RiMac - CPU or SSD upgrade?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by paelzersebbi, Nov 8, 2014.

  1. paelzersebbi macrumors member

    Jul 11, 2011
    Mainz, Germany
    Hey guys,

    I'm thinking about buying a new iMac and I currently don't know which configuration I should get.

    I will definitely upgrade to the M295X, but I have to decide (budget wise) if I should upgrade the CPU as well or if I shoul go for the 512GB SSD.

    Any suggestions?
  2. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Aug 5, 2001
  3. tillsbury macrumors 65816

    Dec 24, 2007
  4. rainydays macrumors 6502a

    Nov 6, 2006
    Not really since the upgrade price is about the same for both of them.

    But as said, it depends on you needs. There's no general rule what's best you know.
  5. Kayan macrumors 6502

    Jul 7, 2010
    I'll give you more than a "it depends" answer. If I had to decide between the two, I'd go up'd CPU and 3 TB fusion or 1 TB. Why? 1) CPU is harder to upgrade later on, whereas if you're willing to get your hands dirty, you can upgrade hard drive yourself later on for a cheap price, 2) the difference between SSD and fusion is so close that (for me) the ability to store more on the fusion offsets any speed improvement from the SSD. Keep in mind, a fusion drive has SSD in it too.

    In any case, I'm sure some professional power user will get on here and tell you I'm wrong and should get pure SSD, but for me and for the average prosumer, I like my recommendation. In the end, I just upgraded everything except the SSD drive, I just installed 32 GB in it too! Its a speed demon.
  6. tillsbury macrumors 65816

    Dec 24, 2007
    But the upgrade price for both is twice what it is for one. That's why I said budget. If you have the budget then do both without a shadow of a doubt.
  7. rainydays macrumors 6502a

    Nov 6, 2006
    Yeah but that wasn't an option in this case. And frankly, I have the budget to do both but I'm hesitant regarding the i7.
  8. tillsbury macrumors 65816

    Dec 24, 2007
    The processor can be upgraded in the future (with difficulty), and is a much smaller change than the doubling of SSD space. So unless you're certain you are comfortable with 256Gb (e.g. you have a very high speed local drive, for example), or you're absolutely sure you'll be pushing the CPU with calculations all day long, I would be going for the 512Gb over the CPU.
  9. rainydays macrumors 6502a

    Nov 6, 2006
    Again "it depends". Really. A Fusion drive is a better option for some, SSD is a better option for others. It depends on what you are going to work with. I'd personally go for the SSD and an external HDD for extra storage.

    Also, if you're not going to utilise the i7 then it's a complete waste of money. Again, it depends.
  10. sharon22 macrumors regular

    Oct 19, 2014
    If you can afford a brand new Retina iMac, and you are a Dave Ramsey listener (debt free, don't go into debt over this!), I would ABSOLUTELY be the first on on my block to get the 4GHZ CPU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    And get the BEST graphics processor, get the SSD, and MAX out the RAM.

    Then you will be SET.... and I mean SET! For years and years to come!

    Me, personally, I'm using a mid-2007 iMac that I paid $400 for on Craigslist, and I am SOOOOOO happy with it. It only cost $400, so I don't care if I bump it, or scratch it, or muck around with it.

    In fact, I'm having fun dreaming about installing a SSD into it myself.

    If I had a Retina iMac, I would be so freaked out all the time, I'd be afraid to plug it in, as I am a worrywort... e.g. "What if I plug it in, and there's a power surge," "I'm afraid to clean the screen, my paper towel might have dust on it and scratch the glass," etc., etc., but that's just me.

    I LOVE my iMac.

    But, like I said, if you're rich, then GO FOR IT, get the best on the planet.

    If you skimp....
    If you skimp.... well, okay, how do I say this.

    If you skimp, you'll be another one of this Forum's posters who use the words, "stutter," "lag," and "Retina," in the same sentence :cool:
  11. Mindinversion macrumors 6502


    Oct 9, 2008
    Look at it this way: External hard drives are relatively cheap and easy to add, while a CPU upgrade is an extremely invasive upgrade.

    Seriously, i you need 1TB worth of programs installed, you need a more comprehensive look at your computing requirements.
  12. tillsbury macrumors 65816

    Dec 24, 2007
    External drives of the speed that the internal ssd runs at are expensive, sometimes more than the internal from Apple. If you need 1tb for your programs then all the more reason to get it internally.
  13. paelzersebbi thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 11, 2011
    Mainz, Germany
    Thanks for your answers.

    What will I use it for?
    - every day tasks: Internet, PDF, iWork/Office, watch videos/movies, play music
    - some gaming: Diablo, StarCraft,...
    - some photo editing (as a hobby, I do a lot of travel photography)
    - some video editing (not in 4K, yet)
    - some web design

    I know that I'm not a true pro-user, but for photo editing and every day use alone, I really want the screen. I saw it in-store and my mind is set.

    I also want to keep it at least 5 years (maybe even 5+), that's why I want to upgrade the GPU. I definitely want to go pure SSD.

    The question is, as far as future-proof is concerned: i7 or 512GB SSD? And what means i7 and 295X for heat?
  14. ilyasdesign37 macrumors member


    Apr 25, 2014
    the new iMac graphics card is good only for media but not for gaming

    SSD is very good, super fast
  15. rainydays macrumors 6502a

    Nov 6, 2006
    From what I've gathered both run pretty hot. In fact the 295X seem to run insanely hot when gaming and doesn't perform that much better than the 290x in games according to benchmarks.
    The i7 also seems to go up pretty far in temperature when pushed. It produces 40% more heat than the i5 at full load.
    So expect the fans to ramp up more often with the upgraded machine when you game or render things.

    It's quite difficult to say what will make it more future proof really, it depends a lot on what's going to happen in the software development field. I'd say that the difference between the GPU will not matter all that much in five years, but the hyper threading capability of the i7 might.
  16. sharon22 macrumors regular

    Oct 19, 2014
    Don't everybody get all mad at me... but I do EXACTLY the same stuff as the OP lists in their post.

    My $400 mid-2007 iMac with 4GB ram absolutely SAILS! Fast, responsive, beautiful.

    So, here's the choice:
    a.) $2,500.00 for brand new iMac
    b.) $400 for Craigslist iMac, and (hmmm...let's see, 8 bucks per six-pack....calculating, calculating...) and ONE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY FIVE CANS OF BEER!

    No contest!
  17. paelzersebbi thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 11, 2011
    Mainz, Germany
    After looking at some threads here, I'm not even sure if the GPU Upgrade is a good idea... it is so annoying. There should be a detailed review by Anandtech... the best direct comparison I found so far: http://www.barefeats.com/imac5k6.html

    In most cases the 295 is better, but it depends on the game how much better it is.

    It is so hard to decide ;)
  18. rainydays macrumors 6502a

    Nov 6, 2006
    I'm with you. You can get a pretty powerful mac for cheap if you buy a used one. Upgrade it with an SSD and more RAM.
    I wouldn't go for a 2007 mac perhaps, but 2011-2012 is a good value for money.

    However, the 5K screen is worth a lot to some people, including me.
  19. mtbdudex macrumors 68000


    Aug 28, 2007
    SE Michigan
    dude - why do you need a Retina display?
    Really and seriously, if you have to decide on trade off on 2 basic items, both that IMO are much more important than bragging rights for a Retina display, then drop the Retina display and get both.

    If you have to have a trade-off, then my answer is simply this:
    wait a few months, save up, then buy it when you can afford it.

    Has not having a Retina display held you back from income generating till now?
    Or held your hobbyist pursuits back?

    I'm just a voice of sanity here, challenging your basic usage needs.
  20. sharon22 macrumors regular

    Oct 19, 2014
    That 5K screen I stared at over at the Apple Store yesterday was, indeed, very very pretty!

    Two Important Points:

    1.) Many many many many posts here in this forum use words like "lag," "stutter," etc., in reference to their new Retina iMacs.
    2.) a 5K screen is a LOT of pixels!

    What makes those bazillions of pixels shine? It's the GPU.

    I don't want to be one of the people using those naughty words ("lag" "stutter" "jerkiness"). Therefore, if I were to ever win the beer lottery and win enough money to buy a Retina iMac, I would *DEFINITELY* get the best, fastest GPU!

    GPU notwithstanding, I would also love to brag, thusly, "neener neener nee-nerrr I have a 4GHZ processor!" So, I might splurge for one of those, too!

    When it comes to Retina, here's the order, in my most ever so humble opinion, of importance:
    1.) GPU
    2.) Processor
    3.) SSD

    [edit... correction, sorry]
    1.) Beer
    2.) GPU
    3.) Processor
    4.) SSD

    Hope that helps :)

    p.s. I really, really, really have always always always wanted an i7 processor. Read up on those! Go to places like www.cpubenchmark.com and read about those little beauties. My wish, right now, is for a 21.5" iMac with the 3.1ghz i7 processor that speed-bumps up to 3.9ghz!
  21. gmanist1000 macrumors 68030


    Sep 22, 2009
    SSD, any day of the week
  22. redheeler macrumors 603


    Oct 17, 2014
    SSD with external storage, can't go wrong.
  23. thekev, Nov 9, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2014

    thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    CPU upgrades can be a little bleh for these things. Gaming is probably the most taxing thing you will run on that machine. I can't recall any games that benefit immensely from hyperthreading, which is the most significant thing you'll acquire going from i5 to i7. The SSD would not be cheap or easy to upgrade at a later time. You're likely to be stuck with OWC's offerings or using an adapter to fit a 2.5" type into the spot occupied by the 3.5" SATA drive.

    Here's the teardown. Considering that neither of these parts are considered user serviceable, you will want to replace any upgraded parts if you send it in for service. Responses from Apple are mixed in this regard, but I don't suggest testing taking any chances. This is especially true with out of warranty depot repair.

    The higher end components typically run hotter, but that provides an incomplete picture of how they will hold up in the longer term.

    Just to edit this in, there's a thread about gaming, gpus, and the rimac here.

    You are dispensing bad advice. If the UI lags consistently, it's likely to be on the software end or just IO bottlenecked. Having a GPU that is faster at floating point math isn't going to have a big effect on your desktop responsiveness. It would with gaming framerates that involve much more computation. You also won't fill the card's dedicate memory with trivial tasks. This isn't to say a gpu from a couple years ago could refresh that display. It's just that between options of the same generation based on the same architecture, you aren't likely to perceive a difference in applications that do not directly leverage OpenGL and/or OpenCL libraries.

    As for photo and video editing, most do not make enough use of the aforementioned frameworks to influence cto upgrades. Photo editing barely uses it in a meaningful way regardless of the application, and video editing is entirely dependent on the application and functions in use. For example if something was written to take advantage of CUDA, it wouldn't matter what gpu you choose. That function wouldn't be loaded at runtime. There's no complete answer there, but the OP is unlikely to see any difference between the two. The exception to that is definitely gaming.

    That is great if the machine is in good condition. Those had a number of problems that were common among IPS displays of that era. IPS in general was still extremely expensive, but the cheaper ones had a lot of problems with image persistence and discoloration along the edges. It wasn't limited to just Apple, but some of those displays now look awful. You also have to consider the condition of the other components in a machine that old and the fact that it's no longer eligible for hardware service from Apple. If a machine is out of warranty but shows no signs of user inflicted damage, depot repair service is around $300 to fix everything (logic board, display, or whatever else) aside from peripheral items. A 2007 imac would no longer be eligible as per Apple's vintage policy stated here. If it contains the original hard drive, I would also add in the cost of replacing that right off the top. Relative to typical retail rates in the US, $400 in my opinion would be way too much for one of that era.
  24. sharon22 macrumors regular

    Oct 19, 2014
    Well, mister shmister, I was reading your post, admiring how smart you are...
    UNTIL I GOT TO THE PART where you said I'm dispensing bad advice!

    You nearly made me spill my bowl of Captain Crunch!
    [edit: actually you DID make me spill some, there is a Captain Crunch particle on my keyboard!]

    Why on EARTH is it 'bad advice?' The GPU is ABSOLUTELY the brains and the guts required to make them's pixels do their dance!

    Heck, do you know about Apple's architecture? They port a LOT of normal stuff that normal processors do work on OVER to the GPU to handle the load! For example, those "2D" icons all over your screen (I can already tell, you're a Yosemite person LOL)... all those "2d" icons are actually 3-D icons! With the third dimension being invisible! (I know I'm explaining that in non-technical terms... but you know what I mean). So, where, like, a PC is displaying a real two-dimensional square, Apple's operating system is actually displaying a CUBE (using the GPU, instead of CPU), but with the "depth" part of the cube invisible. Pretty cool, huh!

    So, instead of relying on the PROCESSOR for lots of things that processors are usually relied upon, it's the GPU that's being relied upon!

    Here's my "Let's see you substantiate what you say":

    If you have a problem with Apple, or if you still think what I'm saying is wrong, let's see your Poker hand.

    p.s. As I say, over and over, and over in nearly all my posts, I really don't know what the h*ll I'm talking about, I'm usually wrong, and I really don't mind being corrected. Life is a learning experience. I don't have a big ego about being wrong, and thusly corrected, so no worries, mate!
  25. redheeler macrumors 603


    Oct 17, 2014
    LOL you sure took that hard for someone who doesn't mind being corrected...

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