Should I get an iMac or Macbook Pro? (photoshop and gaming)

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by mimisaurus, Mar 26, 2012.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Mar 26, 2012
    I'm hoping this is the right forum... I need some help from people familiar with using macs to game and design/draw in photoshop as what would be best for me. I have never owned a mac before.

    I have heard that macbooks are actually better for gaming, where as iMacs can be better for photoshop. Also, iMac is closer to its end cycle according to the buyer's guide, which is making my lean towards a macbook more...

    To me, the pros of a macbook is better specs for the price, portability, that adorable glowing apple (what?) and that it would take up less room on my desk. The cons to me seem like it would be awkward to draw on (with a graphics tablet) and the screen is smaller. Does anyone have any first hand experience drawing with a 15” macbook pro? I mainly draw in PSE 10 for my tshirt designs and website. I don’t often draw epic-scale art works that would take up a 27” iMac’s screen but feel that 15” is very small to work with… how does it feel?

    I would also want to buy a magic mouse for my macbook pro if I got one, do they work together?

    I am really struggling on what to get. Not a lot of people I know are into photoshop OR gaming OR macs so I can’t find anyone to ask so I’m hoping you guys can help me out.

    This is the macbook I was looking at;

    15-inch: 2.4 GHz
    • 2.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7
    • 4GB 1333MHz
    • 750GB 5400-rpm1
    • Intel HD Graphics 3000
    • AMD Radeon HD 6770M with 1GB GDDR5

    And this is the iMac I was looking at;

    • 3.1GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5
    • 4GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x2GB
    • 1TB Serial ATA Drive
    • AMD Radeon HD 6970M 2GB GDDR5
  2. macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    The iMac will be better for gaming as it has the better video card, and larger hard drive. The i5 vs i7 doesn't matter for gaming. Likewise, with Photoshop, either one will fly.

    As far as a mac for gaming though, you need to convince me why you think a MacBook pro or an iMac is good for gaming. $2000 can get you a much better gaming rig.

    Lastly, don't plan on gaming on the MacBook Pro. It'll get hot hot hot, and the Windows drivers suck. You'd (almost) be better off buying a MacBook air and a dedicated Windows machine.

    But if you can't tell, I think gaming on a mac is just a bad idea.
  3. mimisaurus, Mar 26, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2012

    thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 26, 2012
    Well, I am not buying a mac just for gaming, sorry I should've mentioned that... I haven't thrown away my PC, I still have it, and it can run games quite well, but I'm giving it to the family as a family computer so it won't be in my room and stuff. I am getting a mac because I want to switch, and I have heard that photoshop runs much better on macs. My current pc struggles a bit with photoshop...

    do you think that the following iMac specs will handle PSE 10 and CS5 as well as some light gaming? (mainly steam games, wow, skyrim) just medium graphics...

    2.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5
    2560 x 1440 resolution
    4GB (two 2GB) memory
    1TB hard drive1
    AMD Radeon HD 6770M with 512MB

    I am also looking at this one because it is the only one my local store has in stock, and they are going to give me $100 discount as well as a free numeric keyboard for some reason...

    thanks for the help.

    edit: I should add that my main concern is running photoshop, gaming is something that I MAINLY do on xbox and ps3 but have some pc games, and I can always play them on the old PC if I have to. my main aim is the have photoshop going and handling well.

    another edit: I was thinking a refurb model like this would look good too...
  4. thekev, Mar 26, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2012

    macrumors 603


    Aug 5, 2010
    Ram is a big thing with photoshop, but it depends how big your files top out in terms of layers, bit depth, etc. CS6 may bump the gpu requirements, but I'm not expecting it to be a big deal. I wouldn't count on it lagging anything current. I can tell you from experience, glossy displays are annoying for drawing. Regarding your concern about graphics tablets, at default mapping settings, I find large displays incredibly irritating due to how the mapping ratio is a little weird, but there are several ways to compensate if you have trouble with precise drawing. The macbooks definitely aren't superior for gaming. The rumor was always due to the resolution of the imac paired with a mobile gpu. It made people somewhat paranoid. While it isn't ideal, it doesn't put it below the macbook pro in any way. Note here and here

    I don't really do any gaming. I used to a little bit, but it's never totally been my thing. I do a fair amount of photoshop drawing/painting. If you go with either, you'll want to really control the brightness of your work area for drawing. Reflections are super distracting. People who debate this often just haven't really tested the difference in depth. Having compared on many many occasions, I can tell you if you're getting a lot of glare on the imac, it makes it harder to spot fine details. I'll admit I'm super picky. If you can control the lighting in your work area, it shouldn't be too bad. If you're hoping to see this match a printed output, either one is pretty bright, so especially when they're new, you may have to count on things printing down a bit even if you dim the backlight. This counts for either. I hope this helps. Oh and if you have a lot of trouble with the feel of the tablet mapping, you can always use mouse mapping with acceleration off for your pen. It's an old trick. Many people do this.

    I always wondered why Apple never attempted to make a macbook that doesn't run so god damn hot. I recall you use a Dell these days. Does it ever heat up in the same way? I always found it irritating how just moderately strenuous use causes the fans to kick up to full and the computer to become noticeably warm.
  5. macrumors 68030


    Jul 30, 2010
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Portable, maybe. That iMac has a fairly decent GPU in it.
  6. macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    You know, after playing Skyrim for a few hours it's rather warm, but just sitting here for a few minutes trying to make my laptop overheat while it's on my lap isn't really getting anywhere. At one point, I tried running my CPU at max, and it just made the palmrest warm.

    I briefly had a current gen 15" MBP with an anti-glare screen, and I can say that thing got hotter just transferring my data over the network than this Dell does while playing Skyrim.

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