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smacrumon

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Jan 15, 2016
2,683
4,010
I have the option of updating some hardware for use in Xcode development and everything that entails.

What is the most powerful of the below options? What are the reasons for and against the purchase?

iMac (21.5-inch, Mid 2011) 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5 (Refurbished)
or
MacBook (12-inch, Early 2015) 1.1 GHz Core M (New)
or
MacBook (12-inch, Early 2016) 1.1 GHz Core M3 (New)
 

keysofanxiety

macrumors G3
Nov 23, 2011
9,534
25,297
iMac would be the most powerful in terms of CPU & can be upgraded to 32GB RAM (4x8GB DDR3 SODIMM 1333MHz). Obviously it's not very portable though and buying 5-year-old tech should be avoided if possible.

However the spinning drive may mean that 'real world' performance in terms of applications loading would seem to be slower on the iMac.

13" rMBP would be a better option IMO as the CPU in the rMBP and the 21.5" iMac are fairly similar in terms of performance; plus you have much faster Flash than the rMB, more ports & it's portable.
 

Hellhammer

Moderator emeritus
Dec 10, 2008
22,164
581
Finland
Is portability needed? That's really the key difference here. iMac is more powerful than any laptop and hence better suited for Xcode if portability isn't needed at all As said above, the iMac is 5 years old and not really a good buy anymore, but for the price of 2016 MacBook you can get a pretty nice refurb 2014 or 2015 iMac.
 

smacrumon

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Jan 15, 2016
2,683
4,010
Is portability needed? That's really the key difference here. iMac is more powerful than any laptop and hence better suited for Xcode if portability isn't needed at all As said above, the iMac is 5 years old and not really a good buy anymore, but for the price of 2016 MacBook you can get a pretty nice refurb 2014 or 2015 iMac.
What is the most powerful is the main question. Ideally portability would be good and the obvious choice for that is MacBook. The previous commenter also mentioned a 5 years old unit should be a avoided, but why might that be if it is still more powerful? (Side note: I own from new a 2008 iMac and that is still running well, a clean install and maybe a ram update might improve that machine.)
 

maflynn

Moderator emeritus
May 3, 2009
70,104
38,562
What is the most powerful of the below options?
The iMac of course. you're comparing a Core i5 with a good GPU with a Core M processor with a low powered iGPU. Additionally you get a much larger display 21" vs. 12" with the iMac. What the MacBook has is portability, if you need a highly portable machine, then the MB is your best bet.

What are the reasons for and against the purchase?
The reasons are personal, what are your needs. The iMac is a great machine but it cannot replace a laptop if you need mobility.
 

Hellhammer

Moderator emeritus
Dec 10, 2008
22,164
581
Finland
What is the most powerful is the main question. Ideally portability would be good and the obvious choice for that is MacBook. The previous commenter also mentioned a 5 years old unit should be a avoided, but why might that be if it is still more powerful? (Side note: I own from new a 2008 iMac and that is still running well, a clean install and maybe a ram update might improve that machine.)

What is the price of the iMac? Buying 5-year-old hardware isn't really wise unless you can get it at a great price. It's not a bad machine by any means, but unless the price is low you may be able to get a newer and better one for the same price.
 

smacrumon

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Jan 15, 2016
2,683
4,010
What is the price of the iMac? Buying 5-year-old hardware isn't really wise unless you can get it at a great price. It's not a bad machine by any means, but unless the price is low you may be able to get a newer and better one for the same price.
$500.
 
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