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macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 24, 2013
I recently bought a 27" iMac but am debating on taking it back for a 21.5. It's really big. I'm debating whether I should keep it or downsize to a 21.5. I browse the web and do schoolwork....I game on consoles.


Moderator emeritus
May 3, 2009
The 21" is big, no question about that, but to be honest, I think the 21" is really small. I have a 21 and a 24" set of monitors for my kid's computers. The 24" is nicely sized but the 21" is just too constrained.

I think overall the 27" is a better option then the 21" enjoy what you have and don't look back :D


macrumors regular
Jul 1, 2011
21.5 is plenty big, you can get work done and its perfectly fine for a computer, but I find that you can't go back from a 27 inch. It's more than 50% larger and is just absolutely amazing. Unless you really need to for financial reasons, I recommend keeping it because you'll really miss it.


macrumors 6502a
Aug 1, 2008
Sautee Nacoochee, GA
I recently bought a 27" iMac but am debating on taking it back for a 21.5. It's really big. I'm debating whether I should keep it or downsize to a 21.5. I browse the web and do schoolwork....I game on consoles.

Yea, I thought that with mine initially. The 27" is way too big. Ridiculous actually compared to the tiny wireless keyboard, I thought. But like most things, I eventually get over that. I now see my 27" as completely normal and use all of it's large size to my advantage in gaming, mostly World of Warcraft.

No offense to the 21" model, which is very nice. My uncle has one of those and it looks great in his office.

So, I'm thinking if you wait long enough you will be happy with the 27". But if you want to swap it out for the 21" you will probably be happy too.


macrumors 6502
Jan 14, 2013
I think it mostly depends on the kind of use you will do, I am really happy with a 21,5 as it is my same screen size at work.
At home I mostly do browsing and photoshop, where for the first there is no need of extra real estate, 21,5 is more than enough I think I could benefit from using a 27 for photos but at the end of the day my 21 at work would have looked like sheet so I happly settled for the 21.


macrumors 6502
Jun 12, 2012
I love to game and would've preferred the GPU power of the 680MX, but couldn't justify the screen real estate of the 27". I simply didn't need a machine that big! In addition, I'm limited on work space, so the 21.5" perfectly complements my setup. In addition, I've been happily gaming with the 21.5", so it's a win-win in my book. Bigger is not always's what you do with it that counts!


macrumors regular
Dec 29, 2011
I had a very similar question in mind when shopping for my iMac. Like most, I thought the 27" to be extremely large. I was coming from a 21 inch monitor so I thought 21" would be fine.

Found a great deal on a 2011 iMac from Craiglist and it was a 27". I was resistant at first, but upon talking it over with a few buddies who owned iMacs, hands down they said, Go for the 27", you won't regret it.

When I first got the computer I thought, this is the biggest screen I have ever saw and actually thought I had made a mistake. However, after a week, I realized it was the right decision. I recently completed my office at home with a much larger desk and the 27" screen looks fantastic.

I can tell you this - now that I have experienced the 27" monitor, I doubt I will ever go for anything smaller. Good luck with your decision.


macrumors 6502a
Apr 19, 2012
Norwich, UK
Apple used to do a 24", I feel that's the perfect size.

The 21.5" is by all means fine, and it is a fantastic machine!

But if you have the money/space, definitely go for the 27", it is just...nicer, as much as I hate to use the word, and the processors, graphics, HDDs etc are better in the 27", for example you can get the 3TB fusion drive in the 27" as well as upgrading the RAM after purchase.


macrumors member
Mar 15, 2013
United States #
I downsized from an old 27'' to a new 21.5'' and I'm so glad I did.

The 27'' looks like the perfect size in the store until you get it home on your desk and realize how stupid it looks due to it's enormous size.

And if I ever need any more screen space I can always add another 21.5'' monitor to the left or right of the iMac.


macrumors 601
Jan 10, 2005
The 27'' looks like the perfect size in the store until you get it home on your desk and realize how stupid it looks due to it's enormous size.

That's the thing I noticed over the years of shopping ^_^

Screens somehow seem smaller when on a shop shelf than when on your desk at home. Back in the day when I had 17" iMac, a friend of mine brought me his 24" to fix some stuff... while I've seen it in the shop and was fine with its size, it looked enormous on my desk ;;

itouch rulz

macrumors regular
Sep 3, 2008
I have a 21.5 at home and a 27 at my office. Both are good and serve their purpose. It's useful for me to be able to have 3 A4 pages open side by side for what I do so the 27 is great for work.

I do notice the 21.5 as being small when I log in at home and my 2 day old 13 rmbp is tiny (but very clear).

Personally I think a 21.5 is a good size for in a home - unless you are going to use it to watch TV or movies then you may as well go for the 27.


macrumors 6502
Sep 7, 2007
The 27" is a waste if you're just reading text. You'll spend a lot of time and eye strain zig-zagging while reading if you maximize the window to fill the big screen.
On the other hand, the 21.5" feels cramped for photo or video work. There's simply not enough screen real estate for palettes and the lower-spec GPU can slow you down.
This is my opinion after I upgraded from the 2011 21.5" to the 2012 27". I've noticed that my brain normalizes to screen sizes pretty quickly. My 55" tv stopped feeling huge after just a few days of watching it. Now a 42" tv seems a little small.


macrumors 68000
Jul 23, 2012
when i went from 27 to 21 it was a nightmare for me the big beautiful screen made me a must have all the pixels drama queen


macrumors 603
Jul 8, 2011
I have both a 20" and 27". Both have their purposes. I could fit my 27 where my 20 is but then it limits my desktop space. And that is the desk where I do my financial paperwork and simple web browsing. So never required larger screen. My 27 is in my home office and fits perfect. The reason I went with the 27 was for graphic & web design work. The real estate is nice to have. I do notice the difference in screen size when I use the 20, but still plenty big enough for these old eyes to easily read. If you are using it for basic web things, then stick with the 21. You really only need the bigger screen for design work or possibly gaming. Just remember if you do go for the 27, you will be spoiled in short order and never want to go back to a smaller screen.


macrumors 6502
May 22, 2012
27" Screen big advantage for spreadsheets

If you do a lot of financial or other large spreadsheet work, the 27" is a huge advantage over the 21" aside from graphics and Photoshop stuff.

The 27" allows you to display a much higher percentage of big spreads without having to scroll all over to find what you need.

The ability to display multiple related spreads or graphics to transfer photo or numeric data between different applications or windows saves a huge amount of time.

If all you're doing is email, basic word processing or web browsing, and can live without adding RAM, or with smaller HDD and lower capacity GPU, the 21" will do fine.

I could never go back to the smaller screens I used for over 20 years on Macs. The 27" environment will grab you in a hurry if you do anything other than basic viewing. The real answer is in the area increase, not just the width and height. Desk space difference is minor compared to the screen real estate surge. The increase in width is only 4", but the pixel/area increase is 78%.

Gaming, movies, and graphics in general on the big screen are awesome IMHO. Try to find a 21" you can spend some time with. You might find you miss the big screen fairly quickly.
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