27" iMac or ATD?

dlim

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jan 15, 2012
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I currently own the 2011 13" MBA and was considering getting an ATD to go with it. I've owned it since August, but started using it as my main the past few weeks because I sold my desktop. Currently have it hooked up to a 23" monitor, but would love the ATD haha. I also have a keyboard and mouse I use with it.

I use my MBA to study (chrome, powerpoint, word), listen to music (iTunes), iChat, and watch videos/movies. I don't play games or do anything intensive that requires a discrete GPU. I just started a 4 year graduate program and find myself on campus roughly from 8-5.

I was looking into buying an amazon warehouse ATD for ~$820, and depending on how much I like using my MBA as a main, I may also pick up the 2012 mini when it comes out. My rationale for this was that I would have the flexibility to upgrade my MBA (and possibly mini) in the future and continue to utilize it with the ATD.

But if I'm going to be spending all this money anyways, I was wondering if I should get a 27" iMac instead (even though I dont need all the extra OOMF it comes with).

Thanks guys!
 

yashi

macrumors member
Oct 13, 2011
59
0
I think I like the Thunderbolt Display for your situation more than adding an iMac. Maybe you could even pick up a Henge Dock to make the transition from campus to home each night with the Thunderbolt Display as simple as dropping the MBA in the dock.
 

dlim

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jan 15, 2012
108
0
An iMac/MBA combo is a very potent combo.
I agree. It was my original combination I was thinking about. I sold my desktop because I wanted to get the 2012 iMac when it came out, but now I don't know if I need all the power of the iMac. Because of my useage/needs in a computer, I don't see any advantage of going with the iMac (other than more power), and I was thinking maybe I could get some insight from iMac users to anything I might have overlooked.

I don't plan on gaming or doing any photoshop editing. I don't really do anything (I think?) that requires a discrete GPU and more than 4gb memory. At most I'll just want to resize photos if anything other than what I've stated earlier.

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I think I like the Thunderbolt Display for your situation more than adding an iMac. Maybe you could even pick up a Henge Dock to make the transition from campus to home each night with the Thunderbolt Display as simple as dropping the MBA in the dock.
The Henge Dock seems interesting! I purchased the rain mStand recently, and the ATD would act as a dock on it's own too since I could leave all my USB's plugged into it. If I got it, all I would need to do is plug in the TB cord and I'd be good to go :] (unless I'm missing something very important?)
 

amanpatel

macrumors newbie
Sep 7, 2011
18
0
There really two major differences between the choices:

1) "Docking station" - If you like the docking station feature of a thunderbolt display, then go for the display (not the iMac). AFAIK iMac does not offer those kinds of docking features and does not have a magsafe charging built in.

2) Power/Price/Investment - Think about it, you will be spending about $400-$600 more and you get a whole new Mac! (quad core 2.7ghz i5 too!). You could use it for so many more things that the MBA might not be suited for. And you are not giving up on much on what thunderbolt display has to offer. The iMac can run in target display mode and will convert to a giant display for the MBA. On the other hand if you want to do a lot of number crunching or gaming, the iMac's graphics and raw processing power will offer you more than what MBA offers you alone. Not to mention you get a wireless keyboard/trackpad for free! (could sell them alone for at least $100 back).

My recommendation: Go for the iMac.
 

Adamantoise

macrumors 6502a
Aug 1, 2011
891
112
There really two major differences between the choices:

1) "Docking station" - If you like the docking station feature of a thunderbolt display, then go for the display (not the iMac). AFAIK iMac does not offer those kinds of docking features and does not have a magsafe charging built in.

2) Power/Price/Investment - Think about it, you will be spending about $400-$600 more and you get a whole new Mac! (quad core 2.7ghz i5 too!). You could use it for so many more things that the MBA might not be suited for. And you are not giving up on much on what thunderbolt display has to offer. The iMac can run in target display mode and will convert to a giant display for the MBA. On the other hand if you want to do a lot of number crunching or gaming, the iMac's graphics and raw processing power will offer you more than what MBA offers you alone. Not to mention you get a wireless keyboard/trackpad for free! (could sell them alone for at least $100 back).

My recommendation: Go for the iMac.
You're recommending he spend more money on something he has no need for.

He has a computer and needs a bigger display, that is all. Unless he somehow really needs the extra power and storage that comes with the iMac, buying one would be a waste of money.

I think it's important people not get caught up in buying things that they do not need. You'd be surprised how much money you could put towards the things you actually need.

$600, is not chump change.
 

boy-better-know

macrumors 65816
Jun 30, 2010
1,343
120
England
You're recommending he spend more money on something he has no need for.

He has a computer and needs a bigger display, that is all. Unless he somehow really needs the extra power and storage that comes with the iMac, buying one would be a waste of money.

I think it's important people not get caught up in buying things that they do not need. You'd be surprised how much money you could put towards the things you actually need.

$600, is not chump change.
While this is sound advice, I would be tempted to disagree. I am in a similar position to the thread starter. I have a 13" 2011 MBA and would like a lot more screen for when I am at home. I have the money to but either a 27' iMac or a Thunderbolt display, but I will be buying the iMac.
My rationale for this is price. Here in the UK, the thunderbolt display is £900. (I get 14% off as a student though). While the iMac base 27" is £1400 (again, I get 14% off). So for £500 more, you get the same screen real estate, but with another computer, much bigger hard drive, keyboard and magic mouse/trackpad. To me it makes sense to get the iMac.
Beautiful and functional as the Thunderbolt display may be, it is a just a display, a really good display with input features and the rest, but still, the point stands. Especially if the OP is considering a mac mini in the future!

Personally, I am going to sit on the money I have saved and buy the 2012 iMac whenever that drops.
 

dlim

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jan 15, 2012
108
0
While this is sound advice, I would be tempted to disagree. I am in a similar position to the thread starter. I have a 13" 2011 MBA and would like a lot more screen for when I am at home. I have the money to but either a 27' iMac or a Thunderbolt display, but I will be buying the iMac.
My rationale for this is price. Here in the UK, the thunderbolt display is £900. (I get 14% off as a student though). While the iMac base 27" is £1400 (again, I get 14% off). So for £500 more, you get the same screen real estate, but with another computer, much bigger hard drive, keyboard and magic mouse/trackpad. To me it makes sense to get the iMac.
Beautiful and functional as the Thunderbolt display may be, it is a just a display, a really good display with input features and the rest, but still, the point stands. Especially if the OP is considering a mac mini in the future!

Personally, I am going to sit on the money I have saved and buy the 2012 iMac whenever that drops.
Mac Mini is still a big if. I'm more than happy with my MBA right now so it's just an option.

I do agree that you do get a lot for an added $600, but I'm loving the SSD on my macbook and don't know if I can go back to an HDD, even if it's 7200rpm. I have a 2TB external drive I use for storage, so the 128gb SSD on my air is more than enough for holding my documents and current music I'm listening to.

Biggest thing to me is the lack of convenient upgradeability for the iMac. I don't like the idea of having to remove the screen. But the reason I was considering the iMac was for the reasoning many of you stated already "for just $600 more, you get all this."

For many people who need a lot more power, storage, etc., then yes I would also recommend the iMac. My brother has it, and I love using it. But for what I use a computer for right now, it seems like waste to spend an extra $600 for something I won't use.

Thanks for the inputs and feedback everyone! But I think I'm going to go with the ATD still for now. I like having the option that a year or 2 or 3 from now, I can upgrade my computers while reusing the monitor.

Even if I got a mac mini later, I feel that it is MUCH easier to sell a mini and upgrade vs. selling and upgrading iMacs.

Am I missing anything?
 

boy-better-know

macrumors 65816
Jun 30, 2010
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Mac Mini is still a big if. I'm more than happy with my MBA right now so it's just an option.

I do agree that you do get a lot for an added $600, but I'm loving the SSD on my macbook and don't know if I can go back to an HDD, even if it's 7200rpm. I have a 2TB external drive I use for storage, so the 128gb SSD on my air is more than enough for holding my documents and current music I'm listening to.

Biggest thing to me is the lack of convenient upgradeability for the iMac. I don't like the idea of having to remove the screen. But the reason I was considering the iMac was for the reasoning many of you stated already "for just $600 more, you get all this."

For many people who need a lot more power, storage, etc., then yes I would also recommend the iMac. My brother has it, and I love using it. But for what I use a computer for right now, it seems like waste to spend an extra $600 for something I won't use.

Thanks for the inputs and feedback everyone! But I think I'm going to go with the ATD still for now. I like having the option that a year or 2 or 3 from now, I can upgrade my computers while reusing the monitor.

Even if I got a mac mini later, I feel that it is MUCH easier to sell a mini and upgrade vs. selling and upgrading iMacs.

Am I missing anything?
You could wait like me, and see what the next iMac brings. Unless you really need it now.
We could get upgradeability and a SSD. Who knows.
 

dlim

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jan 15, 2012
108
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You could wait like me, and see what the next iMac brings. Unless you really need it now.
We could get upgradeability and a SSD. Who knows.
The most upgradeability apple "easily" offers is changing the ram in any of the units. They purposely state that they do not recommend changing out the HDD's, unless you take it into Apple and have them do it for you. It's just that iMac's have it the worst because you have to remove the glass panel. I don't think they will change that anytime soon.

I'm not a huge fan of "all-in-ones," though once again, the iMac IS nice. I think I like and appreciate all apple products haha.

I feel that adding an SSD into an iMac would go against what an iMac represents to users, unless it's added as a second drive. Also I'd preferably add my own SSD in vs. having apple upgrade it. I don't like paying Apple for any upgrades because we all know they over charge (memory upgrades??).

Though upgradeability and affordable SSD options would be a dream come true haha
 

Adamantoise

macrumors 6502a
Aug 1, 2011
891
112
While this is sound advice, I would be tempted to disagree. I am in a similar position to the thread starter. I have a 13" 2011 MBA and would like a lot more screen for when I am at home. I have the money to but either a 27' iMac or a Thunderbolt display, but I will be buying the iMac.
My rationale for this is price. Here in the UK, the thunderbolt display is £900. (I get 14% off as a student though). While the iMac base 27" is £1400 (again, I get 14% off). So for £500 more, you get the same screen real estate, but with another computer, much bigger hard drive, keyboard and magic mouse/trackpad. To me it makes sense to get the iMac.
Beautiful and functional as the Thunderbolt display may be, it is a just a display, a really good display with input features and the rest, but still, the point stands. Especially if the OP is considering a mac mini in the future!

Personally, I am going to sit on the money I have saved and buy the 2012 iMac whenever that drops.
I understand, but really ... Sounds like you're just buying that additional coverage plan at Best Buy or that additional warranty at the car dealership.

Sort out your needs and then purchase items accordingly. I have a Macbook Pro as my only OS X computer. I have debated getting a Mac Mini several times, but deep down I know I have absolutely no need for one.

If the Macbook Air is enough computer for you, then buying an iMac for its display alone is not a wise decision in my opinion. However, if you're not hurting for cash, it never hurts to have another computer around, whether you need it or not.
 

Jaro65

macrumors 68040
Mar 27, 2009
3,708
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Seattle, WA
Though upgradeability and affordable SSD options would be a dream come true haha
Unlikely to come to iMac anytime soon, as well all know. If I could only upgrade an HD/SSD as easily as I can do it with my MBP (or even an MBA)....
 

boy-better-know

macrumors 65816
Jun 30, 2010
1,343
120
England
I understand, but really ... Sounds like you're just buying that additional coverage plan at Best Buy or that additional warranty at the car dealership.

Sort out your needs and then purchase items accordingly. I have a Macbook Pro as my only OS X computer. I have debated getting a Mac Mini several times, but deep down I know I have absolutely no need for one.

If the Macbook Air is enough computer for you, then buying an iMac for its display alone is not a wise decision in my opinion. However, if you're not hurting for cash, it never hurts to have another computer around, whether you need it or not.
Again, I agree with you, what you are saying is sensible.
However, I would argue that if we are discussing needs here, then we are invested into the wrong brand. I could find you a 32" HD TV for under £200.

I am happy to respectfully agree to disagree. Let us know what you do decide, OP!
 

jj48

macrumors regular
Oct 15, 2011
181
0
UK
Again, I agree with you, what you are saying is sensible.
However, I would argue that if we are discussing needs here, then we are invested into the wrong brand. I could find you a 32" HD TV for under £200.

I am happy to respectfully agree to disagree. Let us know what you do decide, OP!
Interesting point made above about the HDTV. This is the same price as an ATD would be for you.

Having said that you're obviously in the market for a display and not a giant TV. I think you should go for the ATD, it just sounds to me like that's what you want more. It's what I would do, and I'm in a very similar position to you (UK student, MBA 13" 2011, wants large display etc.).
 

dlim

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jan 15, 2012
108
0
Unlikely to come to iMac anytime soon, as well all know. If I could only upgrade an HD/SSD as easily as I can do it with my MBP (or even an MBA)....
Truth. Specially considering how much money apple makes from upgrading the memory (which is ridiculously easy to do in all their models) and hard drives for customers.

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Amazon's warehouse deal on the ATD sold out while I was in class :[ Pretty sure I'm gonna go for an ATD but going to wait for a good deal on one, whether it's amazon warehouse or BB open box.

Unless anyone has any other suggestions for places to get one at (besides apple). I live in CA so tax pretty much owns me on everything. Cheapest I can see right now is a new one off amazon for ~$960
 

Jaro65

macrumors 68040
Mar 27, 2009
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Seattle, WA

FrankHahn

macrumors 6502a
May 17, 2011
735
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In consideration of OP's current computing needs, the ATD route is more appropriate.

However, making use of a dock or connecting the ATD to the Air maybe a bit inconvenient. The OP may end up, as I did, getting a low-cost desktop (a Mac mini) in the near future.

I used my Air at home with my 27" Apple Cinema Display for a while. I found that it was inconvenient to connect things whenever I wanted to use the ACD. I ended up getting a Mac mini (with the HDD replaced with SSDs by myself).

I now leave copies of my most important stuff on my mini, Air, and Mac Pro in addition to the copies on USB sticks, mobile HDDs, and time-machine HDDs. I also sync them using the iCloud if possible.
 

EEXOOO

macrumors regular
Aug 1, 2009
133
0
Go for the ATD.

Reasons:
1. You don't need more processing power
2. iMac is still more expensive than a ATD albeit more worthwhile
3. The ATD will last you a very very long time, iMac probably not as much
4. You keep all your information and settings in a single computer, you do not have to switch between 2 different computers
5. The ATD should preserve a much better resale value compared to an iMac
 

dlim

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jan 15, 2012
108
0
Amazons price dropped to $935 for brand new and free 2 day shippin through prime.

Should I wait for the amazon warehouse to hopefully get another one? Or go for this one? BB open box deals are no good for me bc of 7.75% tax
 

boy-better-know

macrumors 65816
Jun 30, 2010
1,343
120
England
Interesting point made above about the HDTV. This is the same price as an ATD would be for you.

Having said that you're obviously in the market for a display and not a giant TV. I think you should go for the ATD, it just sounds to me like that's what you want more. It's what I would do, and I'm in a very similar position to you (UK student, MBA 13" 2011, wants large display etc.).
Hey, I bought a 50" 1080p 3D TV in the summer from curries for £700, most definitely do not want another massive tv :). When you put it into these terms, that is what stops me from buying a Thunderbolt display, otherwise I would of got it last month.
Cannot wait to see what the 2012 iMac is going to offer, it honestly can't come soon enough for me.