5K 27" iMac or MBP 15" + LG 5K Display?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by jm102030, Mar 18, 2017.

  1. jm102030 macrumors newbie

    Mar 18, 2017
    I need to buy a new computer and have been looking into buying an iMac for a while. Last fall when no new iMacs were announced and the rumors said Spring 2017 I was fine with it because I knew I had to wait that long anyways until I the money available. However, Spring is now approaching and still no new iMacs on the horizon so I'm now thinking maybe I shouldn't wait any longer and buy what's available right now.

    Here's my general use for the computer: I work as a photographer so photoshop is probably the program I use most. Since I work mostly with film (film as in analogue photography, not movies) I often work on high-res scans which will easily be files anywhere from 500mb to 1gb+. Other than that I don't think my other uses are very demanding as far as system resources go but I do need a high end display with a wide color gamut and fairly accurate colors when calibrated.
    I don't necessarily need a laptop but I do work both at home and at my studio so it's definitely a plus to have a computer at both places.

    Here are the two options I'm considering:

    1) current 27" iMac (the top of the line one with the 2TB Fusion Drive, Radeon M395 with 2 GB, maybe with the 4GHz i7 processor upgrade. And upgrade to 16gb RAM from OWC). And maybe a cheap low-end 13" MBP for the studio and when I need something portable. (although I'd probably buy this at a later point)

    2) current 15" MBP (the cheaper version of the new ones in it's basic configuration: 2.6GHz i7, 256GB SSD, 16GB RAM, Radeon 450 with 2GB) + the new LG 5K display.

    I would use a large external HD with either set-ups so HD storage is not necessarily a concern although 256GB on the MBP seems like very little (and I don't want to get the expensive upgrade).

    Both options seem to add up to roughly the same price which is far from cheap. I'd like to get a good set-up that will cover me for years to come and am willing to pay a bit more for it but I'd also be glad if I didn't have to completely empty out my bank account.
  2. MadDane macrumors 6502a

    Apr 5, 2015
    I have been through kind of the same recently. I am an engineer who also likes to do some photographing as a hobby. I actually ended up buying the new MacBook Pros when they were announced (2.6GHz i7, 512GB, Radeon Pro 460) with the intention of buying the LG 5k display when it became available. However, I ended up regretting it and sold it after owning it for about two months. The main reasons for doing this was that I didn't like to use it as a laptop which effectively would just make it a very expensive desktop solution. Therefore, instead of living with the compromises of a laptop I would rather have a new iMac + a laptop.
  3. Big Bad D macrumors regular

    Jan 3, 2007
    Having recently needed to replace my older 27" iMac (and not in position to wait for any coming 2017 models) I had similar thoughts. In the end I got a 2016 15" MBP and LG 5K display (and just got a 2nd LG 5K). For me this is an excellent set-up, mainly working in home office but also with practicality to simply be on the move with same computer when needed. Choice really seems to come down to individual need and benefit in having a laptop; and, depending on personal usage, whether there is some compromise in having a laptop rather than increased power of desktop. It's not a cheap set-up, but ticks all the boxes for my needs and should last me for a good few years.
  4. jm102030 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 18, 2017
    Thanks for the replies so far! I'm somewhat leaning towards the iMac + 13" MBP option for several reasons, one of them being that I can leave the laptop at the studio if I want to. I don't own a tv so the computer is my only means of entertainment at home (other than my phone). I hadn't thought about this before but this is actually a big reason as I might sometimes want to meet up with friends after working at the studio and I wouldn't want to take the computer with me.
  5. merkinmuffley macrumors 6502a

    Dec 3, 2010
    I have a 2015 27 in. IMac (I7, 32gb, etc) and recently picked up the new 15 inch MBP (I7, 16gb). The only app I run is Adobe PS CC and the new MBP performance is good enough that I'm thinking of selling the IMac and replacing it with a nice monitor that plugs into the MBP.
  6. Brookzy macrumors 601


    May 30, 2010
  7. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    Re the comparison in the post above:
    Looks like the iMac "smoked" the MacBook Pro in every test. Left it in the dust.

    I'd get the iMac you mentioned above.
    If money is a consideration, consider buying a "lower-end" MBPro. It may not be the absolute fastest, but it will give you a "carry around" option as well when you're out in the field.
    You might even consider one of the 2015 models. They're still a part of Apple's "active product lineup", even though you don't see them when you go the MacBook Pro section of "store.apple.com". (You have to go to the "buy" page and scroll down).

    The 2015's are available at good prices right now.
  8. jm102030 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 18, 2017
    Thanks that's great! Very interesting!

    As far as performance is concerned, I know that RAM is probably most important for my work but how much of a difference is there between an iMac with i5 and an i7 CPU? I need it mostly for Photoshop work but, as I mentioned earlier, I work with very large sized files. I usually start out with a 500mb Tiff file and by the time I've added a few layers it's easily at 1-2gb. Usually the editing is not much of a problem even on my crappy dell windows machine (which was one of the lower end ones when I bought it around 5 years ago.). What takes a lot of time is image resizing. Also, Adobe Bridge takes quite a while to generate previews sometimes.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 19, 2017 ---

    Thanks! I think I'll go for the iMac for sure although I might wait a few more weeks to see if there's a new one announced. I doubt it but you never know. And yes, I actually am strongly considering getting one of the 13" 2015 MBPs.
  9. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I think you get more bang for your buck with this option. You get a very fast desktop computer and a low end machine for your mobile needs.
  10. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009

    Check your conversations on your profile page...
  11. jm102030 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 18, 2017
    Quick last question: Is there any chance in hell that there's going to be an update to the iMac line within the next month? The reason I'm asking is because an online shop I frequently use has a good special offer on a 27" iMac (4.0Ghz i7 CPU, 8GB RAM, 2TB Fusion, M390GPU 2GB) that I'm strongly considering buying. Now if a new one was announced within the month I would possibly be a bit bummed about my purchase. If it took until June/July or even Fall until new ones were announced I'd be perfectly happy with getting this one now.
  12. MadDane macrumors 6502a

    Apr 5, 2015
    Well, there are still rumors of an April event at which a new iMac could occur. However, no one knows for sure. So it is up to you whether you want to take the change or not.
  13. jm102030 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 18, 2017
    I ended up ordering the iMac I mentioned. I realized it was silly to wait since anything new that's coming out is probably going to be more expensive than what I bought now and I don't need anything better. I've been getting by on same $450 Dell machine and a $250 display for the past 5 years so I can't imagine I'll find the iMac limiting in any way.

    Anyways, thanks everyone for the help!
  14. MadDane macrumors 6502a

    Apr 5, 2015
    Congratulations on your purchase and I hope you will enjoy your new machine :)
  15. jm102030 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 18, 2017
    Thanks! I'm sure I will :)
  16. svendobbelaere macrumors member

    Jul 27, 2012
    The one thing I would advise is to add 2 x 8 GB of RAM for a total of 22 GB instead of adding 2 x 4 GB of RAM like you mentioned in your post. I did that last year for my wife's iMac 27" and the price difference wasn't that great at the time. 2 x 16 GB DIMMS on the other hand were a bit too expensive ime.

    It's about the only thing that's upgradable anyway.
  17. jm102030 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 18, 2017

    Thanks! I actually do intend to update either to 24gb by adding 2x 8gb or maybe even 32gb by putting in 4x8gb.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 24, 2017 ---
    One more thing, though: I'm looking at external harddisks and am leaning towards getting a LaCie 2big 6TB Raid with Thunderbolt 2. In real world uses, is there a considerable difference in speed between Thunderbolt 2 and USB 3.0?
  18. Trahearne, Mar 25, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2017

    Trahearne macrumors 6502

    Oct 6, 2014
    If it is 7200rpm mechanical drive, no matter how it spins it would not be faster than USB 3.0 (5Gbps) in any sense, even if you stick two of them together, running RAID 0. Just make sure you get enclosures/docks with USB SATA controller that supports UASP and TRIM.

    Unless you need many of them and so many that you need to have them daisy-chained, TB2 does not give an edge given its price premium.
  19. jm102030 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 18, 2017
    Thanks, that's what I thought! However, it looks like the one I'm getting has TB2 anyways (and there's no comparable USB 3.0 version) so I might aswell use the TB2 cable and leave the USB ports for other things.

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19 March 18, 2017