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Need help choosing a new Mac

Hi Everyone!

I could use some guidance on choosing a new Mac. Here is the quick backstory. I have been using a 15" MacBook Pro for the past several years. I love it! Zero problems until recently. It has been freezing on me and its getting harder to boot up, so I think its on its last leg. I figured I would see what the new options are. I am thinking a new I Mac 27"? All I need it for is lightroom, photoshop and premier. Can I get away with one just off the shelf or do you recommend a custom built machine? My current specs on my macbook are 2GHz Intel core I7 8Gb 1333 Mhz DDR3. I just don't know enough about the specs to choose correctly versus price etc...Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you everyone!



  • TrevTrev Moderator

    The only advice I can give, not being a Mac user but this goes for both Windows/Mac, get as much RAM as you possibly can and a good Graphics Card, 2 key ingredients for Adobe Products.
  • rs_eosrs_eos Member
    Agree with Trev on RAM and GPU as solid investments; especially the GPU since often times it's not something that can be upgraded after the fact.  I think that is true of the iMac line and definitely true in the latest Mac Pro line.

    One often overlooked specification is for drives.  If you can afford it, go with at least the Fusion drive that Apple provides (a hybrid standard drive plus SSD).

    Other notes: in terms of laptops vs. desktops, desktops typically give you way more for the money.  Of course you're no longer portable though.   Personally, I only use desktops as that gives me maximum power for the price.

    Finally, as with any computer investment, try to think how long you plan to keep it.  In my case, I get a new machine on average every four years.   If I were to keep them longer, I would adjust my budget higher (to come close to maxing out the machine to give it as much life as possible).
  • Thanks Guys. I would have responded sooner but I'm in the process of reinstalling the operating system:(. So now I know it's probably a real good idea to get a new one, as I'm on this forum from my phone! lol Can I get away with a i5 processor? Is it better than what I have now as an older i7? I would be getting a iMac i assume rather than the MacBook this time around. Thanks!
  • If you stay with a Mac, you should check out Apple.com and look in their refurbished section in their online store.  You can save a few hundred dollars by buying a model that 1-2 years older.  If you go with an iMac, you definitely want a better GPU and RAM.  GPU is not user-serviceable, but the RAM generally is.  So, get a model with a good GPU and then upgrade the RAM yourself.
  • Hi Stephen! Thanks for the input. I will definitely check out the refurbished ones. The reason I asked about i5 is I can run to a best buy and get one off the shelf. I didn't see an i7 option for them but I will check again.
  • rs_eosrs_eos Member
    The processor can come into play and if you plan to keep the computer for a longer term, you may want to go for the fastest/most cores that will carry you over those years.

    In my case, I do photography only on the side.  Taking all my needs into account, I needed not only a very good GPU, but maximum amount of CPU cores too.

    I don't have too many details on the i5 vs i7 (I use Xeons; Mac Pro), but I think the i7 adds hyperthreading.  So a 4-core i5 may just give you 4 physical and 4 logical cores.  Whereas a 4-core i7 may give you 4 physical and now 8 logical.  This doesn't imply you'll double the speed; far from it.  In my tests on a 12-core Xeon (24-core logical), hyperthreading only gave an average of 9% speed boost.  It was also very dependent upon the software.  Sometimes, hyperthreading runs things slower.

    A good rule of thumb thus is looking at what you do 80%+ of the time on your computer.   But you also need to look at your software.  If the software you use for Photography is GPU-optimized, then investments in a better GPU is a must.   But if software isn't GPU-optimized, you'd be better off with a faster and more powerful CPU.   Non-graphics-related tasks such as day-to-day business (email, accounting, etc.) will benefit the most from your CPU.

    In all cases though, more RAM and the fastest possible storage will greatly help.
  • Thanks rs_eos! Much appreciated. I am going to dig a little deeper and see what works and what money I want to put out! Thanks again. 

  • Ok! I am ready to check out of the apple store but I wanted to check the specs with you kind people. This is what I have decided, but I am really unsure on the flash or fusion drive? Should I definitely go flash drive? Please advise before I hit buy would be awesome! 

    27" iMac with Retina 5K display
    4.0 Ghz quad-core Intel I7, Turbo boost up to 4.2Ghz
    16 Gb 1867MHz DDR3 SDRAM - two 8Gb
    512 GB flash storage
    AMD Radeon R9 M395X with 4GB Video Memory

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited July 2016

    I'd go with Flash (SSD - Solid State Drives)

    Flash drive is an SSD, Fusion is a combination of the old 5400/7200 rpm and SSD (don't ask how that works) and is faster than the normal drives, but the SSD drives are faster and silent (no moving parts), why Apple insists on calling them 'Flash' just adds to the confusion of Fusion (yeah, pun intended) v's Flash.

    Here is one guy who had the same dilemma as you (spoiler alert - he went with Flash - SSD, but also got SSD external drives as back up and to help with extra space lacking in the smaller Flash/SSD drives)

    But a more valid argument is the 'failure' rate of normal/fusion drives v's SSD/Flash - no moving parts v's moving parts

    Quote from article below:

    "Fusion Drive can fail, even if the separate components are otherwise
    fine, leaving you with an inaccessible drive. This will require Apple to
    fix it. While not common, this has happened to a few friends of mine."

  • Trev,

    Thank you for that. I was leaning towards the Flash drive but was second guessing myself because I knew the fusion drives have some SSD storage also. Advanced uses can allocate what goes there etc. was my understanding...Well that had me thinking and second guessing myself.. but I think I will stick with the SSD and be done with it. Thank you again!

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited July 2016
    No problems Jay, I did like the 'understatement' in his quote re failure:

    "While not common, this had happened to a few friends of mine."

    Huh! A 'few', 1 is just acceptable, but a "few"... nope, that would be an instant dismissal of such drives for me, plus the fact that he 'knows' his friends woes, can you imagine how many are out there if he just had a 'few' friends personally that he knows of?

    Just as a side note, I have some normal drives, but they are the Western Digital VelociRaptor 10,000 rpm drives and those being 2T are good for my storage, but I have SSD drives as well, 1 dedicated to my OS.

  • rs_eosrs_eos Member
    If you have the budget, yes, go for SSD.  In the newest Mac Pros, the internal SSD will give you IO speeds of 1 GB/s (bytes, not bits).  Not sure what the iMac speed is, but it's probably less due to different hardware.  Still, should be far higher than a typical hard drive of 0.1 GB/s.

    The Fusion drive is a nice compromise though on price vs storage capacity.

    For external drives, it will depend upon the capacity you need.  SSD will carry a huge premium in price.  My next computer will have an internal SSD, but all external storage will use hard drives in a RAID 1+0 (aka 10) configuration.
  • Thanks again everyone! Now that I know what I am getting, I do have a quick question. I have my cart loaded in the Apple store, but I can get the same specs with apple care from Adorama for several hundred dollars less. It does state (late 2015) after each of the computers. I am assuming they are last years model? Just not the newest ones? Is there a difference in them? Just curious. The specs are exactly the same.

  • rs_eosrs_eos Member
    edited July 2016
    I cannot speak to Adorama; I only ever do my purchasing direct from Apple.  In terms of year designations, that's when the model was first released.  For example, if you purchase a Mac Pro today, it will still be labeled as "Late 2013".  So it would appear they are indeed identical units.

    Here's a link to the full iMac line and their designations.
  • Thank you rs_eos! That helped a lot. I did just place my order with Adorama. It was identical units and I was able to get apple care with it also, while saving a couple hundred dollars. 


    PS.....Thank you for everyones help! Much appreciated. I am sure I will have more questions once I get it in. I have brought my macbook pro back to life for the time being but it shuts down randomly and hard to boot up. If my research is correct, it is the graphics card and will need a replacement which includes the mother board. Of course I could be wrong, but hopefully it stays alive enough to transfer all over:) 

  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Late to the party, I'd still like to add something. 

    When I bought my 27" iMac 2 years ago (one of 4 Macs that I have), I went to the Apple store, and asked for the model / version in the bottom right-hand corner of the table.  In other words, max RAM, max size SSD, max everything.  (Max expensive too.)

    And right now, today, after two grinding weeks of processing more than 150,000 images, and converting them to time-lapse sequences in Adobe After Effects, as well as part of the workflow being in Final Cut Pro .... I am so happy I spent the money then on the fastest Mac I could get. 

    I do hope you got an SSD drive. Not the 'fusion drives' they will try and push on you. 
  • Hi Neil,

    That is comforting news! I did end up getting the fastest 27" iMac with the SSD drive. I went with the 512 gb flash drive. I just couldn't justify the price on the 1tb version of that as I store everything on externals anyway. I just need enough space to store the programs themselves. I must admit though that the drive situation is tricky. The fusion drives are tempting because of the space they offer, and the price difference. But thanks to the members here and some good old fashioned research, I decided to go the SSD way. 

  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    I have a Fusion drive on my Mac Mini that I use in the studio ... and I hate it! I've never watched the spinning beach ball as much as I do with that computer. 
  • I am glad to hear you got a iMac with SSD, CanonJay.    I'm still on a regular HD, but when I'm ready to buy a new one, I'm going back to the refurbished section to check out SSD iMacs.
  • Thanks Stephen. I had checked the refurbished section also, but they only had i5 processors available when I checked.  I would have had no problem going that route if an i7 was available. I was in an extreme hurry as my mac book was shutting down every couple of hours. I received the iMac yesterday and have everything transferred over and ready to go. Now the macbook goes for repair and all should be well for several more years! 

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