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Old Oct 28, 2012, 10:03 AM   #1
hulk2012
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iMac 27" vs. MBP + Thunderbolt Display

I'm a graphic designer thinking of upgrading my computer. Not sure what would be better combo: imac 27" or MBP + external display like thunderbolt. Any suggestions folks?
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Old Oct 28, 2012, 10:14 AM   #2
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I'm a graphic designer thinking of upgrading my computer. Not sure what would be better combo: imac 27" or MBP + external display like thunderbolt. Any suggestions folks?
27" iMac is more powerful and cheaper than the MBP + External. + less clutter on the desk
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Old Oct 28, 2012, 10:36 AM   #3
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27" iMac is more powerful and cheaper than the MBP + External. + less clutter on the desk
Yeah, iMac seems to be a way better value. One could get the high end iMac for $1,999, add a MacBook Air and still be around the same price range as for the 15 rmbp with display. But that's just generally speaking, I'm sure there are individual cases where the rmbp makes more sense.
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Old Oct 28, 2012, 11:16 AM   #4
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Yeah, iMac seems to be a way better value. One could get the high end iMac for $1,999, add a MacBook Air and still be around the same price range as for the 15 rmbp with display. But that's just generally speaking, I'm sure there are individual cases where the rmbp makes more sense.
macbook pro only makes sense if you need portability. I am a graphic designer myself and I have never needed portability yet.
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Old Oct 28, 2012, 04:38 PM   #5
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macbook pro only makes sense if you need portability. I am a graphic designer myself and I have never needed portability yet.
Portability is a key thing especially in terms of working in various places from inspirational point of view.
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Old Oct 28, 2012, 05:47 PM   #6
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Portability is a key thing especially in terms of working in various places from inspirational point of view.
I was gonna say, from a creative point of view I find getting away from my desk to work to be pretty beneficial at times.

Honestly, the power argument is pretty much a non-factor, unless you're doing some super high res print work, a ton of video, or a ton of vfx/rendering you're going to have more than enough horsepower with the MBP, iMac, or even a mini.

Personally I have a 13" MB Aluminum (just before the 13" MBP came out) and an older iMac at home, I like having the option to be portable and I like having redundancy were I to encounter any hardware issues. The iMac is soon to be replaced, probably by a mini and a TB display.
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Old Oct 28, 2012, 06:29 PM   #7
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If portability is a key thing for you then you just answered your own question.
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Old Oct 29, 2012, 06:08 AM   #8
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How crucial is portability?

The iMac will have more grunt as it has better graphics. It will also work out cheaper.
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Old Oct 29, 2012, 06:35 AM   #9
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I tried MBP + external display, but it wasn't great - fans kicked in now and then with a very annoying sound. It wasn't as powerful as a desktop computer, and as I wanted a somewhat powerful computer I had a 15", which, to be honest, isn't that portable. Overall, I wasn't happy with it, it had a lot of drawbacks and compromises.

Nowdays I run a 27" iMac, which is awesome for professional work. Also, I got a separate 11" Air for working on the road. It's perfect to bring to meetings, vacations, trips and such, and if I'm working a few days at another location it works great to just use an external screen. Very easy to carry around, and plenty powerful, although I wouldn't want to use it as a permanent desktop.

Personally, I think the combination of iMac + Air is by far the best.
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Old Oct 29, 2012, 01:36 PM   #10
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I tried MBP + external display, but it wasn't great - fans kicked in now and then with a very annoying sound. It wasn't as powerful as a desktop computer, and as I wanted a somewhat powerful computer I had a 15", which, to be honest, isn't that portable. Overall, I wasn't happy with it, it had a lot of drawbacks and compromises.

Nowdays I run a 27" iMac, which is awesome for professional work. Also, I got a separate 11" Air for working on the road. It's perfect to bring to meetings, vacations, trips and such, and if I'm working a few days at another location it works great to just use an external screen. Very easy to carry around, and plenty powerful, although I wouldn't want to use it as a permanent desktop.

Personally, I think the combination of iMac + Air is by far the best.
Air as its cheaper then pro or as its lighter and more portable?
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Old Oct 29, 2012, 03:16 PM   #11
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Would the iMac + iPad be an option for you?

I like that combo for myself personally but I am not a graphic designer
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Old Oct 29, 2012, 03:19 PM   #12
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I'm a graphic designer thinking of upgrading my computer. Not sure what would be better combo: imac 27" or MBP + external display like thunderbolt. Any suggestions folks?
I would prefer the iMac, because of the cheaper price tag and the more performance for value against having an MBP + TB display. Another alternative would be to get a display from another company. if you really need the portability, and the screen estate, then why don't you consider an alternative to apple for monitors? i know Dell do pretty good ones for low prices.

EDIT: just saw you preferred portability. my apologies.
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Old Oct 29, 2012, 03:23 PM   #13
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Air as its cheaper then pro or as its lighter and more portable?
Portable, and in many respects almost as good as a Pro. Many see the Air as a very weak computer, but it's actually surprisingly powerful nowadays. It's not far from a modern Pro in terms of performance, it's just lacking a few ports, some battery time and has no retina screen. Besides that there's really not much difference for a working computer. I use it while working out of the office, and love it. I'm not sure if you'd be ok with it as a graphic designer though (smaller screen, not as good color representation), but for me it's great. And it's as easy to carry around as an iPad, ie hardly noticeable in a bag.
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Old Oct 30, 2012, 10:42 AM   #14
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Portable, and in many respects almost as good as a Pro. Many see the Air as a very weak computer, but it's actually surprisingly powerful nowadays. It's not far from a modern Pro in terms of performance, it's just lacking a few ports, some battery time and has no retina screen. Besides that there's really not much difference for a working computer. I use it while working out of the office, and love it. I'm not sure if you'd be ok with it as a graphic designer though (smaller screen, not as good color representation), but for me it's great. And it's as easy to carry around as an iPad, ie hardly noticeable in a bag.
What do you mainly use your air for?
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Old Oct 30, 2012, 11:20 AM   #15
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+1 iMac.
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Old Oct 30, 2012, 11:23 AM   #16
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Portable, and in many respects almost as good as a Pro. Many see the Air as a very weak computer, but it's actually surprisingly powerful nowadays. It's not far from a modern Pro in terms of performance, it's just lacking a few ports, some battery time and has no retina screen. Besides that there's really not much difference for a working computer. I use it while working out of the office, and love it. I'm not sure if you'd be ok with it as a graphic designer though (smaller screen, not as good color representation), but for me it's great. And it's as easy to carry around as an iPad, ie hardly noticeable in a bag.
Do you use Adobe CS on your MBA? I found the MBA not to be a good choice for those applications, at least on regular basis. I am an iMac + iPad person.
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Old Oct 30, 2012, 08:23 PM   #17
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Portability is a key thing especially in terms of working in various places from inspirational point of view.
There is work. There is work in pleasant environs, which is what I think that you want. And, there is inspiration. If it is true inspiration that you want, buy a Moleskin and nice pen and then hike, fly fish, backpack, put in a real cottage garden, etc; and, be ready to write. I find that true inspiration occurs when you are not working but that you are engaged enough that the front part of the brain turns off the back part. The back part you know as the deadlines, budgets, fears, etc. If you are mobile and bring your work with you, what is the point other than changing where you work?
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Old Oct 30, 2012, 08:26 PM   #18
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What do you mainly use your air for?
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Do you use Adobe CS on your MBA? I found the MBA not to be a good choice for those applications, at least on regular basis. I am an iMac + iPad person.
My main use is programming (as that's what I work with), which of course isn't very taxing for the computer (Coda, Browser + lots of tabs, FTP client, GitHub client, MySQL client and similar). But it also requires running things like XCode, Flash where I constantly publish movies to test them, Photoshop for minor things (cutting up images into smaller tiles, adjusting colors and similar). Sometimes the occational Illustrator or Indesign. So yes, I do use CS6 but maybe not the most intensive tasks.

That beeing said, I also use it for games sometimes (WoW, Diablo 3 and similar), and the 2012 Air handles it very well. I can honestly not see anyone beeing limited by raw power for any kind of work short of 3d rendering and heavy video editing, if the Air has any limitation for a portable computer I'd say it's the screen resolution/size and battery time. As I use my iMac for stationary / CPU intensive tasks, I think the iMac + Air is a very sweet combo.

I've tried iMac + iPad, but.. no, just no. You really can't do much productive work on an iPad except checking your mail/facebook/twitter. If you're actually producing something (development, graphics, documents etc) OS X is just so much better.
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Old Oct 30, 2012, 08:31 PM   #19
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I use Coda, etc., but not as much as Adobe CS. Programs like PS with big files really are too much for the MBA. I can't speak to the games. It's not that I don't like the MBA, it is a very light, affordable kick ass ultra-light. It is, however, not a workstation. The iPad has even more limitations but is great to consume and to show off work. I suppose the ideal workstation/flow is the the maxed out iMac, the 15" rMBP & iPad.
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 06:09 AM   #20
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I can't imagine being without a laptop so I went with MBA and TBD and I love the combination. But then again my wife has an iMac 21.5 that I can use as well which rounds out the picture.

I am having a minor problem with my TBD that I will be have to address soon before warranty runs out. The external wireless USB keyboard and mouse that I have plugged into a usb drive on the TBD are not recognized unless I reboot my MBA when I connect to the TBD. Apple phone support was unable to fix and so it has to go in for diagnosis and maybe repair and replace. We'll see. Frustrating.
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 06:45 AM   #21
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I'm a UI designer, and I own a MacBook Air 13 (2012) and an iMac 24" I will buy the iMac 27".

The MacBook Air is not like the first generations, now it's a really good machine, and with SSD is really fast. I've never had problems to work on that when I'm not on the iMac.
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 07:10 AM   #22
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I'm a UI designer, and I own a MacBook Air 13 (2012) and an iMac 24" — I will buy the iMac 27".

The MacBook Air is not like the first generations, now it's a really good machine, and with SSD is really fast. I've never had problems to work on that when I'm not on the iMac.
+1. The Air I mentioned above that I use is a 2012 one. I own a 2010 Air and have worked on a 2011 one for a while too - imo the 2012 one is a _lot_ better. For comparison, I get about 7000-7100 in geekbench scores on my 11" Air. The 21" 2011 i5 iMac gets 7190 and the 2011 i5 27" gets 7769 in comparison (average scores from geekbench browser). In other words, about 10% slower in pure number crunching, that's not too much. With the SSD it actually feels quicker than my current iMac in many cases. Though 8gb memory is more or less required, or you get too much swapping.
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Old Nov 2, 2012, 02:29 AM   #23
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Air as its cheaper then pro or as its lighter and more portable?
I think the iMac27 + MacBookAir (MBA) 11" 2012 w/8gb ram is the perfect combination. With a thunderbolt cable, you can even use your iMac as a monitor for your MBA from time to time.

The way it works for us is great. When I'm home, I usually use the MBA plugged into and using the iMac as a monitor. When I leave, any other household member has access to the iMac for use. The iMac also doubles as an available machine for encoding video or some other work you would not want to be doing on your MBA. When using the iMac as a monitor in target display mode, I use screensharing feature to connect to it from within the MBA, even while using an iMac as a display for the MBA, and interact with the desktop as necessary to continue rendering or start a new render, etc.
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Old Nov 7, 2012, 03:11 PM   #24
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I think the iMac27 + MacBookAir (MBA) 11" 2012 w/8gb ram is the perfect combination. With a thunderbolt cable, you can even use your iMac as a monitor for your MBA from time to time.

The way it works for us is great. When I'm home, I usually use the MBA plugged into and using the iMac as a monitor. When I leave, any other household member has access to the iMac for use. The iMac also doubles as an available machine for encoding video or some other work you would not want to be doing on your MBA. When using the iMac as a monitor in target display mode, I use screensharing feature to connect to it from within the MBA, even while using an iMac as a display for the MBA, and interact with the desktop as necessary to continue rendering or start a new render, etc.
How does the screen sharing thing work when in target display mode? That means I can "Remote desktop" to the iMac even when in Target Display mode? That's pretty cool.
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Old Nov 7, 2012, 10:36 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Stingray454 View Post
I tried MBP + external display, but it wasn't great - fans kicked in now and then with a very annoying sound. It wasn't as powerful as a desktop computer, and as I wanted a somewhat powerful computer I had a 15", which, to be honest, isn't that portable. Overall, I wasn't happy with it, it had a lot of drawbacks and compromises.

Nowdays I run a 27" iMac, which is awesome for professional work. Also, I got a separate 11" Air for working on the road. It's perfect to bring to meetings, vacations, trips and such, and if I'm working a few days at another location it works great to just use an external screen. Very easy to carry around, and plenty powerful, although I wouldn't want to use it as a permanent desktop.

Personally, I think the combination of iMac + Air is by far the best.
+1 Been working on a MBP 15" for 3 years. Very tempted to move to the iMac 27" for exactly what you said. I need portability for like 10% of the time, like you said for some meetings and vacations.
Will order the new iMac
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