What iMac to buy?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by jazzer15, Nov 5, 2014.

  1. jazzer15 macrumors 6502

    Oct 8, 2010
    I currently have a late 2009 i7 2.8 ghz machine that (except for some faint vertical screen line issues that I am going to have checked out) I am very happy with and could probably use for a while yet (ignorance as to what I am missing is bliss ;-)). My wife, however, has an 8 year old AMD Dual Core Dell that is having some major issues and probably is not worth the effort (and money, if any is needed) to try to get going again, although her needs are very basic (email, web, etc.).

    I am thinking of passing my machine to my wife and buying something new, but I am not sure what to get. My use is the typical stuff plus photography and music, both as hobbies. Do I need an i7 again? An upgraded GPU? Do I go for the retina screen?

    The easy answer is probably to get an i7 retina iMac with an upgraded GPU and maybe a 3TB fusion drive. I COULD do this, but I usually don't like buying something that has just come out and doesn't necessarily have bugs worked out. Reading the problems on the forums is a sure-fire way to scare myself off buying anything :).

    The other issue I have is that I feel like while the retina screen is undoubtedly amazing, there wasn't any real change in specs, so I would be buying a great screen with older technology in a body that can't easily allow for upgrades (other than memory). I suspect there will be an additional refresh in about 6 months, but who knows how big of a difference that will be or whether it is worth waiting for given that my wife's machine is having so much trouble. Buying a non retina iMac on the other hand is also older technology, but without the benefit of the better screen and Apple didn't adjust the price after the retina display iMac was released.

    Am I looking at this the wrong way? Any suggestions?
  2. tillsbury macrumors 65816

    Dec 24, 2007
    Do it. The retina iMac certainly doesn't have "older technology" in it. The 4GHz i7 is the fastest consumer processor you can buy. The 295X is excellent.

    The only "old technology" for sale nowadays is a computer without a retina display.
  3. xlr8or macrumors member

    Mar 9, 2013
    My needs are very similar as I'm looking to get my first Mac product. I was planning on getting a Mac mini until Apple decided that they didn't want owners to be able to upgrade the RAM, so I have decided to go with a 27" iMac.

    I have gotten into digital photography and was planning to go with Aperture until Apple decided to can it's development, so I may go with using Lightroom. Other than just the usual browsing and email, I do plan on running some amateur radio programming software and digital mode programs in a Windows 7 VM, so my horsepower needs aren't that great. I do plan on getting at least the 256GB SSD and 8 GB of RAM and will add the additional RAM myself. I've look at both the late 2013 iMac as well as the new new riMac and don't really feel that the Retina model is something that is worth spending the extra funds for.

    Given these needs, which processor (i5 or i7) and what clock speed would be recommended for my needs? Also, what would be the differences in GPU speed and GPU RAM for my uses?

    Thanks in advance for your suggestions!
  4. Thorf13 macrumors member

    Nov 12, 2014
    If you're into photography, I'd have to say Retina is absolutely the way to go. Sharper text in general throughout the OS is nice, but it's with photos and other imagery that the Retina display truly shines.

    I'd also have to say Lightroom comes highly recommended. There seem to be some issues right now about running it at full screen on the new iMac 5K, but these will very likely be dealt with before too long —*as the issues with it on the Retina MacBook Pro were dealt with two years ago. (I haven't seen what it's like first hand yet, but it sounds like the issues are not a big deal, either.)

    The reason that the screen is so great for photographs is simple: it shows your images at a resolution that's much closer to the photograph's native 1:1 resolution. The result is that you can see a lot more detail without zooming in; I've even found that the thumbnails are better, so you can sometimes see even on the thumbnails whether an image is sharp or not.
  5. xlr8or macrumors member

    Mar 9, 2013
    Which processor and video card do I need for photography? I'm not in business as a photographer, it's just a hobby for me.
  6. cincygolfgrrl macrumors 6502


    Apr 2, 2012
    Somewhere In Time
    iMac for Amateur Photographer

    After the retina 27" iMac came out I read a bunch of reviews. I took some time to evaluate my real needs, then bought a mid-2013 non-retina 27" iMac with an i7, 512GB SSD, and the 4GB GPU.

    As configured my iMac is a bit overkill but to-date I'm happy with it; and I spent about a $1000 less than on a similarly configured retina iMac.

    I'm a somewhat serious amateur photographer. I've been a happy Lightroom user for several years. It's easy to get caught up in the hyperbole about the retina display. I've seen it; it's freaking awesome. But I don't need it for my workflow and I suspect that's true for most folks.

    Another consideration is the retina base model could be underpowered for volume post-processing. The non-retina has allowed me to get the capability I wanted and stay within my $3,000 plus tax budget.

    Obviously your needs are probably not the same as mine but I thought you needed to read a response that doesn't pimp the retina. Good luck!
  7. xlr8or macrumors member

    Mar 9, 2013

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. I'm wondering if having a higher end graphics card makes a difference in running Lightroom since I'll only be working with still images?

    Any thoughts on graphics cards and GPU RAM for my needs? Price is a consideration for me so I'm not thinking about a Retina model, but the display is nice!
  8. RUQRU macrumors regular


    Apr 14, 2011
    Mac Addict!
    Here is some information to help you:

    GPU-enhanced features added in Photoshop CC 2014

    • Upscale.
    • Blur Gallery 2.
    • Focus Mask.

    GPU-enhanced features added in Photoshop CC

    • The Blur Gallery (Iris Blur, Field Blur, and Tilt-Shift) is enhanced by OpenCL.
    • Smart Sharpen.
    • Smart Sharpen also uses OpenCL for Noise Reduction only.
    • Scripted Patterns (Tree and Picture Frame).
    • Perspective Warp.

    GPU-enhanced features added in Photoshop CS6
    • Adaptive Wide Angle.
    • Crop: GPU is used when rotating an image.

    GPU/OpenGL preferences in Photoshop CC and CC 2014

    The advantages of using a compatible video card (GPU) with Photoshop are that you can experience better performance and more features. Problems can occur if you have an older video card with limited VRAM. They can also occur if you use other programs that use the GPU at the same time as Photoshop.

    Choose Edit > Preferences (Windows) or Photoshop > Preferences (Mac OS).

    In the Performance panel, make sure that Use Graphics Processor is selected in GPU Settings.

    Click Advanced Settings and specify the following options:

    Mode > Basic

    Uses the least amount of GPU memory and enables basic OpenGL features.

    Mode > Normal

    Uses more GPU memory and enables GPU-based color matching, tone mapping, and checkerboard blending.

    Mode > Advanced

    Provides the benefits of Normal mode as well as newer OpenGL advances that can result in improved performance.

    Use Graphics Processor

    to Accelerate Computation

    Use OpenCL

    Uses the GPU to accelerate the new blur filters. OpenCL is only available on newer GPUs that support OpenCL v1.1 or later.

    Anti-alias Guides And Paths

    Allows the GPU hardware to smooth the edges of drawn guides and paths.

    30-bit Display (Windows only) Allows Photoshop to display 30-bit data directly to screen on video cards that support it
  9. cincygolfgrrl macrumors 6502


    Apr 2, 2012
    Somewhere In Time
    I ran Lightroom on my stock mid-2011 11" MacBook Air with a dual-core, entry-level processor for almost three years. It was slow but the MBA did the job.

    Based on my limited experience I'd say you'll have no difficulty with the standard NVIDIA GeForce GTX 775M 2GB GDDR5 if that's what you choose. The extra $150 for the upgraded GPU was within my budget so I went for it. I don't think the 2GB card would have made a noticeable difference since I don't work with video either.

    I've had the iMac for less than two weeks. I'm pleased with it so far, even with a few relatively minor annoyances that I expect to be resolved.

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