Hey folks. I've never owned an Apple product before but am fed up with Windows by now. I am looking to buy an iMac or 15" MacBook Pro but can't find any solid advice on what spec upgrades are really worth the money over the long haul. Can you help?

Here's what I've been thinking.

As far as I can tell, the iMac is the best-value all-in-one on the market, and also the most affordable Mac. Today, I think the basic 21.5" model with upgraded RAM would be sufficient for my needs, which would cost $1499.

I'm also interested in the Fusion Drive because the machine will continue to feel quick and responsive even after a couple years. But is it worth the $250 upgrade price on the $1499 model, which would come to $1949 with the RAM? Or at that point should I get a 27" iMac with a Fusion Drive and put in extra RAM myself, which would cost $2049 plus RAM? Or is a 15" MacBook Pro for $1799 the way to go?

My computing needs are not extraordinary. I love music and movies, multitask like crazy, play some games but nothing too intensive, and am looking to get into some photo editing and the like. 

Any input from Mac fans who are familiar with Apple's pricing would be much appreciated. I'd ask my friends but all who know about tech are anti-Apple. Thanks!
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Mathieux Bergeron's profile photoChris Anderson's profile photoJosé López's profile photoHillary Beemer's profile photo
9 comments
 
The iMac 21.5 is the best option for you. But if are more on the portable, consider de Retina Mac Book Pro 13.
 
If you are thinking of getting a desktop, I wouldn't rule out a Mac Mini. Personally, I would lean more toward a laptop (for my sort of usage) but with a mini, you can upgrade the RAM and HD yourself much easier than an iMac and avoid the Apple Tax . Do you need an optical drive? 
 
+José López Do you think the Fusion Drive is a worthwhile upgrade on the 21.5" iMac?

+Christopher Davis  I have an external optical drive and don't need one regularly anyway. The reason I wasn't looking at Minis is because they don't have a dedicated graphics card, which I'd like for games and photo editing. 

+Marco Slangen Do you mean the MacBook Pro with Retina display? Otherwise it's a hefty cost increase to get a SSD on a MacBook.
 
I would suggest you to go with a MacBook pro. I did buy an iMac last year and switched back to a MacBook pro because it is so much more versatile.
 
Portability is a concern. Today I don't really need a laptop but I don't know what will happen in the next 3-5 years. Price, however, is a concern. The basic iMac with extra RAM is $1499 while the basic 15" MacBook Pro is $1799. The MacBook is portable but has less screen real estate, less storage, and less processing power. As always, it's about getting the best value for the money I'm willing  to spend to come away with a computer I'll absolutely love for years.
 
If you don't play really intensive games +Chris Anderson  and you are not doing serious photoshopping with really high-res and multiple layers, then a mini with an i7 and decent amount of RAM will still pack quite a punch for the price. You will still be able to play medium end- games, and you can save the extra cash for accessories such as thunderbolt drives, cinema display, etc.
I have not used a fusion drive firsthand, but the transparency of how it manages your apps and files on a single volume can be appealing (especially if you are new to Mac and drive management)
 
Thanks, +Christopher Davis I'll keep the Mini in mind. I like the aesthetic and simplicity of an all-in-one (no cables, etc.), but the Mini may be a cheaper option. 

To me, the real appeal of the Fusion Drive is fast boot times and load times of commonly used programs. I've never worked off a decent SSD before (my Eee PC has one), but 15 second boot times and instant load times are enticing. But then the question becomes: will I really feel it with a 5400 rpm drive, or will it be fine?
 
Personally I would go with the 27" iMac (and I might). As always, get as much cpu as you can afford (the i7 upgrade isn't too much extra and likely worth it in the long run) and upgrade the memory yourself since thats still an option on the 27" model.
 
I would recommend the 27 inch iMac, it is beautiful and you can upgrade the RAM yourself and order it over newegg or tigerdirect.  I have a 27inch and a 21.5 and absolutely love them both!  Im more of a desktop girl though, so I would always vote for the iMac over the MacbookPro.  The mac mini is also a valid option, but you are going to get more overall power with the iMac.  
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