iMac versus Mac notebook for home

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by trifona, Jan 21, 2019.

  1. trifona macrumors member

    Oct 22, 2007
    I have an ancient 24" mid-2007 iMac. Wondering what I would need if i wanted to replace it with a notebook instead of another iMac and would it be worth it? Especially interested in hearing from others who have done the same. The portability would be nice but not required. We have work pc laptops, but it would be nice not to have to be tethered to the home office when we want to use the Mac and vice versa if I want to watch a movie /steam something / Youtube etc, I could always "dock-in" to use a large external monitor.

    I'm thinking we need a monitor (but Apple doesn't make their own anymore), some kind of docking station or hub, etc etc. The most taxing thing the iMac is used for is housing our photos in Lightroom (no processing or image manipulation being done).

    Alternatively, we just buy another iMac, either a current spec 27" or keep waiting for Apple to release an update.
  2. FairlyKors macrumors member


    Jun 21, 2018
    Staines, East London
    --- Post Merged, Jan 21, 2019 ---
    You seem to know your options and the costs/benefits tied to them. For casual media watching, etc., wouldn’t an iPad plus a new(er) 27” iMac do the job? In either case it sounds like you’d be best served by a model not on the cutting edge, since all you’re worried about essentially is not aging off the OS (in terms of hardware).

    In my own view there is almost no better monitor (PC or Mac) than the 27” 5K retina that’s “bundled with a computer.” It’s truly a revelatory experience when lookin at photos or watch video. On a PC you can get a 27”, but it’ll be 4K, and finding a model that’s competitive with the iMac’s display for under a grand (setting aside the 2X bump you get in resolution with 5K over 4K) is pretty hard, and a PIA.

    So, this is my opinion based on that beautiful wide color gamut, wide dynamic range monitor— get a 2015 or newer iMac (just make sure you go with an i7 processor, the i5’s they used then and up through now are really weak). I think a new iPad Pro 11” would be the perfect companion to that (or even just a 2018 iPad) given its strengths and portability over a MacBook.

    If you go with a MacBook Pro 13”, it really only makes sense (IMHO) to get a 2018 model, even if you don’t “need” the processing power—because the processors in the 13” MacBooks were so weak until 2018. For the 15” versions it’s not as big a deal. So in terms of value for money you’ll get a lot more with an older 15” MBP than a 13” MBP.

    If you get a MBP or MacBook, the external monitor you’ll want might not be cheap. You can get a cheaper model, but if you don’t spend around $800 you’re really going to notice the difference between what you had and what you’ll get. Price-wise the newer iMac with an iPad would be cheaper on average I think (and it’s what I’d do) but if you want a MacBook or MBP just make sure to do your research on the processor you’re getting. Check, Geekbench and
  3. chscag macrumors 68030


    Feb 17, 2008
    Fort Worth, Texas
    In addition to the advice above, you might want to consider the new Mac Mini 2018 model. Add a nice monitor to the new Mini and you can have a really nice desktop machine which will take up much less space than an iMac.
  4. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Oct 9, 2005
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    Back in the fall of 2015 I was waiting for the 21.5" iMac with retina screen to be announced....and when it finally was, I was disappointed in the overall specs and also really needed a little more flexibility than I had with my 2012 iMac. Earlier in the year I had bought a 2015 13" MBP and found that I was using it much more frequently than my iMac, to the extent some days the iMac was never even turned on. I decided to experiment, and pushed the iMac back a bit on the desk, out of the way, and set up the 13" MBP on a stand with a mouse and external keyboard to see if that would work out well as a desktop replacement. It did, indeed, so I decided to sell my iMac to a friend and purchased a 15" 2015 MBP, which had all the specs I wanted right out of the box and offered the flexibility and portability that I wanted and needed. This worked out very well for me over the past three years. For me the iMac has lost its appeal. This December I purchased a 15" 2018 MBP, with which I am also very happy. The 15" screen seems to work well for me and I have not bothered to buy an external monitor but I like having that option open to me when and if I change my mind.
  5. trifona thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 22, 2007
    I posted a similar thread over here:

    I'm resigned to the fact (not in a bad way!) that a new iMac is indeed the best option for me. FairlyKors thank you for the detailed post. I think you captured everything I had already considered. Just need to decide if it's worth waiting. I don't need a new iMac so much as it's just time; but I'd hate to pay new pricing for a 2017 machine. I need to look at 2017 iMac spec and see do I really want to commit now or just wait it out a few more months to see if the hoped for 2019's materialize and merit being an early adopter.
  6. VictorTango777 macrumors 6502

    Oct 28, 2017
    You may be better off just using the laptop with no monitor connected, since Apple engineers only seem to test MacOS using 12 inch MacBooks. If you do connect a large external monitor, you may as well cover the entire screen with a sheet of cardboard and then cut out a section in the bottom left corner.

    I use a MBP with a 30 inch, 2560x1600 monitor. The monitor is set to be the main display. I frequently use the laptop offsite with only the laptop screen. After I get back and connect the 30 inch monitor, this is what happens:

    1. Finder windows that were in the top left corner or the center of the screen now open in the bottom left corner of the 30 inch monitor.
    2. Applications such as Photos, News, Stocks which I put in the center of the laptop screen now open in the bottom left corner of the 30 inch monitor.
    3. Documents from applications such as Keynote and Omnigraffle which were centered on the laptop screen and covered most of the laptop screen now open in the bottom left corner of the 30 inch monitor.
    4. DMG disk image files for various downloaded applications frequently open in the in the bottom left corner of the 30 inch monitor by default.
    5. DVD Player application in MacOS 10.14 Mojave keeps opening in the bottom left corner of the 30 inch monitor no matter how many times I move the application window.

    When I use the laptop offsite, I am afraid to open applications or work on documents for fear that everything will be thrown into the bottom left corner of the 30 inch monitor once connected. When I return home and connect the 30 inch monitor, I am afraid to open any applications or documents for fear that everything will be thrown into the bottom left corner of the monitor. I doubt that all the Mac application developers conspired to purposely put their applications in the bottom left corner of the screen. So I must conclude that this is a problem in MacOS that Apple needs to fix. I first noticed this irritating behavior in 10.10 Yosemite and it continues to this day.

    If you think this looks annoying on a 30 inch monitor, think of all the fun you will have with a 38 inch or larger ultrawide monitor. It may help to put the monitor on a stand and position it so you are looking directly at the bottom left corner of the monitor. That is apparently what Apple engineers do.

    Can everyone please share screenshots of your own experiences with this irritating, idiotic, brain-dead window positioning behavior in MacOS? I have never seen an operating system handle window positioning as STUPIDLY as MacOS.

    Screen Shot 2018-08-13 at 20.47.06.png Screen Shot 2018-08-15 at 21.04.06.png Screen Shot 2018-09-11 at 22.04.17.png Screen Shot 2018-10-15 at 20.58.32.jpg Screen Shot 2018-10-15 at 20.58.50.jpg Screen Shot 2018-01-21 at 23.19.15.jpg Screen Shot 2018-01-21 at 23.20.40.jpg Screen Shot 2018-01-25 at 21.21.10.jpg
  7. jaduff46, Jan 22, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2019

    jaduff46 macrumors 6502


    Mar 3, 2010
    Second star on the right....
    Not sure you need the i7 chipset unless you’re doing video rendering, but not my expertise. The 2018 Mini with 16/512, a nice monitor (4K or 5K) and external SSD for the photo storage would be a nice setup with a smaller footprint than the iMac.

    The iMac is a wonderful machine. I have the 2010 nonRetina and it’s still wonderful for photography. Current configuration similar to the Mini above is $700-800 more, but that includes the built-in Retina display. You’d pay at least that for a 4K-5K display for the Mini.

    Disadvantage of both of the above is non-portability. I’ve been operating on an iPad Air for the last 8 months and like the portability, but that’s just me adapting to the current situation (btwn houses after retiring).

    IMO the iMac seems the better choice of the above if you don’t need the portability, the 2018 MBP if you do. As you indicated, you have the luxury to wait andd see.

    Leaning toward the 13” 2018 MBP with an external monitor if I do upgrade in the near future, although not a fan of the Touch-bar.

    Best of luck!
  8. jaybar macrumors 6502a


    Dec 11, 2008
    Some have mentioned that the Mac mini has a smaller footprint than an iMac. I really struggle with that notion. I had a Mac mini and I found that the mini plus a 27 inch monitor took up more desk space, because you had the mini footprint plus the base of the monitor. I find a 27 inch iMac more compact. Also the iMac has the advantage of less connecting cables. The disadvantage of the iMac is that if the monitor portion malfunctions and need repair, one loses the entire computer.

  9. FairlyKors macrumors member


    Jun 21, 2018
    Staines, East London
    How long would it take to cut out that 12” mask for your 30” monitor? Because that sounds like the quickest solution to that festering stew of display issues, bar none. If you work at/from home, then no one is going to question your genius workaround, and if this is at an office, I bet you’ll find yourself provided with a new laptop or monitor (or legitimate fix) quicker than you’d think. XD
  10. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    Have you tried changing the "Displays have separate spaces" setting in System Preferences -> Mission Control? If you noticed a behaviour change ~Yosemite it is probably connected with this. There are various pros and cons to having this set either way to do with how spaces and full-screened apps work and whether windows can straddle screens, but if you turn it off it behaves more like the old primary/secondary screen arrangement, on and its more like two independent primary screens.

    Otherwise, I'm not sure what behaviour you're expecting - by design, mac applications remember the size and position of the last window opened & then clip it to fit on the current screen, so what you see is the logical consequence of that.
    Always opening new windows in the centre of the screen would just be differently annoying.

    I've tried bouncing a Windows laptop between different screen configurations - that was hardly optimal either! Of course, Linux is just right once you download the patched version of Y.ORG from the repository, recompile the kernel, and freddle the modeline with the octal value of the skeuomorphism matrix, add the appropriate flag to your /etc/groop.conf and run kwerp-apply-wibble-settings -tQzTv --morose (oh, and reverse the polarity of the neutron flow, but that should be obvious to any sensible person). :)
  11. Johnontheweb macrumors newbie

    Jun 18, 2017
    Hi everybody. I am struggling with the same question. The 27" iMac is the "server" -- external storage, backups and archives... 10TB so far... also the video and sound hub. The Macbook is the portable device. The mac Mini powers the TV (Not the apple TV, yet). If this forum could recommend a downsize, what would you recommend to eliminate one device?
  12. dwig, Jan 23, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2019

    dwig macrumors 6502a

    Jan 4, 2015
    Key West FL
    This approach could work well, with some adjustments;
    1. add a bluetooth keyboard to the "when plugged in" set; you'll likely want a mouse as well
    2. add a pair of external HDDs to the "when plugged in" set, one for TimeMachine and one for you primary Lr library and most media files.
    3. use a second Lr library, set as default on launch, that resides on your MB's internal (small) SSD and is to be used for new images that will later be exported to the "main" library on the external.
    I use an approach similar to this with my MS Surface Go, with the exception that I also have a big desktop Windows machine that shares the same large monitor (it has multiple inputs and handles the switching) and that holds my main Lr library.

    My wife and I are moving away from desktop machines, either all-in-ones or separate monitor+cpu designs, in favor of notebooks and 2-in-1 designs. Living in Key West FL, we need to consider the occasional (read: every few years) need to bug-out to dodge a possible hurricane strike. Being able to pick up all of your critical data, stuff it in the car, and hit the road is valueable. My wife has made the transition completely. I still have the "big iron" on my desk, but since I do far less photography of my own these days, leaving that stuff to my day job and computers at work, the replacement down the road for the big desktop will be a notebook or 2-in-1.[/QUOTE]

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