Comparing 2013 MBP to 2013 iMac

Hi Everyone,

Considering going iMac for the desk and iPad on the go (w/ my current MBP on the road often as well, I expect).

My MBP is my daily driver, plugged into an ext. KB and monitor on my desk.

Do you think a same-year iMac will be faster (specs in a minute)?

I’m asking because the iMac has a Fusion Drive and the MBP is SSD; but the iMac has twice the RAM and a faster processor.

Now you may see some of my dilemma(!) :wink:



Retina, 15-inch, Late 2013 (11,3)
2.6 GHz Intel Core i7
16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3 RAM

27-Inch Aluminum 2560x1440 LED-backlit 16:9 widescreen IPS display (14,2)
3.5 GHz Intel Core i7
32 GB 1600 MHz DDR3 RAM
3 TB Fusion Drive

Just realizing this is probably the last iMac made before Apple released the iMac with Retina Display.


Will the RAM and processor boost (as well as more free space on the spinning drive) make the iMac outperform my MBP?

I have the iMac now (need to load the OS so I won’t be able to dig out much more in spec. info until I do).

If I stumble across a pile of cash, I suppose I could use Apple’s trade-in program to use this iMac for a “rebate” toward a new iMac or iMac pro.

If I stumble across a smaller pile of cash, I could have a local Experimac franchise put in a 2TB SSD… I like tech work and replaced the fans on my first MBP; but I feel taking apart an iMac is beyond what I want to get myself into (and/or stuck half-way through!!).

Thank you all in advance for your thoughts on this!


What type of activities are you doing on the MBP? Are you surfing and exchanging emails? Or, you using it for video and audio production? Will they benefit from the faster processor?


I do some audio production and photo processing.

I also usually run a million things in the background and multiple apps open at once (plus a million tabs in Chrome that I do try to put to sleep with “The Great Suspender”). … Some of the background apps are “MPU-recommended” (Text Expander, Drobbox, Backblaze, etc.).

Still, just checking via Stats Bar (also running in the background), I’ve got 10GB of RAM doing something.

edit: AND typing this answer caused my fan to start running on the MBP for awhile. But I think that is because I have so many things open at once.

I often close most everything, run a cleaning program or two, and/or reboot during the day to purge the problems my bad habits cause :slight_smile:

Every now and then I’ll convert massive sized or mass amounts of video and photo files from one format to another; like bringing something in off my TiVo and re-encoding it.

I might want to make the iMac the always-on computer I can access remotely and save files to special folders for Hazel, etc. as David describes on the podcast.


I find that the RAM use stats don’t mean too much: Your computer should always be using nearly all of its RAM. A better indicator of whether the extra RAM will be of use to you is watching how often and how deeply (how much?) you use swap space. If you’re frequently using a few GB of swap, that’s a good indicator that you’re short of RAM, and nothing slows a computer more than being short of RAM.


I’m thinking the SSD will make more difference in your workload than the Ram will. MacOS is very efficient with it’s RAM usage, and with only 12GB I often run 2 Windows Virtual Machines along with my other day to day applications. the CPU will be faster, but not by THAT much. the SSD will be noticeable though, especially with the amount of multitasking you do.

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This. Definitely this.