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Extra Ram vs. Better Processor

by Trabadoor22 / January 24, 2011 6:50 AM PST

This topic may have already been covered, but I don't see a search function on the forums so I thought I would ask. I am wondering in general for performance/speed which would be better to get extra ram or a better processor. I am getting a new computer most likely a mac in the next week or so and I will mainly be using it for web browsing, playing videos and music and streaming media. Here are my options. Thanks for any input.

1. iMac i3 3.2 Ghz 8G Ram 1TB HD ATI Radeon HD 5670 with 512MB

2. iMac i5 2.8 Ghz 4G Ram 1TB HD ATI Radeon HD 5750 with 1GB

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by Willy / January 24, 2011 7:13 AM PST

IMO, its far better to have the best cpu present when "buying" a new system. Then, add the ram later as usually that's what is done for many users.

The system is ready to go with the best cpu present. Ram upgrades are fairly easy affair to do, but the cpu is a notch harder and may involve some head scratching to get the right one but once done is itself a major upgrade. Alot can go wrong, but often it doesn't. However, if you already have the system, then adding would be the better option to upgrade at a later date.

Thus a new system to be brought get the cpu you want first, then add ram later.

tada -----Willy Happy

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by Trabadoor22 / January 24, 2011 8:13 AM PST
In reply to: Suggestions...

Ok thank you, that makes sense. That was my guess too since I think it would be much easier to upgrade ram later. I am a little unsure if I will ever use the power of the i5 though which is another reason I was considering the i3. Price difference is about $300.

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Get # 1 ...if it's within financial reach.
by VAPCMD / January 24, 2011 8:33 AM PST

The easiest upgrade for most PCs is usually a video card.

Better to get the CPU you want AND the RAM to go with it up right up front. Adding RAM later is always a little iffy as trying to find matching RAM is not as easy 6 to 12 months down the road.


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by Trabadoor22 / January 24, 2011 10:52 AM PST

#1 Costs less, just has more ram. #2 has better processor with less ram, but costs more. Not sure if you mean get #1 because it has more ram. I hear what you are saying VAPCMD about getting what I need at once, but I am not the most tech savy person so I don't really know what I would need. I also don't really want to spend more than $1999, which the 2nd costs. I think either would be fine for me, but I don't really know what to go by. I mean right now I have a 6 year old Toshiba laptop with a Intel Celeron 1.5 Ghz processor with 512MB Ram and 80G HD and it seems to work ok. Seems like either would be a big step up from what I have right now so I guess I am somewhat basing what I need on that.

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Wallet size
by Bob__B / January 25, 2011 6:40 AM PST
In reply to: Confused

Based on what you are using I suspect either machine would be a nice bump up.

If the wallet can handle it I'd go with the I5.

For most things 4GB will be ample.

Does the I5 get you a bigger screen?......that would be a plus.

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Sorry I read those both as i5 processors
by VAPCMD / January 25, 2011 10:34 AM PST
In reply to: Confused

Is there an option for configuration #2 with 8GB RAM and the ATI 5670 ?

What are the prices of the two items as configured below ?

1. iMac i3 3.2 Ghz 8G Ram 1TB HD ATI Radeon HD 5670 with 512MB

2. iMac i5 2.8 Ghz 4G Ram 1TB HD ATI Radeon HD 5750 with 1GB


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No problem
by Trabadoor22 / January 25, 2011 11:23 AM PST

The first option costs $1699 and the second is $1999. Each come with the larger 27" screen. I can upgrade the second to 8G of ram if I buy direct from with an added cost of $200 so that would bring me up to $2199 before tax or any extras. This is what I would like to get, but I don't really want to spend that much. I am already pushing the limits of what I want to spend with these macs considering I can get much more power in a pc for about $1000 cheaper. Everytime I go to the Apple store I want a mac, but these prices seem a little rediculous.

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1st is $1899
by Trabadoor22 / January 25, 2011 2:17 PM PST
In reply to: No problem

Sorry I meant to write the first is $1899.

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Ok...I'm switching to #2 and if you feel the need later,
by VAPCMD / January 26, 2011 10:56 AM PST
In reply to: 1st is $1899

you can add RAM as needed. The extra 4GBs shouldn't cost $200. Adding RAM to most PCs is fairly easy .... not sure about iMacs. Maybe that's something worth checking out beforehand if you can download the manual.

Here's a link for Newegg DR3 1333MHz...if it matches the iMac can get 2 DIMMs @ 4GBs ea for a total of 8GB for less than $100

Let us know how it works out.


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by edub805 / January 28, 2011 11:49 AM PST

My problem with the previous answers is that you cannot buy number 1, and later add ram to achieve the amount in 2. There are several differences here:
A. 2 has a better processor than 1
B. 2 has a better VIDEO CARD with more VRAM
C. 2 has less system RAM

You cannot upgrade buy 1 and later upgrade the processor, the video card, or the vram. It basically cannot be done, especially on an IMAC.

You can easily upgrade the system ram in an IMAC from 4 GB, however, just by buying ram as suggested above. I added ram to my imac, and bought them from newegg. They cost half that of the apple ram, and work great!

If you just surf the web and write papers, listen to music, I would go for the cheaper option.

If you edit video, play games, or like to have a hundred applications running at once, you should buy number 2.

Hope that helps,

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by Trabadoor22 / January 28, 2011 1:40 PM PST
In reply to: well...

I see what you are saying, but I was trying to see which would be better if you could only choose one, a better processor or more ram. After thinking about it and from the responses you are right it would be much easier later on to add more ram if need be. I was pretty much settled on the i5 option until I researched a little more and found out that the iMacs might soon have the new Intel Sandy Bridge processors. For now I think I might wait for them to come out. Even if I don't go with the new one I might be able to save some money on the ones they have now. Supposedly they are due for an update, but not sure when it will happen, sounds like by March. Either way I am pretty set on the i5. Thank you everyone for the help.

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by edub805 / January 28, 2011 2:22 PM PST
In reply to: Thanks

Well, the cheaper one will be better if you don't need all the power. For example, it doesn't matter if you have a bugatti veyron if you don't drive faster than 25 mph.

Use the money you save for a nice dinner out, or bottle of macallan 25 or something.

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by steve19150 / January 30, 2011 12:55 AM PST
In reply to: Thanks
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You could wait, but
by edub805 / January 30, 2011 6:30 AM PST

There is always another newer and better computer on the horizon. That's the thing about technology, one year from now, anything you buy will be ancient tech. Oh well.

Macrumors is a good site for predictions on updates, though. perhaps the next imac will have usb 3.0. That would be nice.

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by Trabadoor22 / January 30, 2011 10:38 AM PST
In reply to: You could wait, but

I might just jump on a refurbished iMac i5 or i7. Even the refurbished i7 is still cheaper than the new i5 and that will be way more than I need for a long time.

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by edub805 / January 30, 2011 2:47 PM PST
In reply to: True

now you're thinking. Buy an extended warranty for it, with the money you save.

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Just bought i5
by Trabadoor22 / January 31, 2011 9:38 AM PST
In reply to: refurbished

Thanks everyone for helping me with this. I ended up going with the refurbished i5 and saved $300 and got the extended warranty. Can't wait to get it to play with!

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(NT) Ok, we'll be waiting for your first impressions post.
by VAPCMD / January 31, 2011 9:43 AM PST
In reply to: Just bought i5
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by edub805 / January 31, 2011 11:46 AM PST
In reply to: Just bought i5

congrats! I'm sure you'll love it.

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consider the OS
by GENE8 / January 28, 2011 4:02 PM PST

When making a choice between the two, it really comes down to what OS you are going to be using when it comes to the RAM. If you are going to be using a 32-bit OS, then it won't matter which system you choose, because neither system won't be using more than 4 gigs anyway. If you are going to be using a 64-bit OS, then you'll be better off with no.1, since that system will be using more than 4 gigs, which should make much faster than no.2. The more RAM you have, the better the processor will operate because less strain is put on it. As long as you're not doing very intensive activity , then the i3 should perform just as well as the i5 if you're using all 8 gigs with the i3. The difference between the graphics cards in the two systems should not be an issue, since the graphics card itself does not influence the overall speed and performance of a PC, only the CPU and RAM does.

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by klor5 / February 3, 2011 3:26 AM PST

Pay for a faster CPU from Apple then go somewhere like <> who I highly recommend,for more RAM if you think you need it.

Personally I think 4GB of RAM is plenty.I upgraded my MacBook Pro from 2GB(80MHz) of RAM to 6GB (800MHz) and the only change I saw was a longer start-up time.

I do everything from Photoshop to Call of Duty 4,using Safari and Mail as well as Final Cut Express and iTunes(Sometimes all at the same time) and I never seem to come close to using more than 3GB of RAM(According to "MenuMeters" and "iStat Pro").

I say pay Apple for the faster CPU which effects everything and stick with 4GB of RAM if money is at all an issue(and probably even if it isn't).

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What about SSD?
by klor5 / February 3, 2011 3:39 AM PST
In reply to: BuyCheaperRAM

I forgot to mention that if you really want to speed up your computer you should consider spending any money you save,on an SSD (Solid State Hard Drive) as opposed to a spinning disk hard drive.

Just don't buy it from Apple.The name I gave you in my last post is a great source of SSD's.

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by posgreen / February 12, 2011 4:00 AM PST
In reply to: What about SSD?

Especially for the useage you've described. Ram and CPU will not manifest itself as "speed" like bypassing the slow internal spinning HD and using a fast static RAM drive - some people install a boot version of OS on these SSD's and experience amazing speeds. Best of luck!

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