Buying My First MBP vs. iMac vs. Mac Mini

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Young Doc 90, May 10, 2012.

  1. Young Doc 90 macrumors newbie

    May 10, 2012

    I am interested in buying either a 13'' Macbook Pro, a Mac Mini, or a 21/27 inch iMac.
    As of now, I will be waiting hopefully for new refreshes of each, and my target for purchase will be First week of July.

    About me:
    I am a medical student, and mainly will be using the mac to view movies and shows, along with many documents, lecture videos and PDFs.
    I am also financially open to buying either product.
    I currently am not in range of an Apple store, nor do I have the time to make a run to the closest one to get more information as to which product is best for me.

    I will be spending the next several months AT HOME where I can study for my boards exam, so portability is not a big issue with me (iMac at home is perfect).

    Also like I previously mentioned, this will be my first Apple product aside from an iTouch.

    At this point, i am 90% sure I will purchase an iMac as it fits my needs and
    1) it is a powerhouse
    2) I can upgrade the RAM to 8gbs with ease.

    Just some questions, although they may have been discussed several times. Please bare with me:

    1) Magic Trackpad vs. Magic Mouse? What is ideal for me, pros and cons to each.
    2) I will be looking to buy a new external HDD. Any recommendations? Time Capsule?!
    3) Size. 21 inches vs 27 inches. It will be placed on my study desk. are 27'' iMacs generally too big for simple study desks?
    4) Applecare. Is it worth the buck? Generally, I feel Apple products have amazing lifetime from what I hear.
    5) Any shortcuts to cut costs? (ex. upgrading RAM myself instead of Apple's pricey upgrades).
    6) Does upgrading the RAM void the Warranty // Applecare?
    7) HDMI capability. As of now, the iMacs do not have HDMI. What wiring can I use to project HDMI onto an iMac?

    Any insights, comments and advice would be greatly appreciated!
  2. Medic278 macrumors 6502a


    Feb 1, 2012
    New York
    First off congrats on finishing up medical school and good luck on your boards. I am currently a 4th year med student and I have a 13 MBP and an iMac. I would highly recommend the MBP. First off you can easily upgrade the RAM in the MBP all the way to 16GB with ease. I have the dual core i7 and it is a powerhouse. I use Aperture, Photoshop CS5, and Final Cut Pro for editing my amateur photographs and home movies and with the 8GB of RAM I it doesn't even stutter at getting the job done. Best of its portable which is a huge plus. Again I cannot recommend the MBP enough, I rarely ever touch my iMac anymore as I just love the MBP and I think its everything my iMac is and then some. You will never be let down by this machine it does everything you ask of it on demand. Now on to your questions

    1. I have both the track pad and magic mouse, I prefer the magic mouse its more accurate and the gestures are great. That being said if you prefer the track pad you will not be disappointed.

    2. Any Western Digital 1TB+ drive will serve you well, time capsules are nice but read some reviews about them. They have some issues with heat and reliability which is why I went with the Airport Extreme and an external HDD.

    3. Get the MBP. However if you are dead set on an iMac I recommend the 27 I have the 27 and love it. Watching movies on it is fantastic and well, doing anything on it is fantastic, its just great having that much screen real estate.

    4. Get the Applecare, I have it on all my macs. While apple products are generally well built it is still a mass produced product and can have failures. Plus you get phone and tech support for three years which is worth it right there.

    5. Always upgrade the RAM yourself you'll save a bundle. Also get the MBP and drop in an SSD and buy an enclosure for your stock HDD and use it as an external. You'll kill 2 birds with one stone. Also don't forget the Apple Student discount just show them your university ID it will save around $100

    6. In the MBP you can upgrade the RAM and HDD without voiding the warranty. On an iMac you can only upgrade the RAM, upgrading the HDD on an iMac WILL void the warranty.

    7. Thunderbolt to HDMI adaptor. $29 from apple order online or available at any apple store.

    Again as a medical student I say you should really get the MBP. It will do absolutely everything you need and then some. You really don't need the power of a quad core, and why would you want to be tied to a desk? Get yourself a MBP and a decent monitor for $150-$250 dollars and you'll be all set. You will be really impressed with the MBP they are extremely powerful machines. You will love being able to take it to the hospital with you or the office whichever you plan to practice in. Seriously though get the MBP its so much better then an iMac. Again congrats on finishing school and best of luck on your boards! Also, did I mention you should seriously get the MBP and not the iMac?
  3. Young Doc 90 thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 10, 2012
    Thanks for the reply!

    As of now, I am truly set on buying a iMac, and my reasoning is:

    1) I already have a portable laptop (Windows however).
    2) I will be looking forward to buying the MBP in January '13.

    I am starting my studies for the USMLE Step 1 exam, and I will be writing it in December. Until then, I had hopes of going with my current laptop + iMac combo, and then January come.. purchasing a MBP for my clinical studies.

    Let me know what you think since we have alot in common!
    Congrats on almost being finished with medical school, and best of luck with your rest of your rotations.
  4. jakerukas macrumors newbie

    Jun 7, 2012
    Reconsider the iMac....

    I'm an attending in EM, and not a true tech person, so take my anecdotal experience as just that:

    Residency is a transient existence for some. I moved to three different apartments within 2 years since my internship was in a different program from residency. Moving a desktop is burdensome, even an iMac.

    I have a 15 MBP and a 24 iMac. The iMac logicboard just burnt out after 4 years so I am left with a computer otherwise in perfect condition....that does not work.

    Watch out for the Time Capsule. I liken it to the old TV/VCR combos. Within 2 weeks of the logicboard fiasco, my Time Capsule power also gave out. The HD apparently is still good. Apple will not fix Time Capsules, so all I could do was to pull the HD out of it and put it in an enclosure.

    Mind you, I indulge at the tap for the Apple Kool Aid. I am now just very wary of buying any "all in one" product. That's why I'm intrigued by the idea of buying a Mini with SSD and then 27 inch Display. The product line announcements in a few days will help make my decision.

    Congrats on finishing school. Enjoy the next few years of residency. It's actually a lot of fun.
  5. plumosa macrumors regular


    Mar 17, 2007
    I disagree! As long as you keep the box it probably takes all of 60 seconds to pack up and take with you. In 2007 I bought an iMac right before I moved across country and packed and unpacked it each night when I stayed in a hotel along the way.

    Once its in the box, its like anything else you're moving.
  6. roland.g macrumors 603


    Apr 11, 2005
    One mile up and soaring
    First off, if you don't need portability go with the iMac.

    1. Trackpad all the way. It isn't the same as a laptop. Because you aren't reaching over it to get to the keyboard. I never use the mouse anymore and whenever I used to use a laptop, I always wanted a wireless mouse for it. Funny, but for the iMac the Trackpad is fantastic. Especially for forward/back on Safari, Mission Control, Scrolling, and changing apps.

    2. I always buy a bare drive from NewEgg and slap it in a OWC case. They are silver to match the Apple stuff, and the case goes for $40-80 depending on which ports. If you get the cheaper case, you can get it with a FW800 to FW400 cable so you can still use the FireWire instead of USB. Assembling it is typically a bit cheaper than a stock solution. However, Costco often has great deals on 2 and 3 TB drives in the $120-140 range which is a good buy. I personally wouldn't buy a Time Capsule, again the Apple Tax like memory for a hard drive.

    3. Size is up to you but I love my 27". But my mom and my father in law each have 21.5" and like them. I upgraded from a 24" so I wasn't going to go down.

    4) Applecare is always worth it and especially for a student, you get the best pricing. Same with the computer itself, you will get a discount as a student. About $100-150 off.

    5) Never pay for Apple RAM. I bought 8 GB from OWC (Other World Computing - for about $70, I think it is down to $55 now. That's total and that bumps the machine up to 12 GB with the 4 that comes with it.

    6) No, Apple specifically makes the RAM user upgradable on all machines except the Air. However, if you have to take it in for any warranty work, always take out your ram, and back it up because you never know if they may need to replace your entire unit.

    7) The Thunderbolt port(s) on the iMac/MacBook Pro are essentially out only. You can connect any second display to them via an adapter, but you cannot connect into them for being a monitor. The only exception to this is with a MacBook Pro or Air with Thunderbolt as well, you can use a Thunderbolt cable to make the iMac a second display for that machine. But if you plan to watch TV or something like that on it, you can get a product called EyeTV from Elgato that connects into your Mac from a cable or satellite coaxial cable and allows you to watch, record, dvr, etc., tv. I haven't used it and it has been awhile, so I don't know much about their current offerings. Sling also makes Slingboxes that allow you to watch on your computer, so stuff like that is always an option.

    One thing I would recommend is going with the iMac and then as finances, etc. dictate you can always consider getting an 11" or 13" MacBook Air as a second portable Mac. I just started back to school and will be selling my 2008 unibody MacBook and getting a new Air as my portable. I will probably also get a Thunderbolt cable to use my iMac as a second screen for the Air.

    And lastly, one thing to seriously consider is configuring the iMac with an SSD either instead of or in addition to the HDD. Having the OS and Apps on an SSD makes it so much faster.
  7. ctyhntr macrumors 6502


    Jul 21, 2010
    You can upgrade up to 32GB of RAM for the iMac versus 16GB RAM for the MBP. Adding memory is a snap. Adding/Changing a hard drive on an iMac is more work than for a MBP. If you're going to stick to external hard drives then that a non-issue.

    Are you currently a trackpad or mouse user? The iMac comes with a wireless keyboard and magic mouse. Check your local apple store if you can swap the mouse for the trackpad at the time of purchase.
  8. Liquinn Suspended

    Apr 10, 2011
    I thought the late 2011 and mid 2012 Macbook Pros could support 32GB when 16GB sticks are available?
  9. ctyhntr macrumors 6502


    Jul 21, 2010
    The iMac has 4 memory slots whereas MacBookPro has 2 memory slots.

    Here is a link to what OWC have tested so far, and works.


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