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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Desktops > 21.5" iMac

21.5" iMac
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Apr 22, 2013, 12:03 PM
 
I love my Feb 2007 20inch iMac. But a decision has been made, she will move from my desk to my daughter's desk. Bloody Apple and their stupid 'we won't let you upgrade the RAM on the 21.5 incher' is going to cost me.

The choice is :

The i7 at 3.1GHz and 8G and the GT 650M

OR

The i5 at 2.7GHz and 16G and with the GT 640M

Same price. What say the experts?
     
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Apr 22, 2013, 12:05 PM
 
Not an expert, but an i7 with superior clockspeed and all you need to do is buy RAM later on down the line? Go thataway.
     
mattyb  (op)
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Apr 22, 2013, 12:06 PM
 
Very difficult to upgrade the RAM in the 21.5 - not like it was in my 2007 iMac, so simple.
     
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Apr 22, 2013, 12:09 PM
 
Ohhhhhh
     
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Apr 22, 2013, 12:57 PM
 
Originally Posted by mattyb View Post
Very difficult to upgrade the RAM in the 21.5 - not like it was in my 2007 iMac, so simple.
Yep. You have to remove the display, which is glued on.
     
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Apr 22, 2013, 01:05 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
Yep. You have to remove the display, which is glued on.
I had forgotten about that. That is pure evil.
     
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Apr 22, 2013, 03:10 PM
 
Those two options don't cost the same, I think. The 2.7 i5 with 16 GB is $1499. The 3.1 i7 with 8 GB is $1699. However the 2.9 i5 with 8 GB RAM is $1499 - perhaps that is what you were thinking of?

The graphics are fundamentally the same chip - the only difference is that the core clock is 950 MHz in one and 1050 MHz in the other. Neither of them is OK for gaming at the native 1080p - either can be made to work at a lower res.

Without giving a use case, I would say that the latest Intel CPUs are too fast for you to feel a difference between them. My three and a half year old iMac (i7-860) only ever stretches its legs when I'm reencoding video - all other times, it's simply crazy fast. I would also say that 8 GB RAM is enough today, but there I am less sure about the future. The Mac OS X loves its RAM, and every new version ever has wanted more.

Did you consider Fusion Drive? I know, crazy overpriced for what you get, but I think that that is an upgrade that you will notice.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
mattyb  (op)
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Apr 22, 2013, 03:25 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
Those two options don't cost the same, I think. The 2.7 i5 with 16 GB is $1499. The 3.1 i7 with 8 GB is $1699. However the 2.9 i5 with 8 GB RAM is $1499 - perhaps that is what you were thinking of?
You are correct. I was using the compare part of the store and wasn't paying attention.

So its 200€ extra for 0.02GHz on the CPU and 100MHz on the GPU. Doesn't sound like a good deal.

Originally Posted by P View Post
The graphics are fundamentally the same chip - the only difference is that the core clock is 950 MHz in one and 1050 MHz in the other. Neither of them is OK for gaming at the native 1080p - either can be made to work at a lower res.
I don't game on the iMac, doubt that I would either. Of course it would be nice to have the GPU power - just in case.

Originally Posted by P View Post
Without giving a use case, I would say that the latest Intel CPUs are too fast for you to feel a difference between them. My three and a half year old iMac (i7-860) only ever stretches its legs when I'm reencoding video - all other times, it's simply crazy fast. I would also say that 8 GB RAM is enough today, but there I am less sure about the future. The Mac OS X loves its RAM, and every new version ever has wanted more.
Aperture is the only thing that makes the present iMac beachball. I did some fooling around with the GoPro film stuff and that was pretty slow. Otherwise its listening to music or watching films or using a browser. I considered the 27" but its more than I want to spend.

Originally Posted by P View Post
Did you consider Fusion Drive? I know, crazy overpriced for what you get, but I think that that is an upgrade that you will notice.
200€ for +8G of RAM or 250€ for the 1TB Fusion. Which is more worthwhile? Remember its an iMac, boot time is not something I care about.
     
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Apr 22, 2013, 04:00 PM
 
Originally Posted by mattyb View Post
200€ for +8G of RAM or 250€ for the 1TB Fusion. Which is more worthwhile? Remember its an iMac, boot time is not something I care about.
Tricky. I would want both, but...

Flash storage (including Fusion Drive) is currently standard in all MBAs and the Retina MBPs, while being an option on everything except the low-end Mac mini. 16 GB RAM is only standard on the crazy expensive top Retina MBP 15", and is not even an option on a good chunk of the line. Looking at it that, flash storage will be much more common on 2012 Macs than 16 GB RAM will be. Moving forward, it's not much of a stretch to expect Apple to ditch the non-Retina MBPs and start making Fusion Drive standard on iMacs. At that point, I would expect Apple to start taking advantage of flash storage in the OS in a way that it barely does now (there is Dark Wake, but not much more), but they would still have to make sure that the OS is fully usable with a 4GB MBA - or even a 2GB 2011 MBA.

Given all of this, I would probably opt for the Fusion Drive.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Apr 22, 2013, 04:42 PM
 
You might consider a refurb iMac from Apple. Same warranty as new, lower prices.

This could place a 27" within your budget. Alternatively, look at a 21.5" from 2011. Those have expandable RAM up to 32 GB.
     
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Apr 22, 2013, 04:52 PM
 
Thanks reader. I wasn't going to buy it directly from Apple, I have gift certificates to use. Saying that I'm not actually sure if they allow non-standard configs.
     
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Apr 22, 2013, 05:29 PM
 
There's no BTO options on refurbs. At least, not those sold by Apple. You can buy whatever models they offer. Then upgrade as desired.
     
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Apr 22, 2013, 11:24 PM
 
When I bought my machine, I went for RAM > CPU speed. If you can, you should get both, Fusion Drive and RAM, but if I had to choose one or the other, I'd go with the Fusion Drive.

The thing with Fusion Drive is not just about boot time, but apps launch faster, mailboxes open faster. Copy and move operations finish much faster. And even if you run out of RAM, swapping to an SSD is an order of magnitude faster than swapping to a spinning platter hard drive.
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Apr 27, 2013, 10:39 AM
 
Didn't know if it was good form to start another thread or not. Can't get the Fusion drive from the store that I had gift certs for. We went there today and bought something else. And then while still in said store, I showed Mrs. Mattyb the iMac that I wanted. Luckily it was right next to the 27 incher. "Why don't you get that one?" she said pointing to the 27. Music to my ears.

So, Fusion Drive of 1TB it is, and since one can get after market RAM, I'll stick to the 8GB that comes with it. Is the extra 170€ worth it for double the GPU memory (660M with 512MB to a 675MX with 1GB) and a slightly faster CPU?
     
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Apr 27, 2013, 10:52 PM
 
I'll be in the market for a new iMac this year.

Right now, my 24" iMac is the perfect size.

I'm really torn between 21" (seems too small) and 27" (too big). Rats.

-t
     
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Apr 28, 2013, 06:34 AM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Right now, my 24" iMac is the perfect size.

I'm really torn between 21" (seems too small) and 27" (too big). Rats.
Overall, the 27 doesn't seem that much bigger than the 24 was. Screen is wider of course, but the bulk isn't there anymore - this is probably the effect of stretching though.

Just found this as I was writing.



Did you get all the bells and whistles?
     
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Apr 29, 2013, 02:33 AM
 
Originally Posted by mattyb View Post
So, Fusion Drive of 1TB it is, and since one can get after market RAM, I'll stick to the 8GB that comes with it. Is the extra 170€ worth it for double the GPU memory (660M with 512MB to a 675MX with 1GB) and a slightly faster CPU?
If the Misses is ok with it, why not
I think you're doing exactly the right thing by upgrading RAM later (it's an easy sell, too). Whether you need the faster GPU depends on what you do with it: Aperture, for instance, makes use of the GPU to accelerate certain operations. If you're into gaming, it's also a no-brainer. The CPU upgrade would take priority for more.
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mattyb  (op)
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Apr 29, 2013, 06:51 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
If the Misses is ok with it, why not
I think you're doing exactly the right thing by upgrading RAM later (it's an easy sell, too). Whether you need the faster GPU depends on what you do with it: Aperture, for instance, makes use of the GPU to accelerate certain operations. If you're into gaming, it's also a no-brainer. The CPU upgrade would take priority for more.
The Misses has seen the 27" iMac, not the price of the 27" iMac !!

Think that I'll go for the higher spec one, since I do use Aperture a lot. And you never know if there's a Mac game that I might fancy.
     
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Apr 29, 2013, 12:56 PM
 
Originally Posted by mattyb View Post
Overall, the 27 doesn't seem that much bigger than the 24 was. Screen is wider of course, but the bulk isn't there anymore - this is probably the effect of stretching though.

Just found this as I was writing.



Did you get all the bells and whistles?
I didn't get it yet. I'm still torn between the two.
The 3 inch wider on the 27" might be doable, but I'm not sure that I even need that much screen real estate.

Right now, if you held a gun to my head, I'd rather get a pimped out 21.5".
If you held the gun to the sales person's head, I'd go with a fully pimped 27"

-t
     
mattyb  (op)
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Apr 29, 2013, 03:34 PM
 
Need has nothing to do with it.

Get the 27, if only for the possibility to increase the RAM later on.
     
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Apr 29, 2013, 04:49 PM
 
Good point.

-t
     
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Apr 30, 2013, 09:10 AM
 
Originally Posted by mattyb View Post
So, Fusion Drive of 1TB it is, and since one can get after market RAM, I'll stick to the 8GB that comes with it. Is the extra 170€ worth it for double the GPU memory (660M with 512MB to a 675MX with 1GB) and a slightly faster CPU?
That GPU upgrade is massive - the 675MX is almost three times as powerful as the 660M. I would definitely do it.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Apr 30, 2013, 05:14 PM
 
Noted, cheers P.
     
mattyb  (op)
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May 16, 2013, 03:30 PM
 
27 incher with the GTX 680 MX 2GB, 8G of RAM and the standard 1TB HDD has just been ordered.

FCUK YEAH!
     
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May 16, 2013, 03:39 PM
 
Jealous. Shouldn't be, as I just managed to hook up a 7850 to an old overclocked PC and then connect the whole thing to the iMac for gaming, but it would be nice to not have to worry with such fiddling.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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May 16, 2013, 03:50 PM
 
I waited 6 years !!!

Actually I bought a Macbook from seanc (mod here) and a couple of Xboxes, and a couple of tablets in that time, but 6 years between changes for the home computer is a record for me.
     
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May 16, 2013, 10:26 PM
 
Congrats! You didn't get the Fusion Drive upgrade after all?
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May 17, 2013, 05:06 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Congrats! You didn't get the Fusion Drive upgrade after all?
Fusion was +250€ and the graphics was +150€ on the high end 27 incher. I had 2200€ budgeted and the graphics power is necessary for something that I have planned for this beast. Yes it would have been nice to get the Fusion as well, but I (have to) stick to my budgets.
     
   
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