I'm an idiot, help me decide (MBP or iMac)

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Tyrion, Feb 27, 2011.

  1. Tyrion macrumors 6502a

    Oct 15, 2002
    I've been using MBPs/Powerbooks as my main computers for close to ten years. I've left the desktop world. Recently though, I've been contemplating the iMac - it's much better value for money than it was a few years ago, and I really don't need much mobility anymore, since I have an 11" Air. Still, I've gotten used to having a laptop-as-desktop. Anyway, I was pretty much set on buying a refreshed iMac (i. e. when the Thunderbolt/Sandy Bridge-refresh rolls around), but then the new MBPs were announced. I really wasn't expecting quad-cores (which was one of the main reasons I was even considering the iMac), and these things generally seem incredibly fast. Additionally, and perhaps most significantly, I could get a sizable discount on a new MBP (around 400$) if I buy it through my university - but only until the 6th of March. So, I'm not really sure what to do anymore. The 17" MBP has caught my eye and I just can't seem to decide. I've made up a list of pros and cons, but maybe you guys can help me out a bit...

    So, 17" MBP vs. 27" iMac (after the refresh):

    iMac pros:

    - gorgeous screen
    - historically (in the past 2-3 years) better performance than the MBP (after the iMac refresh, obviously)
    - cheaper than the MBP (though this is lessened somewhat by the discount I could get on the MBP)
    - SSD+HDD combination is possible (I'd definitely get that)
    - true desktop, no compromises

    iMac cons:

    - 27" might be overkill for my needs. I mostly work with documents (often side-by-side) and do some photo editing (not professionally though), and I think the 17"-screen would be perfect for that (confirm/deny?)
    - Gigantic size. No portability at all. Again, I've been using my MBP as a desktop replacement, but every once in a while it was nice to be able to watch movies on my bed or take it with me on vacation.
    - the SSD supplied by Apple will most likely suck. I'm not savvy/daring enough to attempt an aftermarket installation.
    - I'd definitely have to relearn some basic things, like operating a mouse :)D), since I'm so used to having an MBP as my main computer.

    MBP pros:

    - big rebate
    - I'm used to the size and feel of MBPs, everything would fall into place immediately. The footprint/weight would be perfect for my desk/room.
    - 17" might be the sweet-spot for my particular needs
    - can still use it as a portable if the need ever arises
    - can install an awesome aftermarket SSD (SATA-III)

    MBP cons:

    - I'm paying a big premium for mobility which I don't really need
    - I'm getting an obsolete Superdrive, which I'll never ever use
    - Generally pricier than an iMac - maybe also more prone to problems, since it's a portable?
    - AppleCare is more expensive than for the iMac

    Am I missing something here? Just can't make up my mind.
  2. snouter macrumors 6502a

    May 26, 2009
    There are cheap(er) ways to get mobility, so if you are reasonably sure that you will be happy computing at the one place, the table or desk or whatever, than the iMac is a pretty good deal. Desktop power and a nice screen.

    However, I find that when I watch a movie, I'll read imdb at the same time, or I'll watch the news and read the news, or comment on threads while I'm, um, getting rid of breakfast, or I want to bounce up to the coffee shop...

    Mobility can be met with a phone, but it's a phone. A smaller cheaper laptop, probably a PC, or an iPad or some other tablet that will be coming out this year.

    Also, FWIW, I would bet a laptop is easier to sell off than an iMac.
  3. mikeo007 macrumors 65816

    Mar 18, 2010
    I would never buy a Mac desktop. The price for the included components is absurd, and the Apple quality "advantage" is much less noticeable with a desktop computer.

    I would recommend the notebook simply because it is a much better value (than the desktop anyway...)
  4. Tyrion thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 15, 2002
    I do have an iPad for that kind of couch-computing ;) And yeah, I also have an Air (it's my office-computer, and I might be getting a job that requires a commute, so it would be great for that). The MBP really would sit on my desk, except for those few moments when I take it to my bed to write something up or watch a movie with my girlfriend, or in the summer, when I might work in my garden... I'm just afraid I'll really miss these things if I get the iMac. Then again, the MBP costs more than the iMac, so I'm not sure if these are sufficient reasons to get it instead of the iMac. Ugh :D

    I also think the iMac is priced quite competitively when compared to the MBP, for which one clearly pays a premium because it's basically a portable iMac (and the iMac is basically a powerful MBP with an awesome screen). But yeah, I am quite wary of buying a desktop, it just seems weird after so many years. I do own a Windows desktop, but that's only for games. It would be a radical step to switch from the MBP to the iMac, that's for sure.
  5. flipster, Feb 27, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2011

    flipster macrumors 6502a

    Mar 14, 2010
    ................... Let's take a look here.

    iMac Components:

    27" LED IPS Display -$1000
    Speakers -$40
    iSight -$40
    1TB HD -$80
    256GB SSD $300
    All other components (ram, video card, cpu) - $500

    Thats a total of $1960, and then add labor and manufacturing and your at $2260. Squish this all into a computer that's 2" thick, with a beautiful design too.

    A top of the line iMac costs roughly $2600. Apple is making about $300 off of that. How is that overpriced?

    -Note: Those are the costs are of the actual components of an iMac, not Apple tax.

    If it was me, I'd wait for the refresh, and spend the money on an iMac. The new iMacs will be more powerful than the macbook pro lineup, and the graphics card will probably blow the current macbook pro's graphics card out of the water. Not to mention that running those things all day, they do, and WILL overheat eventually.

    Macbook Pro Current Graphics Card - AMD Radeon HD 6750M with 1GB GDDR5
    Future iMac Graphics Card - AMD Radeon HD 6950M with 1GB GDDR5 or 6970M 1GB GDDR5

    By benchmarks and gaming, you will have much better graphics performance with the 6950M and especially the 6970M
  6. v66jack macrumors 6502a


    May 20, 2009
    London, UK
    I'd go with the laptop, in my opinion they are much better value for money. But if you hardly ever have to travel around with your computer then a iMac gives you quite a few more features for your buck.
  7. JoJoCal19 macrumors 65816


    Jun 25, 2007
    Jacksonville, FL
    Why anybody buys iMac's anymore is beyond me. You can hook the MacBook Pro up to an external monitor and run it in clamshell mode. It functions just like an Apple desktop. Plus this gives you the ability to run on many different types and sizes of monitors. You also have the advantage of picking up the MacBook Pro and taking it around with you. So you get the advantage of both in one device.

    Especially if you are talking about buying today, the new MBP's are more powerful than the current iMac's.
  8. CptAwesome macrumors member

    May 10, 2010
    I am personally in a similar situation to you at the moment

    I think the best way to go is invest in a MBP then buy a monitor for you desk and simply plug it in when/if you need the large screen.

  9. mikeo007, Feb 27, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2011

    mikeo007 macrumors 65816

    Mar 18, 2010
    IPS displays are about $900 now, and the majority of your prices are rather high. I also notice that you've changed your post, so I re-quoted you so as not to show the other numbers, where your costs somehow decreased but the value of the computer went up.

    Also, your machine that you've built would be in the $3000 range on Apple.com.

    Here's a more realistic approach:
    $900 ips display
    $300 for SSD
    $500 for all other components (it's an older CPU (arrandale I believe), crappy GPU and only 4gb of ram)

    I could build a machine with the same or equivalent components on Dell's website for about ~$600, and even they have some markup, so $500 is very realistic.

    That leaves us with $1700 for a $3000 laptop, or a profit margin of around 45%. Yes I know there's R&D and manufacturing costs, but we honestly have no clue what they are, so let's say they're an absurd $300 per unit. That would still leave you with a huge 33% profit margin.

    Edit: Update on the pricing. The machine I threw together on Dell's website was a bit lacking in the CPU department. After adding an equivalent i7 to the top-tier iMac, my machine was closer to $800, so I would bump my original prediction to something more like $650 for components. My $300 manufacturing cost would also factor in the aluminum chassis (even though $300 still seems quite high.)
  10. v66jack macrumors 6502a


    May 20, 2009
    London, UK
    This is basically what I do.
  11. molala macrumors 6502a

    Oct 25, 2008
    Cambridge, UK
    If you already have an iPad and an MBA, seems like you will be using the MBP as a desktop. And the more cost-effective solution is the iMac. The added speed (when the refresh comes) would just be a bonus. If it were to be your sole computer, I'd say MBP. But that isn't the case here.
  12. Tyrion thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 15, 2002
    That was my thinking too, but the new MBPs are so fast that I'm not sure if there will even be much of a performance gap between them and the new iMacs. And while the iMac would be a better solution on the face of things, I'm not sure if I can get used to desktop computing again, let alone the gigantic screen.
  13. Chupa Chupa macrumors G5

    Chupa Chupa

    Jul 16, 2002
    I've never been a big iMac fan. Even less so now that its a huge and potentially ugly PITA to remove the HD. Go w/ the MBP and buy an ext. monitor if you want a bigger or dual screens.
  14. Doc750 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 11, 2010
  15. Funkymonk macrumors 6502a


    Jan 7, 2011
    You have an 11" mba so I don't think you should get the 17"

    get an imac, makes more sense for you.

    If I were you though I would get even more bang for my buck and make my own desktop instead.

    you could just spend $1200 and build something incredible. Put linux on that baby so you can enjoy the benefits of unix stability and you're good to go brah! I don't know much about computers and I still built one easily.
  16. Tyrion thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 15, 2002
    Yeah, one of the main advantages of the MBP would definitely be the possibility of adding a very good SSD down the line (e. g. the Vertex 3, once it comes out in a few weeks). That would be a huge headache on the iMac.
  17. snouter macrumors 6502a

    May 26, 2009
    27ACD is 50% of the cost of an iMac. Then you still need to buy the MBP.



    I'm still not an iMac fan. I want what a lot of Macfans want... the mythical $1500 Mac Pro with a single CPU that is not Xeon based.
  18. 184550 Guest

    May 8, 2008
    It sounds like you're a student given your references to the university discount and the room/ desk comment.

    Speaking from personal experience, I had three friends Freshman year start off with 17 inch laptops and by Christmas they had all switched to smaller screens (one 13 inch, two 15 inch). They simply found that the heft and bulk of the 17 inch was like trying to carry around a desktop.

    If you've already got an 11 inch Air, I'd say the 27 inch is the best option.
  19. Doc750 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 11, 2010
    it's $850 in the refurb store.

    and since when has money ever been a factor in any apple purchase.
  20. mac jones macrumors 68040

    Apr 6, 2006
    I don't have any advice.

    But I saw the thread and thought I belong here.

    Hi! :)
  21. snouter macrumors 6502a

    May 26, 2009
  22. Evil Spoonman macrumors 6502

    Jan 21, 2011
    No. This is nowhere near how the price division falls on these products. For one Apple doesn't pay street prices for anything. They're probably looking at $750 per panel for the IPS display. Also where do you get off saying the Arrandale i5 and i7s are older? It is just over a year since launch, and under a year since they started making their way into actual machines. You must take into account the cost of the cost of the case (not insignificant), as well as the shipped extras (keyboard, mouse) and the GPU.

    Base 27" model:
    Display - $750
    CPU - $125
    4GB RAM - $50
    1TB HDD - $50
    HD 5750 + 1GB - $100
    Keyboard + Mouse - $50
    Enclosure (including wifi, isight, raw materials, manufacturing, assembly...- $500

    $1,625 cost
    $375 profit?

    Sounds about right for Apple to me.
  23. mikeo007 macrumors 65816

    Mar 18, 2010
    Older processor as in last-gen, not old time-wise.
    I still think you're vastly over-estimating on the $500 for all those components, especially considering that they're mass produced and, like you said, apple doesn't pay anywhere near street price for this stuff. But anyway, I'd rather just agree to disagree.

    Profit margin will be lower on the lower cost system, that's true for almost any product, and is offset by higher sales numbers.

    I guess I'm just used to building my own desktop systems, and when I see prices like this, they seem outrageous. Truthfully, I would never spend $50 on a keyboard and mouse, and the $500 for all the other random stuff would be more like $100 if I were building it myself.
  24. snouter macrumors 6502a

    May 26, 2009
    This why my desktop powerful workstations are Windows based.

    I do like Mac laptops though and don't mind the premium as much there. I have owned several PC laptops and the experience is just not as nice.
  25. Evil Spoonman macrumors 6502

    Jan 21, 2011
    In that price list, you'll note nothing is at street price. I've pulled all of the prices down substantially to more of a bulk/OEM price point. The CPU is $200 street, HDD is $80, video board would be closer to $175, panel nearer $900... and so forth.

    Also, $500 for a big piece of glass, a lot of aluminum, machining of this aluminum, complex assembly, huge heat piping, lots of wire routing, radios, antenna, isight, speakers, mic... etc. It doesn't matter if this stuff is costing you $3 a unit, there's still a lot of small stuff in there. Somebody needs to put it in there as well. Maybe it is a bit high, so Apple makes $450 a machine? Sounds quite possible to me.

    Sure. If we go play cost on the low-end iMac, it will have lower margin.

    Right. This is the weird thing about the PC market. We've come to expect phenomenally low prices on hardware because it has become so commoditized and modular. Re-integrating is now the name of the game, and Apple is doing that in style. They can charge almost whatever they want for their integrating service. People will pay it because they don't want to think about the computer, they just want to use it.

    Ironically, Apple's workstations are fairly competitive.

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