Confused Dad needs to buy new iMac

Non-technical Dad here looking for advice. Yesterday’s new Apple announcement has me more confused than ever. I am looking to buy a new (or recently discontinued) iMac. My decision of which model rests largely on the graphics capability as I expect this desktop will be my 10 year old son’s gaming device for the next 5 years. I can’t seem to find any information on how these Nvidia products compare, on Nvidia’s website or Apple’s. Other considerations don’t really matter. There’s enough memory, hard disk, processor speed, etc. for all my other needs.

I can still purchase an “old” iMac with either:

ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO with 256MB memory
NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GS with 512MB memory

Or get a new one with either:

NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 with 256MB memory (new)
NVIDIA GeForce GT 130 with 512MB memory (new)

Obviously, the more expensive the Mac one buys, the higher the capability of the Nvidia component. But how does, for example, the “old” 8800 compare to the new GT 120/130?

We have to stick with Apple.

Thanks in advance…


FYI, I’m not sure if you meant to post in the CUDA Mac OS X forums. More people will probably see your post in the main NVIDIA forums.

To answer your question, if this is going to be a gaming computer for 5+ years, then I would get the GT130 with 512 MB. The iMac video card components can’t really be upgraded, and this video card will be outdated a lot sooner than 5 years from now. To be honest, though, the iMac is not really that great of a gaming machine to begin with.

Out of curiosity, what year is the imac with the 8800 from? I couldn’t find any iMacs with that video card installed. Now, the mac pro can come with the 8800GT, but that is pretty different.

Maybe someone with a little more knowledge than me can add to this :-). Also, try posting in a different forum if you don’t get many replies.

Actually, I’d go with the 8800GS. It’s an actual desktop card, while the newer GT1xx series are discrete laptop solutions. Basically, even though the 8800GS is “older”, it’s still much more powerful since it’s a desktop card (since it is tough to balance the low power requirements of a laptop vs. video card performance).

Take a look at this page:…_1xxM.29_series

You’ll notice that the 8800GS can do 396 GFLOPS (a measure of performance), while the GT 130 can only do 144 (source).

EDIT: I took a quick look at the Apple store, all I saw available for refurbished/clearance iMacs were the ATI 2600 Pro and the 8600M GT (not the 8800GS). If that’s all that’s left, I’d go with one of the new ones with the GT130M if you want it to last as long as possible. The 2600 Pro has about the same performance, but half the transfer bandwidth due to using an older interface; this can slow performance on really high-end games (or CUDA calculations, if you guys get in to that ;). The 8600M GT does about 114 GFLOPs, and also uses the older interface.

Thanks to both of you for your responses. The model I am looking at is a “just discontinued” refurbished iMac 24-inch 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GS with 512MB memory. The brand new version of the 3.06 GHz iMac has the NVIDIA GeForce GT 130 with 512MB memory, but costs significantly more.

Out of those, go with the 8800 GS. Cheaper and faster.