Which 27" iMac to buy?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by nbsimmo, May 2, 2016.

  1. nbsimmo macrumors newbie

    nbsimmo

    Joined:
    May 2, 2016
    Location:
    Wigan, UK
    #1
    Hi guys, first post so hey all!

    So I'm going to be leaving University soon and was wanting to use my student discount on an iMac before I leave for a future job.

    My interests are in Web Design with some graphics design using Photoshop and Fireworks w/ Illustrator.

    Because I am tech savvy, I ideally want a beefed up machine and want something future proofed I can do low/mid-ranged gaming on but also allows me to still use the machine if say I decide I want to go into Games Development or Graphics.

    I have a large budget to spend but want to spend as little as that and get the best value for money. I have listed the models I am considering below. I have bolded the main differences. RAM is something I am going to upgrade myself as this is a considerably cheaper option.

    I firstly looked into model MK472B (Mid-tiered 27" iMac) the specs are:
    • 3.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor
    • Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz
    • 8GB (two 4GB) memory, configurable up to 32GB
    • 1TB Fusion Drive
    • AMD Radeon R9 M390 with 2GB video memory
    • Retina 5K 5120x2880 P3 display
    • £1,407.60
    I then looked at model MK482B (Top-end 27" iMac) the specs are:
    • 3.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor
    • Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz
    • 8GB (two 4GB) memory, configurable up to 32GB
    • 2TB Fusion Drive
    • AMD Radeon R9 M395 with 2GB video memory
    • Retina 5K 5120x2880 P3 display
    • £1,627.20
    Regardless which model I'm going for, the 2TB Fusion Drive is going to be on the agenda and will be put in due to the 128GB of Flash Storage, so that is a definite upgrade.

    Using my discount, there's a £220.40 difference between them but adding in the 2TB Fusion Drive on the first model brings it to around £1,548 or there abouts.

    Now here's my dilemma. Do I simply just buy the top-end model or do I save my money and use the money I saved to add in the i7 upgrade to the first model? Essentially, giving me a boost altogether with CPU. With the i7 upgrade this brings the mid-tiered 27" iMac with 2TB fusion drive to £1,759.20.

    The other question was then, is there a significant upgrade between the M390 and the M395? Utilising the upgraded CPU but keeping the GPU the same could prove inefficient, no?

    Would it be worth missing out on the m395 for a nice beefy i7?
     
  2. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2012
    Location:
    Between the coasts
    #2
    I'd go with the 2TB Fusion over the i7. Your usage may or may not require the 128GB of Flash in the 2TB Fusion, but it could. That might have a bigger day-to-day impact than needing that i7.

    I'm also guessing that you'll run low on internal storage if you're planning to keep it a long time - it'll be better to have 2TB internal (subject to Fusion's speed boost), than an external 1TB that runs at regular HDD speeds (unless SSD is much cheaper by then).
     
  3. nbsimmo thread starter macrumors newbie

    nbsimmo

    Joined:
    May 2, 2016
    Location:
    Wigan, UK
    #3
    Thanks for the reply.

    I forgot to clarify. The 2TB is a must-have upgrade for me so this isn't a concern as such and have budgeted for this automatically. My dilemma is more with the CPU upgrade.

    My focus is, due to wanting a high-specced machine, whether I should just go for the top-tier machine giving me a faster i5 or utilise the money I save with the step down and throw in an i7 upgrade? But it leaves me wondering about the GPU. You get an M390 vs an M395 which I'm not too sure if I would benefit much from.
     
  4. kiwipeso1 Suspended

    kiwipeso1

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2001
    Location:
    Wellington, New Zealand
    #4
    Go with the i7 it has hyperthreading for effectively 8 cores on a 4 core system.
    Please note that you can effectively put in 64 GB ram in the 27" iMacs
    (Best done yourself, as it only takes about 5 to 10 minutes to put it flat on face, then lift the flap and pop in the ram.)

    I would not worry too much about the minor differences in iGPU performance between the M390 and the M395.
    You will find that there is a significant advantage from the i7 CPU that will be better for highly demanding graphics work in adobe, or programming.

    I'd suggest that you may want to use a 4k Sony Android TV as your second monitor when you get into games programming, as then you can have the second screen for ebooks/ email, etc, plus a test environment for Android development.
     
  5. merkinmuffley macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2010
    #5
    Avoid that 1TB fusion drive, Apple cut the SSD on it down to 24gb.
     
  6. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    #6
    If you want it game development and graphics ready then the best GPU is important other than that it won't matter all that much by the sounds of it.
     
  7. nbsimmo thread starter macrumors newbie

    nbsimmo

    Joined:
    May 2, 2016
    Location:
    Wigan, UK
    #7
    Just an update, I've been away so haven't been able to reply.

    As for my purchase, I decided to max out the machine so I went with both the GPU upgrade (m395x 4GB VRAM) and the i7 (6700k). Being a gamer both these upgrades appealed to me (games like Battlefield 4 use the i7's hyperthreading as do more and more future games AFAIK). I went with the base 8GB RAM and plan on sticking 32GB at some point (if anyone can point me in the direction of some cheap RAM in the UK feel free).

    For my current needs (web development and gaming) the machine is massively overkill, spec wise. Being the last time I'll be able to utilise my Student Discount (came to £1,700 or there abouts as the total machine price with upgrades) and planning for the future, I wanted to buy a machine that was future proof for, what will hopefully be, years to come - an investment if you will.
     
  8. ProjectManager101 Suspended

    ProjectManager101

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2015
    #8
    I would get the best drive, the best processor and the best gpu, and 16GB of ram at the most.
    Processors will not be used for what you do.
    Hard drive will give you more speed than the processor.
    Ram... 16 would do, it cam be upgraded.
    GPU... 2GB is more than enough anyway.
     
  9. kiwipeso1 Suspended

    kiwipeso1

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2001
    Location:
    Wellington, New Zealand
    #9
    Good choice. After a search of pricespy.co.uk , the 32 GB ram kit (2*16GB sticks) was found here :
    http://www.flexxmemory.co.uk/catego...-imacs/late-2015-imac17-1.html?sort=pricedesc
    (Note that it will work best with the 1867MHz ram listed at the top.)

    For gaming development I would recommend that testing be done on a virtual machine (just to slow down the machine to equivalent older spec machines, and to limit the ram available.)
    As far as games go, it should run pretty much anything released for the next 4 years.
     
  10. nbsimmo thread starter macrumors newbie

    nbsimmo

    Joined:
    May 2, 2016
    Location:
    Wigan, UK
    #10
    Exactly my thoughts. Thanks for the recommendation on RAM too. I noticed though my iMac uses 1867MHz but the ones listed are either 1600MHz or 1866MHz. Usually in this situation, having built machines in the past, I would know that the motherboard would support this and wouldn't question it but being an Apple machine I would assume they're picky on the hardware you can use, third-party wise.
     
  11. Floris macrumors 68020

    Floris

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #11
    I am about to purchase a new iMac myself. This thread is very interesting. I appreciate everybody sharing their thoughts. I think I rather go with the 'faster' chip (from what I understand) SSD at 256 or even 512, than the fusion drive. Old slow speed drives can be external on the thunderbolt or usb-3 ports. And hopefully by the time I get around buying mine this fall season, that there's a usb-c one or thunderbolt 3 port.

    The ram I would just keep stock. For more money you upgrade from 8 to 16, adding only 8gb. For less money you could keep the 8gb and add 2x 8gb or 2x 16x and it will be on top of it. You end up with more ram for less money. I always check with macsales what seems to be possible, before I browse around local stores to find that. The 5k currently comes with 4 ram slots, 2 are occupied, 2 are free.

    I am still wondering if I should go and invest in the i7 upgrade, It's another 300 euro for me. Ugh. Or since everybody's been posting on these forums how poorly they find the GPU, to use the money to get the best GPU possible -- thinking long term performance.
     
  12. nbsimmo thread starter macrumors newbie

    nbsimmo

    Joined:
    May 2, 2016
    Location:
    Wigan, UK
    #12
    There are three factors to consider - your needs, money and length of time you're going to keep the machine.

    If you order the top tier iMac you get a 2TB Fusion Drive as standard with 128GB SSD included. I've found this speed to be fine starting up and for accessing applications etc but if you need an SSD, go for this.

    As for the upgrades, it depends how future proof you want to be. I went with both the i7 and M390x upgrades and relatively happy with the performance. Eventually I am going to go into Video editing via YouTubing so the i7 will come in handy. But again money and future proofing are the main factors here.

    My advice, apart from the RAM, you can't "officially" upgrade anything past the buying process. If you have the money, go all out. I had my student discount so for the price, it was a no brainer and can fully say I am loving it.
     
  13. Floris macrumors 68020

    Floris

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #13
    I don't want to spam the link, but I've made a site where I track the money I saved, personal gifts I received to help saving. And I just reached my goal at 100% for the current system (3108 euro with GPU / Apple care upgrade). So i have a base.

    Ok, to give you some info: 1- needs: media, premiere pro, 4k video watching, making and editing, game development, and tv replacement, 2- money (see above, but, money does Not come easy for me), 3- the plan is 8 years. Just like the current one. I just can't afford to replace it in 4, to many other higher priorities on the list.
     
  14. nbsimmo thread starter macrumors newbie

    nbsimmo

    Joined:
    May 2, 2016
    Location:
    Wigan, UK
    #14
    Don't worry about it, i'm happy to help :)

    Your needs suggest an i7 upgrade and GPU upgrade would benefit you with the Premier Pro and Games dev aspect.

    My advice, if you can, save a little more to get both CPU and GPU upgrades. You're planning to keep it 8+ years so this would get you a future proofed machine.
     
  15. theluggage macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    #15
    In my experience, CPU bumps give the least value for money, esp. when you're talking Apple prices rather than the component price difference. When did you ever think "I need a new CPU" without also thinking "I need the latest RAM and I/O tech"?

    Also, look at the aftermarket upgrade options:

    RAM: Trivial
    SSD/Hard drive: Feasible - if you can get the parts and don't mind wielding a pizza cutter - plus there's infinite scope for external expansion
    CPU: In theory (if there's ever a compelling upgrade)
    GPU: Never

    You probably don't need i7 unless you're doing CPU-punishing stuff (pro video or audio editing) and you probably don't need the GPU bump unless you're doing a lot of gaming or pro graphics (with OpenCL-enabled software) and if you are doing any of those you could probably use both.

    Ultimately, depends on your finances - my instinct is: if you can afford it, get both (if it adds a year to the useful life its worth it) if you can't afford it, get neither. If you do have to pick one of the other, I'd go for the graphics since there is zero chance of upgrading that.
     
  16. nbsimmo thread starter macrumors newbie

    nbsimmo

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Wigan, UK
    #16

    His needs state games dev and video editing, both the GPU and CPU upgrades would benefit him.
     
  17. spiffers Suspended

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2009
    #17
    Im in the same situation now, I wanted to get a new iMac, but after a lot of thinking, Im going for a new MBPr 15" when its released. But if I got the iMac, I would focus on CPU and GPU. The drive can be replaced even if it takes a bit more effort now the screen is bonded on. And when you have a stationary computer, why not add a Thunderbolt drive to it? I would personally go for the highest spec graphics card, as well as the best i7. RAM could be updated later on, so I would not bother with that.
     

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