Written by Lisanne

Compare Apple MacBook to Apple iMac

Comparing the Apple MacBook to a Apple iMac is a little like comparing apples and oranges. Which one is best suited for you really depends on how you plan to use it and where, since the biggest difference is that you can take your MacBook with you anywhere, while your iMac stays at home. Want to know which Apple computer is best for you? Read on.


Apple MacBook dimensions

Apple MacBook

MacBooks are laptops and were made to take with you on the go. I can choose from different screen sizes and dimensions, with the 12-inch MacBook being the thinnest and lightest option (1.31cm, 0.92.kg) and the 15-inch MacBook Pro being the biggest (1.55cm, 1.83kg).

iMac dimensions

Apple iMac

The iMac is an all-in-one computer. That means that all the hardware is incorporated in the screen, so I don't have to reserve any space for a separate computer case. It comes in two screen sizes: 21 and 27 inches.


MacBook screen

Apple MacBook

The MacBook with the biggest screen is the 15-inch model. That's 6 inches smaller than the smallest iMac. Something to consider when – like me – you enjoy plenty of screen space to do your work. With the exception of the MacBook Air, all Apple laptops have a crystal-clear Retina Display. The MacBook Pro 15 inches Touch Bar has the best display with an impressive resolution of 2560x1600 pixels.

iMac screen

Apple iMac

The screen of the Apple iMac isn't just bigger, but sharper too. The best screen of the iMac (Pro, 27-inch) supports a 5K resolution with 5120x2880 pixels (that's a whopping 14.7 million in total!). The question is if you actually need all those pixels. In any case, it is recommended for professional photo and video editing.

RAM and storage

MacBook RAM and storage

Apple MacBook

Apple MacBook is available in 8, 16 or 32GB of RAM. This is comparable to the basic iMac (8 or 16 GB RAM). The only iMac the MacBook can't measure up to is the iMac Pro. iMac Pro is available up to 64GB of RAM. You'll particularly notice this when carrying out demanding tasks, like editing large video files. In general, the MacBook does boot more quickly, thanks to its SSD.

iMac RAM and storage

Apple iMac

The Apple iMac Pro is expandable to up to 64GB of RAM. You can even upgrade the iMac Pro to 128GB of RAM. That's a lot more memory than on the best MacBook (up to 32GB of RAM). In addition, the iMac Pro uses ECC RAM. It's a special type of RAM that detects and corrects most bit errors to prevent data corruption. This type of RAM was only used in scientific or financial computers before, but it's in professional computers too now.


Processor MacBook

Apple MacBook

The most powerful Apple MacBook is the MacBook Pro. The MacBook Pro 15 inches Touch Bar is even more powerful than the 13-inch model. The Apple MacBook Pro 15 inches Touch Bar has 6 fast Intel Core i7 processors (2.6GHz, Turbo Boost up to 4.3GHz) and can be expanded to 6 Intel Core i9 processors (2.9 GHz, Turbo Boost up to 4.8 GHz). The MacBook Pro also has discrete graphics cards, making it suitable for designers and gamers. You can choose a Radeon Pro 555X with 4 GB GDDR5 memory, expandable to Radeon Pro 560X with 4 GB GDDR5 memory.

Processor iMac

Apple iMac

In general, the iMac has a higher computing power than the MacBook. Especially in the higher price range, the comparison isn't completely fair. The Apple iMac Pro 27 inches is available with 8 Octa Core processor cores (Turbo Boost up to 4.2GHz), 10 Deca Core processor cores (Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz), up to 14 Tetradeca core processor cores (Turbo Boost up to 4.3GHz ). If you compare the iMac Pro to the MacBook Pro, the comparison isn't very fair either. If you compare the MacBook Pro 15 inches and the iMac 21 (or 27) inches, it's a bit more fair. In fact, the iMac has 4 processor cores while the MacBook Pro has 6 processor cores. The iMac Pro still triumphs all other models.


MacBook connectors

Apple MacBook

Which ports the MacBook has - and how many - depends on the model you choose. In any case, there are fewer than on the Apple iMac, which is necessary to make them as thin as possible. More and more MacBook models are only equipped with Thunderbolt 3 connections (USB-C); only Apple MacBook Air and Apple MacBook Pro 15 inches (without Touch Bar) are equipped with 'standard' USB (A) connections or HDMI inputs. To connect your mouse or USB flash drive, you'll need an adapter for all other MacBooks.

iMac connectors

Apple iMac

iMac 21 and 27 inches have 1 SDXC card slot, 4 'standard' USB (A) inputs, 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports, and an internet port. The Apple iMac Pro has an additional 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports (so 4 in total). This makes it easy to connect peripherals, like an extra monitor. You'll only need a converter for equipment with HDMI or DisplayPort connectors.


How much the MacBook and the iMac differ depends on the version you choose. If you compare a top-notch MacBook (15 inches with Touch Bar) to the basic iMac (21 inches), the differences aren't too big. In fact, the MacBook Pro has 6 processor cores, where the iMac has (only) 4. But if you compare it to the iMac Pro, the iMac Pro and its 8, 10, or 14 processor cores triumph every time. This is by far the most powerful Mac.

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