SSD vs. i7

soulred12

macrumors member
Original poster
Jun 15, 2011
32
0
I'm gonna be buying a 21-inch 2011 generation iMac. (I'm tired of waiting for Apple to update the line)

I want to either get the 256GB SSD or the i7 processor (I don't have the funds to get both, sadly). I'm sure I'll have use out of the SSD but I dunno if the extra power from the i7 will actually come into play for me. Here's what I will use the thing for:

-Writing apps in Xcode
-Web design
-Playing some games (mostly simple stuff)
-Running Windows via Parallels or bootcamp
-Word processing, email, and internet (a large number tabs are generally open at once)
-Scanning papers
-Music (often while doing all of the above)
-Writing/recording music with Garageband
-Editing simple movies with iMovie

I know I don't really "need" either of the upgrades to satisfactorily accomplish any of these things, or even a number of these things at once, but I'd love for the computer to last a long time--and by that I mean both for the computer itself to last a long time (which will be helped by getting a SSD, since it presumably will take much longer to fail than an HDD) and for it to be able to smoothly run more resource-intensive apps or versions of apps that will probably be developed in the future.

I can't imagine I would have use for 8 virtual cores, but...well it's $300 less than getting the SSD, so that's a factor too since I'm a soon-to-be law student.

I wouldn't ever need more than 256GB, btw. I'm currently on an early 2008 MBP with a 200GB HDD, and after 4 years it's only about 60% full.

Also- do you think SSDs will be coming down in price any time soon? If so I'd gladly wait until the summer and just get the SSD for cheaper.
 

KPOM

macrumors G5
Oct 23, 2010
14,496
3,035
I'd go with the SSD. The biggest bottleneck on most PCs today is the HDD. Remember, when the updated Core 2 Duo MacBook Air came out 1.5 years ago, it was well received, despite having a 4-year old processor.
 

iAppl3Fan

macrumors 6502a
Sep 8, 2011
789
19
Go SSD. You will be glad you did. An i5 to an i7 is not that much of a performance gain. HDD to SSD is huge!
 

Killerbob

macrumors 65816
Jan 25, 2008
1,014
80
Go for the SSD upgrade. The SSD is much faster, and you won't notice the difference between i5 and i7 anyway.

About the reliability; I don't think that should be your decision base. The HDDs today may have lower MTBFs than your SSD, but by that time, you will have another computer, even if you used it 12-hours a day.

I have an older Mac Pro, with two 2.8GHz quad-core Xeons, and when time came to upgrade, I put in SSDs, and that really lifted the whole computer. I also have the Mac Book Pro with the 2.66GHz i7 and an SSD, and I actually think the Mac Pro is still faster.

Bo
 

T'hain Esh Kelch

macrumors 603
Aug 5, 2001
5,085
4,412
Denmark
Even though you can't upgrade the i5 to the i7 later, while you can do that with the SSD, I would also recommend the SSD based on your uses.
 

macintoshi

macrumors 6502
Dec 11, 2008
334
20
Switzerland
i do say

i do say: go with the i7 upgrade, because you cant upgrade it later. its not a big bump, you will not notice much, but is still a better choice of course. the ssd you can replace always, that means take your time. when you able to upgrade, then upgrade it and of course ssd is a good choice to upgrade, a big bump!
 

The-Pro

macrumors 65816
Dec 2, 2010
1,449
35
Germany
SSD all the way for you!!!

however i personally wouldnt get either through apple. Id buy base, and if needed add the SSD and if needed change the i5 for an i7 (yes this can be done, and people have done it)
if you have the balls to take apart your imac, then add the SSD yourself. its a lot cheaper.
i would also recommend you buy some more RAM. go on amazon and order 2x4GB for like 40-50. 4GB will most likely be too little for you and 12 deffinetly enough. its very easy to install ram. just pop open the bottom and stick them in. easy easy easy
 

jmpnop

macrumors 6502a
Aug 8, 2010
821
34
For what you do, Intel Core i5 is more than sufficient. SSD by far is a better choice:cool:
 

KylePowers

macrumors 68000
Mar 5, 2011
1,688
196
I'd say go SSD, even though you can do it yourself. It's a pain though. The performance gain between an SSD and HDD vs an i5 and an i7 is no contest.

Even though you can't upgrade the i5 to the i7 later, while you can do that with the SSD, I would also recommend the SSD based on your uses.
i do say: go with the i7 upgrade, because you cant upgrade it later. its not a big bump, you will not notice much, but is still a better choice of course. the ssd you can replace always, that means take your time. when you able to upgrade, then upgrade it and of course ssd is a good choice to upgrade, a big bump!
False. You can upgrade it. There are threads in the iMac sub forum doing just this. But you have to take it completely apart, more so than doing an SSD upgrade. So it too would be a pain.
 

throAU

macrumors 603
Feb 13, 2012
5,403
2,377
Perth, Western Australia
in non-cpu/non-GPU bound usage (i.e., nearly all general desktop use), my GFs 11" 2010 MBA (core 2 duo 1.6) outperforms my 15" 2011 MBP (core i7 2720 - 2.2ghz + turbo).

The SSD makes that much of a difference.

Of course, I'm sticking an SSD in the pro when i have the cash for one of decent size :D

As to prices coming down - they're always coming down....
 

soulred12

macrumors member
Original poster
Jun 15, 2011
32
0
Wow, thanks everyone! I guess SSD is the way to go!

Do you think extra RAM is worth it when I will have an SSD? I do know how to upgrade RAM manually, so i wouldn't be paying apple to do it ($600 just to add 12GB?!), but it is still extra money. From what I understand the reason for more ram is because paging to the HDD is too slow, right? Would that still be the case if I had an SDD?
 

PeckhamBog

macrumors 6502
Nov 28, 2007
271
2
London
The RAM is quicker than paging to SSD. (Is what I have read on threads on this site.)

4GB is more than sufficient normally.

However, as you say, adding RAM to an iMac is a cinch, and you can pick up reliable stuff from Crucial at good prices (compared to Apple).
 

T'hain Esh Kelch

macrumors 603
Aug 5, 2001
5,085
4,412
Denmark
Do you think extra RAM is worth it when I will have an SSD?
Definitely!
I do know how to upgrade RAM manually, so i wouldn't be paying apple to do it ($600 just to add 12GB?!), but it is still extra money.
RAM prices goes down all the time, so just wait out. Maybe you'll be fine with what comes with the machine. Based on what you wrote below, I believe 4GB should be sufficient.
From what I understand the reason for more ram is because paging to the HDD is too slow, right? Would that still be the case if I had an SDD?
It would still be the case yes, although not as severe as with a HDD. It still makes a difference though.

You can always check Activity Monitor to see if you need more RAM.
 

throAU

macrumors 603
Feb 13, 2012
5,403
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Perth, Western Australia
Whilst SSD is much faster than paging to hard drive, it is still WAY slower than RAM.

However, 8gb is cheap these days (like 30 bucks? maybe less for an iMac as you have more slots than a macbook...)

Get 8gb and an SSD and you'll have a pretty quick machine.

4GB is "enough" for basic stuff on lion, but you'll see a benefit with 8gb (or more) when running a lot of apps or working with big files. And as said, its cheap enough to just do it while you have the machine open.
 

Medic278

macrumors 6502a
Feb 1, 2012
657
0
New York
I have an iMac with the SSD with 8gb RAM and it flies. I am in the same boat as you in the respect that I will never fill the entire SSD and thats even if I saved EVERY paper I write for medical school which I don't do. You will be very very happy with the SSD and i5 there isn't a huge jump between the i7. I highly recommend getting the extra RAM, it really makes a world of difference and I am really glad I did it, just don't buy it from apple it was stupid overpriced.
 
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thekev

macrumors 604
Aug 5, 2010
6,714
1,782
The RAM is quicker than paging to SSD. (Is what I have read on threads on this site.)

4GB is more than sufficient normally.

However, as you say, adding RAM to an iMac is a cinch, and you can pick up reliable stuff from Crucial at good prices (compared to Apple).
There's no rule for how much ram is enough. 4GB is the lowest I'd want to go with Lion. Depending on what the OP does, it may be great or it may feel like way too little. Beside that, it's cheap as hell to upgrade ram from a third party. I've mentioned before you could add 8GB giving you a total of 12 for roughly $50. That's enough for most people under Lion and it should feel fine under the next OS revision (which isn't likely to be much more ram hungry this round).

On i7 vs ssd, I'd say you don't really need either. If the ssd speeds up every function, then someone underestimated their needs in terms of ram. This is where it should help. It hastens boot times, application launches, and files stored on that drive should open quite fast. Depending on your computing habits this could be really helpful or not a big deal. I hate the generalizations on this stuff. Visit the Apple store. They're most likely stock configurations (and you can even verify under "about this mac"). In the past they've always been stock configurations. They are unlikely to have ssds. I doubt you'll notice much of a difference either way as I said unless you're short on ram.
 

piatti

macrumors 6502a
Jun 9, 2010
819
0
USA
If you run SSD, does that cover for small amount of RAM? SSD +2RAM better than HDD+4RAM?
 

cperry2

macrumors regular
Jul 23, 2011
109
0
SSD trumps RAM because the SSD swaps in/out RAM really quickly. Not really recommended though.

OP, get the SSD. You said it yourself that storage is not a concern, so there's nothing stopping you
 

soulred12

macrumors member
Original poster
Jun 15, 2011
32
0
OP, get the SSD. You said it yourself that storage is not a concern, so there's nothing stopping you
I was thinking about it and I realized if I'm going to use Windows (which I am planning to), I'm going to have to allocate some space for it. How much space would be enough for a Windows 7 partition? I wouldn't really be doing anything too intensive, but how much is the minimum, let's say, that is necessary for Windows 7 to even work? If I don't have to allocate too much of the internal SSD to be able to boot from Windows, I could just get a $100 External HDD to store other files.

(I'm looking at BootCamp, rather than Parallels, which I know would have a "smart" expanding/contracting space allocation--though if I end up getting parallels I'll probably have it run from the partition anyway)
 

throAU

macrumors 603
Feb 13, 2012
5,403
2,377
Perth, Western Australia
SSD trumps RAM because the SSD swaps in/out RAM really quickly.
SSD is several orders of magnitude slower than RAM.

stepping up to 8gb of RAM is much cheaper than an SSD of 128gb or more.

SSD will help load things into memory faster, but if you are actually doing any sort of processing on large amounts of data, having enough ram will be far faster than tryign to swap to SSD.

it really depends on your workload. if your workload doesn't involve large data sets, SSD will be faster. if it does, you'll see more benefit from more ram.
 

mrobit

macrumors regular
Mar 7, 2012
107
0
i7 is not much better over an i5 because they are close enough to the same processor - the only purpose to get an i7 is for hyperthreading, but that's only if you actually needed it. An i5 is very capable. An SSD compared to an HDD is night and day.
 

soulred12

macrumors member
Original poster
Jun 15, 2011
32
0
i7 is not much better over an i5 because they are close enough to the same processor - the only purpose to get an i7 is for hyperthreading, but that's only if you actually needed it. An i5 is very capable. An SSD compared to an HDD is night and day.
I'm definitely getting an SSD. :) But, I was hoping someone could advise me on how much space I'll have after putting a partition for windows. Would 32GB be enough to have a functional Windows 7 bootcamp partition?