First Mac: iMac or rMBP?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Barnso, Nov 20, 2013.

  1. Barnso macrumors newbie

    Nov 20, 2013
    Hi guys,
    I stopped just reading and putting my first post in here...
    All right now. Finally I decided to go for it and plan on my first MAC :apple: ever. Like a lot of people it all started with the iPhone, followed by the iPad and a never experienced satisfaction with the devices.
    What I currently think about is iMac or rMBP. I know it is all about portability but that is something that might be adjusted with the device. What do I mean with that? Since over 10 years I didn’t own a desktop. But to be honest since 5 years or so the only portability I need is between desk, couch and maybe the dinner table. It is nice but not killer criteria.
    If I go somewhere I have my iPad. That is pretty much doing everything I need on the road except backing up my photos and doing a first selection on them.
    What do I want to do with it? Besides the usual which is Office stuff and the internets I want to work on Photos. I am no professional but passionate amateur. So I might try Aperture or use some Lightroom and/or some Photoshop on it. Maybe some holiday videos as well but nothing too fancy. iMovie should do the trick on software side I’m hoping.

    Now to the contestants:
    In the red corner the iMac. I think the 27 will be a bit too much for my desk although I like the space you have to work on it. So 21 is more my option. First real choice is: RAM upgrade? Next is SSD or the Fusion?
    In the blue corner is the 15 rMBP. Here are basically the same questions: RAM upgrade? Is 8 ok or should I go for 16? Is 256 SSD ok for normal use if I put music, movies and photos on a NAS? Or go for 512? I need a windows partition as well.
    Currently there are pretty good offers for early 2013 rMBP in the refurb store, somewhere between 19 and 25% off the original price.
    Now please help me. Is 15” enough for photos when it is retina?
    What I want to know is what is really “needed” to be good for about 3 years or so without totally stretching my budget? I could buy a total monster without ever getting close to using the power it offers and wasting money. Or I can save on the wrong end and be unsatisfied with a potentially great product due to my own stupidity…
    I hope you can help me simplify my choice.
  2. Weerez935 macrumors regular

    Dec 13, 2012
    If you have an ipad and portability is mainly to the couch I would get the imac. I find 256 ssd is plenty for my pictures, music and applications. I keep essays and documents in the cloud mainly.
    For my movies I currently use an external hard drive. There is an option in iTunes to not add things to the iTunes media folder automatically so you can leave music on the laptop and movies on the external hdd.

    With that said I believe the ram on the 21.5 is upgradeable but it's difficult. Owc has guides on how to do it. I would get the 256ssd, attach a large capacity drive (USB 3), and install osx server. An imac can work as a media center / nas that way and I think you'll find it easier to load your pictures in iphoto, movies in iTunes, etc and push them to the ipad. I would go that route if I could. However I have to take a laptop to class because an ipad can't run flash that the web apps we take our tests on use. It's also easier to type on.

    My setup is about to change but this is how I will use mine:

    Apple TV
    Rmbp (16gb, 2.4 i5, 256ssd) 13"
    Synology ds214play

    I'll run a plex server streaming to the roku for ripped dvds and time machine backups to the synology. If I didn't have to have a laptop I would get the imac and get rid of the synology.
  3. trevm999 macrumors member

    Nov 5, 2013
    Go for the iMac. You have a lot less chance of liquid damage or broken screen that way. It will last you longer.

    I agree that the 27" is quite big, but the RAM is easy to upgrade in it. It is a pain to upgrade in the 21.5" The display has to be taken off. Technically the logic board has to be removed, but it is possible to do it without removing the logic board. Therefore, I would recommend buying on with 16GB to be safe. I have never experienced the Fusion drive in action. It sounds pretty cool, but I'd bet just a SSD is still faster. However, the fusion drive is probably a better option that going the external hard drive route. You can't backup an external hard drive with time machine, so you would either need a external with two hard drives configured to mirror each other, or you would need to manually back it up to another external hard drive using something like carbon copy cloner.
  4. Barnso thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 20, 2013
    My planned setup is a Synology NAS backed up again via a external USB3. So that is for my data loss paranoia. If I loose a single photo I go ballistic :D
    Also my wife is still not as convinced as I am and wants to stay with windows. Having most data on the NAS will make the file transfers easier if needed between the mac and PC.
    speaking of data loss paranoia I might add another external just for time mashine....
    My first Idea was really what you told me: Take the iMac, use the iPad for mobile needs and thats it. :apple:

    Now 2 of my colleagues bought rMBPs and are non stop talking about the "most beautiful screen they ever looked at". Hearing that - and having thinking of editing photos on the couch once or twice a year :rolleyes: - I change my mind hourly.
    Are there any photographers out there that use the 15" rMBP as the main device? maybe even some that downgraded from bigger screens and love the smaller ones?
  5. Barnso thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 20, 2013
    Hi guys,
    Things changed. The wife wants the couch option. :)
    So the question now is: which 15"rMBP is the way to go? Refurbished is what I am planning on but speaking of ram, processor and ssd size, what is the perfect middle way between power, future proof and budget friendliness?
  6. raniel macrumors regular


    Jan 2, 2011
    just get the highest spec'd pro you can afford. and an applecare for it

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