What GPU for riMac

Discussion in 'iMac' started by ashe777, May 30, 2015.

  1. ashe777 macrumors newbie

    May 30, 2015
    Hello folks. I am planning to upgrade my 6yrs old imac to a Retina imac.
    I would like some suggestions in regards to configurations on a new Retina iMac.
    I have decided to go with an i7 with 512ssd, stock memory which I can upgrade later.
    I am stuck on whether the upgraded GPU would be worth it.

    I do work with photos, videos and music. I am also a casual gamer.
    A friend has recommended me to just get the standard gpu.
    He stated that his fully upgraded RiMac has high heat and loud noises.

    My biggest fear is the longevity of the system due to heat.
    Is he just being paranoid? Should I just go for the upgrade gpu and get applecare?

    Any helps appreciated thx!.
  2. Pieterr macrumors regular

    Mar 22, 2015
    The Netherlands
    A sound advice IMO.

  3. Hastings101 macrumors 68020


    Jun 22, 2010
    I would suggest waiting for a refresh, this is the first bunch of Retina iMacs as far as I know, and I'd imagine Apple hasn't quite gotten everything figured out yet. I've seen a lot of people say they all run hot, but that the fully upgraded one is so hot the longevity is going to suffer. If you don't want to wait, just avoid the fully upgraded model for sure, and pick up Apple Care.
  4. mvnjpy macrumors newbie

    May 9, 2011
    I got the exact configuration you mentioned (i7 and 512gb). Money is not really an issue for me, so I would have gotten the upgraded GPU if it was better in all aspects, but it has a number of shortcomings that made it just not worth it for me. The main shortcomings based on what I read are that is runs a lot hotter at idle (I think 60degrees C vs 40 for the 250x), and when it starts to get used it reaches really hot temperatures really quickly then just gets hit with thermal throttling, which negates any performance benefits it had in the first place.

    Getting the better CPU seems definitely worth it since there aren't many practical downsides. You get hyper threading, and the extra speed is useful if you do any video transcoding. The GPU's benefits I think are mostly for gaming and video rendering (and cryptocoin mining I guess, but you don't want to do that with an iMac). I do a bit of the former and none of the latter, but I'd prefer crappier graphics over a fan that was really loud and blowing all the time.

    In terms of a refresh, I mean sure broadwell chips might come out in June, but it would be a minor speed boost (I think the GPU would be improved, but that's not useful for iMacs anyway since they have discrete GPU's). There aren't any new video cards in the near horizon, and Apple came out with the current iMac design only half a year ago. I doubt they would update the actual design any time soon (the last iMacs were unchanged for like 3 years). Maybe 21 inch retina versions, but if you're getting the 27 inch anyway it seems pointless to wait.
  5. aevan macrumors 68030


    Feb 5, 2015
    While I wouldn't worry about heat, if this will bother you than it's all that matters. And M290X is a great GPU even for gaming (handles Witcher 3 quite well, for example). For casual gaming? It's a beast. And, on top of it all it doesn't heat up much, below 60 degrees for standard stuff with no fans turning up and hits 80 degrees only while gaming.

    So, I say - get the M290X. As for whether to wait for the next one, it's gonna be almost half a year before it comes out. The iMac 5K is great NOW.
  6. Redface macrumors newbie

    May 23, 2015
    I'm currently deciding between the two GPUs as well, and I'm torn, worried that the slower card won't be enough those 3-4 years I need.

    Aevan, if you would be so kind to share, how DOES the m290x actually handle Witcher 3? For example on 2560x1440 and 1920x1080?
    I also noticed you're an illustrator like me. Do you get any brush lag in PS (I have CS6) in higher res art? Thank you!
  7. aevan macrumors 68030


    Feb 5, 2015
    I think I can give you an answer that will satisfy you.

    First of all, I ran Witcher 3 in 2560x1440p at high settings with only shadows set to low. I didn't try other settings, a friend told me that shadows are super-demanding and I just set it up like that and tried it and it worked with a steady 40+ fps.

    I can also tell you that I tried a lot of modern games as well and that they all ran fine. Surprisingly so, in fact. Apple is using a slightly overclocked version of M290X which runs almost identical to Radeon HD 7870. So, this is something you can use for comparison. However, if you're a serious gamer, you might appreciate the M295X as it's even faster (but it does heat way more).

    Now to the important question: Photoshop performance.

    Well, first of all, you might be surprised to learn that GPU doesn't affect brush lag at all. In fact, you'd probably get the same results with an integrated Intel GPU. Sure, some effects are rendered with the GPU and it's used for displaying the image (smooth zoom, no jagged edges, etc) but the brush, and most of Photoshop heavy lifting is done by the CPU.

    There was some history with brush lag on Mac in general, especially with Photoshop CC (the previous one), but it was fixed later. You should have absolutely no issues with CS6, and if by any chance you did have some, you'd have them on M295X as well.

    But to answer your question - no, I have no problems on my i5 M290X iMac. In fact, it's really good - and I work with large files (and also use a Wacom Intuos tablet so I'd notice brush lag that one might miss with a mouse). It is perfect for illustration and I expect it to stay that way for years to come.

    A better example for the GPU usage is, actually, Lightroom 6. It uses the GPU for most computations in the Develop module and I can tell you that it's REALLY fast. In fact, any app that uses the GPU runs a lot better than those that rely mostly on CPU. If there is a bottleneck, it's never the GPU (not counting the issues with Mission Control, which is Apple's fault).

    I recommend the M295X only for gaming, really. There is no difference in Photoshop performance between M290X and M295X (there is between i5 and i7 - not much, though).

    I hope this helps.
  8. nydennis macrumors regular

    Dec 21, 2011
    Long Island, NY
    I ordered the i7 with the 295x 512SSD. It is currently preparing to be shipped to the apple store. I have read many many things about heat, noise, etc. I have to see it for myself to make up my mind. If I find it to loud I will return it during my 14 day window.

    I will then make the decision to jump to the 290x with the i7 or go to a Mac Pro instead.

    For me ordering time to delivery is just over two weeks. My Mac mini hovers around 60c or more normally and I can hear the fan slightly. I hope the iMac is not louder.

    I don't game at all. I watch very few videos or GPU intensive tasks.
  9. Redface macrumors newbie

    May 23, 2015
    Thank you very much, Aevan, that helps a lot. Now I'm inclined to get the m290x after all.

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8 May 30, 2015