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iMac advice please

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Hello all,


I want to buy a refurbished iMac for VW Landmark. I'm just starting out doing some small to medium residential designs, 2D and some 3D, for a friend of mine who owns a landscaping company.


I want to spend as little as possible, but also want the iMac to be able to handle VW reasonably well. It doesn't need to be blisteringly fast, I just don't want the rainbow wheel of death too often. 


I'm looking at either a 21.5 inch or 27 inch iMac from 2017 or 2019. I know I need 16gb ram as a minimum, but I'm unsure on what real world difference the different processors and graphics cards will make.


My choices seem to be:


i5 4 or 6 core processor ranging from 3 - 3.4Ghz


Radeon graphics card, the 550, 555, 560 or 570, offering between 2 - 4GB


Thanks for any help. 

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Thanks Pat. I've seen that page, but I'm trying to work out whether it's worth me spending extra than the basic system requirements. I'm not sure of the real world performance improvements of increased ram, cores, vram etc. 


I could spend £600 on a system that meets the minimum requirements or £900 on a better computer, but what difference will this really make to real world performance? That's what I'm unsure about.  


Thanks again. 

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How long are you going to be doing this and how long do you want the computer to last?


The minimum specs will be fine for this version of VW and maybe the next. So if you never need to upgrade they you will be OK.


But if you buy the minimum and then need to upgrade VW, it will likely be below the minimum specs.


My recommendation is that if you want the computer to last more than 2 years (or maybe even 1) then you should buy the better machine.  300£ over 3 working years is about 1£ a day.

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If I were you I would first select the option that offers 4GB graphics memory as that will make VW operate nicer because an increasing number of graphics related things are getting processed by the GPU, so more graphics memory is generally better. I would choose more memory over a faster GPU with less memory, if having multiple 4GB options then you could also look at the higher up GPU model as that will make the Mac last a bit longer if the price is not that much higher.


4 or 6 cores is not going to make much of a difference when it comes to working with VW as it is mostly single core except for Renderworks which can use multiple cores.

If rendering speed is not the highest priority then 4 cores will do as well as 6 cores most of the time though rendering will take some more time with 4 cores than with 6 cores.

Given the close range of 3-3.4 GHz there is roughly a 10% difference in speed between the lowest and highest CPU speed, which in most cases will not be important for infrequent use. If you would be working on it 8 hours a day every (working) day then it will make a difference over the period of a year to get the highest CPU speed.


Another option could be looking at a M1 Mac mini if it wouldn't be that much more than the options you are looking at right now, i.e. if you would have to get the £900 option for a 2 yr old iMac.

MacWorld UK is showing pricing from £700 to £900 for the M1 Mac mini https://www.macworld.co.uk/feature/best-mac-mini-deals-3775901/

Which might be something to consider as well as you will get a more modern Mac that may outlast the Intel ones when it comes to future VW upgrades (i.e. Intel Macs might be supported for a limited number of years with newer versions of software).

Edited by Art V
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Posted (edited)

Hi Art,


Thanks very much for the detailed reply, much appreciated. I've actually just bought a MacBook Air M1. I too decided that would actually be better than me buying an already outdated machine. I got it on offer and so its cost me a similar amount as a refurbished iMac. No brainer huh?


Thanks again!

Edited by Devonshire
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