Will entry level iMac be enough?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Ademordna, Nov 26, 2012.

  1. Ademordna macrumors regular

    Nov 17, 2012
    I've asked quite a few questions about this, but probably haven't been explicit enough regarding my actual requirements, etc, so here goes:

    I am looking to purchase a 21.5 new release imac (would prefer this to the 27"). I also plan to max the ram up to 16gb. I would also prefer to use my existing 1TB external HD rather than upgrade the 5400 to Fusion. So I would like to hear some opinions about this.

    What I will be doing with this imac:
    Photoshop CS6 only.
    No video, no RAW files, no games or other apps.
    Will be creating digital illustration with layers, often pretty heavy.
    Most files are around 3000 pixels max.
    Plan to write the files to the external and store them there also.
    Won't be using for anything else as I do web work and other apps on my macbook pro.
    That is all.

    I also don't plan to upgrade the machine very soon, so would prefer it to last me 5+ yrs. May also add SSD external later. Not interested in resale value especially.

    So, would this model work for me, do you think? I'm not really interested in the latest/greatest to be honest, just want an efficient machine that does the job. Have been advised to stick with 8gb ram but would prefer 16gb.

  2. masterofstr3 macrumors newbie

    Nov 22, 2012

    why do you totally want to rule out a fusion disk. It speeds up your pc with like 3x. also would you really need the 8gb.. you need to be an amazing multitasker to get that one full, correct me if am wrong.
  3. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    Ram has more of an effect than drive speed for what he's doing. CS6 applications also recommend 8GB, and it's standard on the new imacs (as it should be). For the fusion drive you have to go one model up + buy the cto upgrade. It tacks on around $450, and it does not speed up your PC 3x. No hard drive can do that, and you need to stop speaking in hyperbole. Other people may take you at face value, and they will be disappointed by your words.
  4. JayJayAbels macrumors 6502


    May 15, 2012
    I think you'll be just fine with this. Ideally though you might want to consider the next step up with a 1TB Fusion drive. If you're moving photos around it may help you speed that process up a bit. If you want to future proof that specific computer you have two options really.

    1. Just go ahead and buy 16 gigs of ram. You definitely don't need it now but in 3 to 5 years it from now it would definitely help your computer "hang in there".
    2. Stick with 8 gigs and think about selling your computer in 2 or 3 years and use that money to upgrade to a newer model if need be.

    Just my two pennies. All that said... I'm pretty sure you'll be just fine with your new iMac. The benchmarks are really impressive on this AIO desktop.

  5. designs216 macrumors 65816


    Oct 26, 2009
    Down the rabbit hole
    Although your goal may be to save by not getting upgrades, I would advise against the 5400 RPM drive. To meet your objective of a machine that will be usable over the next 5+ years, I would order at least a 7200 RPM HD and give the SSD option serious consideration.

    If you go with the 21.5" model, RAM cannot be upgraded. CS apps are likely to require more bandwidth over the next several years so as a secondary priority, consider either maxing out the RAM or buying the 27. If you get the 27, you could order it with 8GB and add more when you have need and cash.

    What is the interface technology of the external drive you have (USB2, Firewire, eSATA)?
  6. Steve121178 macrumors 601


    Apr 13, 2010
    Bedfordshire, UK
    I wouldn't be happy with a 5400RPM disk. I'm a little bit disgusted that Apple have the cheek to include it.
  7. tuccillo macrumors member

    Feb 8, 2012
    This is not entirely clear. You really need to see some benchmarks to understand the performance.

  8. Ademordna, Nov 27, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2012

    Ademordna thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 17, 2012
    Thanks everyone!

    Would an external SSD not suffice over time? The one that I use currently is USB2, but I would be happy to upgrade later. The absolute newness of the Fusion kinda makes me hesitate, and I am not certain if I will need one???

    More info:
    1/ I usually work on a 10x8" photoshop canvas, building layers from there. Sometimes work at 11x16" but not often.
    2/ I often work for about 8 hours at a time, 3 or 4 days a week.
    3/ Do not plan to have more than one app open at any given time.
    4/ Currently using both photoshop7 and CS3 on a very old windows custom PC with 4gb ram, writing to external drive. It performs ok but not awesome. I also use a Wacom Intuos 4 tablet.
    5/ Will only have photoshop CS6 on the new imac....and I am new to this software, so a bit clueless regarding what I need to fire it up!
    6/ Have photoshop elements installed on my 4gb macbook pro, and it often lags a tiny bit if I dump a ton of images from my Canon 400D onto it. This is why I would prefer 16gb ram for the desktop, which obviously will be working with much weightier stuff, and more frequently.
  9. Stotka macrumors regular


    Jul 29, 2009
    I think you should go with a min of 12gb ram if you are going for the 21.5" because you cant add more. Not sure how user friendly it will be to replace a hard drive in the new "stir weld" or whatever its called :confused:

    As for cs6 and photoshop in general the more skilled you get the more ram you will need. I have 12gb in the current 27" and I'm not experiencing page ins/outs that much.
  10. Ademordna thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 17, 2012
    Yeh, I'm opting for the 16gb when making the order, for I don't think the 21.5 model is user upgradeable. It is the HD I'm unsure about.
  11. zedsdead macrumors 68040

    Jun 20, 2007
    Get the Fusion Drive. Having a flash based system will greatly improve your everyday usability. Definitely worth it, especially if you plan on having the machine for a while.
  12. Ademordna thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 17, 2012
    I've certainly been tempted, and it is well within my budget, but could someone please explain why the Fusion would be the better option (my skills ain't in this area!)? Would I really notice a difference?
    I am also somewhat nervous considering it's newness, as nobody yet knows much about it (I presume???)
  13. zedsdead macrumors 68040

    Jun 20, 2007
    Since it uses flash memory to run your OS, apps, and recent files, everything will be noticeably faster, from starting the machine to opening apps and files.

    If you want to see, go to an apple store and play with a Macbook Air or Retina Macbook Pro. The responsiveness of the system is much faster than a spinning HDD, especially the 5400RPM drives that are in the 21".
  14. jpine macrumors 6502

    Jun 15, 2007
    I'd get the "27 if at all possible. If you are planning a 5-year cycle, are you also planning on using CS6 for 5 years or upgrading if there is a compelling reason? The 27" can upgrade the RAM if PS should need more.
  15. cyclotron451 macrumors regular


    Mar 16, 2005
    Well the Fusion is an economical (around $250/€250) way of adding a drive that looks to the OS like it's a pure terabyte flash drive, yet without the deep pockets needed in Apple-land for a real flash drive. I bought a 512GB primary flash for my 2012 MacPro hexacore , this 512GB beast cost me €850 BTO and YES it is worth it! Flash as a primary boot makes your Mac snappier than you can imagine, Fusion will work, I'll try and build one for my home mini as soon as I can find the bits!

    If you want to get really fast tho' there are some internet advertising servers that run java machines in 768GB of RAM!
    Fusion isn't overkill, it's a perfectly logical and affordable step forward, but keep a reliable hourly TC backup or two - just in case
  16. FuriousGreg macrumors member

    Nov 11, 2011
    I use CS5's photoshop relatively often and you will notice a difference between a 5400 and 7200rpm drive when loading and saving files, and from what I've read you one will notice a difference between a 7200 and Fusion drive. So with that in mind the difference between the 5400 and the Fusion should be significant in this regard. You will notice a difference in PS with more ram (it will feel snapper)

    If you'd prefer a 27" and you're not sold on a Fusion drive (I'm not likely to get one because it offers no benefit for when I Bootcamp windoz to game) and there will be no 7200rmp upgrade path for the 21", I'd advise wait and get the base 27" with 8gb ram and upgrade the ram if/when you need it later. For the price you'll be getting a better deal, plus it's what you really want anyway :)

    If the 27" is just too big for your workspace, then bite the bullet and get the full upgrade with 16gb and Fusion, you will not miss the @$450 over a year+ and you'll be happier with your machine.
  17. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    Based on this, yes 16GB is important. The other question is are you sure the only thing you'll be using the Mac for is Photoshop? Things can change in 5 years.

    A fusion drive might still help you with performance. A USB 2.0 has speed limitations that internal drives, USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt connected drives don't have.

    As for adding drives externally, you will want to use USB 3.0 drives or Thunderbolt connected drives for best performance.

    As a side question...how old is your external drive? Might it be nearing the end of its life?
  18. diagnostics247 macrumors member


    Jul 29, 2012
    Another advantage to having a Fusion drive is if you plan to write all your files to your external, the write should be fast since OSX will have no reason to dump the file on to the 5400rpm drive. I hope you are able to make a decision that satisfies you. But when buying or upgrading to newer technology my philosophy has always been, "Go big or go home".

    May as well as go all out and get what all the bells and whistles you can afford.
  19. azentropy macrumors 68020


    Jul 19, 2002
    If it is the same drive that is in the new Mac mini it is a dog.

    Using Black Magic Design Disk Speed Test...

    Internal 1TB 5400rpm drive (APPLE HDD HTS541010A9E662)
    93.0 MB/s Write
    96.1 MB/s Read

    Internal OCZ Vertex 4 512gb SSD
    400.8 MB/s Write
    427.5 MB/s Read

    External Seagate Backup+ USB 3.0 3tb drive
    158.4 MB/s Write
    162.7 MB/s Read
  20. Ademordna thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 17, 2012
    A lot to consider - thanks again folks.

    I do (now) see the sense in purchasing the Fusion drive and will most likely opt for this with the ram upgrade on the 21.5". It is true that attempting to cut back my budget in this area is probably foolish. I doubt that I shall use this machine for other stuff because my macbook pro fulfills that for me, but with better hardware I will at least have more choices a few yrs down the line.

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