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What's better for a business iMac: Bigger or faster?

When youre specing out a new Mac, sometimes bigger is better. Sometimes faster is better. Sometimes it doesnt make a difference.

When youre specing out a new Mac, sometimes bigger is better. Sometimes faster is better. Sometimes it doesnt make a difference.Take the iMac, for example. When it comes to displays, bigger is always better, in my opinion. Looking at the current crop of models, I recommend the 24-inch over the 20-inch for that reason.

What about the rest of the technology choices, sometimes I think bigger is better. But sometimes it's just a waste of money.

Take the processor. The 20-inch iMac comes with either a 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 processor or a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo. Both have a 4MB shared cache. In my opinion, most employees wont notice the difference. Unless theyre doing super-heavy CPU-intensive tasks (like heavy graphics), save money by buying the 2.0GHz model.

Likewise, for the 24-inch iMac, save your hard-earned dollars by getting the 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 processor instead of the 2.8GHz chip. Nobody will ever notice the difference.

Hard drives: Realistically, how many data will business users going to store on their iMacs? What eats up disk space on consume desktops are music and videos. The 20-inch iMac comes with 250GB, 320GB, 500GB or 750GB hard drives. Unless you know that the user will have a lot of locally stored data, go with the 250GB. The 24-inch iMac offers 320GB, 500GB or 1TB hard drives. Get the 320GB.

How much memory should you get? These machines come with either 1GB or 2GB, expandable up to 4GB. Im a sucker for memory. If the user will be running a Windows virtual machine (either from Parallels or VMware), get 4GB. Otherwise, for must users, 2GB is enough. (1GB is not enough.)

Next week, Ill go through a similar discussion on MacBook and MacBook Pro notebooks. On those portable machines, there are more substantive differences between the different models, and the tradeoffs arent as easy to judge.

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