Which iMac processor for school work, programming, and arcgis?


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 11, 2017
I apologize, I know with the release of the new iMac there have been a bunch of threads on this, but I am having a hard time deciding on which new 2017 27 inch imac to buy. I will be going with 512gb SSD, but which processor should I get? I want to learn how to code, primarily python for the next year before I move into other languages and will be using my computer for school work as well. I will also be learning stata, machine learning, java, and matlab. I will also be using ArcGis and similar programs. Will the i5 work for these purposes or will the i7 be a better investment? I plan on keeping my iMac for at least five years. Thank you!!


macrumors 68030
Apr 17, 2012
Destin, FL
Will the i5 work for these purposes or will the i7 be a better investment? I plan on keeping my iMac for at least five years. Thank you!!
Yes the i5 would work, and yes the i7 would be a better investment ( worth more when you sell it in five years ).

The i7 will compile faster and handle the virtual machine / boot camp required for ArcGIS. BUT ( big but ) your brain will not notice the 3 millisecond compile time differences with the small programs you will be writing for school.

If you are looking at five years, be sure to get at least 16GB of RAM.


macrumors 6502
May 20, 2011
Base model i5, ssd of whatever size you'd like, then go to crucial or owc and buy an additional 16gb of ram to add to the 8 it comes with. That will be enough to run any VM's you may need and will easily last you through school and into your professional life and as likely much longer than 5 years.


macrumors 6502a
Jul 8, 2014
Investments are financial vehicles that provide income, e.g. via dividends. Consumer electronics are the opposite of investments. They are depreciating commodities. Don't spend more because it's supposedly an "investment."

I agree that a base model with SSD (with third-party RAM) would be perfect for your applications. Most of the time that you are coding, you will be staring at an editor (a 27" iMac's screen is awesome for that!), and few school projects will require very long compile or run times, so a base I5 will be just fine. Maybe get the mid-range model (with I5) for the better GPU if you have the extra cash.

I do very long, large Matlab simulations, running non-stop for days. I use a separate well-cooled linux machine for that. I wouldn't want to tie up or burn up an iMac doing that. But for shorter simulations (a few hours) it won't matter much whether you have an I5 or an I7 (the latter known to be kind of hot and noisy at times in an iMac, too). So don't bother loading it up just for that either.

So yeah, a base I5 is fine (I have one - no regrets), maybe mid-range I5 if you don't mind an extra $200, but definitely with SSD and third-party RAM.