Should I get a 27" iMac or 15" MacBook Pro Retina

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by cinnabun93, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. cinnabun93 macrumors newbie


    Jan 24, 2013
    I am debating between the two. I major in computer science and a Mac is required at my school. I have a custom built windows pc with a 3930k and gtx 680 so I don't really NEED a desktop but the 27" iMac is freaking gorgeous! I am really stuck because the retina display macbook pro is portable and has more pixels. UGHHHHHHH! Help would be great. I don't need portability but it wouldn't hurt.
  2. RedCroissant Suspended

    Aug 13, 2011
    Why is a Mac a requirement at your school? Or is the Mac a requirement for a specific program at your school? either way, if you see yourself spending a lot of time actually AT school in class, at the library, in the dorm...wherever, then get a laptop; but I seriously doubt that a retina MBP would be a necessity and would instead recommend a 15" MBP NON-retina.
  3. AppleDApp macrumors 68020


    Jun 21, 2011
    Computer science is pretty vague what year are you in. What specifically will you use your computer for? I'd get a laptop and you can probably get anything from the 13" MBA up to a decked out RMBP depends on your needs.
  4. jobush macrumors member

    Jan 10, 2013
    I'm guessing that you're doing something that has to do with rendering stuff on the computer. "Computer Sciences" is not enough to identify your exact needs.

    I am assuming that you want to play games or need a workstation for 3D tasks, or maybe both.

    I think you already have an answer.

    If you need something portable, buy the Macbook.
    If you don't care about portability, just get the iMac.

    If you don't own a reasonable laptop, I would say get the 'Book for a change.
  5. Stephen Dowling macrumors regular

    Stephen Dowling

    Jul 29, 2009
    New Mexico
    It all comes down to personal preference, really. I have a 15-inch MBP that I only use at my desk. I really wish I would have gotten an iMac. I'm actually trying to sell my MBP to buy that, or a Mac Pro 5,1.

    However, you mentioned that you already own a desktop; and I assume you've got a decent monitor. If you need the portability, you could buy the rMBP and some sort of desktop stand/dock and an apple (or other brand of choice) mouse+keyboard, and just connect the rMBP to your monitor.

    I don't quite know what your specific needs are, but have you considered saving a significant amount of cash and going with a Mac Mini w/ the i7 Quad?

    Just a thought.

  6. melendezest Suspended

    Jan 28, 2010
    I focused on a key variable in your situation: school.

    Your issue is simple, go with the MBP. They are incredibly powerful, and you'll be able to take it with you.

    However, I'd advise against the retina..Way too inflexible. If you are studying computer science, then get the conventional 15" with the hi-res screen.

    Here's why:

    RAM is soldered on the retina. MBPs regularly take more RAM than Apple advertises (check Other World Computing, they rock)

    Hard drives are easily upgraded/replaced. The optical drive can be removed and a second HDD/SSD can be added. I use this on my 17" for Windows, Linux, VMs, Server installs, etc. while keeping my Mac side nice and pristine. You could also RAID it to get backups or more speed...

    The retina screen, while nice, is not really an advantage. The hi-res anti-glare is quite good and way more flexible in more lighting conditions.

    Ports. The Conventional MBP has all the ports you'll ever need. Wireless does not replace Ethernet (yet), when you need speed.

    The cMBP is more of a desktop replacement, and certainly neck and neck with an iMac (the iMac is a bit faster).

    So, I recommend the cMBP.
  7. eric/ Guest


    Sep 19, 2011
    Ohio, United States
    Yeah what you mentioned in the OP is a little generic.

    I don't think you should buy a new iMac just because it' beautiful, there has to be some logical financial decisions unless you just have tons of money, then you should wait and buy a Mac Pro.

    Why not buy a nicely upgraded iMac, and sell your Windows desktop? Maybe buy an iPad or something too to have fun with, with the funds from selling your desktop? You can run Windows programs on your iMac, and it'll most likely handle everything you throw at it, though maybe it won't play games at 600fps, idk if that's an issue.

    If you aren't willing to part with your desktop PC, I'd say get the laptop. It just doesn't make a lot of sense to have two desktops.

    if you do opt for a laptop, the rMPB is a fine choice. I don't see the ethernet being an issue, university wireless is usually top notch, and you could buy an adapter for like $19.

    Since it appears you want to do graphics editing, and if you select a laptop, I would make sure to max out the ram as much as possilbe, and be sure that you're getting a 256 SSD with the rMBP.

    I'm not sure what is standard, nor what your budget is.
  8. jjhoekstra macrumors regular

    Apr 23, 2009
    I use a rMBP as my main computer and it rocks. It is a very powerful and very quiet computer and I can use it wherever I want. But I was able to work around the fact that it is difficult or impossible to upgrade the rMBP by maxing out the RAM and SSD. If flexibility is important to you, and the extra noise and weight irrelevant, than get the cMBP, otherwise get the rMBP. If you choose the cMBP than check out the non-glare screen before you buy it. A lot of people love it but some really hate it. And realise that the retina screen has less reflections than the non-glare cMBP.
  9. Yebubbleman macrumors 68030


    May 20, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    Personally, I'd do neither. I'd get a "high-res" (1680x1050) 15" MacBook Pro (non-retina), that way you can upgrade it down the road. The actual retina display is over-rated until more apps start taking advantage of it. Plus the 1680x1050 is swanky enough for most purposes. But either way, given your set-up, I wouldn't bother with the 27" iMac; get a Thunderbolt display, or wait until the new ones eventually come out, but either way, a 27" iMac is kind of silly, given that you already have a very capable Windows desktop.
  10. elpmas macrumors 68000


    Sep 9, 2009
    Where the fresh snow don't go.
    rMBP + external monitor ftw.

    You get both mobility and screen size.
  11. owenthal macrumors newbie

    Feb 4, 2013
    Retina verse non-retina

    I understand what people are saying about the upgradability of the non-retina MBP but anyone saying that the screen isn't a big difference is blind. I spend a ton of time on my rMBP and can't go back to a normal display without it looking burry and out of focus. Not to mention the difference in weight.
  12. robkubasko macrumors newbie

    Feb 4, 2013
    All comes down to budget

    You left out the determining factor in suggesting something... budget. If you can swing it, get the rMBP with 16GB of RAM ($200 more) and as much SSD space as you can afford.

    There's really very little reasoning other than budget that makes buying what is about to be a completely obsolete system (the regular MBP) the right choice. Not sure I understand those who are saying the retina display doesn't make a difference. It surely does. Plus, if you're going to take the laptop with you most places, you will appreciate the lighter retina version.

    And as some have suggested (again, based on your budget) I would wait and either get a closeout deal on a 27" Thunderbolt display when the new ones (like the new iMac) come out or just go for the new version (which is probably the way to go since it will have USB 3.0 ports in addition to the design). You'll have your cool factor AND a radically powerful and sleek laptop to go wherever you need to.

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