21" vs 27" - Screen Size Preference

Discussion in 'iMac' started by trsblader, May 22, 2011.

  1. trsblader, May 22, 2011
    Last edited: May 23, 2011

    trsblader macrumors 6502

    May 20, 2011
    Hey guys, been reading these forums for a long time, and finally decided to make an account.

    I have only used laptops for so long, I forget just how big 21.5" and 27" screens can be. Simple questions, is the 21.5" screen large enough to have two programs running side by side at 100%? For instance, could I have excel and powerpoint side-by-side at 100% viewing, or two word documents. How about having photoshop and dreamweaver open with a large enough viewing area to see the document at reasonable size and have all tool palettes open?

    About a year ago I went over to a friends house who had the 27" and he usually had 2 or 3 windows open at decent sizes for his school work (art student), so he often had word documents with assignment requirements, photoshop with his project, and sometimes even a finder window squeezed into a corner for files. Wondering if the same sort of thing is possible on the 21.5" screen.

    And while we're at it, any major reason not to spend the small amount of money to upgrade from the 21.5" to 27" if when at the store I really just prefer the 27"? I will be hitting up the back to school special with student discount here this week, so the cost of upgrading is a few bucks less. I've looked up all the benchmarks, and losing a few milliseconds encoding a video doesn't seem like anything life threatening to me. Same goes for losing 1 or 2 fps when I play the occasional FPS game maybe once a month.

    - Brent
  2. Badger^2 macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2009
  3. Michael383 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 17, 2011
    Sounds to me like you really want the 27". I'd go for it.
  4. iDabble macrumors regular

    Jun 24, 2010
  5. MACza macrumors member

    May 10, 2011
    I have the 2011 entry level 21.5" and very happy with it. Yes, you can fit in 2 application windows next to each other, but it will probably work better on the 27".

    BUT I am re-using my 23" Samsung display from my retired PC and it gives me a LOT of additional screen real-estate!

    I would say that if you have the finances - go for the 27". If you have a limited budget, you can get TONS of screen real-estate at a low cost by running on 2 monitors.

    I might even go so far as to say that I prefer the 2-monitor approach to the 27" option. The rez is not so high as to make all text small to read, and you can comfortably work on different apps/docs that are easily visible and not "squashed" into the same monitor. But this preference will be up to individual tastes, so consider what will work the best for you.
  6. mackage macrumors 6502

    Apr 6, 2011
    I will be buying the 27" as soon as the back to school promotion kicks in as well. I have had one before and there really is nothing better as far as having a ton of screen real estate and the picture quality is amazing. I would definitely go for the 27" if you have the funds.
  7. QCassidy352 macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    I prefer the 21. You can easily have two documents open at > 100% - I could do that on my 2008 20" iMac. I find the 27" overpowering, but it does depend on the space you're putting it in. IMO 24" was the sweet spot, but apple apparently disagrees.
  8. JS77 macrumors regular

    Jun 18, 2008
    I'm facing the same dilemma and I think I'm inching towards the 21.5 too - I have a spare 19" display lying around too so I may just use that to expand my desktop should I need the extra space. :p
  9. AppleFan360 macrumors 68020

    Jan 26, 2008
    Agree on the 21.5". If you have the money the 27" is a great choice but like the others here, I simply re-used a 2 year old 20" monitor which gives me lots of screen space without the extra cost. Also using VMWare Fusion, I can have OSX running on one screen and Windows 7 on the other.
  10. prism macrumors 6502a

    Dec 6, 2006
    I have the 21.5" and am a very happy camper.
    Sure, I dont have the screen real estate that the 27" does but apparently the DPI difference between the two is very small.
    Also its good to know that my 21.5" consumes a fraction of the electricity of the 27", that it will run games better in native resolution (I guess unless you go for the high end) and that it takes less space on my desk.
    I can understand that some might really need the additional real estate its just not my case.
  11. AppleFan360 macrumors 68020

    Jan 26, 2008
    That's another good point. When I don't need the extra screen space, I simply shut off my second screen to save electricity. Something you can't do with the 27" screen. :)
  12. likegadgets macrumors 6502

    Jul 22, 2008
    If you have the room and budget the 27" is so much nicer...
  13. trsblader thread starter macrumors 6502

    May 20, 2011
    I appreciate the replies everyone. I hadn't even thought of the power difference, but for my needs I think that falls into the category of not a major player since it is not on 24/7, but it is something to think about still.

    I had thought about running multiple monitors, but that would require me to purchase the extra monitor as well as purchase another desk to put it on, and somehow acquire a new place to live (currently renting a house with a couple friends) since my room is packed as is.

    I'm still on the fence, so it we'll see how they look in person sometime this week and decide from there.

    - Brent
  14. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    A second monitor is better than a larger, single monitor. However I've got the 27" with a 20" 1600x1200 monitor adjacent. Best of both scenarios!
  15. TallManNY macrumors 601


    Nov 5, 2007
    27 inch is large but I think a 21 inch would be fully sufficient. The 16:9 aspect ratio makes it a very wide monitor but it is still tall enough to show two full sheets of paper. You should have no trouble and are probably better suited to save the cash and get the tight low-end model. It will game fine if you are a once a month FPS player.

    I recently got the 27 and I'm very happy with my choice. But I game at least once a week, am well past school and into a well paying job, and have a big work surface at home. But I still uses Spaces to multitask as it is easier to throw different applications into different spaces then to fit them all onto the big screen. And since I work with word documents, there is actually more space than I need to show two pages of text. So I think I'm getting most of my value out of the gaming and the higher level graphics card. That doesn't seem to be something you care about.
  16. seand macrumors member

    Mar 27, 2006
    San Francisco, CA
    I disagree; I've worked with both setups and vastly prefer the single large monitor to two smaller ones. This is a personal preference thing of course, and I don't doubt that the dual monitor setup works better for you. Anecdotally supporting the single big monitor setup, at work we can choose either dual 23" monitors or a single 30" monitor, and the single monitor is the much more common choice.
  17. WestcoastAkita, May 23, 2011
    Last edited: May 23, 2011

    WestcoastAkita macrumors newbie

    Jul 31, 2010
    Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
    27" imac

    go with the 27", I know when I got mine I was like whole crap this this is big!
    but now after 8 months it's a normal size to me. Also if you have the extra coin get the CPU (i7) upgrade, I use Apple Aperture and Parallels at the same time and hardly notice any drop in performance.
  18. dead flag blues macrumors member

    May 13, 2011
    I have a 2006 17", tho I went with the 27". It's a no-brainer, tho I'm sending it back cos the screen's a bit yellow.
  19. clyde2801 macrumors 601


    Mar 6, 2008
    In the land of no hills and red dirt.
    27" flanked by a couple of 22" lcds. Think I'm going to switch out the oldest flank for a nice LED. (Non apple, of course, I'm not made of money!)
  20. iamthedudeman macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2007
    I got the same exact set up but in reverse. I got a 27 Cinema display with a 21.5 imac I use for my home.

    The advantage to that is I can use whatever display for my main display i want. OLED, PLS, 3d in the future. The Cinema Display is superior even though they are the same display. The 27 Cinema display is "colder' and the whites are guess what? White.

    I own quite a few 27's 14 in all for my business and quite a few(9) to be exact have some form of yellowing hue to them. I feel it is because the computer behind the screen gives off too much heat and effects the display in some form or fashion. The Cinema display have none of these issues and they are the same display.

    No thanks to the 27 imac. I like my displays to have a "white' screen.
  21. iRobby macrumors 6502a


    Mar 22, 2011
    Fort Myers, FL USA
    Buying my first Mac computer this summer I would be having this 21.5" iMac vs 27" iMac dilemma. HOWEVER, Apple has made the decision for me! Because I want at least a 1GB GPU and it is only on the high end 27" iMac
  22. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    A good choice that wasn't available for me. I had an existing 20" monitor I wanted to use. Also, at the time, the 21.5" wasn't available with a quad-core processor or inexpensive 8GB upgrade which I needed.

Share This Page