21.5 or 27 inch iMac?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Keva161, Jul 22, 2011.

  1. Keva161 macrumors member

    Jul 13, 2008
    Hi all,,

    Im going to purchasing an iMac pretty soon and it'll be primarily used for web design work as well as browsing, watching videos and other general things. I'm currently using my 13" MacBook Pro at the moment and the screen is just to small for large scale projects.

    I'm having trouble deciding between the 21.5" screen iMac or the 27" model. I can afford both so money isn't really a problem but im wondering if the resolution and size of the 27" model is just... too big for my needs?

    I don't want to be sitting 5 inches from the screen just to be able to see fine detail. As well as not having to zoom out for five minutes just to see my project in its actual size :p
  2. WiiDSmoker macrumors 65816


    Sep 15, 2009
    Hermitage, TN
  3. AppleFan360 macrumors 68020

    Jan 26, 2008
    Come on, it's not that bad. In fact the 21.5" serves a lot of users needs just fine.

    If money is not an issue, you might as well go with the 27". If it's too big, you can always downsize to the 21.5" but I doubt you will do that. :)
  4. Vantage Point, Jul 22, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2011

    Vantage Point macrumors 65816

    Mar 1, 2010
    New Jersey
    How old are you? If you are older like I am and have Presbyopia you may have trouble with the resolution of the 27". It has the same resolution of a 13" MBP, about 110 dpi, but since it is bigger then it will need to be pushed back and the smaller fonts and relatively small web sized images may not be desirable. If you are young and have great eyes then ignore all the above.

    I had a 27" iMac and am a photographer. Like you I spent a lot of time in front of the computer and it was murder on my eyes and I had to sell it. Most people on this forum love the 27" but a small percentage just can't handle it for long sits. I changed the minimum font size in Safari but that gave me a new problem - some web pages did not load correctly with frames overlapping. So I changed the native resolution - that worked well but why own a monitor at a lower resolution.

    My advice is to go to an Apple store or Best Buy and sit in front of it and judge for yourself.

    My other advice is to skip the iMac altogether and use you MBP with an external that best meets your needs - ideally a non-glossy monitor. This way you get the best monitor for your needs and still have portability - that's what I did - see my signature. I have a high end non-glossy NEC monitor that is color calibrated and at 26" has a resolution of 1920 x 1200 or 86 dpi. This is so easy on my eyes I can work with it all day. However, that monitor is discontinued. I suggest a 24" non-glossy monitor with 1920 x 1200 resolution which is about 94 dpi and much better on the eyes than a 16:9 ratio 21.5" which is about 102 dpi. Here is a list of monitors like that - I would consider the NEC PA 241W or Lacie 324. Also, some of those monitors have wide-gamut. You should not do web design work in anything other than sRGB color space (all Macs are sRGB) since that is the space of the web. NEC's monitors let you have multiple calibrations including an sRGB emulation mode. I work in wider color gamuts like RGB or the even wide ProPhoto RGB but web images are always converted to sRGB else some color may look strange to those viewing the web on a wide gamut monitor.

    If you are spending a lot of time in front then you need something that is good on the eyes and a good size. The iMac is a great computer but less than ideal monitor of some type of work and older eyes
  5. OW22 macrumors 6502


    Sep 3, 2006
    Dublin, Ireland
    Was in the same boat. Didn't know what to get. Had a 2006 iMac Intel 2.0ghz 20in.

    All I do is web browsing, emails, work document stuff, watching movies etc. Nothing taxing.

    But I went with the 27in, got it the other day and am delighted I did. It's superb to have that size of a screen to display everything on, you almost don't need Spaces! Can have to full size browser windows open side by side.

    It's a stunning machine, my wife caught me trying to make love to it last night. I don't care, I've nothing to hide. :)
  6. Ubuntu macrumors 68000


    Jul 3, 2005
    Best advice possible. OP, if you don't live near an Apple Store, check the Apple Online Store's return policy in your country and then order a 27 inch from there. That way if you don't like it you can return it even after having opened it.
  7. JS77 macrumors regular

    Jun 18, 2008
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8C148 Safari/6533.18.5)

    I can't say this enough....

    27" 27" 27" 27" 27" 27" 27" 27" 27"
  8. ycwee37 macrumors member

    Oct 4, 2010
    i went from a 14.1inch laptop to a 27inch iMac and i get used to it in just few hours~

    the resolutions are fantastic.
    you won't regret it..:)
  9. fivedots macrumors 6502a

    Jun 29, 2011
    The sad thing about buying the 27" is that after a few hours, the screen no longer seems big.
  10. Dresevski macrumors 6502

    May 6, 2011
    I look at mine and feel that it could easily be 6" larger. But it is amazing. In my mind you can never go too big with screens. If you don't want a window to be the entire screen then change it. But throw on some 1080p and make it full screen-no regrets!

    With the 27" you can also more easily sneak a SSD inside
  11. iGrainger macrumors member


    Aug 31, 2010
    I'll be honest and blunt. I was going to buy a 21" iMac, but I thought to myself, if I'm spending £1,000+ on a Mac, I might as well spend the extra few hundred and get the larger and more powerful Mac, because after all, if you're spending that amount of money on a purchase, you're unlikely to do it again any time soon and you may regret getting the smaller screen in a few months time and you'll have no choice.

    The 27" is a fantastic model, it looks great, but as some people mentioned above, you will need to move it back on your desk. The first day I got it I had horrendous headaches/eye strain because of the small text and resolution and just the fact that the screen was huge compared to my old machine.

    I've got over that now and the screen is amazing. It's gorgeous to watch HD films on, and gaming is just incredible.

    Could recommend to anybody and everybody. But just remember, if you're spending a large amount on a Mac you might as well just splash the extra couple of hundred and get the better model. My two cents anyway.
  12. obsidian1200 macrumors 6502


    Jun 19, 2010
    Albuquerque, NM
    For the record, it's not difficult to pop a SSD into the 21.5" iMac. Just my added two cents. I've found that there's just about as much sneaking involved with each model :).

    The model that'll benefit you the most depends on what you'll use the computer for. Screen size isn't the only thing that matters. The base 27" iMac has a slower processor than the i7 21.5" iMac, and the computers cost the same... and the high end 21.5" has the same GPU as the base 27". If you have the extra money to throw into the system, you might as well go for the 27" i7 2GB GPU iMac with an SSD... but if you're just trying to decide whether you want the base 27" of the high end 21.5", you need to figure out what you need more: processing power or screen estate.

    I'd personally go with the 21.5" for a slew of reasons (don't have the desk space for the 27", would rather have a better processor for the same price, already own an external 32" display for extra screen estate, would rather have the smaller machine for future transportation purposes, can't afford the better i7 27", et cetera...), but that's just me.

    EDIT: I just saw that the OP said money isn't an issue. You might as well, then, go with the best of the best. The high end 27" iMac blows the high end 21.5" iMac out of the water (well, maybe not by THAT much, but still by quite a bit).
  13. Michael383 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 17, 2011
    I'm quite happy with my 21.5" iMac. Since you said money isn't an issue you could give the 27" a try and go to the 21.5" if you want.
  14. CA, USA macrumors newbie

    Jul 22, 2011
    if you want just large screen, get the macbook pro 17".
  15. iubhounds macrumors regular


    Nov 29, 2010
    I had the same question when I bought mine. After standing in front of them knowing how far I sat from my monitor and my needs I chose the 21.5.

    Money was not an issue. Nothing bad on performance but it still stuck in my head I started wishing I had bought the 27".

    So I bought the 27" monitor six months later and made it my main monitor hooked up to my 21.5 (2nd monitor).

    Love it.

    Go with the 27.
  16. Spike88, Jul 23, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2011

    Spike88 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2010
    I have the 21.5". Picked it because of my basement's desk (and upper hutch) size. Would have picked the 27" but wasn't sure if the 27" model would fit on my desk. Replacing my basement desk isn't an option. So, I bought the 21.5" - in mid 2010.

    Today, I noticed the 21.5" doesn't "fit" inside the hutch opening. The rear stand (its gooseneck shape) goes into the hutch opening. But the screen is on the "outside" restrictions of the hutch opening. re: http://i178.photobucket.com/albums/w251/Spike99-Pictures/New iMac system/After-3.jpg Long mumblings short, the 27" would have fit after all. But, I couldn't visualize it - before buying....

    For me, the 21.5" works. And works good. But when our existing 21.5" needs to be replaced, it will be given to my daughter, and I will replace with a 27". When its comes to 27" (or even the 21.5"), do remember that its entire screen real estate doesn't need to be used. The application windows can be "sized" to any size. re: Size to 24" screen size and leave 3" space around the larger size screen area. Some folks think that its an all-or-nothing area. re: Only a fixed 27" windows size. In reality, the 27" screen size is the MAX size the application window can be sized to. Less then 27" size of application window (like a viewing a You-Tube clip) can easily be done.

    Long mumblings short.... Knowing what I know today (and knowing its rear stand needed "real" physical space), I should have bought the 27" in mid 2010 instead. No worries, the 21.5" still works for me... One of those, "if only I knew back then" things in life...

    Hope this helps in your research.....
  17. aozborne218, Jul 23, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 25, 2011

    aozborne218 macrumors newbie

    Jul 22, 2011
    Coleraine, MN
    message removed
  18. Keva161, Jul 24, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2011

    Keva161 thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 13, 2008
    Compared the 21.5" model with the 27" one at my nearest Apple store yesterday.

    Made up my mind :) Going to buy the baseline 27" iMac with the trackpad (can't get used to the Apple's mouse :p)
  19. Spike88 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2010
    I've been using my iMac for 1 year and couldn't get used to the wireless Magic Mouse either. I used it but it didn't overly impress me. For the last few days, I've been doing "position sensitive" movements with the magic mouse. Instead of moving the mouse across the desk surface, I simply drag my one finger across the top of the mouse surface. Much better then moving the mouse. Now, I use my finger for mouse pointer movements. Took a year but the ability of the Magic Mouse is finally being used...

    Long mumblings short.... You might want to obtain the Magic Mouse anyway. Especially if they include it for free. Who knows, you might use it within the future as well....

    Good luck with your new 27".

  20. CosmoPilot macrumors 65816


    Nov 8, 2010
    South Carolina
    I went to the local BB yesterday because I had the same questions. My main concern was the 27" putting out tiny text making it unreadable. However, those concerns were put to rest when I compared the two side-by-side. I was able to comfortably read both. I'll admit, the 27" looked like a monster compared to the 21.5, so that has me a bit worried...but I'm sure over time, I'll adapt to its size and not regret purchasing it over the 21.5.

    The main selling point for me was the fact I was able to put two webpages on the screen with extra real-estate to spare. On the 21.5, two webpages were just a tad big to completely fit onto the screen. I'd estimate about 1 inch of the second webpage was cut off when placed side-by-side.

    If all goes well, it should arrive at my door-step on Wednesday. :D

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