iMac-21,5" (late 2012) : which chip for (post) photo editing ?

DouxBokehDouxBokeh Posts: 7Member
edited January 2013 in General Discussions
After 20 years in the PC Window world, I'm going back to Apple.

I'll be buying an iMac 21,5-inch (the most recent - late 2012 - edition); not the 27" which seems to me to large for text, internet and even photo post processing.. and to costly for me.

I will order the computer with the Fusion Drive option (+ 250 $) coming with a 1 TB 5400 drive and a 128 GB SSD drive, and the basic 8 GB of RAM.

My questions : which chip should I choose for photo editing, using heavy software such as Photoshop or Lightroom : is the basic 2.7GHz Quad-core Intel Core i5 (with Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz) ADEQUATE for such a task, or do I need ABSOLUTELY the 2.9GHz Quad-core Intel Core i5 (with Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz) option (+ 200 $) ?

And, as far as RAM is concerned, is 8 GB enough, or do I really need the 16 GB option (+ 200 $) ?

Let there be light !


  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    Neither PS nor LR would benefit much from a faster processor. As much RAM as you can afford, I'd say. My late 2011 27" got 12 GB, I don't use PS or LR but Aperture (which probably needs as much RAM as both your apps together). And I got used very fast to the big screen. Before, I had a 20" and a second display. I also got used quickly to 2 24" in the office.

    Are you sure to go back? Adobe is basically preferring Windows and causes frequently probs with Macs. To me one of the reasons I don't use their products at home.
  • shawninoshawnino Posts: 453Member
    What JJ_SO said: don't fret the chip, you'll be fine.

    I always max out my RAM because I have multiple things going on at once. If you're not going to be doing heavy duty video editing, or other exotic (non-image processing) applications, 8 GB will do.

    I actually run twin 27" screens, one for LR4 and the other for the rest of my life, but that's me. If you're content with the 21", more power to you.

    What I would say, but you probably know already, is that you don't need much on your SSD. You can put the photo software on the SSD, but the photos themselves will live quite happily on your spinner drive. I know photo/video pros whose SSD are smaller than the one you're getting. I think you'll be well served with the basic setup.
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    @shawnino: This Fusion Drive thing is one unit, as I understood. It's the only possibility to get SSD and HD into the new thin iMac 21.5. I'm very happy with that combination, too, but I also read: if one part of the fusion drive fails, it's not sure you get the data back from the other part. In my machine these are separate parts - if the SSD crashes, I can still get the HD with all pictures out of it.

    But we always have backups, don't we? ;)

  • shawninoshawnino Posts: 453Member
    @JJ_SO: wow, didn't know that. My 27" is from earlier in 2012, got SSD only, and just use a big fat external spinner hooked up to the back.
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    Fusion drive is new and there are some pros and some concerns against. I prefer your setting, too, although mine is too old to run with thunderbolt and FW800 is sometimes a bit slow for D800 files. So I stored the majority of my pictures on the internal HD and the backups and old scans external.
  • safyresafyre Posts: 113Member
    edited January 2013
    As others have said, the ram is more important than the 0.2 xtra ghz you get in the processor. I'd personally go for the ram upgrade (I have 16gb as well) because you will eventually max it out anyways and if you do lots of raw edits, it will help out significantly in multi-tasking. As for the hard drive, is there an option for a 7200rpm terabyte drive? If so, I'd go for that as well.
    Post edited by safyre on
  • sidewayssideways Posts: 54Member
    You always pay over the odds for the high end version anything apple - and this from an apple fanboy of 30 years standing. You should be able to swap out the RAM yourself (even on a 2012 machine) - max it out and get it cheaper from the specialist memory companies than you will from apple. A slower internal disk may be cooler, quieter, more reliable than a 7200 so a fast interface is good because you'll want lots of terabytes of external storage for the real work to work with all the extra RAM you added. FW800 is the absolute minimum i'd use these days. Thunderbolt will hopefully get cheaper so as an expansion option it would be nice to have. I would never pay apple's price for the top line processor - the value for money just isn't there. I always go for a mid spec machine with a killer display - that's what they're best at.
    On the portables you can swap out hard disks easily enough, sadly not on the iMac ....
  • HessephotoHessephoto Posts: 9Member
    I have the mid 2011 IMac and was pretty excited to find out that although apple says you can only use 4GB ram in each of the four slots totaling 16, you can buy aftermarket ram at 8 GB per stick. I bought two of those for my empty slots and have 20 GB of ram! Only cost 100 bucks online.
  • shawninoshawnino Posts: 453Member
    @Hessephoto: how easy is the install? I'm rather terrified to try to open my iMac up. Aside from voiding the warranty, I've never seen inside one. (I assume you yank the front panel off with suction?)
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    RAM is easy, there are two Philips screws under the lower side. Best, you check out
  • HessephotoHessephoto Posts: 9Member
    Like putting in an as card. There Philips screws to remove the cover. Just have to push alot harder than you would think Togo seat it in there.
  • HessephotoHessephoto Posts: 9Member
    Actually there are step by step instructions on apples website. Don't think it voids warranty.
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 4,375Member
    RAM on the iMac (2011 model) is considered a user replaceable part.
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • shawninoshawnino Posts: 453Member
    Wow, that's brilliant. Thanks--I never would have guessed.
  • AdeAde Posts: 1,071Member
    edited January 2013
    Note that the RAM on the 21.5" late-2012 model is NOT upgradeable. To access the RAM, you'd have to take apart the LCD and front glass assembly (which is now super glued to the case) and completely remove the main logic board -- all of which by the way voids the warranty. Even the Apple Store will not install additional RAM for you post purchase.

    So if you think you'll ever need more than the standard 8GB of RAM, then you'll have to get it from Apple during initial purchase at Apple's hyperinflated price.

    The RAM on the 27" model, on the other hand, is user upgradeable via an access door on the back of the unit.
    Post edited by Ade on
  • sidewayssideways Posts: 54Member
    Thanks for catching that one Ade !
    Do you ever get the impression that now they're bigger, Apple's approach to business is looking more and more like microsoft's ? There's nothing like market power to let you squeeze out some more profit ...
    And i know that their argument is that the latest slim form factors don't leave room for removable covers, but on a desktop frankly who cares :-)
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    I do get the impression, Microsoft is catching up with Apple in aspects of usability. But Apple's business behaviour is no longer "think different". They still use Steve's ideas and concepts but are not able to meet his high standards - see their replacement attempt of google maps . They're bleeding money but are not able to modernise Aperture. When using SnowLeopard 10.6, a three year "old" OS, you're excluded from updates for contemporary RAW formats like D600. I was a big apple fan, but if I'd to decide which system to buy today, it would be a tough decision. A d I hope, my iMac is lasting for a while.
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 4,375Member
    That's always been the case, since RAW file reading in Mac OS is built into the OS so that all applications can use it (iMovie, iPhoto etc), not Aperture itself.

    That's said, I agree with you about Apple as of late (and I've been an Apple user for 25 years).
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • DouxBokehDouxBokeh Posts: 7Member
    Thank you all for your comments and advices.

    Most of you (JJ_SO, Safyre, Sideways and Hessephoto) recommended more RAM. But, as Ade noted, only the 27” model is user upgradeable (memory) via an access door on the back of the unit. Sideways called for a killer display and Safyre for a faster drive

    Now, if I may quote myself… « I'll be buying an iMac 21,5-inch … not the 27" which seems to me to large for text, internet and even photo post processing.. and to costly for me. » Well… after long consideration (your comments)… and my son’s advice, I decided to buy the iMac 27” (late 2012) model, with the Quad Core i5 (2.9 GHz, with Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz) and the Fusion Drive option, coming with a 1 TB 7200 drive and a 128 GB SSD, and the basic 8 GB of RAM.

    That 27” screen is too amazing to pass, the chip and the drive are faster, and the memory is self-upgradable to 32 GB (!)… and you only live once (and on a larger scale) !
    Let there be light !
  • shawninoshawnino Posts: 453Member
    to quote myself in this very moment: you won't regret it.
    to quote Apple's stock price today: up $10.
    to quote anybody who has held Apple shares since before Wednesday: where the hell was your enthusiasm last week?
    to quote most of the crowd on this Forum: where's our D400?
    to quote Beyonce: [well, she lip synchs mostly, so you can put anything here]
    to quote Nikon Service: that's not oil on your sensor, it's Nano Coating.
    to quote KR: if you're not shooting Leica JPEGS, you're not a real photographer, so your monitor doesn't matter.
    to quote the mole who posts on here from Canon HQ: now just get a 5DMarkWhatever and you'll be all set.
    to quote Funduro: ... actually, why hasn't Funduro posted in the new forum? Anybody know if Funduro's ok?
    to quote the spammers on the old forum: did you need a knockoff handbag to accent that monitor?
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    @DouxBokeh: I don't think you'll regret it. Also, the fusion drive's new, therefore not a lot of experience around for it, but since your ARE a backupper (just nod and do it. regularly) you gain some speed by it and if it crashes... well, two years ago the combination of SSD and HD in one Mac was also something new and mine are still working. Just take it big enough, because a change will be major surgery. Have loads of fun with it.
    @shawino: didn't get all of it, but the bits I got made me smile, thank you.
  • GitzoGitzo Posts: 174Member
    You made a very wise decision to go with the 27 inch iMac Regardless of which Mac you buy, it will be "upgraded" within 3 to 6 months; I haven't had my 27 inch 6 months, yet it's already an "older model" !
    I don't remember how much Apple wanted for more RAM, but when I bought mine, 4 GB was basic; I have since bought two 4 GB modules, but haven't gotten around to sticking them in yet; it's only a minor task.

    The thing I'm not that "impressed" with is Lion; for what I do, I liked the 8 year old Jaguar better. As other have commented, the display on this thing is remarkable. Believe me, you will NEVER quit thanking yourself for going with the 27 inch.

    Oddly enough, in his column in Shutterbug, David Brooks states that the iMac is not that great for post processing; (I forget what his reasons were) Good luck, and I know you'll enjoy it !

    Charley C
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 4,375Member
    Most likely the monitor, due to the glossy screen, which makes images look more contrasty than they really are.
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
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