Apple MacBook Pro (2017) vs iMac (2017)

2017 has seen the release of a new generation of Apple’s MacBook and iMac models. On first sight, the latest Apple MacBook Pro and Apple iMac look the same as their 2016 models. But, look at the specs, and you’ll see both models come with an upgraded processor, improved display and better graphics.

The result is two outstanding machines that will please creative professionals and gamers in equal measure. So, if you have your eyes on buying a new Apple product this year, you could be forgiven for feeling torn about which to get.

To get you clear on how the Apple MacBook Pro and Apple iMac differ in ways other than price, we’ve outlined how your experience as a user changes depending on which one you’re using. It should give you a better idea of the pros and limitations (yes, there are a couple) of the two models. For this comparison, we’re comparing the 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro (2017) and 27-inch Apple iMac (2017).

Buy 15-inch MacBook Pro (2017) for £2,149
Buy 27-inch iMac (2017) for £1,599.00

What the Apple MacBook Pro has over the Apple iMac

MacBook Pro 2017

Portability: This is an obvious one so let’s get it out of the way first off. The Apple MacBook Pro weighs 1.83kg and is just 1.55cm thick when folded. It makes it super easy to slip in your rucksack and carry around. If you’re a frequent traveller, this is going to give the Apple MacBook Pro a real edge over the Apple iMac.

An OLED Touch Bar: The Apple MacBook Pro Touch Bar (the touch-sensitive strip that replaces the function bar above the keypad) has divided opinion. Some find it awkward to use while others couldn’t do without its shortcuts.

If you persevere, the Touch Bar is very handy. It makes it easier to navigate your out-of-the-box apps, whether that’s zooming through your photo library or jumping from tab to tab in Safari. The Touch Bar works with certain third-party apps too. For example, in Photoshop you’ll be able to use it to operate layer properties and brush effects. The Pro’s Touch Bar also has a fingerprint scanner to enable touch ID.

There’s speculation about the Touch Bar appearing on the next Apple iMac’s keyboard. For now, though, this gem is the Pro’s to keep.

Design: If you care about what others think, the Apple MacBook Pro is a statement piece that’s going to make you look cool. It’s available in space grey or a lighter silver and radiates professional prowess. The Apple MacBook Pro is encased in a thin, all-aluminium chassis which makes it robust and able to withstand a good deal of battering about. The keys are beautifully cut to become an exemplar of Apple’s design precision. And just to top it off, the bezels on display are pleasingly thin, contrasting to the iMac’s unnecessarily large bezels.

Faster processor: A 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro has an i7 Intel processor. Instead, the 27-inch Apple iMac (and 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro for that matter) come with the less powerful i5 processors. As a result, the Apple MacBook Pro records a faster clock speed in multi-core Geekbench tests. In other words, if you’re a gaming or video enthusiast, you’ll notice the Apple MacBook Pro performs better.

What the Apple iMac has over the Apple MacBook Pro

iMac 2017

5k retina display: The Apple iMac’s display is fantastically bright and easy on the eye. Even in a brightly sunlit room, you won’t have to strain your eyes after a long day of work.

Of course, the display is a lot larger than that of the Apple MacBook Pro too. The built-in scaling capabilities let you make full use of its dimensions, adjusting icons and text, so they appear enlarged without losing quality. It makes for an excellent viewing experience when watching videos or gaming.

It’s also worth mentioning the Apple iMac’s exceptionally wide colour gamut. The Apple iMac displays 25% more colours than a regular monitor because it uses DCI P3 as opposed to sRGB. In total, it can display one billion different colours. It is important for anyone who’s into photography, because usually when viewing photos on a PC the monitor’s colour gamut won’t display all the colours from the original picture. Instead, it’ll merge colours, preventing images from looking true to life. The Apple iMac squashes this inconvenience.

More inputs: The Apple MacBook Pro has just four USB-C ports that double up as Thunderbolt 3 inputs. The Apple iMac, on the other hand, has both USB-C and USB 3 ports, which is helpful while the older USB 3s are still around. You also have an SDXC card slot, which is important for those photographers and videographers routinely saving onto SDXC.

Fusion drive: As well as having more ports for transferring files to hard drives. The Apple iMac has a brilliant amount of storage. It manages this through its 1 terabyte fusion drive – an internal drive that reads data 5 – 10 times faster than normal hard drives. By comparison, the Apple MacBook Pro has the one SSD drive that comes with either 256 or 512GB of storage as standard. Therefore, if you’re thinking longevity and plan to overload your machine with heavy files over time, you should lean towards the Apple iMac.

Should you go for the Apple MacBook Pro (2017) or the Apple iMac (2017)?

At a glance, there isn’t a lot separating these machines (apart from the obvious, like which will fit in your bag). They’re both powerful, sporting up to date Kaby Lake processors. Also, both have better graphics than their 2016 builds, so you won’t struggle to play your favourite games.

To choose between the two, you’ll need to decide what kind of Apple user you are. Do you want to work at a pace anywhere, anytime? If so, go for the Apple MacBook Pro. It’s ideal for regular travellers, and the Touch Bar makes it easier to navigate popular apps. Meanwhile, for anyone who wants to take their Mac viewing experience from great to super bloody fantastical, the Apple iMac is the option for you. Of course, the Apple iMac’s cheaper price tag might sway you that way too.

Product specifications

 MacBook Pro, 15-inch (2017)iMac, 27-inch (2017)
Pricecirca £2149circa £1559
Height0.61 inch20.3 inches
Width13.75 inches25.6 inches
Depth9.48 inches8 inches (stand depth)
Weight1.83 kg9.44 kg
Brightness500 nits500 nits
Size15.4-inch (diagonal)27-inch (diagonal)
Pixels per inch220 ppi (default resolution)5120‑by‑2880
Speed2.8 or 2.9 GHz - additional built-to-order options available 3.4 or 3.5 or 3.8 GHz - additional built-to-order option available
Internal256 GB or 512 GB1 or 2 TB Fusion Drive
Charging & expansion
Ports4x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C)2x Thunderbolt 3, SDX C Cardslot, 4x USB 3 ports, Ethernet, Kensington lock slot
SpeakersStereo speakers with high dynamic range Stereo speakers
Mics3x microphones Microphone