iMac vs MacBook Pro + monitor

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by matryska, Jun 20, 2016.

  1. matryska macrumors newbie

    Mar 31, 2009
    Hi all, just having difficulty deciding between the following for office tasks + basic iMovie iPhone 4K editing
    • iMac 27 5K retina with SSD
    • MacBook Pro 13 with Dell U2713HM used in 1080p HIDPI mode
    • iMac 27 (late 2013) used in 1080p HIDPI mode
    My main concern with the MBP 13 is the potential fan noise in clamshell mode when used with the 27 inch monitor in HIDPI mode or with a future 4K monitor. If there is often noise then I would prefer an iMac.

    The problems with the iMacs are that I would either need to custom build with SSD or with some difficulty, find a thunderbolt SSD.

    Any experiences/thoughts?
  2. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    The iMac 5k would be considerably faster I would expect as well. And a 5k monitor is better than the 4k for editing 4k since you can view the full 4k and have the software controls visible.
  3. kohlson macrumors 68000

    Apr 23, 2010
    I have a late 2013 rMBP. It is stone silent except when doing "real work" such as transcoding. But watching videos, creating presentations, light PS, etc - quite. And when they do run, they are pretty quiet, much quieter than 2011 15-in MBP and 2010 13-in MBP.
  4. Flynnstone macrumors 65816


    Feb 25, 2003
    Cold beer land
    I'm in a similar dilemma. I have 13" rMBP & a 2009 iMac that is getting a "bit" slow.
    The 13" doesn't have enough RAM for me. So, I'm pondering a 15" rMBP (+ monitor) or a 27" 5k iMac.
    I'm strongly leaning towards the iMac because I can add much more RAM.
    My opinion is that perception of speed is simply related to clock speed (for most things - single threaded). compressing video is simply more cores.
    Here is some info on single threaded speed: (can't remember benchmark name at the moment)
    i5 4258U @2.4G- 1628 MacBook Pro 13”

    i5-6600 @ 3.3G - 2101 iMac

    i7-6700K@ 4.0G - 2330 iMac

    i7-4980HQ@ 2.8G - 2235 MacBook Pro 15”

    Interesting how fast the 15" rMBP is.
  5. matryska thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 31, 2009
    Agreed that the iMac 5K would be the fastest option. If it's significantly quieter than the MacBook when used in clamshell mode with external display, then I don't really have much choice
    --- Post Merged, Jun 21, 2016 ---
    That's good to know. Is it still quiet when used with an external monitor?
  6. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    If you don't need portability get the iMac it's that simple, great screen and desktop processing power.

    I have no idea why a 13 inch dual core laptop would be a suitable replacement for a quad core desktop with dGPU, or why that would be an option at all but you would need the 15 inch to match the iMac also that simple.
  7. matryska thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 31, 2009
    I don't consider the MBP 13 a replacement for an iMac. If it's quiet enough in day to day use with an external monitor, then it's good enough as I consider it powerful enough for the tasks at hand in this particular application. If it were not, I wouldn't be considering it.
  8. pjfan macrumors regular

    May 24, 2009
    Columbus OH
    The iMac 5K screen is amazing. Your user experience, from the processor, RAM, silence, and with an SSD configuration, will sore above a 13" + Screen configuration.

    If you don't want to afford that option, then a 13" can operate for such functions. If you want to go completely silent, go MacBook, but I don't think you'll be happy with performance when editing 4k.
  9. matryska thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 31, 2009
    Thanks. I think your advice about the best user experience including silence with the iMac is the way to go.
  10. briloronmacrumo macrumors 6502


    Jan 25, 2008
    Well, one of the main reasons for considering a MacBook Pro is portability and that wasn't mentioned in your requirements. Any connections you need ( external TB etc. ) are very possible with the iMac and it should be a good machine based on what was posted. They also run reasonably quiet for the types of tasks described. Most folks who need an office machine, where portability isn't an issue, typically pick one of Apple's desktops ( Mac Pro, iMac, Mini ). For reasons that have been discussed ad nauseam on MR, my current favorite Mac desktop is the iMac.
  11. Nunyabinez macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2010
    Provo, UT
    Please correct me if I'm wrong, but HiDPI mode only works for ½ of each of the dimensions. You cannot get an iMac (non-retina) to display 1080 HiDPI, the best you could get is 720 (½ of it's native resolution). You will have to get a 4K monitor to do HiDPI for your MacBook. I know that some MacBooks have issues working in 4K at 60Hz, but I don't know how that relates to HiDPI mode.

    I do know that I enabled HiDPI mode on my old iMac (2011) and I could not get higher than 720.
    --- Post Merged, Jun 22, 2016 ---
    I have a iMac with an SSD and one with a Fusion Drive and TBH I can't tell the difference in terms of performance. I did also get an external SSD to use with my old iMac and it also was indistinguishable in terms of performance. That was true for both Thunderbolt and USB 3.0. Thunderbolt drives are not hard to find, but as I said USB 3.0 performed just as good and is cheaper.

    I would not hesitate to get a riMac with a Thunderbolt drive. It is a sweet machine. The only issue is whether you need that type of power on the road. I opted to go with the iMac at home and a nMacBook on the road, because it is light and powerful enough for what I do away from the office.
  12. redsteven macrumors 6502a


    Aug 22, 2006
    Who says you have to leave it in clamshell mode?
    I'm using an external monitor on my MBP right now to type this message... but I've also got an extra desktop on the machines built-in monitor.....
    2 desktops are greater than 1....
  13. JamesPDX Suspended


    Aug 26, 2014
    Anyone using a 2015 15" Quad Core rMBP and a Thunderbolt SSD with FCPX or Avid Media Composer? What say you?
  14. JoelTheSuperior macrumors 6502


    Feb 10, 2014
    London, UK
    I'd be tempted to go for the MacBook just on the basis that Apple's iMacs still have mobile GPUs and the CPUs, whilst faster, are probably not enough to sway you unless you really must get every drop of performance.

    Granted, the retina display on the 5k is amazing.
  15. matryska thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 31, 2009
    No, portability isn't a major priority at the moment. I certainly don't plan on docking/undocking on a daily basis. If anything, the MacBook just provides the opportunity for a transportable desktop as well as the simplicity of having files on the one machine. I'm starting to agree with your opinion, thanks
    --- Post Merged, Jun 23, 2016 ---
    Yes 1080p HiDPI works on a 2560x1440 screen, I've tried it on both a Mac Pro and MacBook Pro 15. The relevant threads on how to do that are here at MR; with reports that it works on pre retina iMacs also. It's not true "retina" PPI, but does improve font rendering as well as make it easier for those who prefer larger fonts/UI.

    It's good to know the fusion drives and external USB 3.0 works well for you. Currently it seems the 1TB fusion only provides 24GB SSD and external USB doesn't provide TRIM for SSDs, so I feel they are suboptimal solutions.
    --- Post Merged, Jun 23, 2016 ---
    It's nice to have the flexibility but I prefer the clean setup of 1 larger screen, with the MacBook tucked away out of sight.

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