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iMac 2021 vs MacBook Pro: Which should you buy?

The introduction of the new iMac 2021 has brought up a difficult question: which is the better option in the iMac 2021 vs MacBook Pro face off? 

We’ve dug through the specs to offer a detailed comparison of Apple’s new desktop and the latest 16-inch MacBook Pro. Read on to discover which features the two Macs share, as well as how they differ…

iMac 2021 vs MacBook Pro price and release date – How much do they cost?

The entry-level iMac 2021 starts at £1249/$1299 for an 8-core CPU, 7-core GPU and 256GB storage in Blue, Green, Pink or Silver. There’s also a model with an 8-core GPU available for £1449/$1499, as well as a 512GB version for £1649/$1699. The higher priced models come in Yellow, Orange and Purple, as well as Blue, Green, Pink and Silver.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro is priced around £1000 higher at £2399/$2,399 and comes with the 2.6GHz 6-core 9th-generation Intel Core i7 processor and 512GB of storage. Alternatively, you can spend £2799/$2,799 and get the 2.3GHz 8-core 9th-generation Intel Core i9 processor and 1TB of storage.

The iMac 2021 will be available in the second half of May, with pre-orders open from April 30. The MacBook Pro is available to buy now.

iMac 2021 vs MacBook Pro design – What do they look like?

The most obvious difference between the iMac and the MacBook Pro is the design. The iMac is an all-in-one desktop computer, while the MacBook is a laptop offering more portability.

Seven different colored iMac's standing on a white background, side, back and front viewA light pink iMac diaplying home screen standing on a white background

Another key difference is the colour options available. The iMac 2021 marked an expressive new design for the desktop with seven colours available, including Yellow, Orange, Purple, Blue, Green, Pink and Silver. Meanwhile, the MacBook Pro comes in much more muted Space Grey and Silver variants.

The iMac 2021 comes with a new 1080p webcam above the display, while the MacBook Pro is limited to the 720p FaceTime HD camera.

MacBook Pro 16

As far as ports go, the iMac 2021 packs two Thunderbolt ports, while the 8-core configuration comes with two additional USB-C ports and a 1Gbps Ethernet port in the power adapter. The MacBook Pro offers four Thunderbolt 3 ports.

The iMac also comes with optional colour-matched accessories, including a new Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and the Magic Mouse.

iMac 2021 vs MacBook Pro display – What screens do they have?

The iMac 2021 features a 24-inch 4.5K Retina display (4480 x 2520) with a slim bezel on three sides. The display boasts 22.3 million pixels, a P3 wide colour gamut and over a billion colours. Apple also claims the display is able to reach 500 nits of peak brightness and the iMac is covered in an anti-reflective coating.

iMac 2021 vs MacBook Pro

The MacBook Pro, on the other hand, has a smaller 16-inch LED-backlit display (3072 x 1920) with narrow bezels bordering the screen. The resolution may be lower than the iMac, but it shouldn’t be very noticeable since the pixels are packed into a smaller screen.

The MacBook Pro display is also able to reach 500 nits of peak brightness and, like the iMac, features a P3 wide colour gamut.

MacBook Pro 16: iMac 2021 vs MacBook Pro

Both displays feature Apple’s True Tone technology to automatically adjust the colour temperature to match your environment.

iMac 2021 vs MacBook Pro specs – Which is more powerful?

One of the headline features on the iMac is its M1 chip. The Apple-made processor can already be found in the MacBook Air and the Mac Mini, and offers the iMac a 85% boost in CPU performance – as well as twice the GPU power – when compared with the last Intel-based iMac.

According to Apple, the chip will allow users to edit up to five streams of 4K footage or one stream of 8K footage without dropping a frame in Final Cut Pro.

The iMac comes in 7-core and 8-core GPU configurations, with 8GB of memory and a choice of 256GB or 512GB storage.

iMac 2021 vs MacBook Pro

The 16-inch MacBook Pro, meanwhile, is powered by Intel’s processors and comes with a choice of the 6-core Intel Core i7 or the 8-core Intel Core i9. The MacBook Pro comes with 16GB of memory and a choice of 512GB or 1TB storage.

We can’t comment on how these two devices will compare performance wise without reviewing the iMac, but expect the M1 to be very competitive.

While the 16-inch MacBook Pro 2019 currently still uses Intel’s processors, we expect it to to be updated with an Apple Silicon chip in the MacBook Pro 2021.

iMac 2021 vs MacBook Pro early verdict

The iMac 2021 is a substantial update for Apple’s iMac line, but how does it compare to the MacBook Pro?

The iMac easily stands out with its colourful design and sizable 4.5K display, but the MacBook Pro remains a better choice for anyone looking for portability from their Mac. That says, the upcoming MacBook Pro 2021 is rumoured to offer both a redesign and a more powerful chip, so it may be better waiting for that if portability is essential.

MacBook Pro 16: iMac 2021 vs MacBook Pro

The iMac also offers an improved camera for clearer Zoom calls and benefits from the speedy performance of Apple’s own M1 chip. The iMac is more affordable too, saving you around £1000 by opting for the desktop computer. If you just need a computer for home working, the iMac looks to be a very exciting option.

That said, we’ll have to wait until our iMac 2021 review before making any final verdicts. Keep an eye on Trusted Reviews for our upcoming review.

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