New Mac Buying Advice (Desktop vs Laptop)

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by CuoreAzzurro, May 11, 2011.

  1. CuoreAzzurro macrumors newbie

    Aug 5, 2010
    Hey guys,

    I need some advice on what computer to purchase to replace my embarrassingly old Power PC iMac G5. I've been putting off this purchase for quite a long time for one reason or another, and it's time I stopped procrastinating and bought something already.

    Anyway, here's the deal, I know I want another Mac, but I can't decide between a new iMac (to then be paired with an iPad), or a MacBook pro. If I were to go the iMac route, I'd go for the 27" i7. On the other hand, I'd likely go for the higher end 15" MacBook Pro, which most people say is just the right size without being too large and cumbersome like the 17" supposedly is. The most demanding functions I'd be using it for would be Photo Editing and playing some games. Star Craft 2 and Diablo III, along with some possible Steam exclusive indie titles or something. The majority of my gaming will still be on my consoles, and I'll look to the Mac for exclusives only.

    Right now with my 20" iMac, it often feels too small to comfortably run two large windows side by side, so the added real estate of the 27" would be incredible. But then you run into the problem of still being chained to a desk. Which is why I was thinking of bringing an iPad into play. Also considering that for some time I used my iPhone over my iMac while at home, for the convenience and speed of my phone over my iMac. (Albeit much to the chagrin of my eyes). I don't have any real need to work or edit photos while on the go, but it would be a nice option. Mainly in a mobile sense I just want to browse the web comfortably.

    I think that pretty much covers it. I apologize for rambling, I just needed to get all of that out there. So, I'm not completely lost, I just need someone to nudge me in the right direction. And please don't say that it's personal preference or anything like that. I realize this, and while that's what I would say to one of my friends in this situation, I'm looking for some contrasting opinions to help me make up my mind.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    At 1900 x 1080 the 21.5 inch iMac will comfortably allow 2 documents side by side so the ability to view documents side by side shouldn't be the only reason to consider the 27 inch version.

    I have an older white Macbook and an iPad. I'm considering either the 13 in MBP, 15 in MBP or the iMac. I will probably not upgrade until next year but when I do, I expect the 21.5 in iMac will offer me the best "bang for the buck," especially if I wait until after the 2012 iMac upgrades hit.
  3. CuoreAzzurro thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 5, 2010
    No, no. That was just one reason I cited. If I bought the 27" for that reason alone, that would be idiotic. I would go for the 27" for the processor and graphic improvements over the 21" model. Along with playing games, watching movies, etc. with the larger screen size.
  4. trip1ex macrumors 68000

    Jan 10, 2008
    This time around the the 27" isn't so much more faster based on the benchmarks I've seen so I think you mostly be selecting the 27" for the screen size.

    That being said I don't think 2 documents show up side by side comfortably on a 21.5" iMac.

    Overall I don't think you really want a laptop from what you've said. So iMac and get an iPad for surfing on the couch.
  5. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    For photo editing the 27" wins. The more pixels the better. However the 15" MBP might be better in bright light conditions, if ordered with the matte display option, but it is a TN rather than IPS technology which has much greater color and contrast shifts depending on viewing angle.
  6. bigjnyc macrumors 603


    Apr 10, 2008
    I owned a 24" iMac and i absolutely loved it but..... I then moved to a duplex condo and decided to get a 15" MBP and i absolutely love that too. I dont think I could ever go back to a desktop, the thought of being confined to a desk is not good. I love being able to take my MBP and sit on the couch while watching tv, lay in bed, or sit at a desk if I feel like. The convinience is just great even if you dont leave the house with it.... Plus in the future you can buy a monitor for it should you need the extra screen real estate... definitely cant shrink the iMac lol......... So anyway my vote is for the MBP 15" just for the convinience and the choices you have. Plus I think the 15" is the perfect balance of screen real estate and size.
  7. JMNL macrumors newbie

    May 11, 2011
    I've been puzzling a similar question: trying to get a sense of how the 15" MBPs stack up, performance-wise, against the new iMacs.

    I'm not sure how the different benchmark values that have been reported translate into real-world differences in different contexts, i.e., how much performance is sacrificed in return for portability.

    It would be very useful to me (and, I suspect, to others) if a few of the mac gurus here could give their sense of how big – in a 'real' sense – the performance differences are.
  8. aloshka macrumors 65816

    Aug 30, 2009
    Benchmarks rarely tell the real life story. I have a 15" MBP 2.3 quad, MBP 13 2.7 I7 2011, and mac pro 6-core (definitely faster than iMAC, but hear me out, it's still a valid comparison). All have SSDs in them, if you don't plan on doing SSDs the iMac will always feel faster because of their 7200RPM drives even if you upgrade your MBP to a 7200RPM drive as well (the larger one in the iMac will still feel faster because of a larger cache). If you are not going to do SSD, stick with the iMAC. It will always feel / perform faster.

    If you put an SSD in a macbook pro you will IMMEDIATELY "feel" that your MBP is faster than either the 27 or 21 iMac and even the faster mac pro. You cannot replace the drive on the iMAC (unless you don't mind taking the screen off the iMac and doing a whole bunch of mombo jombo that I don't even feel comfortable doing).

    The reason why is because unless you are rendering, graphics, etc, most of the performance feel is the HDD/SSD and memory (the latter because when you don't have enough memory the drives are taxed even more because it will use your harddisk as memory when the mac runs out).

    My recommendation, get the Macbook pro. It's a lot easier putting an after market ssd into it, and that will make the world of a difference. And you will have a small powerhouse because the video card is really nice, even to play some games. The processor is already overkill, and easily can compare to last years mac' pros if you are doing any type of video encoding. And nothing beats portability.

    A few other things to note. Large SSDs cost a lot of money. So if you have tons of stuff and need tons of storage space, iMac probably a better choice.

    My only gripe with the 2011 MBP's.... fans.. when you start taxing the processor via vmware, games, flash, etc, they speed up to cool of the MBP. The new sandy bridge processors run pretty darn hot. The laptop does a good job at dissipating the heat, so you won't feel it, but will definitely hear it. Not a deal breaker IMO, with power comes heat.
  9. MuDPHuDStudent macrumors member

    Feb 8, 2009
    Hanover, NH
    Unless you're solving ridiculous PDEs (an FE mesh with 10,000 elements) or rendering feature film quality 3D animations, there's no reason that I can think of to have a desktop. Get the high end 15" MBP with the HR-AG screen (or just the HR screen, if that's what you prefer). If that's not enough screen real estate, buy a $200 Dell external monitor and use both screens.

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