Is It Worth It to Have Both a MacBook and an iMac?

When purchasing a new Apple machine, you will have a difficult choice to make in terms of iMac versus MacBook.

Fortunately, both the devices are competent, and you are likely not to regret choosing either.

This can make most people wonder if they can consider getting both an iMac and MacBook.

So, Is It Worth It to Have Both a MacBook and an iMac?

Yes! iMac and MacBook are both good at different things. If iMac has sufficient specs that are important to you, same as MacBook, it might be worth having both the MacBook and iMac. Generally, iMac will have a larger display than MacBook Pro. Therefore, if an extensive collection is essential for you, iMac will be an ideal option for you. However, if this is the sole reason you want an iMac, you can use a large external display on a MacBook.

The most significant advantage of the MacBook is that you can carry it with you without much struggle.

This is true unless you have attached several peripherals you require to work with.

You can also easily use a MacBook on the go, whether on the airplane or in the waiting room.

These are the main advantages of the MacBook. However, you can currently purchase a MacBook Pro at a faster GPU/CPU and more RAM than you can currently buy an iMac.

The advantages of iMac are that it tends to cost a lot cheaper for comparable specs with MacBook, although this is not an advantage or disadvantage if you are looking to own both devices.

It is also easier to attach a lot more stuff to the iMac in terms of the number of ports and the fact that you don’t move it a lot.

If your iMac is too old to use as a computer, you can use it as an external display for your MacBook computer as they have this option.

But as stated earlier, this could just be temporary before iMac catches up with the upgrade.

However, if managing two computers is challenging, it is sometimes worth it to have whichever MacBook or iMac can do all your things even if it is not the best in doing everything.

On the other hand, if your device gets broken, stolen, or lost, having both MacBook and iMac means you will have one as an emergency backup already well set and ready to go.

MacBook vs. iMac – 4 Selection Considerations

1. Price

While you might think iMacs cost more than MacBook for their powerful performance and large display, it is more costly.

According to the default builds provided by Apple, the costliest 27 inches iMac costs about $3,799 on Amazon (as of early 2022), which is cheaper than the entry-level 16-inch MacBook Pro, which goes for $2,685 on Amazon (as of early 2022).

After all, MacBooks are more portable than iMacs.

2. Graphics And Screens

One of the reasons Apple devices are reputable is high-quality screens.

Both Macs are winners in innovations in screen resolutions, color accuracy, and brightness.

If you require an extra screen for your MacBook, you can invest in an external monitor.

If you are interested in graphic processors, iMac is the winner with Radeon Pro Vega 48 or Radeon Pro 580X with 8 GB memory.

If you don’t work in intense graphic fields, you will not notice any difference.

3. RAM And Processing Power

In terms of the potential power output, both MacBook and iMac have the 9th generation Intel Core i9; hence are on equal footing.

When it comes to RAM, new MacBooks and iMacs come with 8 to 16 GB of 2666 MHz DDR4 memory, all configurable to up to 64 GB at additional cost.

For many years, iMac has come with a faster CPU than MacBook, although sometimes it is just in the element of better cooling.

However, the MacBook Pro has been updated recently, featuring a newer and faster CPU.

It might take a few months and years for the iMac to catch up or even surpass the MacBook Pro.

4. Storage

You probably think that the iMac takes the prize for storage, but you’re mistaken.

iMac features 2 TB Fusion Drive consisting of HDD and SSD storage.

However, the storage upgrades are only for SSD and allow for a maximum of 2 TB.

On the other hand, the MacBook pro consists of 1 TB of SSD storage and is upgradable to 8 TB.

How To Compromise If You Can’t Choose Between MacBook and iMac

If you can choose between the two devices, some recommendations will give you the feeling of owning both devices.

1. Purchase a MacBook With A Secondary Display

The first idea is to get a MacBook and a secondary display instead of an iMac.

Then hook your MacBook to the secondary display at your desk.

With this tip, you will feel like working on a large desktop computer when working at your desk. You will not just get the best of both MacBook and iMac.

Therefore, this is better than having an iMac only.

However, you will miss out on several things, such as the stunning iMac design and the 4.5K display, unless you invest in a display with comparable properties.

But it can also be challenging to find a display that you will be content with as the screens are costly even when bought second hand.

Still, this is an excellent compromise recommendable for the MacBook fans.

2. Purchase An iMac And An iPad

The next compromise rather than purchasing a MacBook and an iMac is buying an iMac and iPad.

By pairing your iPad with a Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil, your iPad will be a perfect option for a MacBook.

You can expediently use it as a secondary screen display for your iMac.

However, one disadvantage here is that the iPad is not a MacBook.

There are some things a MacBook can do that an iPad can’t, such as editing videos via professional-grade software or developing coding.

Ultimately, if these limitations do not concern you and the ability to draw on your iPad is alluring, this is an incredible option for you.

3. Pair Your Current Mac Device With An Alternate Model Via Universal Control

When deciding between the two macs, the last option for you is buying the alternate mode.

This means that if you already have an iMac, purchase a MacBook, and if you already possess a MacBook, then buy an iMac.

The benefit of the compromise is that you will have both Mac devices at your disposal.

While one of the devices will be older than the other, most Macs are reputable for their high-quality build, so having one as your secondary machine won’t be a big deal.

Additionally, with the upcoming macOS Monterey feature, Universal Control, you won’t have to use the MacBook and iMac separately.

The universal control software will enable you to set both iMac and MacBook together side by side, as well as a Mac and an iPad.

As soon as they are next to each other, you can use both machines together. You will only need to drag your mouse off one device’s screen to the other.

Bottom Line

Whether it is worth having both a MacBook and an iMac depends on your needs.

Generally, if you require a robust device, get an iMac and if you require a portable device, purchase a MacBook.

But if you can afford it, it is a luxury but very useful to have both MacBook and iMac if you can.

Owning both devices can actually be helpful in case one of them breaks down.


Is it worth owning an iMac if I have a MacBook and a MacBook Pro? – MacRumor