Which Graphics Card is Best for Me?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Evianwater11, Oct 20, 2011.

  1. Evianwater11 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2011
    #1
    I am about to buy a refurbished iMac, money is an issue or else I would be going for a Mac Pro. Within my price range I settled on choosing between these four options below.

    What I need this computer for is editing video and some boot camp gaming. Nothing super intensive like a Battlefield 3 or Skyrim (going the console route for those) but I would like to play the Star Wars MMORPG coming out next year. More importantly I will be using the computer to edit videos for work and my own projects. This is why I have begun focusing on which video card would be the best to purchase. I know there are other factors to look into but when it comes to the insides of a computer I am pretty helpless. I would like to upgrade my RAM after purchase but I am too nervous to open it up and mess with it on my own.


    The first of the three is slightly more expensive but still within my price range. The last one is slightly out of my price range. The two in the middle are the cheapest and cost the same.

    1)
    3.1GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5
    27-inch LED
    4GB memory
    1TB hard drive
    8x SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    AMD Radeon HD 6970M graphics with 1GB memory


    or

    2)
    2.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5
    27-inch LED
    4GB memory
    1TB hard drive
    8x SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    AMD Radeon HD 6770M graphics with 512MB memory


    or

    3)
    2.8GHz Intel Quad-Core i5
    27-inch LED
    4GB memory
    1TB hard drive
    8x SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    ATI Radeon HD 5750 graphics with 1GB memory

    or

    4)
    3.4GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7
    27-inch LED
    4GB memory
    1TB hard drive
    8x SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    AMD Radeon HD 6970M graphics with 1GB memory


    Considering my needs which would you recommend I buy? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thank You.
     
  2. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    #2
    Ok first upgrading ram in those is easy. It's one of the parts supported as user serviceable so it's easily accessed. The hard drives are harder to get to. The graphics cards are not upgradeable in the future. You do get what you purchase today in that regard on these.

    Numbers 1 and 4 are 2011 imacs. This means they use the sandy bridge architecture. Since you mentioned gaming they also saw a gpu boost. On the refurb site it looks like a difference of a couple hundred between getting a 2010 vs a 2011 model. Go with the 2011 (choice 1 or 4) because those others equate to a very significant compromise. 2010 to 2011 was a significant upgrade to to a change in processor architecture rather than it being a die shrink year as next year will be. Next year probably won't be a huge difference because even if they cut the power consumption across the line significantly, I can't see Apple putting an extreme edition cpu into an imac and if they did it would cost even more.

    The biggest difference between the i5 and i7 here is hyperthreading. I double checked intel's site on the two models used here. In some cases it helps with load balancing on heavily threaded applications. I don't know that it's THAT much faster really. You might not ever notice it. Like I said the 2010 to 2011 gap is a much bigger one.

    I hope this helps.
     
  3. Evianwater11 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2011
    #3
    Thank You

    TheKev,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to look all that up for me. I tried to do some research myself before on the difference between i5 and i7 but I only understand so much about computer processors. I plan to update the RAM at some point, with very deatiled instructions on how to do so of course. :)


    Thank you again, I really appreciate it. Helps put my mind at ease when dedicating an extra 200-400 on this.
     
  4. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    #4
    No problem man. Consider this.

    http://barefeats.com/imac11f.html

    http://barefeats.com/imac11d.html

    http://barefeats.com/wst10c3.html

    The i7 version shows up a bit faster here on some tasks. I don't think you'd notice as much difference in terms of overall system responsiveness. The cpu difference is a $200 cpu vs a $300 cpu retail. The gaming benchmarks show the 2011 as having a considerable lead. Some of the other stuff favors the i7 version more than I would have thought. The graphics bump is noticeable though if you look at the gaming specs. I need to add one correction to what I said before. Number 2 looks like a valid contender if it's a 2011 model. There's still a gap between high and low end on the 2011s. If it was me personally I'd be tempted to go high end or low end on a 2011/sandy bridge model.

    By the way, updating the ram does not require removing the display panel or anything complicated. If it comes with 4GB standard you could always move the original ones to the back slots and add 2x 4GB dimms bringing you up to 10GB. I would just ensure you buy ram from a reputable source that tests on macs :)
     
  5. lc25 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2009
    #5
    Upgrading ram is easy even for a novice, i got the 2011 i7 with the 2GB GPU card and haven't looked back its handled everything i have thrown at it.

    Just my two cents but if i was you go for the best you can afford, take less ram and upgrade it yourself but get the better CPU and GPU.
     
  6. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    #6
    1GB gpu vs 2GB on that model for most people would make 0 difference :rolleyes:
     

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