15" MBP or iMac?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by malman89, Jul 10, 2011.

  1. malman89, Jul 10, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2011

    malman89 macrumors 68000

    May 29, 2011
    Here's my situation and any input would be great.

    I have a Late 2006 model (purchased March 2007) White 2 GHz C2D MacBook w/ 1GB RAM, 500 GB 7200rpm HD, Super Drive, etc. I've recently graduated college and have a full time job.

    I'm still debating whether I should buy a new machine or not. Can I financially? Yes. Is it smart to buy a new machine now? Maybe, maybe not. My job pays the bills, will pay the student loans, and will allow me to save a decent amount in savings, but not rain making money here.

    If I bought a new machine, it must be able to game at least Medium quality of most games today + hopefully a bit into the future. I'm not talking super FPS or Crysis 2 standard games. I'm talking Portal 2, Diablo 3 (2012?), new graphics engine for the MMO I play (if the vaporware ever gets released), random things on Steam, etc.

    I treat my laptop as essentially like a desktop practically, but I never considered an iMac ever before. I'm almost always at a desk, I never took it to class (yay no more classes), I'll probably never take it to work, at most I like to lounge on the bed instead of the sofa for viewing things, maybe. However, the iMacs would be considerably cheaper than a 15" detailed MBP. I'd tweak the iMacs a bit due to the pain of breaking into one. Here's my options:

    - 21.5" with 2.5 GHz iCore 5 Quad Core, upgrade 8 GB RAM, Radeon HD 6750M w/512MB DDR5 for $1,329
    - 21.5" iMac BTO with 2.8 GHz iCore 7 Quad Core, 8 GB RAM, Radeon HD 6770M w/512 MB DDR5 for $1,759 (I guess I could stick to the stock 2.7 GHz i5 but upgrade RAM for $1,579 too)
    - 15" MBP with 2.2 GHz iCore 7 Quad Core, 4 GB RAM (cheaper upgrade elsewhere), 500 GB 7200rpm, Radeon HD 6750M w/ 1GB DDR5, Hi-Res Glossy display for $2,089

    I guess I've never considered an iMac before because I was always in college in Chicago and home is Michigan. Now, I can just bring my current/old MacBook whenever I need a portable and possibly get a desktop instead of a new laptop. Also, the iMac can be as much as $800 cheaper for the same graphics power.

    It's just annoying the MBP has more DDR5 RAM for the Radeon 6750M than the 21.5" iMac. It would really make my dreams to get the 27" Radeon HD 6970M in the 21.5" iMac, but Macs aren't that amazingly customizable, sadly.

    I could go a PC route, but the combination of build quality and portability (if laptop route) is hard to match in terms of an Apple machine. Any input would be great.
  2. aery macrumors member


    Nov 27, 2009
    About a month ago I was trying to decide between and iMac and 15' MBP as well. I had a MacBook but wanted to upgrade and since I've been using notebooks as my main computers for the last 4 years I automatically leaned toward the MBP. But when I really thought about it, it made more sense to get the iMac. I'm still in school but I barely ever brought my MacBook to class as I still like to take my notes with pen and paper. The screen size of the 13' was really getting to me so I knew I wanted a bigger screen (which is why I wanted at least the 15' MBP). Then when I took into account what I could save just by getting the iMac I realized it just made a lot more sense to go with it.

    I love my iMac and even though I just went with the 21.5', the screen seems soo large to me coming from using such small screens. I don't think I could go back now to a notebook as my main computer. I gave the MacBook to my sister and honestly the only time I miss it is on the rare occasion that I would like to just surf on my couch or the bed but it's not enough to make me get another notebook, even though the Airs look wicked. :D I'm thinking of just getting an iPad for couch surfing but really I know I don't need it and am perfectly fine with my iMac.
  3. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    I'd probably get the 2.7GHz 21.5". The i7 really isn't all that necessary, especially if you don't need it to do heavy lifting, which the i5 can handle easily as well. You'll see decent gaming performance out of it, even with only the 512MB, it should be fine unless you crank up the AA or run really intense games (which it sounds like you don't). Also, pass on the RAM upgrade from Apple. That's a pretty large ripoff, as you can buy 8GB aftermarket for less than $100, install it yourself (very easy) and have a total of 12GB.
  4. spacepower7 macrumors 68000

    May 6, 2004
    Upgrading the RAM yourself is much easier on the iMac than the MBP, but both are easy.

    Another idea if you go with the iMac, upgrade the ram on your MacBook for $100 or less. Take it to at least 2GB, you can add 4 GB but I think that MacBook will only see 3.3 GB or something like that. Still might be worth it. I have the same model MacBook and my only complaint is that the fan is loud if you watch videos. It's still a great couch/bed machine.
  5. malman89 thread starter macrumors 68000

    May 29, 2011
    Ah, I thought I read internal upgrades were a bit of a pain on the new iMacs. Must've been for more complicated things. I've no experience with an MBP upgrade, but MB upgrades are amazingly easy. That'd be great if they're similar on an iMac. That would be some good savings.
  6. Sackvillenb macrumors 6502a


    Mar 1, 2011
    Canada! \m/
    Depending on the model of imac you get, ram upgrades are indeed easy to do, and it will cost you less than getting the ram through Apple. Also, from what you've described, you won't really need the i7 over the i5. You would be better off taking the money you save from skipping that upgrade into something else, like the graphics card since you're a gamer.

    If you really don't need the portability, the imac does give you more horsepower per dollar! And a much nicer screen. And you already have a macbook for portability anyway... It's basically portability vs. screen size and gaming horsepower here... Since you do enjoy gaming, I would probably lean towards getting an imac (again, especially since you do still have a portable computer already). But you need to carefully evaluate how YOU will be using the new computer. Do you need portable gaming? Or is "stationary" gaming good for you? Good luck! :)
  7. Euroamerican macrumors regular


    May 27, 2010
    After a year with my MBP 13, I can list the following observations:

    1. I don't use the "portability" of the MBP nearly at all. It sits at my desk, cabled to a cheap external monitor, the vast majority of the time. I had visions of using it around the house, out on the patio, in the TV room, etc. I rarely do this.

    1a. Plug in external power, charge battery, run down battery, repeat......

    2. I still plan to buy an external LCD that is much larger than the current 4:3 17" LCD that I had sitting around the house.

    3. I love the Apple wireless keyboard and wireless mouse that I bought to use with my old Mac mini, that I then transferred to the MBP upon its purchase.

    4. Wireless printing, and (of course) the wireless network connection provided by my Airport Express takes a huge bite out of the inconvenience factor when being "mobile around the house" with my MBP.

    5. I WOULD take the MBP with me if I were to be away from home for an extended period of time, but I have since bought an iPhone and find it much easier to pick up emails and do little internet things while on the go.

    6. If doing this MBP purchase again, I would probably buy an iMac instead and call it good.

    So, my advice is to think really hard about whether or not you really need a full portable desktop replacement computer. If you don't really really need on, get an iMac. An added convenience factor of an iPhone and/or iPad will take care of most portable issues for many people.
  8. FuNGi macrumors 65816


    Feb 26, 2010
    If you find you don't want to carry your MBP around then you leave it on your desk.

    If you find you want to carry your iMac around then you heave it on your chest.
  9. Pferri macrumors newbie

    Oct 30, 2007
    My next decision

    I currently have the late 2008 MacBook Pro. Still runs beautifully, but for the most part it stays at my desk and occasionally to my bed.

    I love the look of iMac, the power, and the screen size at 21.5 is more than enough.

    However, with my iphone I don't need my MBP as much and can control it from my phone if need be.

    Your best option....

    iMac + iPad +iPhone - All adding up to less of the 15" MBP

    You can control the iMac from the iPad and with iCloud coming they'll sync easily. Go to Best Buy, do the 36 month no interest financing and pay it off in several months.

    Seems to be a no brainer to me
  10. malman89, Jul 11, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2011

    malman89 thread starter macrumors 68000

    May 29, 2011
    I debated to myself whether or not I needed to put a disclaimer that in no way was I ever going to buy an iPad, MBA, or iPhone no matter what I purchased, but looks like I should've.

    iPad 2 - Too much of a gimmick still, still file management issues, still just a stupid shiny toy

    MBA - No. Just plain no.

    iPhone - Have an Android phone. Don't really care much about Android vs. iOS, just care that I have Virgin Mobile and what I get for $40 costs people $90-120 on other carriers, especially if you include their no care tethering policy.

    But looks like the 21.5" iMac with 2.7 GHz iCore 7 Quad Core, 4 GB RAM (update self), Radeon HD 6770M w/512 MB DDR5 for $1,399 is my front runner. I think I'd pay a teeny bit more to bump from the 6750 to the 6770, since Apple iMac GPUs just aren't upgradeable. That little difference might help down the line.

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