Apple 27" iMac: The Best Computer for Photographers

A few weeks ago I wrote about my plans to order a new 27" iMac. You can read all of those details here. But a few things have changed since that post and I want to update you on what I've found. 

First of all, it's official, I've ordered my iMac. But it's a bit different than I originally imagined. Here are the changes:

1. Go with Fusion: You can see in my original post that I ignored the Fusion drive because I felt like it was only relevant for a general consumer who wanted a little SSD (Solid State Drive) on top of raw storage. Turns out I was wrong. It has broader appeal which I'll explain in the next paragraph. I went with the 1TB Fusion drive instead of the 3TB. My bulk storage will still reside on the external Drobo 5D which is filled with 20TB's of drive space so there's zero reason for me to spring for a 3TB Fusion drive.

2. Speedy: I originally thought the Fusion drive would suffer speed problems compared to a straight solid state drive. In fact my discussions with Apple told me as much. But the benchmark tests are out and the difference between the Fusion and a SSD is negligible. For my photography workflow I won't notice any drop at all and in some areas it's faster. The Fusion drive is a genius piece of hardware because you really do get all of the benefits of a full SSD drive without the cost. 

3. The Cost Savings: Apple is only offering a 768GB solid state drive configuration in the 27" iMac. I didn't know that at the time. I assumed they'd offer up a variety of options, perhaps starting at 256GB. The cost is significant for the 768GB configuration, a whopping $1,300 more than the 1TB Fusion drive. No thanks. After reading all the benchmark tests the decision was an easy one for me.

4. Extra RAM: I didn't mention it at the time but decided to spring for the extra RAM. You can grab 8, 16, or 32GB of RAM. With the savings on the SSD I decided to go for the big boy and grab the 32GB of RAM. This will let me run a whole slew of apps with speed and efficiency. 

In the end here is my configuration:

  • Processor: 3.4GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz
  • Memory: 32GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 4x8GB
  • Storage: 1TB Fusion Drive + external Drobo 5D expandable up to 20TB
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX 2GB GDDR5

I'm convinced this is the best possible configuration for photographers.