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Apple offers several iMac customizations when buying one. While I see benefit for better HD or more RAM (computers always felt faster after RAM upgrade), is it worth buying a CPU upgrade, especially since GPU now takes most of the workload for graphics?

Currently, options are 2.93GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, and 3.06GHz for additional $150. Is it just me, or is CPU upgrade least significant one?

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Thank you all for the answers, really appreciate it. Now it's just waiting game for new iMacs. :) – Rudi Sep 24 '09 at 20:46
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Depends on the CPU upgrade. IMHO going from a 2.93ghz to a 3.06ghz is negligible. We're looking at a 4% performance difference (unless the chip is from a different family altogether and has other benefits besides clockspeed - bus speed, cache size, etc etc)

To put things into perspective. Imagine a process that takes 20 seconds. It will take 19 with the faster CPU.

Nothing to write home about

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What if the process takes 6 hours (exporting a video or rendering a 3D animation), now it will take 5 hours and 45 minutes. 15 minutes is not the same as 1 second. Speaking of perspective... 15 minutes is a nice long bathroom break, or a coffee or a game of chess (okay, maybe not a long game...) – Moshe Apr 2 '10 at 0:54

The difference between 2.93 and 3.06 ghz might be measurable if you run very specific benchmarks or hour-long renders or encodings, but it's not perceptible for any human use of an imac, not even in games.

If you are one of the extremely few video/graphics professionals for whom the diffence might matter at all, you wouldn't be using an iMac. :)

I'd spend the 150 on an external drive, some software, a decent mouse etc instead.

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Thank you, good answer, I can't up vote yet because of reputation. – Rudi Sep 24 '09 at 20:44
@Console - If you are one of the extremely few video/graphics professionals for whom the diffence might matter at all, you wouldn't be using an iMac. I'm not a Video/Graphics professional, but an amateur. I'm starting on an iMac and I'm doing ok. I do need more RAM though. I could see a pro using a 27" iMac , fully loaded. But then again, my PC has 8GB of RAM and 4 CPU cores... – Moshe Apr 2 '10 at 0:56
@Moshe - you can do professional video on the iMac of course, I didn't mean to imply that you couldn't. I'm saying that people who are doing OK with the iMac will not notice the 130Mhz diff at all, and those who might notice it will not be using iMacs in the first place. – Console Apr 2 '10 at 6:56

For macs and PCs, CPU speed these days doesn't really matter. If you want to speed your computer up, get the most RAM possible or solid-state-disks (SSD) budget permitting.

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Comparatively, Dell asks only for $80 for the same upgrade on the Vostro line (as of 9/24 on Dell Direct, even less markup on the reseller site). What is this important to note? Because it suggests that the cost of the upgrade is a high profit item for Apple (higher profit suggests less value for the consumer).

In my opinion, a better use of the $150 is to purchase AppleCare for $169, I believe, for the iMac.

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Kinda like what they are doing for the RAM - if I don't buy RAM from Apple, I save a lot, and this is quality RAM, too. – Rudi Sep 24 '09 at 21:31
Good point on AppleCare: it helps with resale value. – Nerdling Sep 24 '09 at 22:01
Something else I noticed: AppleCare and Mobile Me could be found for cheaper on eBay. – Rudi Sep 24 '09 at 22:16

From my experience, there is no noticeable difference on CPU speed. I would rather spend on memory and it does make big difference if you use Adobe CES and lots of video editing (iMovie).

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It's almost always cheaper to get your RAM upgrades from another source (I suggest

A hard drive upgrade will be most noticeable benefit (more RPMs or an SSD style), but you might also consider purchasing AppleCare.

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The difference between 2.93GHz and 3.06GHz will be imperceptible. I'd spend the $150 on something else like iLife '09, which is a great Office equivalent on the mac.

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You meant iWork i guess :) iLife is more entertainment/media related than office use. – Mike Sep 24 '09 at 20:37
They might also already come with the computer … – Nerdling Sep 24 '09 at 22:00

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