Do I get a new iMac or a Retina Macbook Pro?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by iFanboy, Nov 4, 2012.

  1. Guest


    1. Currently using a Feb 2009 15" Macbook Pro Unibody (It still works fine, but obviously the specs are getting dated and I need to upgrade)

    2. In June 2012 I pre-ordered the new 15" Macbook Pro with Retina Display. I was completely in love with the screen (seriously, DAT SCREEN) but I maxed out the specs for £3,000 and it still had scroll lag. Not acceptable for £3,000 so I returned it (I really really really worried about doing it, seriously, DAT SCREEN and build quality were incredible).

    3. New plan, wait for Haswell and get 15" Macbook Pro with Retina display in June 2013.

    4. iMac released. Plan in state of chaos. I use my computer pretty much 100% at home on my desk. I don't need the portability of a laptop and maxing out the specs of a 27" iMac is cheaper. I am really concerned about the screen though. The retina screen blew me away and I plan to keep my next computer for 4 years at least - I'm concerned about buyers remorse on a non-retina screen at this stage.

    Help? I have no specific need for a laptop, and an iMac is cheaper. I was just so blown away by the retina screen that I am concerned about spending over £2,000 on a maxed out iMac only to regret the lack of retina screen in a year or so. I cannot afford both, and money is an issue so that's why I keep my computers for so long.
  2. macrumors 68030


    May 20, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    The screen lag issues on the retina MacBook Pros is all software-based as the hardware can drive the pixel count, it's the software and/or drivers that are having trouble with redrawing for the higher pixel density. I'd expect that to be fixed at some point. My guess is that it's not a simple endeavor which is why, every build release of OS X since 10.7.4 has probably made strides in improvement, but hasn't gone all the way toward completely fixing these issues.

    Given that, I imagine Haswell, while being faster, will offer little in the way of actual improvements in this regard as the real solution will be in drivers and/or the OS itself.

    What is it that you do that a 2009 MBP is too slow for? Not to say that it's new, but I can't think of a single program that won't run on it. Slap an SSD drive in it and that's most of the speed improvement that you'll find on an rMBP right there. Sure quad-core and going from Penryn to Ivy Bridge is nice, but mission critical necessary, I wouldn't think.

    If keeping your 2009 MBP in service is an option, then the iMac makes the most sense. I don't think you'll have buyers remorse with buying a non-retina Mac at this point given that (a) there are still software/drivers issues with the retina models, hence the screen lag issues, (b) not every program out there is optimized for the retina display yet, and (c) some older (but still compatible) software may never get updated to take advantage of retina and/or may take a long time making the transition, in which case, now is really not the time to buy anyway. If you only own your Macs for three to five years at a time, by the time you replace whatever Mac you end up getting, that will be the perfect time to make the jump to retina, yourself.

    I'd say return the retina screen, keep using your 2009 MBP for mobility and get an iMac (though if you get a 21.5", pre-configure it with 16GB of RAM so you aren't inconvenienced by the non-accessible RAM situation). It's looking like the 21.5" iMac might actually be a reliable machine, and with speed comparable to the 15" rMBP and 15" cMBP; though, the 27" will be faster than ever before.
  3. iFanboy, Nov 4, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 4, 2012


    Thanks for the help!

    The 2009 MBP has been upgraded as far as it will go unfortunately. 2.53 GHZ Intel Core 2 Duo, 8GB Ram, 256GB SSD, 512MB nVidia GPU.

    It runs fine for web browsing and word processing, but for even youtube videos is BOILS itself now. Anything past web and word processing has poor performance and sends the fans into overdrive. It gets as noisy as a windows PC now :(

    I need an upgrade but I feel that nothing suits me right now if that makes sense? I fell in love with the retina screen, but app support and lag was an issue, but buying a non-retina screen will probably have me feeling like I'm using an outdated computer too soon given that I purchase every 4 years.

    I think you're right that the new iMac is the best fit right now.
  4. macrumors regular

    Jul 11, 2011
    Melbourne Australia
    You will still be blown away by an iMac screen, it is retina from a certain distance, and if you don't need portability definitely get an iMac, especially considering this years iMac will still dominate next years MacBook pros.

    But if you don't need power and like portability, then maybe a MacBook Pro :)
  5. macrumors 68030


    Jul 11, 2008
    Hmm. You seem to be in no specific rush. I'd say the odds are decent of a 21" or 24" Retina iMac with Haswell for around $3000-3500 by this time next year.

    That said, the iMac screen is already quite beautiful. It's not like you're switching to some crappy 22" HP LCD. The difference between this screen and its future Retina equivalent will be almost indiscernible without viewing them side by side. The new screens are made identically to the Retina screens and the OS even treats it like one in most respects, so the difference is just the PPI.
  6. macrumors 65816


    Oct 3, 2010
    North of England
    I'm in pretty much the exact same situation as you. I've got a mid-2009 15 inch MBP, and I'm thinking it's time for an upgrade.

    I was planning on getting a 15 inch rMBP next year (wait for Haswell, and it'll take me that long to save anyway), but looking at those new iMacs has made me reconsider.

    I use my MBP on my desk around 90% of the time with the huge salad of wires coming out of it (audio line out, external FW HDD, mouse USB stick, ethernet cable, power cable, sometimes a HDMI cable) which is AWFUL since I hate hate hate wires, and only very rarely take it to lectures with me (university student)...

    To have the same specs would be cheaper for the iMac, and it'd probably run better since it's got less pixels to worry about, and the heating system is probably more efficient (just an assumption?). But then again, it would be nice to have portability for the few times I need it... my needs my also change, and I might find myself taking my Mac in every day this time in 2 years when I'm starting my dissertation.

    And that retina display... makes me drool every time I go into an apple store...

    Suppose choosing between a rMBP and a shiny new iMac isn't a bad problem to have though :p
  7. scottsjack, Nov 4, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 4, 2012

    macrumors 68000

    Aug 25, 2010
    I'm in a similar position. My late 2008 MBP 2.4GHz with 8GB RAM and a WD Scorpio Black 7200RPM HDD is so slow processing Canon 5D3 images via Photoshop that it's almost useless.

    Call me a traditionalist but I like upgradeable computers. If I replace it with another Mac it will be a non-Retina MBP. The regular MBP has better connectivity due to FW800 and has an optical drive. While not a Retina the display still looks terrific and operates better due to having the same GPU that Retinas have.

    I would rather have a thin, high-performance MBP than a too-thin, lower performance one.
  8. macrumors member

    Sep 15, 2011
    You don't mention what your use case is. That should be what determines the purchase. Are you playing video games and editing a lot of video? Get an iMac. Are you going to a lot of meetings and like working in coffee shops? Get an MBPr.
  9. macrumors 68030


    May 20, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    Is your 2009 MBP the one that only had the integrated graphics (GeForce 9400M only) or did yours have the 9600M GT too?

    What you might want to do is get the iMac when it comes out. (If we're talking 21.5", definitely customize the higher-end model with the Fusion Drive and 16GB of RAM as you won't have those options available to you after you buy it. If you're getting the 27" iMac, you can buy your RAM after-market, but you still have to customize your drive options when you buy.) In addition, take your MacBook Pro to your local Apple Authorized Service Provider (not an Apple Store as you are out of AppleCare if you bought your MBP in February of 2009), and have them diagnose what's going on. You could just have a bad heatsink/fan set-up in which case that's a fairly cheap part and your heating issues could magically go away. Though if they tell you that it's a logic board issue, then it's not worth doing anything about it. Still though, your MBP is new enough that it is worth fixing that problem so that you can at least repurpose it as a secondary mobile machine.
  10. macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2009
    Do you need it to be portable? If yes-->rMBP

    If no, get an iMac. Better performance and bigger screen for cheaper.

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