Laptop v. desktop, post-Ivy Bridge refresh

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Morrius, May 6, 2012.

  1. Morrius macrumors member

    Oct 23, 2007
    Ah, the eternal question.

    A refresh for the Mac line is coming sometime soon, and I'm toying with upgrading my 2010 15" i5 MacBook Pro. It's a good machine, but heavy for a laptop. Every time I lift it with one hand, I worry that I'm gonna break my wrist.

    I've got the money, I'm just indecisive on what to buy. A low end iMac or a 13" MacBook Air.

    Both will have 4GB RAM, and hopefully the MBA will have more than 128 GB of SSD space. The only gaming I do is WoW, so a graphics card isn't an issue. The only thing that concerns me is the difference in overall processor speed, currently 2.5Ghz for the iMac and 1.7Ghz for the MBA. I also have an iPad for surfing the web away from my desk, but it can't do everything that a proper computer can do. (I would kill for a decent MUCK client for the iPad.)

    What it comes down to is the portability versus the fairly significant processor speed difference. Is the processor speed that big of a deal?
  2. BlazednSleepy macrumors 6502a

    Apr 15, 2012

    I think it really comes to down to how often you use your computer outside of the desk space. I would also wait for the Macbook pro refresh because "supposedly" it's gonna be much thinner and lighter.

    But if portability isn't your main need, then the iMac is a no brainer since it will be much more powerful with a better display, graphics for cheaper than an Air.
  3. Moccasin macrumors 6502a


    Mar 21, 2011
    Newcastle, UK
    I think if you have an iPad, then I would suggest that a desktop is your best bet - certainly if you feel that the iPad will be enough for you when away from your desk.

    If, however, you need full computing capability away from your desk then the MBA is your best bet.

    One other upgrade path that you could consider is to get a display with your MBA which would then allow a mac mini to be purchased in the future.
  4. KylePowers macrumors 68000


    Mar 5, 2011
    Depends what you do with your computer. You wouldn't notice the difference in clock speed unless you're working with some very CPU-intensive tasks (video editing or something of the sort).

    In actuality, you'd see a much surprising bump in performance with the MBA over the iMac, assuming the iMac doesn't have an SSD. I use my MBA all the time over my iMac (both 2011 models) and my iMac trumps my MBA both in CPU (clock speed, core count) and RAM (12GB vs 4GB). I loathe how slow my iMac is in comparison.

    If you're going to go iMac, at least upgrade to an SSD. But honestly, the portability factor with just as good, if not better in some cases, performance makes the MBA a much better buy, in my opinion. Granted, you'd have to opt for an external display if you wanted a larger screen, but that's an easy and cheap tradeoff (assuming you don't go with an ATD)

    Best idea probably is to go 13in MBP, be able to upgrade the HDD to an SSD as you please, be able to upgrade the RAM, and still be on the cheap end of things with performance to boot.
  5. Morrius thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 23, 2007
    I don't really do anything more intense than playing WoW. I've raided on 13" screens before and gotten by just fine. Is the SSD really that much quicker?

    Kyle, how long does it take for both your iMac and your MBA to start up when you boot them, just out of curiosity?
  6. Imaginethe macrumors regular

    Feb 16, 2012
    I was looking at this choice a few months ago, I am getting an iMac when released, as my ipad can deal with anything portable I may need, especially when I bought the camera connection kit. I felt I just will get more for my money with imac, and for me that extra screen real estate and power will be really useful.
  7. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    Speed in the real world is often limited by lots of other stuff. You mentioned 4GB RAM; that would be too low these days if you want to go fast.

    An SSD is the current rage for speeding things up, but even then it only works if what YOU do is aided by that technology. If you leave your machine turned on and just write emails and surf it may not be worth it.

    The CPU is gonna help most in engineering, 3D, heavy graphics. You may not do that, but consider this: say you buy a nice camera with HD video, and want to edit it. So you have to transcode it. Suddenly you're wishing you had the faster machine.

    You mentioned a low-end that much faster than your current MBP? Why not just keep the MBP for use on the desk and get the MBA?

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