Which to buy: iMac i5 with 12gb or iMac i7 with 4gb

Discussion in 'iMac' started by 314631, Jun 11, 2010.

  1. 314631 macrumors 6502a

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    #1
    I'm trying to decide which 27" iMac to buy. I'm torn between getting the i5 processor and bumping up the RAM to 12gb myself. Or for about the same price, I can get the i7 model with 4gb.

    I'm thinking the i5 would be a better buy for me considering I want to use vmware with Windows 7 from time to time. And my MPB really struggles to run Windows 7 in vmware with only 4gb ram.

    Would do you experts say? :)
     
  2. 314631 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #2
    Oh and I don't play any hardcore games.

    It's mostly Adobe CS4 Master Suite, iTunes, Mail, Browser, Terminal, Calendar, OmniFocus, text editors, Transmit etc. (I do have a lot of these all running at the same time)
     
  3. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #3
    RAM you can always add later on but you cannot change the CPU thus I would get i7 now and upgrade the RAM later on. 2x4GB is only 250$ and it gives you 12GB
     
  4. 314631 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    Yeah but as I understand it unless your are doing rendering or compiling the performance gain is only about 5%. I have owned various Macs over the years and have done very little movie rendering, and compiled no code whatsoever. So realistically I don't think I'll see much benefit from the i7 processor - ever.

    I also believe apps like the new Photoshop in 64 bit would benefit from the extra ram versus the i7 processor. And that will always be the case.

    So while some of the hardcore benchmarks look very impressive (up to 30% better performance on the i7) most users will never get close to even noticable performance improvements.

    Your reply has given me food for thought. And I am doing more research now. :)
     
  5. TMRaven macrumors 68020

    TMRaven

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    #5
    You're only thinking in the now, however. As it stands, many things are still single or dual threaded, but that's all sure to change over time. As Hellhammer said, ram can be added any time while the cpu upgrade can't. As you can't upgrade much in an iMac, you should futureproof your purchase as much as possible (unless of course you plan to buy a new one within 3 or less years) That's just what I would do-- in fact that's what I did.

    But, if you're really tight on your budget, and you need the 8gigs+ ram right now for vmware, then by all means get the i5 and add some aftermarket ram in it. You can even add higher speed ram (ddr 1333) and the i5 chip will accept it-- of course you'd want to replace the default slots with ddr 1333 ram as well.
     
  6. hundert macrumors regular

    hundert

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    #6
    i7 gets much hotter, eats more electrical power. iMac has a very bad cooling system, compared to a normal i7 desktop with after market cooler (Noctua U12). i7 might be too much.

    Unless you really need it, go with i5.

    I recommend 8gb ram, 12 is also probably too much (in terms of money)
     
  7. TMRaven macrumors 68020

    TMRaven

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  8. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #8
    It doesn't. Under load, i7 actually runs cooler:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  9. 314631 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #9
    Well yeah I usually replace my machines every 18-24 months. I went with the 17" MacBook Pro last year and this year it's the iMac. So I'm not so concerned with future-proofing my purchase. Whatever you buy today will feel pretty old and obsolete in 2 years time I am sure. :)

    Given the lack of USB 3.0 and only firewire 800 in current iMacs, I think it's a certainty I will be looking to replace the machine in at most a couple of years time. (as will a lot of people)
     
  10. TMRaven macrumors 68020

    TMRaven

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    #10
    Yeah I guess. I dunno, I was able to get 6 years out of my G5 iMac just fine-- even if x264 encodes took overnight and it couldn't watch hd youtube vids.
     
  11. ntrigue macrumors 68040

    ntrigue

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    #11
    Those watt usage graphs are a worthless argument. The difference is less than 2%! Turn off your bathroom light one more time than usual, sheesh.

    The i5 is what you want for your duties, the 12GB RAM will be utilized.
     
  12. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #12
    I only replied to hundert who said i7 runs much hotter... That's all. Nothing to do with which is better for OP (I would still get i7 along with 8GB though)
     
  13. 314631 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    Yeah I know. But times have changed since the move to Intel.

    It will be interesting to revisit this subject in three years and see if people feel they really future proofed their purchase with the i7 of today. I sincerely doubt it. Obviously if you are doing fairly trivial stuff then you'll be fine, but you'd probably be equally okay with the i5 if you are just browsing sites, streaming some video, checking email and poking friends on facebook.
     
  14. TMRaven macrumors 68020

    TMRaven

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    #14
    Yeah I guess that all rides on the simple decision of 3rd party companies implementing support for virtual threading or not-- either way it's definitely going to be common for every intel cpu in 1-2 years' time. What's crazy is half of the flash ads I get while viewing email or forums already utilize all 8 virtual cores of my i7-- while emptying the trash on osx only uses 1 core.

    I'ma go out on a branch and say it'll future-proof my computer for past 6 years. Apple switched to intel architecture only a year after I got the G5 iMac, so I doubt I'd get gipped so badly this time. By the looks of intel's plans, they're more or less just adding more and more cores to their cpus down the line and shrinking their process for less heat.
     

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