What delivers 'responsiveness'?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by tobesuretobe, Jun 28, 2014.

  1. tobesuretobe macrumors newbie

    Jun 28, 2014
    As I agonise over what spec iMac to order, can anyone possibly demystify for me which of the variables will deliver most in terms of responsiveness (boot up speed, time to load photoshop, no evident lag between click and effect - that sort of thing)?
    • Is it the processor - i5 / i7?
    • Is it the RAM - 8GB / 16GB?
    • Is it the storage - HDD / Fusion?
  2. BA Baracus macrumors member

    Mar 28, 2009
  3. Yakibomb macrumors 6502


    May 13, 2014
    Cape Town
    I'd say it's a combination of all of that. Having an SSD will speed up boot time along with the time it takes for Apps to open. Some photoshop effects and actions are quite CPU heavy, so a faster CPU will reduce the time between click and when the actions are completed. In terms of RAM, in my experience photoshop doesn't use all that much. I find that the 8GB I have installed on my rMBP is enough for me. But you might want more depending on what you do, and if you'll be running other intensive Apps at the same time as Photoshop.
  4. chabig macrumors 601

    Sep 6, 2002
    I wouldn't consider boot time at all, since your machine should sleep most of the time. Otherwise, swapping a hard drive for an SSD makes the most difference.
  5. oftheheavens macrumors 68000

    Jul 9, 2008
    cherry point
    have to agree that a fusion drive is the best for what you listed and described, with SSD being even better especially for writing.

    I have the maxed out 27" iMac with a 3TB fusion and my iMac boots up faster than it takes me to get comfy in my chair, plays any game I throw at it at around 80fps without a hitch (diablo 3, eso, badlands 2 and games of the like) and I can load video from the gopro almost instantaneously (around 3 minute or under videos) and << or >> minutes back and forth without it skipping a beat.

    hope that helps.
  6. jg321 macrumors 6502

    Aug 29, 2012
    It's the storage for sure. Processor will only be noticeable when you do something intensive, like video encoding for example.

    RAM will be noticeable if you have a lot of things open at once, or something specialist that requires a lot of memory, e.g. multiple virtual machines.

    Fast storage will make everything feel snappy. Spinning disks are a real bottleneck in modern computers. Flash is very much approaching the price point where it's cheap enough to deliver enough capacity to be mainstream.
  7. tobesuretobe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 28, 2014
    OP here - thanks for all the replies folks

    Opinion so far in your comments seems to be unanimously in favour of upgrading the storage medium over any other upgrades. My type of use would be large (200+ page MS Word documents, Adobe InDesign and non-complex Photoshop).

    Would upgrading the RAM and /or processor produce any discernible difference? I am currently using the base model 15" rMBP and it's is absolutely perfect for everything I do, so in changing to an iMac at the office I'd hate to experience any degradation in responsiveness. I don't want to waste money on unnecessary upspeccing either though :)
  8. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    For the usage you described, neither the CPU nor the RAM upgrade would likely be noticeable. Give this test a read.
  9. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    In decreasing order of affecting responsiveness: SSD -> CPU/RAM (subjective)

    When will you see performance improvements?
    SSD: All the time
    CPU (I.e. i5 vs i7): When doing multithreaded tasks.
    RAM: When running several VMs and memory intensive tasks.
  10. toddzrx macrumors 6502a


    Nov 20, 2012
    No brainer: go SSD or at least Fusion Drive

    My personal experience was putting an SSD in my 2010 iMac which makes a world of difference over the stock hard drive at almost all times. About two weeks after the SSD install, I dropped in 4 more GB of RAM for a total of 8, and did notice a slight increase in speed; barely noticeable, but no way near as much as much of an increase as the SSD.
  11. johnnnw macrumors 65816


    Feb 7, 2013
    SSD for snappiness and responsiveness.

    Night and day from an HDD. Won't go back to a computer with one ever.

    To the point where people in my classes were using my laptop and wondering why my Macbook was so much faster than theirs. They noticed instantly.
  12. tobesuretobe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 28, 2014
    Thanks everyone for all your advice. I've gone for the Fusion and RAM upgrades.

    I have just ordered a refurbished iMac 3.2GHz i5, 16GB RAM and 1TB Fusion drive. Can't wait for it to arrive so I can enjoy the massive screen size and not need to lug my rMBP everywhere with me :)

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