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"New" iMac
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sek929
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Apr 30, 2015, 05:55 PM
 
My current iMac is an 07 Core 2 Duo, it has functioned marvelously and continues to run beautifully, thanks in most part to a HDD to SSD swap I did a couple years ago. Streaming HD content and obviously gaming are not its strong suits anymore, and they really were never strong suits from the beginning.

I'm currently eyeballing the upper-end 21.5 model refurbished for about $1300. It has a GT750M with 1 GB of memory, 8 GB of RAM, and a 2.9ghz i5 Quad Core.

Obviously this machine would be a great jump from what I'm using now but I also want to immediately upgrade the machine with a SSD and max out the RAM. This leads me to a couple issues, chief among them the RAM in these models is listed as "non user upgradeable" compared to the easy door on my 20" and the current 27" model, thanks Apple. Not huge since I'd be tearing into it to swap the 1TB HDD for as large an SSD as I can afford, but still a process that will void the warranty and possibly leave me with a very expensive paperweight. I'm not shy when it comes to tearing apart electronics, and I have a great track record so this is all a possibility.

However Apple can perform these processes on a new model (same specs as the refurb) for $400, bumping the cost to $1900. So dependent on the price I can get the RAM and SSD for I'm saving ~$400 and having to do all the work myself.

Thirdly, spending nearly 2 grand on a computer with a lowly gt750m graphics card doesn't sit well with me. I'm not looking for an ├╝ber-gaming rig, but I'd like some modern games to run (Cities: Skylines) I know the 27" models have much better gfx cards, but I can't justify that much money and I don't need the huge screen. A gaming PC build would certainly satisfy my graphics lust, but I cannot suffer having a PC be my main computer, so there's to be a decent amount of compromise.

Thoughts? I would think waiting until the upcoming WWDC for any iMac refresh would be smart?
I assume the i5 is a fine CPU to last me years, but is it? Can an intrepid tinkerer upgrade the GFX card without a mountain of headaches?
     
P
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Apr 30, 2015, 06:36 PM
 
The current 21.5" iMacs are quite old, due mostly to Intel's inability to deliver new CPUs. Latest word is that Broadwell for desktops is no longer later so much as non-existent, mostly, so the next thing is Skylake in Q3. There will be low-power variants of Broadwell with integrated graphics, and if Apple goes that route, we could see updates soon enough, but they won't be gaming machines anyway.

The CPU in that model is fine. Sure Skylake will be 10-15% faster clock-for-clock and I suspect clocks on that low-power version might go up a bit as well, but mostly, it won't be a big difference. The problem, as you've correctly identified, is the graphics. That is "GK107", i.e. the low-end Kepler generation graphics from nVidia. nVidia has had the Maxwell successor (GM107) out for a year and now has more powerful variants (GM206 and GM204). For some reason Apple hasn't updated. Rumor has it that they're not friendly with nVidia at the moment, as nVidia is currently suing everyone else for patent infringement on mobile graphics, and most likely tried to blackmail Apple as well. The alternative, AMD, is late with their new generation GPUs, but should launch in June. Basically, it is very hard to guess when the next update hits. I think Apple will move latest when Skylake hits (after the usual delay to update the MBP first), but they could update the GPUs at any time.

Tearing down the latest iMacs requires cutting through the double adhesive strips that hold the display in place, and eventually replacing them with new strips. I have built numerous computers and did upgrade this iMac, but this does appear to be one step too far for me, at least on a new Mac. I would pay Apple to 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.
     
Mike Wuerthele
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Apr 30, 2015, 06:50 PM
 
Yeah, I second P's advice. There is no way an intrepid tinkerer can upgrade the GPU, and even a SSD install is hairy.
     
sek929  (op)
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May 4, 2015, 04:50 PM
 
Very informative reply as usual P, thank you.

I've decided to hold off for a while, unless something magical happens at WWDC regarding the iMac line. The iMac has really never been 'easily' upgraded but it looks like Apple is going out of their way to make it near impossible on the lower models.

My realization is that I'm most likely going to have to jump up to the 27" models if I hope of owning something with a relatively modern gfx card in it.
     
Mike Wuerthele
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May 4, 2015, 04:53 PM
 
Love the torties, by the way.
     
The Final Dakar
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May 4, 2015, 04:54 PM
 
Originally Posted by sek929 View Post
(Cities: Skylines)
I knew it.
     
P
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May 5, 2015, 07:05 AM
 
nVidia's latest Maxwell-series GPUs have made real improvements to performance per watt, so there is a real chance for a good GPU in an iMac for the first time since...2009, and the one I have (Radeon 4850 was a good GPU for its time), but nVidia is charging through the nose for them. We need AMD to make better GPUs to push the prices down.
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.
     
sek929  (op)
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Oct 14, 2015, 05:51 PM
 
Instead of over-posting about my personal conundrum in the new iMac refresh thread I'll just talk about it here.

The biggest bummer with the new 21.5" is how hard to crack open it is, so you either buy it with the SSD and RAM installed or deal with what it ships with, that bugs me the most honestly because my current iMac is only usable because of the upgrades I did to it, rather easily at that.

The truth is I should just buy the refurb I talked about ealier and use the money I didn't spend on the high-spec machine to build myself a PC that can game at a reasonable level. But again, the refurb comes with a 5400 RPM HDD and 8GB of RAM, two things I would be itching to change almost immediately.

<Grumble>

I've seen the death of the affordable PowerMac and now I've seen the death of a decently priced iMac.
     
The Final Dakar
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Oct 14, 2015, 05:55 PM
 
Is a hackintosh an option?
     
sek929  (op)
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Oct 14, 2015, 05:59 PM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
Is a hackintosh an option?
The reason I keep buying Macs is because of the legendary reliability I've enjoyed for nearly 13 years, so probably not. I'd rather go full WinPC to game and have an actual Mac for being useful.
     
P
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Oct 15, 2015, 06:17 AM
 
My last comment from May looks so sad now. nVidia is out of the Mac because of their patent trolling, and we're moving ever faster towards integrated graphics only.

Anyway. What I did this last time is build a gaming PC and connect it to my iMac (DisplayPort in, another feature the current models lost). For the next model, I will get a laptop Mac and an external display and use that together with the PC.
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.
     
The Final Dakar
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Oct 15, 2015, 10:02 AM
 
Originally Posted by sek929 View Post
The reason I keep buying Macs is because of the legendary reliability I've enjoyed for nearly 13 years, so probably not. I'd rather go full WinPC to game and have an actual Mac for being useful.
Well, I figure if you have to build a PC and you don't like having limitations on your iMac, it's the best compromise. Plus, combining costs would let you build a better gaming PC.
     
pigmode
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Oct 15, 2015, 04:52 PM
 
Apple is moving the two iMacs further away from each other, with the increased RAM capacity in the 27" retina, and the more consumer oriented 21" retina. I would have been very happy to have had the 1TB flash option in the smaller retina.
     
P
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Oct 16, 2015, 05:45 AM
 
That's fine, but they're not moving them further apart pricing-wise - especially not if you want 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.
     
sek929  (op)
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Oct 21, 2015, 07:06 PM
 
Thoughts on this machine with regard to my previous concerns?

27s are easier to open, so I've read, so an SSD + RAM upgrade is feasible, and the graphics card doesn't outright blow ass so I'm intrigued.
     
pigmode
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Oct 22, 2015, 11:32 AM
 
You want an SSD with more capacity than 1TB? That's the only reason I can think of at the moment for SSD upgradability in the 27. I'm still pissed the 21.5 can't be had with a 1TB SSD option.

P.S. I haven't gamed since running Quake 3 with Tiger. Need to look into running Q3 through an external SSD with bootcamp. Feasible?
     
sek929  (op)
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Oct 22, 2015, 11:35 AM
 
No, I've gotten very accustomed to the quickness a SSD brings to the system, don't feel like going back to a 7200 rpm HDD.
     
Mike Wuerthele
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Oct 22, 2015, 12:34 PM
 
     
pigmode
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Oct 22, 2015, 05:24 PM
 
Originally Posted by sek929 View Post
No, I've gotten very accustomed to the quickness a SSD brings to the system, don't feel like going back to a 7200 rpm HDD.
Same here-- I already have an external SSD to carry the iTunes folder for the new iMac. There's no doubt the 27 retina can be configured as a different class of machine.



Originally Posted by Mike Wuerthele View Post
Got to check that out.
     
   
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