New 27" iMac OR Nice 4K 27" Monitor

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by kelvin_chan, Jun 9, 2017.

  1. kelvin_chan macrumors newbie

    Jun 5, 2017
    Hi guys, would like to get some advices from all of you!

    Currently, I got 2015 15" rMBP for my work. I usually do iOS coding, run simulators, some light Photoshop work, and of course some web browsing + email. I realized that the screen is actually too small for me, would like to have some kind of upgrade.

    Initially, I was going to buy the new iMac for Target Display Mode, so I can use the new iMac as external monitor and my second computer. However, I have tried it with my 2015 rMBP via TB2 adapter, and no luck.

    I usually spend time working on code at home and Starbucks, so I will still use the rMBP even I got the iMac.

    Then, everything went into this dilemma.... Should I still spend $1800 for the 27" new iMac / spend $600 for a nice 4k external monitor? I feel like even I spend $600+ on the monitor, I still wont get the good quality as iMac which makes me very frustrated....

    Any inputs are greatly appreciated !
  2. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    5K imacs currently have no target display mode due to 5K controller issues (this may have changed with kabylake machines but it needs to be checked).

    You could sell the 2015 MBP and buy a 2017 MBP with a 5K screen and have the best of all worlds, just to make your decision more complicated. :)
  3. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    The iMac is in a honeymoon period for people who want the ultimate quality of a 5k display. There are only 2-3 other 5k options: the HP (which will need two cables and use both TB/Thunderbolt ports on your MBP, the Dell (likewise - and I believe it is now discontinued) and the LG/Apple Ultrafine (which needs a computer with TB3 to get 5k - I believe that it will do 4k with a TB2-3 adapter). Also, my hunch is that 3rd party 5k isn't going to take off until DisplayPort 1.3/1.4 - which can do 5k over a single cable - takes off, after which dual-cable 5k displays may get old rapidly, as will TB3 displays if TB4 adopts DisplayPort 1.4 and/or newer Intel controllers support DP1.4-over-USB-C. This certainly softens my concerns about buying a 5k display baked in to an iMac - you're getting 5k at a knockdown price and there's some question as to whether an external 5k display is going to have a long shelf-life.

    So, if you really want 5k or bust, then an iMac is the sensible choice.

    However, if you're prepared to slum it with 4k - which is still ahead of the game - then getting an external 4k for your still-perfectly-adequate MBP is the way to go. You might also consider looking at a 28" or 30" display - at which size the native "looks like 3840x2160" starts to become useable (I can just about use it at 28", if my eyes were 10 years younger it would be great for coding - otherwise there's a couple of intermediate 'scaled' modes that are good for >27"). Plus, if you change your mind later and go iMac, you can use them as a second screen for that.

    Plus, if you stick your MBP on an elevator stand, you've got a second screen to park reference material, you iOS simulator etc.

    The 2015 iMacs didn't support Target Display Mode at all, and although I've seen a few conflicting reports it's sounding like the 2017 models don't either. Before sticking more pins into your Tim Cook action figure, though, bear in mind that whereas the old 1440p display panels were, basically, driven internally with DisplayPort, the 5k iMac is using a custom internal interface to drive its screen at 5k - so driving it, instead, with a pair of DisplayPort streams from thunderbolt would be a non-trivial feature.

    In any case: whether or not the new iMac supports TDM, TB2 doesn't support 5k over a single cable - full stop. The LG Ultrafine 5k works with the TB2-TB3 adapter, but only up to the max UHD "4k" that TB3 supports. If you stick with the external display route and can see yourself getting a new MBP in the next year or so, that might be an option.
  4. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    If you long for an iMac, BUY one. They're very very nice.
    You'll have a "full desktop" for home use, and you retina MacBook to boot!

    Advice re iMac buying:
    DON'T buy the model with the 1tb fusion drive. It has only a 24gb SSD portion, far too small.
    Instead, spend a little more and get either a 256gb SSD -- or a 512gb SSD if you want to pay $200 more (over the 256).
    You WILL NOT regret having done so over the life of the machine...
  5. kelvin_chan thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 5, 2017
    My 2015 MBP is a work computer :/ can't sell it... thats why I am stuck with the TB2 and planning to get an external monitor for it..
    --- Post Merged, Jun 9, 2017 ---
    Appreciate for your kind insights.
    I was not aware that I would need two cables to connect to the external monitor if I wanted to have a nice 4k external monitor. Thats really helpful.

    I was in the dilemma because for the nice quality 4k monitor, I would almost have to spend about 1k for the monitor, and other accessories like cable. If I spend a little more, I will a very nice quality iMac with 5K.

    Do you have any recommendations when it comes down to 4k monitor? Preferably usb-c connection, as I believe my company will soon upgrade my 2015 MBP. But still... the MBP won't help me to satisfy my big screen need...
    --- Post Merged, Jun 9, 2017 ---
    Yeah! that's what Im planning to do now... Rather spending over 1000+ for a monitor, I can have a second home computer with a little more money. Would be a great investment, right?
  6. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    No, you need 2 DisplayPort 1.2 cables for 5k (and there's only one or two such 5k displays on the market) unless you have a Thunderbolt 3 Mac.

    4k is fine with a single DisplayPort cable.
  7. krause734 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 30, 2010
    I prefer a monitor and a desktop to an All-In-One iMac but there hasn't been a standalone desktop Mac update in years. Rumors are next year we will see updates.

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