What to upgrade when buying iMac?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Slinkington, Mar 2, 2015.

  1. Slinkington macrumors member


    Jan 22, 2008
    Hi guys, I'm planning an iMac purchase and just want to ensure I'm getting the right model.

    I use Motion quite a bit on the 21" model so I'm thinking of going for the 27" model this time as the interface in Motion is pretty hefty. Using motion means I'm dealing with HD video, though not too much of it. I'd also like to be able to play some games on Steam via Windows on ocasion, though that's not my primary concern.

    I'm thinking the base level 27" iMac should be fine, but I'm looking at the next step up, and it's upgrade options, and wondering just how much of a difference it makes? An extra 0.3ghz on the processor doesn't sound like much of a difference? I'm not expert at hardware though.

    So if you were in my position, which iMac would you buy? And based on the needs I listed above, would you go the extra mile and upgrade anything like graphics memory or processor?

    Thanks for any input!
  2. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Fusion drive or ssd

    The best performance increase you will see on any computer (but macs seem to especially like them) is some sort of SSD wether that is in the form of fusion for a 128GB ssd with 1TB HDD or just a straight SSD is up to you.

    Either will give you much better experience all round the HDD is the bottleneck in many comoputer functions these days and any sort of SSD mitigates this problem...

    Unless you are moving to an i7 (for the hyperthreading which I don't think you'll ever really leverage) then a slight speed increase on your CPU will make practically no difference.

    You could take the upgraded GPU it'll be much better for games and graphics and video editing but again unless you are a heavy user it may not be worth it. This si quite an upgrade though....

    As for RAM aftermarket is cheap and easy to install and you probably won't need more than 8GB unless you multitask very heavily or use VM's. Get with 8gb and see how it goes buy more if needed. (27 inch only the 21.5 inch is very difficult to upgrade)
  3. andy9l macrumors 68000

    Aug 31, 2009
    England, UK
    Agree with Samuel.

    For you, the 27-inch with a Fusion drive will be a great machine. Do not buy it with the standard hard drive. The difference is seriously massive in day-to-day usage.

    If you can afford to, the GPU would massively improve gaming performance. The CPU won't affect you, nor will RAM.
  4. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    Motion and video editing software like FCP X heavily use hyper threading, so an i7 will be really beneficial.

    The GTX 780M can also really help in gaming and CUDA-accelerated processes, along with rendering videos.

    However, one thing's for sure - don't buy an iMac that doesn't have at least a Fusion Drive or an SSD.

    You can upgrade RAM yourself.
  5. cincygolfgrrl macrumors 6502


    Apr 2, 2012
    Somewhere In Time
    I've had my current-version 27-inch non-retina iMac since November. I ordered it with the 3.5GHz i7, the NVIDIA GTX 780M graphics card, and the 512GB SSD. The computer has performed admirably. The only times I've pushed the CPU toward its limits is when ripping DVDs using HandBrake. I'm not a gamer so I couldn't say how the iMac would perform.

    My advice, since you asked, would be get as much as you can afford. Start with an adequately sized SSD and work up from there. My 2¢.
  6. Slinkington, Mar 3, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2015

    Slinkington thread starter macrumors member


    Jan 22, 2008
    Thanks for all the feedback guys. I'd love to upgrade everything, though I think it would have to be either the processor or the video card... I noticed a few people said I should upgrade the GPU. Sorry to ask, but that's the video card, right..?

    Of course I'd make sure I got the fusion drive, too. (Pure SSD is just a bit too far out of my price range)

    Edit: one more question - what's the reliability of the fusion drive like? I'm just curious with it essentially being 2 storage options in one... Could there be overheating issues? Or if one dies, does the other? Also is there a chance of them going away in the foreseeable future? I plan on keeping this Mac for as long as possible, so if I needed to replace the hdd I'd hope it's not be redundant tech in a couple of years time. (Which could be detrimental to a potential repair in some ways)
  7. AppleFan360 macrumors 68020

    Jan 26, 2008
    You will get various opinions about the reliability of a Fusion drive but the facts are that many are happy with them and the failure rate (at least for now) is very low. I suspect the Fusion drives will eventually go away as SSD prices come down. If something fails in a Fusion drive (the SSD or the "spinner"), it will completely stop functioning.

    If you keep most of your stuff on external drives, it's a smart idea to go with the SSD only option on the iMac. If cost is an issue, then a 1TB or 3TB Fusion drive is a great alternative. I strongly suggest getting AppleCare either way to make sure you are covered in case of failure. SSD's and Fusion drives are both not perfect.
  8. Tobamory macrumors newbie

    Mar 6, 2015
    Leave memory stock and buy crucial ram, I maxed it out for 200 uk pounds came with 8gb.. However mixing the ram all be it should have worked caused the system to crash, only pure crucial worked.

    Vga upgrade

    And whatever fusion drive u can afford, the drives very fast anyway and if you save the cash just hook up a 8tb western digital thunderbolt drive and you've got all the storage you need...

    The 3tb fusion I went with as I bootcamp windows into 1TB of it...
  9. tillsbury macrumors 65816

    Dec 24, 2007
    Not been mentioned here yet, but you should consider that buying a 2-4Tb external drive for Time Machine is a non-optional purchase. That way you won't be too worried about how reliable or not the fusion drive is.

    Agree with others here that upgrades should be in the sequence Fusion (mandatory), then GPU, then all-SSD, then CPU last of all if you can afford it. RAM on the 27" can be upgraded as and when you feel you need it, so don't bother for now.
  10. andy9l macrumors 68000

    Aug 31, 2009
    England, UK
    That's a great way of putting it. +1

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