Thinking of buying a new iMac

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by redneon, Oct 2, 2010.

  1. redneon macrumors member

    Apr 27, 2006
    I've had my current iMac (first generation 32bit Intel iMac) for about four and half years now and I think it's time to replace it. I've been running MacOS from an external USB hard drive for about two years as the internal one has a few bad sectors. The superdrive has real trouble burning blank CDs for some reason (it tends to spit most of them back out before even getting to the burning stage) and I'm getting the point where I can't even run games on the lowest settings at a decent frame rate.

    I'm having exactly the same quandary as I had four and half years ago though and that's that they're so bloody expensive for what they are. I play a lot of games (though mainly on console) so I like to have a machine that can handle them. Last time I got the top of the range iMac which was 20" (the bottom end one was 17" if I remember correctly) and I got the graphics card upgraded from 128mb to 256mb. I also ended up putting another 1gb of RAM in myself. That ended up costing us a fair whack though and I'm just not willing to spend that amount again. Also, the top end iMac is now 27" which I think is far too big.

    So, I'm thinking of opting for the second of the 21.5" models ( I'm not sure whether to go for the upgraded processor, though. It's £160 to go from a 3.2ghz dual core i3 to a 3.6ghz dual core i5. It doesn't seem worth it to me. Would I even recognise the performance difference? I'm not going to bother upgrading the RAM from 4gb to 8gb as I can just do that myself later on. What would you recommend? Am I crazy not to go for the 27" quad core beast?

    How does the current generation of iMacs fair with games and how long am I likely to get out of it? As I said, I got the top end iMac last time and that's (realistically) lasted me about four years, games-wise. Though, I do find myself playing more games on console purely because I have a Mac, I think.
  2. PhelpsiPhan macrumors 6502


    Dec 31, 2009
    New Jersey
    Hi there, in reference to games, i have the MBP in my sig, i can run most games brilliantly, i run GTA IV (spec whore if i have ever seen one) and i get medium to high settings. The iMac you have mentioned has much better specs as well as a better graphics card, so i think you would be fine running that
  3. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    That iMac can handle games fine but if you're really serious about gaming, you should think about building a PC. For $700-800, you can build a PC that will outperform any iMac. The issue with iMac is its lack of upgradeability. It plays games okay now but wait couple of years and it will not. That means you need to buy a new one, again. With a PC, you can just throw in a new GPU and it's fine.

    Then if you still want a Mac, you could either keep your current and use it for everything else but gaming or sell it and buy a Mac Mini.

    Just my thoughts
  4. trip1ex macrumors 68000

    Jan 10, 2008
    Mostly on the mark.

    But the way you upgrade an iMac is to buy a new one and sell the old. I've done that for 4 or 5 years now and the end result is mostly the same as upgrading a pc.

    Also in the past you couldn't always just put a new gpu in the pc.

    1st, the graphics card slot always changed for one thing.

    2nd new graphics cards always liked newer cpus to drive them. Powering a new gpu wtih an old cpu often defeats the purpose. In turn that can mean upgrading the mb too.

    3rd I've never had great results upgrading just my gpu unless it's a major jump across multiple generations. I just never noticed much of an improvement.

    Last pcgaming has mostly changed. There aren't any big fps pc-only blockbusters coming out that require next year's video card. Alot of stuff are console ports that are designed to run on 5 yr old graphics of the 360 or, developers, now rather smartly target the meat of the bell curve when it comes to gpus in the marketplace. Blizzard and Valve games run great/ look good on middle to higher lower end vid cards. (And the Mac is right in the middle of this bell curve.)

    So I don't think in 2 years your Mac won't be able to play pc games very well.
  5. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    PCIe has been the standard for several years now and it's backwards compatible i.e. you can use any PCIe GPU in any PCIe slot (may take a performance hit though).

    Depends how old CPU. I have several friends who have OCed C2Ds as their CPUs and 58xx as GPUs and they run great. Most games cannot take advantage of the extra cores so having the latest CPU won't help that much.

    Upgrading mobo and CPU ain't that expensive either and you don't have to do that very often though depends how intensive gamer you are.

    Depends what card you get. If you e.g. jump from ATI 4870 to ATI 5770, there won't be much difference but if you buy the ATI 5870, you will get twice as much power.

    I just provided an option as often people forget to thinks about what I said. It's all up to OP and how important gaming is for him. The iMac is okay for gaming but a PC is cheaper and more powerful in the long run. If gaming is just casual thing, then an iMac is more than sufficient.

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