Become a MacRumors Supporter for $25/year with no ads, private forums, and more!


macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Dec 29, 2013
Best home office setup? iMac vs MacBook Pro vs iPad vs Thunderbolt Display vs...

Thought this would be a fun thread. I gave this hours upon hours of thought. In fact it haunted my mind. I was completely stuck and torn with indecision for a couple months. I finally made up my mind only to second guess myself after starring at my new 15inch screen and ultimately returning my macbook and instead getting a iMac. There are literally hundreds of threads based on this same question. All posters just hoping someone will write something that pulls them one direction or another and helps them make up their mind. There are pros and cons to each setup is why most have such a hard time coming to a decision before dropping their hard earned money into a new apple computer(s). There are basically two different setups you can do when attempting to find a good balance between portability and productivity. My two are as follows...

SETUP #1: A iMac, iPad and iPhone for portability. Using dropbox (or other) and a Remote Desktop to go fully portable. An iPad is awesome, but lacks many nessisarry things that a full computer has - like flash, java, productive file system and etc. This is the setup I went with.

SETUP #2: a MacBook Pro, iPad and iPhone for portability, and a Thunderbolt Display for Desktop like productivity.

I ended up going with Setup #1 for three reasons. I needed the screen real estate, a full fledge desktop was more important to me than occasional portability, and just a desktop was cheaper than a macbook and a Thunderbolt Display. If apple had a newer Thunderbolt Display version my decision would have been even harder. Setup #2 is nice but in the end more work and more money to make right. I realized that I liked my ipad more than I thought. I already had a ipad and iPhone. So adding a laptop would be overkill for me. But the lack of a full computer when out and about sucks too. Having to always fight with mobile only versions of websites and etc is a pain. For me, one of the factors that pushed me over the edge was remembering remote desktops. I played with then a couple years ago but my old computer was unable to handle the added load. But now with a new imac remote desktops should give me everything I need. The ease of my ipad and the function of my iMac. And this route keeps my files insync well.

I very much see the allure to a macbook though (setup 2). I almost went that direction a 100 different times. Just thought it might be nice to hear others setups and how you rationalized coming to that decision over the other. In the future I may add a 11 inch MacBook Air into my setup as well and they are very little and light. In the end a MacBook Pro just did not seem portable enough for me.


macrumors newbie
Jan 2, 2014
Northumberland, UK.
The nearest I have to a modern imac is a G4 one. Its screen though is a shining example of what could be achieved back in 2002. I'm looking forward to the next issue of 'Mac Format' when, we are told will be given some ways to revitalise our aging G4's and earlier Apple Products. Memory seems to help matters when a product gets slow. My G4 Quicksilver Mac Pro is still as bright as when I bought it new, though it can't get past Leopard (mainly because it is a 32 bit machine rather than a 64 bit one), there are still lots of ways to boost its power and get rid of its aged lethargy. Incidentally I like your post, maybe I'm not fighting against the 'Rising Tide':eek: of Apple trying to destroy what it once created?:eek::apple:


macrumors 6502a
May 11, 2012
North East US
IMO depends on what you mean by home office, what you're needs and preferences are, and which applications you're running and for what.


Do you work often outside the house on the same stuff? Get a laptop to your liking and a docking solution if you want to work on a large screen at home. Any of the laptops should be fine for this depending on which you prefer to work with on the road.

Or do you work mostly at home and only occasionally on the road? Get a desktop and a small laptop.

More important though is the type of work. I'm enjoying my brand new Mac Mini so far but for work-work I will continue to use Windows. Why? Because Office for Mac is not 100% compatible in my experience with the "normal"/non-creative type business world. That's silly but you don't want to take a PowerPoint presentation created on a Mac into a board meeting. Believe me. Same with complicated Excel stuff. MS Access is not even an option. Not sure about MS Project. You get the idea.

Mac Book pro however is certainly capable of setting up as dual boot system for cases like that.

One more: I went with the Mac Mini because you have more (and better) screen options available to you. That was crucial for me coming in from the photo editing perspective. But for office use, depending on your lighting/window spaces you may be able to find much better and cheaper screens for long office hours than the expensive yet limited screens that Apple sells.
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.