Using a new iMac Pro or MacBook Pro with a Thunderbolt?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by rpbrownphoto, Feb 17, 2019.

  1. rpbrownphoto macrumors newbie

    Feb 4, 2019
    I'm using a late 2013 rMBP I bought brand new when it came out. Five years into daily usage and I haven't had a single issue. The specs are: 2.8 GHz Intel Core i7, 16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3, and a 500 GB HD. I am a 35mm film photographer and all I've used this for is scanning with my film scanner and editing in Lightroom. I bought a Thunderbolt display on eBay and after a few hours it flickered a few times and I immediately contacted the seller to return it. He had a temper tantrum but I was able to send it back. Have a feeling he's going to try and pull some shady **** though. Lesson learned: never buy things like Apple computers from a power seller who only sells baseball cards, golf clubs, jerseys etc. I got a different Thunderbolt from a graphic designer. It is in MINT condition and works perfectly. I got a magic keyboard and mouse and my setup rules. But here is where my dilemma starts:

    I used to be a photo retoucher but I could not handle doing that 40 hours a week in a dark creative suite so I quit to start bartending again. I am pretty sure I can get a good amount of freelance work but I don't think my laptop is going to be able to handle MASSIVE files. If that's the case, I'm going to go into top ramen mode and try to get a new computer. I am torn between getting a new MacBook Pro or an iMac Pro but am leaning towards the iMac as you get way more bang for your buck. But then again, the laptop and 27" display is such a rad combination since it is essentially a desktop and laptop in one. Would it be weird to pair an iMac or MacBook with a TB display? I mean, just because the iMac displays are incredible, it doesn't mean the TBs are all a sudden ******, right? And if my laptop ends up not being suited for the work, what should I go for in terms of specs?
  2. NorCalLights macrumors 6502a

    Apr 24, 2006
    Nothing wrong with using a laptop and an external monitor. There are plenty of good thunderbolt docks out there which will even provide all of your connectivity and power over one cable.

    However, if you can count on bringing in a lot of work, you can afford the investment, and you don't absolutely need the portability, I would highly recommend a top-spec iMac or an iMac Pro. There's simply no comparison between the internals, and you also get one of the best displays that money can buy.

    I'm not convinced that the $1000 to $2000 difference between a top-spec-BTO iMac and an iMac Pro is worth it for photo retouching work, but you'll have to do some research on your exact workflow. Here are some benchmarks:

    And you can use your current thunderbolt monitor as a second display if you want. Plenty of people dock their tool palettes on a second display.
  3. dwig macrumors 6502a

    Jan 4, 2015
    Key West FL
    My vote is to get the work first. Perhaps add some new fast external HDDs and/or SSDs, but wait until the business becomes regular before replacing it with a new iMac and moving the TB external to it as a second display.

    You rMBP+TB display should handle most work adequately if you add a few large external drives (TimeMachine, Primary storage, offsite backup as a minimum set). My personal Windows 10 box (c. 2013, i7, 8Gb, HDD primiary drive + ~12GB external) handles some pretty big (1Gb+ PSD & PDB) files adequately, though not a "brisk" as my work machine (Late 2015 27" iMac, 1Tb SSD, ext Cinema Dispaly, 23 Gb external, 16 Gb off site backup, ...), but even the iMac bogs down a bit with some of my larger files (10-16Gb 16bpp 45x96" PSB).
  4. rpbrownphoto thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 4, 2019
    --- Post Merged, Feb 21, 2019 ---
    Thanks! I’ll try all that out and if my laptop can handle it, I’ll keep this setup until freelance work (hopefully) becomes steady enough to justify an iMac Pro investment.

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