Designer New Setup - keep my new 15 mbpR or return for imac and 13 mb air?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by AlexanderBell, Dec 8, 2012.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Dec 8, 2012
    Hi There!

    I'm really stuck on what to do and would love some advice please! I've seen several posts about this for students but not specifically for a designer / photographer.

    So here goes, I'm a graphic designer, photographer and occasional web designer / animator. I use photoshop, illustrator, in design every day and am now getting into after effects. I just this week received my new macbook pro retina 15 inch top spec. I'm converting from a windows setup by the way (don't kill me for this, I'm now a full mac convert!) I love the new machine, it is insanely fast! However my external monitors - old 22" LG's look horrific next to the retina screen. Plus on a 2 day trip to London, the weight of the 15 mbpr and size wasn't really portable and was a bit of a pain and safety concern using in the pub / train. Also the battery seems to only last a few hours designing...

    So the dilemma... I'm now needing to buy a new external monitor... Which if I bought a Dell Ultrasharp monitor, the total spend is coming in around the same price as a new imac 27" and macbook air 13" with 8gb and 256gb ssd. With that setup I'd have a better spec imac than my current mbpr plus a gorgeous 27" display and an ultra portable macbook air.

    So my question, is a higher spec imac and portable 13 macbook air going to be a better setup than a 15 mbpr with a dell ultrasharp display or even a thunderbolt?

    Will the macbook air screen drive me crazy not being retina? Will it be a problem when editing raw images?

    Will the macbook air cpu power be an issue running photoshop / illustrator / indesign? (reviews say it will handle this no problem)

    Will having to use dropbox to share files / sync when I leave the office a couple of times a week be a pain in the behind?

    Will the imac display make up for a non retina mac air?

    Or will i fall in love with the powerful imac when in the office and equally have a major crush on the mega portable macbook air, even if it doesnt have retina - how do they compare?

    Thanks in advance for any input / experiences shared.

    Thanks! Hopefully others in my position will find the thread useful!

  2. Ardash, Dec 8, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2012

    macrumors newbie

    May 6, 2012
    Why not go all out.

    Why not get the iMac 27 inch, and pair it with a 13 inch retina instead of the 13 inch air? A 13 inch air with 1.8Ghz processor, 256GB SSD and 8GB of RAM costs $1599 the 13 inch retina costs $1699 and you get a 2.5Ghz processor a little less storage (128GB SSD) and 8GB of RAM stock. Seems like a small price to pay for a substantially better screen and better equipped processor. I have had a similar issue to resolve. I would honestly consider waiting on the 13 inch retina at least until Haswell is released next year. There will be a 50% boost in graphics capability from what I understand and better power management. If you need the machine then buy it. I do not think you will regret the air though if you do decide to get it, as it is a pretty sweet machine.
    I am thinking of picking up the iMac 27 inch paired with a 13 inch retina, how ever I am hesitant as that is a lot of money.
    I think I may bite the bullet and get the best of both worlds and go with the 15 inch retina. Lets be honest that thing is a beast and although it is no air for damn sure it is still very portable, weighing in at slightly less than last years 13 inch pro. If you need power and mobility it is the undisputed king of the market.
    Until the day comes when they cram a quad core and a dedicated graphics card into a foot print the size of the 13 inch retina the best option is the 15 inch retina for power and mobility.
  3. macrumors newbie

    May 6, 2012
    And yes having a non retina display may drive you nuts. At least on the air. The iMac should look pretty damn sweet though.
    As long as you sit an arms length away it will look beautiful.
  4. macrumors 6502a

    Dec 6, 2009
    I'll never buy another iMac. I love my 27" but you lose out on the machine itself big time if you don't get rid of it within 1-2 years.

    It makes much more sense to buy the 27" display, which will never get old unless it goes retina (even then not even really necessary), and pair it with either a dedicated Mini or an Air.

    I would never give up my 15" rMBP. It is super fast, amazing screen, and portable when I need it.
  5. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 8, 2012
    Good point with the display not getting old versus a machine which will date...

    As for the 13 retina - I'd love to but the equivalent spec is £1699 versus £1245 on the mac air...

    I guess you do get what you pay for!

    I could of course go for the 13 retina with a thunderbolt but then I'm losing out spec wise... quad core for rendering after effects / Vray will really help!

    Thanks for the responses so far - really appreciate other peoples inputs!
  6. macrumors regular


    Jul 31, 2012
    Bournemouth, UK
    If you do any kind of animation work then the Air is going to really drag you down. I have the 27" iMac and the 15" rMBP and although they are both fantastic machines i've always felt a lot more comfortable using a Mac at a desk than on my lap.

    Although i am a programmer and not a designer so the retina display may be more viable of a choice for you.
  7. macrumors 6502a


    Apr 29, 2008
    Have you had any problems with your Retina display on the MacBook Pro? (Image persistence?) I returned mine because of the issue and got a regular HiRes AntiGlare MacBook Pro instead... I have to say, I am not happy going back to the "old" screen tech / resolution at all... in just 1 week (+ iPad 3 Retina display usage), my eyes have adjusted to seeing a retina display. Every other screen now looks pretty bad to me :(
  8. macrumors newbie


    Jun 16, 2011
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Did you consider the tricked out Mac Mini with Thunderbolt Cinema Display (or another high res display) instead of the iMac 27? That would give you more $$ to afford the 13 MBPr and it is nearly just as capable as the iMac 27 according to benchmark testing from Geekbench. The quad core speed is a bit slower, but still incredibly powerful on the mini and for the price it's an outstanding value.

    It'd be a sweet combination!
  9. macrumors 68030


    May 20, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    I used to have the iMac+lesser-Mac-laptop combo and while I liked having a powerful Mac desktop, I found that it was annoying to keep most of my things and do most of my computing tasks on a stationary computer and have since relegated my storage responsibilities to a NAS, while leaving myself with a powerful portable Mac that does everything I need.

    I feel like this would apply to your current dilemma as well. Though in your case, I'd have gone for the 15" non-retina (as I ended up actually doing) for a multitude of reasons, only one of which being that only a small percentage of OS X software is optimized for the retina display while non-optimized software tends to look like crap.

    Luckily these are problems that you wouldn't have to worry about on an iMac, a 13" MacBook Air, or a 15" non-retina MacBook Pro. Though the flipside to that argument is that soon, more and more things will make the jump to retina and at that point, it makes sense to have the newer screen technology. Though I'd assert that by the time that has happened enough to matter, the Mid 2012 15" retina model will be nearing the age where it makes sense to consider a new Mac.
  10. macrumors member

    Feb 26, 2011
    Yeah keep the 15" MBPR thing is beast mode. I have a fully loaded MBA 13" and while I love it I would trade it in a heart beat for a MBPR 15"
  11. macrumors newbie

    Jul 12, 2012
    Not sure if you sorted this in the end but I ended up going for a double laptop set up. I have a maxed out 15 rMBP plugged into a display on my desk, and a 13 rMBP that goes everywhere.

    The 15 is basically my iMac with the option of being portable, and my 13 actually replaced an Air. Once you've gone retina it's hard work using anything else. I was fortunate that I got both my rMBP's discounted down to £1000 each, making it a no brainer. If I was spending my own money, i'd go iMac 27' and retina 13. Fantastic combo and good value. For those who jump on me with expensive setup comments, if you're looking for value none of us would use Macs!!
  12. macrumors newbie

    Apr 19, 2013
    Milwaukee, WI
    similar question... please

    I've highlighted my questions, if you don't want to read my whole diatribe! Sorry, I'm wordy :eek:

    This thread has come closest to answering my own questions, so I'm going to post here, instead of starting a new thread. I work "in the office" 99% of the time. I also "moonlight" evenings/weekends doing design jobs "on the side". My home computer (an old PowerMac G4 Quicksilver c2003) died in December, and I've been okay without it, but if I had a laptop, I'd have the option of working from home/outside the office more often - this appeals to me!

    Until reading this thread, never even considered an iMac AND macbook! My problem is, unlike this poster, I have a budget. I have about $2500 maximum to spend (would like to keep it around $2000). I am software savvy, but will NOT mess with hardware (future upgrading, etc.).

    I was looking at the rMBP 15" 2.4GHz as the answer... but now??? the iMac for home and the 13" for portability sounds like a "nice" option, but working in inDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop - a 13" seems REALLY small to me. Is it workable? Really?

    Also, has anybody touched on the subject of the Adobe Creative Cloud? I would be purchasing a cloud subscription to use the Adobe creative suite, and hoping that works well on an rMBP.

    My work is primarily print and packaging, with a smattering of web. Can a rMBP handle working in 300MB illustrator files?

    Lastly, should I wait it out for Haswell? I've been reading a lot about that on these rumors/forums. If I do, should I buy new (haswell) or take advantage of maybe getting a more powerful early-2013 rMBP for a cheaper price?

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