"Desktop era over - get a laptop and an external monitor instead…" - NO! Here's why:

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Mister Bumbo, Aug 2, 2012.

  1. Mister Bumbo macrumors 6502

    Apr 30, 2012
    There's been a lot of discussions and debates in numerous threads the last couple of weeks about the desktop computer being a dead end evolutionary and that laptops now are the way to go and the future of computers (and Apple), and frankly a laptop is so much better, not because it's a laptop per say, but as a computer overall. I'd like to point out some objective and personal points that sheds some light on why this to most of us isn't true, and have a discussion of desktops vs. laptops that takes up more than performance vs. cost.

    Why an iMac would be a better choice if your intention is using a computer at a desktop:

    - Bigger screen. Let's take the obvious first. An iMac has a much bigger screen, which to most people is vital for their work. And yes - you can hook up an external one, but that still leaves you with a laptop screen, that might be of little use, and you can't turn off. (Also, part of the price is for the screen)

    - Screen placement(s). When faced with different sized screen it's harder to position them well if you intend to use both, but also if you intend to use only the external (think placing a Mac Mini vs. a MacBook.). And if you need more than one external monitor it becomes just silly.

    - Clutter.
    If hooking up a laptop to a monitor, you are left with a laptop standing there also, and if you have no or little use for the screen, it could just as well be integrated behind your big monitor - oh look at that! Hello iMac!

    - More clutter. It's harder to hook things up to a laptop in a neat way compared to the iMac. On a laptop it all goes on the sides, on the iMac - barely seen on the back. (Side note: this is something that Apple has focused on in the past, dating back to the white iMac design, and been proud of and used it as a selling point and still does)

    - Ports.
    An iMac or any desktop computer for that matter come with more ports than any laptop. I realize there's enough ports for most people, but personally I always have 4+ things connected via USB, this wouldn't be possible on a laptop, especially not if the USB devices require a lot of power (not sure how this would work now with USB 3.0, but for sake of argument, let's keep this about USB 2.0). Also - ethernet ports are disappearing from laptops, and I'd like to keep my computer wired for numerous reasons.

    - Keyboard. Full sized keyboards are favorable for most things, many people use a great deal more on keyboards than the part that comes with laptops. I couldn't get by without the numpad, and yes I know there's add-ons and software for the touch pad to get around that, but why do that when there's a perfect solution already - a full sized keyboard. And even if some people don't care about the size or type of keyboard, there's the placement of it.

    - Peripherals placement.
    For extended periods of time working at a computer, the laptop will not win many prices for it's ergonomics. Most users, if using an external monitor and the laptop as a desktop substitute, will use an external keyboard, but then again.. why did I pay for an integrated keyboard if I'm not gonna use it? It's not practical to use the laptop's keyboard if you have an external monitor connected, period. The same things applies to the touchpad, external touch pads, wireless or wired mice and other doo-das.

    - Paying for portability. Can't make it any clearer than that really on this point. Part of the price of a laptop is the portability, you sacrifice this portability not only for money, but also for things mentioned above, and also for performance.

    - Performance and components. Desktops and laptops does not use the same components. Okay… well.. the iMac uses mobile graphic cards, but we all know the reason for that, it's an all-in-one, takes less power, less heat. Graphics aside (even though the mobile ones in the iMac are still better than the ones in laptops), a desktop have better processors, desktop processors, and other components that yield more computer power, and faster computer power.

    - Noise level. Power = Heat = Noise… well, almost. Desktop computers have more power, which generates more heat, which should generate more noise compared to a laptop faced with the same task. Desktops, iMacs especially, have more sophisticated cooling systems for it's form factor, and will run cooler and quieter, it's not as much as a compromise as it is for laptops.

    - Longevity and aimed usage.
    Laptops aren't work horses, neither are iMacs compared to Mac Pro's, but more so than laptops. Laptops are astonishingly well designed and have high performance today - yes, but heavy tasks will tear on a laptop more easily than on a desktop. iMacs might not be the perfect comparison on this point, but there's still a difference.

    - Laptop components aren't designed to be used as desktop substitutes.
    The components of a laptop aren't designed nor powerful enough to be as good as a desktop when hooked up to one or more external monitors. The laptop works best when it's used as a laptop. It's best at what it's designed for.

    These are some of the things I think about when reading the desktop is dead and that laptops are just as good. Some people seem to view the entire world of computers as just that – computers, and that the computer started off as a huge machine that evolved into a desktop machine, and then later into a laptop. In my mind there was a crossroads long ago that separates computers into desktops and laptops, check how any store categorizes it's computers to see they think the same way. On this point I really don't think there's much room for having an opinion, it's fact that the computer comes in different shapes and configurations and that the computer is not just one thing that is evolving. I'm even surprised to see that iPads and other tablets are considered PC's, as if they could some day replace all current desktops and laptops.

    Everyone does not need portability, and most of us are not ready to sacrifice money, performance, ergonomics, longevity, noise level or our carefully planned cable logistics for a computer that at the end of the day is far from the optimal solution, when there is a better one out there. Apple might put it's money on portable devices, but the desktop era will probably never end and desktops are far from dead... if anything, tablets might kill laptops. ;)
  2. PhoenixMac, Aug 2, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 6, 2012

    PhoenixMac macrumors 65816

    Mar 7, 2010
    Bigger screen? The thunderbolt display is the same size and you can turn off the laptop screen by running it in clamshell.

    Screen placement not an issue as you can turn off said laptop screen.

    Clutter? They have stands that will hold the laptop so it takes up less real estate on your desk and a rmbp connected to a TBD can use only 2 cords thunderbolt and mag safe adapter.

    The thunderbolt display has ports and you could use the laptops ports as well basically doubling them.

    You can buy another keyboard to use when not using the laptop and only the external monitor. You pay for the integrated keyboard to use it when traveling.

    Yes you pay for it being portable, but isn't that why we buy them? To be able to use them where we want.

    The current MBPs are comparable to the iMac in specs so moot point.

    Current MBPs aren't that loud until using intense apps.

    The MBP is just as good as the iMac when hooked up to an external monitor so bad comparison would be better off using a real desktop and not an all-in-one.

    Sure it may cost more when you add in an external but if something breaks on the iMac your without a computer whereas if the external monitor goes out you can still work.

    Also one great advantage of having a laptop is you can have an external at work and at home so you can always have your information with you.
  3. driftless macrumors 65816


    Sep 2, 2011
    Or, you can have both an iMac/Mac Pro and (r)/MBP.
  4. Icaras macrumors 603


    Mar 18, 2008
    California, United States
    Clutter? Say hello to Twelvesouth Backpack 2:


    Two cables: one to Macbook Air, one to power. Done. And you can't even see the Air ;)

    And even if you get a MBP, you can get a vertical stand and have it sit quietly behind the display.
  5. Timhet macrumors newbie

    Nov 14, 2010
    I agree with the OP.

    Mobiles are great for when you are 'on the go'.

    However, if you do serious work that requires your full concentration (eg, photo editing, video editing, audio engineering to name a few), then there is a case for having a regular desktop.

    I need a Desktop for my concentrated work and I need a mobile device (smart phone, tablet) for when I'm 'on the go'.

    I don't really have a need for a laptop.
  6. driftless macrumors 65816


    Sep 2, 2011
    There is a market for all. Airs for the students, Mac Pros for the pros. iMacs and MBP's in their various configurations for both.
  7. RustyMacVet macrumors member

    Jul 26, 2012
    I think we are a far ways away from the laptop replacing the desktop. I think the OP was correct it's more likely for tablets to replace laptops.

    I wish Apple would make the iPad better though, I'm not a big fan of iOS. I don't like how it's just a grid of icons, there's no personality.
  8. rotorblade69 macrumors regular

    Jul 1, 2006
    North West Georgia
    You forgot one thing.
    Price for what you get.

    The desktop is generally cheaper component per component. Laptops requiring more compact and lighter energy efficient packaged components. That costs money. Where as a desktop has some extra space.
    Look at what you get in an iMac for the price vs. what you get in an equivalent type components in a MBP.

    I look forward to the new iMac or even a refreshed iMac. Look at the rMBP and then imagine what the next iMac will have performance wise. The rMBP is on the ragged edge of what the tech can do and what the space allows.
    Now imagine that in a 21 or 24 display sized iMac. More space for components that aren't limited to the energy efficiency thermal envelope of a rMBP.
    The more I think about it the more I think a retina iMac is coming. Other than the display the problem is the processor graphics not the display. If they can make it work in a notebook then making it work in a iMac is easier to deal with other than the display. Although I don't see it being a 27" version I see the riMac being a 21" - 24"display size.

    The desktop is not going anywhere. Period end of story.
  9. iSayuSay macrumors 68040


    Feb 6, 2011
    For me, there still two at least two main reasons in which notebook still can't replace a desktop.

    1. Upgradeability: (Unless it's an iMac) .. Same old story, I can always partially upgrade my desktop tower instead of buy a new box. You don't find something like GTX680/690 or Radeon 7970 in a laptop. Up until now, mobility GPUs still perform much much slower than comparable desktop version. Even mobile CPUs perform differently with desktop in long term of heavy loading. There simply unlimited resources (cooling, CPU/GPU TDP, RAID HDD) for a desktop.

    While desktop does not have power limit (you can always chunk 1200 watt PSU in there) laptop will always have to compromise for power saving & portability sake.

    2. Efficiency: Desktop is a fixed station, most of the time you can always sit, turn on, and enjoy using a desktop. Occasionally of course you'll need to plug in some external devices, but not too often and won't be as many as notebook.

    With a laptop, assuming you use it often as on-the-go machine (seriously, you should!). You'll need to replug the WHOLE cables and docking when you're home. MagSafe/charger, USB externals, just more and more cables.

    Now you may argue you can plug a notebook on something like Thunderbolt Display, two cables in and you're good to go? Oh right, you still don't have audio out with the display (you don't want to use built-in ATD speaker), so it's 3 cables :D .. It may sounds lazy, but come on, would you do it once or twice a day?

    And one last thing; Price! It's not new that you pay premium on a notebook for one thing, portability. It doesn't make your machine works any better, but it's just something you have to pay extra. And many people bought a laptop only to realize their machine stays on the table 99% of the time. Such.A.Waste.

    Again, it's just like bicycle vs. cars. It's nice to have both, but still, if I have to choose one, I'd rather get a car anyday.
  10. harcosparky macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    I have had desktop with external monitors ( G5 Powermac )

    I have had Macbook Pro's with external displays ( 17" i7 MBP )

    And ........

    I have have iMac 27" , 3,4 Ghz i7

    There is no way I would go back to anything with an external monitor except maybe the 27" iMac and a second monitor.
  11. Kanunu macrumors 6502

    Apr 18, 2009
    Case for Samsung

    Funny that you should say this when Apple is suing Samsung all over the world for copying that "grid of icons." Personally I do not think the iPad will replace laptops unless Apple devises a way for users to directly access the file structure the way Android does. I have an iMac and an iPad2 but there are times that I wished I had a notebook.
  12. RustyMacVet macrumors member

    Jul 26, 2012
    I'm not sure if Samsung is using the icon grid on their tablets, but the grid works excellently on cell phones. I have no problems with the phones having it, but I expect a tablet to be something more than a giant iPod.

    I agree with accessing file structure, but I think another big thing is being able to type on a tablet. The screen sucks as a keyboard, you just can't beat physical keys.
  13. 7enderbender macrumors 6502a


    May 11, 2012
    North East US
    I would consider this but the shiny iMac screen is simply not an option. So for my upcoming desktop solution there are three options:

    1) Go the Mac Book Pro (15" matte) route with an external non-Apple monitor
    2) Get a tricked out Mac Mini with one or two NEC monitors (or similar)
    3) Get a used Mac Pro and above monitors

    If Apple finally comes out with an iMac that has a workable screen of higher quality and easier access to its drives I might reconsider, but that's unlikely.

    I'm leaning towards option #2 for my switch from the Windows world. Seems to be the best bang for the buck and should be good enough for what I need (Cubase, Photoshop, Lightroom, Office).
  14. driftless macrumors 65816


    Sep 2, 2011
    Mac Mini's are not pro not prosumer tools, they are little boy's tools.
  15. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    The op has so many points that aren't applicable, not sure how to begin
  16. applefiend95 macrumors regular

    Jan 25, 2012
    i too agree on this matter. when i'm on the go, i use my iPad for simple word processing, keynote, prezi and games. i have a laptop for main usage and let me tell you, video editing on a 15" is pain; furthermore, i am doing some website development and the bigger the screen the better. on this note, i don't see the need for a laptop if one has a tablet; the reason one buys a tablet is to get more portability than the laptop. as soon as the iMacs are refreshed, my main computer will be an iMac and i will still use my iPad for "on the go" purposes. i would prefer the Mac Pro but i simply do not have that kind of space and the iMac will do all of my work perfectly.


    what is the point if you can have an iMac for main purpose and use an iPad for mobile usage? although the iPad does not cut out to match the MBPs but that is the purpose of the tablet, more portability than laptop.....
  17. 12dylan34, Aug 2, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2012

    12dylan34 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2009
    Why the iMac appeals to me over a laptop:
    • Bigger screen size included in price.
    • Better value: a huge high quality display and superior performance (2012 gen expected) for a lower price.
    • Better graphics card.

    These are some great reasons, but the only that I could think of for why I want an iMac instead of another MBP.
  18. Icaras macrumors 603


    Mar 18, 2008
    California, United States
    Who said anything about an iPad?

    I assumed the discussion is based on someone needing OSX on the go, and not iOS.
  19. Johnf1285, Aug 2, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2012

    Johnf1285 macrumors 6502a


    Dec 25, 2010
    New Jersey
    At my place of work we all use desktops for obvious reasons. It's an office of about 70 people. They're all Dell desktops not laptops. We aren't going mobile so a laptop isn't necessary.

    Desktops aren't dead. Take one step into the enterprise market and you can see why.

    Hooking a laptop up to a screen is plain awful. Everyone who says it isn't is a liar. It straight sucks because if you're hooking up a laptop to a screen chances are you're also connecting an additional mouse and keyboard. So now you have two mice and keyboards, two displays (one built into your other keyboard and mouse),, and a computer that utilizes batteries, staying stationary on your desk.

    Anyhow, I'm rambling, but i just don't see the benefit in forcing a mobile computer into being a desktop.
  20. DisMyMac macrumors 65816


    Sep 30, 2009
    I wish all companies would perfect what they sell before moving on. The competition for features only yields bloat and poor quality. Apple thinks I want a car, not a faster horse. That's true if the car is a modern Toyota.

    I don't want a Model-T. A good horse is better.
  21. Swordylove macrumors 6502a


    Apr 23, 2012
    Wow... that's just silly.

    If I want a desktop, I get a desktop. If I want a laptop, I get a laptop. If I want both, I get both. End of story.
  22. Lancer macrumors 68020


    Jul 22, 2002
    I agree with the first post on most things. Yes you can get stands and such to push the MBP/MBA out of the way but the killer for me is cost. The Apple 27" LCD is almost as much as a base model iMac, then you have $2k to get a decent MBP/MBA. So unless I need portability I'll still with a desktop and can't wait for the new iMac to come out.:apple:
  23. Nova Sensei macrumors 6502

    Feb 26, 2012
    For me an external monitor is better because I can also connect a console, a TV tuner and now an Apple TV so I can use mirroring and not even have to connect the Air to the monitor.

    Everyone has different needs - there's no fight to be had here.
  24. davidcmc macrumors 6502

    Nov 5, 2009
    Just one phrase: the iMac isn't a real desktop, it never was and seems that never will be.

    Do you want a real desktop (more performance, lower price)? Buy your spare parts on NewEgg and assemble a decent PC.

    Mac Pros miss the "lower price" factor, but they're pretty decent and real desktops.

    iMacs are like a giant notebook with a desktop CPU, but that alone doesn't make them a real desktop.
    It's a joke the pain it takes for you to just change the HD of an iMac.
  25. Reaktor5 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 12, 2007
    New Hampshire, USA
    The iMac is somewhere between consumer/prosumer depending on the SKU you get. Consumers don't change the HD of their computer. They get the amount of space when they buy and live with it. The more tech-savvy person might upgrade but the average consumer will not. And prosumers are working off external hard drives anyway so the OS drive doesn't matter as much. In fact, I haven't even upgraded my 250 GB HD in my MacBook Pro despite how easy it would be.

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