MacBook Air + Cinema Display vs Macbook Air + iMac

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by dmw16, Jan 9, 2013.

  1. dmw16, Jan 9, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013

    macrumors regular

    May 14, 2011
    First off, I love my 27" iMac. The screen real estate is a must for me. I tried switching to a MBPr but just couldn't do it. So I know that no matter what I do I need a big screen.

    So with all of that said, I am really wishing I had a mobile computing option. I have an iPad3 but that is really just for web surfing and the like. I use my iMac for watching movies and editing photos in Aperture.

    So I am now debating between the following:

    Option 1:
    13" MacBook Air nearly maxed out (I'd probably skip the 512GB SSD since I have an external TB enclosure)
    Cinema Display

    Option 2:
    My Current 27" iMac (i5 2.7Ghz, 24GB RAM, 256GB SSD, and the same TB enclosure)
    Cheapest 11" MacBook Air (probably the $749 refurb)

    I'd use the Air for when I'm out or on vacation for doing some basic Aperture stuff, posting to Flickr, basic word processing, email, etc.

    I should also note that Option 2 is probably cheaper. I'd sell my iMac if going with Option 1, but still an Air and a Cinema display is about $2800.

  2. macrumors 68030


    Nov 20, 2008
    I had a 13"MBP and an iPad 2. Sold the Pro, bought an iMac. Then realized I still needed a laptop for class, kept the iPad 2, iMac and bought the cheapest 11"MBA. I'm very happy with my current set up. Works perfectly together and I feel it is the right mixture.
  3. macrumors 6502a

    Jun 14, 2012
    Columbia, MD
    I had the air + TB display. All I can say is it depends.
    1. Do you need a computer always on at home for file/media streaming? (I do for my apple TVs.)
    2. Do you want to deal with managing files/applications/and settings between two devices?

    So I didn't want to deal with issue number 2 and thats why I have the Thunderbolt display and the air.

    Later I can add a mac mini to solve number 1.
  4. macrumors 6502a


    Sep 8, 2011
    Hidden Option #3: RMBP + 27" Thunderbolt Display

    Powerhouse of the iMac whether docked or on the go. I have this and love it.
  5. macrumors 6502a


    Dec 20, 2008
    I've had a Macbook Pro + Thunderbolt and a Macbook Pro + iMac combo.

    Dealing with unplugging my external hardrives / what nots securely before unplugging my Macbook Pro was kind of a nuisance w/ the Thunderbolt.

    I prefer the iMac since my dorm doesn't have wireless, I can always leave the iMac connected to Ethernet and share the internet over WiFi and it was also really easy to sync together with Windows Live Mesh, but I heard they got rid of that support.
  6. thread starter macrumors regular

    May 14, 2011
    Thanks for the feedback everyone.

    I think the Air + iMac is the best option. I use my iMac to stream to my apple TVs so it does stay on a fair bit. And I'm also concerned about unplugging my drives.

    I would love to do a MacBook Pro plus display but not sure if that's in the budget. I'd skip the retina display because the Cinema Display makes the retina unnessecary for me since it will be on my desk more than I'm mobile.
  7. macrumors 68000

    Apr 27, 2005
    I previously had everything. iMac, MBA, Cinema Display, iPad, etc. I then woke up one day and realized that I just simply didn't need all of that stuff. So the first to go was the iMac. I ended up selling the Cinema Display as well, but I got a cheaper Dell IPS display to replace it. My MBA is almost always plugged into the monitor, but I also have the flexibility of taking it with me or working elsewhere in the house if I'd like. Unplugging cables isn't a big deal for me because I don't do it that often. And, we're only talking three cables anyway if you use a USB hub.

    I'll probably get a new MBA next year when the Haswells come up and will also go with this same setup. No retina doesn't bother me much since I'm hooked up to an external monitor most of the time.
  8. macrumors regular

    Jan 10, 2009
    I am looking into getting a desktop computer. I have a MacBook Air and was thinking of getting a Thunderbolt Display. I am now thinking it would be better to get a iMac 21.5" One of the other models that supports thunderbolt. I have multiple apple Tv's and stream content to them all the time. Thanks for the advice guys.
  9. macrumors 6502a


    Jul 10, 2009
    I'm biased obviously from my own ownership scenario, but I really discourage people from buying iMacs unless they just need a simple all-in-one. If you don't need the all-in-one form factor, it's really not a very good deal as far as what you get for the price compared to other offerings in the Apple lineup.

    In the OP's case, since you already have an iMac, the most cost efficient thing to do is just keep it and buy a cheaper Air (I personally much prefer the 11 to the 13, the footprint of the 13 is just too big for me, kind of negating the thinness of it).

    However, if you are thinking long term, I think you might be better off getting a TB display. The problem with iMacs is that they're almost "wasteful"; you have a wonderful screen but eventually, the components become obsolete and you can only use that 27" incher in 1080p if you use it as an external display.

    As an alternative if gaming isn't a huge priority, you could get a Mac Mini with a TB display in place of your iMac, and then the cheapest Air. Contrary to common beliefs, the Mac Minis today have a LOT of horsepower if you go for the mid-tier quad. That will come out to a couple hundred less than a maxed out 13" Air and pack a lot more punch in a relatively small footprint still.
  10. thread starter macrumors regular

    May 14, 2011
    Thanks again everyone.

    I think for me the cheapest refurb Air is the way to go and keep my iMac. I'm not a huge fan of getting rid of my iMac since I took the time to put an SSD into it and all that jazz. Plus it's a pretty sweet computer, just not very portable.

    I need to do a little more research and number crunching, but an add-on MBA is looking like the winner.
  11. macrumors 68030


    Jul 30, 2010
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Do it, the 11" MBA is a winner.
  12. macrumors 68040

    Jun 20, 2007
    Macbook Air 11" makes the most sense for you. Keep the iMac for home use.
  13. macrumors newbie

    Jul 19, 2012

    I do have air and TB also, and if I will need a Mac at home to be always on I would get mini too. It is great to just grab the air from the bookarc when leaving for school etc. no need to worry about files being on both devices (iMac and air). And to be honest the 2012 air is pretty capable of handling task as rendering movie with handbreak or editing a photo in pixelmator. I know these are no heavy duty tasks but still two year ago this would be a pita...


    Live mesh is sort of messed up... I had to switch to Dropbox to share files between our two airs.. And IMHO Dropbox is really better solution. I really liked live mesh and have been using it for 3 years but it has its issues.. Really like the offline sync over local network thought...


    For me there is no way going back to 21,5 after having TB for 6 months now... :)


    I believe you can use your current iMac as a display for your new air.. Just in case you need more screen real estate.. My gf has a 2012 11 air and I have 13 in, sometimes there is an app that is badly ported to Mac and can't be use on 11 screen because you can see the whole window of that app. It is also I true that the difference between your 27 iMac and 11 air is HUGE :-D vent I do sometimes wonder have big the difference is..

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