Rank iMac specs

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    • #48221

      Hi there, first let me thank all who chimed in on my previous post on iMac vs. PC and I have decided that the iMac is the way to go. First I am edit strictly as a hobby so I am not looking for professional advice. I like to shoot high definition video of youth sports, neighborhood events, family functions and even stage mini skits/movies with my kids and neighbors and then have fun applying different fx found in NLEs. I figure I’ll probably install FCP X as my NLA but maybe also take a look at Adobes suite of apps too at some point. So my main objective is to have a hassle free system, no crashes or freeze-ups (or very few) and the fastest system I can get for my money, at least where speed is important – in other words I don’t want to pay for performance I won’t need. I also am settled on the iMac so please don’t proclaim the virtues of the Windows platform or the Mac Pro in this thread.

      So at a minimum I will get the 27″ i5 3.1GHz – $1999

      But of course who gets the minimum? So my question to this community is how should I rank the upgrades?

      i7 3.4GHz – $200
      8gb RAM – $200
      16gb RAM – $600
      1TB SATA Drive + 256 SSD – $600
      AMD Radeon HD 6970M 2GB GDDR5 – $100

      Also a couple questions? Can you upgrade RAM incrementally? In otherwords are there multiple RAM slots in the iMac, so if I go with 8GB RAM can I upgrade later with a second 8GB RAM chip or is there only one slot and do I have to replace the 8GB chip with a 16GB chip?

      How much of a speed increase will I see from an SSD HD? Can you give me some examples of where I’d really see marked improvement.

      I guess the dream system would run me $3500 which probably isn’t in my budget so any help you can give me in ranking the upgrades would be appreciated. Thanks in advance for your comments.

    • #198223

       Some more information please. What drives and video card come with the “minimum” kit?  Will help with commenting on those potential upgrades.

      For you question on RAM, motherboards tend to have 3-4 slots for RAM. A 3 slot board tends to want all 3 RAM cards the same size. A 4 slot board tends to want RAM cards to be matched pairs, 2 of a size in the 0-1 slots and 2 of same or different size in the 2-3 slots. Then you just add up the RAM.

      So you may have to replace smaller RAM cards with larger RAM cards if all 4 slots are full. Increasing your RAM, as far as bang for your buck, can be one of the cheapest improvements to your system to a point.


    • #198224

      The 27″ iMac would be preferred IMHO, but it starts at $1,699. The 21.5 starts at $1,199.

      The processor speed might benefit some regarding video/photo related program operation and speed, and could be a benefit for anyone doing either. But there’s probably not a big problem with going for the 2.7Hz instead of the 3.1Hz. And somebody with money to burn who wants the biggest, baddest, fastest specs, real-life operation be damned, could spring for the quad-core Intel Core i7 processor instead of the 2.7 or 3.1 i5.

      There’s two slots in the current iMac models and it is a standard practice to occupy both slots with equivalent-size matched memory (this is NOT imperative or mandatory in many cases, but does seem to eliminate occasional memory issues) I would suggest getting all the memory the iMac can utilize and that you can afford.

      That and the largest internal HD upgrade are the two major things I would consider if/when purchasing one.

      I believe the top of the line 27″ could handle 16 GB RAM (two eights) and would absolutely go with one 8GB stick to start. These puppies come with two 2GB sticks, one for each slot, so the preferred route, again, is to populate both slots with matched memory. You’re going to lose money (so to speak) whatever you do, replacing the standard 4GB using two 2GB sticks, with fours or eights. I’ve heard, but cannot confirm, that memory replacement is easy enough to D.I.Y. so it might be a better call (if that’s the case … a google search should confirm) to order with the memory it comes with, then up it yourself with Crucial or other quality brand sticks.

      The internal HD might also be an easy enough D.I.Y. project, making it more economical to replace the standard 500GB/1TB HDs “good enough” ordering online at Apple, then doing your own upgrade. They also offer a 2TB HD, but I don’t see going to the expense of getting/using a solid state drive at this time. Jury is still out on the FINITE (absolutely a limit to its lifetime) lifetime use limits of SSHDs.

      The graphics processor/board that comes with the 27″ should be just fine. You can up the GDDRS memory from the standard 1GB to 2GB, but that could be more relevant to gamers than video editors, though a larger memory there could still be beneficial, but I doubt it’s going to make or break your intended operations … certainly is not a deal breaker IMHO.

      I would suggest getting a pro rated external HD of at least 7200RPM with a FireWire 800 connection, at least a 1TB and use it to hold my project files. Maybe a second USB external drive with a USB 2.0 connection for routine storage of photos, documents, etc.

      All this info, by the way, was found on the Apple website at the shared link. Hope this helps. Yes, I am a Mac user, but NOT by any stretch of the imagination to be considered a techhead or GURU. 😉

    • #198225

      Before you plunk your money down, check outhttp://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/767676-REG/Apple_Z0M7_0002_27_iMac_Desktop_Computer.html I saved over a grand buying my MAC Pro from them and they can add additional memory at a fraction of the cost from MAC installed. The listed 27″ I7 3.4 ghz is at $2200.00 you will save a lot of money and they offer the 3 year MAC protection plan.

    • #198226

      At the Crucial memory store you can get an 8GB kit (4GB x 2) for $77.99, but I didn’t see a price for a 16GB kit (8GB x 2). So, if you D.Y.I. B&H or Apple …

      I’ve seen Seagate, Hitachi & Western Digital 1TB external drives as low as $65, depending on the connections. Be sure it has a FireWire 800, USB 2.0 is too slow for video work. So, say even double that at $130. Internal drives are at Amazon starting as low as $60 for 1TB.

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