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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Desktops > Do I need to upgrade the imac?

Do I need to upgrade the imac?
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Sep 18, 2008, 11:35 PM
 
I am tired of my PC and am looking to get my first imac. I am looking at the 24"imac 2.8. I use the computer to store music and pictures and use the internet primarily. Do I need an upgrade on this computer to have it serve my needs? Also, how can I put my music from my ipod onto the computer?
     
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Sep 18, 2008, 11:43 PM
 
Welcome to the forums!

No, you don't have to upgrade the iMac to use it for what you want. However, Apple tends to charge a lot of money for RAM, so most people get the minimum RAM configuration and upgrade the RAM on their own using third-party vendors.

As for getting your music onto the iMac, there is shareware to get the music from an iPod to the iMac, but it might be easier to connect your PC to the iMac (over a network connection, wired or wireless; or if your PC has Firewire, through Firewire target disk mode) and just copy the iTunes library over.

Let us know if you have more questions before your purchase. You won't be disappointed!

Steve
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Sep 19, 2008, 02:59 AM
 
Actually, the Apple store where you buy your iMac will transfer all the content from your PC to the Mac for free.

Check up with your store if that's still the case.

Regarding the communication between iPod and iMac - easier than on PC, as it's all in the family.

For additional RAM go to crucial.com. That's high quality RAM at best prices. Just be sure to write down the model of your iMac (processor speed and screen size will get you the right RAM).

Max out your iMac and you'll have a hell of a machine.

There are some really great applications for the Mac not available for PC in regards to disc burning and music and recording. You're always welcome to stop by this forum and tank up on great tips.
     
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Sep 19, 2008, 07:04 AM
 
Target disk mode won't work - you'd have to set the Mac as the target, and Windows can't read the Mac harddrive. Either use a network connection (enable Windows File Sharing on the Mac and open the shared folder from the PC) or buy an external USB HD and use that to do the transfer. Afterwards, you can use that HD for Time Machine backup.

The model you describe has all the RAM it needs at delivery. The low-end iMac comes with 1 gig, and that's a little low, but the 2 gig in the 24"ers is enough.
     
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Sep 19, 2008, 11:21 AM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
Target disk mode won't work - you'd have to set the Mac as the target, and Windows can't read the Mac harddrive.
Whoops. You're right. Forgot about that.

Steve
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Sep 20, 2008, 07:52 AM
 
There is one upgrade I highly recommend. Buy the iMac with the stock quantity of RAM, then get third-party RAM to max it out. This process is quick, easy, safe and (especially compared to the way Apple prices RAM upgrades) quite inexpensive. Other than that, the iMac, either 20" or 24" is a GREAT computer, and an exceptional choice for migrating over to "it just works" computing.

Welcome to Mac!

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Sep 20, 2008, 10:51 PM
 
For the OP's stated uses, the stock 2GB of RAM in the 24" iMac is plenty, there's no need to upgrade now, regardless of how cheap it is!
     
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Sep 21, 2008, 09:11 AM
 
With OS X, isn't more RAM always better? I noticed a really significant improvement in function and speed when I bumped my 20" iMac up to 4GB... The cost isn't that much of an issue right now, but I do have to concur that there's no rush to up the memory. While I saw real improvements, that doesn't mean that before my upgrade I was "disappointed" with my iMac's performance.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
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Sep 21, 2008, 12:59 PM
 
Eh, to a point, but it really depends on what you're doing with it. For web browsing, music, and some pictures in iPhoto, my MacBook with 1GB of RAM isn't a whole lot slower than my Mac Pro with 8 cores and 8GB of RAM. It really only starts to make a difference when running a ton of stuff at once, which folks like you and I do a lot, but most people don't. 2GB should be plenty.
     
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Sep 21, 2008, 01:36 PM
 
Even if you're not "using" it with apps, any reasonably modern OS will use otherwise free memory for disk caching to improve performance.
     
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Sep 21, 2008, 01:45 PM
 
Yes, I realize that. But my point is that for the OP's stated use, it's unlikely that the effort and cost to do the upgrade will yield a palpable difference in performance.

We computer nerds dwell on these little things -- and we push our systems hard. The average user does not, and is well-served by the current stock configs.
     
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Sep 21, 2008, 05:03 PM
 
Originally Posted by tooki View Post
Eh, to a point, but it really depends on what you're doing with it. For web browsing, music, and some pictures in iPhoto, my MacBook with 1GB of RAM isn't a whole lot slower than my Mac Pro with 8 cores and 8GB of RAM. It really only starts to make a difference when running a ton of stuff at once, which folks like you and I do a lot, but most people don't. 2GB should be plenty.
Originally Posted by tooki View Post
Yes, I realize that. But my point is that for the OP's stated use, it's unlikely that the effort and cost to do the upgrade will yield a palpable difference in performance.

We computer nerds dwell on these little things -- and we push our systems hard. The average user does not, and is well-served by the current stock configs.
I get the picture. The biggest thing I saw an improvement with was in iDVD and iMovie, apps I use every now and then (lately for school project videos instead of fun stuff), and that is indeed "pushing hard" on an iMac.

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Sep 22, 2008, 03:22 AM
 
Originally Posted by tooki View Post

We computer nerds dwell on these little things -- and we push our systems hard. The average user does not, and is well-served by the current stock configs.
Maybe the OP has everything it takes to become a computer nerd himself. Aren't asking for more RAM and the intention of upgrading a brand new computer symptoms for it
     
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Sep 22, 2008, 03:25 AM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
I get the picture. The biggest thing I saw an improvement with was in iDVD and iMovie, apps I use every now and then (lately for school project videos instead of fun stuff), and that is indeed "pushing hard" on an iMac.
Yes, any digital video work will push a system. Even when editing digital stills in smaller apps like Photoshop Elements RAM is very useful.

I'm not a gamer, but I could imagine that RAM isn't exactly a bad thing to have for shooting people digitally.
     
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Sep 24, 2008, 12:17 AM
 
Maxing out the RAM is so inexpensive, and it delivers so much of a performance boost.

Plus, it's so easy on an iMac, Apple puts the instructions for this on the bottom of the iMac:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8BtI-6c2IU

Ever since I maxxed out my MacBook RAM, I've realized that it's an inexpensive and easy necessity.
     
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Sep 24, 2008, 11:33 AM
 
Didn't see this recommended:
Instead of buying more than 2GB RAM, I highly, highly recommend putting the money toward an external hard drive, for use with Time Machine. RAM probably won't fail on you, but any hard drive can.
     
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Sep 25, 2008, 12:19 AM
 
Originally Posted by JTh View Post
Didn't see this recommended:
Instead of buying more than 2GB RAM, I highly, highly recommend putting the money toward an external hard drive, for use with Time Machine. RAM probably won't fail on you, but any hard drive can.
I'm under the impression that, if a Mac is running Leopard, an external HD for Time Machine is a given. I like this one, on sale through 09/27:

http://www.officedepot.com/ddSKU.do?level=SK&id=465165
     
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Sep 25, 2008, 09:27 AM
 
maxtor i have had nothing but bad times with them.
in any event, i have the top of the line imac, and the biggest difference would be the ram.
honestly i thought the computer was a bit slow when i first got it.
i was having issues and did not really know what the problem was. i then went to 4 gigs of ram and everything was snappy and good.
i think that it is money well spent.
go to crucial, well worth the time and effort
     
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Sep 25, 2008, 03:14 PM
 
If you are using "the computer to store music and pictures and use the internet primarily", you won't need more than the supplied 2G. I've got a 20" iMac with 4G in it. I don't use any 'pro' apps, I don't rip DVDs or CDs - I'm the same sort of user as you AFAIK. The only time that I use over 1G of RAM is for the virtual machine that I have - which has a gig of RAM dedicated to it.

If you stuff in 4G, don't forget that the iMacs don't see or use all of the memory.

Like others have said, get an external hard drive.
     
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Sep 25, 2008, 03:57 PM
 
i must agree and dis-agree.
32-bit windows only sees 3 gigs max as i have been told and leopard sees all 4gigs.
i do recommend an external hard drive that can be dedicated to time machine because it eats up space like nobody's business
i just think that if your concern is speed, then go with the ram no matter which model you get.
but as an overall value, then the hard drive would serve you better.

Originally Posted by mattyb View Post
If you are using "the computer to store music and pictures and use the internet primarily", you won't need more than the supplied 2G. I've got a 20" iMac with 4G in it. I don't use any 'pro' apps, I don't rip DVDs or CDs - I'm the same sort of user as you AFAIK. The only time that I use over 1G of RAM is for the virtual machine that I have - which has a gig of RAM dedicated to it.

If you stuff in 4G, don't forget that the iMacs don't see or use all of the memory.

Like others have said, get an external hard drive.
     
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Sep 25, 2008, 08:31 PM
 
Originally Posted by bondocrob View Post
I am tired of my PC and am looking to get my first imac. I am looking at the 24"imac 2.8. I use the computer to store music and pictures and use the internet primarily. Do I need an upgrade on this computer to have it serve my needs? Also, how can I put my music from my ipod onto the computer?
For what you want to do stock is damn fine!
     
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Sep 26, 2008, 04:01 PM
 
Originally Posted by solofx7 View Post
i must agree and dis-agree.
32-bit windows only sees 3 gigs max as i have been told and leopard sees all 4gigs.
I have an early 2007 iMac. This is where I got my information. http://support.apple.com/kb/HT2821
     
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Sep 26, 2008, 08:54 PM
 
Congratulations.

Max out your RAM. Get a matched pair of 2GB RAM sticks. Don't listen to the people who tell you not to. You'll do it eventually anyway. Trust me on that. Crucial is good. I use DMS, also. Go to http://www.ramseeker.com

For external drives for Time Machine FireWire 800 is the way to go. With FireWire 800 you'll never notice when Time Machine kicks in, which has been an issue for people with slower and USB drives.

USB2 is a joke for anything other than input devices, card reader and thumb drives.

Avoid Maxtor and Western Digital.

LaCie makes some excellent external drives. I've seen the 500GB drive for $139!
http://www.lacie.com/us/products/product.htm?pid=11023

I bought a LaCie 2big triple RAID drive for Time Machine.
http://www.lacie.com/us/products/product.htm?pid=10967
Yes, it's more expensive, but if you value your data, it's worth the extra cash. It's easy to set up, too.
     
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Sep 27, 2008, 02:02 AM
 
USB2 is a joke for anything other than input devices, card reader and thumb drives.

I think you are thinking of USB 1.1 - 1.2. USB 2.x can handle pretty much anything Firewire 400 can, and 3.x will be much better than Firewire 800. Keep in mind: Firewire is a dead end technology.
     
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Sep 27, 2008, 09:19 AM
 
Unless you plan to expland your horizons further than pics and internet, there is really no reason to get that iMac except for screen size. If 20" is fine, (and it is pretty big) then you definitely do not need that much power.

And i second the external hard drive for Time Machine.
     
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Sep 27, 2008, 12:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by dimmer View Post
USB2 is a joke for anything other than input devices, card reader and thumb drives.

I think you are thinking of USB 1.1 - 1.2. USB 2.x can handle pretty much anything Firewire 400 can, and 3.x will be much better than Firewire 800. Keep in mind: Firewire is a dead end technology.
OS X's USB driver (and the PowerPC era chipsets) is quite poor compared to Windows; whereas I get ~25MBps in Windows over USB2 from an external hard drive, I only get ~10MBps on an Intel Mac and even less on a PPC Mac. Firewire is disappearing for the rest of the world (camcorders going to flash/hard drives and USB connections, mass storage going to eSATA/USB), but unfortunately it will live on for a few more years for Mac users.

Originally Posted by adamfishercox View Post
Unless you plan to expland your horizons further than pics and internet, there is really no reason to get that iMac except for screen size. If 20" is fine, (and it is pretty big) then you definitely do not need that much power.
The quality of the 20" display is horrific; it makes OS X's eyecandy (like drop shadows around windows) look wretched if you're even slightly off-center.
     
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Sep 27, 2008, 01:44 PM
 
why not just get the computer, use it a while, and upgrade the ram later if you feel you need to?
imac g3 600
imac g4 800 superdrive
ibook 466
     
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Sep 27, 2008, 03:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by gooser View Post
why not just get the computer, use it a while, and upgrade the ram later if you feel you need to?
You can't do that, it makes too much sense!

The stock 2 GB in my 20" iMac is plenty for what I do (occasional DVD encoding, playing WoW with the video options maxed out) but going to 4 GB is cheap enough to do it anyway. If you want to do it great, but if not, you should be fine for a while.

If I had to choose, I'd get the external drive for backing up the data before a RAM upgrade. Slight annoyance at some RAM-intensive tasks taking a bit longer is nothing compared to a hard drive crash that wipes out hundreds of GB of data. I would go with an external FireWire drive over a Time Capsule, unless the Time Capsule is connected directly; I was never very happy with the Time Machine/Time Capsule performance over WiFi. I was having to rebuild the Time Capsule backup every couple of months, while the external drive directly connected to my parents' Mac mini has been going strong ever since March with no rebuilds needed.
     
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Sep 28, 2008, 07:21 AM
 
Even on Windows, Firewire 400 beats USB 2.0 quite handily in every test I've seen. I seem to remember that devices other than the bus controller can only use 240 Mbps at any one time, because half the bandwidth gets taken up by the bus controller sending "please send data now", "please send data now", "please send data now" every now and then. You can also run IP over Firewire, which is quite nice in a pinch if your computer only has one network port and you need to bridge an Internet connection.

It's going nowhere fast at the moment, though - I'm not disputing that. USB is included in every Intel chipset, and Firewire isn't - you don't more reasons than that. It's not dying, though: There is still a requirement in the US that HD cable boxes should have a Firewire port, and governments are not commonly known to respond quickly to changing standards.
     
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Sep 28, 2008, 10:30 AM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
Even on Windows, Firewire 400 beats USB 2.0 quite handily in every test I've seen.
Depends heavily on the chipsets at both ends. With the final generation of Firewire-supporting iPods, CNet's benchmarks showed a 3:1 performance advantage for USB2 (neither bus came near their peak speeds).
     
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Sep 28, 2008, 09:11 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
Even on Windows, Firewire 400 beats USB 2.0 quite handily in every test I've seen.
There are two issues to keep in mind when comparing Firewire and USB 2.0. First there's the whole concept behind the two interfaces: Firewire is designed for basically streaming data—huge streams of bits as in lots of video, while USB is file-oriented, and is optimized for moving files—many chunks of data that are relatively small.

The second issue is platform related. Firewire drivers for Macs tend to be better performing than USB drivers for Macs, and USB drivers for Windows tend to perform better than Firewire drivers for Windows.

To be truly meaningful, any comparison between the two must be done both on the same platform and with a balanced combination of both streaming data and file data.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
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Sep 28, 2008, 09:42 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
Firewire is designed for basically streaming data—huge streams of bits as in lots of video, while USB is file-oriented, and is optimized for moving files—many chunks of data that are relatively small.
Can you cite the relevant portions of each standard to support this assertion?

I'm skeptical since USB has had an isochronous mode since v1.
     
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Sep 30, 2008, 09:19 AM
 
Is the person that posted the first question here?
I am just realizing how daunting all of this must seem.
I guess the bottom line s this, get a mac, they are great computers, and offer great support for the most part.
All of us aka - the installed user base of apple products are always very happy and willing to help, sometimes we kind of overwhelm with info
Go mac, you will never wanna go back
     
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Oct 20, 2008, 12:53 PM
 
for general use, a standard config should be more than Ok. I surf, email, youtube, use office apps and have many browser windows ipoen at once with a 120 gig drive and a gig of ram. I don't have any performance issues to speak of. I am more than satisfied with the standard mac set-up. To echo what others have said, if you need the machine to do video editing or the like, maybe buying more third party RAM(apples is $$) would be of use to you.

good luck!
     
   
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