Retina iMac, is it still a safe buy or wait?

adamjackson

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Jul 9, 2008
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I haven't read much about the iMac following the stream of reviews last year most of which mentioned how amazing it was but I remember these key shortcomings:

  • Glitches sometimes when a lot is going on with monitor making some strange looking lines across the screen
  • Worse gaming performance than last model
  • Pricey for what it delivers. Wait for revision in 2015

Well, we're in 2015 and I'd like to know if those reviews were blown up a bit or if you all in the real world after 3 months with the machine agree with those initial reviews?

My usage is pretty standard
Daily usage of :
Lightroom (RAW images)
Handbrake
Final Cut Pro (4K and 1080P editing)
Office documents (5-10 megabyte XLS files)
I play Sim City, Civilization, Sims 4 (coming out next week) and Warcraft once a week

I have a 27" Core i7 from Late 2012 and I'd like to upgrade but I would need to see performance gains in all of these aspects on top of experiencing the really beautiful Retina Screen.

Assuming I get the faster iMac + better video card, how has the experience been? Thanks!
 

Bryan Bowler

macrumors 68040
Sep 27, 2008
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Adam,

My experience has been wonderful. I absolutely love the screen (it's incredible), I love the speed, and I love how quiet it is (I have a SSD). I have not experienced any of the problems you've listed above, not even once. I use my iMac 5K for everything you listed above, except for games. I'm primarily a photographer and videographer.

As for waiting, my best guess is that if you waited for 5-10 months, you might see a minor spec update and a slight reduction in price ($200 +/-). If you want to see some major updates and bigger price drops, I think you'll have to wait until sometime in 2016. Of course, this is purely speculation on my part, but I consider it to be reasonable speculation.

I love my 5K and am very happy I bought it when I did.

Hope this helps,
Bryan
 

zorinlynx

macrumors 603
May 31, 2007
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Florida, USA
I hope the price comes down on these. The screen is beautiful but right now the sacrifice in specs required for the cost just kills the deal for me.

If I spend that much on an iMac it has to be a speed demon in every way!
 

robgendreau

macrumors 68040
Jul 13, 2008
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I hope the price comes down on these. The screen is beautiful but right now the sacrifice in specs required for the cost just kills the deal for me.

If I spend that much on an iMac it has to be a speed demon in every way!
Look at geekbench; it's as fast as anything but the MacPro with more cores. Or see here: http://barefeats.com/imac5k3.html

The cost is actually amazing low. You get the highest def screen available on a desktop at $300 more than the high end non retina iMac. You can pay about that much for a 5k monitor alone. I'm sure lots would love to see the retina on a lower end Mac, but it's not likely for quite a while.

I wouldn't believe all (much?) you see here about problems. You need to check with people who heavily use particular programs you run often. And even then there's variation: some I know gripe about performance with LR, but that's LR's problem; Aperture and others work aces. Ditto with gaming; Macs have never been the ultimate gaming machines.

Also, if you see a performance problem in how it displays, just scale it down to the old fashioned non retina 2560x1440 of regular iMacs. Done.

Finally, how important is a screen you look at for maybe hours a day? Would you consider going back to a non retina phone? or tablet? Most of us wouldn't. I wouldn't spend another year or two waiting to have the best screen, but OTOH some people I know still watch standard definition TV. YMMV.
 

adamjackson

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Original poster
Jul 9, 2008
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Thank you both for the replies.

Now that we're nearly into Q2 of 2015, it is a risk. Buy a machine from October or wait until this October (10 months away) and see if a refresh occurs. My iMac today isn't performing poorly but I'd love to move away from a HDD setup and non-retina and the potential Handbrake encoding bumps by the clock speed are really enticing.
 

adamjackson

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Original poster
Jul 9, 2008
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Then he will need to budget in an external drive(s). Don't forget to add that footnote.
Why do I need an external drive?

I have an 18 terabyte NAS in my basement that stores photos, music, movies and all of my documents. I have a 512GB MBP Retina and only 10% of the capacity is used.
 

nj-mac-user

macrumors 6502
Jun 1, 2009
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TX
To be honest, going from your current setup I don't think you're going to notice a tremendous difference. Sure you may gain a really tiny bit of time rendering videos, but what you'd really be buying this one for is the display. That you'd get... the big performance boost you're looking for not so much. I went from a Late 2009 27" i7 2.8 8GB RAM to the base model RiMac. I'd be lying if I told you I noticed a big performance increase, but then again I don't do video editing like I used to, so my usage these days is very basic (browsing, viewing videos, listening to music, etc.). I really upgraded for the screen because it was worth it to me, but if you're looking for that big performance increase in addition to the awesome display, I say hold out until this year's refresh or next year's if you can. I'm guessing by late 2016 not only will the price come down and retina become standard, but the all SSD option will be more affordable as well and hopefully standard. It'd also have Skylake processors. Again, if the display alone is worth the upgrade for you, I'd get it now... if you want a noticeable real-world performance boost in addition to the display, I'd wait.
 

adamjackson

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Original poster
Jul 9, 2008
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To be honest, going from your current setup I don't think you're going to notice a tremendous difference. Sure you may gain a really tiny bit of time rendering videos, but what you'd really be buying this one for is the display. That you'd get... the big performance boost you're looking for not so much. I went from a Late 2009 27" i7 2.8 8GB RAM to the base model RiMac. I'd be lying if I told you I noticed a big performance increase, but then again I don't do video editing like I used to, so my usage these days is very basic (browsing, viewing videos, listening to music, etc.). I really upgraded for the screen because it was worth it to me, but if you're looking for that big performance increase in addition to the awesome display, I say hold out until this year's refresh or next year's if you can. I'm guessing by late 2016 not only will the price come down and retina become standard, but the all SSD option will be more affordable as well and hopefully standard. It'd also have Skylake processors. Again, if the display alone is worth the upgrade for you, I'd get it now... if you want a noticeable real-world performance boost in addition to the display, I'd wait.

really great points and I'm not unhappy with my late 2012 iMac. The warranty will lapse on January of 2016 so maybe I'll wait until Black Friday next year to grab whatever the latest is.
 

AppleFan360

macrumors 68020
Jan 26, 2008
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Why do I need an external drive?

I have an 18 terabyte NAS in my basement that stores photos, music, movies and all of my documents. I have a 512GB MBP Retina and only 10% of the capacity is used.
Missed the part about the NAS. You should be fine then with the 512GB SSD.
 

Gator Bob

macrumors regular
Aug 3, 2011
148
3
I'm waiting. My wife's late 2013 MacBook Pro drives a beautiful Dell UP2414Q display and that combination is quite satisfactory, although not as jaw-dropping as the IMac 4K display. I will inherit her computer and display when I get her a new iMac. She Photoshops all the photos I take for her jewelry design and sales website. I am using a 2012 MacBook Pro that I'll sell.
 

driftless

macrumors 65816
Sep 2, 2011
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Chicago-area
Thank you both for the replies.

Now that we're nearly into Q2 of 2015, it is a risk. Buy a machine from October or wait until this October (10 months away) and see if a refresh occurs. My iMac today isn't performing poorly but I'd love to move away from a HDD setup and non-retina and the potential Handbrake encoding bumps by the clock speed are really enticing.
I love my 5K iMac, it is an amazing machine, particularly for photography. I have the 1TB SSD and strongly recommend a SSD drive if it is in your budget. I would recommend that you do not wait for a refresh which may or may not happen in 10 months. That would be a fast refresh for the iMac line. That also be 10 months that you wouldn't be taking advantage of of this amazing machine.
 

redheeler

macrumors 604
Oct 17, 2014
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I love my 5K iMac, it is an amazing machine, particularly for photography. I have the 1TB SSD and strongly recommend a SSD drive if it is in your budget. I would recommend that you do not wait for a refresh which may or may not happen in 10 months. That would be a fast refresh for the iMac line. That also be 10 months that you wouldn't be taking advantage of of this amazing machine.
An October refresh seems likely as it would also be good timing to get Skylake.

To me, the 1 TB SSD on the iMac is a disappointment since the iMac doesn't support 4-lane PCIe. The 512 GB SSD is plenty anyway.

Otherwise I agree, time spent waiting is time spent missing out.
 

boast

macrumors 65816
Nov 12, 2007
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Phoenix, USA
If you can wait the 7 months, you should.

Newer releases will always be faster and better than the older one (ignoring the mac mini)

Im really happy with mine, but I upgraded from no iMac to it. So ill just be one of those people this year saying the new iMac isnt worth the upgrade!
 

Bryan Bowler

macrumors 68040
Sep 27, 2008
3,744
3,388
I hope the price comes down on these. The screen is beautiful but right now the sacrifice in specs required for the cost just kills the deal for me.

If I spend that much on an iMac it has to be a speed demon in every way!
I'm sorry, but your advice does not make any sense whatsoever. The 5K iMac is spec'd with some of the fastest technology available today. About the only area you could do better is to by a Mac Pro and spend a lot more money on buying powerful graphics cards. But again, you would be spending thousands more to get an equivliant setup to what the 5K iMac provides in the other areas.

To say that a 5K iMac is under-spec'd is bad advice.

Bryan
 

robgendreau

macrumors 68040
Jul 13, 2008
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Hmm.

I didn't notice you had no SSD in the current machine. Ouch. I'd say that the SSD and retina are worth it if you use your machine a lot, and you could still get decent money for that 2012.
 

nj-mac-user

macrumors 6502
Jun 1, 2009
438
61
TX
I'm sorry, but your advice does not make any sense whatsoever. The 5K iMac is spec'd with some of the fastest technology available today. About the only area you could do better is to by a Mac Pro and spend a lot more money on buying powerful graphics cards. But again, you would be spending thousands more to get an equivliant setup to what the 5K iMac provides in the other areas.

To say that a 5K iMac is under-spec'd is bad advice.

Bryan
Very true. I mean they are using the highest clocked i7 processor Intel has to offer along with a relatively new AMD mobile GPU (R9 m295x) right now.
 

kis

macrumors 68000
Aug 10, 2007
1,637
719
Switzerland
I haven't read much about the iMac following the stream of reviews last year most of which mentioned how amazing it was but I remember these key shortcomings:

  • Glitches sometimes when a lot is going on with monitor making some strange looking lines across the screen
  • Worse gaming performance than last model
  • Pricey for what it delivers. Wait for revision in 2015

Well, we're in 2015 and I'd like to know if those reviews were blown up a bit or if you all in the real world after 3 months with the machine agree with those initial reviews?

My usage is pretty standard
Daily usage of :
Lightroom (RAW images)
Handbrake
Final Cut Pro (4K and 1080P editing)
Office documents (5-10 megabyte XLS files)
I play Sim City, Civilization, Sims 4 (coming out next week) and Warcraft once a week

I have a 27" Core i7 from Late 2012 and I'd like to upgrade but I would need to see performance gains in all of these aspects on top of experiencing the really beautiful Retina Screen.

Assuming I get the faster iMac + better video card, how has the experience been? Thanks!
It is great bang for the buck. Normally, you pay around 2k just for the display. I have the base model and upgraded the RAM to 24gb. It's quiet and fast (both despite the Fusion drive), and the screen is absolutely incredible.
 

Remrod

macrumors newbie
Feb 1, 2015
18
7
Waiting for the updated 5k does not really make sense currently. If you want it now go ahead and buy it. It is truly a great machine and like the previous poster mentioned the whole bundle is a great bang for the bug!

IMHO the next retina iMac will ship probably with Broadwell and the new AMD (R300) which will generate even more heat!! You will always find something that bugs you. Or you could wait for the 5k mac in 2018/19 that one will probably have mature technology :rolleyes: