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Any opinions on the iMac? Is the extra $450 for the 2.8GHz worth it? - Blog.DanYork.com
Personal journal of Dan York - for my VoIP blog, see www.disruptivetelephony.com
Any opinions on the iMac? Is the extra $450 for the 2.8GHz worth it?
What do any of you readers think of the 2.8GHz iMac? Is it worth the extra $450 to upgrade from the 2.4GHz model?

It's that time for me... the HP computer I bought five years ago is really showing it's age and just won't run the kind of apps I want to run on it with anything resembling speed. (I've also gotten used to apps running faster on newer computers!) It's also a loud computer... the fan and the disk drives both create a good bit of volume.

So it's time for an upgrade. And, rather than looking at another Windows computer.... yep, I'm thinking of getting an iMac!

In part this is because I'm now using a MacBook Pro on a daily basis and like so much about the operating system and how it works. I also very much like how easily Parallels lets me run Windows apps on the system. And, I enjoy having a real command-line that I can work on. For those and a bunch of other Mac-fan-boy reasons, I'm very happy with the system.

So in considering a new home desktop system, the iMac has entered into my thinking for a number of reasons beyond what I just mentioned. It also has a smaller footprint... and it's quiet! (From what I've seen, anyway.) This is a key concern for someone who does a lot of podcast recording.

At this point my major consideration is this - do I buy the 2.4 GHz model listed at $1799? Or do I go for the 2.8 GHz model at $2249? The main differences seem to be that the higher-end model has:

  • a 2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme versus a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
  • 2 GB memory standard versus 1GB
  • a 500 GB hard drive versus a 320 GB hard drive

So for $450 I get a faster processor, more RAM and a bigger hard drive. It's also a different class of processor, but I don't personally know the difference between a Core 2 Duo and a Core 2 Extreme. (And regardless of system, I'd probably upgrade it to the full 4 GB of supported RAM.)

Is it worth it? That's the question I'm asking myself now.

My general practice for a home desktop machine has been to buy a fairly high-end system and then use it for some number of years until it just doesn't work that well. That's what I'm looking to do again. However, I also don't want to waste money if the upgrade really doesn't make for a stronger system.

Any thoughts or comments would be greatly appreciated. (Thanks in advance.)

P.S. On a side note, I find it interesting that in evaluating systems for a new desktop system, physical expandability was not one of my criteria. It used to be that I wanted to make sure I had extra bays for hard drives, etc. Today, though, between moving an increasing amount of my data into the network "cloud" and also USB/Firewire storage, the need for system expandability is less. I find it an interesting change in my thinking.

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From: (Anonymous) Date: April 1st, 2008 12:53 pm (UTC) (Permanent Link)

I love mine


I have not directly compared the two, but I can tell you I'm very pleased with the 2.8 GHz version. I was afraid I would have to upgrade my RAM, but I've been fine with the standard 2 G.

I use Aperture on a daily basis, a program that supposedly has a reputation for taxing the hardware. I haven't seen it.

By the way, I went for the 2.8 GHz version because of the hard drive space. Yes, I could have ordered the 2.4 GHz version with the bigger hard drive, but I would have had to order it and deny myself the instant gratification of walking out of the store with an iMac. In the end, I just couldn't do it.


p.s. I bought a 500 G external drive to go with my computer. I would recommend 1 TB- the price difference isn't that much and Time Machine will use the space. Of course, I have a ton of photos, and you may not have this need.
dyork From: dyork Date: April 2nd, 2008 01:05 pm (UTC) (Permanent Link)

Re: I love mine

Thanks for the feedback. Glad you are enjoying yours! Love your reason for buying the 2.8GHz! ;-)

I don't have a ton of photos, but I do have tons of audio and video files which take up a huge amount of space.

Is it not just bizarre to think of ordering a system with 1 *Terabyte* of disk space??? (As I stroke my grey beard....... :-)

From: (Anonymous) Date: April 1st, 2008 02:29 pm (UTC) (Permanent Link)

Huge CPU price difference

Just to point out that the Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Duo Extreme are two different animals. The standard chip was realeased at around $160; the Extreme is actually very close to the Xeon line of desktop processors powering the MacPro and was released at around $1000.-. There's a huge price difference for the CPU alone, and performance-wise, the 24-inch 2.8GHz iMac is on par with the early MacPros.
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 1st, 2008 02:51 pm (UTC) (Permanent Link)

iMac 2.8 versus 2.4

Try looking at BareFeats. com

http://www.barefeats.com/imacal4.html and there is at least one included link.

Personally, I'd go with the 2.4, not buy the Apple memory (upgrade your self later) and get an external disk for Time Machine back up. And still have about $150 to $200 in my pocket.

The weak spot with the iMacs is the low end of average to poor video cards. Either CPU gives you plenty of performance for general home or office use. Unless you are doing some relatively intensive operations (video editing, 3D rendering, etc.), I doubt you will see any performance differences.

dyork From: dyork Date: April 2nd, 2008 01:06 pm (UTC) (Permanent Link)

Re: iMac 2.8 versus 2.4

Thanks for the link as those are interesting performance results. I *do* use some video editing and audio editing software where it can tax the CPU, so the benchmarking is interesting to me. Thanks.
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 1st, 2008 04:10 pm (UTC) (Permanent Link)

New iMacs are coming

I'd wait if I were you for at least 3-4 weeks.

Rumor is that new iMac models are coming and the 2.8GHz processor may replace the 2.4GHz in the top of the line 'prebuilt' model ( as opposed to the build to order which will probably have yet a faster processor).

Also, I'd check out the Apple 'Refurbished" store. I've seen the 2.8GHz model 24" monitor, 500Gb, 2GB ram configuration for $1900 on previous visits to the store.
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 1st, 2008 04:30 pm (UTC) (Permanent Link)

You don't need the speed, you need the space.

You don't need the extra speed for what you'll use it for. You need the extra hard disk space though. So another possibility is to buy the 2.4 GHz model and get a 1 TB external USB 2 drive (about $250).

My iMac (17" early 2006) is very quiet. The external 1TB HD is somewhat louder, but much quieter than my old external drive (400 GB).
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 1st, 2008 04:42 pm (UTC) (Permanent Link)
I also suggest you should hold out for a while. There are strong rumours of revised iMacs on the way soon. You might as well wait and see what the new offerings consist of. A thinner enclosure? A matte screen? It looks likely that new Intel processors will be used across the line. The current imacs will be discounted as well. So hang on in there...
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 1st, 2008 10:22 pm (UTC) (Permanent Link)

Don't buy Apple RAM!

I bought my iMac at the end of 2007. I selected the the mid-range 2.4GHz 24" iMac, and configured it with the 2.8GHz CPU, and 750GB HD as these are items that are not easy to upgrade later. I then maxed it out with 4GB of Crucial RAM, and often see free memory below 2GB in general use. The 2.8GHz is really handy with Visual Hub, and other transcoding and exporting from EyeTV etc, and makes it faster than the Turbo.264 from Elgato if that's your thing. An external HD 750 or 1TB for Time Machine will complete your desktop system. Although the computer is quiet, it generates a lot of heat. And I'm convinced its the cause of my HP inkjet cartridge drying-out problem.. (I have it all in an under-stairs cupboard).
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 2nd, 2008 04:23 am (UTC) (Permanent Link)

Buy the 2.8

I did exactly as the poster above me. 2.8, 750 GB HD, upgraded to 4 GB RAM via Crucial.

I have a 2 GB RAM iMac at home and the 4 GB RAM iMac (same otherwise) and the 4 GB is noticeably quicker on some tasks. The reason is with Safari, Adium, Preview, Quicktime, Widgets, Mail, and more open all the time, it's easy to peg out the 2 GB RAM. 4 is a MUST for fast performance and worth every penny. It's cheaper to start with the 2 GB module and bump up 2 more from Crucial.

It will fetch more money when you sell as well!
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 2nd, 2008 09:33 am (UTC) (Permanent Link)

Make SURE you are OK with the way it LOOKS!

I bought a 20" iMac (Luxor Jr.) in 2003 and can't come up with a compelling reason to get a new computer!
It's running Adobe's Creative Suite, Apple's iWork and iLife apps, including iMovie just fine. The frame rates can be annoying for computer games, but since I don't play FPS games any longer, that's not an issue.
The only time it's turned off is when we go on extended vacation or when the power goes out, and I've never had to have the thing serviced . . . the friggin battery won't even die!
My hope was that installing 10.5 would cause the molded white plastic to collapse in on itself, but no. It seems to have cleared some of the cobwebs.
As much as I'd love to have a 24" iMac, I just can't justify it . . . DAMN!
dyork From: dyork Date: April 2nd, 2008 01:00 pm (UTC) (Permanent Link)
Thanks to all of you for the comments. Given that I *will* be doing some video editing, performance *is* a concern to me. Interesting that there are rumors of new iMacs coming. I don't *need* to buy one immediately. My timeframe is really to have a new system by the end of May so that I can move to our new house in June *without* the older noisy PC. Hmmm... so perhaps I will wait a few weeks and see what if anything happens.

I note that there does already seem to be some pricing action going on. When I looked at the 2.8GHz iMac last week, I could have sworn the price was $2299 - but now it is $2249.

Thanks again for all the comments!

P.S. And yes, I would NOT be buying Apple RAM!
dyork From: dyork Date: April 28th, 2008 02:05 pm (UTC) (Permanent Link)

You all were right!

The blogosphere does it again... you all were right! Here's today's announcement:


Many thanks for encouraging me to hold off a bit - now I'll be going ahead with a purchase... and I'm thinking that 3.0 Ghz with the NVIDIA card sounds quite intriguing! :-)

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