Which iMac video card for Snow Leopard & Adobe CS3?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by DaveF, Jun 11, 2009.

  1. DaveF macrumors 6502a

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    NoVA
    #1
    I'm selecting my wife's new iMac and I'm uncertain which video card to get. She uses Adobe CS3 professionally and will upgrade to Snow Leopard. But she doesn't edit video, watch movies, play games on her Mac. And her CS3 work seems not too heavy, since it still works well on a 6-year old dual G5 system.

    But I understand Snow Leopard has support for GPU acceleration.

    For graphic design work, are the GT130 or ATI 4850 worth the upgrade price over the GT120?
     
  2. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

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    Jul 4, 2004
    #2
    The video card has no effect on the use of CS3 apps, except in the case of Photoshop where it only uses it for rendering of 3D layers.

    Furthermore, I haven't seen any evidence that CS3 will even run on Snow Leopard. It probably will... but equally as possible, it may break something. Snow Leopard will not make Photoshop run faster.

    In other words, get the most basic video card and spend the extra money on RAM where it will make a difference.
     
  3. DaveF thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #3
    Thanks for the info! My wife isn't hardware savvy and I'm not Adobe savvy so we're not the best team for selecting graphic-design hardware :)
     
  4. MacAndy74 macrumors 65816

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    Australia
    #4
    Get the GT130, it will be a better choice in the long run. :cool:
    Or if you plan on any gaming at all, the ATI 4850 is the way to go.
     
  5. DaveF thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    What's going to benefit from the GT130 over the next 3-5 years? As I said, my wife doesn't game. I don't want to burn $150 of upgrade money where it won't pay off.
     
  6. kurosov macrumors 6502a

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    Jan 3, 2009
    #6
    I run the CS4 design suite just fine on the '09 20" model with the 9400 in it.

    The 24" inch model would be a better choice of course because the more screen real estate the better with adobe stuff.

    The only time i have any issues is when I'm working on multiple large documents in illustrator and photoshop but that shouldn't be much of an issue once i get around to ordering a ram upgrade (still using the stock 2gb atm).

    Even the low end imac this year has a lot more power than some people give credit and should have no problems for the majority of users. As i stated earlier however the 24" screen is well worth the cash, I'd have gotten it myself if my budget wasn't so tight and i wasn't in need of a machine as desperately as i was at the time.

    The extra money on graphics card is better spent on getting a decent external enclosure and hdd. storage and back-up of your work is far more useful than the graphics upgrade for a designer imo.
     
  7. RichardI macrumors 6502a

    RichardI

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    #7
    Nothing personal, but I believe that to be bad advice and lacking vision. When buying a PC (any PC and a Mac is a PC) always get the best possible video card. You will not regret it on a bang-for-the-buck level. If you intend to keep your Mac for a couple of years get the Radeon. Never buy a computer for today - buy it for tomorrow. My 2 cents.
    Rich :cool:
     
  8. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

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    Jul 4, 2004
    #8
    There's no benefit to be gained in this case by spending money on a better video card. Agree with you for bang for buck, but in this case where the OP stated:

    Then the choice of video card is virtually irrelevant. Best bang for buck for using CS3 almost exclusively and lightly would be to spend the money on the fastest processor, extra RAM, followed by extra storage capacity, whether internal or external. Given Adobe's history, I highly doubt that CS5 will offer any extra benefits from OpenCL.

    It's an iMac, not a MacPro where a 30" display might need to be driven.

    Edit: DaveF, read this thread.
     
  9. DaveF thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #9
    Will check out the link, Blue Velvet.

    Over the years in PCs and recently on Macs, I've concluded that upgraded video cards are a waste for the non-gamer. However, with the graphics cards becoming viewed more as a "GPU" to be used by the OS and software, I'm wondering anew if it's an investment for future use. If OS X was likely to use the GPU to improve its graphics, or if the next Adobe CS were to off load photoshop filters or other stuff to the GPU, so my wife would benefit, I'd guide her to buy a more expensive video card.

    But I've found that buying spending hardware today in the hopes that it will be worthwhile in five years is a waste of money.

    Compared to a dubiously beneficial video card, $150 (or $300) is well spent on a 1TB external drive for Time Machine & SuperDuper! use. Or put towards the next CS upgrade. But if the video card will have real use in the next year, I'll buy it. I appreciate all the input.
     
  10. eelpout macrumors regular

    eelpout

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    #10
    You can use these benchmark listings at Notebookcheck and Barefeats to see where the 120 GT falls with the others.

    I think you're being a bit harsh on the value of GPU's for the overall. Especially when Photoshop is one of the main app's that will be used. CS4 (yes, I know you're only looking at CS3 right now) already has some GPU support. And while we can't be certain of the advantage OpenCL will have in Snow Leopard at this point, do you really want to save $30 per year for 5 years and take that chance?

    And finally, it may be helpful to look at what some of the owners of 2-3 year old iMac's are saying about the upcoming Snow Leopard.

     
  11. DaveF thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #11
    Unfortunately BareFeats and NotebookCheck aren't relevant metrics as they're testing 3D Games and simulated 3D benchmarks; these have nothing to do with day-to-day OS interaction nor general Adobe use.

    While $30/yr is of no concern per se, by choosing appropriate, rather than aspirational, hardware I save $700 on the whole system. And that makes a difference. The GPU is a piece of the whole puzzle.

    If it's reasonably expected the GPU will matter substantially for my wife's work in the next year or two, I'll get the upgrade. But it's hard finding relevant data before Snow Leopard.
     
  12. MacAndy74 macrumors 65816

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    #12
    2 words - Snow Leopard. For future OpenCL (GT 130 over GT 120) implementations it will be smart to upgrade over the default configuration.
     
  13. AppleThis&That macrumors regular

    AppleThis&That

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    Jun 7, 2009
    #13
    Since you're worried about the extra screen space, why don't you add an additional 22" or 24" inch screen when you get the extra money. That way you'll have two screens also. :)
     

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