Which should I buy?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by output555, Mar 20, 2013.

  1. output555 macrumors member

    Dec 17, 2006
    I'm a photographer who's been using a 27" 2.9Ghz i7 mid-2010 iMac with 16GB RAM to do my photo editing. The LCD display has gone bad so rather than replace it at a cost of $650, I've decided to spring for a new unit.

    Right now here are the ones I'm considering:

    • Apple refurb 27" 3.4Ghz i7 mid-2012 (last year's model) with 16GB RAM

    • Apple 27" Thunderbolt Display paired with newest model (late 2012) iMac mini 2.3Ghz i7 with 16GB RAM

    • 27" 2.9Ghz i5 iMac late 2012 (newest model) with 16GB RAM

    • 27" 3.4Ghz i7 iMac late 2012 (newest model) with 16GB RAM

    Each has their merits. The last year's model iMac 3.4Ghz i7 is very powerful and you can still open it up to add your own SSD. However, it lacks the newer USB 3.0 ports which are a big advantage for storing files.

    The Mac mini/27" display pairing is appealing because it offers flexibility if I want to replace one or the other, which isn't an iMac option. However, I wonder if the Intel HD4000 GPU is powerful enough to run big RAW files in Photoshop.

    Lastly, the new iMacs are attractive because of the improved screen glare, two Thunderbolt ports and four USB 3.0 ports. However, they are the most expensive option if I want to upgrade the HDs because I have to order them from Apple. I also wonder if if the i5 processor is adequate or if the more expensive i7 processor will be worth the extra $$$ in the long run.

    I'd appreciate your thoughts and recommendations!
  2. Spimunk macrumors newbie

    Feb 24, 2013
    I'm no expert

    I am a mac newbie, the latest 2012 model is my first iMac but thing I have picked up from this forum is if you go for the latest model, don't upgrade the RAM with Apple as its very overpriced and the new iMac RAM is easy to add in as it has a little door on the back you just open up anspd slot it in. Various places to get RAM but Cruical pop up a lot as a good option here and they have a scanner that checks your system to ensure compatibility.

    RAM Upgrade Video

    Crucial RAM
  3. Adam22 macrumors regular

    Jun 7, 2012
    If you're gonna get one of those and you put it up as an option means you can buy it so go for it 2012 27" 3.4 ghz i7 late 2012 (new model)
  4. All Taken macrumors 6502a

    Dec 28, 2009
    The Apple thunderbolt display is due an update - currently it matches the design of the older iMacs. Expect a refresh shortly.

    The iMac screen can be sourced cheaper than $650 and is a 20 minute job to replace.
  5. output555 thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 17, 2006
    That may be overkill so I don't want to spend the extra $$$ if I can get what I need with one of the other systems mentioned.


    Thanks. I never buy my RAM from Apple.


    I'm sure it will but circumstances force me to buy something now.

    I hope you're right but that's what the Mac repair shop quoted me. I wouldn't trust using a non-authorized repair shop even if I could save a few bucks. From my scouting on ebay, replacement screens go for around $600-750, so I'm not sure where you can find a cheaper source.
  6. flavr macrumors 6502


    Nov 9, 2011
    Help me understand why you listed every iMac except the one that makes best sense for your needs?...the late 2012 i5 3.2...with a possible video card upgrade and add your own RAM...

    THATS your best bet performance and price. HD4000 for photography? seriously? and the i7 will do you very little over the i5 for your needs...
  7. trustever macrumors 6502

    Jan 14, 2013
    I am an amateur photograper but still work with large raw files and the 21,5 2012 i5 is fine for me.. the i7 will not give you any tangible benefit in therms of photography so I would save that few bucks for something else.

    If 27 is the size you want go for either the two 2012 model with the i5 and you can't get it wrong...

    I would not buy the 27 TD as is due to be upgraded shortly... So why buying it full price today when tomorrow is going to be worth 1/3 less..
  8. output555 thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 17, 2006
    I listed these because, as I said, the choice is not clear cut. Contrary to what you're saying, many claim the intel GPU is fine for most photo editing. I don't game so I couldn't care less about the lack of horsepower here. Similarly, many state that the i7 processor offers more tangible benefits for photo editing than i5. I guess everyone has a different opinion...although the benchmarks rate the i7 processor far above the i5.


    Thanks. I wish I could wait for the new 27" display which will probably come out in June, but my monitor is zapped now so I have no choice. If I by a refurb from Apple the hit won't be so bad if I sell it this summer.
  9. flavr macrumors 6502


    Nov 9, 2011
    The Intel4000 is not even on the map compared to the 675mx, nevermind gaming, photos are images/graphics that use the video card ...if you are looking to batch, import and edit large RAW files the Intel4000 is not your best option period (its for the casual user who surfs the web and imports birthday photos for Facebook). If the programs you are using for photo editing do not support hyper threading , or you are not doing heavy compression or video editing the i7 won't do a thing for you. Here is an example, open activity monitor when you are doing your most demanding photo editing...you'll see the i5/i7 is barely even working, no where near 100%, more like 20%. Now render out video in after effects or rip a DVD with handbrake and your see the cores maxed out at 100%. an i7 is a waste of money for you...spend it upgrading the Intel4000, which is also a waste of money. a computer with i7 and Intel4000, WASTE

    if you don't understand hardware thats ok, most people don't and thats why they come here, but listen to the people that do understand it so you can buy the best computer for your needs without wasting money :)
  10. output555, Mar 21, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2013

    output555 thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 17, 2006
    Thanks for the lengthy, albeit condescending, reply. Not sure what your credentials are or why you think you're more knowledgable than others who say the HD4000 is fine for most Photoshop tasks. Regarding the benefit of a more powerful GPU, sure, a discrete one is going to be better than an integrated one. That said, if I rarely use PS activities that require the Open GL engine of a beefier GPU than why spend more for it? Same point you make about the CPU. Specifically, these PS Open GL activities are stuff like Tilt/Shift and Wide-angle Adaptive, which I've used a total of once in five years. According to Adobe experts, the HD4000 is perfectly adequate for most all PS CS6 processing and Camera Raw or Lightroom. The biggest issue according to some photographers is the lack of expandable RAM. 16GB is barely enough for editing multiple files on PS. I've been using that amount so far so I can live with it a while longer.

    Back to the benchmarks, i7 runs faster than i5. Period. Faster is better, even if you think it's not necessary for PS. And yes, the HD4000 is wimpy compared to the iMacs' discreet GPUs but I'm not convinced it's subpar--or, as useless as you seem to think. Check out macperformanceguide.com if you disagree. He's a full-time photographer and VERY picky about which Macs to recommend.



    And most importantly, this quote:

    "DIGLLOYD: I turn off OpenGL for my work (Open GL is needed to benefit from a “fast” graphics card)— too may glitches and issues and this is true even in Photoshop CS6. And the fact is, no mainstream tasks I perform in Photoshop are faster with a “faster” graphics card— in fact they are just a bit slower (some obscure Photoshop filters do benefit, but not the mainstream operations like Smart Sharpen and Gaussian Blur).

    Furthermore, Open GL can incur some really awful screen scaling issues.

    See also Why I disable OpenGL in Photoshop CS5. CS6 has fewer issues, but it’s still a net negative.

    In short, a “faster” graphics card is a waste of money for most users, even most photographers. Focus on what actually works, not on technology masturbation. And so the graphics are a non-issue for the Mac Mini (except in the sense of losing some main memory, but nothing can be done about that with the Mini). A Mac Pro can and should be used for a robust system, but worrying about a graphics card while contemplating a Mac Mini is an inappropriate out of place idea.

    That said, there are exceptions to this rule, but they get very specific. For example, video users doing transcoding and similar might benefit from a fast graphics card. But such users should be using a Mac Pro in any case! And of course gaming (for those with time on their hands). Don’t spend money on “faster” unless you know for a fact that Task X in Program Y actually benefits.?
  11. flavr macrumors 6502


    Nov 9, 2011
    right...How about CS7...or CS8? You said you are planning on keeping the computer for awhile right? As far as the i7, if .2mhz is worth the $200 for you, then its a no-brainer :)
  12. output555 thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 17, 2006
    The price difference for me is actually about $350 because Apple sells the 2.3Ghz i7 refurb for $680. That's what I'd probably get and accept the 13% performance difference.

    Ahh, and there's the beauty of buying the Mini: I can easily sell it and upgrade without having overhaul everything else (same for the new display when it comes out).

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