Confused about Macbook Pro or iMac (Ipad life?)

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by BaronSH, Mar 6, 2018.


What do you think?

  1. Keep the macbook pro and monitor (best of both worlds?)

    3 vote(s)
  2. Get an iMac 21.5 and return the monitor

    0 vote(s)
  3. Get an iMac 21.5 and return the monitor and sell the MBP.

    2 vote(s)
  1. BaronSH macrumors newbie

    Mar 6, 2018
    Hello all,

    I wanted your help, I have a 2017 macbook pro 13" which I've been using for a little while.

    I work fairly reactively and so macbook/phone/iPad tends to work best but I do have periods of fairly intense work and I find that being hunched over a 13" screen isn't really pleasant and is uncomfortable.

    I bought (literally today) the LG ultrafine 4k and hooked it up as an external display with a keyboard and magic trackpad, feels like a big improvement but has me thinking perhaps the right option would be the 21.5 iMac, I can get one with an SSD drive and 16GB of Ram which would certainly cover my needs.

    I primarily work from home but I could also move this to my office in the future. I do visit/work at clients but on the whole thats about having access to documents, not creating them there.

    I guess part of my thinking is for my work (not everyones) an iPad pro serves as a good enough machine and if this is my last mac for when I really need to work then why not get a dedicated machine for that.

    My work is a blend of excel, keynote and of course email and google docs etc.

    What do you all think, would it be crazy to return the (very expensive) monitor and get an iMac, possibly selling the macbook pro (cost ~£1700 new).

    Thoughts please
  2. Glmnet1 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2017
    For mostly reading documents on the road the iPad, even a regular one, would surely be good enough. I think you should sell the MBP, return the monitor and get an iMac.

    For the iMac I think you should consider the 27" and, if you can, go for a SSD. The extra space on the monitor is great for large spreadsheets and it comes with very good specs compared to the 4k for a small price difference. A 21.5" desktop monitor is very small by today's standards.

    Do not buy the HDD or even the 1TB fusion with the iMac, it's going to feel very slow.
  3. BaronSH thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 6, 2018
    Definitely agree on the SSD. I'm coming from using 13" inch laptops for the last 5 years so this 21.5" monitor feels very big already, I will look at the price/model differences between the 21.5 & 27.
  4. Panch0 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 23, 2010
    I think I would return the monitor and get a different one. The only thing I see going for that LG is that it essentially acts as a single cable docking station since it provides power to the MBP. That's nice, but 21.5" is still a small monitor.

    Take a look at something like the DELL U3417W - just don't buy it from Dell direct, it's usually about half the price on Amazon. This thing is great for spreadsheets - even without maximizing the app.

    There are also a ton of decent monitors in the 27" range that should be well within your budget, possibly even 2 of them.
  5. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    If you were starting from scratch, then an iMac + iPad Pro sounds like it would be worth considering.

    However, your current MBP + Display/dock is also an excellent solution to your needs, so I don't see any compelling reason to switch. One tip is to get an "elevator" stand so the MBP can sit next to the monitor and act as a second screen - handy for displaying reference material etc.

    Thing is, when you are on the road, although I can think of a few scenarios where an iPad would be an advantage, in general a MBP will do pretty much everything an iPad can do and a lot of things than an iPad can't - and while the iPad is super portable, the MBP is hardly a brick.

    My feeling about iPads is that they are great for handheld use, or specialist jobs like doing artwork with a Pencil, but as soon as you need to type or edit any amount of text the on-screen keyboard becomes a pain, and an iPad with a physical keyboard turns a great tablet into a second-rate laptop (e.g. saw this thread on my iPad - moved to my iMac to reply, having tried before to select and quote text on MacRumors using a touch screen... ugh...)

    I know which I'd rather edit a spreadsheet on.

    No need to worry about syncing, either - just unplug one cable from your MBP (those pesky USB-C ports have to be good for something) and go.

    If you're personally happy with using an iPad on the road, maybe look at the economics - how much you'd pay for an iMac, what the going second-hand rate for your MBP is and see what the sums look like.

    Oh, and seconding what others have said, if you do go iMac, have a look at the 27" and think how big a spreadsheet you could fit on that glorious 5k screen...
  6. dwig macrumors 6502a

    Jan 4, 2015
    Key West FL
    I agree with theluggage. You're current MBP + Monitor/keyboard/mouse gives good desktop-like functionality and allows for disconnecting the MBP for portability with absolutely no issues with syncing.
  7. BaronSH thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 6, 2018
    Thank you for your really well thought out reply!

    I do already have the iPad pro from last year and if I was to return the monitor and peripherals and sell the MBP I would be about £100-200 up.

    I do agree that it works well and definitely when you have to play with spreadsheets a MBP is preferable to an iPad.

    So Imagine I was starting with scratch and I have an iPad Pro..
  8. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    Well, starting from just an iPad, the iMac is going to be the best value option.

    However, I’m on my iPad now and, having tried and failed to select and reply to the last line of your post, I’d definitely pay the extra for a proper laptop + external display/keyboard, as long as I had the faintest whiff of a work-related need for something to use on the road. Beyond cosmetics and a bit of desk space, there’s no real downside to a MBP + display (you’re not doing anything that needs the extra horsepower of an iMac) and several upsides (see last post)... and you’ve got an iPad when you want it.

    But you are best placed to know how well you get on with an iPad as a work device. If you really do just need a “virtual portfolio” then maybe you don’t need a laptop.

    Personally, I’ve accumulated an iPad, an iMac and a venerable but still solid MacBook Pro. I find that they each have their own uses. Starting over from just an iPad I’d probably get a 5k iMac and a MacBook Air.
  9. BaronSH thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 6, 2018
    I think I agree with you, in an ideal world I'd go for the iMac and the 12" macbook.

    I really do find the 21.5" screen quite big so I'm not sold on the 27".

    Not sure if it's worth swapping it all out or just replacing the monitor with the iMac (not that expensive if the 21.5")
  10. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    If you travel and work with clients, it makes having a laptop computer (not an iPad, a COMPUTER) worthwhile.

    For home, get a 27" (NOT a 21") iMac. You will NEVER regret getting the larger display.

    A setup like this will serve you well at home, and serve you well on the road with clients.
    It's as simple as that.
  11. BaronSH thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 6, 2018

    You're probably right in that a macbook and an iMac is the ideal. But 27" is too big, I'm coming from a 13" and 21.5 is already plenty and the uplift in cost makes it a lot less worthwhile. (£300-£500)
  12. appleofmyibook macrumors regular


    May 31, 2016
    I work quite similarly to you but if you’re not doing processor intensive tasks like editing then there’s not a huge need to swap to the iMac. It would almost be a waste of money.

    I have my MBP docked a lot of the time and use my iPad Pro as my daily driver while I’m out doing some work. The advantage of the MBP is that there are some things, particularly Excel where the iPad Pro experience is inferior. Using multiple cells can mean you really tire out your arms. It’s finicky as well and a trackpad is a much better experience. This way you also have the option of taking out the MBP if you need to.

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