Buy iMac + MacBook or get powerful MacBook Pro?

Luba

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Apr 22, 2009
1,206
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Currently, I have a 10 year old Mac Pro and a 9 year old MacBook Pro. The tech world is very different now. A MacBook Pro is now more powerful than my Mac Pro. I can't decide between buying a desktop plus a basic MacBook, or getting a powerful MacBook Pro with a Display and Keyboard . . . and later maybe a eGPU, if necessary.

Which scenario do you think is more cost effective in the long run?

Emotionally I like having 2 machines, if my MacBook got stolen/lost/broken I had another machine to go to, plus all the data was on my desktop Mac Pro. But with iCloud Drive it's fast to get at your data if your MacBook got broken through a big drop.

But it's easier to maintain and take care of just 1 machine. Any maybe it's more benefit/cost effective if I upgraded more frequently (every 4 or 5 years) which I could do if I only had to upgrade 1 machine frequently.
 

vertical smile

macrumors 601
Sep 23, 2014
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5,213
For me personally, I enjoy using my desktop and I think I am much more productive on it. I use a laptop only when I need to be mobile.

But, I am not saying get two computers....

For my job, I have an issued laptop, a dock which are plugged into two 24" monitors. The only time I even spend time using the laptop as a laptop is when I am at a meeting, or teleworking. Most of the time, I work as if it is a desktop, and it is plugged into the monitors.

I know your Mac Pro is aging, but I have the original Mac Pro 1,1 and that thing is a beast (with a few upgrades over the years), you think you can wait a bit?

If you are not in a rush, it might be worth waiting to see what the new Mac Pro is going to look like. I wish I could say that I am optimistic about it, but I have a feeling that it won't be anything like what made the cheese grater Mac Pro so great.
 

Luba

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Apr 22, 2009
1,206
175
For me personally, I enjoy using my desktop and I think I am much more productive on it. I use a laptop only when I need to be mobile.

But, I am not saying get two computers....

For my job, I have an issued laptop, a dock which are plugged into two 24" monitors. The only time I even spend time using the laptop as a laptop is when I am at a meeting, or teleworking. Most of the time, I work as if it is a desktop, and it is plugged into the monitors.

I know your Mac Pro is aging, but I have the original Mac Pro 1,1 and that thing is a beast (with a few upgrades over the years), you think you can wait a bit?

If you are not in a rush, it might be worth waiting to see what the new Mac Pro is going to look like. I wish I could say that I am optimistic about it, but I have a feeling that it won't be anything like what made the cheese grater Mac Pro so great.
I can wait the desktop setup as so far no problems with the Mac Pro. With my MacBook Pro I’m using the discrete GPU full-time as the integrated one was causing recurrent display issues. Recently, I experienced the same thing with the discrete GPU, I think it was caused by overheating. But when I elevated the MacBook by resting it on my laptop bag the problem did not come back. The MacBook doesn’t lie completely flat on the laptop bag, but it’s not really a problem.
 

Cole Slaw

macrumors 6502a
Oct 6, 2006
944
1,404
Canada
Not trying to sound negative but personally I'd stay away from this generation (2016-on) of MacBook Pros.
I'd wait and see what's upcoming with the rumoured redesigned model.
 
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tomscott1988

macrumors 6502a
Apr 14, 2009
617
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UK
TBF you can buy a low end 15" MBP 2.2 with 256 £2k and a mid range iMac £1.5k for the price of a mid tier MBP... the MBP 2.6 1tb 32gbs is roughly £3600

The i9 performs no better than the 2.2 i7 so IMO its a no brainer to save the £350. Depends what you need to do, I would give this gen of MBP a miss completely they have so many big issues and any one of them can render it useless or in for repair for 10 days meaning you need a second machine just in case.

As a quick background im a Graphic designer, photographer and videographer doing pretty much everything from print documents to huge panoramas to motion graphics and 3d work and the below is my short term solution until the new machines come out. What puts me off about the possible new ones is the issues with the T2 chip, soldiered Ram and probably a 30% increase.

I was in the same boat 2010 mac pro and just wanted a new machine, with the lack of updates I didn't want to buy a new one for the extortionate prices for 2 year old hardware. I bought a pre owned 10 month old 2017 5K iMac with apple care and the additional trackpad on FB for sale. It was literally 50% off £1150 retailing currently for £2100.

It performs better than the Mac Pro and the screen is lovely. TBH with the price I paid I wouldn't mind taking it apart and upgrading it to a bigger PCIe and a 4tb SSD maybe a CPU upgrade. Literally there arent any 5k displays you can buy for that money in the UK so the computer was basically free.

The nice thing is TB3, you can add anything to it although I miss my HDD bays of the mac pro. I have a raid 0 external USB 3.1 SSD (2x256) enclosure drive that runs 800-1000mb/s reads and writes as a boot, a 1TB SSD as a scratch and a 5 bay external enclosure for my data.

Again the CPUs in the iMac are a mixed bag like the MBP the hyper-threaded CPUs run hot make the thing sound like an airplane so the real world difference between the CPUs is really nothing within the margin of error so 5-10% especially when they throttle.

Geekbench will tell you otherwise but under a decent load like a video export the 7700k throttles down to the 7600 levels and the difference between the 7600 and the 7500 (3.4 base model) is like 5%. Infact geekbench measured the 7600 imac at 5094 and 14856, mine with the 32gbs of ram runs 5067 and 15095 which I think is pretty good really. Like the Macbook Pro the 7700k doesnt give you the performance you pay for. The main benefit in buying the mid range is the better graphics card.

The base model runs surprising quick and completely silent at all times even rendering. Its 40% quicker single core to my Mac Pro which I upgraded to the 6 core 3.46 and its similar multi but because its not 10 year old architecture its far superior and my renders are roughly 25-30% quicker although it benches almost the same. The 6 core is hyperthreaded too so 12 threads vs just 4 in the 7500 3.4.

The base model might be the sensible choice. Everyone poo poos the fusions and mine has the 1TB which only has 32gbs of PCI storage. I basically migrated my mac pro to that drive to see how it would run roughly 800gb of data and tbh im really impressed with how well it runs. I had 2 PCI sleds in my mac pro with the twin SSDs which give the same performance as the above external raid. If nobody told me I wouldn't have noticed, it boots quick and my lightroom catalogue runs super quickly. It was on the 1tb ssd along with my images for speed, no discernible difference. On boot sometimes the log in programs pop up a little later but thats really the only time I have noticed a slow down. A bigger dedicated PCIe is always better but with TB3 you can add drives like an X5 from samsung that run at the same speed like 2.5k read and writes.

I had a 580 8GB in my mac pro with a 27" 1440p Apple cinema display. The iMac has a 570 4gb and running the 5K display with the 27" ACD as a secondary not noticed a huge difference in performance which is impressive considering its pushing twice the pixels 14mp at 60fps. There is the odd stutter but its a lot of pixels.

I added 32gbs of ram to make 40gbs with the stock ram. So far runs great, one of those machines that seems to run better than the benchmarks would show and has been a joy to use so far. Could it be quicker and the set up less complex? Yes, but then I would have paid £3-5k for a high end 5k or iMac Pro and still need to buy the additional items to move my mac pro accessories over.

For on the go I have a base 2015 macbook... its so small there is 0 penalty to take it with you. It does everything I need it to which is mostly edit the odd image to get images to clients if I am on location and general moving data... I also bought that second hand that also had applecare for £650 about 2 years ago... again roughly 50% off. At the time it ran about £1250 was 6 months old.

TBH it isnt the fastest but does the job, I could do with a new one but they are just too expensive for what they are. That's the thing with apple products they are worth more that the sum of their parts. When it comes to editing they can all do a decent job its the output - rendering mainly where the low end machines fall apart and having a desktop negates the need to spend a fortune on a portable.

Ive always had a desktop and a laptop. Find myself more productive at the desk in a work environment and the laptop is great on location and also great for media consumption for personal use.

I used to be one to buy newly released machines, max the specs and use them for 3 years. With the slow down of tech, Apples long refresh rates, Apple products not holding their value like they used to and Mac OS being so well optimised you can get great performance and save a huge amount of money by buying year old machines.

Benchmarks are all well and good but when you have 5-10% differences in useable power and the differences in the real world is seconds maybe a minute not 10s of minutes or hours. Im fortunate my work is not overly time sensitive where those minutes are not a deal breaker. I would go make a cup of tea while it renders etc

Basically my set up has saved me roughly £3500 and does what I need for the time being. My mac pro lasted 9 years which was only £2k when I bought it and upgraded it over time. Doubt this one will last that long but its a pleasure to use and a credit to Apple that the base models are that good.

If you look around the deals are easy to find, most people buy Applecare with their products and it sticks with the system not the user. Ive had some screen issues with my macbook, took it in and they replaced it under warranty no questions asked. Win-Win in my book.
 
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