Which 2019 iMac should I get(CPU question)?

I’ve done quiet a bit of research to help me decides if the iMac 2019 is the right one for me. I am down to deciding which CPU I should get. Most people have said recommended going either with the base 3.0 or the 3.7 GHz CPU models since the 3.1 GHz CPU performance gain doesn’t justify the price.

What I will be using the iMac for and some of the apps I’ll be using:
Media consumption - Youtube / iTunes / Plex Media Player
Productivity - Email , Omnifocus, Spreadsheets
Software Development - Intellij ,Datagrip, Docker containers, Visual Studio Code ,
Video Transcoding / Ripping - Blu-ray to mkv , youtube-dl video conversion to mkv
(some) light photo editing and video editing. It’s something I do a few times a year, not regularly.
I plan on keeping this for the long haul. I usually change computers yearly but I’m trying to break that bad habit! eg in 2017 I bought the iMac 2015, changed my mind 6 months later and got a 2015 13" Macbook Pro, change my mind again 6 months later and got my current 2015 15" Macbook Pro( 2.5GHz i7 with 16GB RAM 512GB SSD ).

Here are the specs with price from the Apple Store ( USD ) :
iMac 2019 27" 3.0 GHz 8GB RAM 1TB SSD Radeon 570x Wireless Keyboard w/numpad $2329
iMac 2019 27" 3.7 GHz 8GB RAM 1TB SSD Radeon 580x GPU Wireless Keyboard /w/numpad $2629

Finally, I did consider the 2 TB SSD option for the 3.7 model. I just bought a 2TB Samsun T5 for $300, so $400 to upgrade from 1TB to 2TB seems a bit excessive. It’s not completely off the table, but I might purchase another T5 when the time comes that I need it.

Thoughts on which iMac to get?

Hardware: Macbook Pro (mid) 2015, iPhone 7 Plus.
Software: macOS Mojave 10.13 , iOS 12.4
bit.ly/2BJmVGy - My Web site

If I were in your shoes, I would go for the 3.7GHz model, and bump the memory to 16GB.
Since you’re going to be running virtual machines (Docker containers), the extra CPU and RAM will be useful. For video transcoding, the turbo boost speed of the CPU will come into play, and the extra 500MHz will be useful.
Other people will probably chime in and suggest buying third-party RAM and upgrading yourself. While that is certainly an option, I would buy it with 16GB from Apple. No worries about compatibility, and you just don’t have to fool with it. If there is a service issue in the future, you won’t have to work out a way to troubleshoot if it’s the RAM or not. Worth the price to me.
You’re keeping this one a while (maybe? :wink:) , so the CPU and RAM bumps will help future-proof the machine.


Given your normal use cases if the video transcoding use is light you’d be fine with any of those choices, they should be fine and last for years.

Budget to add some 3rd-party RAM (takes 2 minutes, is a user-installable part that doesn’t void warranty), as you’ll want 16Gb RAM at the very least. I bought this 32Gb kit ($140) to bring my iMac up to 40Gb but you can buy an additional 8Gb RAM for as little as $35-$40


I’m also looking at getting a new iMac and trying to decide between an iMac and an iMac Pro.

For me on the iMac I’d bump the memory up to 64GB and also spring for the 3TB fusion drive version. I’m looking at the 3.6 GHz 8 Core model. That’s what I’m looking at for $3799. I don’t need/want the keyboard with num pad. A similarly configured iMac Pro will run $6599. Not sure I can justify the extra $ for not much gain.

I’m looking at replacing a 2013 iMac with 16GB Ram and 1 TB internal drive.

My use case is similar:
Calendar, Email, Omnifocus, LibreOffice, Scrivener, LightRoom, Photoshop, DEVONThink
Then the development environments include
Android Studio, IDLE for Python and looking for tools for JavaScript as well as running FORTRAN programs. I may end developing up in LiveCode or Rust as well it’s still undecided what we’ll move the desktop app to for LambTracker. I also do lots of SQLite stuff so have a plethora of various tools I use there SQLite Manger, Valentina Studio, DB Browser for SQLite.

I’m interested in the various options other folks give you to aid in my own decision.

Agree with all the comments (fastest CPU, at “least” 16GB)
and to that point if you are WRITING Docker containers 16GB
is ok, but if you are RUNNING (several) Docker containers,
and some VMs, 32GB is much preferred.

As @bowline says it’s an easy upgrade except for those
damn wifi connectors, but that could just be my fat fingers.

If it’s not hardcore day in/day out pro coding, and you’re not doing post-processing on large full-frame RAW images or FCPX video the regular iMac should be fine. It is for me, and the apps I spend a few hours every week in that demand power are Lightroom, Photoshop and Ableton Live. My 40Gb RAM has made a huge difference, and if I’d gotten a large internal SSD (instead of the 2Tb Fusion Drive) it would probably feel even a bit faster.

The iMac is 6 months since its last iteration and the iMac Pro is almost two years. I wouldn’t consider the Pro, at least right now. I assume there is an upcoming October event to showcase the expected 16" MBP and rumored iPad Pro refreshes, along with the sales date for the Mac Pro - and that would also be a good time to announce an iMac Pro refresh as well.

1 Like

Not really hardcore on the programming. It’s all LambTracker so the main target is an Android tablet and the desktop functions will target a Mac or Linux desktop. Nothing particularly big or hairy for that stuff to do. The FORTRAN stuff can get large, multi-generational genetic analyses, but I can just leave it running if it takes a while. The current system being used for this is an old COMPAQ Alpha station XP1000 with 2GB RAM. The biggest dataset that used to run on this is over 500K animals with about 1.5 million measurements and takes about 15 hours to run. I don’t have that dataset anymore, but the ones I do have complete instantly as far as human perception on my current mac so I don’t expect any problems. Even at the largest I expect my dataset to be less than 100K animals and contain about 1 million measurements.

This seems sensible to me, but with the caveat that (I fear) any new iMac Pro refresh will be Catalina-only. Piling on the expense of replacing any 32-bit software with a new machine pricing further stresses the cost end of the equation.

Push the processor and memory specs to the max of your budget.
If you do video, storage will always be an concern. Better invest in a Raid for storage

1 Like

From my experience, most people are not cpu bound on their tasks. Increasing the cpu speed provides little bang for the buck. The money is usually better spent on memory, disk, or GPU. As to how many cores are best depends on how well your typical tasks use multiple cores. If you can take advantage of them, lots of medium speed cores is better than a fast single core task.

Since you ,mention Visual Studio, I assume you will be running Windows in some fashion. If in a virtual machine, adequate memory is very important. At least 16gb. For the current iMac buying the 8gb model and them adding either 16 or 32 gb saves a lot and goes a long way on performance.

Remarkably, Visual Studio is available for Mac too. From what I’ve heard, it’s a nice environment. Development targets include Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, web, and cloud.

Never realized VS was multi-platform now. It’s been over 10 years since I used it and 7 years since I retired and quit using Windows.

1 Like

I said Visual Studio Code, which is the open source text editor.Microsoft does contribute heavily to it. It’s very similar to the Atom text editor but faster and it has more extensions.

So I went with the 3.7 Ghz CPU , 8GB RAM, and 1TB internal SSD.

I ordered the 32GB RAM upgrade package which I’ll install when I get my iMac on Friday (evening?) .

I also have a 2TB Samsung T5 drive with my media library on it that I’ll use an external drive for the iMac.

I already have a couple of NAS’s which surprising enough I have way too much free space on. I got them earlier this year and over-estimated my storage needs. Well, I have 20 TB room for growth :slight_smile:

For future upgrades, iFixit has already verified that the CPU and internal SSD are upgradable, so if I ever hit a performance wall or storage wall, I will be able to move past it.

Several people confused Visual Studio Code ( aka vscode ) with Visual Studio, they are different applications but I can understand the confusion. When I google search for guidance on how to do something in vscode, I have to filter out all of the Visual Studio results. I with they had chosen a different name.

Finally, I look forward to using this computer for several years. Macs tend to last about 1 - 1.5 years with me because I don’t spec them out right and need a different hardware configuration or form factor ( mobile computing)