retina + thunderbolt display vs. Imac 27 inch + 13 air

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Ardash, Aug 24, 2012.

  1. Ardash macrumors newbie

    May 6, 2012
    I am torn between two different solution.

    I was thinking of getting a macbook air 13 inch for being mobile and primarily for school(college) nothing fancy, paired with a 27 inch imac for use at home for photo and video editing as well as gaming and storing all my music and movies. The only real draw back to this setup is that I have to manage files between two computers.

    The other option I considered was to get a macbook pro retina with a thunder bolt display. I would use external hard drives for storage.

    Does anyone have any of these setups above? What are your thoughts? What do you see as potential pros and cons?
  2. rkdiddy macrumors 65816


    Mar 19, 2008
    OC Baby!
    Personally, if you can afford a rMBP (with the HD space you need), I would go that route with the ACD. I would wait to see if a 13" rMBP is introduced next month.

    If you decide to go with a iMac and MBA, you can use a service like Dropbox to keep your essential files synced between your two computers. I've used this setup for years and love it.
  3. OneEyedJack macrumors member

    Aug 21, 2010
    I have a rMBP and a 27" Cinema Display and love it. But I had a specific need - using CAD programs on the go. You should evaluate your mobile needs before deciding.

    If you are just starting at university and don't have specific reasons for one or the other, I would opt for the imac and the air and utilize iCloud or dropbox to sync your data. Also, while I can't point to specifics, I would imagine laptop theft on a campus is higher than average. Having two machines leaves you an option in the event one is stolen.
  4. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    For 4 years I've used the combination of a large screen iMac at home and a MacBook for on the go. Originally a 20" and 13" and now a 27" and 15". I synchronize them using Chronosync when I leave and get back home. I've considered a single computer solution, and could still do so by selling my iMac, however the iMac has greater performance, I like having a redundant computer in case of failure, and it even saves some money.

    Note that once you go the external drive route (to make up for the small capacity of the rMBP) you'll have storage management problems of equal complexity to having two systems, unless you intend to drag the externals everywhere you go.
  5. theuserjohnny macrumors 6502

    Jul 7, 2012
    Personally I would go with rMBP and then a get the display. It's small/thin enough for everyday carry and it packs more power than either of them. My school has iMacs in the library and I decided to use one during break (because I left my rMBP at home) and I was shocked at how I couldn't stand the resolution of the screen because of how fuzzy everything looked. Made me regret not having my rMBP with me at the time.
  6. SlyMac macrumors 6502


    Jun 16, 2008
    If all you need to do on the laptop is school work, the iMac and air combo is the more sensible option. Don't waste money on beefed up specs if you aren't going to use them. Plus, the air is much more portable.
  7. terraphantm macrumors 68040

    Jun 27, 2009
    If money isn't an issue, I'd go with rMBP + TBD. The rMBP's CPU is about as powerful as the top-end iMac CPU (if both are running at their turbo frequencies). The GPU is slightly weaker, but still remarkably powerful. So you're really not giving up much as far as computing capabilities go.
  8. heisenberg123 macrumors 603


    Oct 31, 2010
    Hamilton, Ontario
  9. Scuba-EMT macrumors regular


    Apr 19, 2010
    Solomons Island, MD
    +1 on the ChronSync, that what I have been using between my IMac and rMBP to keep college files in sync. It works beautifully, just take your time and follow the directions closely and should do everything that you need.
  10. zipur macrumors 6502a


    Mar 3, 2011
    The great state of Texas
    Get rMBP and the iMac then your future proof.
  11. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    And much poorer! :)

    Also, nothing is "future proof".
  12. Drask macrumors regular

    Feb 3, 2012
    I totally agree with you, getting two computers over $2000 each at the same time for college seems like a waste for me.

    OP: I'd go with a top-end iMac 2011 (for gaming and video editing as you said) and a refurbished 2011 MBA for classes.
  13. inhalexhale1 macrumors 65816

    Jul 17, 2011
    If you do most of your work at your desk, get the iMac and Air combo. Assuming you get the next iMac (whenever that is), it should be more powerful than the rMBP. An Air will be more portable, and fine for general student needs.

    If you do a lot of your work on the road, then get the rMBP. It sounds like you will need an external drive though, from what you said.
  14. Ardash thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 6, 2012
    This is something I have considered. However, I do not think the SSD is really worth the price once it has been maxed out. The baseline retina is almost $1000.00 ($950) more if the SSD is upgraded to 768GB and I do not think the value is there yet. Thank you for your input with Dropbox though. I have invited everyone I know and have worked my way up to 9GB of free storage which should be more than adequate as a means short term file storage and management. Thanks again I really appreciate it.
  15. theuserjohnny macrumors 6502

    Jul 7, 2012
    Yeah get a baseline rMBP for your daily on the go use and then wait it out for the iMac updates. You'd have a beast on the go and then monster waiting for you at home.
  16. RAWphenom, Aug 25, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2012

    RAWphenom macrumors member

    Nov 4, 2010
    606/859, KY
    This is one thing that I just don't know if I could deal with and is pushing me towards the cMBP (that, and cost some): what if I don't have my retina-equipped screen with me and need to use something else? I'm going to be spoiled with this amazing screen and I won't be able to stand looking at any other screens.


    But my plans are to get a cMBP to compliment my iPad, which I take notes on during class. And I think you should go the MBA/iMac route.
  17. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    So I shouldn't have gotten that Mac Pro?! :D
  18. Meever macrumors 6502a

    Jun 30, 2009
    Would you even want to look at an external display after using your rMBP for a prolonged period of time?

    I know I cant stand looking at any other displays (except the iPad3) after owning the rMBP.
  19. Drask macrumors regular

    Feb 3, 2012
    For me it's not about if you should or shouldn't, it's what you're comfortable with (and by that I mean cash + workflow). Even though I recommended not to get an iMac and a rMBP for college, I own an iMac 2011 and a rMBP.

    My parents got me the iMac back in January (it was my first mac) and I pretty much liked everything about it (this coming from a person who is studying software development and has been building PCs for about 6-7 years now with either Windows/Linux on it).

    I then saved up and sold my Sony Vaio and got the rMBP (6-7 months later). Long story short, my parents asked me 'why waste another $2300ish in another computer'? Simple: Because I spend 6-8 hours in college daily in front of the computer and another 6-7 at home.

    All I mean is people has preferences, mine is the computer, I spend so much time, from coding to just surfing the web, I'd much rather do it on a computer I like, and even though I'm not the guy who gets $2000/month income, I find it worth to save up and then get something I like.

    Well that was not short at all, lol.

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