What spec 27" iMac for my use case?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by tobesuretobe, Jun 28, 2014.

  1. tobesuretobe macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2014
    Location:
    Ireland
    #1
    First post from a sometime lurker here - thanks in advance for your expert advice, as there's no Apple store in my country.

    Earlier this year I switched from a Windows machine to a Retina MacBook Pro (2.0GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz, 8GB 1600MHz, 256GB PCIe-based flash storage1,Intel Iris Pro Graphics) and it has worked brilliantly. I use it for 200+ page graphics-rich MS Word documents, Adobe Indesign, Photoshop and Illustrator. I currently carry it in and out of the office each day, as I work from home most evenings and weekends.

    I am thinking of buying a 27" iMac for use in the office and keep the rMPB at home - removing the need to carry it around with me. All my files are stored in the cloud on Dropbox, so I could access them from either machine.

    My question is - will I notice any difference in performance between the laptop and the desktop machines, given my type of use? Should I spec up the iMac to the i7 processor, or would the standard i5 handle my use equally? I love how quickly the rMBP boots and launches hefty apps such as Photoshop. Is it the processor, or the SSD or the RAM amount that contributes mostly to that?

    Tl;dr - As a rMBP user, what spec iMac should I buy to avoid disappointment in performance?
     
  2. keysofanxiety macrumors 604

    keysofanxiety

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2011
    #2
    Good question. It's important to consider that the i5 CPUs in the iMacs are 4 physical cores and don't have hyper-threading. This means you get 4 cores, whereas the i7 model has 8 cores (4 physical cores, 2 threads per core). This is the same as your rMBP which also has a quad hyper-threaded i7.

    Also, the CPUs in the 15" rMBP are exclusively designed for Apple Macs -- you won't find them in any other brand of laptops. They have great performance and the top-end model (2.6GHz I believe) has slightly better benchmarks than a quad i7.

    As you're coming from a rMBP, the main impact in performance (with regards to boot-up time and application loading times) will be the hard-drive. With this in mind, the bare minimum I'd suggest would be a Fusion drive; if budget allows, definitely go with all-Flash storage.

    I hope this helps and please quote this if you'd like me to elucidate any of the above points.

    Finally, welcome to the Mac family!
     
  3. tobesuretobe, Jun 28, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2014

    tobesuretobe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2014
    Location:
    Ireland
    #3
    Based on my kind of usage - multiple windows of big Word docs and small InDesign and Photoshop files, would I need hyper threading (which sounds cool, but I don't know what it means in practical terms!)?

    The options are 1TB of Fusion @€200 or 512GB of SSD @€500 (zoiks!), so SSD is insufficient space and waaaay too expensive. If I buy the Fusion version now, would this be something I could have replaced in the future when the price of SSDs falls, or is the hard disc type storage a permanent fixture in the 27" iMac?

    Thanks so much. This forum is a wealth of information. Now that I've managed to un-learn 20+ years of Windows muscle memory, I'm loving using Mac :)
     
  4. keysofanxiety macrumors 604

    keysofanxiety

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2011
    #4
    Hi, sorry for my belated response. I'm simply going on what you mentioned with the rMBP. If you were to get the i5 it wouldn't have nearly the processing power of the i7 that's snuggling in your MacBook Pro. However based on your usage, it wouldn't make much of a difference.

    The Fusion drive uses both an SSD and a physical hard-drive, swapping most used programs to the SSD to maximise performance. You'll get SSD-like speeds without the price tag, and reviewing what you use your Mac for I think the Fusion drive is your best option.

    One thing to consider is that the Fusion drive only works on OS X. If you'll be Bootcamping, you can only install on the HDD. if you're exclusively using Mac, it won't be a problem.

    The 27" has upgradable RAM so don't pay extra for that -- you can avoid the Apple tax and just concentrate on hard-drive and CPU.

    TL;DR: i5 with Fusion drive won't be as 'quick' as your rMBP, but it won't be far off. :)
     
  5. glenthompson macrumors 68000

    glenthompson

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2011
    Location:
    Virginia
    #5
    To answer your other question, the SSD is the main factor in the responsiveness of your MBP. It affects the speed at which the system boots, programs load, and files are opened. Once running an app like Word with a complex document, memory is usually the next factor that affects speed.
     
  6. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #6
    The SSD is what makes the apps launch very quickly and the computer to boot quickly. The difference is very noticeable.

    It is the CPU and RAM mostly can determines how fast Photoshop runs after it has loaded an image.


    The big advantage of the 27" iMac is the 27" screen. You can be more productive with a larger screen.
     
  7. tobesuretobe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2014
    Location:
    Ireland
    #7
    Thanks for your advice. I have 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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