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16Gb or 32 Gb

alansnap 17 577 26 United Kingdom
24 Mar 2016 11:11AM
Hi all,

I'm about to replace my venerable old iMac with a shiny new 27"er - it's my retirement present to me. The question is, do I buy 16Gb or 32Gb of RAM? I'm running 8Gb at the moment and if I fire up Lightroom and Photoshop at the same time, things do creak a bit - i basically have to shut down most other programmes. The old thing does cope, but only just. I know it's the whole machine showing its age, but I'd like to be fuss free for a few years and increasing the RAM to higher levels seems to be the way to go.

In setting the spec for the new one, here's whatI'm going for
3.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor
8GB (two 4GB) memory, configurable up to 32GB
2TB Fusion Drive1
AMD Radeon R9 M395 with 2GB video memory

I'm definitely going to upgrade to 16Gb for an extra 160 but is it worth the 480 for 32Gb? And no, I'm not going to put it face down on the table and poke in its innards. I know I can buy memory from Crucial - I updated the current machine myself, but I am not up to the sweaty palmed anxiety of doing that to a new machine; not to mention breaking warranty conditions.

I guess it boils down to the question - will Adobe, through its developments of LR and PS, continue to gobble memory, and will 16Gb stay ahead of that long enough?


FloKl 7 73 Austria
24 Mar 2016 11:43AM
I'm not an Apple guy but maybe a couple thoughts that help ...

As far as I found out on the internet it's DDR3 RAM. DDR4 will soon be the state-of-the-art, and since you said you won't upgrade yourself, I'd go with the 32GB. In the end, you want to work with this machine for many years, right?

Another point though - are you sure you want to go with the 2TB HDD? I assume that you have some kind of external storage for your pictures and if I'm correct, you won't need 2TB in your machine. SSD is faster by a mile and 512GB is easily sufficient if you store your stuff externally.

If you're on a certain budget, I'd rather go with the SSD and 16GB RAM than with 32 RAM and 2TB HDD.

Hope this helps!
alansnap 17 577 26 United Kingdom
24 Mar 2016 12:01PM
Thanks for the thoughts. The fusion drive is 50% solid state and the rest standard disk. I store all my photos on separate 5Tb drives with a mirror drive with it. My processing and docs etc stay on the main drive backed up using Time Machine.

5 31 1 United States
24 Mar 2016 1:02PM
5 31 1 United States
24 Mar 2016 1:07PM
Why not a 1TB or 2TB SSD?
You have back up drives for photo's and back up using Time Machine.
alansnap 17 577 26 United Kingdom
24 Mar 2016 1:19PM
Hey guys, I'm not concerned about storage, its RAM I asked about.

The 2TB fusion drive is half and half SSD and standard disk and I'll not exhaust that 'cos I store more photos on separate drives. So storage is fine.

ade123 8 285 1 United Kingdom
24 Mar 2016 2:23PM
Hi Alan,

I have a late 2013 27" iMac with 16GB RAM installed (upgraded myself with Crucial RAM) Not sure if you know but there is a cover on the back of the monitor which you
simply undo and slot the RAM inside.

I run LR & PS with no lags etc on the 16GB i guess its just down to your own choice as to how much you want to install and i suppose with future developments in the
software etc it will pay to have 32GB but as i say i have had the 16GB in since just after i purchased mine which was just after it was released and have had no issues
so far (Touch wood) with the RAM.

I hope this helps somewhat and if you need any other info please feel free to PM me

Regards Ade
MartinBrown 10 265 England
24 Mar 2016 2:39PM
Remember that the new iMacs do not have user replaceable memory. It has to be done at the point of purchase. There are no slots for you to add extra in.

Id go for the 32 gig and the largest hard drive you can afford - that way you are future proof.
alansnap 17 577 26 United Kingdom
24 Mar 2016 2:52PM
Thanks Ade and Martin. I think that answers my questions. I was happy to upgrade my current iMac when it was a few years old, but now I know that the new ones aren't upgradeable, I'll probably go for 32Gb. I certainly filled the 1Tb hard drive when I stored photos on it, but I decided a year ago to use external drives and I have two 5Tb drives to fill. By the time they're full even bigger drives will be cheap. So I'l go for the 2Tb Fusion drive and 32Gb of RAM.
ade123 8 285 1 United Kingdom
24 Mar 2016 4:10PM
Hi Alan,

I think you will find that you can upgrade the RAM in the newer 27" iMac 2015 versions. If you look at this link it will tell you which can and cant be upgraded.
It might be of some help

Im the same as you and only store my images on Externals and just have the HD on my iMac for documents etc.

Chris_L 7 5.5k United Kingdom
24 Mar 2016 4:30PM
I'd much rather have an i7 processor and 16gb than an i5 with 32gb, I'd also prefer a real SSD, none of this fusion halfway house stuff.

A fast interface to your external drives will pay dividends, that's where the real bottleneck is going to be as Lr and Ps read and write to drives outside via USB or the like.
dlm71 5 224 2 United Kingdom
24 Mar 2016 6:11PM
Hi Alan, If it helps i have exactly the same configuration that you are looking at. I too wanted to up spec the memory but was shocked at the price that Apple wanted to charge for the 32GB upgrade so i purchased the additional memory from Crucial, when the memory arrived it literally took 2 minutes to add it and it really is as simple as the link that Ade shows above.

I have had the iMac now for two weeks and had no issues at all and for extra piece of mind it does not effect the warranty at all as i made sure of this and contacted Apple directly to confirm this!

Just as a bench mark for you i purchased mine with the base 8GB memory and it coped very well with LR and PS running at the same time along with Safari, Mail and Twitter, the only reason i chose to upgrade was down to the fact i was doing video editing as well. So if it is mainly LR and PS you work in you might find you are fine with the base 8GB?

hollkj 16 217 United Kingdom
24 Mar 2016 10:31PM
A general rule of thumb thats worked for me is at least 1.5GB per virtual CPU core. e.g. a 4 core hyper threading processor has 8 virtual cores so suggest at least 12GB, i.e. 16GB in your case.

Having too much is not so much of a problem, too little can be a pain.

Lightroom and Photoshop on my Mac right now are using just under 7GB, thats with lightroom not doing much and putting a 1.5GB Tiff through the silver efex filter in photoshop.


Paul Morgan 20 19.5k 6 England
24 Mar 2016 11:48PM

Quote:I'm definitely going to upgrade to 16Gb for an extra 160 but is it worth the 480 for 32Gb?

Holy crap, how much, are you saying that going from 8 gbs to 16 gbs there going to charge you an extra 160 ?

16gbs will be plenty for Lr and Ps as will an i5.

If the PC`s being built for you take the 8gb option and buy your own extra ram, ram is dirt cheap.

Usually adding more ram, changing graphics cards etc should not void a warranty.
Paul Morgan 20 19.5k 6 England
24 Mar 2016 11:54PM
Also with all that extra money save, treat yourself to an SSD as well.

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