Have unibody Macbook, considering iMac

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Tsubame, May 11, 2009.

  1. Tsubame macrumors newbie

    May 11, 2009
    So I recently purchased one of the new aluminum unibody Macbooks, absolutely love it, it's a beautiful piece of machinery.

    I've been considering one of the 24 inch desktop iMacs, for more graphic editing work and gaming (I have a Macbook, not a Macbook Pro). The Macbook has been... sufficient for my purposes, but I don't doubt that the iMac would be an improvement for when I am home. The screen real estate alone would be amazing.

    I'm wondering if anyone here has used both, and can advise me as to the wisdom of such a purchase. Is the improvement in performance that notable, or is it more minute and I'd be just as well off getting the Apple 24 inch display to tether my Macbook to. Is it really worth the cost, I'd be getting it in addition to the macbook, rather than replacing it, as I'd still like to keep the portability of my macbook available. (It's possible at someday I'd replace it with a MBA if they ever become cheaper with SSD, as I mainly want the laptop for portability, not performance).

    Any advice one way or the other would be great. I am sure I'd enjoy it greatly if I got it, like I have every Mac, but am wondering if the upgrade in performance would be noticeable enough to warrant it or not.
  2. Insulin Junkie macrumors 65816

    Insulin Junkie

    May 5, 2008
    Mainland Europe
    I have both. The iMac has a faster processor (up to 3.06Ghz), whereby you can choose if you'd like to have a nVidia or an ATI processor on the 24 inch model.
    You have these choices on the top-end model:

    * NVIDIA GeForce GT 130 graphics processor with 512MB of GDDR3 memory
    * ATI Radeon HD 4850 graphics processor with 512MB of GDDR3 memory

    Basically you can customize your iMac to be a more powerful machine than the macbook is, though if you're thinking of getting the base-end iMac the only thing it'll have over the macbook is the higher clock rate.

    I have a 2.0 macbook and it handles graphics programs I run on it fine (Adobe Creative Studio, Aperture 2, Final Cut Express), 'fine' would probably turn into 'almost perfectly' if I upgraded it to 4 gigs of ram.

    You asked if the difference is notable - on my iMac it isn't, because it's the base end model. Get a more expensive model, and the difference will likely be more notable. The question is do you wanna spend that much money on it.

    Can't tell you about the gaming, but honestly, I don't game on my macs, I have a PC for that.

    The decision is yours.
  3. iBadger macrumors member

    Apr 20, 2009
    I was thinking about doing the same thing, I currently own a 2.0 Unibody Macbook. I like my MB for the portability but i want something with more screen size when i'm home. I like the iMac 24" 2.93, I might hold off until the release of snow leopard to pick one up. If I couldn't wait I was going to pick it up refurbished(1549) but it is no longer listed as of today:(
  4. neil1980 macrumors 6502

    Nov 1, 2008
    Same boat too...

    Have the 2.4 Unibody and tempted by a 24" imac.

    Starting to get more into photography and think it may be beneficial to go that route but im pretty sure even if I got one 95% of what I do will be on the macbook so I'm kind of shying away from one but if I heard that they really were that much better id probably splash the cash.
  5. arjen92 macrumors 65816


    Sep 9, 2008
    Below sea level
    I have an 1 year old iMac 24" (just look down, it's stated there). I played cryses on the highest settings (without anti-aliasing). And my model is older. I would get another screen than the apple 24" screen (in case you won't buy the iMac). You said you do graphical stuff. You need color correct screen for that. Without glimmering.
    And if you don't buy the macbook, but still wanna game, buy an xbox. It's only 150 euro (here). But a full game pc. (way cheaper than the ps3)
  6. zodiacyborgx macrumors newbie

    Apr 30, 2009
    I've got a MacBook Pro/iMac combo and to be perfectly honest, I think they perform side by side.

    I did buy some non-Apple RAM and boosted my iMac to 4GB, because the paltry 1GB that came with it (my iMac's about a year and half old now, I think) wasn't cutting it for video editing.

    Now, it handles Final Cut Pro, DVD Studio and After Effects simultaneously pretty damn good enough for my needs, as long as I'm not rendering in each program at the same time. lol

    Any work that I'm doing in CS3 runs pretty flawlessly, so I'd say you could get away with a low-end iMac with an aftermarket RAM upgrade, but that's at the sacrifice of a slower processor, which will get annoying in a few years. So it really comes down to that.
  7. scubasteve03 macrumors regular

    Dec 16, 2008
    Tulsa, OK
    Here's my setup.....

    I have the the 2.4 MB alu with the dell 2409w which is working perfectly. I use it in clamshell mode with the alum. Bluetooth keyboard and the logitech air mouse. I upgraded it to the WD Blue 500gb and 4gb of ram. The upgrade cost $140 through newegg. I got the dell for $199 brand new from their website. It's sleek and works wonderful with the MDP to DVI. I have the Bose Companion 5 series. I was in the same boat as you, but this has been able to make a similar iMac experience. I will post pics when I get home today. The MB is out of sight. I play COD 4 at 1920x1080 on med settings with no visible lag. I do leave the MacBook lid open when gaming so it doesn't melt LOL. If you have any questions let me know. My battery is almost dead. Hope this helps. Take care
  8. Tsubame thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 11, 2009
    Thanks for the advice, gaming is really a secondary concern for me as I already have a PS3 (So no huge need to get a 360 either), but there are a few things I like to play that are only available on computers, and my Macbook is lacking a little bit in that department. It works, but it could work better. Same goes for the work I do in CS3 and Aperture, it most certainly handles it fine (and it is an AMAZING upgrade over my old Black Macbook, it's like night and day).

    The biggest concern has been some increased graphical power, screen real estate, and general compactness without having to attach a lot of peripheral devices to my Macbook. The advice here seems pretty split, and I am sure I will be pretty happy either way (new computer or saving a lot of money), I'm just curious if anyone else has some personal input on the matter.

    If I did get one of the iMacs, I'd probably get one of the two higher end models as a refurb, as the increased graphical performance is one of the biggest selling points to me. Does anyone have any really good statistics of how the ATI and nvidia perform? Is the ATI a noticeable increase in real world scenarios? I generally find real-world > benchmark tests.

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