Should I Splurge for i7 or will i5 work?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by cpb1231, Feb 23, 2013.

  1. cpb1231 macrumors newbie

    Feb 22, 2013
    I'm an architecture student and am wanting to buy a 27" iMac. I will be doing lots of 3d modeling (rhino, sketchup, grasshopper) with this as well as autocad and rendering...with these programs being open at the same time.

    I dont want to go over $2,100 for it, but I'm not sure if I should upgrade to the i7 processor or the GeForce 680 graphics card. Which will I see the most improvement? Or will just getting the base model iMac be sufficient?

    I currently have a early 2011 MacBook pro with a 2 GHz i7 and 8 gigs of ram. (although I'm upgrading the ram to 16 gigs and was going to fill my iMac with the 8 currently in my MacBook so I dont need to upgrade ram for now)
  2. SandboxGeneral Moderator emeritus


    Sep 8, 2010
    If you will be doing a lot of what you mention, I would get the i7 so as to accomplish the renderings a bit faster. Plus I'd get as much RAM as you can afford if you plan on running these apps at the same time.
  3. cpb1231 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 22, 2013
    ok thanks! my school recommends a gaming computer, so that's why I'm having trouble deciding whether to upgrade the graphics card, but if it would be more processor heavy then I've had the right idea on upgrading that instead

    Yeah, I'm planning on maxing out the ram eventually, but that's pretty easy to install so I really want to spend my money right now on what is more difficult to go back and upgrade.
  4. Nightarchaon macrumors 65816


    Sep 1, 2010
    If your apps support CUDA then the best Nvidia GPU you can get is the way to go, the CPU i5 upgrade to i7 wont have that big an impact if the GPU is doing most of the work..

    However, if your apps are massively multi-threaded, then the i7 is the way to go, those extra 4 virtual cores will make all the difference...

    look at the software, and what it recommends.

    As for RAM, id always say, put as much in as you can afford, or MaX out what the system will take. For the iMac, buy it with the minimum, then pay for your own upgrade, apples price per GB is outrageous
  5. Umbongo macrumors 601


    Sep 14, 2006
    You need the best graphics card the iMac offers as it's already very limited compared to what a PC will give you, and thus what fellow students will have and the school might expect.
  6. Paskell macrumors member

    Jan 30, 2013
    The i5 is sufficent enough just get the 680 and upgrade ram yourself. I5 has plenty of jam to get through your needs gpu is what your really need to have and the i5 won't bottleneck that gpu
  7. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    Excuse me, but what PC gives you a CPU comparable with that of the iMac, and what PC gives you a screen comparable with the iMac?
  8. flat five, Feb 24, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2013

    flat five macrumors 603

    flat five

    Feb 6, 2007



    sorry guys but with those apps, firstandforemost, you want the fastest possible clock speed of any single core..

    they're not multi-threaded (can't be) and they're very heavy on calculations.. and the slower your cpu, the longer you wait... same goes for model size-- the slower your cpu, the earlier(less geometry) your model will get sluggish

    some of the renderers have support for gpu acceleration via cuda and openCL but even then, the fast clock (and multicore which renderers love) will also be welcome in rendering situations..

    point being, if i were faced with a situation of only being able to do one upgrade over the base model... and i was planning on working in those types of apps, i'd definitely go with the i7 3.4..

    the base ram and graphics will be fully acceptable.. and can also be upgraded down the line when money allows..

    do yourself a favor and get the i7 right away..

    [edit] and you can see this for yourself on your mbp.. open activity monitor.. open sketchup and draw a high poly sphere.. make a linear array of around 100 of the sphere..
    watch the cpu usage in activityMonitor..
    (one core at 100%... 3 sitting idle..)

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