Retina iMac Kerfuffle

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Col Vandal, Oct 21, 2014.

  1. Col Vandal macrumors member

    Sep 2, 2010
    I don't get it.

    One thread has posters disappointed with the R9 M295X performance on some game benchmarks and others are impressed. Some say it's no better than a two-year-old GPU -- except they overlook that it can push a 5k monitor. Some people say to wait until the next rev -- possibly another year away. Some say get the 295 instead of the 290. Max out the iMac to make sure. Wait until next year. What's a normal Joe to do?

    My early 2008 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo is getting long in the tooth. I use Photoshop, Aperture, Lightroom and Illustrator regularly to help create my artwork. Problem is, I'm pushing my little guy, and Photoshop takes longer than it should and big documents with multiple layers freeze me up. Heck, even launching Bridge messes me up. So, I was looking forward to this update. Do I need a 5k screen? Probably not. But I know it would be nice on my eyes, and photo editing would be less of a strain. Do I game? Aside from Civilization, I game on a One.

    But what in the heck am I supposed to do? Wait another year? I don't want to. I also don't want to blow $2,500 on an old model 27" iMac when I can spend the same, or close, on a 5k with basic CPU and GPU (educator discount and all), but some say I'd be throwing money away on a system that soon would be outdated.

    I'm eagerly awaiting real-world tests. Any advice from the sage MacRumors commentators?
  2. WilliamG macrumors G3

    Mar 29, 2008
    The disappointment is there, because by the current accounts the new 5K iMac with the high-end GPU is no better than iMacs with the high-end GPU from 2 years ago, yes.

    However, it's also got a 5K display..

    So, be aware if you're buying an iMac today you're buying it for the display. That's really it. The rest is meh. But the display is probably enough for most people.

    Of course, we might all be missing something. The drivers might be dated for OS X, Windows gaming performance might be significantly better (at lower resolutions of course).

    Time will tell, but right now, the 5K iMac is just an iMac, like last year and the year before - with a 5K display.
  3. Tysusmed macrumors member

    Jul 27, 2012
    The GPU Apple chose could have been better, but it's still getting decent benchmarks - and even some 5K gaming is coming in at 30FPS. Drop down a game from the native 5K resolution and you'll see faster FPS.

    I also expect we'll see some improvements in the GPU performance as the drivers improve.

    As for the CPU - it's a beast. The GB3 multi-core scores are faster than the current MacPro (4 Core) with a score of 16,000 - this is exceptional.

    If your undecided wait until there are more extensive reviews that put the machine through the typical flurry of CPU and GPU tests. So far, I think it's looking like a good buy, but it really depends on what you're going to be using it for.
  4. WilliamG macrumors G3

    Mar 29, 2008
    The GPU is fine! That's not the issue. The issue is that so far it's no faster than an iMac GPU from two years ago! :(
  5. xmichaelp macrumors 68000


    Jul 10, 2012
    People are judging it based off numbers and not actual use.
  6. steve23094 macrumors 68020


    Apr 23, 2013
    We only have a couple of sets of numbers yet so things might change, but first indications are not too great. But isn't it better to judge off numbers because it is objective rather than subjective?
  7. Tysusmed macrumors member

    Jul 27, 2012
    True, I do wish they placed a shiny new 980M in the system, but it's still not a bad card. As xmincahelp suggested, it's really about the real-world performance. There's a gaming GPU performance thread, and the rImac owners seem pretty pleased.

    I'm sure we're going to see a lot more GPU performance based threads as more rImac's are delivered.

    Personally, I'm eager to see how the system performs with software like Maya and Cinema 4D. My only concern is how the card will perform with 3D viewports in 5K; I'm guessing it will get the job done for most of my tasks, but time will tell.
  8. joema2 macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2013
    A retina iMac (in any configuration) would be *vastly* faster and more pleasurable to use than your current machine.
  9. esphil macrumors member

    Oct 19, 2008
    OP, you sound just like me. I don't know what to do, I had my trigger finger on buy a few times. I can easily afford it, but I'm basically dropping $2500 on just a screen, I have a 2010 iMac that works fine for me. And also a maxed out 2012 macbook pro I use at work. I used to drop cash without thinking on purchases only to regret later when I was a bit younger. Now I overthink every purchase I make. :eek:
  10. Talarspeed, Oct 21, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2014

    Talarspeed macrumors member

    Dec 12, 2009
    I often see the word "gaming" in the posts that want benchmarks. Not always, but often.
    I am a photographer that runs 150MB to 250MB images with 3-8 filters through Photoshop. I often have 3-6 open at once doing this. And there are other programs running such as iTunes, internet, Office and simultaneous downloads.
    I don't need the benchmarks for the gaming that I often see posters remark as essential. But I do want that resolution of 5K because I am very picky about focus on my images.

    Let me add also, that I'm coming from a late 2009 27" iMac, and I'm expecting a big change. The change you will experience will be incredible!
  11. leenak macrumors 68020

    Mar 10, 2011
    I'd really wait until you get a comprehensive review like from Anandtech. Honestly, if you need a new system now, then buy it. The CPU is better, the GPU is something to be determined. It isn't a bad card, don't let people lead you to that.
  12. misho73 macrumors member

    Sep 26, 2014
    OP. ur machine is old. And obviously u need a new one. U can spend the rest of ur life waiting for the perfect and satisfying set. But the problem is, u can always wait for +1 year. Cause the next model will be always nicer. This will never end.
    if u need one. Now is the perfect timing. We r at the beginning of a new cycle. u will have at least one full year (or more) in full satisfaction that u are having the top of the line. I encourage u to pull the trigger (if ur current hardware giving u hard time)
  13. fathergll macrumors 65816

    Sep 3, 2014

    It doesn't matter in your case because it's going to be a huge upgrade for you either way.

    Just wait another week for an actual review to come out and then make a decision.
  14. Col Vandal thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 2, 2010

    Thanks for all the advice, guys. If anything, I know I'll wait a week or so to get some feedback. Then my major decision will be to upgrade the CPU or the GPU. Not sure which will give me the bigger bang for my dollar, but I'm leaning toward the CPU.

    Also, I'm not very active on here, but I've been browsing for a long time, and a Mac user since 1993. I've seen the good, the bad and the ugly from Apple. And I'm going to have to spring for a laptop soon for my son -- but he'll get what he gets.:D
  15. Will519 macrumors newbie

    Oct 21, 2014
    OP, I actually have the same computer as you and run the same programs, CS5 in my case(I've made an account just to comment on this). I'm quite surprised no problems came up with the hard drive from using it this long.

    I thought about waiting for full reviews and benchmarks before I jump the gun but I realized on Saturday that any new iMac I'd order would be ALOT better than this '08 iMac.

    So I put in my order Sat night. I opted for CPU and GPU upgrade. If I can get the same 6 years out of it like my current one, I'd be extremely happy.

    If you got the bucks, I'd recommend getting both upgrades to future proof it, at least for awhile.
  16. Gregintosh macrumors 68000

    Jan 29, 2008
    I would spend the couple bucks and get the upgrades on the GPU and CPU. I saw a benchmark somewhere showing that with the CPU upgrade its actually faster than a Mac Pro. The GPU upgrade makes sense since the 5K display is obviously a challenge to power, so the more power the better.

    Since you've had your old iMac since 2008, about 6 years, I would say with the upgrades you should be good for another 6, especially given your usage.
  17. Bryan Bowler macrumors 68040

    Sep 27, 2008
    Great advice from a real power user! I'm not knocking gamers, but I too think that we're hearing so many complaints from gamers that it's making this great machine look bad, when in fact its a great machine...especially for photographers, videographers, and yes, everyday users. (Once you get used to a retina display, you'll never go back.)

    Col Vandal,

    You are going to love this machine. I wouldn't hesitate at all to purchase one given your current setup. Unless you absolutely positively cannot afford it, I would pony up a few extra dollars and upgrade both the CPU and the GPU. It's only a few dollars more and you'll be glad you did.

  18. Col Vandal thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 2, 2010
    I deal with photos a lot as well. I'm curious about reflection issues on the retina -- not that it would bother me, per se, just curious. I know when the iMac changed from the matte display a lot of photographers and designers weren't too happy. For what I do, it's probably fine, but I'm curious how display calibration will work with the retina iMac.
  19. WilliamG macrumors G3

    Mar 29, 2008
    The difference from your iMac to the 2012/2013/2014 iMacs is HUGE. Heck, the difference from my old 2009 27" iMac to my 2012 iMac was huge. The reflection reduction was massive.
  20. hyune83 macrumors member

    Sep 19, 2008
  21. theSeb, Oct 23, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2014

    theSeb macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England
    It's absolute (and untrue) statements like this that cause confusion to people that cannot understand benchmarks.

    OP, best thing to do in your case is to wait until a decent review, like Anandtech's. However, as has already been mentioned, the latest iMac will be a night and day difference to yours. You could wait forever and people will always be screaming here about how the GPU isn't what they wanted and how this is old, or this isn't the yet unreleased something or another. People are always surprised and shocked that Apple didn't build a computer to cater for their specific needs and tastes and to meet all of their expectations, no matter how absurd they sometimes are.

    If you need a new computer, then buy the new computer.... my thoughts on the subject expanded:
  22. CausticPuppy macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2012
    I think the "kerfuffle" is based on previous experience with Retina products.

    Historically, the first generation of anything with a retina screen (aside from the iPhone 4) has shown that the screen was at least a generation ahead of the hardware required to use it.

    The iPad3 was a slight step back in graphics performance (4x the pixels with only 2x the GPU power).

    The original retina MacBooks were perceived as laggy with the Ivy Bridge integrated GPU, although we now know that was mostly due to software optimization.

    So people might be saying that the next generation of iMac (broadwell) is the one to wait for.

    HOWEVER, anecdotal reports from people who have actually used the new 5K mac indicate that it has no issues driving the display.
  23. Jolly-boo macrumors member

    May 8, 2012
    There's been negativity around this iMac since before it was announced. But the reviews have been quite positive. I don't understand benchmark numbers so I don't know what's happening there. And I much prefer not to listen to those guys because they know their stuff but, they are looking at the specs from a very high stand point, a place where you and I have no need to be. I ain't gonna be editing video in 4k.

    I'm currently using an 8 year old PC, running XP, less than 1GB of ram. I have such an old PC because I game on consoles, and in the past I spent money on other things. I have had the retina Macbook and obviously I know how much better off I would be having a faster computer.

    But, going from a 8 year old PC to an iMac, whether that iMac is i5/i7 or one of those two graphics cards, it wouldn't much matter what configuration I get. The leap will be huge. It will be the same for you.

    My only interesting is that the system will be able to run Shogun 2 Total War quite well, and at least the next iteration in the franchise. For that I might consider upgrading the graphics card. If the machine can play BF4, that's nice. If not, I'll buy it for PS4.

    And the retina resolution is a fine investment for the future. You might think you don't need it, but text and all will appear so much crispier. Easier on the eyes, truly.
  24. metanoiapi macrumors member

    Oct 16, 2014
    You will probably get as many opinions on this as there are people. If your budget will only allow you to upgrade the cpu or the gpu, then I say wait until your budget allows you to upgrade both. For your needs, I say upgrade to the i7 and the 295x. Upgrade the memory to at least 16gb later- you can install it yourself. Stick with the Fusion drive; you won't notice a performance hit unless you move large files around. 1TB is enough; you can always move the files you are not working on onto external storage.

    For your son I would recommend going to the refurbished shop at Apple. You will save money on an item that may get banged around a bit while on the road. I like the Air's; but whatever you decide on get the bigger screen; if you can''t do that now, wait until you can.

    As for the 980m vs 295x debate - people fail to mention that the display is using a TCOM chip to move all of the pixels. So I think a 295x is perfectly fine. Of course we really won't know until the benchmarks.

    And don't forget to make use of the trade up programs at Apple resellers. Your old Mac has value still.

    Good luck!
  25. AppleInLVX macrumors 65816


    Jan 12, 2010
    Thank you for this thread. I'm in the same boat, and not sure what to do. Not a gamer, but I want the screen big time for photography, and simply because the type will look so much nicer for my writing, of which I do much.

    What I was leaning toward was the upgraded GPU with a base CPU and 512 SSD. That should give me the speed to keep me happy for another 5-6 years, I hope.

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