iMac or Macbook Pro? Buying advice


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 14, 2017

I am looking for some opinions on my next mac purchase.

First, I use the computer for graphic design and occasional gaming (bootcamp and MAC OS).
I mostly work in print design so my files are hi-res. 600 -1200 DPI.
My projects are often 12GB-30 GB.

I usually have 3-5 AdobeCC apps open at once, plus my font manager, Transmit, and Google Chrome.

My current setup is a 2008 Mac Pro. (I know it's ancient... but, I have upgraded it as best I can over the years and it's served me well)
• 2 x 2.8 GHS Quad Core Intel Xeon
• 26GB of 800 mhz RAM
• AMD Radeon 7950 Mac Edition 3GB video Card (Upgraded from stock card)
• 512 SSD Boot / Apps drive
• 3 TB Drive (Work)
• 3 TB Drive (Work)
• 1 TB Drive (Music)
• 3 TB Drive (Photos)

• External NAS for backups (4 TB RAID)
• External Time Machine (2 TB)
• Misc. External HDs for more backups (TOO MANY HDs)

I already have 2 monitors a 27" cinema display (not thunderbolt) and an old 20" cinema display used for e-mail and messaging mostly.

So here's my dilemma. It all comes down to storage, RAM and speed. It's partly why I have not gone with an iMac for so long.

My current thought:
If I go with a hi-end iMac I could use this old Mac Pro as a file server. Although I am not looking forward to managing so many computers. We also have a mac mini and a 2013 MacBook Pro.

Any other pro designers on an iMac or current Macbook Pro? Are they fast enough? Is the MacPro with 16GB of ram enough?

Any thoughts from people who do similar work would be appreciated.



macrumors 68030
Aug 20, 2015
I design on a 27" 5K iMac and I can't recommend it highly enough. The display alone is going to be a huge upgrade over what you're using now, and you could (if you needed) still plug in those extra monitors. I used to use a dual-monitor setup (2x 1600x1200) and find this screen quite sufficient for Creative Cloud stuff. I will confess that I used to love parking all my palettes, expanded fully, on one monitor while using the other one as the canvas -- but if I wanted to do that badly enough I could easily plug in a second monitor. And of course everything is very fast, no issues with heat or fan noise no matter what I'm doing -- and the design keeps my workspace very neat and fun to use.

If you're not going for a mobile workstation, I can't think of any good reason to get a MacBook Pro over an iMac.


macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009

You already have a 2013 MBPro, which should still be quite serviceable.

The iMacs have come a long, long way, especially with the addition of 5k displays.

A 2017 iMac, properly configured, would probably give the old Mac Pro a run for the money.
The upcoming iMac Pro certainly would, but it won't be cheap.


macrumors 6502a
Jun 13, 2012
Austin, TX
I'm a late 2013 MBP and work in video, motion graphics, and design, and it's adequate but not blazing fast for my needs.

A new MBP would certainly do the job, and while the iMac would be great you more than likely don't need the extra horsepower for the kind of work you're doing. Not saying not to get one as they're great machines, just that I don't think you'd see a huge benefit over a MBP.

Digital Skunk

macrumors 604
Dec 23, 2006
In my imagination
It all depends on whether you want to take it with you or not.

If you plan on moving around (a lot) while you work or during the day then go with the MBP.

If you don't, and anticipate doing at least 70% of your work at a desk (in one spot in the office) then go with the iMac.

You get more computer with the iMac, and you can always use your 2013 MBP until you sell everything else and get a new 2017/2018.

Also, I hear you about managing so many machines. At home, we once at over 7 macs and maintaining them was a pain. Now, it's just two MBPs and a handful of iPad (which are easier to maintain.) I even went with a single display and used my computer in clamshell, then have emails and such on an iPad Pro instead of an always on, power hungry display.


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 14, 2017
Thank you everyone for your replies.

Most of my work is at a desk and I definitely am leaning more towards the iMac at this point. The MacBookPro would be great for the rare occasion I need to work somewhere else or have a meeting. I really hate giving up all the HD bays, but I am not super confident apple will come out with a new MacPro that meets my needs. The new iMac Pro looks neat, but is probably more machine than I need and the cost is a little high.


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 14, 2017
First and foremost narrow down your choices to what you can afford to pay cash for. Don't go into debt.
Saving money is not a crime.
Definitely - going into debt is dumb. I have a good budget already saved. I'm pretty frugal as I've been using my 2008 computer for way too long. :)

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