27" 5k iMac or mbp?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by slitherjef, Oct 31, 2017.

  1. slitherjef macrumors 6502a

    Feb 8, 2012
    I kind of get the feeling that the imac is going to be the way to go because of my list of irks about the MacBook pro namely that oversized touchpad that seems like it would hinder me while trying to type, the keyboard which seems overly sensitive to dust and that emoji bar...

    Anyway, I'm really not digging my windows box I recently built so been thinking about going back to a Mac for my photography. I'm just having a bit of trouble figuring out what I need.

    I'll be using light room and more then likely fc pro x for any movies and time lapse I do. I plan on using external storage (and maybe a back up of that) and keep most things off system.

    I'm not keen on these hybrid drives so likely ssd, 512 maybe. I believe the ram can be upgraded a bit later on the larger machine.

    The video card and CPU configuration I'm unsure of what I'd need.

    Any thoughts?
  2. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    Sensible plan. You could probably manage with 256GB SSD + external if you're on a tight budget, but I'd go with 512GB if money permits. The Fusion drive is great for people who must have 2-3 TB or three built in.

    Assuming you go for the 27" 5k, the RAM is very easy to (officially) upgrade - 4 slots, must be filled in pairs, 2 empty slots as shipped. Sweet spot with the RAM is probably to get the base 8GB from Apple then add 16GB (2x8GB) of 3rd party RAM which gets you 24GB total for less than Apple charges for an upgrade to 16GB. If you need more later, replace the Apple-supplied sticks with bigger ones.

    CPU/GPU-wise: best to wait for advice from Lightroom users (and even then, it depends what you're doing and how big your images are) but the reality is that the entry-level i5 CPU/AMD 570 GPU (but with SSD) would probably do the job OK - so the mid-range model should be a safe bet. The higher end models (particularly the i7 processors) are mainly if you are doing a lot of video editing, pro audio or 3D - or just have the money to spend and want something future proof.

    Some people have complained about the fan noise on the i7 models - depends a bit on your personal sensitivity and working environment - I've got a HP mini-server with 4 plates of spinning rust and a fan running next to me so a bit of extra fan noise is no biggie - I can hear the iMac fan when it ramps up but it doesn't ruin my day. Also, the fan only ramps up when the i7 is under load and earning its keep (during video compression, benchmarks etc.) - and is virtually silent otherwise. That might change as the dust bunnies gather... but if you're not editing 4k video, using Logic with huge orchestras, or other high-end jobs, and like peace and quiet, then the i5 might be a sensible compromise.
  3. conteaparis, Oct 31, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2017

    conteaparis macrumors newbie

    Oct 18, 2017
    I had the same dilemma and today, I finally bit the bullet and just bought a new iMac 5K. The comparable MBP (I was going for a 15 inch) would have cost way more. Once I factored in the cost of Applecare+ which is apparently two times as much for the MBP (um whyyyy?) it was a done deal. I’m mainly going to be doing digital art (Photoshop, Illustrator, Maya, ZBrush) with my new Mac, and I really want to get into more 3D stuff too. Unlike a lot of people, I actually do like the touch bar. It’s definitely a gimmick but so cool. As a bit of a tech geek, it would have been fun to play around with. However, I have to admit that it just seems overall very useless in real life. Having tried the MBP in store, the keyboard felt cheap and really weird to type with. I could probably get used to it. Surprisingly, the gigantic trackpad wasn’t a problem. Again though, it just seemed like a puzzling, pointless feature to have. I’m still having a bit of buyer’s remorse even now, just because the new MBPs are so beautiful, especially in Space Grey. I could not justify it in the end though, because I really don’t need the portability.

    What I was going to buy a week ago: MBP 2017, 512 SSD, 16GB RAM, 2.8 GHz i7. $2500. AppleCare + $370

    What I actually decided to buy today: iMac 27 5K 2017, 512 SSD, 8GB RAM, 3.5 GHz i5. $2200. AppleCare + $169.

    Now I know the RAM on the iMac is less than that on the MBP, but I’m going to add my own anyway and it’s not outrageously expensive. Maybe I could have gotten the cheaper, 2016 MBP, but this a huge purchase for me (like it’s been 8 years since I had a new computer) and I just didn’t feel comfortable getting an already 1 year old model. And yeah, I guess i5 would be inferior to i7 but I’m not doing professional level work right now, and if I was, I probably wouldn’t want to use a laptop anyway. i7 on the iMac just seemed way to much like overkill for my level. Maybe as a photographer, the portability of the MBP will be more important to you, but I also bought a bigass Cintiq 27” today (and this was used and at a ridiculous discount so no, it’s not like I’m just loaded with money or anything), and it’s not like I’ll be moving my workspace around that much. I’ll stick with my iPad Pro for portability.
  4. PlayUltimate macrumors regular


    Jul 29, 2016
    Boulder, CO
    Bought same confirmation a few months ago. No issues. Bought and installed my own RAM. Honestly was looking at the 21" but the ability to install my own RAM and the 5K display swayed the decision.
  5. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    Seems to me if one of your main tasks is going to be photo editing, you'll want to do that on as large a display as possible. That means... iMac.

    If you get the 27", get the 8gb configuration of RAM --- you can always add more later on.

    DEFINITELY get an SSD --- the only question is, "what size"?
    I don't see the 1tb SSD as being worth the money. I'd settle for a 512gb (or even a 256), then add more storage as needed via USB3. Either HDD or SSD, whatever suits your needs and budget.

    If it was me buying, I'd spend $200 more for the 3.5 "midrange" model with the 7600 CPU.

    Final thought:
    If you're coming to the Mac from a PC, keep the PC set up for at least 3-4 months or so. This gives you time to get adjusted to the Mac way of doing things. If you find something getting hung up on the Mac, you'll still have the PC to fall back on for the time being...
  6. slitherjef thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 8, 2012
    I'm not quite a Mac newbie, I have a 2011mbp but it's getting long in the tooth, I can probably get a bit more use out of it but it's time for something new.

    I suspect I'll be spending around 2000 to 2500 (with tax) for a new Mac branded desk top but I want a computer that gets out of my way so I can do what I need to without being pestered to update the thing and fix what the update broke or changed :rolleyes:

    That and I really don't trust my windows box with my pictures :(
  7. 06tb06 macrumors regular


    Sep 12, 2017
    2,711 miles from Apple Campus
    I recently upgraded to the iMac from a 2015 rMBP 13-inch. I purchased the 21.5-inch even though everyone on here was recommending I buy the 27-inch. I have no complaints.

    If you travel a lot or prefer having a machine on the go, then buy the MBP. Just remember you'll be paying more for performance whereas for the same price you can buy a much more powerful iMac desktop.
  8. slitherjef, Nov 7, 2017
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2017

    slitherjef thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 8, 2012
    So I have actually went on line to the Apple store to check out the iMacs and do a little snooping.

    I checked the base 27" model then proceeded to BTO it with

    512gb ssd (+300 bucks) and magic track pad (+50 bucks)

    which brought the total to $2149.00

    That is not absolutely terrible for pricing (though I could build 2 brand new computers for that I think with out much effort) what irks me most is the very puny video ram / and card (its pushing this massive 5K display). I am worried that there will be bottlenecks due to what at least to me seems like very puny "just enough to get by" specs.

    I am looking towards mac again because I really did not like windows 10.



    I looked again and it looks like for about the same price I can get the base top end iMac with no other configurations.
  9. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009

    Are you in the USA? Outside of California?
    If so, try "portableone.com"
    (I have no connection with them, other than being a satisfied customer)

    My advice (if you're a Windows user coming to the Mac):
    DON'T BOTHER with Apple's pointing devices or keyboards. They're awful.
    Instead, use what you've been using or "go 3rd-party".
    I've been a Mac user for 30 years, but haven't used Apple's keyboards or mice since the end of the "ADB" era (in the 90's).
    Logitech mice are superior to anything Apple offers...
  10. mfsinger macrumors newbie

    Sep 10, 2011
    So... just to add my few cents here, I'm in the same boat. I have a 2010 MacBook Pro 15" that is still going but not strong. I waited and waited for last years MacBook Pro announcement. As soon as I could, I ordered the 15" model with all upgrades and then waited impatiently. When it finally arrived, I was less than impressed. The trackpad is HUGE and sits right in the middle of it all. I loved the speakers and the touch bar but could not get comfortable typing on it. Then I ran into some other issues when trying to select and copy files from the system to an external USB drive. That was the final straw for me and I sent it back. This past February, I bought a 27" iMac which is from the 2015 lineup. I was reluctant to do so as the 2015 specs weren't appealing but I was getting desperate for a system that could handle a little more than my old MacBook Pro. I'm now back in the same boat as I need to replace my parent's Mac Mini which is also from 2010. I am going to give them my current 27" iMac but the question I'm fighting with is do I get myself another 27" iMac with the current specs or opt for a 15" MacBook Pro?

    You said it all when you mentioned the trackpad. Not only is it oversized, it feels cheap due to the force touch ability. I want mobility but I can't get past the design. This is why I keep leaning towards the iMac and possibly ordering one with an i7. I have an iPad Pro 9.7" and if I can find a nice keyboard/case combo that makes it feel like a little laptop, I might just do that instead. Of course the other solution is to win the lottery and then I can get both!
  11. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Add in a $1000 5k screen then do your sums again it’s a pretty good deal.

    As for graphics cards the 575 is about as fast as a PS4 Pro so no slouch, and the 580 about as fast as a Xbox one x jus about to be released.

    If you want the 580 the ssd upgrade is $100 cheaper on that model and you’ll get a better processor for $100 more total.

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10 October 31, 2017