Serious quandary over iMac purchase.

miffytherabbit

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 28, 2016
10
3
Hello folks. I’m slightly befuddled as to the best course of action, so any advice would be very much appreciated.

I don’t have a lot of money usually, so I have to think carefully about spending significant sums of money. However, I’ve just been left £5,000 in a small inheritance. With this in mind, I’ve been thinking the best thing to do would be to buy a new iMac/Mac desktop, which would keep me going for the next 3-5 years. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about the outlay in the next year or two. I use my iMac for my job as a musician, but I’m not a computer geek as such, and I’d say that Logic Pro runs fairly well most of the time on my current iMac (it can groan on occasion with one or two greedy third-party synth plugins.) My current iMac is a Late 2015 3.2ghz i5 with 16gb of ram.

I’ve been looking at a few possibilities. The first is the BTO Mid 2017 4.2ghz iMac with upgraded ram (to 16gb or higher.) And the second option is the base model iMac Pro 3.2ghz 8-core with 32gb ram. My thinking behind even considering the iMac Pro is that whilst it would use almost all the money (and it’s twice the cost), it’s a newer computer and was hoping with its higher specs I would be “future proofing” myself for a lot longer than if I went with a regular iMac. However, I wondered if I’d be better going for the regular iMac and then keeping the money I would’ve spent for a few years down the line when I need to upgrade again. Another option would be to leave buying an iMac full-stop right now, as I’ve read on this site and elsewhere that a new iMac refresh is a bit overdue. I realist it’s a perennial worry for folks who buy Apple stuff, but I’d rather try and avoid the new computer/old in three months computer syndrome caused by Apple’s seemingly random refresh timetables. I realise to a point that this is like asking how long is a piece of string.

Are there any alternatives I’ve left out? I would consider a Mac Book Pro as long as I could mirror the display somehow, but I don’t really need a portable computer for the portability factor, if that makes sense.

I’m nervous about this, as I’ve never had a chunk of money given to me like this in my life, and I doubt I ever will again. I’d really like to make sure I respect the person who left it to me by getting the right thing.

Many thanks in advance.
 

redheeler

macrumors 604
Oct 17, 2014
7,397
6,965
Your current Late 2015 isn't that old. I'd wait until the next refresh (most likely early or mid 2019).
 
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Glmnet1

macrumors 6502a
Oct 21, 2017
953
1,049
I doesn't seem as if you need to buy a new computer yet. Your 2015 is fairly recent and most likely good enough for your needs. Personally I would keep the money or use it for something else but maybe I'm cheap :p

Is it booting from an SSD? If not booting from an external one could help with the overall performance.

What is causing the slowdowns with the plugins you're talking about? Verify that you're not running out of RAM. Also look at your CPU usage when you notice these slowdows, unless it's running close to it's maximum capacity, I doubt you would see much of a difference going to a new iMac or iMac Pro.

If you decide to buy the regular iMac, you can save money by upgrading the RAM yourself instead of buying it from Apple. Keep it at 8gb and you can add 2x8gb or 2x16gb easily.

Also, many users have reported that the i7 iMac is quite loud when under load. You might prefer the i5, even though it's even less of an upgrade compared to your 2015, if you need something quiet.
 

CWallace

macrumors 604
Aug 17, 2007
6,559
2,455
Seattle, WA
Not familiar with Logic Pro and it's plug-ins, but if they benefit from as many cores / threads you can throw at it, then the iMac Pro is probably the better option as I would expect the iMac refresh to use 6-core CPUs. Also, the iMac Pro has significantly better cooling than the current iMac so fan noise will be lower than with the 2017 models and if the same case is there with the 6-cores, I expect the fan noise to be even higher. And if Apple is moving the iMac to an iMac Pro-style case for improved cooling, we might lose easy RAM upgrade-ability and the iMac Pro comes with 32GB. And if you go the refresh route, you can save $750 over new on the base model.
 

rjsounds

macrumors member
Jul 3, 2017
69
26
I echo what @redheeler says. Unless you absolutely have to upgrade right now and your current PC is preventing you from doing your work, wait for the next refresh of the iMac or even the new upcoming Mac Pro. Considering you still have a decent 2015 model, it's certainly worth the wait, rather than investing in a 1.5 year old 2017 iMac or a 1 year old iMac Pro.

As a fellow producer / audio editor, I was in a similar boat a couple of years ago and can understand your frustration. My 2010 21.5" iMac couldn't handle large sessions in Logic Pro X, I had to always freeze tracks and rendering was taking ages.... I had held back from buying a 2015 iMac in late 2016, waited and finally purchased the 2017 iMac when it came out. Was very happy with a branch new machine at the time. If you can remain patient, I'm sure you can reward yourself next year with a new machine as well :)

P.S. since people still mention the i7 fan noise - I have the i7 and it's whisper quiet during normal, daily use, and even in the largest, CPU-taxing orchestral sessions in Logic Pro X with well over 100 tracks. In general, audio production is not nearly as taxing on the CPU as rendering a video or playing demanding video games. The only time the fan has ever become audible is, as just mentioned, rendering videos or playing demanding video games. If you're just producing, it shouldn't be an issue. But perhaps the next iMac will have better thermal management... (we can hope!)
 
Last edited:

mikehalloran

macrumors 68000
Oct 14, 2018
1,600
390
The Sillie Con Valley
You can hotrod that 2015. It has a PCIe 3x4 buss like the 2017 but Apple installed the slower PCIe 2 chip (wtf?) — half the speed.

Replacing that chip is easy for an experienced tech and possible for the DIY. This link gives a good description. All these parts are available on AmazonUK, too.

https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/upgrade-to-ssd-on-a-2017-imac-27.2154920/

Doing this and upgrading to 32G RAM gives you a 2017 with TB2 ports.

Having said this, DAWs like Logic Pro benefit tremendously with an i7 — and you have an i5 under the hood.

If you use (or plan to) a number of VIs such as Kontakt, you will benefit having more cores. Each instance of Kontakt will be assigned its own core up to the total. One of the tricks we learn is to balance the instruments among the cores to increase performance.
 

miffytherabbit

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 28, 2016
10
3
Hello folks.

Thanks ever so much for all the thoughtful replies. I really appreciate it a lot.

On your advice, I've decided to hold off and rather than buy a new iMac just at the moment. I'm going to max out the specs of the one I have now. I will be able to put as much RAM in it as possible and get a new external SSD drive instead. Also, I can get some new Genelec studio monitors for my little studio for £600 which I couldn't have afforded had I bought a brand new computer.

It's so easy to be beguiled by Apple products, and your comments snapped me out of my "new shiny things" reverie. I'm much better off improving what I have now. For now at least.

Thanks again for your input. :) :)
 

nambuccaheadsau

macrumors 68000
Oct 19, 2007
1,739
409
Nambucca Heads Australia
Further miff I would hold off on all that memory. The external SSD and 16GB of memory would be a nice combination and save a few quid as well. The 3.2GHz tells me it is a 27" model and if so you can easily install 2x4GB modules yourself. There are videos on nthis one minute on at OWC and other memory sellers.

Just seat the modules firmly until they click in.