Moving From iMac to MacBook

If you’re pondering a move from an iMac to a MacBook Pro, you’ll find a new guide posted by MacDrifter’s Gabe a worthwhile read.

Gabe’s usage trajectory has been from laptops in the early-mid ’00s to a Mac Pro in 2007, to a 27-inch iMAc in 2010, and most recently back to a MacBook – specifically a 15″ Retina MacBook Pro with 768GB SSD and 16GB RAM connected to a 27″ Apple Thunderbolt Display, a 3TB Seagate USB 3.0 Drive for iTunes and Aperture libraries, a 3TB Western Digital FireWire 800 MyBook for TimeMachine, Harmon Kardon Soundsticks III (Review), and a SlimKey V2 Stand with USB 2.0 for a powerful MacBook Pro based desktop substitute setup.

He says he could’ve used the MacBook as a he would a Mac mini by propping it up and using it like a CPU slave. But he wanted the gorgeous Retina display for writing, and uses the huge Thunderbolt display as a secondary monitor.

Gabe says his motivation for going back to a MacBook from a desktop Mac was to untether himself his desk. He wanted the freedom to work from his office or his couch and says Dropbox is a good solution for syncing data, not work environments, and the Retina MacBook Pro makes a powerful desktop and an incredible laptop.

When he wants to pick up and go, it just means ejecting and disconnecting two external disks, and he says the Retina display is the best reason to use a MacBook Pro at a desk, plus it’s convenient to connect one cable to the Thunderbolt display to get USB and FireWire 800 connections, while the MacBook Pro’s array of built-in I/O ports – USB 3.0, HDMI, SD, and Thunderbolt – make it a power-user’s dream.

On the downside, he says the Ethernet connection on the Thunderbolt display is noticeably slower than the Ethernet on his previous iMac, and the MacBook keyboard is very good but resting his wrists on the front edge is not comfortable, also noting that while the MacBook Pro is certainly the best-made laptop on the market he’s surprised by the amount of creaking and flexing in the body – not a deal-breaker, but surprising.

He rates the MacBook Pro a wonderful couch computer, observing that the 768GB SSD option means he can bring most of his data with him with plenty of room to spread out, but because he’s spoiled, he opted for the 27″ Thunderbolt display too, althugh it’s not necessary, and the 15″ Retina display would be sufficient for most people. However his workmode is to keep lots of windows open and for that he finds the 15″ rMBP just too stifling, and that while the Thunderbolt display makes a poor docking station, it’s an excellent monitor.

Gabe summarizes that the 27″ iMac was the best computer he’d ever owned until he bought a 15″ Retina MacBook Pro, but advises to really think about how you use computers, and for example if you only need to work away from your desk a few times a year, get an iMac for desktop duty and a MacBook Air for when you really need portability, but if you truly need a portable workstation, the 15″ Retina MacBook Pro is the best you can get.

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