2011 Macbook Pro 2.3ghz or iMac 3.4ghz

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by KyleGP, Jun 26, 2011.

  1. KyleGP macrumors member

    May 3, 2011
    Hi everyone,
    I'm looking to buy my first mac as soon as I make my decision!

    It's a toss up between these two:

    Macbook Pro 15" connected to an external monitor whilst at home
    2.3ghz i7
    8GB Ram
    500gb 72,000rpm


    iMac 27"
    3.4ghz i7
    16GB Ram
    2TB HDD
    2GB Radeon GFX

    Now you might be thinking, well, obviously the iMac? I'm looking to get the best in each field so either the best Macbook Pro specs or some of the best iMac specs.

    I need it for a lot of heavy photoshop work, 1080p HD video editing, some gaming and also music production.

    I ultimately love to take my devices with me and it would be great if I had the option for portability but while at home I connect the Macbook to an external screen.

    What I'm wondering is, will the Macbook cut it with those specs to do what I need?
    Or am I better off going with the iMac for that extra power?

    Storage space is no problem as I will just buy external drives for use if I get the Macbook Pro.

    Keep in mind, things like rendering time and whatnot I'm not phased about it being slower on the Macbook, as I'd expect that. What I mean is, will my experience be slow, sluggish, non responsive and generally a lot slower compared to if I chose the iMac over the Macbook Pro?

    Or will the Macbook Pro handle these things elegantly, with stability, speed etc...?

    Really need some help deciding on these as I'm pretty stuck. Everyone says it depends how important portability is, and it's somewhat important but not entirely nessasary. In other words, I'm trying to weigh out the pros and cons, with portability being a pro.

    Also as an extra qustion, will Lion be shipping with Mac purchases after it's release? If it's just round the corner, should I wait?
  2. Erasmus, Jun 26, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2011

    Erasmus macrumors 68030


    Jun 22, 2006
    Hiding from Omnius in Australia
    One thing to consider is the amount of Turbo Boost that each processor has. For example, my quad 2.2 MBP overclocks to between 3 and 3.3 GHz (~50%) yet my brand new 3.4 GHz i7 (i7-2600) PC at work hits a maximum of 3.8 GHz (~12%). Certainly closes the gap a lot. I'm assuming that the iMac uses the same i7-2600 quad CPU as my work PC.

    In summary, yes the iMac is faster than the MBP, but calling it slow would be crazy. They are both much more computer than most people need, probably you included.

    EDIT: If you choose MBP, go for an SSD, either the 128GB Apple one, or if money is no issue (which I assume it's not) get a bigger and faster 3rd party one.

    EDIT 2: If you want something much, much faster, wait for the Mac Pro refresh that should be coming very soon. Yes, they'll likely blow your budget to shreds, but they should be much faster than the iMac. Although it also blows your portability to shreds too.
  3. petsk macrumors 6502


    Oct 13, 2009
    Northern Europe
    CPU speed should be similar according to benchmarks (the high end iMac is only about 10% faster than the high end MBP).

    I'd say, from personal experience, that the iMac will give you a far better working experience (better ergonomics and more power). But if you have high quality peripherals, such as the ACD screen and good input devices, the experience is getting equivalent to working on an iMac.
  4. fat jez macrumors 68000

    fat jez

    Jun 24, 2010
    Glasgow, UK
    The Genius at my local store was trying to convince me there was only about 10% performance difference between the 2.3GHz MBP (that I have) and the 3.4GHz iMac. Not sure what benchmarks he was using for this (Geekbench I think, as he mentioned it in the conversation).

    Might be worth browsing the results at Geekbench to compare (I get about 10,500 with my MBP).
  5. KyleGP thread starter macrumors member

    May 3, 2011
    Thanks for the reply guys.

    I'm leaning more towards the Macbook Pro after hearing all this, since I'll buy a nice screen and I already have peripherals I'm happy with.

    One thing I'm curious about, is it worth just paying Apple to put the 8GB ram into the macbook (or 16gb in iMac) or is it cheaper to buy Crucial ram or something and install it yourself? I noticed Fat Jez you have Crucial ram, does this improve performance from Apples stock ram?

    I've heard people saying they overcharge you a lot, and I'm experienced with hardware so doing it myself would likely be no problem.

    Erasmus, you say go SSD if I choose the Macbook. Money is sort of the issue, I can't really exceed 4 grand and SSD is low capacity and expensive. I'm not sure that 128gb stock would be enough either. What third party SSD's can you recommend with bigger capacity, and will they be fully Apple compatible?

    P.S, cannot afford Mac Pro at this time. lol
  6. fat jez macrumors 68000

    fat jez

    Jun 24, 2010
    Glasgow, UK
    It's significantly cheaper to install your own RAM. Right now, Apple want £320 for 8GB of RAM. I paid £60 from Crucial. I don't notice any difference from Apple's stock RAM and I suspect if there was a performance difference, it would only show in synthetic benchmarks. I know some people have gone with 1600MHz RAM instead of the 1333MHz that Apple and Crucial ship, but from what I saw, there wasn't a significant performance difference there either. I think you get more benefit from having more RAM (i.e. less / no swap usage) than you do from the RAM speeds.
  7. KyleGP thread starter macrumors member

    May 3, 2011

    If I decide to install my own ram, what will I do with the 4gb (2x2gb) the Macbook Pro will have to come with? Sell it?

    Apple wants an additional $240 for the extra 4GB. Pretty steep really.

    What kind of storage drive do you have? SSD? or HDD?
  8. fat jez macrumors 68000

    fat jez

    Jun 24, 2010
    Glasgow, UK
    I guess what you do with the RAM afterwards is up to you. I kept mine in case I ever needed to take my machine back to Apple, but there is no harm in trying to sell it. Somebody with a recent iMac would probably buy it to double their RAM, as it's the same stuff.

    I have the stock 750GB drive in my MBP at the moment. I've thought about going to SSD but will hold fire on that until a) I've paid off the cost of my MBP from the credit card (it's interest free so not costing me anything) and b) until the price of a 512GB drive comes down a bit. 256GB would probably still be a bit small and I'd have already filled a 128GB drive just with the photos and music I have on there already!
  9. KyleGP, Jun 26, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2011

    KyleGP thread starter macrumors member

    May 3, 2011
    Hmm yeah I agree SSD is seriously expensive. I was gonna go the 500GB 7,200 rpm and get SSD when it's cheaper.

    The other thing to consider with MBP is glossy or antiglare. I just can't decide this because the colours are better on the glossy but who likes glare?

    I could always go glossy and get an AG film, do they work well?
  10. DWBurke811 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 10, 2011
    Boca Raton, FL
  11. KyleGP thread starter macrumors member

    May 3, 2011
    Yep, my mistake. Fixed it.
    Anything to add other than my typo or is that all?
  12. fat jez macrumors 68000

    fat jez

    Jun 24, 2010
    Glasgow, UK
    Personally, I don't like glossy for two reasons. Firstly, the reflections. I have a 13" MBP for work and I have to keep moving it around to avoid reflections from the window behind my desk.

    Secondly, there is a tendency for dust to get trapped behind the glass on the front of the glossy display, despite allegedly being a sealed unit (there's an active thread on here at the moment for a chap who has a dead insect behind the glass on his). As there's no way to clean the dust out, you have to live with it, or get it replaced under warranty. The AG screen has no glass on the front and therefore a quick wipe with a lint free cloth gets rid of it.
  13. KyleGP thread starter macrumors member

    May 3, 2011
    Yeah, I'm leaning towards the AG.
    I really hate the silver bezel though. Possibly so much so that I will get the glossy just because it looks better. The silver is really ugly (in my opinion) and I wish Apple had of kept that consistent.

    Been reading replies here:

    Pretty interesting but I still can't decide. In my smaller town, theres only Mac resellers, no Mac stores so they only have the standard models with Glossy display. Hence I can't compare the screens in person :(
  14. mark28 macrumors 68000

    Jan 29, 2010
  15. KyleGP thread starter macrumors member

    May 3, 2011
    That's a Macbook Pro with 2.2ghz 6mb cache. I'm looking at the 2.3 with 8mb cache which in comparison to that 21" would probably beat it. No doubt the 3.4ghz iMac i7 would beat the 2.3ghz MBP, however this is the debate at hand. I guess it will really come down to how much I want portability, which right now is quite a lot. I just went out for coffee and could imagine myself with my Macbook Pro xD
  16. psuser macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2011
    i also thinking of this before but i hate imac because of changing HDD has to take display off :mad:
    if the design is taking the back cover off would be great
  17. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    You need to keep it. If you have an issue with it, depending on the issue, Apple may want the original RAM in the system. Also, if Apple decides to exchange the system under warranty, you will want to put the original RAM back.
  18. KyleGP thread starter macrumors member

    May 3, 2011
    Good point, cheers.

    I still can't decide which machine to go with. This is doing my head in. I really want the portability but I also want the power. Can't get both, but which one should I get first? Ahhhh!
  19. MJNBGA macrumors regular

    Mar 26, 2011
    New Zealand
    You're budget's 4 grand right? Even if you buy the high end 15" model, max out the processor and RAM and buy the 512 GB SSD *FROM APPLE* you are still under your budget. What's the problem? Go with the MacBook Pro.
  20. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011
    the imac is a better value if the it's going to sit on the same desk or table for a long time...
  21. psuser, Jun 26, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2011

    psuser macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2011
    ha haa... we are in the same boat
    i finally order mbp 2.2 and wait for imac new design :p
  22. tombubi macrumors regular

    Jun 15, 2011
    If you ever need portability, MBP should be your choice.
  23. marc11 macrumors 68000

    Mar 30, 2011
    NY USA
    Me, I would get the iMac and with the money saved get an iPad for portable use when needed. Win/Win. With what iCloud is promising, you can take most of what you may need with you, leaving your iMac at home, including media.
  24. 2hvy4grvty, Jun 27, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2011

    2hvy4grvty macrumors 6502

    Jun 17, 2011
    I don't understand the reasoning behind comparing head to head specs of a desktop to a laptop. And I'm not sure you know what CPU cache really is or how it works...

    Most people are indecisive when it comes to brands, or portability vs performance, pricing vs build quality, etc.

    I mean, can you at least figure out if you NEED a laptop or not? If you do, then is there really a question of which one to buy? If you don't, then is there really a question of which one to buy?

    But of course, with a budget like yours... 4 grand, just get both.

    Honestly, both are perfectly fine for your needs. Is the iMac quicker? Obviously. Do you NEED more power than what the MBP offers? Probably not. Two defining qualities of either machine is not the specs:

    MBP - portability.
    iMac - screen.

    Which do you want/need more? And don't say "well there's performance to consider".

    I've already proved it in a bunch of other threads. If you NEED specs above all else, get a PC. 4 grand... Jesus, God knows what kind of PC you can build. Dual 2600k OC'd to 5ghz each with quad SLI and RAID 0 SSDs. A $500 PC will outperform the MBP (and technically the iMac as well), and an $800 PC would absolutely scrape the iMacs. $4000 puts you in another generation.
  25. dagamer34 macrumors 65816


    May 1, 2007
    Houston, TX
    $4000 easily gets you a MacBook Pro, 27" ACD, and a gaming PC.

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