Thread: CPU and ram
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Zoolook

 
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Mac Specs: 15" MacBook Pro, i7 2.66Ghz, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD; iPad 3, iPhone 5

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This is the perennial question, and there is no right or wrong answer. You have to weigh up a few variables before making a decision and the biggest one is what is your budget.

You can buy a computer now with the intention of using it for 3 or 4 core things, and then end up getting into other things and wonder if just a slightly faster machine would have been better. My advice would be to buy the best machine you can afford right now.

There are some big differences between the i3 and the top end i7. Cache size, virtual machine compatibility, turbo-mode (where single threaded applications get a huge boost) etc. Clock for clock, the i7 is about 35% faster than the i3, and the i5 about 20% faster. Given the $200 difference between the 3.06 ghz Core i3 and the 3.66ghz Core i5, I'd probably pay it. Both chips can do 4 threads with their two cores. The i7 on the iMac is a lot more because you have to buy the bigger model - however if you're getting the 27" screen, the i7 might be worth it.

In 5 years time, I am sure either machine will still run applications perfectly well, but the i7 will keep up a lot better than an i3. Mac users haven't really be exposed to such large processing differentials before, only clock speed differences, but the i3 is like the old Celeron to the old Pentium 3, if you can remember that far back.

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