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  1. #1

    Member Since
    Sep 12, 2017
    Power without the price tag?
    Hi all, both me and my wife are self-employed designers and have been using desktop Macs for the last 20 years. My first Mac was a 7200/90 and between us we’ve had every iteration of iMac going. My wife works in magazine publishing and needs a lot of power to cope with the graphic-heavy layouts and colossal file sizes that are standard these days.

    From day one, her current iMac (see spec below) hasn’t quite cut it. I suspect it’s the pressure on the system of rendering a 5K screen. Basically, we’re nervous about shelling out thousands on another iMac that appears on paper to have only slight improvements on her 3 year old model.

    iMac Retina 5K 27", late 2014
    3.5Ghz Intel Core i5
    16GB 1600 Mhz DDR3
    1.12TB Fusion drive
    AMD Radeon R9 M290X 2048MB

    Current top of the range:
    iMac Retina 5K 27", late 2017
    3.8Ghz Intel Core i7
    64GB 2400 MHz DDR4
    2TB Fusion drive
    Radeon Pro 580 with 8GB of VRAM
    £2,624 ($3,482)

    Other options include moving to a Mac Pro (although these are to be phased out) or wait for the iMac Pro, but prices start at £3,760 ($5,000).

    Just wondered if anyone had any suggestions for getting the most out an Apple desktop without breaking the bank?


  2. #2

    ferrarr's Avatar
    Member Since
    May 21, 2012
    Pawtucket, RI, USA
    L2014 Mac mini macOS 10.13, iPhone 6 iOS 11, iPad Pro 1 12.9" iOS 11,  Pencil 1
    In my opinion, the VRAM will have the most impact on performance for 5K video file work. I see you going from 2GB to 8GB as a huge step up in performance. Of course, the processor has been upgraded, which will also help with the processing speed while working with those 5K video files.
    -- Bob --
    Please backup. Everything has a life cycle, unexpected and warning free. Nothing will last as long as you want it to.

  3. #3

    IWT's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jan 23, 2009
    Born in Scotland, Worked in Scotland then England, Now live in Wales
    Late 2015 5K 27-inch Retina iMac, 4GHz i7, 32GB RAM, 1TB Flash Drive, macOS Sierra 10.12.6
    I agree with Bob. The huge jump in VRAM and the much more modest hike in RAM from 16GB to 64GB (even to 32GB) along with a better CPU would make things zip along.

    And just for comment - not suggesting that route - what you quote as the current "top of the range" is not entirely true because you could choose any of the SSD/Flash storage options which are very expensive, but have some speed advantage. (See my specs under my avatar on the left).


  4. #4

    Member Since
    Sep 12, 2017
    Hi chaps, thanks for your help. Most of our work is in Photoshop and InDesign, but I'm assuming the increased VRAM would help speed these apps up too?

    To avoid clogging up the hard drive, she sometimes works from an 3TB LaCie d2 Quadra external drive. Would it pay to use a SSD or Flash external drive?

  5. #5

    pigoo3's Avatar
    Member Since
    May 20, 2008
    2011 13" MBP 2.3ghz, 8gig ram, OS 10.8.5
    Quote Originally Posted by bagga_apples View Post
    To avoid clogging up the hard drive, she sometimes works from an 3TB LaCie d2 Quadra external drive.
    Always a great idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by bagga_apples View Post
    Would it pay to use a SSD or Flash external drive?
    Not if you're trying to keep costs down (as stated in the thread title). Take the £££ you would spend on an external SSD...and invest that £££ into the new computer. If you really want a speed increase...don't get the Fusion drive in the computer (2 examples above)...get an internal SSD. I know the internal SSD's are expensive...and many times you get fewer gig's of storage...but an internal SSD will be MUCH faster than the Fusion drive.

    - Nick
    - Too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
    - Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some slow computer tips: Speedup
    - Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
    - Apple Battery Info. Battery

  6. #6

    Member Since
    Sep 12, 2017
    Sold. Looks like it's an internal SSD all the way. Thanks for the advice.

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