Which iMac should I consider?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by smurray, Nov 13, 2017.

  1. smurray macrumors regular

    May 12, 2008
    Sorry if this is an overly general question, but I'm looking for advice on what iMac would be best for my situation. I've never purchased a new iMac before, so I'm not sure what model would fill my needs without being crazy overkill. The system needs to serve two primary purposes. One is to act as a media server to stream media to our various other devices. We use PleX on our iPhones, iPads, and Apple TVs, and the iMac would serve as the PleX Media Server. The second function would be a work system for my wife to do her logo design and hand lettering work. She uses her iPad Pro to do most of the initial design and lettering; however, she uses Adobe Illustrator on the mac to do final editing and exporting of her work. I'm not familiar enough with Illustrator to know how CPU and/or video card hungry they are. Would a base model 21.5" or 27" be plenty of power? Is 8GB of RAM enough, or should I look at 16GB? The main reason I've been leaning towards a 27" model is because of its ability to upgrade the RAM. If 8GB is more than enough for our needs though, I'd be willing to consider the 21.5" version. The actual size of the screen isn't something either my wife or myself are that concerned about. The other question I had was regarding the internal drive. I feel like I've seen nothing but hate for fusion drives recently. Are they really that bad? Will my wife notice a huge improvement in Illustrator if we have an SSD instead?

    Again, sorry if it seems like I'm asking a ton of general questions. I tried researching on my own, but I've had a hard time finding examples of people with our specific needs. I figured I'd ask here in hopes someone may similarly use their system. Thanks in advance to anyone who can assist.
  2. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    Get the 27".
    Once you have it, you won't regret having bought the bigger display.

    8gb of RAM is enough to start.
    If you need more, add it yourself. It's easy. And cheaper to do it that way.

    Either the 256gb (adds $100) or the 512gb (adds $300).
    The 1tb SSD isn't worth the money.

    Even the 256gb may be "enough", at least for a while.
    Eventually, you may want to add an EXTERNAL USB3 drive (either HDD or SSD as your needs require).
    A 2.5" form factor drive will be small and unobtrusive.
    Some folks even velcro it to the back up the iMac's stand, up and out-of-the-way.

    BE AWARE that to get an iMac with an SSD, you have to "special order it" through the "build-to-order" option -- either at store.apple.com or from a few selected resellers.

    Final thought:
    If it was me, I'd probably spend an extra $200 to get the "midrange" model with the 7600 CPU (base model has 7500 CPU). Just a little "more" for the longevity of the machine...
  3. smurray thread starter macrumors regular

    May 12, 2008
    Thanks for the quick reply. Regarding the SSD issue, what are your thoughts on the 2TB fusion drive? From my understanding, 128GB of the drive is an SSD. I'm guessing this would be quite an upgrade over the 1TB fusion which has only 24GB SSD space. I ask because there's currently a refurbished iMac for sale on Apples site that seems like a pretty good deal. Only downside is it has the 2TB fusion drive instead of a dedicated SSD.
  4. psymac macrumors 6502

    Jul 17, 2002
    Same idea myself as well, deciding if I want to try and split the 2TB HD into a 128gb SSD and separate HD, saving about $200 over that of a refurb 3.8ghz with 8gb ram and 512gb SSD, which actually sounds dumb now that I'm typing it out....
  5. smurray thread starter macrumors regular

    May 12, 2008
    What are the thoughts on the 3.4Ghz CPU vs the 3.8Ghz option? What kinds of tasks would notice the most improvement with that upgrade? Is it worth paying a $250 premium?
  6. psymac macrumors 6502

    Jul 17, 2002
    Although the 3.8ghz is only 5-10% greater in CPU performance, the real benefit of the 3.8 model is the 580 GPU with 8gb ram, so together very much worth the $250 IMHO.
  7. redfirebird08 macrumors 6502


    Feb 15, 2007
    Definitely get the internal SSD. Apple’s fusion drive is a half-ass compromise that doesn’t allow the user to control what files are on the SSD portion. You can get a cheap external drive if you need more storage for the media.
  8. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    For your stated use case it should be absolutely fine. The biggest downside is the HDD portion dying as hdds tend to and that can be a pain or if you use windows in bootcamp this will only install to the HDD unless you un-fuse the fusion drive.
    --- Post Merged, Nov 13, 2017 ---
    The fusion drive can be un-fused easily giving you complete control.
  9. Conutz macrumors regular


    Oct 24, 2014
    Remember that iMac storage isn’t easily upgraded, so it’s kind of “what you order is what you get to keep’”. I would therefore recommend SSD over any platter, whether Fusion or straight, and I’d go as big as you’d be likely to need within the next 5 years. If you need lots of storage and are happy to run an external drive, then you can go for a 512GB SSD, otherwise you should go as big as you can. I wouldn’t go smaller than 512GB though, as it will be marginally faster and I’d expect it to be more reliable. Also, in my mind, a 27” iMac with anything less than 512GB seems like Arnold Schwarzenegger with skinny little legs :D (yes, I go to the gym)
  10. AlexJoda macrumors regular


    Apr 8, 2015
    These are my thoughts too. I started with a 265GB SSD on the first 2014 5K iMac (at that time any bigger SSD was really expensive) and added an external Thunderbolt SSD RAID with 1TB. Soon I had to redirect the personal files from the home folder to the external RAID with symbolic links to release some space on the internal 256GB SSD.

    These gives a big hassle afterwards because the external RAID is now tied to the iMac and could not be removed. I am carrying my iMac from time to time with me to the garden which is always a big deal with all the external stuff, cables and power supplies. Additionally Time Machine is not able to backup external drives very well, especially if you want to restore that to a new Mac.

    To solve this with my new 2017 5K iMac I thought about an internal 512GB SSD first with an additional 1TB T5 USB3 SSD (there are no small Thunderbolt 3 RAIDs or even interesting SSD drives any more). Thinking and calculating again i found out that this is only about 100$ cheaper than a single internal 1TB SSD, a total hassle free and very fast solution which gives enough space on the iMac for the next several years (everything else is on my NAS anyway). So I took that route and I am very satisfied with my decision...
  11. MCAsan macrumors 601


    Jul 9, 2012
    Best prices I have seen are at B&H. I just ordered 27", 4.2 CPU, 580 GPU, 512 SSD and 8GB of memory. I already have an extra 16GB of memory to add.

    Attached Files:

  12. Dave245 macrumors 603


    Sep 15, 2013
    Personally i'm looking to upgrade next year (from my current 2012 iMac) the 5K screen alone will be a big upgrade. You will get a lot of different advice when it comes to Ram, some say that yes 8GB will be enough while others say your better off upgrading to 16GB in order to future proof your machine. Personally i will be getting 16GB but that's simply because i use Final Cut Pro and while at the moment i'm editing 1080P it will more than likely change to 4K footage in the future, especially now that the iPhone X can record in 4K at 60 frames, my current iMac stutters a little.

    Also SSD's are VERY fast, i currently have the Fusion Drive but will be getting a pure SSD next time, i'm just waiting to see what Apple do with the iMac's in 2018.

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