MacBook Pro a Better Long-Term Investment?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Mark D, Aug 11, 2012.

  1. Mark D, Aug 11, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2012

    Mark D macrumors member

    Jun 21, 2012

    I recently bought a 21-inch iMac refurbished as a budget option to get into Mac. But lately I have begun to favor the idea of a MacBook Pro + external display more, and wonder if I should have just waited and saved up for that. That's why I'm posting here, because I can still send it back until the 21st. I love the size of the iMac's monitor but that's about it. It is unbelievably susceptible to reflections and glare, and far worse still, it has a tendency to profusely suck in dust behind the glass where it can't be wiped off.

    I kept my Toshiba laptop because I like having a portable option, so there's no question a laptop is still a relevant desire for my lifestyle. If I work on something on the iMac then should want to continue say at school or on a vacation or something like that, not only is it a different computer but it is even a completely different operating system. Hell, because of formatting my laptop can't even write to my external drive now. The workflow is not exactly what you'd call "seamless". Even though there's nothing I can pinpoint with words other than the screen fitting, Apple's laptops just seem to be that little bit more well made to me. I just need to work around the screen issue as I am a photographer and I'm afraid 15" might be a somewhat limiting amount of real estate. There exist 24" monitors from Dell and others or perhaps even a double-function 32" TV, that would probably be a simple and affordable enough fix for looking at pictures and otherwise getting that full in-your-face experience, and I would be able to get liberation from having the monitor and computer perpetually bonded. Plus, I could probably even get all or close the cost of the monitor by ditching my Toshiba Satellite on Evil-Bay.

    I know there are still sacrifices but the latest MBP's seem right there in terms of performance with the iMacs, so it's more tempting than ever to exclusively work from a laptop. Even though I am definitely not one of those people who fiddle about at Starbucks all day musing on their blog, I'm not the MOST intensive user. The toughest task that I do on a regular basis is working with RAW files in Adobe Lightroom, and also making HDR pictures. So common DSLR photo editing workflow. I also work with 1080p video, but basic short clips of events and never anything like 3D. No graphic design or games either. Do you think this would be a worthwhile setup to look into, rather than just an all-in-one iMac that is a nice kit but has far less usage possibilities? Not to mention obvious design flaws. I was impatient and probably didn't think it through too well prior to pulling the trigger, but nevertheless this is a realization I had not to long ago, so I just wanted to see how logical it seems to others. Props to you if you read all of this, and any insights would be greatly appreciated. This is the one week I have to correct a potential mistake.
  2. RedCroissant Suspended

    Aug 13, 2011
    I think your position is a good one and I agree that a MBP would be a better long-term investment, especially if you like/need the portable option. And since you think the 15" might be limiting on space, why not go with a refurbished 17"? They are very affordable now and I have no doubt that they will have no problem handling the types of files that you work with on a daily basis. And because of its size, you have more options for expandability and even customization when it comes to that. And even though it's a slightly slower speed than the current iMac line(2.2GHz vs the base model's 2.5GHz) the MBP has an i7 processor instead of the i5.

    Refurbished MacBook Pro 2.2GHz quad-core Intel i7
    Eligible for OS X Mountain Lion Up-to-Date Program

    Originally released February 2011
    17-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit Hi-Res glossy widescreen display, 1920-by-1200 resolution
    4GB (2 x 2GB) of 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM [maximum 8GB]
    750GB Serial ATA @ 5400 rpm
    8x double-layer SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    Intel HD Graphics 3000 and AMD Radeon HD 6750M
  3. Mark D thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 21, 2012
    Thanks, RedCroissant. Well the truth is, I'm not going for anything right now! The $999 iMac was all I could currently afford. I got a new job this summer so next year will be different. With that in mind, I'm looking to get another year out of my Windows machine then go for broke when Haswell processors are available.
  4. RedCroissant Suspended

    Aug 13, 2011
    I'm right there with you as far as not being able to get anything now. I, however, am in the position of getting rid of as much as possible because things haven't been working out the way I planned. That's why i still have my early 2009 iMac that I recently upgraded(because that's what I was able to afford).

    Anyway, since you have a Toshiba laptop running Windows(I'm assuming) would you be able to write to your external if you were running a UNIX or LINUX OS as well? If so, then perhaps virtualizing Ubuntu or Mint would give you the ability to maintain a more proper workflow if you downloaded some of the same applications that are Mac compatible. For example: LibreOffice. My school(even though they use nothing but iMacs in the classrooms) are running Windows and typical Windows formats are the requirements for assignments. So I use LibreOffice because it was completely free and is compatible with Mac, Linux, and Windows.

    And as far as I know, there are MAC and Linux versions of GIMP(also free).
  5. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    He'd be better off with one of the much cheaper 15" refurbished units. You can find a late 2011 down to $1359. The 17" isn't THAT much bigger. I've used both extensively. It's a step up, but that's really for people who miss their 20"+ displays when on their notebooks. Displays other than the thunderbolt display can be found for much less. You can find a decent 24" without spending a fortune. You can do way better if limiting it to 24" when on a budget rather than going for 27". I'd stick with a 24" 16:10. Going 27" automatically means 16:9, and the 1920x1080 ones that cover a lot of the cheap range kind of suck. That being said computers all depreciate pretty hard. I avoid the use of the word "investment". Look at how much models from last year sell for refurbished in the Apple Store. The warranty and applecare eligibility is identical to a new one.

    This just tells me you know little about what you are doing:p. A double function 32" TV is not a good option, especially if you intend to work with photography. I like the term evil-bay though. Someone really needs to create that.

    Graphic design doesn't require hefty hardware for most use cases. People get stuck on ideas like that the use of the word graphics means they need a hefty graphics card:rolleyes:. It's an uneducated mentality as most of the time it's a matter of supported gpu features and vram for such programs with things that would matter in gaming being completely irrelevant. HDR workflows can suck up a lot of ram, especially if we're talking about spherical hdr assembly.

    That would have been a reasonable cause to go with the imac last year. Now it's a bit closer. I've seen issues with both. I've experienced bad chargers and swelling batteries with one. The other always carries the potential for long term display issues. In terms of price to performance, the imac is still the 2011 model, even this far into the year, and a 21.5" display is not really compelling for that price in 2012. They could do a bit better, as the display itself is nothing special. If you're wondering about the 15", the 2011 15" refurbished option is close enough in performance to the less expensive imacs, and you can go up to 16GB of ram within a reasonable cost. The imac overall may cost you less in the longer term as chargers and batteries aren't an issue there, and it's not subject to many common notebook problems. The cost isn't that far apart. I'd caution against the term "investment". Treat them as sunken costs. People on here try to factor residual values far too often, and those are generally unreliable. A redesigned model + large amounts of refurbished stock from Apple has brought used pricing down to sane levels for once.

    I guess the things to take away from this would be don't buy more than you can afford, and remember that these are all sunken costs. If you could wait for a 2012 imac revision, I'd probably suggest that. As far as the need for portability, make sure you're being honest with yourself. If an ipad could download photos on the go, I'd probably never touch a notebook again:p.
  6. Mark D thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 21, 2012
    @ RedCroissant -

    Eh, I don't really feel up to messing with other OS's. Plus I get Microsoft Office free from my university. And why would I use GIMP? It's really quite poor and complicated plus I do more workflow-oriented things in Lightroom rather than actual manipulation like Gimp or Photoshop.

    @ thekev -

    As I said, the only reason I got an iMac to begin with is because I had a pre-existing laptop. I really do want portability - I often not only download but actually edit photos while I'm still on a trip, post them to websites etc., and even at home I'm about 50/50 preferring to work on the couch, in the kitchen, on my bed, stuff like that and really only when I need my external drives or am doing something quick do I like to sit at the desk. You give that up with an iMac, and I thought it would be worth it to have a Mac but it's just really constraining and not as nice as I expected. I would much rather employ a cheap Dell monitor to get a more accurate view of my photos, and then enjoy all the rest of my usage wherever I happen to be. Right now than means using Windows, which takes us back to the me not really thinking before buying thing.

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