of magnitude faster than any external SSD one could boot from.

    Having that highspeed internal SSD will make a world of difference for ALL operations -- even memory disk swapping.
     
  13. Haswell macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2012
    Location:
    USA
    #13
    SSD.

    Mechanical hard drives are just plain awful when it comes to speeds verses SSDs.

    I would MUCH rather have an SSD with 8GB of ram, than to have a mechanical hard drive with 16GB of ram.
     
  14. epca12 macrumors regular

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    Jun 11, 2017
    Location:
    UK
    #14
    I believe you can replace the SSD AND RAM in the new models. If you went for a Fusion drive you could replace that with a SATA SSD which is much cheaper and available in up to 4TB, you could also upgrade the SSD module (i think OWC sell them)but i don't know how that would affect fusion drive operation
     
  15. nambuccaheadsau macrumors 65816

    nambuccaheadsau

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    Oct 19, 2007
    Location:
    Nambucca Heads Australia
    #15
    Just bite the bullet and go for a 512GB SSD, 256GB is too small, and 16GB of memory.

    Think on this. Buying an inadequate machine that you are going to use for say four years will cause much frustration. Despite some may tell you Mg555 the memory is soldered in and is not user upgradeable.
     
  16. kschendel macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2014
    #16
    The iFixit teardown demonstrated that it is not soldered RAM any longer in the 2017. What source are you claiming for soldered RAM? And as the OP mentioned, there's an externally imposed limit of $1500 and if he exceeds that, there's a tax hit as well as the incremental cost.
     
  17. CWallace macrumors 603

    CWallace

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    Aug 17, 2007
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #17
    I would still choose RAM over SSD capacity. It is far easier to add an SSD via TB3 or USB-C for additional storage and the performance penalty is not going to be that bad - especially for data that is not constantly accessed (keep that on the internal SSD).
     
  18. nambuccaheadsau macrumors 65816

    nambuccaheadsau

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    Location:
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    #18
    From Appleinsider and I quote:-


    'As noted in the teardown, despite being held in memory slots, the RAM itself is not meant to be a user-upgradeable part, due to the need to remove the back cover and other components to access the hardware in the first place.'
     
  19. kschendel macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2014
    #19
    That's not the same thing as being soldered in. You CAN upgrade the RAM, you just have to get inside, which is nontrivial but nothing remotely like trying to remove soldered-in chips.
     
  20. Mg555 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2017
    Location:
    Memphis, TN
    #20
    Thanks for all the input, I appreciate the opinions. Think I am going to go for the SSD and hope the 8GB of RAM will suffice for my needs. Looking forward to have a new iMac! Long over due for one, my 2006 iMac lasted 11 years! :) So this new one will be a huge improvement!
     

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