MBP or iMac?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by soccer100, Feb 5, 2011.

  1. soccer100 macrumors newbie

    Jan 22, 2011
    Hmm where should I start...I currently have 2 computers at home which is shared between my brother and sometimes my parents. We have a:

    HP HDX 16" ---Laptop
    Intel Core 2 Duo 2.13GHz
    4GB RAM and 320GB HDD
    GeForce 9600M GT with 512MB of dedicated RAM

    Dell Studio XPS 8100 with 21.5" Alienware Optix something monitor
    Intel Core i5 3.20 GHz
    8GB RAM and 720 GB HDD
    Radeon HD 5670 with 1GB of RAM

    I don't need one right now so I'm waiting for the upgrade in the next few months. And, due to various reasons, I will be post-grading (high school) for a year or two. So I don't know if a MBP (15.4") will be the best option for university depending on what I'll decide to become. This is why I think the iMac is another good (or better) option. I rarely need a laptop to take around to the library to work on a group project, or to to take the laptop to school for a presentation or something. Also, the iMac has a bigger screen, better resolution, and more power. So the thing is, if I get a MBP then it is very likely that I'll only be using it for 2 years or a bit more and then I'll get another computer depending on my career choice.

    But the MBP also has advantages, more practical and I can take it out instead of the ****** PC. What really matters is that I might be undermining its life expectancy...am I?
    One more thing, I'm also planning to self-study chemistry and biology on the new Mac...not really important but just a note.
  2. Airforcekid macrumors 65816


    Sep 29, 2008
    United States of America
    Macs last a lot longer than pcs I still use my G3 for web browsing etc a MacBook pro will easily last 4-6 years for web and notes. I would however go for an SSD drive as an upgrade.
  3. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    When you get to University, all that changes.

    I always recommend to new students that they consult with their University before buying any computer - if that's a ways off for you, then that advice doesn't really apply. :)

    Don't underestimate the lifespan of a Mac.

    I used to replace my PC's every 18-24 months. My MacBook is now nearly 4 1/2 years old, and my iMac nearly 3. Neither is on my radar for being replaced anytime soon.
  4. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    I always recommend a laptop for a student. I bought an iMac about two years ago. Quite soon I realized that portability would have been nice and couple of months ago, I ended up buying a 13" MBA.

    IMO, the only reason to get an iMac is if you really need the extra power it offers. Most students don't. You can always get an external monitor for the MBP to use it as a desktop but you cannot take iMac with you when you go.

    iMacs are fine machine but at some point, in my personal experience, you may regret the choice. Sure, if you got the $ to go and buy a laptop whenever you want, then iMac + MBP is a great combo.
  5. cootersgarage6, Feb 6, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 25, 2011

    Nov 6, 2010

    Same thing here, I don't know what to get. But really, the iMac is a powerhouse, with the Intel i Chips built in.. it's more future proof. It won't be outdated for about 5-7 years... Really. The MacBook Pro is nice, but the Intel Core 2 Duo.. really? that's OLD.... It's going out of date, and kind of already is... But it's still okay, for now.

    On the other hand, the MacBook Pro refreshes are coming.. SOON... that means they will all be replaced.. so wait... it's going to happen this Spring.

    I am probably going to get the iMac.. because it's like a base station.. You can sync everything to it, even other laptops, and MobileMe... I already have a MacBook.. so My iMac would hold all my videos and files, so I don't have to waste the GB on my laptop...

    But if you really don't know... wait until the refresh when the new ones come out. Like the other person said, you can always hook it up to a monitor.
  6. jmpnop macrumors 6502a


    Aug 8, 2010
    MBP is a better choice, especially for university. If you feel the need having a bigger screen, just get a monitor sometime later and you have the best of both worlds.
  7. Vantage Point macrumors 65816

    Mar 1, 2010
    New Jersey
    A MBP and an external monitor offers the ultimate versatile solution. Some people really do need the extra power of the iMac and they know who they are. The new ix CPU's and forthcoming Sandy Bridge CPU offer a significant power/performance leap from previous C2D CPUs. A SSD and maxing out RAM in a MBP adds even more punch. For most people that is plenty. Again, those that need the most powerful CPU's know who they are and really don't need to ask.

    I love my MBP and perhaps I'll upgrade after Ivy Bridge is out as I believe they may be able to use 16GB of RAM.
  8. maccompaq macrumors 65816


    Mar 6, 2007
    My Macs continue to give good service even after they are quite old. I never get rid of any of my computers.
  9. Keybinding macrumors newbie

    Feb 6, 2011
    I'd say go with a MBP.

    Cuz you can't take an iMac with you outside and you're stuck with a big screen.
  10. iMacThere4Iam macrumors regular

    Dec 28, 2009
    For a student, my initial reaction would be the MBP, especially if you're going to school away from home. You'll probably need the portability on campus from time to time.

    Of course, I also think you should wait until the refresh, coming very soon. It's a given that there will be an upgrade in hardware. Also, Lion will be out this summer, so if you can wait, you won't have to pay to upgrade the OS.Then take a good look at specs, and decide what you need.

    I've always looked at the top of the line for any model, then took the model just underneath that. I've never noticed any performance lag for my uses. You can always add more memory.
  11. CedarRiver macrumors newbie

    Feb 3, 2011
    As a current student in University, MBP without hesitation. I am using the MB I bought when I first came to school 3.5 years ago. The places that I have used this laptop are astounding. My freshman year alone I wrote a paper in the basement of my dorm during a tornado warning, and also did online problem sets while camping out for basketball season tickets. Being portable in school is a necessity now.

    The only way that I would go with the iMac would be if over the next few years an iPad becomes a viable alternative for classroom mobility. For example, being able to load the slides from a current class on an iPad and take notes on top of the slides as the professor is lecturing. But even then I still think that the MBP is the way to go.

    Good Luck
  12. jim4spam macrumors member

    Jun 14, 2009
    Even if you didn't take it to class, knowing that moving house multiple times (as is the norm when you're a student), means for me the laptop would be the recommendation.

    Factor-in taking it to classes and workshops, means definitely the MBP.

    As someone said, you can always get an external monitor + keyboard....
  13. soccer100 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 22, 2011
    Thanks for the replies so far. I've been thinking about it and I came up with an option: Buy the 21" iMac (High end one) for now, and when I finish high school I'll get a MBP.

    I mean, I'm not sure about my career choice. I might join the military or CSIS and I don't think the MBP, or actually just any Mac, would be the best choice. I might become something in the health care field where the MBP would be just fine. Another reason would be that if I go with the MBP, it would really be better if I get the one that is most recent (although it will last for a few years) and with the most power. So I'll be making a big investment...so why not make the investment during the right time?
  14. Nikato macrumors member

    Jan 28, 2011
    Sounds solid. The Imac has the updated specs over the MBP which uses the core 2 duo still. Let the new ones come out and look at them later, but for now an Imac should do the deal well enough.

    And actually out of curiosity, I know that when vista was coming out and I bought my wifes old laptop, they gave me something for a free upgrade since I was buying the computer so close to vista. Would they do the same for a mac?
  15. soccer100 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 22, 2011
    I think that if you buy it within 2 or 3 months before the release of the OS, then yes you should get a free upgrade. I believe that this was the case when Snow Leopard came out as well.

    And about the iMacs, they are not likely to get upgraded during the MB's upgrade in the next month or so, right?
  16. Bye Bye Baby macrumors 65816

    Bye Bye Baby

    Sep 15, 2004
    i(am in the)cloud
    Go the iMac. But I would just wait a bit. I do think that flash storage may make it across into all apple computers.
  17. T-bag Guest

    Jan 20, 2011
    Portability -> MBP, else -> iMac

    I was in the same boat as you - considering an iMac and a MBP/external monitor combo. I ended up with a 27" i7 iMac, which I didn't expect doing before thinking it through.

    The iMac (even the 27") is a little portable if you need to move etc. It can even replace the tv in your room. It takes kind of less space (desk-area) on my desk than my 13" macbook, leaving more room for paperwork etc.

    I was inches away from ordering a 17" macbook pro, and I'm so glad I posted a thread here to get some pointers. Just thinking about paying even more using smaller display and less power, and the fact that I almost only use it at home. I don't know what I was thinking.

    It's as simple as this:
    Do you want to be able to use your computer at multiple areas? Then choose the MBP. You pay a lot for portability, and get a lot less power.

    If you don't want to be able to use your computer at multiple areas - the iMac is a far better choice all over.

    (Simple, not easy.) :)
  18. Nikato macrumors member

    Jan 28, 2011

    Yeah the 27 inch is only 30 pounds and the 21 inch is just 20. I mean thats less then most jobs require people to be able to lift lol. I would think that you could, if you really needed to, just pop it in a bag (a special bad of course) and take it with you.
  19. liamwillib, Feb 8, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2011

    liamwillib macrumors member

    Feb 4, 2009
    I've been through the same situation as you and still don't have a definite answer and swayed between wanting one or the other many times, but from my experiences i'd probably lean towards portability. I'll just list my experiences and leave you to your conclusions. I started with the 17" iMac G5 and later got the Alu Macbook (Before it became Pro)

    V-Portable for a desktop, was extremely easy to transport when moving house and took it to a few parties as an awesome music dukebox
    Great screen estate for document layout and specifically for my course, Architectural plans. Even better with the new screen sizes!!
    Better power/cost ratio, I could power through complex plans in no time when friends on laptops sounded like they were powering up jet engines for take off!!!
    Awesome dorm room TV with the help of an Elgato EyeTV. Included iMac remote was great, its an extra now :(
    Longevity (Working perfectly as the sole family computer over 5 years later)
    Theft resistant, less easy to steal especially when combined with a kensington combi lock. (same lock also fits macbook)

    Portability, Portability, Portability!! ( You would never have guessed :p )
    Allowed me to enjoy the sun instead of staring out of the window wasting time jealously looking at other ppl enjoying the weather ( wrote i good chunk of my dissertation on a beanbag at the beach :D )
    Was great for keynote presentations, directly hooked up to the projector. Even creating slideshows on a diff version of windows powerpoint to the one running on the windows computer i was presenting on threw up inconsistencies. Also convenient to be able to use an iPhone or apple remote to change slides without wondering if a remote will be available or will have problems connecting.
    To quote a lecturer of mine "even with the best libraries and teachers, your greatest resource is eachother". I found this proved right again and again during my time at Uni, it was so constructive to grab my laptop and meet up with classmates and go through lectures and assignments. Everyone picks up different points of each lecture and combining knowledge saved all of us so many times!!! I cannot stress this highly enough.

    If i were to do it all again I would get the highest spec 15 incher with an external monitor, but even if i had thought of it at the time my funds wouldn't have stretched. I don't envy your conundrum (apart from the prospect of a new mac in a few months ;) )

    (edit) Thinking about it..... iMac and iPad could be an excellent combo but not something i've had a chance to try. Still would have been too expensive for me ;)
  20. ngenerator macrumors 68000


    May 12, 2009
    USG Ishimura
    That's my plan :) I've had me an iPad since April and will be going to the :apple: store within the next few days to pick up my iMac. I figured I'd rather bump up the specs to the 3.2GHz i3 instead of going with the MBP since I've already got the portability of the iPad and phone.

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