Vita Rara: A Life Uncommon

New iMac: Great Pairing Station?

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Looking at the new iMacs the 27" quad-core looks like it would make a superb pairing station for programming. I've been waiting to see what the update looked like before looking at end of year purchases. Here's how I see it:

  • 2560 x 1440 resolution is a bit less than the 30" cinema display, but big enough. I don't think the pixels missing from the bottom really will matter.
  • The CPU is definitely fast enough, and the quad-cores should make test suites run plenty fast when parallelized.
  • The GPU looks good enough for programming work if you ask me. I know Hashrocket uses Mac Mini's for their pairing stations, and this GPU is even better.
  • 4 GB of memory is plenty for most of the development my guys do, but expansion to 16GB looks like it future proofs the box for as long as I'd want to keep them in production.
  • Plenty of USB ports left over after plugging in two keyboards.
  • I really like the fact that the 27" model can also act as a monitor. That means I can use it with my Mac Book. (NB: It looks like it only talks to Mini DisplayPort devices though, so older laptops are out of luck.
  • If you upgrade to the top quad-core CPU you can get hyper-threading if that would speed things up in your development cycle.
  • A 1 TB hard drive is overkill for most of my work stations.

Overall this should be a great dependable programming workstation for anyone looking for a pairing station. The display size is the crucial ingredient for me. I look at it this way. I was going to buy the Hashrocket setup of a maxed out Man Mini plus a 30" Cinema display. Now, for $200 more than the 30" cinema display I go from 2560 x 1600 to 2560 x 1440, boo hoo. I'll save the roughly $1000 and get the iMac 27".

Usage Report

Spent a day pairing with a potential new hire on a 27" quad-core iMac. It worked very well. Setup was a 6' table, two keyboards and mice, laptops to the sides of the iMac. It's a great setup.



I wonder why they didn't put in a 256 MB SSD by default or at least as option, instead of the 1TB hard disc, which as you say is a bit overkill.
Isn't the hard disc the bottle neck these days?



Yea, the hard drive is the bottle neck for sure today. I'm going to have to look at how hard replacing the drive would be.

Pair stations

I think I still like two personal stations VNC'd together; also, the 1 mouse and keyboard driver in a pair tends to work in a pinch.

We tend to use aggressive pair programming much less at my office than a theoretical, pure pair-only office situation.