Understanding Processors

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by photogpab, Mar 25, 2011.

  1. photogpab macrumors 6502

    photogpab

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    Jun 21, 2010
    #1
    Morning folks! Happy friday... I'm in the market to finally update my iMac. I have an old iMac G5 that I bought in 2006. And even though I love it and it's served me well for these past 5 years, it's finally starting to slow down and show its age. Alot of the programs I like to run are starting to get really sluggish, etc (especially photoshop).

    Anyhow... I'm waiting until Apple unveils the new iMacs in a few weeks (hopefully!) but there is one thing I've never really understood... processors!

    I understand hard drive and RAM, but dont really know much about processors and video RAM... i want to learn about them and understand how they work so i can make the right decision when i purchase my new iMac shortly.

    any good websites or articles you all can recommend to help me understand processors and their speeds? and video ram? how important it is... etc?

    my current iMac is 250GB of hard drive, 2GB RAM and i think the processor is a Core 2 Duo 2.0 something... haha. i dont understand it really. with 128MB of VRAm.
     
  2. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #2
    Depends what will the iMac be used for. Faster CPU, GPU or more VRAM won't speed up everyday usage because the bottlenecks are elsewhere. It's hard to say what iMac is the best for you since Apple has not released the new iMacs yet.
     
  3. stonyc macrumors 65816

    stonyc

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    #3
    Wait, so which iMac do you have?

    Go to Apple > About This Mac

    That should tell you what processor and how much RAM you have.

    As far as where to start, Apple home page is a good place to get general info... you can then make your way to Intel's page to get more in to the nitty gritty. Wikipedia is also a nice reference. Try searching for Sandy Bridge processors and that should get you started...

    As far as what you should be looking for in your next iMac, it really depends on your needs: you stated that you are using Photoshop, as a hobby? professionally? What other kinds of programs do you use? Will those programs make use of multiple cores (ie. do you need dual core or quad cores? do you need even more...)?
     
  4. photogpab thread starter macrumors 6502

    photogpab

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    #4
    hellhamer - thanks! i guess i just dont understand things like intel core i3, i5, i7, 3.2GHz... etc... that stuff makes absolutely no sense to me. trying to understand it so i can make smarter decisions in my future purchases.

    i've also been contemplating purchasing a refurbished iMac as well, because it will most certainly be a big improvement over my dinosaur.

    here's what i mainly use my iMac for:

    I'm a photographer so i use alot of Photoshop, Bridge, Lightroom... i edit HD video from time to time so i also use FinalCut, etc... until now my machine has served me well. but over the past year the machine has started to slow down alot... photoshop takes longer to process photos, sometimes it can even freeze for a few seconds... if i have too many programs open at once the computer slows down alot. it will take several seconds just to switch between programs. i want it to zip!

    is this more an issue because i only have 2GB of Ram? or is it processor speeds... i dont understand it really.
     
  5. photogpab thread starter macrumors 6502

    photogpab

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    #6
    Im at work so I cant check the info right now, but i did check it last night and I know for sure I have 2GB of Ram, 128 video Ram and 250GB Hard drive. as far as the processor, i remember it said 2.012GHz or some number in that range. not that exact number but it was 2 something... and pretty sure it said core 2 duo or something. i purchased it in late 2006, its the 20" model, and i didnt add any upgrades to it other than the additional 1GB of Ram (it originally came with 1GB and i upgraded to 2GB).
     
  6. Vantage Point macrumors 65816

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    #7
    Depends what will the iMac be used for. Faster CPU, GPU or more VRAM won't speed up everyday usage because the bottlenecks are elsewhere.

    Exactly. My 2010 MBP with a 2.4Ghz i5 CPU is a bit faster than my old iMac with 3.06 C2D CPU. With Photoshop CS5 the more ram the better else it will use the slower hard drive for scratch. I am doing okay with 8GB of RAM in my MBP. I suspect that a the base model of the new iMacs will be great for your needs and be several times faster than you are used to. Just buy the ram on the side and install yourself to save money - get 4GB ram and then buy 8GB more (2x4gb) and add them to the empty DIMM slots to have a total of 12bg (the iMacs since late 2009 have four slots so extra RAM is relatively cheap)
     
  7. photogpab thread starter macrumors 6502

    photogpab

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    #8
    Professionally. I dont think I need a top of the line 2k iMac with all the bells and whistles because my old dinosaur has served me well... but I definitely want to get something that will serve me better on my next purchase. something that will zip and i can run lots of programs at once without any lag
     
  8. photogpab thread starter macrumors 6502

    photogpab

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    #9
    i read about that on another thread yesterday and definitely plan to upgrade myself to 12GB after I purchase. Just wasnt sure if Ram is what I need to focus on more... or the processors (i3, i5, i7 etc)... and i dont understand that part
     
  9. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #10
    A faster CPU will help but like noted above, RAM will have a greater impact on performance. Again, it's hard to say anything because the iMacs are not out yet but I think you should go for the 27" at least.
     
  10. photogpab thread starter macrumors 6502

    photogpab

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    #11
    so do i... but my wife thinks otherwise. haha.

    i guess we'll see how much they cost when they come out.

    the article im reading now says i should definitely invest in a Quad Core. but damn, there is only one iMac that is Quad Core and it's $2k! Ouch
     
  11. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #12
    I'm pretty sure that will change along with the next update.
     
  12. Vantage Point macrumors 65816

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    #13
    Photoshop CS5 (not earlier versions) is 64-bit and can use more than 3Gb of RAM, a lot more which needs to be specified in the Performance area of Preferences. More RAM can help significantly. Below is a screen shot of my Activity Monitor which shows Photoshop using about 3.5Gb plus the RAM for one of the plugins which was running when I took the shot, plus other things open like Aperture.
     

    Attached Files:

  13. Joshuarocks macrumors 6502

    Joshuarocks

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    #14
    One the iMac goes quad-core and soon 8-core, that will be the nail in the coffin with the Mac Pro I think.. Nano could be on to something, what do you think? Do you think the Mac Pro might be discontinued sometime between 2013-2020?
     
  14. Vantage Point macrumors 65816

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    #15
    You are comparing power, which is getting pretty close. But, the MP is a different beast that is upgradable and lets you have RAID arrays and plenty of storage and use a the monitor of choice. Not everyone loves the glossy iMac monitor and when it goes your computer is down and may need to be replaced. So I think the MP should always be in the Mac lineup but perhaps at a more reasonable price - and include 8GB of RAM instead of 3Gb.
     
  15. photogpab thread starter macrumors 6502

    photogpab

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    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8F190 Safari/6533.18.5)

    Got home and checked my iMac.

    2.16 intel core 2 duo
    2GB ram

    How does that compare to all the current i3, i5, i7 etc that are on current macs? Just trying to better understand them.
     
  16. bsamcash macrumors regular

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    #17
    That should be perfectly fine for Photoshop and a few other apps if you upgrade the RAM. I think you should take the money you'd use to buy the new iMac and get at least 8 GB of RAM and maybe an SSD. You'll see insane boosts in performance doing that.
     
  17. Vantage Point macrumors 65816

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    #18
    You will see significant performance boosts on your most demanding tasks - not the regular, basic tasks like email or working with documents. The difference may on the more demanding tasks might be at least 2x faster or more. I stitched a 16-bit panorama with PTGui software on my old 2.4Ghz MBP w/4Gb ram and it took about 4-5 minutes but on my 2.4 GHz i5 with 8GB ram it took 75 seconds. You don't necessarily need the faster processor out there as even the base models of the newer systems will run circles around the old technology.
     

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