Tricky decision for new machine

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by obfuscated, Sep 16, 2010.

  1. obfuscated macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2010
    Normally, I don't need to ask for advice on buying decisions, but this has got me a bit stumped.

    I do mac/iPhone software development and my current machine is a 2007 model 17" MBP. It's been an excellent machine, but I'm starting to outgrow it in terms of storage and more importantly, screen size.

    The typical usage is Xcode & Interface Builder, iTunes and a few web browser windows. Some gaming (Half Life/Portal/WoW) to relax, and occasional iMovie-quality video editing.

    Basically, I think it's time to upgrade, but am torn between a few options. In order of ascending price:

    0. Suck it up, get a Dell monitor for now and wait another year.
    1. New 17" MBP (high-end model) with 27" screen when it comes out
    2. 27" iMac (high-end model)
    3. Base model Mac Pro with 27" screen

    I've always liked the portability of the notebook, but am concerned about the lack of upgradability if I go down this route again.
    The iMac would be a decent workhorse, but is basically a desktop-sized notebook (awkward to upgrade after purchase)
    The Mac Pro is probably overkill, but could be upgraded over time rather than replaced. On the other hand, it's expensive. Low bang-per-buck for the base model.

    As you can tell, I'm concerned about longevity, having had this computer for just under three years. Spend less and replace sooner? Spend more and replace later?

    I'm not after someone to make the decision for me, but are there any particular questions or considerations that I should take into account?

    Any comments much appreciated.
  2. BOSS10L macrumors 6502a

    Jan 13, 2008
    Upstate NY
    I'm sorta in the same boat. We just turned our third bedroom (which had been used as a catch-all for the last 5 years) into a study for me while I work on my MA/PhD. As you can see in my sig, we've already got a MB and iMac, and I'm looking to put something up in the study, be it an iMac/Mini/Pro or even a MBP.

    Based on what I'm seeing from your end, it sounds to me like you're just running out of HDD space and want a bigger screen. Both completely rational desires. From my perspective, it boils down to two important questions:

    1 - Is the CPU/GPU your current iMac posseses strong enough to get you through another 12, or possibly 24 months based on what you really use it for?

    2 - Is money a real concern? I know it's a loaded question, but let me explain. We've got the money for me to go out and buy a Mac Pro/Apple Display tomorrow. Buy we're looking at replacing a roof in the spring, possibly doing a bathroom remodel, getting the house painted or sided (see where I'm going with this?). Each situation is different and you need to think ahead, which is a big part of the buying process; deciding what you want, but probably settling for what you need.

    Okay, all that said:

    Myself personally, if I were in your shoes and decided that the answer to #1 was a resounding "yes," I would do the following:

    Purchase a bigger monitor. It's up to you if you want to go with an Apple Display. Don't get me wrong, I love them, but you come to an impasse where the cost/value ratio is somewhat skewed. If you were a professional image editing/artist person or something like that, I'd say you should get the best you can. I feel there are many other monitors on the market that will give you the size and performance you are looking for at a fraction of the Apple Display.

    I'd also look into bumping up the HDD within the current iMac, and possibly picking up an external HDD. You can get a lot of storage for pennies on the dollar these days.

    Save some money and in a year or two look to completely purchase a new system, possibly even a Mac Pro. Because you'll have already bought the monitor, you're set there.

    Good luck with your decision. Hope I wasn't too long-winded, I just know what it's like to have these things running around in your head and sometimes it just helps to have someone play the opposite.

    Now, if I can just figure out what to do in my situation....:D
  3. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    Excellent and well thought out advice. I agree, I think a good idea would be to analyze whether you need a new machine or if adding an external drive and a new monitor would serve you just as well. But the above advice is very good overall
  4. thunderboltspro macrumors regular

    Oct 4, 2009
    I would choice one it, If you haven't maxed out the ram do so.
    Besides i would wait for sandy cpu/usb3, It would give you a bit more of a longevity.
    Or choice 3 it and keep the lappy for portableness.
  5. obfuscated thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2010
    Thanks for the replies. They've been very helpful.

    The one thing I forgot to mention was that I have got to replace the battery on my current notebook. It's down to a tiny fraction of it's original capacity and is starting to physically expand and bend. So regardless, this machine needs money spent on it if it's a keeper.

    I also found out after posting that the superdrive is failing too. So, a replacement machine is almost certainly in order.

    The Mac Pro is out. It's just not worth it for me. I'll have a wander around a store at the weekend and try to decide between MBP + monitor (perhaps a Dell u2711) or the iMac. Currently leaning towards MBP + monitor to get the dual-screen setup, as I can then sell my current machine to get some of the purchase costs back.

    Thanks again all.
  6. Vitr macrumors member


    May 30, 2010
    Vancouver, BC
    With regards to the monitor, watch the Dell website closely for sales, as the prices frequently drop like a rock. Just this past week (on the Canadian site, anyway), the u2711 was $450 off the regular price, likely in response to Apple's recent release.

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