Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Lawyerinsf, Apr 11, 2014.

  1. Lawyerinsf macrumors newbie

    Apr 11, 2014
    Hello Macrumors,

    I'm hoping someone on here can help me come to a solution.

    I have a law office and need to upgrade hardware. These are the two setups I had in mind:

    1: 27" iMac+11" Air
    2: 11/13" Air+External Display

    The iMac is great for my desk because space is limited and it's surprisingly thinner than most displays I can find that are reasonably priced, however that combination comes in at $2,800, not too bad given how long I expect to use the setup, but still much more than the ~$2,000 of the Air+display combination.

    To complicate things further, I have about $2,300 in credit that will expire by June 15th if I don't use it, but from what I've seen on the rumor feed, it's possible (maybe even likely) that neither the iMac or Air will be updated by then.

    So here are my questions to you:

    1: Which setup would you go with and why (or recommend an alternative setup)
    2: If the iMac update is expected to be small, what are the realistic longevity loss I will actually suffer in terms of future upgrades?
    3: The Air update feels more crucial to my purchase decision since it may gain a retina display, so how likely is this and what other features might I want to wait for in the new Air?

  2. Altemose macrumors G3


    Mar 26, 2013
    Elkton, Maryland
    Personally I would do a 13" MBP with Retina Display and a Thunderbolt display if you can afford it.

    The question is are you going to be leaving your desk often? If you are going to court, meetings, etc. it may be worth wile to get the rMBP since the display is excellent for documents, has a great scaling system to allow more to fit on the screen, and a great construction.

    I am not saying the Air is bad by any means, but you will definitely appreciate the Retina display. You could even go Apple Refurb to save some money and put that towards AppleCare or the Display. Check out this one:
  3. Lawyerinsf thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 11, 2014
    Thanks for the ideas! :)

    One of the reasons I had thought Air over rMBP is the weight and primary use. I don't go into court very often (most of my work is drafting and client advising) so the Air is the device I would rely on to work while traveling or in remote situations like extended negotiations. I take about 3-4 week-long trips every year along with 5-6 long weekend trips so the portability of the Air seemed valuable.

    I tend to do 90% of my drafting at my desk and that's one of the reasons why the iMac seemed like a good idea. It's large display will let me work on multiple documents at once, which is typical.

    I had considered a Thunderbolt Display but the high price point made me think that from a cost-benefit perspective the iMac would be better. In the event one of my computers fails, I could have a backup in the other and given the price difference between a Thunderbolt Display and an iMac it seemed like reasonably affordable "insurance."

    Are there any good third party Thunderbolt displays out there? I'd look into those too but I had assumed that Apple's 27" was only slightly above market price since Thunderbolt is proprietary (as far as I know).

    Thanks again!
  4. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2013
    If you care about a refresh, and you can wait about a month and a half, just wait for wwdc on june 2. You can still buy an iMac and a MBA then if there is no refresh announced.

    If you decide to get it now, I would get a 2013 11" MBA and a refurb 2012 iMac.

    MBA: 2013 11", i5, 128GB SSD, 4GB RAM

    iMac: 2012 27", i7, 1TB Fusion, 8GB RAM, 680mx

    I recommend the essentially maxed out 2012 iMac because it is only 50$ more than the i5, gtx 675m, 16GB RAM at 2000$. Full disclosure, I own this model, which I absolutely love. Also note, beside the PCIE flash and very slight haswell bump, it is actually a more powerful computer than the maxed fusion drive 2013 model.

    The reason for getting an iMac+MBA over a display and MBA is that the TBD is super expensive, and is really meant for professional photography work. If you do get a display, I would not get an apple one. Many other manufactures use the same panels and offer displays at significantly lower prices. When the display is packaged in with the iMac, the price of the components is actually pretty good.

    Either way, I would recommend waiting until the beginning of june. If you need it now, check out an iMac. It will give you storage space, power, and less clutter than if you had to set up a dock/external storage for your MBA.

    Best of luck,
  5. Altemose macrumors G3


    Mar 26, 2013
    Elkton, Maryland
    Your reasons for an Air are perfectly understandable. I personally prefer the Pro due to its balance of weight, power, and display, but I respect your preferences. The key is to get enough SSD space where you are going to be okay with saving files to on trips and not needing to reach for externals every time. The other key is to get the 8 GB RAM option. Trust me, you will thank me later.

    That is a very good idea. Especially if the OP bought a refurb iMac and MBA! That easily drops the cost to where the credit and a little more would afford it! Sadly, getting a nice computer like that and using a hard drive is like driving a Corvette in first gear in a parking lot. The MBA may even feel faster.

    In summary, get both and you won't be sorry :D. Just make sure you get a Fusion or a SSD with the iMac.
  6. glenthompson macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2011
    I prefer to use a single computer instead of trying to keep two machines in sync. I have my MBP connected via a CalDigit to a old 23" ACD in clamshell mode. Just like using a desktop with full sized keyboard. I can unplug the thunderbolt and power cables and I'm out the door with everything with me. I'm also biased towards laptops since I haven't used a desktop as my primary machine for about 20 years.

    As long as the Air has the power and space for your needs, I think it's a good solution.
  7. Lawyerinsf thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 11, 2014
    Good to know, thanks! :) I would've not bothered to upgrade RAM until later in the game but if your experience says otherwise I will make a note of that.

    This was a serious consideration I had as well but colleagues of mine have told me about things like Box and other cloud storage services that basically minimize that problem into a triviality. I've only been making the transition to a fully cloud-based office for about 2 months and already there's very little that now gets saved onto my hard drive directly. Services like Box also offer encryption and security that are just as, if not more, robust than what most people have on their computers.

    Thanks again for everyone's help! If you have any other ideas, I would greatly appreciate them. I won't be making any decisions until early June given WWDC anyway so I won't discount any idea until then. :)
  8. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2013
    8gb ram

    Here is my opinion on RAM, since it has been brought up. If this isn't relevant to you, then don't worry about it

    RAM is always a hotly debated topic. Obviously, the more you get, the better, but at what point does the cost outweigh the benefits? Up until this last year, I owned a 2010 MBA, which I gave to a family member. It had 2GB of RAM, and I was able to have multiple programs open, stream movies while browsing the web, and play video games like Portal 2 and League of Legends without a hitch.

    In 2008, I would have told you to get as much RAM as possible. With the advent of the solid state drive in mainstream computing, RAM is of much less concern than it used to be. When a program boots up, it loads off the hard drive, on to the RAM, and the most immediate data gets bumped to the CPU and GPU. In general, the CPU is faster than RAM, and RAM is faster than the hard drive. RAM will run programs until it fills, then it will shift processes over to the hard drive. Traditional spinning platter hard drives were not able to handle the load, and significantly slowed systems, making RAM a valuable asset. SSDs are slower than RAM, but the gap between the two is less, to the point where during typical use, even intensive GPU tasks run butter smooth.

    Understand, I don't think RAM is useless. RAM can still be very valuable in the professional world, and if you plan on processing large video files, crunching massive amounts of data, or editing your photo library, RAM will make a big difference. If the RAM occasionally fills though, your system will not take the performance hits it would have a few years ago.

    As a last thought, the larger your SSD, the better the performance of the drive. The speed difference between 128GB and 256GB drives is pretty big. So you could either spend 100$ extra to get a bigger, faster hard drive, or to get 8GB of RAM, to avoid loading data on to your hard drive.

    No matter what, the computer you buy will be very fast. These are fairly small differences on the grand scale of how your computer will function. It is just that if you plan on spending extra money on something, it helps to be informed :).

    Best of luck, I'm making it more complicated than it needs to be,
  9. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    I hear you on the "sync" issue, and you are correct iCloud and Box or Dropbox type services do handle most of this with little fuss, but let me throw one other consideration into the mix and that is computer updates/maintenance.

    For quite sometime I had an iMac and a Macbook, then two years ago switched to a Macbook Air attached to a Apple Thunderbolt Display as my only computer and I would never go back to the old, two computer setup.

    Let me give you an example of what happened to me many times.

    The Macbook was closed and on a shelf and I am using the iMac... and along comes OS X update 10.7.2. Okay great, so I install that on the iMac and when that is done I go over to the Macbook and do the same. Then update my backup of the Macbook and close it down and put it back on the shelf. Four hours later, along comes a new iPhoto version. Okay... let's repeat this and fire up the Macbook and apply the iPhoto update then update my backup again. Then the same thing on the iMac. Fast forward to the next morning... oh look updates for iBank and my RSS app Readkit! Welp... better update those on both machines and update backups on both. :mad: You get the idea.

    It is just so much less hassle to only apply updates to one Mac and know that it is always updated and backed up and ready to just unplug and go.

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