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

PC user switching, need help selecting an iMac


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waduncan

 
Member Since: Dec 27, 2010
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I have been a PC user since the 8088 processor. With the exception of the 286 20Mhz Packard Bell that I purchased, I have assembled every PC that I have owned. Given that I get into the assembly and configuration of PCs I never thought that id get a Mac, but with each new version of Windows they take away more and more configuration options/needs. It has basically gotten to the point that you use a PC for a few years (3 or less), toss it, and build a new one. Sure you can upgrade the PC but in most cases you just get an extra year out of it at the most and even then you are sorta nursing it along. So I figured that if I have to learn Windows 7 ( i am still on XP ) and if I am not really going to upgrade the PC once I build it, then I might as well get a Mac.

Ok with the intro out of the way, lets get into why I'm here:
I have decided that the Mac Pro is too expensive, all of the laptops are too expensive (for what you get, but that is the case with all laptops when compared to desktops), and the Mac Mini is not powerful enough. That pretty much leaves me with the iMac. I have decided on the 27inch display, so these numbers below are for the 27inch. I have ruled out the i3 iMacs, leaving me with the i5 duo 3.6Ghz or the i7 2.93Ghz (i am removing the i5 quad 2.8Ghz as it does not support Hyper-Threading). I am leaning towards the i5 3.6Ghz with 8gig of ram and the upgrade video card (5750 1gig gddr5, instead of the 5670 512mb gddr3).

Before I ask my question, lets get my usage out of the way. My current PC uses are:
1) Internet browsing (youtube, facebook, etc...), email, chat, etc... (lite stuff).
2) Gaming, specifically City of Heroes, World of Warcraft, Star Craft 2, and Civilization 5. All of these play on Mac w/o boot camp/parallels.
3) Minor picture editing and web page design.

Currently I have a quad core PC (Q6600 2.4Ghz) with 2 gig ram, and a nVidia 8800 GTS 512mb. Given that i have Windows XP and an older GPU, I am stuck on direct X 9.x, thus preventing me from playing direct x 10 and higher games/applications. I purchased the quad core for my current PC because i was doing folding at the time and it used all 4 cores. I have since stopped folding and as a result i end up using 2 cores and the other 2 just sit there looking pretty. This is the reason I am favoring the i5 3.6GHz over the i7 2.93Ghz, however I do not know how Macs work so I do not know if this is a major mistake.

So finally we come to my questions (bet you thought we wouldn't ever get here huh?) :
1) Does the iMac, or i guess really OS X, really see a major difference between 4gig and 8gig of ram, given my usage explained above?
2) Also given my usage, would i really benefit that much more to get the i7 quad core over the i5 duo?
3) I am pretty much set on getting the upgraded video card but is there perhaps a reason not to?
4) The difference in the i7 price v/s the i5 (with upgrade video card), is $150. I know it will be better "future proofed" (i hate that term) by going with quad core, but i purchased my current quad core three years ago thinking that by now everything would use multi-cores and that just didn't happen. In 3 more years do we really see things moving, on the software side, so quickly that a 2 core processor will seem stone age against a 4 core? I am not so sure that will be the case. Thoughts?

Thank you all for your help and sorry to writing a book. Having read the other threads on this forum i notice you guys usually, right off the bat, ask for "how do you use it" and sometimes a little background is nice to know also. Plus i wanted to give my thoughts on my current quad core.
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s2odin

 
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Member Since: Oct 23, 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waduncan View Post
So finally we come to my questions (bet you thought we wouldn't ever get here huh?) :
1) Does the iMac, or i guess really OS X, really see a major difference between 4gig and 8gig of ram, given my usage explained above?
Nope. More RAM will just be money wasted for what you would be doing. Best bet (if you want best game performance) is spend more money on your GPU.
2) Also given my usage, would i really benefit that much more to get the i7 quad core over the i5 duo?
Again, not really. Stick with the i5, which can be seen as a quad core with Intel's Hyper-Threading. The i3 would probably even be fine for what you're doing, as it doesn't look too CPU intensive (except for Civ5 and SC2).
3) I am pretty much set on getting the upgraded video card but is there perhaps a reason not to?
Only to save money. The games you listed would give better frame rates with a better GPU.
4) The difference in the i7 price v/s the i5 (with upgrade video card), is $150. I know it will be better "future proofed" (i hate that term) by going with quad core, but i purchased my current quad core three years ago thinking that by now everything would use multi-cores and that just didn't happen. In 3 more years do we really see things moving, on the software side, so quickly that a 2 core processor will seem stone age against a 4 core? I am not so sure that will be the case. Thoughts?
The iX series of processors features Hyper-Threading (except for the i5 quad). So a dual core i5, when pushed, will perform the same as a quad core. Yea, you will be future proofed, but for what you're doing, the i5 dual would be fine.
Answers in red.

USAF E-2. 1C6X1 - Space Systems Operations. 19 days until BMT.
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waduncan

 
Member Since: Dec 27, 2010
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thank you for the information.
I will drop down to the 4gig ram and be sure to pick up the upgraded video card. I will stay with the i5 also.
Saved me $500 in removing those two.
Do you think i should get the Apple Protection plan? Im thinking i should given that i know so little about macs.
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s2odin

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waduncan View Post
thank you for the information.
I will drop down to the 4gig ram and be sure to pick up the upgraded video card. I will stay with the i5 also.
Saved me $500 in removing those two.
Do you think i should get the Apple Protection plan? Im thinking i should given that i know so little about macs.
Yes, get Applecare IMO.
It's an investment, and if (for whatever reason) something happens, Macs are expensive to fix. Applecare covers pretty much everything (except accidental damage). But get the Applecare in like your 11th month of ownership, as it comes with 1 year of Applecare.

USAF E-2. 1C6X1 - Space Systems Operations. 19 days until BMT.
Upgrade your MBP HD
Tritton AXPro FS
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nizmoz

 
Member Since: Jun 14, 2009
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Add the ram after you buy it with the base setup. It's easy to do and will only cost you around $100 bucks to add 8 gig of ram. I highly recommend you get at least 8 gig of ram for any type of photo editing, etc.

Newegg.com - Computer Parts, PC Components, Laptop Computers, LED LCD TV, Digital Cameras and more! has memory. Way cheaper than Apple.
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chscag

 
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Quote:
But get the Applecare in like your 11th month of ownership, as it comes with 1 year of Applecare.
That's one option. But remember, your free telephone support runs out in 90 days. Apple care extends that free phone support to three years. I usually recommend buying Apple care as soon as you can after 90 days or when you initially purchase the machine.
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s2odin

 
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Member Since: Oct 23, 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nizmoz View Post
Add the ram after you buy it with the base setup. It's easy to do and will only cost you around $100 bucks to add 8 gig of ram. I highly recommend you get at least 8 gig of ram for any type of photo editing, etc.

Newegg.com - Computer Parts, PC Components, Laptop Computers, LED LCD TV, Digital Cameras and more! has memory. Way cheaper than Apple.
For minor photo editing 4gb should be more than enough. I know I can run PS, Skype, iTunes and Chrome on mine with 2gb and it's fine.

USAF E-2. 1C6X1 - Space Systems Operations. 19 days until BMT.
Upgrade your MBP HD
Tritton AXPro FS
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waduncan

 
Member Since: Dec 27, 2010
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cool, im happy to hear everyone recommend the apple care protection service, gives me hope that it is actually good . I will be sure to pick it up also, but as suggested ill probably wait until either month 11 or perhaps day 89...not sure yet.

I was watching a youtube video that showed exactly how to add ram to the imacs and now i know exactly the ram type i need. I will hold off on getting more until i see if i need it, but if so i feel totally comfortable doing it now. Thank you all for your help.
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