Recommend a configuration?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by lisharts, Jun 1, 2014.

  1. lisharts macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2010
    #1
    We've recently decided we'd like to buy an imac but we are a bit lost with what configuration to go for. It will be a family computer - by day I'll be using it to work - photoshop/indesign. Then on an evening we're likely to want to play some games - world of warcraft, league of legends, diablo 3. As well as all of the other general use such as watching videos, e-mails, internet etc...

    The reason I'm asking here is neither of us really understand the differences in graphics cards or processors. We don't want to overbuy for needs but equally we don't want to spend all that money and find it can't keep up.

    Given what I've said we'd use it for can someone recommend the sweet spot? Ideally we both prefer the 21" in size but are the specs for the 27" machine a lot better for what we want?

    Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Our budget is around £1600 but it could be stretched a little.
     
  2. Aika macrumors regular

    Aika

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2006
    #2
    I have the 21" iMac with 256GB SSD and 16GB of RAM which is around your budget I think.

    Diablo 3 and WoW play great at native res, most settings on high and vsync on.
     
  3. lisharts thread starter macrumors member

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    Aug 3, 2010
    #3
    Thank you for the reply, Aika. Is that the i5 or i7? Regardless, I'm impressed with the settings!

    We could probably use more space than the SSD offers, am I right in thinking the fusion drive is a hybrid between the two? Do you think that would be worth the upgrade?

    If I was to max out the memory, processor and opt for the fusion drive that would be around £1,779.00. So not massively off budget.

    ----------

    Will jumping from 8gb ram to 16 be a noticeable difference for what we're likely to use?
     
  4. Aika macrumors regular

    Aika

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    Apr 7, 2006
    #4
    i5. Unless you're editing a lot of video it's probably not worth getting the i7 upgrade; you won't get any performance benefit in games.

    It's really up to you. A purely SSD setup is faster and quieter than a fusion drive, is less likely to die and I am happy to use external storage (3TB) for video files and bittorrent so it fits my needs.

    No but it's the most cost efficient way of future proofing your machine. I think it's a must if you intend to keep the machine for more than 2-3 years.
     
  5. BuyCurious macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 28, 2014
    #5
    Just be aware of the fact that the iMac 21 is by far Apple's most overpriced and cost-inefficient device. If your budget is 1600 pounds, you could get a proper computer that runs circles around the iMac in terms of performance and has a larger screen and still put 600 pounds on the bank.

    I'm not having a go, I love the MacBook lineup, but the iMac, and the 21" much more so than the 27", are just stupidly overpriced compared to a computer. 'All in one' is just a horrid form factor, because there's no real life benefit of putting laptop hardware into a desktop.
     
  6. Truefan31 macrumors 68040

    Truefan31

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2012
    #6
    I'm wondering too about getting a iMac. I'd like the best graphics card which I think is the 780 right now for the 27 inch. So is it better to go ssd and use an external USB 3 hd or get a regular ssd inside and go tb ssd external. It'd also be a family computer but gaming would be done regularly so I'd put bootcamp on it
     
  7. Aika macrumors regular

    Aika

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    Apr 7, 2006
    #7
    Not everybody wants to build a Hackintosh and many like the aesthetic tidiness of an AIO.
     
  8. BuyCurious macrumors newbie

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    May 28, 2014
    #8
    I get that. I get that people don't mind paying a 500-1000 dollar premium for aesthetics. I just said he should be mindful about the fact.
     
  9. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2013
    #9
    Currently, the best bang for your buck is the 2012 refurbished 27" i7/1TB Fusion/gtx 680mx/ 8GB RAM. It is 1949$ in the US refurb store, and I don't know the exact conversion, but I think that is around your price range. The issue with iMacs is that there is a large cost up front for the Apple logo, but the upgrades on the iMac are actually reasonably priced (excluding the Fusion Drive, even though it is one of the best upgrades you can get). This is important to note because on a tight budget, all of your money is eaten up with the Apple tax, and you can get shortchanged on performance. The 2012 computer will outperform any of the 2013 21" iMacs, and most of the 27" iMacs in terms of graphics/CPU performance. If you can fit the 27" iMac on your desk, and you can't afford the maxed out 2013 version, the 2012 refurb model is currently the best you can get.

    Best,
    Matt
     
  10. monokakata macrumors 68000

    monokakata

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Location:
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    #10
    I spend a lot of time designing and laying out books using InDesign. I use a 27" monitor (Mac Pro) and it's hard for me to imagine doing that work on a 21" screen.

    You didn't say what kind of screen you're using now. Perhaps you've never used InDesign on a 27" screen at the 2560 x 1440 resolution. It's a great working environment.
     
  11. lisharts thread starter macrumors member

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    Aug 3, 2010
    #11
    I appreciate what you're saying. Over the year's I've had a few different apple machines - 2 macbook pros (one I'm currently using as my main computer) and a mac pro back when I was freelancing and needed more power. We've just arrived at a point where we're not looking for a powerhouse anymore. Yes, we play a few games, non of which are super demanding, but mostly it will be used for light graphics work and surfing the web. I'm just so reluctant to over think those needs. It's so easy to say things like "we could bootcamp it, and play newer games" (my partner ;)) but in reality it's unlikely to happen, and certainly not worth basing our buying needs around. The imac just seems to be the most suitable machine for the place we're at. I have no desire for a windows machine (it's been too many years now! I'd never cope) and whilst perhaps it seems superficial, as a mother of little one who is in to everything and someone who does most of the cleaning around here, a nice all-in-one without a tangle of wires does sound like a breath of fresh air.

    Basically I want a machine I can do some web design/print work on through the day. Check my e-mails, watch some youtube/twitch. Then perhaps pop a game of League of Legends on in the evening. It doesn't need to be the best of the best at any of those tasks, so long as it can keep up. What I'm really asking is - I have a very vague grasp of the inner workings of the machine, but I have no idea which card is better than which and by how much. I'm happy to spend money on the upgrades, but only if they will be significant upgrades for the tasks I'm likely to perform. A hackintosh sounds like I'd need to have significantly more than a vague grasp on things! :)


    Thanks Aika, these are straight answers to some of the big questions we had and a great help. Is that to say fusion drives are noisy or just that SSDs are unearthly quiet? I've never had either and I am quite excited at the prospect of a SSD but I'm concerned about space. I might take a look later on and just work out how much space is being used currently and perhaps we can have a setup using an external drive for extra storage.

    I put windows 7 on my macbook pro once. I had a really exciting week of installing all the games I never normally get chance to play. Then at the end of the week I reverted back to wow/lol/minecraft etc and realised I could probably uninstall windows after all. I think I've just been in mac land so long that I'm set in my ways. :D

    Does that mean you'd be opting for the big one with 2GB of video memory?

    That's really interesting, I hadn't actually considered a refurb. Just had a look and I think I've found it at £1,749.00 in the store.

    Which is roughly the same as if I got the 2013 27-inch:

    3.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, 8GB (two 4GB) memory, 256GB Flash Storage, NVIDIA GeForce GT 755M with 1GB video memory

    Is performance significantly better on the 2012 model? Are there any downsides to taking on a refurb?

    I'm not adverse to the 27", I just prefer the 21". But it's looking like the 27" might be closer to what we want.

    I work on a 15" macbook pro but I have an old 23" cinema display (kept from my long dead mac pro) that I plug in when I need a larger working space. I do like the extra space I'm just concerned as it's a big jump and it's a lot of screen when not using it for work. They are beautiful though!
     
  12. h9826790 macrumors 604

    h9826790

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    Apr 3, 2014
    Location:
    Hong Kong
    #12
    It depends on how long you want to keep this Mac.

    If you have no plan to upgrade it by yourself, or trade it and then get a new one in the next few years. You better go for the higher clock frequency CPU and the best graphic card you can get.

    An internal SSD is a must have item now, especially you use it for photoshop. However, a hugh SSD is not required. You can use USB 3 ext HDD for storage later when required.

    Also, RAM upgrade is easy. If budget limited, get 8G now and upgrade it later on. Mavericks really know how to use the RAM. Of course the system can run well with only 4G of RAM. However, my own observation shows that the OS itself can easily use up 6.5G of RAM. 8G is just my persoanlly minimum to use Mavericks. Also, the 64bit photoshop will definite benifit from more RAM.

    Even though the 27" iMac is just 1440P, not even close to 4k. However, IMO, it's better to get a 4k proof computer now (especially for this price). So, be very careful to choose CPU and graphic card.
     
  13. yjchua95 macrumors 604

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    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    #13
    Upgrading memory isn't possible on 21.5" iMacs, unless the user is brave enough to void the warranty by taking apart the display and taking out the logic board to access the RAM slots.
     
  14. AppleFan360 macrumors 68020

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    Jan 26, 2008
    #14
    Fusion drives are NOT noisy. As a matter of fact, they are VERY quiet. The Fusion drive is a great way to go if you want more space with speed closer to an SSD and at less cost. They are also not more prone to failure. SSD's have a limit on read/write cycles so even SSD's will fail eventually and not necessarily any sooner than a Fusion drive. It's likely you will be buying a newer computer long before the Fusion drive fails.

    You will find a huge amount of users here who swear by a pure SSD iMac. That's fine but don't let them cloud your judgement about other choices. The Fusion drive serves a purpose and is not necessarily any better or any worse than a pure SSD system.
     
  15. Truefan31 macrumors 68040

    Truefan31

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    Aug 25, 2012
    #15

    Yeah I'd like to get the 780 if I get one now. Figure I could upgrade ram myself. And not sure I need an i7 but I'll get it if necessary.

    So I guess it's better to go internal ssd and get a USB 3 hd vs a standard hd and external ssd?
     
  16. Aika, Jun 2, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2014

    Aika macrumors regular

    Aika

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2006
    #16
    SSDs are just dead silent and fusion drive noise level is typical of a HDD.

    Regarding the 27" with the 755m, a lot of (all?) the performance advantage is wiped out by the much larger screen resolution.

    SSD limit of read/write cycles is a non-issue, you're never going to run into that so bringing it up is just spreading FUD. Besides if the SSD or the HDD fails in the fusion drive the whole thing is toast.

    That said I agree that fusion drives and a pure SSD setup both have their place. You have to decide what fits your needs best: reliability and speed vs capacity.
     
  17. AppleFan360 macrumors 68020

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    #17
  18. Aika macrumors regular

    Aika

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    #18
    http://techreport.com/review/26058/the-ssd-endurance-experiment-data-retention-after-600tb/2

    Again, please stop spreading FUD.
     
  19. AppleFan360 macrumors 68020

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  20. joe-h2o macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    You got called on your nonsense with cited facts, although I guess rolling your eyes when you've been made to look foolish is one way to go about it.
     
  21. AppleFan360, Jun 2, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2014
  22. h9826790 macrumors 604

    h9826790

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    #22

    Oh, thanks, I didn't realise that. So, another reason to go for the 27" :D
     

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