Can't decide whether to buy a 27 in. iMac or 15 in. Retina MBP.

Discussion in 'iMac' started by romanator, Jun 13, 2012.

  1. romanator macrumors newbie

    Jun 13, 2012
    Long time reader, but finally decided to make an account and partake in some of the discussion :)

    I'm currently a computer science student at a university, and I'm thinking about upgrading from my 15 in. mid-2009 MacBook Pro. I also own an iPhone for my personal use, and an iPad for all my note-taking needs.

    I've noticed from my first year at school, that I tend to carry around my iPad way more than MacBook Pro. The only time I take my MBP with me is when I go do homework at the library with friends, or when I travel home for the weekend. Computer labs are abundant, so I don't need to worry about lugging around my MBP if I want to hammer out part of my homework between classes. I've also noticed that aside from doing homework (with most of it being online, and using a flash-based webpage), I can do everything I need to with my iPad while on-the-go.

    With that in mind, I can't seem to decide what to purchase as my next computer. I've come up with some scenarios about what I could purchase. Feel free to comment, or suggest your own ideas, please!

    Scenario 1
    In this scenario, I sell my current MacBook pro to a family member, and purchase a brand-spanking-new Retina MacBook Pro. I've got a fair chunk of change saved up, so I'd be able to splurge on the $2799 version (or $2599 with student discount).
    • Pros: Being able to take my computer with me wherever I go.
    • Cons: I'd still have a 15 in. screen. Granted, I'd probably use the machine with a resolution that gives me more work-space. It's also a little pricey. I don't know if it's faster than the iMac.

    Scenario 2
    Another option I'm considering (and truthfully, leaning toward) is buying a top of the line 27 in. iMac. I'd keep my 3 year old MBP for when I need to take it with me, and I'd have a huge workspace at home (where I do 90% of my work anyway). If I go with this, I'd be looking to spend around $2,300 (already including the student discount).
    • Pros: I'd have a nice workspace when home, and I'd still be able to go and do work away from home (my MBP is still pretty capable).
    • Cons: I'd be spending a good amount of cash on a system that hasn't been updated in a year. (I'd probably wait until the end of summer to purchase the iMac, just in case it get updated. I read the article about Cook saying it will be updated in 2013.)

    I need some input from you guys! What would you do?
  2. Razorhog macrumors 65816


    Sep 16, 2006
    I would definitely go the iMac route. Use your MBP when you need the power on the go, and your iPad for day to day stuff. Sounds like you've already decided which way to go, but I can understand your hesitance due to the draw of the new RMBP. Hold out for the spec bump on the iMac, and maybe even a back to school special.
  3. forty2j macrumors 68030


    Jul 11, 2008
    First, you should know that the Cook comments have been clarified. He was talking about the Mac Pro only. An iMac spec bump is still expected "soon". My money's on July 10, but I'm not betting the mortgage. :)

    Second, most people that have an iMac + iPad find that they have no need for an MBP as well. Unless you have a specific situation that requires OS X in portable format, you may well be able to sell your MBP and max out a 2012 iMac.

    If you DO need OS X in portable format (and Flash is about the only reason I can think of you would), then Scenario 1 is probably the right move, and you could consider getting a 27" Apple Thunderbolt Display for the larger workspace at home, if you wanted to spend the extra cash.

    The 2012 MBP should have similar CPU processing capabilities, and somewhat slower graphics, than the 2012 iMac. Unless you're playing the newest Tier 1 games, you won't notice a difference in the graphic speeds.
  4. 12dylan34 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2009
    I would go with the iMac personally. I'll also be a second year college student and my current MacBook Pro and iPad served me just fine my freshman year. The bigger screen and better performance for the price of the iMac will be faster to compile code if you're a computer science major as well. As you mentioned, I would also suggest waiting until the end of July for a probable iMac update.
  5. ivoruest macrumors 6502


    Jul 12, 2010
    I would get the iMac top of the line with an SSD and upgrade ram from a third party. With the remaining money get a New iPad to do all the work on the go! I'm pretty sure the top of the line iMac is faster than the Retina Macbook Pro.
  6. techis macrumors newbie

    Jun 13, 2012
    i had the same problem, like 2 years ago (artschool) i'd choose the macbook pro, since i had sold it and buy an imac, i'm telling you, go for the imac, ad an ssd and you will never regret your choice.:)
  7. romanator thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 13, 2012
    I'm a little more hesitant because the iMac hasn't been updated in a while. I know it's a pretty fast machine none-the-less, but it's a little hard to justify paying full price for last year's tech :(

    I'd love to go for the RMBP with a TB display, but I can't afford that combo.
  8. Robkarl macrumors newbie

    Jun 13, 2012
    I am in the same boat. I think an idea that makes sense is to buy the RMBP and when the iMac refreshes you certainly will still get top dollar for you RMBP on Craigslist. Leaning towards this option
  9. Photography macrumors 65816


    Apr 10, 2007
    I am also in the same boat, except I have a 17" early 2009 MBP. I decided it's more economical and practical to go for the 27" iMac. Even when I max out the iMac, it still will cost much less than a 15" rMBP with a Thunderbolt display.

    Besides, I would feel at a loss since I use my laptop as a desktop already (with my MBP hooked up to my Apple display 99% of the time). By using the rMBP hooked up to the Thunderbolt display, I would be missing out on what I see as the primary selling point of the rMBP - the retina display.

    I'm planning on holding out until next year to upgrade to the 2013 iMac.
  10. johnnyturbouk macrumors 68000


    Feb 9, 2011
    on the yellow [oled] brick road to tech nirvana.
    Correct me if i am mistaken, but does apple TBD even capable of 2K, let alone retina.

    I would hold out for a refresh of the TB-display if you are set on the RMBP

    or like me, wait for the retina iMacs
  11. bogatyr macrumors 65816

    Mar 13, 2012
    Go the iMac route but also pick up a Thunderbolt cable. Use your MBP in target disk mode and boot off it with the iMac. Now you have all the power of the iMac at your desk but when you're on the go, all your files and setup is on your MBP so you don't have to sync anything.

    Makes upgrading the hard drive that much easier as well.

    This is my plan instead of getting a new MBA to replace my current one. I was going to get a TBD + MBA and sell my old MBA but I only need the power when I play games. When I travel with it, I'm mostly coding.
  12. QCassidy352 macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    IMO iMac + iPad means no need for a laptop unless you do serious work on the go. Even for writing the iPad works great with a bt keyboard. So if I were you I'd go for option C: sell the mbp and buy the iMac. And I'd wait for the new ones, which (as has been said) weren't part of Cook's "next year" comment.
  13. romanator thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 13, 2012
    I want to keep my MacBook Pro since I travel home somewhat often (I don't think I'd be able to take the iMac with me on a plane ;)) and want to be able to work on homework, program, and do my research for all my classes. I'll probably consider selling my MBP if I start using it less.

    I'm in the market for a computer soon, I don't see myself waiting until next year for one. Beside, the iMac is already really sleek, and the screen is already gorgeous. I'm just holding out for updated processors, graphic cards, I/O, etc.

    Also, my MBP doesn't have a thunderbolt port, it only has a mini-display port.
  14. InlawBiker macrumors 6502

    Apr 6, 2007
    I have tried the two-computers approach before, with a laptop and a desktop. It was really more of a hassle than it was worth. It's a little easier these days with the "cloud" keeping things in sync, but even so one of them will end up getting used a lot more than the other.

    The fact that you have an iPad already seems to make this choice easier. I would personally just bring the iPad with me "on the go" and keep the iMac at home.

    I have never been one to hold onto old equipment though. If it still has some usefulness I'm usually happier if I can give it away or sell it, so it's not sitting there doing nothing.
  15. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    I've got a 2011 15" Hi-res MBP and a 2009 27" i7 iMac. I gave some thought to buying a TBD and going with just the MBP but I really feel that having two computers is best. Even though the specs of the MBP have it slightly faster than the (what was then top of the line) iMac, I've found in practice that the iMac is still a bit faster. I would imaging that the latest iMac would be noticeably faster than any MBP.

    I use Chronosync to synchronize the systems when I touch home base, but also use DropBox and have a home server that I can access remotely over SSH or VPN, so two systems isn't that much of a bother.

    I was in the Apple Store today to look at the RMBP. Indeed the display is excellent for photo and video work (which I do), but at least for me I don't think it would be worth the extra money (I'm not buying now in any case!), and I would miss the ethernet jack which I use daily. I'm sure I'd also miss the DVD drive for occasional use. I don't use FW. It doesn't really feel that much lighter. It's no Macbook Air!
  16. bogatyr macrumors 65816

    Mar 13, 2012
    You can do it over firewire and if you're not using an SSD the speed difference shouldn't be too bad.
  17. harcosparky macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    Can't decide on wether to buy a 27" iMac or a 15" Retina MBP?

    Well what are you looking for?

    A computer to fill a need? Define your needs and buy the one that fits those needs.

    Bragging rights? The 15" MBP Retina will get you that, for a little while.

    It all depends on what you are looking to get out of your purchase.
  18. iSayuSay macrumors 68040


    Feb 6, 2011
    You said you do 90% of your work at home .. Well iMac it is then ..

    Power-wise, iMac give you the BEST value of all Mac available, even the quad core MacPro.

    Even the basic 21.5" iMac will give you the power of higher end stock MBPs, all for $1200 when you have to fork out $2000 for the same performance on MBP.

    Get the job done with iMac, and 5 6 months later when you have ready for some extra dough to throw, sell your current MBP and get the new MBA for your mobility. Get the Thunderbolt cable to connect your newly MBA to iMac, either for Target Disk mode or simply external display, waaay way better than MBA/MBP + ATD setup.
    You get 2 computers instead of only MBP.
  19. danetello macrumors 6502

    Dec 23, 2010
    London, UK
    Rumours are saying that the iMac is going to be refreshed soon so I would suggest hanging on before buying the iMac
  20. DVSoftware macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2012
    O RLY?
    Rumors are saying that since March
  21. david19801 macrumors member

    Mar 18, 2012
    Why not get a low end retina macbook pro and a second big screen monitor? Then you have portability, power and big screen space.
  22. bmcgrath macrumors 65816


    Oct 5, 2006
    London, United Kingdom
    iMac for sure! I went through a similar scenario a few months ago. Laptop or a nice work station at home. I found it daunting not to be going down the laptop route but the screen on the iMac is amazing plus it's very quick.
  23. romanator thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 13, 2012
    Because I'd be spending around $3,300 for that. Can't justify spending that much money :(
  24. forty2j macrumors 68030


    Jul 11, 2008
    I would think that a minimum, you can sell the old MBP for enough to cover the ATD.
  25. devincco macrumors member


    Aug 19, 2006
    Go for the iMac...

    I'm kind of in the same boat as you. I need some more horse power than my 2009 15" MBP can pump out. I'm waiting for the iMac to be refreshed, but I'll be keeping my 15" MBP as well. I'll be putting an SSD into my MBP to help with battery life, and give it a speed bump and just run it until it wont run anymore. My iMac will be my primary machine and I'm going to use iCloud (or some other service) to sync all my "critical" docs that I might need to have with me if I'm out and about. Otherwise, the rest will stay on my iMac. If I end up needing one of those docs, then I can remote in with a service like Logmein and get the doc that way. Or, if I need to do something with that requires heavy processing power, then I can still log in remotely and do it on my iMac. The processing power stays on the iMac, not the MBP. I can also accomplish this with an iPad or iPhone, but using the remote apps on those devices have a little to be desired IMO.

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