Should I keep my Late 2013 iMac or replace it by a new monitor for my 2016 MBP?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by ArtifexIV, Aug 18, 2017.

  1. ArtifexIV macrumors newbie


    Dec 29, 2016
    Hi guys,

    I currently own a 2016 15" MBP TB (with the basic graphic card and processor) since January and so far, I'm really happy with it.

    I spent 6 months in New Zealand for a student exchange and that's actually why I bought my laptop: because I was on travel. About 2 years ago, I bought a 2013 27" iMac which was my main computer before owning my MacBook.

    I'm now towards a dilemma because I don't know if one machine or two machines would be enough for my needs (basic stuff like browsing the web and Office and sometimes dealing with 4K videos and retouching pictures). I'm going to the uni next year and will stay in a student room during the week and come back home every weekend, I'm of course not planning to move my desktop with me every time, that's why I've got my MBP.

    So, the question is: should I sell my iMac (or even give it to my father whose iMac is old and quite slow...doesn't have a FD or SSD) and then buy a 4K (or 5K but the reviews on the LG Ultrafine are not so positive) external display? I'll then connect it to a Thunderbolt 3 dock in order to enjoy the USB 3 ports at their full speed (the 4K display taking a big portion of the bandwidth). Or is it maybe better, for my father and I, that he buys a new 2017 5K iMac (which will be at least $500 more for us than buying a new 4K monitor + dock + cables) and that I keep my current iMac?

    What are the advantages for a student of having a desktop (not 4K/5K) and a laptop?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Southern Dad macrumors 68000

    Southern Dad

    May 23, 2010
    Shady Dale, Georgia
    I have both desktops and laptops in my house. The desktops only advantage is that I always know where to find it. I don't think that I will purchase another desktop computer. My MacBook Pros can do anything that my iMac or even my Mac Pro can do and I can disconnect it and take it with me. I use an Apple Thunderbolt Display, which gives me that same 27" beautiful display as the iMac.
  3. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    As long as you're shuttling back and forwards between home and a student room, I suspect the laptop is going to end up being your main machine - especially when you have a relatively new, powerful laptop. Sure, there are ways and means of keeping a laptop and desktop in sync - but why bother when your laptop is (at least) as capable as your desktop?

    I find having a laptop on an elevator stand alongside a decent display, and using an external keyboard and mouse is a good solution - takes up a bit more space than a desktop - but you get two screens! The only question is whether the MacBook has enough storage for you c.f. the iMac - but you can always have an external HD that lives on the desk.

    Note that it ought to be possible - with a TB2-to-TB3 adapter and a TB2 cable - to use your iMac in target display mode and use that as a large display for your MBP ( It's not 4k but, as you know, its a pretty good display. You might think about using that at home and getting a display to keep mainly in your student room - then your father has can still use the iMac during the week...

    I guess it also depends whether your father would really, really appreciate a hand-me-down (up) 2013 iMac - or if that's just going to spoil his rationalisation for buying a brand new one :)

    NB: you ought to be OK running 5Gbps USB and a single 4k@60Hz display from a thunderbolt 3 dock or the 5k Ultrafine - its the cheaper, non-Thunderbolt USB-C docks (and the USB-C only 4k Ultrafine) that revert to USB2 speeds when you connect a 4k@60Hz display.
  4. ArtifexIV thread starter macrumors newbie


    Dec 29, 2016
    Thanks for your answers guys!

    I understand that it would probably be easier to have one main machine instead of switching back and forth between my iMac and MBP (not really annoying for files because I can have them on the cloud or on an external HD, but it would be a loss of time to update everything on the computer I use the weekend only).

    So, given that my MBP is a 2016 version and can perfectly handle a 4K/5K display, I think I'll use it as my main computer. It would be useless to have the iMac as an external display (and it will stay in my bedroom anyway while my father has his own room for working).

    Are the external displays on the market really compatible with a MBP? No issues related to the resolution (I read that sometimes text can appear really small on a 4K external monitor?!). Don't forget that a 4K screen with a Thunderbolt 3 dock and cables costs at least $1000: worth the money? What will happen when Thunderbolt 3 will be outdated?

    Just asking too many questions :p
  5. ArtifexIV thread starter macrumors newbie


    Dec 29, 2016
    I finally kept my iMac because it is still an amazing and comfortable machine when I'm home. My father will probably switch to a new one (or mine and then a new version for me...if my wallet isn't empty :p) in the upcoming months :)
  6. nachotech macrumors newbie

    May 3, 2009
    It's a great question, and I'll share my perspective.

    I'm using a Vizio TV as a 4K monitor for my MBP. It's this one that I paid $550 for over a year ago:

    It works really well for me, and the only downside is that, since it is 43", I find myself only "working" in the middle 75% of the screen. Unfortunately, I think that's discontinued or may not be available in your area, but you might look at 4K TV's because they're going to be at a much lower price than monitors. BTW, I primarily work with Email and textual content (e.g. software development tasks). Exact color matching is not important to me (not a graphic designer), nor is refresh rates (no gaming on this setup).

    In my opinion and for my usage type, the best 4K monitor would be a bit smaller (36-39") and curved, with the most curvature you can get.

    Oh yeah, one more thing: take your MBP with you to the retail outlet and plug it in and test it before you purchase. I tried a Samsung and it didn't have as clear an image as the Vizio. Also, some TVs that claim they are 4K don't actually allow the MBP to see them as a 3840 x 2160 monitor.

    Finally, if you ever have a problem with really small text, don't forget about the MBP's 'zoom' feature, I use this all the time. You can find it in the Accessibility settings of macOS.

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