iMac vs rMBP w/ 4k monitor

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Fifteen20s, Apr 2, 2015.

  1. Fifteen20s macrumors regular

    Jun 9, 2012
    I am looking at my next upgrade thinking of going in a direction that is non-traditional to me and would like feedback from others who may have gone this direction. Posting here instead of the Buying Advise forum because I want to target the most laptop minded people I can.

    With my current usage and equipment I have a 2011 27in i7 and a Late 13 2.6 13in rMBP. When I buy a PC I tend to buy overkill for my needs then keep the machine for 4 years. I do not need massive amounts of computing power, my iMac is still overkill for power, but I am in front of the PC for 8-10 hours a day and have a great appreciation for quick. I also only “need” a laptop rarely, just enough to have one. I do however use my laptop on the sofa, in bed and general use when I just want to get up from the desk.

    My usage is mostly Numbers, Pages and web-based applications. I rarely watch movies on either machine and the only game I play is Classic Everquest on an emulated server, basically a Macbook Air could cover my needs. Bootcamp, my iMac spends several hours a week in Windows for a few programs, but again, nothing that requires a lot of horsepower.
    Now to my thought.

    When the next gen rImac is released I have it in my budget to upgrade my 2011. Again, overkill for what I need, but when you stare at the thing for 8-10 hours a day, I want my life to be as pleasing as I can make it. My current cycle has me spending roughly $2.5k on a new machine every 2 years replacing one or the other.

    I am considering selling my late 13 rMBP and instead of getting an iMac, buying the next gen 15in rMBP, docking station and a 27in 4k monitor. Just running 1 machine. I realize it would be more expensive to get into that set up to start with. My thought is using my saved desktop money + money from selling the rMBP would cover the project. Then in the future I will just be replacing a machine every 4 years and updating a cheaper monitor on a different cycle. In my mind this will have a total overall cost savings while still providing PC power / quality / ability that I am accustomed to.
    I have 2 main concerns with going this direction.

    1. Machine longevity.

    With my iMac, it just sits there with minimal moving parts. The Thunderbolt cable is connected once a week to sync data, there is just no wear on it. With the docking station set up it will be in clam shell mode most all day but the Thunderbolt port will see movement every day.

    Heat. I am confident in my ability to provide a clam shelled laptop adequate air flow to dissipate heat. The iMac however is much larger with more surface area to dissipate that heat. I have the concern that the iMac may be better suited to handle 8-10 hours daily use from a thermal standpoint.

    2. Just worried Ill spend $4000 to get into this project and wish I had a desktop. I have no solid reason for this concern, I have thought it through several times and come up with no valid negative thought. It’s just the concern of going a different direction.

    I have considered the xtra cables with the docking station. That does not concern me, I have Mac’s because I prefer Mac OS, has little to do with the all in 1 design.

    Thoughts? Has anyone else been in a similar situation then was happy or had regrets?
  2. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    For what you are doing it seems like the perfect set up.

    To be honest with your use case I'd do it with a maxed out 13 inch rMBP, save even more money and have a much more portable laptop for bed and couch and out and about.
    Ther newly released 13 rMBP can run a 4K screen with ease and it would be a great docking solution available now...
  3. symple84 macrumors member

    Apr 11, 2009
    I recently went down this same road. I had a 27" iMac and a Macbook Air for portability. I found purchased a 2015 rMBP with 256GB of storage and purchased the LG34UM95 monitor which connects via TB2. Sure the iMac is more powerful but for what I use it for, the combination and flexibility is worth it for me.
  4. thadoggfather macrumors G3


    Oct 1, 2007
    That's pretty awesome. I've been eyeing that monitor a bit.

    Wondering what I'd do with my thunderbolt dock though and HP ZR24W I got currently.
  5. wiredup72 macrumors regular


    Mar 22, 2011
    Longevity? Why would you even ask about that. 4 years is short term. Frankly, for the software you mentioned you probably don't need a new computer. If the OS is slower, than you have the wrong OS on your machine.
    cranky post from my '06MBP
  6. Fifteen20s thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 9, 2012
    Fair comment.

    I like having somewhat recent technology. I used to update much more often.

    My main thing now is after looking at the retina screen on the rMBP, the iMac doesn't look so good
  7. wiredup72 macrumors regular


    Mar 22, 2011
    Now that I can understand. Monitor resolution and graphic performance is very pleasing to upgrade. My damn mbp has to run in clamshell because the monitor is smashed, but my Dell monitor is much better. The upgrade to UHD and retina levels is pretty darn sweet.
    I won't say I'm not jealous of my wife's '15 rMBP. :)
    But she has to run some of the slowest statistical modeling software along with ten other programs.
    The grumpy part of me wants a mini with the next Iris quad core and UHD, but now ;)
  8. Doug52 macrumors newbie

    Apr 4, 2015
    I have experienced where your at and understand the second guessing, and vasilation that creeps in as you wrestle with the facts vrs the emotions and desires. The dichotomy of human nature in us is at times is very my wife has often said "just make a decision and stick with it". Don't know about you but that's easier said then done.

    Having said that IMHO what I've learned is to listen to my heart. If I dont I will forever be thinking about "what if" .... My heart is where all the real desires are, my head only gives me facts and information (often more confusing than helpful) but if I listen to my heart rarely have I ever second guessed a heart decision but a head decision is almost guaranteed to send you down the road of buyers remorse, second guessing and analytical hell.

    My head is constantly researching and digging up more information and statistics feeding my brain with on going evidence and reasons why you should or shouldn't. New information demands new analysis and ultimately new decisions.....thus the cycle starts over and over again.

    Bottom line is there comes a point where you just have to turn it off listen to your heart and get what you really want end of story.
    Good Luck
  9. Agent-P macrumors 68030


    Dec 5, 2009
    The Tri-State Area
    I vote for laptop + monitor combo. Even if you don't need to carry it as a laptop outside your home, IMO the flexibility of being able to take the computer to a different room outweighs having a desktop computer. Since your usage requirements don't require desktop class specs, you don't need to worry about not having enough power to last you four years.
  10. stakis12 macrumors newbie

    Mar 27, 2015
    I'd go the monitor route unless you have and issue with 1 of 2 things

    1. You're going to pay a lot more for storage capacity... the iMac allows for up to 3TB or storage at a very reasonable price... so if you're ok to forgot lots of $$ for those 1TB SSDs then stick with the 2.

    2. Graphics card... if you're still thinking of the 15" then this isn't a problem but the 13" is still on board video.... granted they have come a heck of a long way.

    Other than that the convenience of having all your data in one place VS having to sync or just keep 2 separate computers is well worth the extra money you spend in a comparable laptop that specs out close to an iMac.

    I've ditched my iMac an gone 13'rMBP (the new one) with that same 4K dell that was mentioned above..

    haven't looked back since.... But I do recommend sticking with the 13" for portability... its still a powerful little machine.
  11. Macula macrumors 6502


    Oct 23, 2006
    All over the place
    I'm seriously considering this route, as well. But how does the 13" rMBP fare when hooked up with a 4K monitor? Doesn't the UI become insufferably unresponsive? I am thinking of Mission Control and all sorts of animated elements, which I am afraid would lag, jitter, and stutter, no?

    Thanks in advance.
  12. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    Not really. My early-2015 13" is hooked up to a Sharp PN-K322B and it operates quite smoothly. The only time I see lag is when opening Mission Control when having multiple windows open, but even that affects my 5K iMac.
  13. Fifteen20s thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 9, 2012

    1. On my rImac build I would go with the 512 SSD anyway. As mentioned, while I do not need horsepower, I have come to appreciate the quickness of the rMBP. Either machine I would have 512 storage.

    2. I would get the dGPU option. For a single machine option I would not get something that only had Intel graphics. I may not need the extra graphics ability but that would be one of the few things I would be left wishing I had if I didn't get.

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