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Author Topic: Which iMac  (Read 15545 times)

Niterider

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #15 on: January 27, 2013, 01:08:50 AM »
Ahhh there are a lot of apple fanboys on this site  :'(

Do note that the iMac is a sealed system and you can't upgrade it in the future without paying apple an arm and a leg.

The iMac is based on laptop architecture thus its not going to be a true desktop in performance. There is a reason I have a $2500 workstation under my desk at work and not an iMac. Building yourself a Hackintosh is going to be your best bet if you want to maintain the mac os. Plus, the build minus the monitor will run you around $600 and you can put the money you saved towards camera gear.

Don't get me wrong, I dont hate the Macintosh Operating System, I despise Apple as a company. So whatever os you use, I could care less (unless you are using a unix/linux distribution other than the mac os, then I applaud you). Its shelling out over two grand on ridiculously overpriced hardware that frustrates me.   

I do not mean too offend you as many get when one insults apple. I just want to show you the alternative. If you at any point decide to go down the path of a Hackintosh, I would happily help you with the parts to buy and the information on how to build one.

Ohh and if it makes you feel better, feel free to insult windows ;D
« Last Edit: January 27, 2013, 01:10:25 AM by Niterider »

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #15 on: January 27, 2013, 01:08:50 AM »

intence01

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #16 on: January 27, 2013, 03:59:09 AM »
Niterider I disagree slightly.

Yes it's expensive, but when you compare spec for spec, Apple does charge quite a bit.  The products are generally usable and you don't waste time with stuff that doesn't work.  Instead you can use your time to simply use the product.

There isn't much difference between laptop/desktop architecture anymore.  Yes, performance is better with a big huge desktop, but what do you need the performance for?  Keep in mind with the iMac you're getting a 27" IPS screen.  After the computer is useless, I believe the screen is still usable via the thunderbolt port (but only with thunderbolt enabled devices, which right now are mostly apple laptops but that might change in the near future).  In any case, a 27" IPS (unless you buy some no-name brand on eBay) is going to run your $700+, so factor that into the specs.  It is NOT the same as the $199 27" specials you see all the time.

As for the hackintosh, don't do it.  I built one and it works ... mostly.  Sometimes something doesn't work, then you have to go through the forums and figured out what went wrong.  It's a fun project and I enjoyed doing it, but for a PC that's going to be used daily that I need to rely on, it simply doesn't cut it. 

My only suggestion is that if you don't need super-performance, buy a Mac-Mini instead, and a cheapo monitor for now (unless you have a monitor, if you do, use that).  When Apple releases a new Thunderbolt Display (27" IPS based on the NEW iMac monitor) either grab that or another high quality 27" IPS or PLS Monitor (Samsung, Asus, Dell Ultrasharp, etc.)  They're all going to be pricey.  That way you're separating the computer from the monitor, and can upgrade the PC every few years and keep the monitor.  The biggest drawback with the iMac is that it's difficult to upgrade yourself, and the PC side of the tech will likely get outdated well before the monitor.  Separate the two, and you can replace the PC every few years.

Niterider

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #17 on: January 27, 2013, 05:03:01 AM »
Niterider I disagree slightly.

Yes it's expensive, but when you compare spec for spec, Apple does charge quite a bit.  The products are generally usable and you don't waste time with stuff that doesn't work.  Instead you can use your time to simply use the product.

There isn't much difference between laptop/desktop architecture anymore.  Yes, performance is better with a big huge desktop, but what do you need the performance for?  Keep in mind with the iMac you're getting a 27" IPS screen.  After the computer is useless, I believe the screen is still usable via the thunderbolt port (but only with thunderbolt enabled devices, which right now are mostly apple laptops but that might change in the near future).  In any case, a 27" IPS (unless you buy some no-name brand on eBay) is going to run your $700+, so factor that into the specs.  It is NOT the same as the $199 27" specials you see all the time.

As for the hackintosh, don't do it.  I built one and it works ... mostly.  Sometimes something doesn't work, then you have to go through the forums and figured out what went wrong.  It's a fun project and I enjoyed doing it, but for a PC that's going to be used daily that I need to rely on, it simply doesn't cut it. 

My only suggestion is that if you don't need super-performance, buy a Mac-Mini instead, and a cheapo monitor for now (unless you have a monitor, if you do, use that).  When Apple releases a new Thunderbolt Display (27" IPS based on the NEW iMac monitor) either grab that or another high quality 27" IPS or PLS Monitor (Samsung, Asus, Dell Ultrasharp, etc.)  They're all going to be pricey.  That way you're separating the computer from the monitor, and can upgrade the PC every few years and keep the monitor.  The biggest drawback with the iMac is that it's difficult to upgrade yourself, and the PC side of the tech will likely get outdated well before the monitor.  Separate the two, and you can replace the PC every few years.

Honestly, I have little experience with hackintosh builds. All of my computers are either on windows 7, windows 8, ubuntu or running a virtual machine of a different linux distribution. I have heard running a hackintosh is a hit and a miss for stability sake so I can understand the desire not to go down that route.

While the iMac has an IPS screen, I often find that the graphics cards that are in the iMac just dont cut it for QWHD resolution, especially if you get into CAD or 3D rendering. Just a preference, I am not the biggest fan of the glossy screens either. I prefer the anti-glare screens in the Dell Ultrasharps.

Probably the most important part of a custom build for me is just simply convenience. I have a sound card, multiple graphics cards, efficient power supply, blue-ray, cooling like crazy, 16gb samsung ram (overclocked), multiple solid states, multiple hard drives in RAID arrays, a processor with 4 real and 4 virtual cores stable at 4.5ghz idling at 36 degrees Celsius, and a motherboard that can allow for lots of further expansion. I just cant get that in an iMac and if I could, it would cost over $3000 at least.  I built this computer for less than 900. Unfortunately, I am one who does need super performance and most of the software I run is best on a windows platform (emulating doesnt work very well for these programs).

Plus if i need to upgrade, I can just pop the door of the case off...

Do most people need a QWHD screen, i7 processing power, over 8 gb ram, 3tb and a ssd os boot drive? Not many, but for those who need or want it, get ready to top off that credit card limit.


dolina

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #18 on: January 27, 2013, 05:34:36 AM »
2012 27-inch iMac (I have a Dell U2711 to dual display it with)
3.4GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz (because I wanted the fastest iMac possible)
8GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x4GB (Getting (4x8GB) 32GB from elsewhere cause Apple charges too much)
1TB Fusion Drive (DIY Fusion Drive is more expensive than from Apple & I want SSD already)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX 2GB GDDR5 (Will be running a dual 27" 2560x1440 setup)
Apple Magic Trackpad (Multitouch Gestures)
Apple Wireless Keyboard (So I can use it also with the iPhone & iPad via Bluetooth)

Ordered in December 6th but until now no word from the dealer. I went with a dealer because they offering a savings equivalent to a 128GB Lexar 800 UDMA 7 CompactFlash memory card for 4-6 weeks wait.

I'm on 8th week of wait and it sucks balls.

Hackintosh is pointless as the whole point of getting a Mac is it's appliance-like simplicity. If you want to go hunting for drivers, tweaks and such it is easier to do so with Windows 8 Pro.
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RustyTheGeek

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #19 on: January 28, 2013, 12:18:06 AM »
OK, I can't resist.  I have to chime in because honestly, I'm like the Neuro (based on Neuro's stellar cranial reputation on this forum) of IT when it comes to this subject.  Sorry, no offense Neuro!!  Between my knowledge and my associates' knowledge, I'm pretty solid on computer stuff ever since roughly 1985.

So now that I've established myself as an IT badass  8), let me say this...

I could have written the posts by Niterider and intence01.  They saved me a lot of effort.  And they were mostly right.  If you like iProducts, great.  They are pretty, they do what they claim, they make a LOT of money for Apple.  I agree with Niterider, I also don't like Apple.  I like their products for the most part but they are WAY too expensive.  Apple is way too arrogant, greedy and controlling, not to mention hypocritical.  That said, I've owned Apple before, an IT associate owns Apple currently and I may even own it again someday.  But don't kid yourself.  The hardware isn't any different.  When you buy iProducts, you buy the whole rosy experience, the Apple ecosystem including the hype and the marketing.  In reality, you have a different OS and slightly different software but with limited driver or troubleshooting support from Apple.  Take away the matte Aluminum and the hardware is no different.

So forget brands and focus on what matters.  Your data, your image files.  What keeps them safe?  What helps your workflow?  Fault tolerance, backups and performance.  Sorry but Win7Pro and a high end Intel computer + Lightroom + decent IPS monitor will get that for you.  Spec out lots of RAM (16G +), and i5 or i7 CPU and a RAID1 Mirror drive array and you are ready to roll for at least another 3 years.

And FWIW, an iMac is a laptop with a 27" LCD attached.  Fine if that's what you want but not worth over 2 grand.  I've spent that but I have a i7 system wiith 32G of RAM, several 2TB Mirror arrays, 180G SSD, decent video and a solid 750W power supply/solid case.  I also use a U2410 DELL IPS Display.  It's been running for going on 2+ years.  Runs like a champ.

What do I gain by spending more to have an Apple product?  I don't fault anyone who does but I simply would rather put all that extra money toward a lens or even an iPad.  (Even though I actually have a nook HD+.)  I like Apple stuff just like the next guy but I cringe at how they take advantage of their customers' wallets with their overpriced products.  They didn't end up having the highest stock price on their own!  It required a high profit margin.
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dolina

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #20 on: January 28, 2013, 01:30:26 AM »
Desktop parts
- CPU
- HDD
- Display

Notebook parts
- GPU
- RAM
- SSD
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Normalnorm

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #21 on: January 28, 2013, 01:46:44 AM »
I like Apple stuff just like the next guy but I cringe at how they take advantage of their customers' wallets with their overpriced products.  They didn't end up having the highest stock price on their own!  It required a high profit margin.

While you may feel Apple overcharges for what it provides it is fair to argue that those who purchase Apple products feel they are getting fair value because they buy them in spite of alternatives and DO believe they are receiving value for money.

I would suggest the difference is similar to restaurants and home cooked food. The Apple restaurant uses the same ingredients as the others but happens to make a dish that far more preferred by diners. The home cook may actually make something that tastes better but the diner wants the ambiance of the restaurant that Apple has built and is uninterested in dirtying their hands.

They are not to be pitied they have made a decision that is sensible to them.

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #21 on: January 28, 2013, 01:46:44 AM »

Niterider

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #22 on: January 28, 2013, 02:12:17 AM »
I like Apple stuff just like the next guy but I cringe at how they take advantage of their customers' wallets with their overpriced products.  They didn't end up having the highest stock price on their own!  It required a high profit margin.

While you may feel Apple overcharges for what it provides it is fair to argue that those who purchase Apple products feel they are getting fair value because they buy them in spite of alternatives and DO believe they are receiving value for money.

I would suggest the difference is similar to restaurants and home cooked food. The Apple restaurant uses the same ingredients as the others but happens to make a dish that far more preferred by diners. The home cook may actually make something that tastes better but the diner wants the ambiance of the restaurant that Apple has built and is uninterested in dirtying their hands.

They are not to be pitied they have made a decision that is sensible to them.

I guess ignorance is bliss...

The marketing strategy of apple: Take a product that is in every way insensible for what they charge and make the consumer think it is a sensible purchase.

RMC33

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #23 on: January 28, 2013, 02:15:25 AM »
Niterider I disagree slightly.

Yes it's expensive, but when you compare spec for spec, Apple does charge quite a bit.  The products are generally usable and you don't waste time with stuff that doesn't work.  Instead you can use your time to simply use the product.

There isn't much difference between laptop/desktop architecture anymore.  Yes, performance is better with a big huge desktop, but what do you need the performance for?  Keep in mind with the iMac you're getting a 27" IPS screen.  After the computer is useless, I believe the screen is still usable via the thunderbolt port (but only with thunderbolt enabled devices, which right now are mostly apple laptops but that might change in the near future).  In any case, a 27" IPS (unless you buy some no-name brand on eBay) is going to run your $700+, so factor that into the specs.  It is NOT the same as the $199 27" specials you see all the time.

As for the hackintosh, don't do it.  I built one and it works ... mostly.  Sometimes something doesn't work, then you have to go through the forums and figured out what went wrong.  It's a fun project and I enjoyed doing it, but for a PC that's going to be used daily that I need to rely on, it simply doesn't cut it. 

My only suggestion is that if you don't need super-performance, buy a Mac-Mini instead, and a cheapo monitor for now (unless you have a monitor, if you do, use that).  When Apple releases a new Thunderbolt Display (27" IPS based on the NEW iMac monitor) either grab that or another high quality 27" IPS or PLS Monitor (Samsung, Asus, Dell Ultrasharp, etc.)  They're all going to be pricey.  That way you're separating the computer from the monitor, and can upgrade the PC every few years and keep the monitor.  The biggest drawback with the iMac is that it's difficult to upgrade yourself, and the PC side of the tech will likely get outdated well before the monitor.  Separate the two, and you can replace the PC every few years.

Honestly, I have little experience with hackintosh builds. All of my computers are either on windows 7, windows 8, ubuntu or running a virtual machine of a different linux distribution. I have heard running a hackintosh is a hit and a miss for stability sake so I can understand the desire not to go down that route.

While the iMac has an IPS screen, I often find that the graphics cards that are in the iMac just dont cut it for QWHD resolution, especially if you get into CAD or 3D rendering. Just a preference, I am not the biggest fan of the glossy screens either. I prefer the anti-glare screens in the Dell Ultrasharps.

Probably the most important part of a custom build for me is just simply convenience. I have a sound card, multiple graphics cards, efficient power supply, blue-ray, cooling like crazy, 16gb samsung ram (overclocked), multiple solid states, multiple hard drives in RAID arrays, a processor with 4 real and 4 virtual cores stable at 4.5ghz idling at 36 degrees Celsius, and a motherboard that can allow for lots of further expansion. I just cant get that in an iMac and if I could, it would cost over $3000 at least.  I built this computer for less than 900. Unfortunately, I am one who does need super performance and most of the software I run is best on a windows platform (emulating doesnt work very well for these programs).

Plus if i need to upgrade, I can just pop the door of the case off...

Do most people need a QWHD screen, i7 processing power, over 8 gb ram, 3tb and a ssd os boot drive? Not many, but for those who need or want it, get ready to top off that credit card limit.



CAD on an iMac is laughable at best for anything beyond basic planning and simple design. My PC/MBP retina synch to each other for photo work so I can seamlessly go between the two. I would KILL to be able to do the same with AutoCAD 2013 and Inventor 2013 on my retina without dual boot. I do have to say though... SSD for boot and primary software is not overkill. My productivity is much higher using a SSD for all my CAD and photo work (one 512 in my win7 PC) since the read/write is so fast. Once done I transfer to my internal 3TB Raid 1 that is used for storage + a pair of 2TB NAS drives for backup.

In regard to the value of an Apple product vs the rest. All I can say is show me a laptop as good as my Retina for a similar price. Their desktops yes, total scam. I have yet to find a laptop that can do what it does for the same price.

Tov

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #24 on: January 28, 2013, 04:55:43 AM »
So its is turning into mac vs the rest.

Back on topic. ;)
The cheapest iMac will do the trick for your needs easily. I agree with paul13walnut5 that getting a ssd or fusion is the bigger difference.
Just got the mini i7 and have Apple put in the ssd(256) and working with Aperture and Photoshop its really fast. At least compared to my old iMac - 2006 model.
I later put in 16gb of ram, makes it smoother but the ssd is the wow factor.
Of course if you get an iMac you have a better graphic card and with an update of ram and possibly a ssd or fusion drive you will be needing a safety belt and crash helmet.
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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #25 on: January 28, 2013, 05:00:46 AM »
If you can afford the best, then go for it. We all enjoy the nicer things in life  :).
However, I wouldn't be too concerned with processor and ram specs. I have a 2007 macbook with a dual core 2Ghz processor and I upgraded the ram to 4gig [667mhz], man let me tell you: I use photoshop heavily, along with final cut pro, aperture, some website building software as well as some other stuff and I don't know how or why but my machine just handles it all. Photoshop can be a tad slow when your using liquify but I have edited files from a medium format back with loads of layers no problem. Aperture can be a little slow to open sometimes but when it does it's fine. All this with 15 tabs in safari open and itunes running in the background.
Point is the ram on the newer machines is 3 times as fast as mine, so around 8gig would be fine for most purposes [i'v read on a few sites that even heavy video guys say they don't see much performance increase in going to 16gig]
i5 would handle all that you can throw at it [id say get i7 if you were a heavy video editor and into 3D rendering]
I would spend the money on getting as much solid-state storage as I could, as well as a huge spiny disk backup, because you can never have to much memory! or put the savings into a new lens?

RustyTheGeek

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #26 on: January 28, 2013, 10:47:01 AM »
I like Apple stuff just like the next guy but I cringe at how they take advantage of their customers' wallets with their overpriced products.  They didn't end up having the highest stock price on their own!  It required a high profit margin.

While you may feel Apple overcharges for what it provides it is fair to argue that those who purchase Apple products feel they are getting fair value because they buy them in spite of alternatives and DO believe they are receiving value for money.

I would suggest the difference is similar to restaurants and home cooked food. The Apple restaurant uses the same ingredients as the others but happens to make a dish that far more preferred by diners. The home cook may actually make something that tastes better but the diner wants the ambiance of the restaurant that Apple has built and is uninterested in dirtying their hands.

They are not to be pitied they have made a decision that is sensible to them.

That's an interesting analogy Normalnorm!  I agree, folks that buy Apple products are buying the whole experience, not just the hardware.  I don't pity them, I just think some (not all) of them end up regretting the purchase a few months later when they discover the limits that Apple imposes to ensure the whole experience isn't tarnished by the user.  For some this is great, others end up disappointed.  Fortunately, Apple products tend to hold their resale value for quite a while.
Yes, but what would  surapon  say ??  :D

RustyTheGeek

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #27 on: January 28, 2013, 11:50:04 AM »
OK, Whoops.  Sorry again for the long post.   :-[

Yeah, these things do tend to end up being Mac vs. the rest.  In this case however, I think that the iMac is a beautiful thing but very overpriced and somewhat ill suited for photo/video work.  Yes, it CAN be used for those functions but it's very expensive and inefficient to create a good environment for the task.  IMO, when working with thousands of important images or large video files, the important task (that shouldn't be overlooked) is not just CPU or RAM, it's file management.  The images should be on a RAID volume to offer protection from failure and then also stored on a large secondary volume for backup.  An iMac is essentially a laptop with a big screen and isn't designed to provide this type of multi-volume fault tolerant infrastructure.  (Without hanging a bunch of expensive Thunderbolt drives off the back, which is still very new technology.)  Yes, you can do fine with an i5 CPU and 8G of RAM (although OSX has always been very RAM hungry) but you can't do anything if your data or system is lost.

Whether the OP buys Apple or Wintel, the advice should point them to something that is powerful, configurable and upgradable.  I would suggest a Mac Pro, not an iMac.  I don't think the Mac Pro is a rip-off if that is what the job demands but it is still very expensive, just like all Apple products.  I didn't set the prices.  The Mac Pro disk structure, CPU and RAM can be much further expanded and is better designed for what the OP is doing.  (Esp if they venture into video!)  The iMac isn't very expandable.  It's primary purpose is to sit on a desk and look pretty and provide a nice device for desktop activities like web/email/iTunes and basic home duties.

Please remember that Apple products are built first and foremost to steer Apple users into the Apple stores to consume and purchase media/app content and other Apple products.  Getting other functionality from them is a secondary priority.  The iMac is a perfect example of this.  It is marketed to the affluent crowd that already owns iPads, iPhones and iTouch devices and want to venture into an Apple computer.  Most long time Apple owners that I know or read about purchase MacBook Pros with Retina and MacBook Airs these days.  Those are the most bang for the buck at this time.  The iMac is the least bang for the buck.  Production houses and graphics firms either use Mac Pros or they have started investing in comparable WinTel boxes.

Bottom Line is that if someone is looking to spend $1500 -$2000 on a device, I am going to help them spend that money wisely on the best choice, not just get what looks nice and be good enough for the time being.  Unfortunately, an ideal appropriate Apple device doesn't exist for photography/video work for less than over $2000.  That's just the way it is.  Again, I didn't set the prices.  Which is why I have an exceptional WinTel box (comparable to a Mac Pro) instead for literally thousands less.  I don't do my serious photo editing on a laptop (regardless of the make) and I'm not using a limited All-In-One Monitor+Laptop Hybrid machine either.  It doesn't matter whether it's Apple or not.  The tool should still be appropriate for the task.  If you've ever helped/consoled someone who lost everything due to a drive crash, you start to realize the value of fault tolerance and easy automated backups.  If you want a great WinTel laptop device for photo editing, check out the Lenovo ThinkPad W530.  It has features designed for photography work like built-in color calibration, an IPS matte display and a built-in RAID disk option.  For less than a comparable Apple laptop.  But it's not brushed aluminum so there's that to consider.

I would suggest either getting a MacBook Pro with SSD-Hybrid drive + big external disk for backup and then an external display or a Mac Pro with RAID and internal backup drive + external backup drive with external display.  The iMac would be my last choice for photography or video editing.  It's just too limited, crippled and expensive.  At least with a MacBook there would be the added convenience of portability, a better screen and an i7 CPU.
Yes, but what would  surapon  say ??  :D

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #27 on: January 28, 2013, 11:50:04 AM »

bseitz234

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #28 on: January 28, 2013, 12:22:45 PM »
Didn't read the whole thread- just the OP. Take that into account.

For what it's worth, I have a 2010 27" iMac, i7 quad-core 2.93 GHz. Upgraded to 12 GB RAM but contemplating getting more from OWC (www.macsales.com). It cost about $2k when I got it, but I'm sure you could now get one for substantially less. I thought about upgrading when I heard they were going to do a refresh, but I immediately decided I didn't want anything to do with the new one, for the following reasons:

1) Optical drive. If you're ever going to want to burn CDs or DVDs, I'd much rather have that built in than have to buy and deal with an external drive.

2) FW. Yeah, I know, you can get a TB-FW adapter. But I already have a FW800 RAID setup for data storage and backup, which is significantly cheaper than a comparable TB RAID device.

3) What I have, works great. I have CS6, so I'm using LR4, Photoshop Extended, and Premier Pro for video. And I can run them all at the same time, with no lag. If I do something really intensive I might have to free up a bit of RAM, but I've been amazed at how smoothly this system tackles hard work. I can't imagine that the performance upgrade would be particularly noticeable, for my usage, and therefore not worth the cost for me.

My recommendation? Keep an eye on the Refurb section of the Apple store, and save some money on the lastest version of the old generation. And regardless of the specs, get the 27" screen. Having that kind of real estate is awesome. :-)
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RustyTheGeek

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #29 on: January 28, 2013, 12:27:58 PM »
This might have been asked before, but I would really like some advice on which iMac, from those models just launched, to get.
Make sure you look into Academic Discounts if you are a student or have students in your family.  It's about the only way to get a discount on Apple products.

I am looking at the 27" Desktop and I am going to configure it to at least include the 3TB drive.  I will upgrade the memory (2 extra 8GB = 24GB total) after market as it is cheaper.  Now I can just upgrade everything, but I would like not to if there is really no need or real world impact.
You should get at least the iMac RAM MAXED OUT AT PURCHASE TIME because it is practically impossible to open, repair or upgrade anything once you receive it[/s].  The 27" iMac RAM is easy to upgrade.  (But not much else.)  So get your extra RAM from Crucial for a fraction of the price.  There is an eject button in the power cord socket at the back of the iMac. Press it, and a cover pops open giving you easy access to the RAM slots.  Otherwise, the iMac can't be modified easily.  This is one of many reasons I discourage folks from buying them.  They are like buying a huge iPad when it comes to working on them.  Pray it doesn't develop any problems during its lifespan!  Read this to get a better idea of the situation...
http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9234218/Upgrading_RAM_on_new_iMac_practically_impossible


So, I need the community's advice for the CPU and GPU specs to lead me in understanding where my money will best be spend
1 - CPU > Taking into account my usage, is there any need/benefit to upgrade from the i5 2.9GHz to the i5 3.2GHz or i7 3.6GHz --- each step = $200
2 - GPU > Taking into account my usage, would I benefit from the increase the 512MB to 1GB memory ---- $150 upgrade
If you are doing much video, max out the CPU.  Otherwise the CPU difference listed above is not that important.  512 MB of video RAM won't matter either way for photo or video.  The graphics chipset in the iMac is pretty weak anyway so save the money.

My Usage (None for professional purposes):
Photo Editing
 - Aperture.  I have also recently started to work more with RAW files and my current 2009 MacBook does feel the punch.
 - Photoshop Elements (rarely)
 - NIK HDR
Video Editing of family videos using iMovie
Family Computer usage: Word, Excel Internet, e-Mail.
The iMac can handle the casual usage you describe above and iMovie will likely do you fine for video.  Just please get a large backup drive(s).  Other World Computing (http://eshop.macsales.com) is a great place to get better drives than the overpriced Apple drives.  Also get a copy of SuperDuper! for better recovery backups than TimeMachine.  Also, if you have kids in school, don't forget that you can get a lot of your software in legitimate academic versions to save money.  Esp MS Office, Adobe, etc. 

Cameras: Hopefully Canon 6D and 12Mpix Panasonic GF3
I can't speak to the GF3 but I own the 6D and love it.

PS - let this not be a discussion about Mac vs PC or Desktop vs Laptop.  Those choices are settled
Sorry, I pretty much screwed the pooch on this part.   :-[

Thanks


After re-reading the OP's post (above), let me apologize for my previous lengthy post answering essentially the opposite of what the OP requested.  See above for my thoughts on his actual post.   :-[
« Last Edit: January 28, 2013, 01:20:41 PM by RustyTheGeek »
Yes, but what would  surapon  say ??  :D

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #29 on: January 28, 2013, 12:27:58 PM »