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Headshotzx
8th of June 2010 (Tue), 06:11
Hey fellas! My desktop PC just kinda died. Mobo got screwed up, and since it's a 2005 tech PC, there aren't replacements for fixes. Plus, it uses DDR1 memory so selling ANY part of it would be a waste I think.

Here's what I was on:

AMD X2 3800+ Processor @ 2.2ghz (OC'ed)
4x512mb DDR1 Ram
Nvidia 7800GT 256mb
480W PSU
2 x 160gb Internal 3.5" Hard-drives
20" LG wide screen

And since I got my macbook unibody 13" a year ago, I've been on this:

Apple Macbook:
Intel Core2Duo 2.0ghz
2 x 1GB DDR3 Ram
Nvidia 9400M 256mb shared
160GB Internal 2.5" Hard Drive

So right now I'm thinking of getting an iMac for myself, also since my dad has got a use for this macbook i'm on for his office work.


Right now there are 4 stock options available to me, in Singapore Dollars educational pricing:

21.5" iMac with ATI graphics - $2088
27" iMac with Core2Duo - $2388
27" iMac with Core i5 - S$2788
27" iMac with Core i7 - S$3055

The questions:

Is 27" too big?
I kinda find it cool to have a 27" screen because the detail is great and editing photos on that should look great. However, I have been using a 20inch screen for 4 years for gaming/photoshop and a 13" macbook for photo editing for a year, and they've both been okay for me. I have never needed more than 20"... What if you need to turn your head a bit from left to right to view the whole screen?

For PhotoshopCS4 / Lightroom2 or 3 alone, is quad core very helpful?
Pure Lightroom 3 work. Photo editing with nothing on in the background other than music and Mac MSN. Quad core important for this?

For video gaming with modern games such as Call Of Duty 4 etc etc, is quad core very helpful?
We're talking about the games with 2008 or newer gaming engines. Most have some sort of HDR video features.

To what extent does RAM affect Lightroom usage, and how much should I upgrade to?
Stock ram is 4GB. I know 8GB is a good choice, but is 16GB 'too much'? I know the new iMacs can take 16GB ram.

Can I use my 20inch LG screen as a second screen for my iMac, assuming I get the 21.5" iMac?

That's about all the questions I currently have I guess.

Moppie
8th of June 2010 (Tue), 06:35
Is 27" too big?

When it comes to monitors, there is no such thing as to big!
Especially when you have Photoshop tool pallets etc open along with your photo.
Your going to wonder why you ever bothered with a 20 inch monitor and be amazed you ever got anything done.

For PhotoshopCS4 / Lightroom2 or 3 alone, is quad core very helpful?

Yes, yes and YES!
The dual core used in the iMacs is a very badly out dated laptop chip.
The i5 and i7 models however use a proper, current generation desktop chip. They are very expensive outside the US compared to an i5 or i7 based Windows machine, but if your serious about post work and gaming they are a must have. They will also give the machine longevity, as newer games are starting to leverage multiple cores and Photoshop and lightroom both make excellent use of multiple cores.

For video gaming with modern games such as Call Of Duty 4 etc etc, is quad core very helpful?

As above, YES!
I have a Q6600 and COD4 uses all 4 cores in that, and COD MW2 does an ever better job. As above, new games will make even better use of multiple cores.
The i7 model also uses "Turbo Boost" (no not like Kitt) which ramps up the speed of one or two of the cores if all 4 are not needed.

And, most importantly for gaming, the i5 and i7 models come with the best graphics card.
(but note, they are NOT the latest and greatest cards, but are very mid range. If your serious about gaming in the future you will not be able to upgrade the graphics card when newer, more demanding games come out.)

To what extent does RAM affect Lightroom usage, and how much should I upgrade to?

The more the merrier!
Start with 4GB.
That will be plenty for COD4 and editing photos from your current cameras. However adding another 4GB on your own (which is easy to do, and a hell of a lot cheaper) will make a very noticeable difference in over all performance.

Can I use my 20inch LG screen as a second screen for my iMac, assuming I get the 21.5" iMac?

Yes.
As above the more real estate the better!
You will need a special adapter though.

Most people use one monitor for holding tool bars and pallets etc, while the other is used for the image only.
The bigger you can get the image in front of you, and the less cluttered the screen is around it, the easier it is to work on.

BeritOlam
8th of June 2010 (Tue), 07:04
AMD X2 3800+ Processor @ 2.2ghz (OC'ed)
4x512mb DDR1 Ram
Nvidia 7800GT 256mb
480W PSU
2 x 160gb Internal 3.5" Hard-drives
20" LG wide screen


Hah....I had the same chip in a near-identical box. Mobo finally bit the dust last December. Good call on scrapping that computer -- not worth trying to 'rebuild'!

Now to the questions....


Is 27" too big?
My mom and dad think so, but they're not photographers, and they don't play video games. I kinda find it cool to have a 27" screen because the detail is great and editing photos on that should look great. However, I have been using a 20inch screen for 4 years for gaming/photoshop and a 13" macbook for photo editing for a year, and they've both been okay for me. I have never needed more than 20"...

I liken monitors to internet connection speeds -- once you bump up to something faster it's nearly impossible to go back to what you had before! ;) ;)

I was doing a lot of my photo editing on a 20-inch monitor. Then I finally made the switch up to a 24-inch....and oh what a difference!

Of course, if space or $$$ are an issue, then maybe you go with the smaller one. But if at all possible, you ought to go for the 27-inch. Definitely worth it!


For PhotoshopCS4 / Lightroom2 or 3 alone, is quad core very helpful?
Pure Lightroom 3 work. Photo editing with nothing on in the background other than music and Mac MSN. Quad core important for this?

Definitely! Are the new iMacs with the i5 and i7 chips available in Singapore yet? I would assume (or hope!) so. Yes, this 'upgrade' over the 21-inch is even more important (IMHO) than the increased monitor size.


For video gaming with modern games such as Call Of Duty 4 etc etc, is quad core very helpful?
We're talking about the games with 2008 or newer gaming engines. Most have some sort of HDR video features.

I'm sure there are some websites that will give you the benchmarks, although most tend to be on PC's running the new Quads. I can't recall seeing benchmarks yet for running something like COD4 on the new iMacs, although I'm thinking there's probably some out there by now if you go looking.

If it's anything like the PC's running quads, the gains are not *that* great! I was reading somewhere recently where a guy was getting better COD4 benchmarks out of his overclocked i3 (dual core hyper threaded) than an i5 (quad core non-hyper threaded)! That's because I think most of these games are affected more by core clock speed than the # of cores!

I haven't seen it done personally, but I suspect something like COD4 will run fine on an i5 or i7 iMac....though not as well as an i3 overclocked with expensive gpu.

As of January 2010, I was a bit surprised to see some testers concluding that the majority of games from 2009 still didn't show all that much improvement (if any!) when running in a Quad environment vs. a Dual Core. Most were still saying that the average gamer would be better of getting an i3 (which has a pretty fast clock speed) overclocked, while spending the extra money difference (vs. the i5/i7) on a better cpu.


To what extent does RAM affect Lightroom usage, and how much should I upgrade to?
Stock ram is 4GB. I know 8GB is a good choice, but is 16GB 'too much'? I know the new iMacs can take 16GB ram.

My rule of thumb is this -- the people that need 16gb of RAM are people that know they need 16gb of RAM. One, it's an expensive upgrade....and two, 8gb is plenty of most users. In fact, a lot of people get buy on 4gb of RAM just fine -- it really depends on your work flow.


Can I use my 20inch LG screen as a second screen for my iMac, assuming I get the 21.5" iMac?

As far as I know, you only need a DVI adapter....and you're good to go. Google "iMac Dual Monitor", and you'll get any number of websites or YouTube videos telling you how to do it.

Hope that helps.

EmmaRose
8th of June 2010 (Tue), 07:29
I had a 24" and felt like that way way big enough, now I have a 27" and I thought it would be too big too. You get used to it very quick and like said above there really is no such thing as too much real estate. (Although i wouldn't want to be sitting infront of a 50" computer monitor :p) 27" works very nciely. So basically your choices are narrowed down to 27" or 21" and your old 20". Tbh I think that'd look kinda cluttered and maybe even annoying to use.

No idea about the games.

Kronie
8th of June 2010 (Tue), 08:22
I had three early 27" i7's and they all suffered from yellow tinge. That's something to watch out for. I ended up returning mine and I am still waiting while I use my laptop.It seems to be a lottery so you may or may not win.....or lose as the case may be.


Also I have to disagree regarding screen size. I found that 27" is just slightly too large. This may seem trivial but with my 22" monitor I can see the entire screen just by moving my eyes. With a 27" screen, while gorgeous I had to move my head to see the upper corners.

Just my .02....

Headshotzx
8th of June 2010 (Tue), 08:42
Thanks for the replies everyone!

So basically for the chips, it's between 2008 technology and saving money, or getting 2009 technology and spending it all, together with more money for the bigger screen size and better video card.

Core2Duo is old and works enough for 2010 technology, but might not be decent enough in 3 year's time? Core i5 and i7 fills this void by bringing in better technology.

So what's the deal for me? Would getting a 21.5" core2duo system + ATI 256mb graphics card + 8GB ram DIY upgrade be better than the 27" + ATI 512mb graphics card + 4GB system? Or would it be the other way around?

Yeah, them i5's and i7's have been out in SG for a long time already.

Kronie made a very good point though. When in the store, I had to turn my head around to see the corners of the monitor screen... Putting the display further back would only make me squint to view the text.

Moppie
8th of June 2010 (Tue), 15:30
Turning your head won't kill you. :rolleyes:
It's actually very good for to move around in front of your computer as it helps prevent RSI.

If you can afford an i7 system then your saving nothing going for a much lower spec core 2 duo system, especially if you want something reasonably future proof.
Remember the iMac can not be upgraded, everything but the RAM is either glued or soldered in, or needs a technician to access.
While a Core 2 Duo system would just be enough for your current gear, if you upgrade at any stage in the future to a current, or future generation camera, or you want to play new games (COD Black Ops is coming out soon) then you will find the Core 2 Duo woefully inadequate.

Analog6
8th of June 2010 (Tue), 15:48
I have a 24" i Mac, CS4 and Aperture 2 and find the monitor excellent for photo editing. I calibrate with Spyder 3 Pro once a month and it only ever needs the tiniest correction, if any. I'm very happy with it.

BeritOlam
8th of June 2010 (Tue), 21:33
Headshotz,

Is there anyway you can get to an Apple store in Singapore and test these babies for yourself? That'll give you an idea of what a 27 inch monitor looks like. I can't help but think 9 out of 10 people would not find the screen *too* big!

What it might do is make it harder to go down to anything smaller. For example, it never occurred to me that my 13-inch Macbook (work computer) was just too small.....UNTIL I finally upgraded to a 24-inch monitor. As long as I was using a 20-inch monitor, I didn't notice how small the Macbook felt. So I suspect if you go back and forth from a 27-inch iMac and a 13-inch Macbook, the Macbook is going to feel 'small'....fyi! :D

Screen size aside, the hardware is really the deal-breaker, IMHO, of the 21-inch vs. 27-inch. I think if Apple offered a new i3 in their base 21-inch model, I'd feel better about recommending it for the price. Otherwise, you're paying for a smaller screen and a pretty out-dated chip. Definitely go for the i5 or i7, if at all possible!

I was reminded of the difference just the other day, after going from a new i7 iMac to an 18-month old Core2Duo iMac. Oh, man, did that C2D seem 'sluggish' after sampling an i7 for a couple hours!!!!

MaxxuM
8th of June 2010 (Tue), 22:05
I have twin 24" screens at home & twin 26" screens at work and I wouldn't mind a lttte more space :)

tim
8th of June 2010 (Tue), 22:22
When I first got my 19" screen I found it almost too big, I had to turn my head to look at it. I got used to it. I have two 22" screens at work, I quite like that. 27" seems almost silly though. Just get a second monitor if you need one, it's not like the iMac screens are going to be wonderful.