Right now we’d recommend the MacBook Pro models – 13in, 14in and 16in over the iMac. The 13in MacBook Pro offers better value for money and better chips than the 24in iMac and the 14in and 16in MacBook Pro boast the M1 Pro and M1 Max options that are superior to the M1 and the M2.
Price When Reviewed
Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro (M2, 2022): $1,299
24in iMac vs 13in and 27in iMac vs 14in and 16in MacBook Pro: From $1,299
Best Pricing Today for 14in MacBook Pro, M2
We’re comparing the 24-inch iMac with all sizes of Apple’s MacBook Pro here, but there’s more to it than a straightforward comparison of desktop versus laptop. For each Apple product there are variants that suit different customers. Some of you reading this may be hoping for advice about whether to choose a new 24in iMac or a 13in MacBook Pro, while others may be looking for a little bit more power and may be wondering if there is a good reason to choose the iMac over the 14-inch or 16-inch MacBook Pro.
Prior to the spring of 2022 Apple also sold a 27-inch iMac and in the past it has also sold an iMac Pro, these targeted Macs are no longer sold by Apple, although you may still be able to buy one from a reseller who still has stock. However, because they are powered by Intel chip rather than the Apple M-series, we would advise against buying one right now. There is a chance that the iMac Pro might be reborn at some point in the future, but so far that is only a rumor.
Historically it’s been the case that a Mac laptop, even if it had comparable specs to a desktop, cost a little more because you are paying extra for the compact form factor of a laptop. However, that’s not necessarily true right now. In the case of the 13-inch MacBook Pro versus the 24-inch iMac, the iMac has a higher price despite having worst specs (an M1 rather than the M2).
The 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro have higher prices, but the specs are superior and there are some other benefits compared to the iMac.
For the latest money off deals on any of these Macs read: Best iMac deals and Best MacBook Pro deals.
Read our reviews of the products mentioned here:
13-inch MacBook Pro vs 24-inch iMac
We’ll start with the consumer-oriented MacBook Pro and look at how it compares to the 24-inch iMac. If you are looking for a powerful Mac that doesn’t cost a fortune then the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the 24-inch iMac are a good place to start.
Prior to June 2022 both of these Macs featured the same Apple processor – the M1. However, in June 2022 Apple started selling a new 13-inch MacBook Pro that boasts an M2 chip, which is superior to the M1 still used in the iMac. Read our 13-inch MacBook Pro (M2) review. The M2 MacBook Pro is the only MacBook in Apple’s lineup that features the Touch Bar.
The 24-inch iMac was introduced in April 2021. It features a completely new design in seven colours and Apple’s M1 Chip. There are three 24in iMacs to choose from with various specs as standard (and many more build to order options). Read our 24-inch iMac (M1) review.
Both the 24-inch iMac and 13-inch MacBook Pro have decent specs, for the most part, and both have reasonably priced entry-level models that may mean you don’t have to exceed your budget. We’ll run through price and specs in more detail below.
What do you get for your money?
In the US the 13-inch MacBook Pro and iMac come in at the same price: $1,299. However, in the UK and elsewhere the prices aren’t the same. In the UK the iMac is the cheaper option at £1,249 while the 13-inch MacBook Pro costs £100 more at £1,349. It’s a similar story in Canada where the iMac is C$1,599 and the M2 MacBook Pro A$1,699, and in Australia where the iMac is A$1,899 and the M2 MacBook Pro A$1,999. So as you can see the question of value for money depends on where you are based! If you aren’t in the US the iMac has the benefit of being cheaper than the MacBook Pro (at least for now).
Here’s what you get for your money:
- 24-inch iMac, M1, 8-core CPU/7-core GPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, Retina 4.5K display, for $1,299 / £1,249 / C$1,599 / A$1,899.
- 13-inch MacBook Pro, M2, 8-core CPU/8-core GPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD for $1,299 / £1,349 / C$1,699 / A$1,999
Note that if you pick the iMac you’ll have one fewer graphics core and the M1 is an older generation Apple processor than the M2. Read: M2 vs M1 Pro, Max, and Ultra.
If you have a little more to spend you have the following choices:
- 24-inch iMac, M1, 8-core CPU/8-core GPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, Retina 4.5K display, for $1,499 / £1,449 / C$1,849 / A$2,199
- 13-inch MacBook Pro, M2, 8-core CPU/10-core GPU, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD for $1,499 / £1,549 / C$1,699 / A$2,299
Again, the price in the US is the same for the iMac and MacBook Pro, while in the UK and Australia the MacBook Pro costs more. Somewhat confusingly, in Canada this iMac costs more than the equivalent MacBook Pro. Here’s not only is the processor in the MacBook Pro better, you also get twice as much storage. So even thought the iMac costs less in the UK and Australia, it’s not worth the saving. If you are in the US or Canada the choice is clear: The MacBook Pro is better value.
14-inch & 16-inch MacBook Pro vs 24-inch iMac
If you require a more powerful Mac, and have the budget, then in the past you might have considered the 27-inch iMac, or even the iMac Pro, but Apple has discontinued both of these models, introducing the Mac Studio instead.
The Mac Studio is a great option if you need a powerful Mac, but if you are looking for a Mac with a build in display the Mac Studio lacks one. If a built in screen is important to you may well be considering the iMac due to it’s 24-inch display in comparison to the larger MacBook Pro models that offer 14-inch and 16-inch screens.
What you get for your money
You could consider either of the iMacs we’ve mentioned above, but with the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro having a higher starting price than both of these options, we will copmare the McBook Pro with the more expensive iMac option below:
- 24-inch iMac, M1, 8-core CPU/8-core GPU, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD, Retina 4.5K display, for $1,699 / £1,649 / C$2,099 / A$2,499
- 14-inch MacBook Pro, M1 Pro, 8-core CPU/14-core GPU, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD for $1,999 / £1,899 / C$2,499 / A$2,999
The cheapest 14-inch MacBook Pro costs more than the most expensive iMac – is it worth the extra money? One factor in favour of the 14-inch MacBook Pro is the M1 Pro, which is a superior processor to the M1 in the iMac. We explain how the M1 compares to the M1 Pro in a separate article. For more information read What Mac processor do I need?
There really is no escaping the fact that the iMac and MacBook Pro with M1 Pro or M1 Max do not compare very favourably right now. However, that may change if Apple re-introduces the 27in iMac. Read about what we expect Apple to do with the pro version of the iMac.
Read more about the differences between the 14in and 16in MacBook Pro.
Right now we would recommend all models of the MacBook Pro over the 24-inch iMac, despite the fact that the iMac is the cheaper option in some parts of the world.
If you have more to spend then it is worth considering the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro.
However, the MacBook Pro isn’t necessarily the best Mac laptop you could buy – the MacBook Air might do the job just as well for even less money, in which case, read our comparison of the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.
Best prices right now:
The best prices for the cheapest 13-inch MacBook Pro can be found at the top of this article.