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Old Dec 26, 2012, 06:39 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2009
MBA + Mac Mini or MBA + iMac ?

I've had an MBP since the first unibody model in 2008. I've since upgraded to a fully-specced Early 2011 15" MBP (Sandy Bridge) docked to a 27" Apple Thunderbolt Display. I've upgraded the storage of this MBP to 512GB SSD + 750GB HDD and the RAM to 16GB. This powerful-yet-portable machine has served me well, but I'm looking to transition to a two-computer setup instead.

Rather than have one device try and be a jack-of-all-trades and compromise on both portability and power, I want two different machines at both extremes of the spectrum with no compromises (perfectly synced through Dropbox, iCloud, and Google cloud services).

I just recently bought a base-model 2012 MacBook Air (Ivy Bridge) and I've been absolutely loving this machine. It's very underspeced compared to my MBP juggernaut, but it actually hasn't been much of a problem. 4GB of RAM instead of 16? Whatever, page files have been working out just fine. 128GB instead of the 1.5TB of space? Hardly a problem; I'm streaming music instead and I can view my photo collection once in a blue moon. 1.8GHz dual-core i5 instead of 2.2GHz quad-core i7? No worries; I'm hardly pushing the i5 on the Air these days.

So it turns out, through my recent experience with the MBA, I don't even need a desktop that's that powerful in the first place. In fact, most of the time on my MBP I'd hope the dedicated GPU would not turn on so I could have a cooler-temperature machine with longer battery life. 99% of the time, those factors are more important than whatever the GPU can help me process.

And this is how I arrive at my current dilemma: what desktop machine should I get to replace my MBP? And wait--should I even replace this MBP? Should I just keep it docked to my ATD forever?

I was initially very excited about the brand-new Late-2012 27" iMacs, but I'm not really happy with the configuration options. It just comes out to something that's really pricey and a bit overkill. I also have reservations about the Fusion Drive. I haven't seen much evidence about FD performance with lots of data on them. I'm pretty sure my current SSD+HDD setup is faster.

So it's either that iMac which costs too much and can't be configured exactly the way I want, or the Mac Mini which came out earlier this year. With the MM, I can still get a desktop-worthy 2.7GHz quad-core Ivy Bridge i7 CPU and 16GB of RAM, but I'll be shedding the dedicated GPU I currently have in my MBP (which is un-desktoplike).

So... should I just keep my MBP? Should I get the iMac? Should I get the Mac Mini? What should I do?

I don't game at all. I rarely do any photo/video/audio editing. I'm mostly web browsing, word processing, and manipulating spreadsheets and annotating PDFs and the like. But I do tend to have literally about 40-60 browser tabs open at any time and I really do push my browser. I'll have maybe 100 text files and 20 PDFs open, and another 15 Finder windows, all open at the same time (not to mention my to-do, email, and calendar apps open at all times). This is my use-case. What's the appropriate machine to buy?

The Mini seems like a cool choice: powerful, affordable, can still bring my old SSD+HDD setup into it, but it doesn't have a dedicated GPU (which I don't really use that much anyway).

But the iMac has the awesome screen, really powerful CPU and GPU, but is very pricey, availability is constrained, and storage upgradeability is severely lacking.

And I don't want my 15" MBP anymore because owning 2 laptops is just weird, even if one is much heavier and always docked versus the other.

Last edited by dukee101; Dec 26, 2012 at 06:45 AM.
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