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Apple Desktops Discussion of Apple's desktop machines including Mac Pro, iMac, Power Mac, and mini

iMac 27" - Which to buy?


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RobbertV

 
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First: No idea if I'm at the right place for this, if not, please move it to the right spot

Hi,

I'm a Mac user for almost 2 years now and still working on my first bought Unibody Macbook (november 2008).
I just started my study in Multimedia Design and noticed that my Macbook is having a hard time keeping up with me at some points. Photoshop CS5 makes the fan go crazy and 100 GB of RAW-files is also not really helping.

Next to that, I am going to work with some "big Canon cameras" (quote from teacher ) which will most likely support HD. My macbook already has trouble working in video coming from my GF's point'n'shoot camera (they are in 720p, but quality and file size isn't that high).

So, bottom line of this: I need to upgrade.

My eye fell on the 27" (the 21,5" is just too small to do photo and video editing etc) but the configurations differ quite a lot and I don't know what would fit me.

Programs I will use for school:
- Adobe Web Premium CS5
- Everything that's not in Web Premium I use from CS4
- Some 3D program (don't know yet, will be introduced soon at my study)

What I want to do with it in my spare time:
- Sometimes a game, but not the newest
- Photo editing
- Video editing (HD primarily)
- Building websites
- Designing for example brochures

So, there are 3 iMac 27" setups that I like.
The first one is the most basic 27"
- 3.2 Ghz i3 CPU
- 4GB Ram
- 512 Mb GPU (ATI HD 5670)


The 2nd one is the basic 27" but with extended CPU or GPU
Either
- 3.2 Ghz i3 CPU
- 4GB Ram
- 1Gb GPU (ATI HD 5750)

or
- 3.6 Ghz i5 CPU (dual core)
- 4GB Ram
- 512 Mb GPU (ATI HD 5670)


The 3rd one is directly a whole step up in price, the "basic" 27" quad core iMac.
- 2,8 Ghz Quad Core i5
- 4GB Ram
- 1 GB GPU (ATI HD 5750)


I'm planning to not only work for school at this computer, but also try to make some money by doing photo shoots for people, making (basic) websites, designing some stuff etc.
Especially in one year I hope to have learned enough at school to do some serious stuff as a job next to my study and the computer should still be fast and should be able to run CS6 (ok, no idea if it's coming, but just if ).

I really appreciate that you took the time to read this all (if you read this, it means you spent time on it at least ) and would appreciate it even more if you could put down which iMac you think fits me best.

If there's something that's not clear to you, or just want to know if I am planning to do something specific with it, please post it here!

Thanks again!
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DIS Ottawa

 
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I shoot stills and video with Canon 5D II and 7D cameras and edit the results on a 27 " iMac i7 with 12 GB memory.

Personally, I wouldn't even consider the i3 models. Unless you have lots of time and patience and aren't interested in future proofing, go for the best processor you can afford and add aftermarket memory. While an i3 model with 4 GB will probably be adequate for the design work, it will be slow for the photos and video.

Modern dSLRs produce big files and if you add a few layers in Photoshop you're dealing with files in the 300 to 500 mb range and video needs lots of horsepower.
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RobbertV

 
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Yeah, the RAM I will expand myself! I don't feel like paying 200 euros for 2 extra RAM-cards of 2GB each.

The point I tried to make with my post, was that I DO want to make it future proof, and as I understand from your post, I better go with the i5 quad core?

I have to borrow money from the Dutch Study Support, which gives loans for a very VERY decent rate, so I will just ask for one more month and get the i5 quad core.
Or is there someone else who has other thoughts? Please let me know!

Who would have thought that Quad Cores would eventually end up in those skinny iMacs?!
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RobbertV

 
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So, I decided on this iMac:

Quote:
- 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5
- 4GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x2GB
- 1TB Serial ATA Drive
- 8x double-layer SuperDrive
- ATI Radeon HD 5750 1GB GDDR5 SDRAM
- Apple Wireless Keyboard (US) & User’s Guide (English)
- Magic Mouse
I didn't buy it yet, but it's 99% sure going to be that one.

But I'm getting some negative sounds from another forum where I asked the same. This guy is saying that the iMac I chose is comparable to a low-mid range Windows PC and if I really wanted to do video editting, that I should buy a Windows machine for the same price, but about 3x as fast.

Now don't worry, because I will never buy a Windows PC, but is there any truth in what he's saying?
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IWT

 
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Location: Born in Scotland, Worked in Scotland then England, Now live in Wales
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Mac Specs: 2010 27" iMac 16GB RAM, SSD & 1TB IHD (Lion) + 2013 27" iMac Fusion SSD & 3TB IHD, 32GB (Mavericks)

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Hi Robert

My uses are similar to yours; shooting in RAW; but mainly using Aperture 3. RAM is king in my opinion. I had, and still have, a 21.5" with 8GB of RAM. Barely enough.

Yes, 27" for sure and as much RAM as you can afford - I now have 16GB. And I'm afraid I agree with the others, i5 Quad (i7 better but probably OTT; i3 not good enough).

Your work will "expand" to utilise the capacity you have and before long, you'll be crying for more RAM, more speed etc. we all do!

Good luck.

Ian
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RobbertV

 
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Hi Ian,

Thanks for the reply!

But what about that guy saying the iMac I picked is a low-mid range PC? To my idea it's a monster of a PC (especially compared to my 2.0 Ghz Macbook Unibody, 2008 ), but he says it isn't.

He made me doubt...
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DIS Ottawa

 
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I suspect what he's saying is that for less money you can get a PC with a much faster processor which will be beneficial for rendering video.

The iMac you're looking at, the i5, will allow you to edit the video fine (the i7 would be slightly better but we all have financial limits), especially if you transcode it to AIC or Prores before the edit process, but will take a long time to render.

I don't see that as a big problem - set it up to render overnight and it's done the next morning.

Stay away from the dual core processors and load it up with as much memory as it can hold/you can afford, and you'll be fine. If you were setting up a commercial video studio, then you'd need an eight or 12 core Mac Pro (or equivalent PC) but for a student or a hobbyist, an iMac will do. It works for me.
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vmorelli

 
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I'm pretty sure that all iMacs use the mobile versions of the processors and video cards so though the numbers are the same they are lower power and decreased performance when compared to their desktop counterparts.
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