Getting a 21.5 iMac soon + MBP around christmas, need advice

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Arcadia310, Aug 16, 2010.

  1. Arcadia310 macrumors regular

    Aug 16, 2010
    I'm getting a 21.5 iMac soon to replace my current home desktop. This thing is horrible, just starting up the computer and waiting for everything to load takes like 10 minutes. Anyways, I went to the Apple store today and checked everything out. I've been wanting a laptop as I am heading into my first semester of college this fall but I'll probably have to wait until christmas for that. I'm getting a 21.5 inch iMac soon but was wondering which model to get.

    I'm a big guy about graphics. I won't be playing any games on my new mac, but when I can see pixels or blurry details it really pops out. In the store I compared different models of computers, laptops and desktops alike. The highest end models definitely looked clearer than the lower end models. Should I get the lower end 21.5 model or the higher end 21.5 model? Will the extra speed and graphics processor even be noticeable?

    Also I plan on getting my MBP around christmas. I read a few topics and saw people talking about upgrading to high res screens. How do you do this? I see no options about this on the apple website, and knew nothing about this when I went to the apple store. Like I said earlier, I compared different models and could quickly see that the lower end models looked less vibrant and details looked very blurry. I can't stand that. Explain how to upgrade to high res screens and how much it costs.

    I have a Samsung Vibrant android phone and the screen on this thing is amazing, looks a lot better than the iPhone 4's retina display. I was sort of let down by how Apple hyped it up but my Samsungs super amoled screen looks noticeably better. I also play games on my PS3 on an HDTV so I notice small graphical details.

    Thanks for any advice! :D I can't wait to replace my current desktop.

    Also, what software do the iMacs come with? Will I have to pay extra for things like iMovie, or Microsoft Office?
  2. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    The GPU does not make the image any clearer, it's the resolution and what content you are viewing. If you really saw a difference in-store, then your mind was playing with you, because there should not be any difference. Your mind just said get the more expensive model.

    You can upgrade to the hi res screen from the online Apple Store, just select the 15" MBP and there will be an option for hi res glossy and hi res antiglare.

  3. bigmikeyp macrumors regular


    Oct 9, 2006
    Manchester, UK
    If it's not gaming, what will you be doing? Anything remotely intensive e.g. encoding/rendering etc? If you want it for standard browsing, iTunes, iPhoto then save yourself some money and go for the entry level 3.06GHz i3. It comes with 4GB 1333MHz RAM which will be enough for generic tasks. The only downside to this is that you may find the HDD at 500GB is too small; personally for me I want the 1TB (and a bit more performance for gaming) hence I will stump up for the 3.2GHz i3 model.

    Sorry but 'very blurry'? Actually blurry..? As the previous post says, I think it may be your mind subconsciously giving you the perception that the lower end model is inferior somehow.

    Software such as iMovie has been covered already in the other post. If you are after productivity software, such as Microsoft Office or Apple's own iWork, then these are extra and are not included.

    I hope you get sorted and are happy with your purchase :)
  4. Spike88 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2010
    For Mac selection criteria, do focus on:

    - Physical screen size. Some desks are limited to smaller size screens and some desks allow larger size screens. My desk with over head hutch forced me down to 21.5" screen. re: iMac system/After-1.jpg

    - Needed internals. As mentioned above, do take your HD size (for data storage) and bottom end CPU Power into consideration.

    - Other attachments? Do take your backup and printing needs into consideration as well. For example, will you have FW800 "direct connected" Backup HD or perhaps a wireless soluton? Going with wireless or physically connected printer as well? What extra desk space is needed for these items?

    - Future usage? Take future usage into consideration as well. If you plan to keep this iMac for say 4 years, do take your total time usage into consideration. If into gaming on year 4 or into large amounts of data encoding, then get faster machine (like i5 CPU) as well. Might be over-kill for the first 2 years but will be better fit for years 3 & 4.

    - Future "feature" needs? I read about a few folks "using what they have" and plan to purchase next iMac model. Next iMac will probably have USB 3.0 technology. And, their iMac screens might be better by then as well. And, the smaller 21.5" size might have the i7 CPU. Thus, much more power in the smaller size screen. If wondering, iMac systems seem to have "power inscreased" every 8 months. They might have some 21.5" i7s with USB 3.0 this Christmas or soon after. Only time will tell...

    - Security? One future college student wanted an iMac but is now considering only "portable" MBP with attached external his-res large monitor. When "visiting home" and physical security is a concern, they simply unplug their MBP and take with them. Or, lock it down in a college area security locker. It's very cumberson to move an iMac around (to lock it down - while away).

    Hope these other things to consider help as well..

  5. SiMBa37 macrumors regular

    Jul 5, 2010
    New York
    Any particular reason why you need an iMac and a MacBook Pro? For example, do your classes require you to have a well spec notebook to do in class assignments?

    Ever consider getting a well upgraded iMac and an iPad instead? Didn't think much of the iPad until I got one for my wife, and wow, I'm just blown away. I hardly pick up my netbook as its so much easier to do my light websurfing, emailing and what not on the iPad. I know I've read some posts by MRF users who are in college that use the iPad in class to take notes.

    Not sure what your needs are but keep it in mind.
  6. Arcadia310 thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 16, 2010
    Didn't these new iMacs come out? I will be a little mad if Apple releases an i7 Core 21.5 inch this year.

    I will be using this computer moderately. I do a good amount of web surfing, watch a good amount of videos, text document editing, emailing, downloading music etc all the basic stuff. I also plan to learn how to use iMovie and get my Youtube channel back up. If there is any other cool software on the computer I will delve into it and learn how to use it. If it was just for my dad he would be perfectly fine with the base model for years to come, I may need a little extra computing power eventually. I may see what he says about the $1499.99 model.

    I start college soon and I plan to really get into gear. I really want a laptop for convenience (incase I go out of town or travel) and to be able to do my school work away from home. It's hard for me to study at home because I have so many distractions (friends coming over, video games, tv etc). I could probably fare with an iPad but I'm the kind of guy who needs a physical keyboard. I recently bought a new phone (Samsung Vibrant) from a MyTouch Slide which had a keyboard, now I know how much a physical keyboard can come in handy. I do see how an iPad could be better for me though.

    I probably over stated by saying very blurry, but there is a difference when you look at an iMac and a Mac Book Air, or Macbook. The screens aren't as bright, colors don't pop off as much. I can notice things like graphical differences very easily. I'm a phone enthusiast (always researching and buying the newest phones that come out) and used to be a (for lack of a better word) "hardcore" gamer. Sure, the casual soccer mom who walks into Apple and will buy her product based off of how pretty it is wouldn't notice, but I DO.

    Also, is 500GB really that small? My current PC has an 80GB drive and has been good for the past 6 years.
  7. Spike88 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2010
    Yes. Videos / movies "love" chewing up disk space. If into movies / videos, I would get the 1 TB HD model (as minimum).

    If wondering, I bought the 21.5" i3 - 3.2 GHZ model with 1 TB drive. If deep into movies (like you plan to), I'd get the iMac 21.5" - i5 CPU. Yes, the i3 - 3.2 GHZ processor runs idle for typical home user tasks (re: email, U-tube watching, surfing, pages, etc.). But the i5 will do better with DVD burning, video encoding and higher end multi-media tasks. Especially in your years 2 - 4 of college life. For now (for your needs/wants - that is deeper into movies / video), I'd probably order base 21.5" i5 CPU 4 GB memory with 1 TB HD NOW and after 1st year of college, upgrade to full 8 GB of memory. Buy more RAM 3rd party at 1/2 the cost (compared to Apple online store).

    Good luck...

  8. bigmikeyp macrumors regular


    Oct 9, 2006
    Manchester, UK
    Yes your right, the iMac range has recently been updated, but that's the way it goes. Technology is constantly moving and updates to product lines occur, so it is advisable to buy what you feel you will need now and also in the future.

    In terms of the iMac, I think you have just answered your own question. For now, I myself could probably make do with the entry-level, but I'll be going for the 3.2GHz iMac just to give me that little bit more.

    You seem to sound like you would appreciate a Macbook Pro more - especially if you identify that you get easily distracted at home. If that's the case, I think it'd be worthwhile going down the notebook path; surely grades will be important, and to get the grades you'll need to concentrate ;)

    In terms of HDD storage, it sounds like 500GB would be fine for you then. Once you have a large iTunes library, some games and a load of video content, it can soon add up. Somebody here in the office has something in the range of 20TB worth of storage in total (and I'm sure there are people on these very forums who will confess to having something similar :p)

    As has been asked before, do you really need both an iMac and a Macbook Pro? It seems like you first and foremost need to decide if you actually want an iMac or Macbook Pro. Do you really need portability? (iMac) or Do you feel you would be able to do your college work to a higher standard away from home as you get distracted too easily when working at home on a desktop? (Macbook Pro).

    If you then went down the portability route, the Macbook Pro's still offer really strong performance and will serve you excellently for what you have stated as your usage.

    Either way, don't forget the Back to School offers at the moment i.e. iPod Touch rebate.
  9. Sammy Cat macrumors member

    Jul 28, 2010
    North America
    I agree that the higher end looks better. It could be possible that the resolution on the base model was not set to the native resolution making it look fuzzy. I noticed the same thing while at the Apple store, but was surprised when my lady's new base model iMac arrived. The screen was actually better than what was viewed in store. However, if you are super anal about resolution and clarity, get the 27" with 1GB VRAM. That I can say for 100% certainty has the type of clarity you are looking for. It is flawless.

    One thing that has not been mentioned often on these forums is that the base i3 and the upgraded i3 actually have different CD/DVD drives, with the upgraded i3 having a faster drive.

    The processor speed will not make much of a difference. The graphics card will make a big difference.

    You can only upgrade the resolution of the 15" MBP. It costs $100-$150 depending on whether or not you want the screen to remain glossy or be matte. Go to the store portion of Apple's website. Select one of the 15" MBP and it will show you the aforementioned options.

    iLife will come with iMovie, iPhoto, etc. You can purchase iWork for $50 which will be compatible with MS Office applications.

    If you were only going to get an i3, I would recommend the base model, especially if you are going to be using it to surf, make a movie now and then, and use office applications. The screen is ok. You will save yourself $300 and you will take a smaller loss on it when you go to sell it in the future.
  10. Arcadia310 thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 16, 2010
    As of right now no I don't. But as I get further into my studies and start taking more advanced courses I may want to stay away from home as much as possible to study and get peace of mind.

    The only reason I have to get an iMac is for my dad. We've been needing to replace our home desktop for over a year now. I told him we should go to the apple store. Man, he looked like a little kid in there. I told him Apple was the way to go but he seriously think because of the economy people aren't buying anything, he literally means that. We went into the store and it was jam packed, so many people in there buying new laptops and imacs. He felt like a fool lol. He really has no need for a laptop since he doesn't travel much or need computing usage on the go.

    It'll be hard to persuade him to get the higher end model, you wouldn't believe how tight he is with his money. Personally, if i'm going to invest into a product, I'm going to make sure it will run perfect for the next 3-4 years.

    I will probably just do with whatever iMac he wants, but when I get my MBP I'll get the 15 inch with he glossy screen and extra memory.
  11. bigmikeyp macrumors regular


    Oct 9, 2006
    Manchester, UK
    Ah right, I see now, accept my apologies!

    With that being the case, that sounds like a good idea. Stick to whichever model your Dad is happy with for home use, and then when it comes to your own personal MBP, get the higher spec with the screen and memory you want!

    Win win situation to me...:)
  12. argeleri macrumors newbie

    Aug 18, 2010
    If you don't need both computers, I would say get the MBP and buy the 27inch LED display thats coming out.

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