Upgrade from a 27-inch iMac to a MacBook M1 Pro with a 4K External Display [Setups]


Andrew, a customer service experience manager for an Internet service provider in Minneapolis, shared his computer setup with Mac Cult after a major overhaul. He replaced a 27-inch 2017 iMac with a 14-inch MacBook M1 Pro 2021, which he uses with his work laptop, a Lenovo ThinkPad T480S. He mainly uses his Apple equipment for photo editing and music production.

“With working from home, I needed to be able to use the screen with both my personal computer and my work device,” Andrew said. Mac Cult (he asked us to use only his first name). “I had run Windows on the iMac through Boot Camp and used Miracast to wirelessly extend the iMac screen from my ThinkPad. When it worked it was great, but it became unreliable over time, and I decided that a monitor with multiple inputs was the way to go.

Andrew said the Miracast connection with the iMac became unreliable when he got a mesh network. It worked great at times, but often failed to connect, despite rigorous troubleshooting. So it was time to do some shopping.

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MacBook M1 Pro with a Dell 4K External Display

When the new MacBook Pro M1 Pro and M1 Max came out, Andrew got a 14-inch M1 Pro. This is the base model, with 16 GB of built-in memory and a 512 GB SSD. For the external display with multiple inputs to work with both the Mac and its ThinkPad, it got a solid used 4K display.

“[It’s a] Dell U2718q found very inexpensive on Craigslist. 4K with fairly good color reproduction. This will hold me back until Apple launches a mainstream monitor. The aesthetics of it are also very nice, ”he said.

But amid his upgrades and changes, he worried that a 4K monitor might feel like a downgrade.

“I was looking for a panel to match my iMac 5K and I was really worried that running 4K would be a big step backwards,” he said. “I’m happy to say that running the MacBook Pro on a 27-inch 4K monitor scaled to 1440 pixels looks like Retina to me, and I didn’t find any performance issues with the upgrade. ‘ladder. I saved a lot of money compared to an Ultrafine 5K and have more flexibility! “

Easy connectivity adapts to their needs


Andrew said his personal work with Mac involved nature and landscape photography, as well as macro photography, particularly watches. As someone who recently replaced a battery of mechanical watches with an Apple Watch Series 6, I can understand. A Swiss watch face and the movement underneath both make for good macro photography subjects.

Its new Dell monitor is flexible to switch between its Mac and PC needs, with inputs for HDMI, Mini DisplayPort, and DisplayPort, he said.

“When I change, all I have to do is change the monitor input to or from HDMI to DisplayPort and use the respective mouse / keyboard combo,” he said. “I really like the monitor because it doubles as a USB hub. My personal needs require more flexibility than work, so it’s usually connected to the MacBook.


He added that the MacBook is powered through MagSafe and has three other cables: DisplayPort to the monitor, a USB 3.0 upstream cable to the monitor, and a 3.5mm cable connected to its Audioengine N22 mini desktop audio amplifier. He said he preferred the DAC on the MacBook to the monitor because he noticed more clarity and detail when connected that way.

Andrew’s speakers are compact Q Acoustics 3010 bookshelf speakers with a Q Acoustics 3070 active subwoofer. But he’s quite impressed with the six speakers built into the MacBook Pro.

“Since the MacBook is usually in clamshell mode, I don’t mind the cables,” he said. “I used to use an Apogee One connected to my iMac to send audio to the speakers, but the MacBook sounds just as good to my ears. This allowed me to simplify and only use the Apogee One when recording. Recording music is really just a hobby. I like to create beats in Logic Pro X and layer them on my guitar. “

This photo just comes out and shows the greatest glory of the setup, including the Philips Hue Bloom smart light on the right side.
Photo: Andrew Michaletz

Two sets of input devices

Andrew changes input devices when he changes computers between work and play.

With the MacBook it uses a full Magic Keyboard and a Magic Trackpad 2. With the ThinkPad (12 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD) it upgrades to an older Logitech mouse and keyboard.

He said he might want to upgrade Logitech equipment and hopes people give him some suggestions in the comments below. He would consider products designed to work with macOS and Windows on multiple computers, but he actually likes to physically switch hardware between work and play. So he could keep things separate even with new equipment.

Lighting and furniture

Andrew lights up his installation scene with two Philips Hue Bloom smart lights behind the monitor for biased lighting, he said. The work light visible to the left of the monitor is an Anglepoise 1227 with a Hue bulb inside.

“This lamp is great because it will stay put at any angle,” he said. “I love how you can have adaptive lighting throughout the day to relieve eye strain. “

Andrew places his entire setup on an Ergotron Workfit TX permanent desktop converter. And when he’s not standing, he sits on a Steelcase Think chair.

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If you would like to see your installation presented on Mac Cult, send high resolution photos to [email protected]. Please provide a detailed list of your equipment. Tell us what you like or don’t like about your setup, and let us know any special touches or challenges.


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