rMB/riMac -- Which to buy now?

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by sasha.danielle, May 10, 2015.

  1. sasha.danielle, May 10, 2015
    Last edited: May 10, 2015

    sasha.danielle macrumors regular

    Mar 15, 2015
    I need advice on a setup -- mostly in terms of how I want to stagger my buying. I'm a former Mac user who went to PC and Android in the last year and regrets it immeasurably. I've had nothing but problems, so I'm returning to the fold, so to speak. Primarily I'm a writer and grad student, but I also play music (a lesser consideration as I don't have as much time to play as I would like).

    Basically I want an iMac at home for editing (my main use), media and some recording, as well as a super portable writing machine (portability and battery life being my priority here) that I can take with me everywhere -- in bed, at the desk, in my office and in class when I teach). Both need to be retina models as I work all day with text and don't mind investing in clarity at all. If the laptop could also handle some live sound work, I would consider that a bonus. I would prefer both systems to last me 5 years. I also right now have an iPad Air 2 with a (usable) bluetooth keyboard.

    Right now I'm thinking about a base riMac with additional RAM and an SSD (either 256 or 512) for my home machine and a maxed out rMB for my portable one. I would only be keeping system files on each machine (I have a massive 1.5TB music collection, but I would keep that on externals). I'll be making my purchase(s) in about one month.

    My concerns, however, are that both of these are 1st gen products and there are likely to be significant gains for gen 2. Both are likely also to drop in price. Also, if I buy the rMB now, I'd probably want to replace it by Gen 3, whereas if I buy Gen 2 I'd probably hold onto it for 4 or 5 years. So I'm considering buying one machine now and holding off on the second.

    What am I likely to miss out with the iMac by buying now and not waiting for the next refresh? I'm thinking Target mode (which would be handy 5 years from now when I can use this as an additional display to the next desktop I buy), and some port updates (it would be nice if both machines used the same ports (ie. USB C). Anything else? Maybe updated trackpad/keyboard? I'm thinking these changes would be nice but are not really deal breakers.

    It probably makes more sense to hold off on the MacBook, as a Skylake gen 2 refresh is probably bound to improve the device considerably -- faster, better battery, wireless charging (itself not a big deal to me, but would open up that single port to more usages). In the meantime I can try and make do with my Air 2 as my portable machine and get my writing done at home on the iMac. The iPad Air 2 is functionable, but is certainly not ideal.

    To me this plan of holding off on the laptop seems sensible financially. I don't have to replace a machine early, but it does feel a bit absurd to me as it doesn't leave me with an ideal writing solution until rMB Skylake (and writing is kind of the biggest deal here).

    What do you guys think? Buy the iMac now and wait on the MacBook? Buy both now and replace the rMB in two years?

    [Post edited because of some weird copy/paste error]
  2. squirrrl macrumors 6502a


    Sep 11, 2013
    San Diego, CA

    I have two options that I'm not sure if you considered. 1) You say you switched to PC last year... I'm guessing you still have a monitor and peripherals? Why don't you get a mac mini to hold you off a couple years until you feel more comfortable with the iMac purchase. Like most macs, mini's retain their value pretty well and you could eventually sell it for an updated iMac. You could then use the savings to get a rMB. You didn't specify, but I'm take it you're talking about the 5K iMac? If so, i'm guessing you are one of the few graduate students around where money is no issue?

    2) You could just get a 15" MBP which is pretty powerful (or wait a month to see if they update it in June). With this, you have portability and power and you could dock it to an external monitor when you're at home. the 15" MBP is no where near as portable as the rMB, so you'll have to take that into consideration, but it's cheaper than getting both the desktop and laptop.
  3. sasha.danielle thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 15, 2015
    Thanks for your reply.

    Maybe I should have been more specific. More unfortunate year with Windows has actually left me without a machine. I bought a refurb laptop that no longer works. My only machine right now is my Air 2. So I definitely need a new (complete) system post haste (and both should be retina, as I mentioned).

    The 15" MBP doesn't really meet either of my needs. The screen is still too small to do editing well. I like being able to see a grid of pages on a large screen, as on a 27" screen. It's important that I see how much page space certain elements are taking up relative to others. I know that sounds a bit of a first-world problem, but I find it immeasurably useful for my creative and academic writing.

    Also, I would not call the 15" machine portable. For me, the 15" is a desktop solution that can also be moved without much hassle. A thirteen inch is as large as I'm willing to go (and I won't do Air because of the screen). Had the rMB not been anounced, I would have been going with rMB13, but the portability of the rMB is a total game changer for me. Also, I'd still be stuck with the dillemma of waiting for Skylake with a rMBP.

    I'm certain that I've chosen the right two machines for my needs. My main concern is which to hold off on buying for now (or if rather then wait, I should just get them both right away).
  4. KrisLord macrumors 65816

    Sep 12, 2008
    Northumberland, UK
    I'd get the iMac now as Intel are targeting any improvements in CPU/GPU at the mobile market. Therefore I'd guess any changes are going to be minimal, maybe USB-C?

    Have you considered buying the base model MacBook and selling it if you feel skylake is a significant improvement? The base model will lose less than the 1.2 or 1.3 models.
  5. pasadena macrumors 6502a


    Sep 12, 2012
    Given what you said above, I would get the riMac now and wait for the MB2.

    - The riMac isn't entirely 1st gen. It's an iMac first and foremost. I haven't kept much up to date with the reviews these past few months, but everything I've read so far is extremely positive. OK, no Target mode. But then you can always sell it if and when that becomes an issue. The current version meets your needs and will still be relevant a few years from now. Holding off is a real gamble with Apple. Get what you can get now, since it really is a great machine. Best computer I've ever had.

    - You have an Air, that should allow you to wait for the MB2. Now, as much as I love it, this machine is pricey. More than a 1st gen product, it's a proof of concept, and chances are gen 2 or 3 will actually bring upgrades that will be worth the update. I know the MBA isn't Retina, but... the MB has every chance to get updated in the next year.
  6. sasha.danielle thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 15, 2015
    I have considered that, and it is definitely a possibility. It's not ideal, but maybe it will come to that.

    I think you're probably right about the iMac retina (as was the previous poster). I think buying that machine now doesn't mean I'll miss out on much with the next gen, and my uses aren't really processor heavy so I should be ok.

    By Air I meant I have an iPad Air 2, which I've been using with a bluetooth keyboard. It's definitely not ideal, but it sort of works. If I wait on the rMB I can always just do my at home work on the iMac and minimize the amount of typing I'm do on it.

    It sort of just occurred to me that I could just start with the riMac for one month and see if this setup is tolerable to me. If I can deal with it for now, I can probably hold off for a while on the rMB, if I can't than I might either have to buy a base model rMB and sell it in 8-10 months, or a maxed out one and sell it in 2 years. If I wait that month, there might be some refurb models available too.
  7. Kiwi 99 macrumors regular

    Kiwi 99

    Apr 4, 2011
    I totally agree the iMac isn't really gen 1. And the iMac is probably best to set up first as your home-base machine. So if you have to get one first, get the iMac.

    I also agree your MBA can fill the gap in the meantime. Which only leaves the question how long to wait to get the rMB. If it were me, I'd get it now, but I'm not great at waiting. I don't really buy into the wait-for-gen-2 arguments.
  8. sasha.danielle thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 15, 2015
    Yeah, I think you guys are all on point with the iMac. Again though, I don't have a MBA; I have an iPad Air 2.
  9. cmsj macrumors regular


    Oct 9, 2012
    If it was me, I would consider whether I want to wait until the next riMac, because it will have Thunderbolt 3, meaning it can drive an external 5K display. Maybe that is important, may be it isn't :)
  10. sasha.danielle thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 15, 2015
    Not really. Sure, having 2 5K displays would be nice, but it's not an investment I intend on making any time soon. Using this riMac as an additional 5K display 5 years from now when I replace it though, is feasible, which is why Target Mode would be nice to have (but is not strictly necessary or a deal breaker).
  11. tillsbury macrumors 65816

    Dec 24, 2007
    I have exactly that setup and can't recommend it enough. The rMB is surprisingly capable using Logic Pro. The retina iMac is just amazing. If you can afford it, go for it. Once you have the riMac you won't be able to stand the Air's display.

    I have almost all my documents that matter in a single "filing" folder, which is synced continuously using BitTorrent Sync on both machines, plus a Mac Mini as a media server. All backed up to NAS with Time Machine.

    Charging the rMB has not been a big issue for me. It's so quick to charge I just do it every now and then, and hardly worry about the battery status of the machine.
  12. Asthmatic Kitty macrumors member

    Asthmatic Kitty

    Sep 29, 2014
    If the r-iMac is going to be updated in sept/oct I'd kinda be loathe to buy one now. Whereas the rMB is only a month old and probably won't be updated until early 2016.

    Question is just whether you can survive with only the rMB for the next 4-5 months?

    But then again, your ipad air 2 + BTKB is pretty close in usability to a rMB, whereas you don't have a main home computer - tough!
  13. sasha.danielle thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 15, 2015
    That's great news for Logic! Thanks! I'm curious as to how MainStage or other similar programs fare.

    That's also good to know about the battery. What model do you have? I've heard the 1.3s do even better in terms of battery.

    Again though, I'm not quite sure why everybody keeps thinking I have an MBA. I don't. I have an iPad Air 2.

    This is the crux of it. I'm in the middle of my MA thesis right now too, which amplifies my need. Everytime I think I've arrived at a decision, I think of 8 reasons why it might be better to get the other one first.

    I could just buy the rMB now and accept that I *might* want to replace it with a new gen and wait 4 months for the iMac retina. Who knows, I might be happy with the rMB for years! Ack! I hate this indecision (whilst also acknowledging my clearly 1st world problem)!
  14. sasha.danielle thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 15, 2015
    So after a day of using my iPad with BTKB, I can safely say that this situation is not tenable at all. There are way too many missing shortcuts and things that interupt my work flow.

    So I guess the two questions now are:

    1) Do I go with a base model rMB and resell right away with Skylake or go with a maxed out version and upgrade with Cannonlake?

    2) Do I nab a riMac now as well or wait until October (November if Apple doesn't improve their shipping)?
  15. ProwlingTiger macrumors 65816


    Jan 15, 2008
    Macbook now, iMac wait for refresh.
  16. tillsbury macrumors 65816

    Dec 24, 2007
    What are you waiting for with the imac refresh? A tiny speed bump? You really think there will be a new chipset ready by then, and if there is will it make a significant impact to a desktop?

    TB3? What would that be useful for, apart from perhaps TDM from another TB3 enabled machine? So the plan for this computer is to expect its usefulness to decline to zero within a few years and yet still work fine as a monitor, combined with TB3 still being a viable standard at that time and being available on the computer you buy then? It's a lot of ifs.

    I bet there isn't much of an upgrade to the retina imac this year, more likely a move to 4k for the smaller models and a small a spec increase.
  17. sasha.danielle thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 15, 2015
    Good points! Ok, it looks like I'm getting two brand new machines right away! Now that's exciting. Still not sure about what configuration to get with the rMB, but I'm leaning towards a maxed out one and replacing it at the point where the gains would make it worth my while -- likely Cannonlake, I'm imagining.

    Thanks guys! You're super helpful!
  18. ProwlingTiger macrumors 65816


    Jan 15, 2008
    Fairly sure when the iMac comes it will have a new chipset when the iMac is refreshed. The line is due for a refresh (aside from the 5K) according to the Buyer's Guide. The OP's original question was which to buy first. Obviously it makes more sense to buy the recently released model first.

    Also there might be a price drop with the iMac refresh. Or at least more retina options at different price points.

    As for the chipset, the iMac hasn't been properly refreshed since 2013 as a line and they are still on the Haswell architecture. A refresh would bring either Broadwell or maybe even Skylake.

  19. nrubenstein macrumors 6502

    Aug 5, 2008
    Washington, DC
    Given that it's currently mid-May and the riMac will most likely be getting updated in the fall/late fall, I'd probably be inclined to hold off. It's probably only around four months past your target date.

    As for the rMB, it's a basic question of whether you'd get more utility out of the year of use vs. the updated internals.
  20. tillsbury macrumors 65816

    Dec 24, 2007
    That's still getting on six months before OP will be able to buy a new rimac (if it is updated -- the other models weren't last year). Updating to Broadwell is principally for power management, not something too worrying for a desktop.
  21. Kiwi 99 macrumors regular

    Kiwi 99

    Apr 4, 2011
    Awesome to hear. I had come to the conclusion you're best just to get them both.
    Any months you spend waiting for marginal improvements are months of use that you've lost.

    Re the config, I've gone with 1.2 and am totally happy with it. You get the processor bump AND the 512g space. The 1.3 jump didn't seem that good a bargain to me, but either would be great.
  22. melb00m macrumors regular

    Feb 4, 2011
    Looks like you pretty much have set your mind on getting both, which is (of course) perfectly fine if you have the necessary funds.

    The way I see it is, that the rMB can pretty much do anything the iMac can, just not as fast and not with anywhere near the same amount of screen estate.

    However, the iMac is definitely not mobile, so if you really need a device to carry around, the iMac alone is out of the question.

    Therefore, I'd go with the rMB, buy an external screen and see how well this combo works for you. Maybe it will be good enough for a while, so you can wait for an upgraded retina iMac later this year. If it's not workable at all, you can also get the current iMac sooner.
  23. sasha.danielle, May 11, 2015
    Last edited: May 11, 2015

    sasha.danielle thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 15, 2015
    This is probably the best way of articulating the decision: Do the benefits of a new model outweigh the wait for that machine's release?

    I found out that's a now for the MacBook. For the iMac, I would get TD, TB3 and maybe some $ saved if they bump the base SSD to 512. TD and TB3 would be nice, but are not necessary. And as much as I'd like to save a couple hundred bucks, I don't know if it's worth waiting until October to do so.

    Correct, and a power bump is going to really benefit me much. Logic is the most intensive thing I'm about to run, and probably not often at that.

    I think this is true. The waiting is a big deal when it's a work machine. THAT is a major hassle, compared with a minor convenience in the end product.

    The 1.2 has the added benefit of being carried by Best Buy where I can get a Mover's coupon on top of my student discount, making it a pretty steep price difference between the 1.2 and the 1.3. Probably $250-300 CDN or so. That said, I've seen some people say they get an extra hour of battery with the 1.3.

    I thought about this, but to me it's not worth investing in another piece of tech if I know I'm going to buy the iMac eventually anyway. I try to buy the right tool for the job so that I don't end up having to buy both.

    Also, I'd use the iMac for movies and things too and I do like to write while also watching TV, which requires two machines really.
  24. fathergll macrumors 65816

    Sep 3, 2014

    I agree with the above. I've had a base Retina iMac for 6 months now(with 24 GB aftermarket RAM) and i'm extremely satisfied with it once they release an update for Yosemite to fix some lag issues on the Imac. Assuming you shop smart and don't spend much money it's not going to lose that much value(I'd be looking to spend under $2500 including tax and shipping)*hint the fusion drive model is actually very snappy so don't be scared to get one if you see a really good deal*. The biggest value hit this would take would be if Apple released a complete redesign in October which isn't likely.
  25. sasha.danielle thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 15, 2015
    To me, I'm not really sure I want to have a spinning drive over the next years. It seems to me I'm going to be increasingly annoyed with that, and the consensus on here seems to be that the best thing you can do for old iMacs is get rid of spinning discs. While a fusion drive is defintely not an HDD, I think that difference will become less and less with each year. That's probably the place I want to invest extra in right off the hop. I don't really need the 4.0 ghz and I can continue adding RAM at my leisure, but replacing a drive is a bigger deal I think.

Share This Page