MBA + iMac vs rMBP

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by keramidas, Jun 25, 2012.

  1. keramidas macrumors regular

    Apr 15, 2012
    in 24 hours my new rMBP will be delivered and although I am looking forward to it I couldn't help but consider an alternative.

    In Canada :

    RMBP 2.6, 16, 512 with tax = 3440$


    Air 13, 1.8, 8gb, 128 +
    iMac 27, 3,4 quad, 2gb gpu, stock ram
    Together with tax = 4100

    Let's say another 100 for iMac to go to 16gb

    So for about 750 more you get

    A very light yet very fast air to move around +
    A very comfortable 27 inch very powerful Mac for your office

    And you even get to use it as an external monitor whenever you want.

    Puzzled. Maybe retina will be returned in a couple of days. Pick up an air and an iMac as soon as they are released. Maybe best of both worlds...
  2. rays09 macrumors member

    Jun 12, 2012
    windows PC highend setup with dell ips panel + retina MBP/ high end CMBP with hi-res..

    but if i were you i goin with cMBP over rMBP because it's more powerfull than the retina base model, if you can afford the highend retina just go hook it! . about the screen if you choose the classic you can use your PC ips panel monitor.

    PC with highend setup (i7 quadcore ivybridge,NVDIA gtx 680,16gb RAM, dell ips panel 24") maybe around $2400, and the highend mbp with hi-res about $2300.

    just my opinion.
  3. Slivortal, Jun 25, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2012

    Slivortal macrumors 6502

    Jun 14, 2012
    How is the cMBP more powerful than the rMBP?

    Let's take the base cMBP model - same processor (2.3GHz Quad-Core). Starts at $1800.
    Let's go to 8GB RAM - that's $100, so total $1900
    Let's get a 256GB SSD - that's $500, so total $2400
    Let's get a Hi-Res screen - that's $100, so total $2500

    Similar rMBP is $2200, with the option to go to 16GB RAM at $2400. Not to mention the rMBP has 512 more MB of VRAM off an arguably stronger graphics card, due to the way it's clocked.

    Even if you buy all your cMBP parts off the market and upgrade it yourself, I think you'd have a hard time finding a 256GB SSD (especially with the SM830 connectors like the ones the rMBP uses) under $300, let alone the extra 4GB of RAM you'll need. And it's still heavier and has a worse screen than the rMBP.

    Honestly, if you're getting a 15" computer, the only real choice is the rMBP unless you're REALLY worried about upgradability.
  4. Lvivske macrumors 6502


    Aug 22, 2011
    you can pay more, but you get less power and assuming you wont need to bring your laptop with you (since you have an imac) the portability benefits of an Air are nullified

    then again, I'm doing mbpr + 27" cinema display so what do i care
  5. kylera macrumors 65816


    Dec 5, 2010
    I think the question that would determine what you buy is: do you need the additional power in a portable package?

    I don't do any design work, as I'm a writer and a part-time blogger, so for me, it's a wholehearted yes, but since you didn't mention your needs, it could be different.
  6. keramidas thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 15, 2012
    I am an electronic and computer engineer.

    right now i mainly do web and app development and network/system/web/dbase administration.

    so the idea is that mainly you need extra power in your office and a big screen to be comfortable with (imac) and if you want to just get up and go outside, either for a work meeting or just a plain old coffee then the air would suffice...


    you can always connect through remote desktop to the imac...

    anyway i have not yet decided it's just a thought i have. i am waiting for my retina tomorrow before 12:00 pm. i have to see it in person and decide if i can work in a 15'' monitor.

    i am coming from a Dell 3007WFP so it could be difficult.
  7. rays09 macrumors member

    Jun 12, 2012
    yes cMBP its havier and more less pixel than the retina. but it's not that worse like an night and day..

    like i said if you can afford the highend retina model just hooked it! but if you wan't to save money get the classic one and it's more powerfull than the retina base model. why? it have ethernet port , superdrive,firewire, and big amount of HDD.. SSD it's great hardware maybe for couple years or a year ahead when the price less cheaper than now. i think it's not worth scrificing the big hard disk with less space just for a booting up and open app for a seconds waiting..

    but if you can afford the high end retina one just go grab it! it's a best notebook so far..:)
  8. keramidas thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 15, 2012
    judging by your signature you had pretty much the same idea !
  9. Slivortal macrumors 6502

    Jun 14, 2012
    I don't mean to be rude or nitpick, but I don't get this idea of "more powerful"... I'm a programming nerd, and I like to run CPU-intensive processes across 2-3 virtual machines - the size of my physical memory, ethernet, superdrive, firewire, etc. don't really matter for that. The SSD certainly matters, as on most apps, it will cut the launch time by half or more. Plus, if you do somehow run out of RAM, your SSD will swap much faster than an HDD could ever hope to. SSD isn't just the future, many people who are running far inferior ULV processors (see: MBA) find themselves running faster than regular CPUs due to how often an HDD can bottleneck.

    Also, all the port issues above can be solved with Thunderbolt dongles. If I get an rMBP, I'll certainly be picking up an Thunderbolt -> Ethernet Gigabit adapter.
  10. AlvinNguyen macrumors 6502a

    Jun 23, 2010
    I think you need to consider rMBP this year in base form and then iMac 27" Base NEXT year.

    What that does is that you will get the low end 27" iMac next year but it will be just as fast as the fastest one you can get this year. It will end up costing you only slightly more. Trust me, this is the better route ;) I'm doing this for my setup.

    I picked up the base rMBP for $2200 and when the iMac is released next year I'll pick it up for $1600 - ends up being $3800 :D goes home happy.

    I tried using the Air for 5 weeks last year on a location job. It was extremely hard. The screen is just terrible for anything you need to do on an extended amount of time. 15" is the minimal requirement for any serious work on the go.
  11. keramidas thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 15, 2012
    yes maybe you are right... 13 for serious work is a bit low... i mean if i have to use it for 4-5 days it would be tiring.. but maybe you don't spend so much time out of your office... oh, well i have to think about it...

    i like your suggestion but you kind of forget sales tax (13% really kills you!!!)


    here in canada 2200 + tax = 2500 for base retina

    if you add another 2000 for imac you pretty much go to 4500

    more than what i talked about in the first post

    anyway i'll see the retina tomorrow, play with it for a week and think it over..

    i would appreciate any more suggestions :)

    oh and when you say next year you mean in a couple of months when imac gets refreshed??? or truly next week a.k.a. the haswell imac ?
  12. kylera macrumors 65816


    Dec 5, 2010

    Yup! Granted, it may be a bit pricey, but a solid keyboard with full-fledged OS X is better than iOS.

    I think you could see better use with a dual-Mac setup compared to me, given what you do.
  13. keramidas thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 15, 2012
    You mean two iMacs ?
  14. rays09 macrumors member

    Jun 12, 2012

    okay i agree with you about that hardware things! i have an ssd runing on my widows base pc yeah i see a different on booting and app but it's only about sec different man. 16gb upgrade RAM i think it's enough for todays or a years software if you're not to extremely proffesional editor or something.

    different profile different needs mate. maybe a programer nerds like you need this retina stuff,but i really don't need 256gb ssd it's very small, i like to keep all year things in my macbook with a 8gb flashdisk in my pocket for transfer small data collage things, i don't like to do something must have/bring ext hdd, and i can swap the superdrive with SSD for booting and app... and will got 1tb hd space in cMBP. about the screen? yeah retina display looks beauty! but i have dell ips panel moniter 1900x1200 it's enough for "me". and about the weight it's only 0,5kg difference, not an issue for "me". just my thought bro that's why i said more powerfull than the base retina. but the highend retina will overkill all the macbook. the price??? that's an issue. lol
  15. macNewbie02, Jun 25, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2012

    macNewbie02 macrumors regular

    Mar 4, 2012
    I would suggest you to buy a good external monitor and use only your rMBP. Why? because you have one computer that suits all your needs, and when you need extra real-estate use a decent external monitor.

    For now, I wouldn't even consider an iMac as an option, due to two reasons:
    1. it's not updated yet.
    2. its glossy screen is a bit, how to say it, bothersome...

    Get yourself the rMBP + external monitor - you can't go wrong there.
  16. kylera macrumors 65816


    Dec 5, 2010
    No, a desktop and laptop combo, or in this case, an iMac and MBA combo.
  17. leenak macrumors 68020

    Mar 10, 2011
    I think an iMac + MBA combo sounds nice but for me, I don't like having to switch computers. I also rarely sit 'at a desk' except for my work work which is done on a work provided Dell (which I hate but that is another matter).
  18. AlvinNguyen macrumors 6502a

    Jun 23, 2010
    You can't get student discounts? Ok, so let's just assume it's $4500 vs $4100 for your MBA + iMac setup. I think that's still a no brainer to go with the MBP now and wait 1 year (yes I know the iMac will be updated in 1-2 month but I'm suggesting waiting for the following year so it'll be easier on your financially as well as getting a new toy next year).

    If you really want you can get an external display to tie you over and then resell it next year at a small loss (maybe $100-$150 loss - apple displays holds their value very well).

    I just bought the base MBPr today and I'm really happy with it - it's blazing fast and in a year if it's not sufficient I'll have the iMac ;)

    Oh and I travel roughly two to three weeks every 2 months ;) fashion photographer - I'm always on location and out of town so I am using the MBPr as an editing powerhouse. Previously that was a late 2011 17" MBP 2.5ghz.
  19. mjs301 macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2012

    This is my first post on MacRumors, been stalking this website frequently and reading the forums for quite some time now. This is my first post!


    I am in a situation that is very similar to you. I got my rMBP in on Monday last week, amazing computer! But.. I thought instead of carrying this beast all around the place (and by beast, I am over exaggerating - it is not THAT big at all), why not just get a 11" MacBook Air and a 2012 iMac when they get released?

    I don't think an external monitor is an easy solution for the rMBP.. considering that the current Thunderbolt display only has the capacity for 2560x1440 resolution and the rMBP 2880x1800 (even though its' scaled), are fairly different looking displays.

    Getting the rMBP is, theoretically, the middle path - you sacrifice portability and screen size (+ more intense video card I'm certain) for the sake of using one machine....

    I am on the fence as well. I love this machine.. but.. I'm not really certain about a single computer that is my all-use machine as a 15 inch..

    I'm wishy washy though.
  20. KohPhiPhi macrumors 6502a

    Feb 9, 2011
    Unless you need ultra-high CPU raw power, why not going for a 13" MBA (i7, 8gb Ram) hooked to a 27" thunderbolt display? You know, the 13" MBA is a pretty solid performer (more than most people believe).

    I run a 13" MBA + 27" display combo (see signature) and it works wonders in terms of mobility + real state all wrapped up in one single package.
  21. keramidas thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 15, 2012
    this wouldn't work. two reasons.

    first of all if I thought that air was good enough to be the only computer I used I would have bought it. but it isn't.

    second while an external monitor will satisfy my needs for a bigger screen when combined with a 13 AIR the added cost to buy an imac on top of a good external monitor is not that great. and you get a whole new computer, new storage, new everything plus the capability to use it as a external monitor when you like.


    sure I understand but for some the "work-work" is pretty much the entire time :)


    good idea i'll add that to my considerations.

    I am just waiting for my rMBP to be delivered in a few hours, actually it is getting it's air right now strolling around on the back of a FEDEX van.

    did I mention I hate your job??? :p for your job I think a retina is pretty much a no-brainer. keep taking photos man. I am a pretty passionate amateur photograher myself, if you have a site showcasing your work I'd love to take a look.

    thanx for the entry into the discussion


    two reasons.

    first an imac is only 699 over a thunderbolt display. you get a quad core, 1TB of storage, a pretty decent GPU, the ability to use it a second computer when you want, the ability to use it as external when you want... so for 699 a whole new computer is pretty much a no brainer over thunderbolt display. you can't even build a decent windows tower with only 699.
  22. rocanlover163 macrumors member

    Jun 21, 2012
    I'm somewhat in the same position as the OP..though I do video editing as a side job and that is what I use my computer for. I wanted to purchase an iMac as my main stationary editing machine and a laptop as a on the go edit machine and for school as well. Originally I was going to go with a base 13" MBP and an i7 imac 21.5", but soon convinced myself that 13" inches is just too small for my taste, and I currently use a 15" with an additional monitor. Then I started looking into the 15" MBP's but soon realized that for about $400 more I could up to the base rMBP model, so now I'm looking into getting a base model rMBP with 16gb RAM along with a i7 updated iMac (whenever it is updated).

    What do you guys think? I tell myself that the rMBP is too much machine for my regular use when most of my editing will be done on an iMAC, but I refuse to get anything smaller than a 15" and for a $400 price bump I could get the rMBP instead of the regular one..
  23. AlvinNguyen macrumors 6502a

    Jun 23, 2010
    :D It's a job that keeps me alive - I can't imagine doing anything else. That's not to easy it doesn't have its own struggle. The market is insanely competitive and the investment is high. This year particularly is difficult with getting the D800 and upgrading my computer as well. Oh well, new toys :p

    You can see my work at

    The most recent stuff is on fb:
  24. jarnold macrumors member

    Jun 29, 2012
    My problems are solved at least for now....

    Alvin you just solved all my problems at least for the moment ha. For the past couple weeks I've been struggling with the same problem as the OP. I just couldn't justify buying a rMBP and an iMac. So I've been debating on getting a MBA and iMac vs rMBP and TBD. Both had it's pros and con's. I love the MBA but I want a 15" screen. The added horsepower and retina are great but since I would have the iMac I figured I would be able to compensate rather well. As for the rMBP and TBD....well the TBD is so damn close to the price of an iMac I would be kicking myself for not spending the extra money. I mean a whole other computer for an extra 600? Come on. Then you purposed this beautiful idea which I see as the best of both worlds. The rMBP will easily handle my needs for the next year and once the iMac (supposedly Haswell which is said to be a HUGE jump) comes out i'll be able to pick that up and sell my TBD. Thanks! oh and btw your pictures look great!;)

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