MBP Retina + 27/30" Monitor as iMac replacement?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by TX328F, Jun 23, 2012.

  1. TX328F macrumors newbie

    Dec 23, 2009
    I would like to replace my late 2009 iMac, and of course I'm disappointed by the delay in the introduction of the 2012 iMac. Now they say that it is highly unlikely there will be any change others than Ivy Bridge/USB3 which will translate in a small bump in speed. I'm beginning to wonder: would it be a better idea to switch to a MBP Retina with an external display? Obviously it would be more expensive, but I would be able to to shuffle around the MBP.
    What I don't know for sure is how the performance of the MBP and the iMac compare. I have tried searching results for Geekbench2, and it look like they are fairly close:
    - MBP Retina 2.6 = 11844
    - MBP Retina 2.3 = 10810
    - iMac 2011 3.4 = 11648
    In addition, using the same benchmark, it looks like the iMac doesn't really get much faster from year to year.
    Thoughts? Are these numbers representative of real world performance? Any idea how the graphics card performance would compare?
  2. iSayuSay macrumors 68030


    Feb 6, 2011
    Remember MBP use mobile chip, designed to save power and supposed to be less hotter.

    Benchmark test usually done in a short amount of time, just couple of seconds or minutes. In reality, it's normal to put CPU under heavy load for hours, or even days.

    So yeah, while mobile and desktop chip today produce similar result on synthetic benchmarks, but it never designed to stand up long and intensive loads.

    And that's when desktop chip shine, it has stamina in the long run. it has bigger chassis on the iMac allow for better cooling and headroom, and iMac will always have equal or better GPU compared to what MBPs could have. Laptop is always about compromise.

    GTX 650M could be put in low tier iMac model, which only cost $1100 - $1500, while you have to pay $1800 - $2700 to get the same GPU on MBP. Also, top tier iMac potentially could have something like GTX680M (or Radeon equivalent) which is much better.

    If I were you, I'd go with high end iMac ($2000) + base 13"MBA ($1200) .. cost roughly $3200 and you get two computers for backup, target disk mode, and power/portability mix .. Only downside is you don't get Retina Display (yet)

    Compare with your idea .. base rMBP ($2100) + Thunderbolt Display ($1000), you get ONE of non upgradeable computer, 256GB SSD of internal storage (yeah, external is cheap but I'd like to keep things neat with internal), and mobile chips .... Spend more, get less :eek:
  3. plucky duck macrumors 6502a

    Jan 5, 2012
    I would also take a iMac and iPad/Mac air combo over a high end rmbp/tb display any day.
  4. IPlayFair macrumors member

    May 12, 2012
    This is what the forum had to say in 2007

    Read here. That was five years ago. Think how much power the Macbook Pro has now compared to 2007.
  5. iSayuSay macrumors 68030


    Feb 6, 2011
    Riight. Five years goes on and you get retina MBP which can't be self-upgraded at all, have a less than decent GTX 650M, and cost twice for the same spec you could easily have on iMac.

    Also notice second post from your quoted link. 2 is better than 1 :eek:
  6. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    As much as I dislike the imac, the top spec macbook pro can almost replace the imac from last year, although gpu performance is still significantly behind and the practical ram limit is half that of the imac (this may never change if ram in that density and spec doesn't gain popularity). Regarding the external display thing, laptops are pointless if they'll mostly stay at your desk. Don't get too sucked in to the shiny marketing. If you really do take a laptop everywhere, it's different. If you didn't before, even at reduced weight, it's unlikely to cause a change in long term behavior.
  7. Robster100 macrumors newbie

    Sep 22, 2005

    Just my two cents.

    I HAVE an iMac 27inch (2010 but upgraded with SSD and more memory) and a 2011 13inch MacBook Air, top of the range.

    Personally, these are now both for sale as I am replacing them with a 2.6Ghz Retina and a Thunderbolt display.

    Two machines are fine but keeping them constantly mirrored and backed up was a right royal pain and frankly, having the Air sitting there doing nothing most of the time was a real shame.

    For me the Retina delivers desktop like performance in an easy to carry package.


  8. All Taken macrumors 6502a

    Dec 28, 2009
    I have a Retina book and a 27" 2011 iMac, I'm now getting rid of the iMac, reason being is that I find the switch back and forth between the Retina screen and the 27" screen too much. The brightness is far harsher (as you'd expect) on the 27", the Retina has it just right.

    The obvious factor is text, I feel I get eye strain far quicker going between my Retina screen and my 27" screen than say for instance a 15 Standard Macbook Pro screen, it's text and icons coupled with the far harsher backlight that have made me get rid. I am far more productive with the larger screen but until a Retina screen arrives that will make transition between the two less tiring I'd rather just use one or the other.
  9. Roller macrumors 68020

    Jun 25, 2003
    It's reasonable to consider a rMBP and display if you have to move the computer around. But for a Mac that's going to be used in one spot, I don't think it makes sense. For example, I wouldn't want to put the laptop right in front of the external monitor - it would have to go off to the side, which isn't practical unless you add a keyboard and mouse. I know that many people use laptops instead of desktops, but they're always an ergonomic compromise.
  10. boyd1955 macrumors member

    Mar 27, 2012
    For that ridiculous amouNt of money you could get a REALLY GOOD COMPUTER
  11. wnxgenral macrumors 6502

    May 14, 2008
    it all comes down to mobility and performance. The best setup requires the user to find the best medium between these two tradeoffs.

    For those of us interested in an iMac, we would rather sacrifice the mobility of our main machine to get some better performance. For those interested in the rMBP + Cinema Display, they are willing to sacrifice performance for mobility.

    For me, I NEED to separate professional / personal work space. I have a Macbook Air that is SOLEY for work purpose and an iMac that I can use as my personal machine. I believe with iCloud, this is the best possible setup for me. I enjoy having a bigger screen + more power. Whilst I can just grab my iPad or MBA and take it on the road if I need that mobility.

    I thought really long and hard about getting a new rMBP with a Thunderbolt display but then I realized... This thing is just going to sit on my desk in clam shell mode... Why would I need this mobility? I also travel a lot, I didn't want to get on a plane with a rMBP, my iPad and a MBA, thats just too much....
  12. Mashuri macrumors member

    May 9, 2011
    As soon as I saw the rMBP and that Apple hadn't updated the iMac, I put my fresh-out-of-warranty 2011 27" iMac w/ Crucial M4 up on Craigslist and sold it for only a 25% net loss to me within 3 days. This baby is replacing my desktop and iPad. I need to be able to get serious work done on the road and my current setup just wasn't cutting it.
  13. Icaras macrumors 603


    Mar 18, 2008
    California, United States
    Nice. Thanks for sharing. I used to also have an Air to complement my iMac, which was later handed to my wife, but I've always meant to buy another Air again, which would be used for road work later.

    Anyway, I also remember keeping both constantly up to date and backed up and I totally understand what you went through. The rMBP is definitely a juicy prospect and reading your situation makes me want to reconsider my setup. :p
  14. iSayuSay macrumors 68030


    Feb 6, 2011
    Well .. with an iMac + MBA you can always use your MBA as Target Disk Mode and access it with OSX on your iMac as regular disk, and you can always store your works there (if it fits of course since you can only have up to 250GB in your MBA anyway). It may seems like glorified SSD, but when it's necessary to do your work outdoor, you won't forget to back up your project files since your MBA SSD IS your working drive.

    Anything too big wouldn't fit though, but you'd need external drive for that purpose, and you'll need to backup anyway, so it shouldn't be a problem.
  15. macrominnie macrumors member

    Nov 20, 2010

    The screen quality between the 2009 iMac and the 2011 iMac is minimal. It may be possible to keep the current iMac. That's easier on the budget. Perhaps this is what iSayuSay had in mind. The screen quality difference between the 2009 and 2011 iMacs is minimal.

    If the current iMac is kept, the preferable thing may be to run the iMac as the target disk to serve also as an external display. A low end 2012 MBP (including 13”, especially with SSD) or (13”) MBA will run noticeably snappier for routine tasks than the 2009 iMac.

    I don’t have direct knowledge to know if Target Disk Mode works well using the MBA, which has TB with no Firewire. The TB-FW adapters have been released recently. Maybe others have direct experience with Target Disk Mode & TB-FW adapters.
  16. iSayuSay macrumors 68030


    Feb 6, 2011
    What I really meant was having iMac + MBA doesn't mean you have to be in pain of syncing between 2 computers. With Target Disk mode you can always use your MBA just as regular external drive.
    Please note that only 2011 iMac can be connected through TB.

    So when in home, you can plug in your MBA using Target Disk mode, work on your iMac (which much more convenient obviously), and you still keep your files on your MBA.

    Basically it uses your MBA as SSD drive when you're home, but it can always be a computer when you're on the road.
    Sure it won't be as powerful as rMBP, but it proves using and syncing 2 computers not always painful as people though either. I hope you get the idea.

    But if you have tons of money to throw, having each one of Apple products wouldn't be a problem for sure.
  17. Icaras macrumors 603


    Mar 18, 2008
    California, United States
    Hey, that's an interesting idea. I admit, I don't have experience with target disk mode though. I'm wondering, how is this method different than using Lion's Airdrop or simply browsing the Macbook Air through the Finder in iMac?
  18. iSayuSay macrumors 68030


    Feb 6, 2011
    It will act as regular external drive, you can browse the content through the Finder. Just don't do anything fancy though. You may accidentally delete OS files in your MBA drive since its access restriction is not active. But you can access your documents and project files just fine.
    Neat, huh? :eek:
  19. Icaras macrumors 603


    Mar 18, 2008
    California, United States
    Yea that is cool actually. I suppose you'd still have to manage two copies of OSX still but it definitely adds more meaningful use to a secondary machine that might otherwise sit idle when you're at home.

    Also, I was thinking, if you had two Thunderbolt equipped Macs, I wonder if you could do it the other way around and use the MBA to use both Target disk and Target Display together on the iMac so you could use the larger display plus the larger hard drive of an iMac. Hmmm...

    Definitely will have to give this a try one of these weekends to experiment. Thanks :)
  20. iSayuSay macrumors 68030


    Feb 6, 2011
    AFAIK, you can't use Target Disk and Display at the same time. If you want to use iMac as external display for your MBA, they will act as 2 computers. Both run on its own and MBA won't be mounted in iMac Finder as Target Disk would. You must rely on regular network or AirDrop for file transfers and all.

    But I have question too, not too closely related, but:

    If you have ATD, can you connect 2 Thunderbolt computers to it? One for Macbook is obviously connected through the combo-cable. But ATD has another TB port, right?

    Now can we have that extra port connected to another TB computer and use the ATD as display too? You know, like multiple inputs.

    Sounds complicated, but it would be nice to have one Macbook and one gaming PC (with Thunderbolt of course) connected to the ATD.
  21. Icaras, Jul 13, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2012

    Icaras macrumors 603


    Mar 18, 2008
    California, United States
    Not sure about the thunderbolt display, but I know you can use a 3rd party box like the Belkin AV360 to connect say a PS3 or Xbox 360 to either a 27" iMac or a 27" Apple Cinema Display, so connecting a PC via HDMI out is probably possible. Can't say though since I've never tried it myself.

    Would be aweome if you can have this setup though but I don't think it's possible to do input switching on the ADT, let alone use the open TB ports for inputs for other devices.

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