SSD vs. CPU/GPU

Gimyslog

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 2, 2012
6
0
Sweden, Trollhättan
Hello everyone! I couldn't find a similar thread so I thought I'd ask here.

Here's the deal, I'm looking into buying the 2012 iMac once it's released, but my budget limits me to choose between either maxing out the CPU and GPU or to go with an SSD harddrive. I'm going to use it for school (nothing fancy), amateur-photoediting, webbrowsing and the occasional gaming (preferably games like Diablo III, Skyrim etc.). It will most likley serve as my TV as well, i.e. watching downloaded media etc. Storage is not a problem since I'm going to be using an Time Capsule to store TV-shows, photos etc.

I really like the fast loadingtimes and quiet and energyefficient experience that comes with an SSD, but I'm caught on the fence wether it will be worth the sacrifice of the faster proscessor.

To make it simple, if I would buy it today, the options would be;

27" iMac

2,7 GHz i5
4 GB RAM
256 GB SSD
AMD Radeon HD 6770M 512 MB GDDR5

or

27" iMac

3,4 GHz i7
4 GB RAM
1TB Serial ATA
AMD Radeon HD 6970M 1 GB GDDR5


So what do you smart folks out there reccomend for me? Sorry for a long post.:)
 

Sondrix

macrumors newbie
Nov 6, 2011
21
0
I think cpu and gpu upgrade. 1gb vram is a big plus for playing games. 512mb is on the way out and probably can't handle future games.

On the other hand i heard that aftermarket ssd's (if you buy one in the future) don't work with Lion's TRIM feature. I might be wrong though.
 
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KylePowers

macrumors 68000
Mar 5, 2011
1,688
197
I'd just ugprade the GPU.

Upgrading the CPU isn't necesary for your uses, but you could always upgrade it yourself in the future (but that would, of course, require stripping the iMac almost completely apart... and making sure you have a supported CPU)

SSDs by Apple are typically overpriced. Just go third-party and install it yourself (assuming you're comfortable with that). It'd be much cheaper, probably better performance, and isn't too difficult to do.

But if you think you'd never be up for upgrading it yourself by hand, then I'd rank 'em: SSD > GPU > CPU

If you did think there was a possibility of you ever upgrading it yourself (or at a certified Apple technician place), then I'd rank 'em: GPU > CPU > SSD, since I don't believe the GPU is upgradeable and the CPU requires almost complete disassembly.
 
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Gimyslog

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 2, 2012
6
0
Sweden, Trollhättan
Upgrading the CPU isn't necesary for your uses, but you could always upgrade it yourself in the future
When would a greater CPU come in handy then? And no, I'm not planning on upgrading anything myself, I have no experience when it comes to replacing computer hardware, I think stripping down an apple product is a bit more than what I could handle. Also to note is that I will probably stick with this computer for the next 5 to 6 years as I'm off to university, so future aspects and developments are also to be taken in to account, I can imagine that SSD is relativly new and will know drastic improvments the upcoming years.

Thanks for answers by the way :)
 
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paulrbeers

macrumors 68040
Dec 17, 2009
3,960
120
Couple things:

1. With thunderbolt ports, you can buy an External Thunderbolt "case" (i.e. Seagate go Flex Thunderbolt) and "bring your own" SATA when you can afford it. Then you don't even need to tear apart the iMac to install it. There are many threads about this.

2. GPU really can't be upgraded (okay I am sure some have done it, but it's a lot of work and difficult to find parts) so if you think you need a faster GPU I would recommend buying it this way

3. The iMacs are going to be upgraded soon, but I can guarantee you with what you are looking at doing you will be more GPU limited than CPU. I wouldn't get too hung up on CPU. CPU speed is really only needed for people who do a lot of Video and/or audio rendering since a lot of speed is needed for encoding.

Go with the GPU upgrade (maybe spring for the High End iMac but without the processor upgrade) and then add your own external SATA when you can afford to.
 
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roland.g

macrumors 604
Apr 11, 2005
6,586
1,572
I bought the first one you mentioned last summer when Lion was released.

1. lower power draw, produces less heat.

2. SSD performance is worth it. I went SSD + HDD even though I have plenty external storage just to have a sizable internal drive. Apps, iPhoto, anything I have on the SSD is extremely fast, so is boot time.

3. Unless you are a heavy gamer, the GPU is a not worth the money and the CPU is going to be plenty for your needs - especially considering the new 2012 models will almost definitely have GPU bumps (I would expect the base 27" to get the 1GB VRAM card) and Ivy Bridge will bump the CPUs anyway.
 
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8281

macrumors 6502
Dec 15, 2010
463
559
I would go with the SSD upgrade. In any of those systems you mentioned, the hard drive will be the only bottleneck (maybe RAM, but if you have a SSD, the system will write to a much faster drive).
 
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lixuelai

macrumors 6502a
Oct 29, 2008
808
68
Get the better cpu and gpu. The 6970m will make a huge difference in D3 and Skyrim. Also the SSD you can put it in later yourself. For $80 you can get a 120GB SSD which is plenty for OS and apps. Good luck upgrading the cpu and gpu down the road.
 
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Unami

macrumors 6502a
Jul 27, 2010
726
431
Austria
get the cpu/gpu - upgrade. (wait, if there are new imacs with a faster gpu in the next weeks)

if you're really planning to use your machine that long, i'd rather save a little more money and max the machine out as much as possible.

also, 4gb of ram is not very much. i'd get some (cheaper) third-party RAMs and upgrade to at least 8gb (if you still want to use your computer 5 years down the road, you'll eventually want 16 gb, but it you can buy that in a few years as well). don't be afraid of upgrading ram yourself, you can do that (it's about as complicated as swapping batteries in a toy).
 
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Gimyslog

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 2, 2012
6
0
Sweden, Trollhättan
also, 4gb of ram is not very much. i'd get some (cheaper) third-party RAMs and upgrade to at least 8gb (if you still want to use your computer 5 years down the road, you'll eventually want 16 gb, but it you can buy that in a few years as well). don't be afraid of upgrading ram yourself, you can do that (it's about as complicated as swapping batteries in a toy).
I believe (from what I have read) that 4 GB would be sufficient enlugh for my uses, but I know and to intend to upgrade the RAM eventually if it turns out to be short of my needs. But since apples pricing is a bit perculiar I'd rather just stay with minimum and order from a third party when push comes to shove :)
 
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MarkHarrisonUK

macrumors newbie
Jan 17, 2009
15
0
Get the CPU / GPU upgraded one.


SSD prices are still coming down, so in 3-6 months' time, you'll be able to get one, upgrade, and have the benefit of both.

Also, I'm not a big fan of Apple's choice of SSD - there are better.

(I've never fitted an SSD to that model but have to other Macs.... You may choose to pay someone.)
 
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maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
65,937
32,289
Boston
You cannot upgrade the CPU/GPU so I recommend the CPU/GPU option. Then down the road opt for the SSD.
 
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jdiamond

macrumors 6502a
Dec 17, 2008
558
425
I agree - longevity dominates here....

I totally agree with the posts on this thread. While the CPU is the least important factor, and the GPU is probably "good enough" unless you are into state of the art games, the overriding factor is that you want 6-7 years of value with this machine.

For this reason, I'd recommend waiting for the upgrade next week, maxing out CPU & GPU, then down the line upgrade the DRAM and the hard drive. The hard drive you can have done by an authorized Apple dealer - one will likely exist at your school. And then you'll get a much larger SSD for the same price, even if it's an official Apple part.

(BTW, this is indeed possible. When I got first switched from PC to Mac, I thought I'd be lucky for my MBP to be useful in 2 years. But 5 years later, there's absolutely nothing limiting about my old MBP. Of course, I've constantly upgraded it, mostly the hard drive....)
 
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