iMac vs Retina Macbook Pro

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Cyborg21, Oct 26, 2013.

  1. Cyborg21 macrumors 6502


    Sep 2, 2013
    I'm switching to Mac in March. I will probably use my Mac for at least 5 years so I need a Mac that will run perfectly and run most apps and programs after 5 years. Retina Macbook Pro's screen is beautiful but iMac is more powerfull so I'm not sure what to buy. Also Haswell iMac release was too silent so Apple is going to make a new iMac in 2014? I also heard that Apple will relase a budget iMac but a cheap model would make iMac less Premium :( . in Macbook side I'm worrying about lifespan of battery, what is the lifespan of Macbook Pro retina's Battery and will it still able to run Apps and programs after 5 years? And will it run smooth after 5 years. Sorry for my bad english it's not my native language.
  2. Nickwell24 macrumors regular

    Nov 13, 2008
    Between iMac and MBPr it really just comes down to portability. Apple is very good about the longevity of their computer. I currently run an early 2011 Macbook Pro 15" and it still will give me years of service thanks to the future proof of the specs.

    If you need portability go with the Macbook Pro - although you may want to look to find a non-retina Macbook Pro in Apple's refurbished store, it gives you more upgrade options (Ram, HDD/SSD) and will save you a few hundred dollars. Macbook Pro batteries are rated for 1,000 cycles. My computer being 2.5 years old started with a battery capacity of 6900 mAh - it's now down to 6093 mAh and I can easily get 5 hours battery life for most casual computing. That being said I don't treat my battery the best, I have my computer plugged in constantly to an external monitor so it's cycle count is only 388, but I've not let the battery fully drain as often as I should.

    If portability is not something important to you definitely go with iMac. The specs are better for the cost and you get a beautiful display. Other bonus, if you get an iMac then in 5 years decide you need portability you can still use the iMac as a dual display for the Macbook Pro (or whatever Apple's portables will be called in 5 years).
  3. Spink10 Suspended


    Nov 3, 2011
    rMBP - unless you absolutely don't need portability.
  4. Cyborg21 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Sep 2, 2013
    I heard that Apple will offer an iMac with better display new design etc. is it true? I think it's true beacuse Haswell iMac update was really silent. What do you think?
  5. Nickwell24 macrumors regular

    Nov 13, 2008
    My guess would be early next year they'll hold an event for the iMac. A retina 27" iMac will be announced along with a 27" Retina Thunderbolt Display. Expect Haswell and everything else to be slightly bumped in specs.

    For my money though I'd get a refurbished/used iMac when they still had optical drives. Those included the i7 2.8 quad-core drives, 1GB VRAM, and can be found for a good price online (craigslist, Apple refurb store, etc). Those could be upgraded to 16GB RAM which would give you a machine that could handle anything you throw at it for years to come still.
  6. SvK macrumors 6502


    Jan 12, 2005
    San Diego
    if you can afford it...

    Get the MBP and a Apple Thunderbolt display.
  7. ekiro macrumors regular

    Oct 25, 2013
    When it comes to the experience and mobility isn't a must and if you can afford it, go with the 27-inch iMac, maxed out. Buy RAM elsewhere.
  8. Cyborg21 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Sep 2, 2013
    Yes I can afford an iMac with Max specs but I don't know where to buy RAM (I don't live in US so there is no Ebay here :( )

    I can get a 13-inch retina Macbook with 2.4 GHz i5 and Thunderbolt but will specs enough after 5 years? Also I don't know how to use Thunderbolt :D
  9. sasj15 macrumors member

    Nov 14, 2009
    I just bought basic iMac 27" instead of MBP with the retina. The fact you get dedicated graphics card with it made me to not to get another MBP. I have MBP 2010 15" with 8GB running with no problems. If you are considering mobility, I would suggest the entry specs of 15" MBP with retina (Bigger screen and 8 GB memory).

    Of course. Apple computer tend to last long time, especially the quality of the parts. I dropped my 15" multiple times and still intact.
  10. Angra-mainju macrumors regular

    Mar 18, 2009
    I bought a MBP 13 in 2009 and sold it few days ago after upgrading to SSD, 8GB ram and new battery. I bought a rMBP - will last for the next 5 years.
  11. etichi macrumors newbie

    Aug 1, 2012
    I am going to buy iMac to replace my late 2008 macbook pro. I agree; these days computers can easily last 5+ years without to much of an annoyance.
  12. athale, Nov 30, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2013

    athale macrumors newbie

    Nov 30, 2013
    What programs? This is the question.

    If you want to run the latest version of Adobe CS/CC/etc for 5 years, upgrading every year (or maintaining a subscription) - you're talking about the 2017/18 edition - who knows, it might require a minimum of 32gb ram + 4gb of vram. In which case the rMBP won't cut it but a 'maxed out' iMac should.

    If you want to work with the current version of FCPX/CS6 etc... you'll find the rMBP and iMac both perform very similarly. For everyday use the rMBP will respond faster. They both have similar CPU capabilities, but only when the rMBP is hitting it's turbo mhz. The iMac can sustain higher speeds - arguably only noticeable for tasks like transcoding/rendering large video files, batch processing images etc.

    Some people wonder why photo/video pro's still use 2009 MacPros (for example) and don't buy new - they're future proofed - 64gb ram expansion, GPUs blah blah blah. A 2009 4 core CPU might not chew through data anywhere near as fast as a rMBP, but a 2010 12 core will spank it, and neither will hit bottle necks as easily - workhorses.

    Think of the iMac as further towards this end of the scale, spec to last (user upgradable ram).

    Think of the rMBP as a the closest you can get with batteries + retina/faster response/shorter shelf life.

    in summary, I would guess (this ain't science)...
    For 3 years (roughly), the rMBP can do anything the iMac can do, not quite as fast for long periods, is safe, and is portable. The iMac has you covered for the full 5 years (probably), is like a rMBP on steroids, but you can't use it on the train.
  13. Zelion macrumors newbie

    Mar 14, 2013
    I am deciding between a new 27" iMac and a new 15" rMBP. I am a wedding photographer shooting with a Canon 5D Mark II (20MB files). I use Photoshop CS/CC and sometimes I edit video from my 5D Mark II. I want a system that can chew threw batch processing and can handle heavy photoshop filters.

    Based on your advice, the 27" iMac will be better for me because I'll will be batch processing images in addition to some FCP video editing (1080p @ 30FPS & 720p @ 60FPS video files).

    Do you think a base model from the (upcoming) 2013 MacPro would be overkill for my needs?
  14. Jesla macrumors 6502a


    Jan 7, 2013
    Tennessee USA
    I caved and bought one of each and have never regretted it, but if I had to choose I go with the rMBP. It's the total package and can pull off both desktop and portable duties.
  15. Zelion macrumors newbie

    Mar 14, 2013
    Testing the 27" iMac at the Apple store

    Last night I went to the Apple store and tested a 27" iMac with the upgraded 3.5GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz processor, upgraded graphics card but only 8GB of ram.

    I brought my portable USB drive with me so that I can test the machine with my files.

    The machine had Final Cut Pro and Photoshop CS6 installed on it, I transferred a 4.5GB 1280x720p @60FPS video file of a boxing match and 3 1GB photoshop files onto the machine.

    The goal was to compare the 2013 27" iMac to my Early 2011 15" Macbook Pro which has the following specs:

    • 2GHz Intel Quad Core i7
    • 16GB 1330MHz of DDR3 Ram
      500GB HDD

    Obviously, I expected the 27" iMac to out perform my older Macbook Pro but I want to see how much it would out perform it.

    Launching Photoshop CS6
    • 2011 Macbook Pro: 36 seconds
    • 2013 iMac 27": 13 seconds

    Opening 1GB Photoshop file in Photoshop CS6
    • 2011 Macbook Pro: 46 seconds
    • 2013 iMac 27": 23 seconds

    Editing 1280x720p @60FPS video in Final Cut Pro
    // (3) 8 second video clips on the timeline. Clip 1 with 25% slow motion effect, transition between clip 1 & 2, clip 2 has black and white filter, clip 3 normal
    • 2011 Macbook Pro: rendered video in 2 minutes or so and lagged during playback as the playhead moved between clips
    • 2013 iMac 27": rendered video in 40 seconds or so and hesitated for 1 to 1.5 seconds as it transitioned from clip 2 (black & white) to clip 3 which had no effects.

    Scrubbing The Playhead To Audition Footage in FCP
    • 2011 Macbook Pro: lagged quite bad as I scrubbed the playhead across the timeline to audition video.
    • 2013 27" iMac: lagged less but still was not exceptionally responsive as I scrubbed the playhead across the clips to audition them

    My impressions
    Obviously the 2013 27" iMac is faster than my early 2011 Macbook Pro. But, I wasn't necessarily blown away. I will wait to test the new MacPro at the Apple store so I can decide between the two. Once again, I am primarily a wedding photographer who does "some" video projects from time to time. I know the new upcoming 2013 MacPro may be overkill for my needs but I want to increase my production so I can move to new projects as fast as possible. Nothing is more frustrating than having to scale back on my heavy edits thereby compromising the quality and uniqueness of my work because my Macbook Pro (or future iMac) will be too slow. I'd rather have excessive horsepower that will last me 7+ years than have an under powered machine.

    Any thoughts?
  16. natesymer macrumors newbie

    Nov 19, 2012
    New Jersey
    Might I recommend a hackintosh? You can build an has well i7 system with 32GB of ram and dedicated graphics for about $1300-1500. Plus, upgrading hardware is a breeze.
  17. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    I had occasion to shoot a youth soccer game with my D800, raw 14-bit lossless. I pretty much filled a 32 gb CF card with 642 images (these were for the parents).

    I put my 5,1 MP hex/24 GB RAM/mechanical drive to the task of importing and making 1:1 previews of the 642 images, and then I put my 15" rMBP (loaded with every option except the 1 TB SSD) to the same task.

    MP = 55 minutes
    rMBP = 44 minutes

    So at least for this batch processing task, the rMBP spanked the MP.
  18. Kelmon macrumors 6502a


    Mar 28, 2005
    United Kingdom
    I've largely gone through the same decision process but in the end I've gone for...

    ...2.3GHz Core i7 MacBook Pro with Retina Display

    At the current time I've got a late 2009 27" 2.8GHz Core i7 iMac but over the past 12-months I've got much more into photography (i.e. hoping to actually make some money out of it) and my iMac has recently been starting to suffer from a lack of performance when handling the RAW files produced by my D600 (Lightroom is a little sluggish but the real slowdown are in Photoshop CC when using SmartFilters) and I'm running out of disk space rapidly. As much as I really like the 27" display I've chosen the MacBook Pro for the portability but I'm going to pair it with a Dell UltraSharp 27" U2713H, which should give me an excellent display for doing the colour work, plus adds a 4-port USB 3 hub. All I need to sort out now is a safe means of archiving my photos on an external drive, preferably in a RAID 1 configuration. My decision has been helped by the fact that a Core i7 iMac with an SSD is a Built-To-Order computer that has no discount whereas numerous places are selling the top Retina MacBook Pro with a discount sufficient to cover the cost of the separate display relative to the BTO order cost of the iMac.

    To Cyborg21,

    Do not worry too much about what Apple will do with the iMac or MacBook Pro in the future. Both will see new models next year (possibly more than one) because that's what happens every year. Both the iMac and MacBook Pro were updated recently so you should not expect to see new versions soon. I find the idea of a cheeper iMac (unless one made for schools/universities) unlikely. I would not expect to see the design of either the iMac or MacBook Pro change this year since both designs are comparatively new and I'm honestly not sure where they can take them going forwards (I'd suggest they are as thin as they are likely to get). If I had to bet on a design change then the MacBook Pro seems to be more likely but I really would not bet very much money.

    If you decide on the iMac then buying your memory from a 3rd party, such as Crucial or Other World Computing (OWC) is a good idea. The price difference compared to Apple is not large for small changes in RAM (e.g. upgrading from 8GB to 16GB) but is very substantial for bigger upgrades. Since I do not where you are from it is hard to say if either companies would ship to you but it is well worth you checking.

    Regarding Thunderbolt, this is a means of linking devices to your computer, primarily data storage devices, that is a competitor of USB (which I am sure everyone knows). Thunderbolt is much faster than even USB 3 but devices that use it are relatively uncommon and they are expensive. If you need to move data very quickly (e.g. you work with HD video stored on external drives) then it may be useful to you but I would expect that USB 3 will be fast enough for most people. To use Thunderbolt you need both your computer and external device to support it, plus a Thunderbolt cable to connect them. Both iMac and Retina MacBook Pro support Thunderbolt but the MBP supports a newer (faster) version.

    Ultimately, which is best for you will depend on what you want to do with it. This will also determine how likely it is that your computer will still be doing what you need it to in 5-years time. The Mac should certainly both still be running fine and be supported by Apple with their software. You should also know that Macs tend to hold their value well when it comes to selling them. I'm preparing to sell my 4-year old iMac and I expect to see a good amount of money come back.
  19. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    No, it's not true. Apple will never, ever improve the display or change the design. The iMac you buy now and the iMac your grand grand children will buy in 2113 will be absolutely identical.
  20. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    Frankly the 2013 27" iMac is the best value Apple has, mainly because of the outstanding display. You can get very good 2560x1440 displays for well under $400 with DVI, but even then you'd be hard pressed to match the value unless you go the hackintosh route (where you really save coin).

    MBPs don't have the same performance hit that laptops used to have, and their screens are great if you need small. With SSDs day-to-day computing chores are faster by far with both classes of machines. And both, unfortunately, are impossible to fix yourself, or even upgrade (except RAM).

    The iMac is gonna process a bit faster, so if that's your most important criterion then that's it. But I would think with photo processing a good big screen is also a must; I would think you'd need an external monitor if you go with the MBP. Maybe I'm wrong.

    And I doubt the battery will last 5 years. Maybe, but it's not a guarantee with anything with a battery. And HDDs fail too, so take that into account. I think as big a SSD as you can get is the best plan.

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