Retina iMac: 21.5" or 27"?

JuliusCaesar

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 25, 2014
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Hey guys I need some advise with this. I'm planning on upgrading my 21.5" 2011 baseline iMac and 13" 2013 rMBP, and consolidating with just one computer. Now I'm debating between the new 21.5" 4K and the 27" 5K. I can configure the 21.5" with 16 gigs of RAM, 256 gigs of SSD and of course no option for a discrete graphics card. That will be $1899. For $1999 I can get then the 27" with 8 gigs of RAM (to upgrade later by myself), 256 gigs of SSD and the AMD Radeon R9 M380. This is what I do: I don't play games on my computers at all, I play exclusively on consoles. The most demanding task will be photos editing coming from a full frame DSLR on Photos, Camera Bag and Pixelmator. And from time to time decoding MKV files and editing of some videos. It should last a couple of years. Now, is it too much difference going from the 21.5" 4K to the 27" 5K, apart from the screen? Which by the way both look fantastic at the Apple store. Is it stretching those $100 extra worth it? Any opinions are appreciated.
 

kazmac

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Mar 24, 2010
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Cannot answer for anyone else Julius, but imo, the 27" is a better value for the money. If it were more than $150, I'd say that's your call if you can swing the extra $100 go for it.

In my case, no discreet graphics card in the 21.5" pushed me toward the 27", I do video rips, work in Pixelmator and will be returning to some design course work this winter.
 
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hifimacianer

macrumors member
Feb 5, 2015
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Germany
I don't know how much faster the M380 GPU is compared to the integrated 6200 in the 4k iMac.
The M390 GPU in the mid-range 5k is twice as fast as the 4k graphics. But in the end it's all about
the real world performance, and you eventually might not see any differences for your use case.

The Broadwell CPU in the 21" is as fast as the Skylake in the 5k, so it all depends on your preferences in Terms of Screen size. 27" is huge.
 
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JuliusCaesar

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 25, 2014
116
25
Thanks a lot guys for the responses. I think I may just put the extra $100 and get the base 27" 5K iMac...It definitely looks better in every way than the top configuration that I have in mind with the 21.5" retina iMac.
 

Sirmausalot

macrumors 65816
Sep 1, 2007
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Thanks a lot guys for the responses. I think I may just put the extra $100 and get the base 27" 5K iMac...It definitely looks better in every way than the top configuration that I have in mind with the 21.5" retina iMac.
some of the tasks you mention (video, RAW photos) are both cpu and gpu intensive. since you are stretching you dollar, you'll be okay with the lower end model of the 27. but if you have money set aside for RAM, you could instead upgrade the cou or gpu and hold off on the ram upgrade for a year or so. anyhow, it is a much, much better choice than the 21.
 

Samuelsan2001

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Oct 24, 2013
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Thanks a lot guys for the responses. I think I may just put the extra $100 and get the base 27" 5K iMac...It definitely looks better in every way than the top configuration that I have in mind with the 21.5" retina iMac.
Yep if size is not an issue you'll be far better off with the 27 inch, remember you can upgrade the RAM yourself on the 27 inch.
 
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JuliusCaesar

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 25, 2014
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You mean, to take the money that I set aside for the extra RAM that I will be installing and go for like the configuration in the middle? Is it much better than the entry level 27" retina iMac?
 

hifimacianer

macrumors member
Feb 5, 2015
74
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Germany
Exactly, the mid range model has the better graphics and at least a small Fusion Drive.
The entry level model has a Standard HD inside, so there will be a huge speed advantage with the Fusion drive, even when the SSD part is only 24GB (enough for the OS and Apps).
 

Samuelsan2001

macrumors 604
Oct 24, 2013
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You mean, to take the money that I set aside for the extra RAM that I will be installing and go for like the configuration in the middle? Is it much better than the entry level 27" retina iMac?
Unless you are thinking of using graphically more intensive apps in the future I'd say no don't worry about it, you are going 256GB SSD anyway and that will be the best use of your cash. I had forgotten you were already planning to upgrade the RAM as stated in your original post. Remember you will have 2 slots free so adding 16Gb will give you 24GB which is more than enough for all but the most RAM hungry users.
 
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mrjackal

macrumors newbie
Aug 5, 2012
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I am facing the same decision. I have a 21" iMac from 2007-8(!) and am upgrading. I need a big hard drive and the way I would configure the 21 vs the 27 is only a $200 difference, so I am just going to get the 27 with the standard RAM and upgrade the RAM as needed.
 

JuliusCaesar

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 25, 2014
116
25
I am facing the same decision. I have a 21" iMac from 2007-8(!) and am upgrading. I need a big hard drive and the way I would configure the 21 vs the 27 is only a $200 difference, so I am just going to get the 27 with the standard RAM and upgrade the RAM as needed.
Seems like the way to go. What I fear a little is the size. We have a spare bedroom that we use as office with many other things, but in about a year it will be use for another matter (baby), so I will have to find a more uncomfortable place for it.
 
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