**Architecture: iMac vs. Macbook Pro**

Discussion in 'iMac' started by DizzySA, Jun 24, 2013.

  1. DizzySA macrumors newbie

    Jun 24, 2013

    I am currently doing my Masters in Architecture and running off the 2011 Macbook Pro 2.2ghz 15inch model. I am wanting to slightly upgrade my specs since we use SketchUp, AutoCAD, Rendering Programs like Podium and the Adobe Suite and I don't want to run into any problems during school crunch time. My MBP has served me well so far, but tends to start slowing down a bit when my SketchUp models get a bit more intricate, or I run SU concurrently with Photoshop (or similar).

    The upgrade option I am looking at is the higher spec iMac 21.5inch. Can ANYONE give advice on the comparison of speed and capabilities of these two models?

    I am also confused as to why my 2 year old MBP has an i7 but the brand new iMac's only have i5's? People I speak to are concerned that iMac's are essentially home computers for sorting out photos and sending emails, when clearly I need something a lot more powerful!

    I am fairly clueless when it comes to computer lingo so please could anyone help me out in this predicament? I would rather not change to the iMac if it is not going to make a significant difference!!

    I am rather desperate! Thank you everyone :)
  2. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    While Macs are now more aimed at consumers, they are still very capable machines.

    Intel has notebook and desktop CPUs, where the notebook CPUs have mostly two cores and two threads per core (i5 and i7) but there is also a quad core i7 series (four cores, two threads per core - eight virtual cores) for higher powered notebook computers.
    The i5 and i7 in the iMac are desktop CPUs, the i5 has four cores and only one thread per core, while the i7 has four cores and two threads per core.

    The iMac will be more powerful than the MBP you have, but you are maybe limited by your RAM in your MBP. How much RAM do you have in it?
  3. DizzySA thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 24, 2013
    Thanks so much for your response!

    "2.0GHz or 2.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor with 6MB shared L3 cache; or optional 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor with 8MB shared L3 cache" "4GB (two 2GB SO-DIMMs) of 1333MHz DDR3 memory; two SO-DIMM slots support up to 8GB".

    That is the spec taken directly off apple website. Mine is the 2.2GHz! So it already has the quad-core. I have also heard that the iMac is basically a laptop with a monitor, which leads me to believe that it does have a notebook CPU??

    Super confused by all the information!

    I find it very hard to believe that 2 years down the line the brand new iMac has basically the same, if not worse specs than my MBP! Unless I am really just not getting this. haha... Like I said, I basically know nothing about this kind of stuff!
  4. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    The iMac has a desktop CPU but a notebook GPU. How much RAM do you have? If you do not know, than you probably only have 4 GB, which will be the limiting factor of your work.

    Open Activity Monitor after a day of typical usage (or if you have not restarted for a day or two and used your applications to a good extent) and go to the System Memory* tab and look for Page Outs and Swap used and report back.

  5. fig macrumors 6502a


    Jun 13, 2012
    Austin, TX
    Check out the benchmarks here for a pretty complete overview of performance:

    Generally speaking for the type of work you're doing (3d/graphic work) you're looking primarily at the Cinebench scores. The other tests are also important but any new machine with an SSD or Fusion drive will do pretty well on all those.
  6. DizzySA thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 24, 2013
    I just did the Activity Monitor like you suggested. MBP has been on for a few days and running particularly slowly! But I had closed my SketchUp and Photoshop just before doing it.

    It reads: Page Outs 1,33gb
    Swap Used 2gb

    Should I be doing this with all the programs open?

    Thanks fig for your response. What is the deal with the SSD and Fusion drive options? Which is better? PLEASE excuse my ignorance on this subject!! I checked up those scores and it seems that the new iMac is not tested! But even the old iMac scored better than my MBP model.
  7. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    The PAGE OUTS and SWAP USED are cumulative, thus it does not matter, if PS and SketchUp have been running at the time of the reading.

    It indicates, you could benefit from more RAM, 8 GB of 204-pin DDR3 SO-DIMM RAM (two 4 GB modules) cost around 40 USD, 16 GB RAM of 204-pin DDR3 SO-DIMM RAM modules will cost around 80 to 100 USD, and yes, the MBP supports that much RAM.

    You can also speed up your Mac via getting an SSD for the OS and applications and some of your data, 256 GB of SSD can be had for 150 USD (Crucial M4 or Samsung 840), 512 GB of SSD can be had for 300 to 350 USD.

    You can even have an SSD and an HDD inside the MBP via replacing the optical disk drive (ODD) with an OPTIBAY adapter.

    MacBook, MacBook Pro: Replacing the Hard Disk Drive, transferring data to the new HDD

    the guide includes:
    • 0. Identify your MacBook or MacBook Pro
    • 1. Getting a new HDD
    • 2. Guides to replace the internal HDD with a newer one
    • 3. Transferring data from the old HDD to the new HDD
    • 4. Using the optical disk drive (ODD) slot for placing an SSD or HDD inside the MB/P (OPTIBAY)

    And scores do not tell us everything, as you are limited by the RAM, thus the slowdonws, unless you work with really heavy projects and you could benefit from a desktop CPU on a daily basis.

    My 2009 MBP, while still being a C2D Mac, can handle PS and HD video editing okay, because it has 8 GB RAM and enough room to breath.

    What is RAM? - measured again in MB and GB
  8. DizzySA thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 24, 2013
    Do you think it is a better option to do the additions to my MBP instead of just going for the new iMac??

    The portability is not really an issue for me.
  9. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    I think so, you could try more RAM first and then an SSD and see if that helps. If not, you can always sell it then and get a newer iMac with a bit more beefy CPU, though benchmarks do not differ that much between those two.
  10. throAU, Jun 25, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2013

    throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    Spend your money on 16 GB of RAM and an SSD and the MBP will be fine (it will seriously feel like a brand new machine - i'm guessing you have only 4 GB at the moment looking at your page outs and speed complaints).

    The 15" MBPs from 2011 are still a pretty powerful machine (I have one). None of the recent CPUs are an order of magnitude faster or anything.

    Unless the apps you are running make heavy demands on the GPU you won't gain a huge amount going to an iMac.

    AS far as i7 vs i5 goes - mobile cpu vs desktop cpu.

    You can't compare them directly. Though the i7 in the MBP 15 is a pretty quick chip... the details in the Core series CPUs are in the trailing numbers

    i.e., a Core i5-4xxx is a more advanced CPU than a Core i7-2xxx

    i3, i5, i7 are marketing crap (intel liken them to 3/5/7 series beemers) - the number on the end is the generation and a bunch of indecipherable crap regarding CPU capability (think level of trim - e.g., 525i, 530i, 540i, etc.).

    Anything starting with a 4 after the dash is current tech, and will be marginally faster than previous years within the same "series" (e.g., i5-4xxx = faster than i5-3xxx and maybe faster than a bunch of i7-xxxx).

    Yes, its ridiculous.

    TLDR: The i7-2xxx in your MBP 15 from 2011 is still pretty damn fast.

    If you really want to compare CPU specs, hit up


    and plug in the model numbers of CPUs to compare...
  11. fig macrumors 6502a


    Jun 13, 2012
    Austin, TX
    An SSD is a Solid State Drive, the same sort of storage on an iPhone or an iPod, so it gives you much faster response times than a traditional hard drive. The negative is that it's much more expensive than traditional hard drives for big drives with lots of storage.

    A Fusion drive is Apple's solution to making it cheaper, it's a small SSD connected to a traditional hard drive. The idea is that the apps you use frequently are loaded onto the SSD portion, making them much faster to access, open, etc., while your data is still stored on the normal hard drive portion. It's an option in new Macs, you can make your own for an older Mac but without some technical expertise I wouldn't recommend it. I got a Fusion drive in my new Mac Mini and I'm very happy with it.

    A new machine will most likely be faster than what you've got, but I agree with the other folks that bumping up your RAM and changing out your drive for an SSD will be very noticeable performance upgrades.

    You can get RAM from OWC, their site walks you through exactly what to get to fit your machine.

    For an SSD the size you get depends on your needs, assuming you have an external hard drive that you save your projects to you can probably get by with a 256gb drive. I've got a Crucial m4 in my old iMac and it's been flawless for me.

    Hope that helps.

    P.S. I'm a graphic designer with an undergrad degree in arch, cool to see more of us around :)
  12. Zandros macrumors member

    Sep 1, 2010
    Swap Used is definitely not cumulative, closing applications and reducing RAM usage will reduce the amount. Eventually the system will start consolidating the swap files and give the disk space back to the user.
  13. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    Okay then, haven't seen that yet on my low RAM Macs and when I had my iBook with 1.25 GB RAM the SWAP would grow and grow when using PS and Avid but would not reclaim the space it once took.

    As I have 8 GB and 32 GB RAM in my Macs now, I probably do not see it that often anymore.

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