Advice on whether to buy a 27" iMac with i5 or a 15" Macbook Pro with i7...

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by boomdog, Oct 3, 2013.

  1. boomdog macrumors regular


    Oct 3, 2013
    The most Easterly point of the UK
    Hello all,

    though I only registered this evening, I've read so many threads this past week that I feel like a lifetime member! I cannot however find an answer to my rather specific question. I have never owned a Mac but am about to dive straight in to the deep end. Through my employer, I am able to purchase a new iMac or MacBook Pro with massive reductions but need advise on which one to purchase.

    I am faced with the following choice and have no idea which system would be better for me. This site has all the options available to me:

    however I always like to future proof my purchase by buying the highest spec I can afford so I have narrowed it down to the following:


    I'm sure you will need to know my intended use for the Mac. I will be using the Mac for editing HD game captures along with producing HD video tutorials filmed on an DSLR. In addition I may play the odd game, plenty of office productivity, internet browsing, web design and moderate entertainment. My girlfriend is also likely to take advantage of the new machine for her CS6 work as well. The most important thing for me is speed, I dislike any form of lag when trying to open an app or edit a video so I really need to know which would handle the heaviest load. Though portability would be preferred, I do have a high end windows laptop that I can use for work on the go and I do like the idea of the huge screen real estate offered by the iMac. Having never owned a Mac, it would also be useful to have a dual boot option for windows to tide me over whilst I make the adjustments to a new OS.

    Just in case the links don't work, I will include the base specs:

    Macbook Pro:
    Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display
    Core i7 2.7 GHz
    OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion
    16 GB RAM
    512 GB SSD
    15.4" wide 2880 x 1800
    NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M / Intel HD Graphics 4000

    27-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit display with IPS technology; 2560x1440 resolution with support for millions of colours
    3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor (Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz) with 6MB L3 cache
    8GB (two 4GB) of 1600MHz DDR3 memory
    1TB (7200-rpm) hard drive
    GeForce GTX 775M graphics processor with 2GB of memory

    Unfortunately, the work scheme I intend to use to make the purchase does not allow me to make upgrades to either package so I have to take the stock option. If there are opportunities to retrospectively upgrade either Mac, I would be fairly confident doing so. Any advice you can offer would be very much appreciated.

    Thanks for reading,

  2. martinm0 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 27, 2010
    Based on your intended uses, desires and limitations on stock builds only, I think the Macbook Pro is probably the best option. The iMac will be faster in horsepower, but the lack of an SSD will make the fast computer feel not quite fast enough.

    This is a tough call to make. They are both great machines (I have the exact model rMBP you're looking at and love it). I had the last gen Ivy Bridge iMac and that was a great machine, but I had consistent issues with image retention and issues with Target Display mode is a number of units. I really wanted the iMac to work out, but the new screens were just too problematic for me.

    If you can hold out, I'd get the Haswell rMBP (hoping to hear more about that when Mavericks drops).
  3. ImageStealer, Oct 3, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2013

    ImageStealer macrumors newbie


    Dec 16, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    I have that exact MacBook Pro Retina machine that you describe. It is marvellous to work with. Supports BootCamp on the main SSD, so dual boot with Windows is a definite plus. It also runs Windows Virtual Machines under Parallels extremely quickly. so you can have both OS's running concurrently. In addition, with the OSX capability to run multiple desktops, either OS is only a trackpad swipe away. Provides a turbo boost to personal productivity.

    I have also invested in a relatively inexpensive Hi-res monitor to boost the machine to the equivalent of the 27" iMac. that is 27" with 2560x1440 resolution. Monitor is an ASUS PB278. Once Mavericks arrives with its better multi display management, I think it will be a winner. Also invested in Bluetooth keyboard and Magic Trackpad for desk usage in office mode.

    As I travel for business occasionally, this is the best solution for me.

    In terms of mass storage, I have a couple of 2TB NAS devices, one of which acts a personal cloud device for remote access. So all-in-all, a very productive setup.
  4. boomdog thread starter macrumors regular


    Oct 3, 2013
    The most Easterly point of the UK
    Thank you Martin and ImageStealer,

    What do you mean when you say that the iMac would have more horsepower? I've read a lot about how important the GPU is during the last week, is it more important that the CPU?

    Would it be possible / easy ish to upgrade the RAM and hard drive in the iMac? I already have a couple of SSD's in my Dell XPS, one is a series 3 250GB OZC. I would also be happy to buy and install a new Fusion drive if that would be better.

    If I were buying these direct, I would obviously have more options and the option to wait for the new processor. It seems once a year my employer stockpiles a load of stock systems to sell to us so even if the new processor shipped from apple tomorrow I would be unlikely to see one this year. The scheme only opens up for one month of the year so I would have to wait until next Autumn for the new CPU.

    I'm currently working on a Dell XPS 17 L701x with an i7, 16GB RAM, two SSD's and a 3GB NVidea Graphics Card. My experience of working with even significantly dated Macs is that they run a whole lot faster than an equivalent spec PC. Would you expect either or both of these machines to run better than my current setup?

    Thanks again for the advice so far.
  5. 9947273 Suspended

    Oct 28, 2012
    For the amount of power you are talking about using, the RMPB would be enough. You would also have the portability making it much more convenient. The iMac would be more powerful, but without an SSD, it will feel no where near as fast for most tasks. It also only has 8GB of RAM to the rMBPs 16GB
  6. boomdog thread starter macrumors regular


    Oct 3, 2013
    The most Easterly point of the UK
    Thanks for the advice royal,

    do you know anything about DIY upgrades? Surely RAM is an easy one but will it affect warranty?

    I'm confident when upgrading hard drive and RAM on a PC or laptop but have no experience of Mac. Will it void warranty? Is it a straightforward job? Would apple do it in store for a fee?
  7. boomdog thread starter macrumors regular


    Oct 3, 2013
    The most Easterly point of the UK
    What to buy - updated

    Okay, so my work scheme has agreed to offer the new MacBooks and iPads which I awesome. I now have two options...

    I could buy a new ipad air and a MacBook Pro (specs below)
    15-inch: 2.0GHz
    with Retina display
    2.0GHz quad-core Intel Core i7
    Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz
    8GB 1600MHz memory
    256GB PCIe-based flash storage1
    Intel Iris Pro Graphics

    Or by the MacBook Pro with these specs and keep my current iPad 3...

    15-inch: 2.3GHz
    with Retina display
    2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7
    Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz
    16GB 1600MHz memory
    512GB PCIe-based flash storage 1
    Intel Iris Pro Graphics
    NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
    with 2GB GDDR5 memory
    Built-in battery (8 hours)2

    I may even be able to stretch to both and could sell my current ipad 3 (64gb wifi+cellular) to help with the costs but would prefer to keep the costs down if possible.

    Any advice / recommendations?

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