New iMac or MBP Retina?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by TW95, Nov 29, 2012.


New iMac or 13" Retina MBP?

  1. New iMac 21.5" (CPU + Fusion Drive upgrades)

    18 vote(s)
  2. 13" Retina MacBook Pro (CPU upgrade + MAYBE 512GB SSD)

    17 vote(s)
  1. TW95 macrumors member

    May 26, 2010

    I currently own a Mid 2009 13" MacBook Pro. I understand that it isn't really that old. It still works fine, however the battery life has become poor with around 950 battery cycles.

    Here are my options:

    1) 13" Retina MBP,
    Top Model with CPU upgrade,
    and MAYBE a 512GB SSD.

    2) New iMac 21.5",
    Top model with CPU upgrade,
    Fusion Drive.

    As I have mentioned I am currently using a MBP. I do like to ability to move around with it but saying that, I will be keeping it if I get an iMac.

    I would just like to know your opinions on which is best.
    Obviously no one owns the new iMac but previous gen. iMac owners, Retina MBP owners. Anyone who has their opinion, please share it.

    Thank you for reading, I look forward to reading your replies!
  2. aloshka macrumors 65816

    Aug 30, 2009
    I'm in a similar boat, except I'm having a difficult time deciding between an rMBP 15 topped out or an iMAC 27" topped out with 3rd-party memory and a MBA.
  3. skitzogreg macrumors 6502


    Oct 31, 2007
    Actually, add an option (3) - cMBP 15"

    Here's the deal. You're going from one dual core machine to an arguably faster dual core machine. However, the iMac has a quad core (single threaded), which is a better upgrade to aid with the hyperbolic phrase "future proofing". With the iMac though, you lose your portability. If you're looking for a faster machine, get the low-end cMBP with the high-res screen [matte or glossy]. You'll get you a quad core with an easy upgrade path to add your own high capacity SSD and 16GB ram for what could be a lower price [haven't priced it].
  4. turtlez macrumors 6502a


    Jun 17, 2012
    if you don't need portability the iMac is 100% better choice. Seems like you do need portability though so I would get the retina macbook pro maxed out. Sucks that you cannot replace the battery by yourself anymore :(. That steers me away from macbook pros big time
  5. InfinitiG macrumors 6502

    Jun 22, 2010
    id still rather have a 15 rMPB over a 27 iMac
  6. aloshka macrumors 65816

    Aug 30, 2009
    I realized it's impossible to really define whether or not someone "needs" portability unless you really are travelling all the time.

    For instance, I work from home most of the time, and at the office 1-2 days a week. I can have two machines or just a single laptop with two thunderbolt displays in each location.

    But I also enjoy working from the couch or my theater room downstairs. But I can use an MBA to remote into either machines if I decide to buy an iMAC + MBA vs rMBP + TB's.
  7. Golfer00ksu macrumors regular

    Oct 13, 2008
    This poll is little help to you right now. :)

    I would also consider the 15" base rMBP. I checked out the new iMacs today at Best Buy and must say the screen is better than previous gen but still doesn't compare to retina.
  8. TW95 thread starter macrumors member

    May 26, 2010
  9. willargus macrumors newbie

    Jul 10, 2012
    I own a 15 rMBP that im typing this on right now and i love it. It has the same power as an iMac, and also boots and launchs apps faster. I just have the base model and it's fine for whatever I need to do (HD video editing, COD Black Ops, anything). Also it's thinner than the other MBPs and is only about a pound more than the 13 rMBP, so I say go for the 15 rMBP
  10. jmck macrumors newbie

    Jul 18, 2002
    For design

    I have a similar choice to make outfitting a bunch of designers at work. Portability is nice, but raw power wins. Would love your thoughts or experiences.

    The situation:

    - we have spare 24" monitors around, so screen res is not a factor
    - we have older MBPs around for one-off offsite situations
    - we are in Photoshop and Illustrator plus email etc all day. That is it. No 3d,no sound, no video.
    - storage is a nonissue, put your files on the server where I can find them.

    I would choose between a high end 27" iMac with fusion drive and 3rd party ram upgrade and a retina MBP. I actually only go retina because there is no cost penalty compared to an MBP with an SSD grade.

    What do you think? The rMBP benchmarks a bit faster which I assume adding a fusion drive to the iMac might negate.

    Personally I would prefer one 27" monitor to laptop + 24" monitor, but my question is really about raw performance in ai and photoshop, for the money.
  11. WhiteIphone5 macrumors 65816


    May 27, 2011
    Lima, Peru
    which one did you end up getting? im on the same boat lol
  12. Yebubbleman macrumors 68030


    May 20, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    The battery replacement on a Mid-2009 13" MacBook Pro isn't that expensive. It's even cheaper if you buy your own tri-lobe screw-driver and if you are buddy-buddy with someone who works at an Apple Authorized Service Provider and can get them to make a stocking order for the correct battery (that way you don't pay a needlessly large labor fee for simply removing 12 screws and a battery that is easily removed once the 12th screw in the procedure is undone). If that MacBook Pro is otherwise fine for your needs, then an iMac is the obvious choice; the model you have chosen is fantastic, both in terms of relative reliability and performance.

    Otherwise I agree with the below poster (that I've quoted) in that you want a 15" cMBP simply because you have iMac-like power, with non-retina expansion (which is something that both your 13" rMBP and your 21.5" iMac both lack and is something that you're likely not going to find on any Mac for too much longer). Unless 15" is too large for you, in which case I'd still recommend a 13" cMBP as the expansion factor still exists and, again, really is a wonderful thing.

    He spec'ed the iMac with a processor upgrade, so it's a safe assumption that he's referring to a top of the line 21.5" iMac with a 3.1GHz Core i7, in which case he'd have hyperthreading.
  13. aloshka macrumors 65816

    Aug 30, 2009
    rMBP 15" with a TB display. My wife has a second TB display and I steal it and use it, and quite honestly nothing beats that setup.

    Also, it's nice having all your work with you. No syncing, no issues. TC will backup whenever i'm home and got to admit, the rMBP is handling everything perfectly. Granted, once you throw some real real hard stuff on it, fans spin, but I don't see it downclocking yet.
  14. WhiteIphone5 macrumors 65816


    May 27, 2011
    Lima, Peru
    Do you think the iMac performs better?
  15. aloshka macrumors 65816

    Aug 30, 2009
    I tried it.. and except for video does not feel any faster. Infact a bit slower, since I was testing one with a fusion drive (I was testing vm machines). Unless you get an imac with 768gb ssd, not sure it's worth it.

    The only real difference is fans spin up on rMBP when pushing it. With iMac they are not as audible
  16. utekineir macrumors 6502

    Feb 20, 2008
    refurb 15" retina.

    hell of a laptop for <$1800 range.
  17. WhiteIphone5 macrumors 65816


    May 27, 2011
    Lima, Peru
    But then is the rMBP i7 2.6ghz vs iMac 3.4 i7 so I'm not sure what to get :(
  18. utekineir macrumors 6502

    Feb 20, 2008
    what are your needs in a computer?

    garbage question = garbage answer
  19. dma550 macrumors 6502

    Sep 3, 2009
    Yes, hard to help you here - you talked about having poor battery life at 950 cycles (listed as a detriment), but are considering replacing with an imac which is a desktop only. Give us more info.
  20. thleeal macrumors regular

    Jun 24, 2009

    and replace the battery and get an ssd for your mbp.

    two fast machines.

    :D good luck... let us all know how it turns out.

  21. Santiago17a macrumors newbie

    Jan 17, 2012
    Same here

    Same problem here.
    I’m having a hard time choosing between the most recent iMac 27” and a 15” rMBP.
    I want use Pro Tools and Final Cut P X.
    The 2GB of video in the iMac sounds like a better option than the rMBP which is limited to 1gb of video and only 16 of RAM.
    I’m not so sure about the fusion drive though. I’ll use an external drive for media being edited but I don’t like the idea that in the case of an error I have to return the computer for them to fix/change the drive. Which technology is more prone to disk failure, solid state or regular drives?
    What would you choose and why?
  22. aloshka macrumors 65816

    Aug 30, 2009
    I was in the same boat and after mauling and thinking about it, I realized I was wasting time and money getting tired from making a decision. I kept both and couldn't be happier. If I had to choose ONLY one, I'd go iMac. Originally I tried rMBP + dual daisy chained TB displays but that proved to be slow and sluggish (people swear it's not, but I beg to differ. Benchmarks don't show what you feel in real life).

    Both technologies will lead to failure, but IMO, SSD's last longer. YMMV.
  23. Santiago17a macrumors newbie

    Jan 17, 2012
    Cool, thanks.
    So, you'd choose an iMac because it's better if daisy chaining TB Display? Anything else? :)
  24. aloshka macrumors 65816

    Aug 30, 2009
    I choose iMac because it feels and operates faster. I have another TB display attached to it.

    The other solution was I used rMBP and 2 TB displays and that was great, except I hated disconnecting, reconnecting, keyboard not detected, takes 1-2 minutes for TB displays to be detected, etc. And even though I thought it was fast, it does NOT compare to how much faster the iMac feels. I know benchmarks show them within 5-10% of each other, but I think it's WAAAAAAY more than that. And iMac absolutely is 100% quiet as opposed to rMBP that I heard fans running all the time.

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