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AWR
2010-12-01, 10:46
Our family iMac G5 rev 2 circa 2005 has been a great companion but is tired, and my wife's MBP is taking a beating as its stand-in replacement for lots of tasks.

I was thinking off upgrading to a new iMac for a family Xmas present.

I would like plenty of on-board HD space, so will go for for the 2TB option. It's main role will to be handle photo (iPhoto, Aperture) and reasonably light video editing, as well as all the other normal stuff. I wouldn't mind the option of playing some decent games (if I knew what those were). Finally, I would like to keep the computer for as long as possible (which probably answers the questions posed below, but what do I know).

For advice:

i3 (3.2) vs i5 (3.6): is there a decent, noticeable performance difference here?

4GB vs 8 GB: same question

The price difference is USD/CHF 260 for EACH of the upgrades. :eek: I will put down if it's "worth it" but don't feel like wasting anything.

I'm leaning towards getting the i5 with 4GB.

Thanks for any ideas.

torifile
2010-12-01, 11:12
I was in a a similar dilemma last month. After researching the benefit of the i3 vs. i5 vs. i7, I settled on the i3 21.5" model. I weighed the pros and cons of the price vs. actual performance for my particular uses and I decided that the added cost wasn't worth it. You may come to a different conclusion. For me, the savings of the i3 made it worthwhile since I've got a pretty heavy duty rig at home for heavy lifting.

You can find a comparison of price/performance at Barefeats (http://barefeats.com/imac10v.html). At the end of the day, you'll probably find that you can't really go wrong with any of these machines. They are very capable systems. :)

AWR
2010-12-01, 11:33
Thanks for the thoughts and stats, torifile. (I forgot to mention that, due to space issue, I can only consider the 21.5")

If I had something beefier, it would be easier. But this is going to be "the beef". That considered, I should probably error on the side of more beef (unless I don't need it :lol: ). This is like the "talking cure"; you're a good listener. I seem to be learning more about myself and needs. ;)

PB PM
2010-12-01, 13:38
If the machine is going to be your main computer, I'd say go for the Core i5 model, simple because it does have more horsepower and a slightly better GPU. As for memory, I've noticed much better performance on my machine since upgrading from 4GB to 8GBs, but that could just be perception.

pscates2.0
2010-12-01, 13:43
The cool thing is, they come with 4GB. And, unlike the older Mac minis and all, upgrading via affordable, third-party RAM down the road is a snap (a 2-3 minute task). So you could save a little on the front-end by going with the stock 4GB and see if that meets your needs? It may and then that's not money you've thrown away.

If, however, you're feeling the pull for 8GB, that's always something you can get from Crucial, New Egg or OWC 5-6 months from now, for probably a bit less than Apple would charge for their upgrades (although I've not looked in a while to see if Apple's RAM pricing is still as nutball as it used to be). But since the operation itself is so quick and easy, it's nothing you have to do upon initial purchase.

And because I'd be falling down on the job if I didn't do my standard spiel, don't forget to check the refurb section for any current-generation models fitting your needs. You could easily save $200-400 on the same machine you'd be buying at a store (provided you can find one with the specs you seek).

Sorry, I just have to do that...refurbs are just too damn good a deal to ignore or not talk about. :)

EDIT: Just a quick glance at Crucial.com shows the 8GB kit for the 21.5" i5 iMac going for $125.99, far below the $200 Apple BTO pricing to go from 4GB to 8GB. And you'll wind up with two 2GB DIMMs that perhaps you could sell locally (Craigslist?), effectively knocking down your 8GB RAM upgrade to ~$100 or so? And I just checked one site, Crucial. It's possible that NewEgg or OWC have an even better price.

Long story short: don't pay Apple $200 when you can do it yourself, any time you want, for far cheaper (since you're looking to be smart and practical with your spending).

FFL
2010-12-01, 13:48
I'm leaning towards getting the i5 with 4GB.

Thanks for any ideas.

That sounds like the most bang for your buck.

You can always max out the RAM later if you feel like you need a further speed boost. But, coming from a G5, you're going to have whiplash the first couple of months or so.
;)

Dorian Gray
2010-12-01, 14:12
Today, the Core i3 with 8 GB of memory will work better for Aperture (and most demanding workloads) than the Core i5 with 4 GB. But you can upgrade the RAM in a year or two. You can't upgrade the processor.

Torifile's Bare Feats link compares a quad-core i5 with a dual-core i3. That's obviously not a useful comparison for you, since you're interested in dual-core chips only (the 21.5-inch iMac doesn't have a quad-core option).

Here are the two processors in question:

Core i3: http://ark.intel.com/Product.aspx?id=48505&processor=i3-550&spec-codes=SLBUD

Core i5: http://ark.intel.com/Product.aspx?id=48504&processor=i5-680&spec-codes=SLBTM

As you can see, there's not much difference between them for your purposes, other than a surprisingly large price difference (which you can be sure Apple isn't paying if they're offering the upgrade for $200). The i5 does have Turbo Boost, which can increase the clock speed by up to 7% for a brief period of time limited by power consumption, temperature, and the number of cores that are active (i.e. whether the workload is multi-threaded). Not a big deal.

My guess is that you wouldn't see much more than a 10% speed increase with the i5 over the i3, and then only in CPU-bound workloads, of course. That may be worth $200 to you over a few years, but probably wouldn't be to me.

PB PM: unless I'm very much mistaken, the GPUs in the machines under consideration are identical.

Buying for the future is a sucker's game, I think. Think of the risks: new technology might intervene (e.g. USB 3.0 or something more disruptive), your house might be burgled and the machine stolen, the computer might be a lemon that keeps breaking down… In five years $1k computers will be five times faster and it'll be silly to worry about 10% here or there on an old steam engine with USB 2.0. :lol:

AWR
2010-12-01, 14:24
Thanks, guys. I think I'll go the i5 4GB route and upgrade via third party if I feel it could use a boost how I'm using it. (Thanks for verifying the price, psc2.0, I should have done that before posting!)

I did this with my iMac G5 (from 1 to 2GB) and with my wife's C2D MBP (2 to 4GB), buying from Crucial the first time and Egghead the second, and I always noticed a 'something' boost. Installing it also made me feel slightly competent (nice and easy, but I pretended I was fiddling with something complicated) - I'm not much around the house with a screwdriver unfortunately.

I would definitely consider the refurb store, but I always seem to be buying the next Best-Computer-In-The-House, and I already have a slight nausea knowing that this i5 will be replaced by an i7 with sleventhy cores in about a hundred days. When individuals (other than wife for work, i.e., kids) start needing their own units, it'll be refurb or bust.

Best December 1 to all.

Oh, and that whiplash, I love that feeling in the Apple Store, instantly opening up iCal on one of those 30" monsters.... I look forward!

AWR
2010-12-01, 14:26
Oh great, DG@!!! :lol:

Will have to contemplate a bit later, but early thanks.

Dorian Gray
2010-12-01, 14:27
"Egghead"?! :lol:

PB PM
2010-12-01, 15:33
PB PM: unless I'm very much mistaken, the GPUs in the machines under consideration are identical.

You are mistaken, the 5670 in the higher end 21.5" model is almost twice as fast as the 4670 in most benchmarks that I've seen. Some tests show that the 5670 will give 30+ FPS in some newer games where the 4670 will be stuck at 15FPS, at best. That is the difference between smooth game play and, frankly not being able to play at all.

chucker
2010-12-01, 15:40
You are mistaken, the 5670 in the higher end 21.5" model is almost twice as fast as the 4670 in most benchmarks that I've seen. Some tests show that the 5670 will give 30+ FPS in some newer games where the 4670 will be stuck at 15FPS, at best.

AFAICT, the question was:

i3 (3.2) vs i5 (3.6): is there a decent, noticeable performance difference here?

That means exactly one BTO difference:

3.20GHz Intel Core i3
3.60GHz Intel Core i5 [Add $200.00]

The GPU remains an ATI Radeon HD 5670 512MB GDDR3 SDRAM either way. There's a ATI Radeon HD 5750 1GB GDDR5 SDRAM [Add $150.00] BTO option, but I don't see it mentioned in the original post.

The 4670 is not relevant, as AWR's base model is the 3.2, which has a 5670.

PB PM
2010-12-01, 17:34
Whoops, for some reason I thought it was the lower end model vs the higher end, my bad.

pscates2.0
2010-12-01, 21:47
Quick head's up to the o.p., AWR: there's currently a current-generation 21.5" iMac i5 (3.6GHz, 4GB RAM, 1TB hard drive, ATi Radeon 5670 with 512MB, etc.) going for $1,449 in the refurb section!

No idea how long it'll be there, but here it is. (http://store.apple.com/us/product/G0JM0LL/A?mco=MTkwOTc0MTM)

If you BTO to the 3.6GHz i5 from the $1,499, you're looking at a $1,699. That's $250 saved...

In fact, this refurb is $50 less than the stock 3.2GHz i3 model...

It doesn't have a 2TB hard drive, but is that an absolute must-have?

AWR
2010-12-02, 03:28
Quick head's up to the o.p., AWR: there's currently a current-generation 21.5" iMac i5 (3.6GHz, 4GB RAM, 1TB hard drive, ATi Radeon 5670 with 512MB, etc.) going for $1,449 in the refurb section!

No idea how long it'll be there, but here it is. (http://store.apple.com/us/product/G0JM0LL/A?mco=MTkwOTc0MTM)

If you BTO to the 3.6GHz i5 from the $1,499, you're looking at a $1,699. That's $250 saved...

In fact, this refurb is $50 less than the stock 3.2GHz i3 model...

It doesn't have a 2TB hard drive, but is that an absolute must-have?

If I lived in the States, I would jump on that. 2TB is highly desirable but not necessarily a deal breaker. I don't know how the refurb store works actually, if it is centralized or specific to certain regions. Also, being in Switzerland and knowing a bit about the local "customs", the refurb is probably the same price as new. ;) (Seriously, there is usually no discount for buying in bulk never mind decent sales! 1 juice box = 50c; 10 juice box = 5 francs.) I'll try to have a look at apple.ch and compare. Tx.

AWR
2010-12-02, 04:24
Here's the Swiss store. I thought I had a good'un, but it was the 21.5" model with the 250 Mo graphics (and I would really like to step up to the 512).

http://store.apple.com/ch-fr/browse/home/specialdeals/mac?mco=OTY2ODY3Nw

AWR
2010-12-02, 09:01
Today, the Core i3 with 8 GB of memory will work better for Aperture (and most demanding workloads)

This is what matters, when I boil it down. What I want is snappy apps such as iPhoto, iTunes, iCal....

My guess is that you wouldn't see much more than a 10% speed increase with the i5 over the i3, and then only in CPU-bound workloads, of course.

Ummm, do I do this, much?! :grumble: :lol: :o This sounds like video encoding (guess), which I do, but not for a living and can deal with extra time.


As it stands now, I think I'll go for the i3 with 4GB (and do the self upgrade to 8GB). This will save me 440 bucks! Damn! Thanks all for the thoughts; I'm buying the next round. :)

torifile
2010-12-02, 10:45
If I had something beefier, it would be easier. But this is going to be "the beef". That considered, I should probably error on the side of more beef (unless I don't need it ). This is like the "talking cure"; you're a good listener. I seem to be learning more about myself and needs.


As it stands now, I think I'll go for the i3 with 4GB (and do the self upgrade to 8GB). This will save me 440 bucks! Damn! Thanks all for the thoughts; I'm buying the next round. :)
My Jedi mind tricks worked! ;) That's what I ended up doing, too. So far so good. :)