After using the M1 iMac for over a year, I finally decided to purchase the 14-inch Macbook M1 Pro and the differences are significant.
24-inch iMac long-term review
I’ve been using the 24″ M1 iMac for the last year and it’s been great for video editing, lightroom, and photoshop, and it’s the fastest computer I’ve ever used.
I use it to edit videos with both h.264 and h.265 codecs, and I only see a slight lag with the h.265 when using the timeline.
The only real bottleneck I’ve noticed with the M1 iMac is the ram, but with 8GB I’m usually able to do everything as long as I keep minimal windows open especially when using ram-hungry applications.
For the most part, the M1 iMac is fast, quiet, and will do everything as long as I don’t overload the memory.
The internal 256 GB SSD might not seem like much, but you don’t need much when you’re using external storage.
I’ve been able to manage two blogs, two youtube channels, and a lightroom library of images with a 6TB NAS.
Using a NAS for lightroom and video storage has made me never want to upgrade my computer’s storage again.
So why did I upgrade to the 14″ Macbook M1 Pro?
I wasn’t planning on upgrading to the Macbook pro, but I needed a way to edit videos while I’m traveling and I didn’t want two machines. I also discovered a way to purchase the $2000 MacBook pro for $1500 new.
I did this by getting 15% off gift cards at target on black Friday, educational discounts, and the $150 back-to-school gift card that’s offered in the summer for students and parents of students.
After all the discounts I knew I couldn’t pass this deal up and I purchased the 14″ Macbook Pro for just under $1500 after taxes.
M1 iMac vs MacBook pro ergonomics
There’s no doubt that the M1 iMac has better ergonomics with a wireless keyboard, mouse, and much larger display.
Laptops are just not great for long-term use. You’re constantly bending your neck, typing according to the position of your device, and the monitor screen will never be at eye level unless you have a laptop stand.
That’s why I decided to purchase the 27″ LG ultrafine 5k. I’ve tried 4k monitors before and none of them support native resolution for Mac OS. That’s why I highly recommend going with the 27″ studio display or LG ultrafine 5k.
Now I have the perfect ergonomic setup for my M1 MacBook pro.
iMac vs MacBook Pro performance
After using the MacBook Pro I immediately noticed performance improvements with the 3x faster SSD. Booting into Mac OS and opening programs is much faster and I’m no longer closing programs to save memory.
16GB of Ram is plenty for my needs, and I really don’t see a need for anything more.
Editing video on the M1 MacBook Pro is about twice the speed of the M1 iMac. I edited two videos with an h.265 codec and finished in more than half the time with the MacBook pro.
Scrubbing in Davinci Resolve was much better and smoother than the iMac with the h.265 codecs. The MacBook Pro flies through edits with minimal issues, but the iMac is no slouch.
Prior to buying the MacBook Pro, I was editing h.265 videos, but it seemed to struggle a little more doing 4k.
All-in-all, both these machines can edit video, but the MacBook Pro will do it faster, smoother, and have more memory for other programs.
GPU with the LG 5k Ultrafine
I also compared both the MacBook Pro and iMac using the LG 5k ultrafine. I found that using an external display didn’t really have any impact on the GPU when editing video.
Both the iMac and the MacBook Pro were able to edit with almost no lag. I found that the MacBook lost 1 second in performance for an 11-minute video while the iMac lost about 2 seconds.
If you’re concerned about an external display slowing down your mac, don’t worry. There’s really minimal processing and GPU power used for an external monitor. I assume the performance would be the same on the Studio display.
It’s obvious which Mac is more portable, but you’d be surprised where you can take the 24 inch iMac. It’s so much smaller than previous iMacs. I’ve actually taken it with me on roadtrips and hotels. You could probably take it to Starbucks, but you might get a few funny faces, and make sure you have a seat near an outlet.
The iMac is not a laptop, but it’s just about the slimmest and lightest computer you’ll find that has a 24 inch screen.
Gaming on the Mac isn’t great because there aren’t options like a PC, but you are able to download windows parallels and have access to the steam network or other games. You’ll be fine gaming on a Mac, but if you’re a die hard gamer just use a PC.
I’ve also found that the M1 chip isn’t really optimized for gamers. It’s fast and reliable, but I think of it as a computer that better suits an artist that might include a graphic designer, photographer, filmmaker, or programmer. If you fall in one of these categories you will love the M1 iMac.
So is the Macbook Pro really better than the iMac? It depends on how you use it. If you need a computer for your main office and work computer, I would always go with a computer that has a larger display for better ergonomics.
I really found the iMac perfectly fine for my needs and the only reason I upgraded to the Macbook Pro was cost. Yes, the Macbook Pro has much better performance, more memory, and a larger hard drive, but the main difference is that I can have more programs open and I’m saving about 1-3 minutes on most of my youtube exports.
Most content creators and photographers will do fine with the iMac, or the M1/M2 Macbook air. These machines are revolutionary and make editing video and photography so much easier.