iMac vs MacBook Pro


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 19, 2014
Here are the options:

MacBook Pro:
2.5 ghz dual core i5 with retina
8gb ram
128 gb flash drive
Cost : 1059 (refurbished)
Thunderbolt Display: 799 (refurbished)
Keyboard+ mouse:$ 125 more

27 inch 3.4 ghz intel quad core i5
Ips display with 2560x1440 res.
8 gb ram
1 tb regular hard drive
2gb graphics card
Cost : 1699

Purpose: watch sports, YouTube, photos, browse, home usage mostly.

Already have an iPad
Work computer is windows laptop

Which system should I buy? Both are refurbished
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macrumors 6502a
Oct 21, 2013
If you already have a laptop, I don't see why you would need another one. Also, there is no reason at all to get a TB display. The only reason you would need one is for professional photography work. It is supposed to have extremely accurate color reproduction, but it will be a complete waste of money for a typical consumer.

If you get an iMac, get this one:
27", quad-core i7, 1TB fusion drive, gtx 680mx, 8GB RAM. 2000$

I recommend this over the model you are looking at for a few reasons. First of all, a fusion drive should be the first upgrade you look to get. You will see the largest performance boost from this out of any upgrade, except for pure SSD of course. Second, the gtx 680mx is more powerful than the 775m. VRAM is not that important by the way. In every day tasks, you won't even use 1/8 of it. Most AAA games these days use less than 2GB of VRAM, unless you are really messing with textures. To put it into perspective, the rMBP you are looking at has 512MB VRAM.

Also, if you want to get a laptop, do not get that rMBP. It is the 2012 model. It has worse graphics, battery life, processing power, hard drive, and is heavier than the 2013 model. For 40$ more, you can get a much better computer. 8GB of RAM isn't that big a deal in comparison to all the other differences, and a baseline 2013 system will perform better.


macrumors 68040
Jul 13, 2008
I so agree. I think it borders on foolhardy to get an iMac without an SSD. The absolute best performance enhancement for the buck. You could do a thunderbolt SSD external, but it would be more than the cost difference, and not worth it.

That $2000 iMac mad3inch1na listed is a winner and a much better choice.


Staff member
May 3, 2009
A couple of points to ponder.
First the 128GB SSD in the MBP is too small for most uses in this day in age, other then just surfing the web and emails.

Secondly, if you already use a laptop how "mobile" will another one be? That is will it sit mostly on the desk?

I think without knowing too much details, the iMac is a better option, you get a larger display (without needing to buy an external monitor), larger storage. I think you get more bang for your buck with the iMac


macrumors 68000
Jan 29, 2008
I too have pondered this question (except in my case I was going to either buy an iMac and sell my pro retina or just buy a Thunderbolt Display).

The best option is to go with the pro retina and Thunderbolt Display. Here are the reasons:

- The pros have great speeds and SSDs also, arguably a better experience than the HDD based iMac (unless you need 1TB or more of storage). I really didn't wanna give up that SSD and with the i7 in my retina and 8GB of RAM I saw no advantage in going iMac in any real world usage scenario.

128GB is enough for apps and OS and some media. You can get a USB 3.0 flash drive cheap. I got a 128GB one for around $100 a while ago and it can store a lot too and is mega fast. And if my computer dies I won't lose my files (though I use Dropbox for my critical files, I have a 200GB account and most of it stays on the cloud). Point is, the space isn't an issue if you can manage and plan around it.

- The pro is portable and the retina screen is great, giving you a great mobile Mac experience (you have no mobility at all with the iMac)

- Thunderbolt Display is a wonderful display and makes synching easy and clean. One cable (that breaks out into power and TB) to your Mac, one to the outlet, and you now have use of the extra ports, the web cam, the great 2.1 speaker system, etc. Keep your charger in your bag, so it's less of a hassle to go portable since you won't need to mess with as many wires docking/undocking.

- In the future, buy a new pro retina and keep the display. Its cheaper to swap out notebooks than full desktops. Plus if down the road you want a mini or an Air they'll work with your display just the same. With the iMac if anything breaks or you want to upgrade you must upgrade all of it.

For those reasons I kept my nearly 2 year old retina and just got the $799 TB display. Couldn't be happier with the outcome. I am loving the setup!

Pro tip: I got a bookarc stand for my retina to display it in style on my desk too. :)