Help me choose my future setup

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Dick Whitman, Nov 26, 2016.

  1. Dick Whitman, Nov 26, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2016

    Dick Whitman macrumors 6502

    Dick Whitman

    Oct 16, 2012
    I know this is a #firstworldproblem thread but I need help figuring out my setup. There are a lot of different options that I'm thinking about but I'm not really sure what I want to do yet.

    Right now I have a mid 2012 MacBook Air and an early 2009 iMac. Aside from very simple tasks, the iMac is basically unusable. In contrast, my MacBook Air is still going strong. Finally having a retina display would be awesome though I could very well keep my MacBook Air for another year or so.

    What I really want is a true desktop experience rather than always looking down at a laptop. I love the larger display of my iMac but because it's so old I can't really do much with it. I've thought about getting a 5K iMac but it's so expensive and I wouldn't be able to use it as a display for anything else (i.e. with my MacBook, PS4, Windows laptop for work, etc.). With a laptop and external monitor combo I would seem to have the best of both worlds. Of course I could keep my MacBook Air and get a 5K iMac but again it just doesn't seem to make much sense since I don't really need two computers.

    If I opt for purchasing an external monitor, would I want 4K or 1440p? What about one of two monitors and what size? 24" or 27"? What are some good recommendations? What about Dell's U2715H or P2715Q models? Is the new MacBook Pro without TouchBar capable of driving two 4K displays at 60Hz without seriously affecting performance? Is that even be a logical setup?

    To make things even more confusing I've also thought about switching back to Windows. I've been increasingly interested in information security and software engineering, and based on my limited understanding of these two areas, and the thought of ever going back to school, a Windows machine may be better suited for this purpose along with running Linux as an alternate OS. Is there any truth to this? Regardless, there are a lot of other benefits associated with switching back to Windows. One Windows device that I think is interesting is the Surface Pro 4 but the reviews are mostly mixed and I'm not sure it would be ideal as a primary machine.

    If I stay with Apple and decide to upgrade from my current MacBook Air, I would probably get either the 13" MacBook Pro without TouchBar or the 13" version with TouchBar. I finally tried the TouchBar tonight and while it seems kind of cool, $1800 also seems like a highly irresponsible purchase for a 13" laptop. I've also heard the criticism levied by some professionals that the lack of dedicated escape and function keys is unacceptable.

    TL/DR: What should I do? Keep my 2012 MBA and get a 5K iMac? Upgrade to a MBP with or without TouchBar and get one or two external monitors? Switch back to Windows?
  2. Bart Kela, Nov 27, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2016

    Bart Kela Suspended

    Bart Kela

    Oct 12, 2016
    I suggest you wait a year for your purchase since A.) you don't seem to know what you intend to do with the device, and B.) you are happy using your 2012 MacBook Air right now.

    You don't say what you do right now with your computers and your nebulously-expressed interest in "information security and software engineering" doesn't seem to indicate that your current MacBook Air would be severely taxed by anything you plan to do in the next year or two.

    Once you have a clearly established idea of what you plan to do with your system(s), your purchase decision making criteria will become more evident.

    Right now, you sound like some guy trying to figure out what car to buy because you might get serious about some chick you've gone out with twice.

    Figure out what you are going to do with your computer, then buy one. It's a tool, not a magic carpet to fortune and some nebulous dream job orbiting in your head.

    Good luck.
  3. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    It is, but I will say given what Apple did with the MBP, I'd say the iMac may very well get more expensive when they roll out the new generation in 2017.

    I've done that for years, (used a laptop with external monitor). I don't have specifics on what monitor will be the best.

    I struggled with this very topic, last year at this time. I opted for an iMac using the following logic.
    1. 5k iMac is pricey but when I priced out a 5k monitor from dell, it was 2k, throw in the computer and I'm looking at a 3k machine - way over my budget.
    2. While I use windows a lot, at work and home, I would miss OS X. To put it another way, with an iMac I can use both Windows and OS X. With a desktop computer, I would basically be tied to Windows, no OS X. (I've gone the hackintosh route before and I really don't want to do that again).
    3. For the cost of the iMac, I'm getting a gorgous machine that will hopefully fit my needs for years to come.

    I opted for the 5k iMac last November and I've been very happy with that decision. I know my experience doesn't mean you will have the same experience, but rather point out that you need to way all the pros and cons, such as not using OS X any longer if you go all in with Windows.
  4. Dick Whitman, Nov 28, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2016

    Dick Whitman thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dick Whitman

    Oct 16, 2012
    That's just it. I have no real purpose for a new computer other than wanting a better experience for the few basic tasks I perform on any given basis (e.g. browsing the web, checking email, watching youtube, etc.). My intention of upgrading is primarily for personal use, not business.

    I use my Windows laptop exclusively for work, as there are specific applications that I can access only through my organization's VPN, which is accessible only through the hardware provided by my employer. This is why an external monitor would probably be better suited for my purposes since I could replicate a full desktop experience, similar to what I have in the office, while teleworking.

    While I'm mostly satisfied with my job, I still have an interest in computer science and have often thought about going back to school. My earlier comment concerning this note stemmed from a desire to ensure that any configuration I decide on can also lend itself well to CS related functions, however vague those may be at this time. When I was an undergrad, the CS department at my school used Linux. Obviously installing Linux on a MacBook is possible, I'm just not sure if it's preferable over any other machine. This is the dilemma of purchasing a computer with the intention of keeping it for the next several years - trying to forecast future use cases scenarios so as to best future proof one's investment. Your assumption that my motive for wanting to think about this kind of stuff stemmed from juvenile or more superficial reasons was pretty ignorant though.
    --- Post Merged, Nov 28, 2016 ---
    Yeah that's something I'm worried about too. Given Apple's recent price gouging across the MBP line, they could very well do the same thing with the next refresh of the iMac. The buyer's guide says to hold off on the iMac at the moment, given the lack of any significant updates in some time now, but if it's anything like the MBP then it could be better to buy now.

    How did you like having an external monitor? Do you still have one or was it replaced by your 5K iMac? What resolution was your monitor? Do you know if Windows or Linux are able to run in 5K on the 5K iMac? This was an issue a while back. I'm not sure if it's since been fixed. Do you do any kind of light gaming on your iMac?

    I have no doubt that I would enjoy using a gorgeous 27" 5K display but I just feel like it's a steep price for what I perceive as being somewhat limited in functionality. For about $500 I can get a 4K monitor and use it with any of my devices.

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