Selecting the Perfect iMac

Discussion in 'iMac' started by whytheworldis, Jan 9, 2013.

  1. whytheworldis macrumors newbie

    Jan 9, 2013
    Hi there,

    I am 22 years old. I have always used PCs before but would like to get an iMac as my next computer, to try something different, and so I can take a bite for myself of the Apple fun!

    I do zero gaming. I am the most concerned, speed- and efficiency-wise, about two things:

    1) day-to-day tasks (start-up, office-type applications)
    2) Photo-editing and HD video editing, plus Graphic design, and graphics-intensive programs (though not gaming) like Google Earth

    I am already straining my budget by buying an Apple at all. I will consider upgrading from the base ($1299) 21.5" iMac if there will truly be a significant jump in performance that is useful for my needs, but I can surely only go for one upgrade, at most.

    So, based on the two aforementioned needs, which upgrade (if any), do you think I should go for?

    a) 16 GB RAM [from 8 GB RAM] ($200)
    b) +1 TB Fusion Drive [from 1 TB @ 5400 rpm) ($250)
    c) 2.9 GHz i5 w/ Turbo Boost to 3.6 Ghz & nVidia GT 650M [from 2.7 i5 w/ Turbo Boost to 3.2 Ghz & nVidia GT 640M] ($200)
    d) 3.1 GHz i7 w/ Turbo Boost to 3.9 Ghz & nVidia GT 650M [from 2.7 i5 w/ Turbo Boost to 3.2 Ghz & nVidia GT 640M] $400)

    Obviously, the higher the price of the upgrade the more I must carefully weigh the benefits.

    Lastly - it is extremely unlikely that I would do this - but would getting the base 27" iMac ($500 upgrade) be better than getting the 21.5" with no, or any one upgrade?

    I love the huge huge screen, but I am talking performance-wise.

    Thank you so much for your help! :)
  2. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    This is a tough call, but since you list option (d), I am going to toss an option (e) into the mix.

    e) both (a) memory (b) Fusion drive.

    Based on your criteria, (e) might be best, but it's a tough call.
  3. stockcerts macrumors 65816

    Jun 29, 2007
    San Francisco, CA
    I'm also considering a similar scenario. I have decided to go with the fusion drive, and I'm considering the memory it's now or never and I don't want to find myself short handed in the near future.
  4. braddicted2mac macrumors member


    Dec 5, 2012
    Its hard to say waht to go for, When I bough mine I figure its a 3-4 year investment for myself, I went with the 3tb fusion cause I wanted to focus on home video editing in HD, in other words I needed the room. I went over board and maxed everthing else out. Again I look at it as a 3-4 year iventsment under 3500 at 875 over 4 years. I would by using this unit sice dec 24 th fusion drive is important ! Major upgrade much nicer than a regular drive. I think the processor would be next than Ram. unles you like games then the graphics woulr be priority over the processor then ram !!

    I've spoiled myself and I like it !
  5. James Craner macrumors 68000

    James Craner

    Sep 13, 2002
    Bristol, UK
    The biggest single improvement would be to add a Fusion drive. 8GB of memory should be adequate at the moment. However the problem with the 21" iMac is RAM is not easily user upgradable, and you would need specialised equipment if you did it yourself.

    For both Photo and Video Editing the larger screen on the 27" could make a significant difference to your workflow. It is great to have the extra real estate for your pallets and have a nice big preview / canvas. My advice is to go to an Apple store and take a look and load up Aperture and Final Cut Pro if they have them installed on the machines, on both the 21" and the 27". Also with the 27" you can upgrade the memory at a later stage, but I would still get it with the fusion drive.
  6. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    For photo and video editing, the 27" display is worth more than any of the options for the 21.5". With the 27" you could always easily add more RAM later. In either case you can add disk capacity, even SSD, externally using USB3 that would be just as fast as the internal drive.
  7. whytheworldis thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 9, 2013
    As far as performance, i.e. speed, (disregarding the difference in screen size), what would be better?

    base model 21.5" w/ Fusion Drive
    base Model 27"
  8. James Craner macrumors 68000

    James Craner

    Sep 13, 2002
    Bristol, UK
    For overall usage base 21.5" with Fusion Drive by a country mile. Certain aspects may be slightly quicker with the 27" as it has a slightly better graphics card, but overall the extra loading and writing speed of the Fusion Drive will make it feel much more responsive overall. The small difference in processor speed is not going to make a lot of difference in real world situations.
  9. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    Frankly, it depends on the "real world situation" and how you use the system. If you are doing video rendering the faster processor will win. If you spend your time booting and launching programs the Fusion Drive will win. If you are dealing with large files and can't keep them in the SSD part of the Fusion Drive the 7200RPM drive in the 27" might just win. As usual, YMMV.
  10. SDH3BLK macrumors newbie

    Dec 7, 2012
    Go for the 27. If you are going to be upgrading to this type of computer, especially graphic design and video editing as I plan on doing, it's like having an art board right in front of you rather then a little piece of paper. I'm ordering my 27 all decked out, and yeah a little out of budget but nothing a brand new chase freedom card can't handle! Stretch your dollar and get 15 months 0% APR plus instant $100 dollars back when you sign up! Not trying to sound like a advertisement here but that's what I'm doing and have your similar situation, and I'm 23.


    Oh also if you go 27 don't upgrade the RAM through apple, you can go up 32GB for less of what they charge for 16!
  11. xSyao macrumors newbie

    Jun 15, 2012
    OP I am only 19 years old saving all the money I earned through jobs, gifts, ebaying and last 10% from parents. I dropped 1700$ on a Imac 27 inch base model when I spotted at store after extensively comparing it with the 21.5.

    I find the 27 > 21.5 because of my needs as a student.

    - Screen real estate. Compare to my macbook pro the imac screen is absolutely amazing and high quality. IPS is the best at the moment.
    - Processor is the same as high end 21.5 but really 1400$ for a high 21.5 but adding 300$ more you get 6 more inches of awesomeness.
    - Graphics card gt660 vs gt 650 I mean its little but still a better graphics card for graphics related tasks. Some say it lags because its not strong enough to push such a huge screen. But compared to my friends 21.5 its better in gaming and PS by a little bit. I mean I tried league // diablo 3 on it and its pretty smooth just dont max settings.
    - Hard drive. Fusion drive is amazing and beautiful and fast but its still new technology. 5400 RPM is so 2003 sooo.... I opt ed for 7200 rpm I mean you save ALOT of money just to waste like 20 more seconds of boot time. I find the 7200 rpm good enough for PS / I movie/ file transfer etc. If you need speed get a rmbp or buy external ssd.
    - Value 21.5 + fusion is almost a base 27 so I would go for a 27 because for graphics the screen is the most important.
    - Upgradable ram. Apple ram is like +200$ and is a one time upgrade to 16gb while for 27 its user accessible and it can go up to 32 gb (future proof). Consair 16gb 1600 mhz ram is only 83$ so 32gb of ram is cheaper then apples upgrade.

    As a poor college student coming from a imac in 2006 I find the base to 27 inch imac to be the best value and bang for the buck due to you can upgrade it later and I feel it will be a good 5 year investment.

    Hope this help and buy apple care for a peace of mind 120$ only.

    Prices based on education discount. w/o education add 100$ on the Imacs.

    Love the imac the apple is tasty x3

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