MBP v iMac - Switcher Advice

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by fteter, Oct 8, 2008.

  1. fteter macrumors member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Decisions, decisions...I could use a bit of advice.

    I'm a long-time PC user switching over to the Mac world: not interested in Vista (too unstable) and tired of the "recycle my PC every 24-28 months...with a reformat and complete reinstall at least once during that time". I'm switching by the end of October and hoping to get 4 to 5 years of use out of whatever purchase I make.

    Looking hard at the MBP. Like the portability aspect (been a laptop guy for years now). Worried about the heat issue and the poor reliability of the nVidia GPU. Would also be marginally disappointed if both issues were fixed in a refresh 3 or 4 weeks after I buy...other than that, not really worried about buying the current model in the face of a refresh.

    My worries about the MBP also have me looking at the iMac. Seems more reliable and has more computing "bang for the buck" than the MBP (not unusual in a laptop v desktop comparison). Also impressed by that nice, big 20 or 24 inch screen. Of course, I lose portability (unless I take the emulator or Hackintosh route with my HP Pavilion zv6000, or stick with Windoze on the laptop :eek:). While not happy about losing portability, I value reliability over portability...a failure in while out and about would make me a very unhappy fellow.

    I do quite a bit of software prototyping using application servers (Oracle 11gAS, WebLogic, etc.) and databases (mostly Oracle 11g and MySQL). I'm also getting deeper into my photography hobby, so I'm doing some significant PhotoShop work.

    So I'm interested in any thoughts or guidance that you experienced Mac folks may have for me. Any constructive help or thoughts will be appreciated.
  2. ziwi macrumors 65816


    Jan 6, 2004
    Right back where I started...
    The iMac is essentially the same components as the laptops outside of the desktop hard drive so the performance dif's are not that large, especially with laptop HD options nowadays.

    The decision is simple - if you require portability then laptop, else iMac - the laptop decision may be cheaper if apple uses as rumored, the Nvidia chipsets in the macbook - allowing you to get more graphics in there for less.
  3. Batt macrumors 65816


    Dec 17, 2007
    Syracuse, NY
    I have a 17" MBP at home and a 24" iMac at work, and if I had to have one pried from my cold, dead hand, it'd be the iMac. I wouldn't give up the MBP for anything.
  4. fteter thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 12, 2008
    If the MBP seemed more reliable, the decision would be an easy one...wouldn't even be posting the question. But the issues of heat + nVidia GPU reliability have me a bit spooked on the MBP.

    Really? Good to know! No major problems with the MBP?
  5. jaka macrumors newbie

    Nov 20, 2006
    I'm in the same boat, considering the two, and the big dealbreaker for me is the better video card in the iMac (I'm a casual gamer, but when I do have time to do it I like it to be the best!). I would buy now but I'm wondering what kind of card the new MBPs get. Maybe they'll close the gap.
  6. Batt macrumors 65816


    Dec 17, 2007
    Syracuse, NY
    Zero problems with the MBP, but it has an ATI card (I think), not nVidia. IMO, though, I think GPU issues are overblown - you only see the problems on these forums, not the satisfied users. I absolutely would not hesitate to buy a current MBP.
    Please don't kill me if you buy one on my advice and it explodes and maims your dog or something, though.;)
  7. fteter thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 12, 2008
    No worries on any blow-back from me if I have a bad experience. I'm just looking for your experience with the MBP...not asking you to predict mine. However, all bets are off if my dog gets hurt :p

    Seriously, thanks for chiming in.
  8. techound1 macrumors 68000


    Mar 3, 2006
    There are some nice deals on the iMacs in the refurb store right now. Perhaps an option would be to get one of those, try it out, and if the new MBPs close the gap, sell the iMac and put it toward a MBP.
  9. Kan-O-Z macrumors 6502

    Aug 3, 2007
    If you need portability (even around the house), the MBP is fabulous! I've had a MBP(with nVidia 8600GT) for a little over a year and it just blows away any other laptop I've worked on. Beautiful from the exterior to the OS and very speedy (of course you could probably say the same for the iMac)!

    I hear your issue with MBP nVidia problem. Personally I think it is an overblown issue because if the issue was significant enough, Apple would do warranty repairs on them beyond the regular 1 year warranty. I am knocking on wood as I type this hoping mine won't go bad ;) .

    By the way I'm sure you have already thought of this but by connecting an external display (up to 30"), you essentially get an iMac at home :) You can run in lid closed mode or have the ability to have two screens (extended desktop) with lid open mode which I love!

    I don't think heat is a big problem. It's in line with all other laptops. Trust me I have a work Dell laptop and it runs hotter than my MBP. The only time my MBP will get hot is during graphic intensive applications like editing movies or gaming.

    One option for you to consider is to get AppleCare warranty. I woudn't get it right away either since you can get it at anytime before your standard 1 year warranty runs out. The reason I say this is if your MBP goes bad within the first year, the regular warranty will cover the repair. You can decide on AppleCare later in the game and make a judgement call on what the repair history looks like at the time on the MBPs. You can then buy AppleCare for cheap on Ebay for like $200 or from Apple ($220 using education discount) and it'll cover you for an additional 2 years beyond your first year. If you ever upgrade your MBP or sell it, you can always get a pro-rated refund back from Apple for the AppleCare.

    All in all, the MBP is an awesome machine. It's actually a little more powerful than the iMac (the nVidia GPU is more powerful than the ATI on the iMac - except for the top of the line iMAc). I would wait a few weeks to see what Apple puts out if you can. If not, go ahead an buy the MBP. It's the Lexus/BMW/Mercedes of the laptop world and it feels like it. I can't tell you how crappy my work dell is (also only a year old) compared to the MBP. You'll love it :)

  10. azharc macrumors member

    Aug 2, 2008
    Will second Kan-O-Z's post - especially regarding the heat & GFX, so that's something you don't have to worry about (especially if you buy AppleCare, hey if you're getting a near $3000 laptop - you better).

    As the other posters have said, it comes down to what you really need and want regarding portability. Personally I chose the MBP because I will be traveling between home and the states regularly, so an iMac just wouldn't work.

    Hey and if you can wait for the refresh, wait for it. But the current version is an awesome machine and you'll love it.

    Edit : Oh by the way, if you think you're gonna get serious with photography, the 17" Hi-Res LED screen is just... whoa.
  11. fteter thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Thanks for The Advice

    I'd like to thank everyone for the great advice provided in this thread. All good input and I greatly appreciate it.

    Given this morning's publication of Apple's tech note on the nVidia GPU issue in MBPs, I'm opting to hold off on any purchase until after the announcement on Oct. 14. My faith in nVidia, at least for laptops, is at absolute zero as of this morning.

    If I like what I hear on the 14th, I may try a new MBP. If not, I'll go for the iMac and add either a new MBP or MB after watching the reliability info for a few months.
  12. Works4Me macrumors regular

    Aug 29, 2007
    Good decision. I've already had two logic boards replaced on my 17" MB Pro (with the problematic Nvidia chip)!
  13. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    It's an old power versus portability argument. If you need power, go for the iMac; if, on the other hand, portability is what you require, go for the MBP. I switched last April, and I love my MBP. It is by far the best computer I have ever owned, fast, powerful, very good performance, great spec, impressive aesthetic and excellent screen.

    I'm with Kan-O-Z and azharc; the nVidia issue may be a bit overblown, but Apple gives a one year warranty and you can always add Applecare as well (which I have done and which offers peace of mind should anything go pear-shaped). One of the reasons I switched was the fact that Apple honour their warranties without seeking refuge in contractual small-print. Two iPods of mine died within warranty and both were replaced immediately without any fuss, which impressed me.
    Cheers and good luck

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