Custom vs. iMac

In the near future I'll potentially have the ability to work from home for the most part, which means that a desktop-grade machine now makes sense to use. The question I'm considering now is whether I should buy an Apple iMac or go with a custom-built solution that can provide the best amount of digital processing for the buck. An iMac Pro is out of the question, and the data sets I'll be working with measure in the hundreds of gigabytes making cloud offerings both expensive and a data security concern. Something local is what's needed.

Pros of an iMac:

  • the stuff generally "just works"
  • already have all the software licenses required
  • already in the ecosystem
  • aesthetically pleasing
  • reduces the desire to upgrade given the complexities in doing so

Pros of a Custom-Built System:

  • able to expand on my own terms
  • can run macOS in a VM and still use key software
  • can use better-grade video and expansion cards
  • can really make use of the true speed of the hardware
  • better value proposition given ease of repair, upgrade, and operation

Portability will still matter when I'm out and about, but the current MacBook Pro will suffice when I'm away from home. What's needed is something with a good deal of processing power and memory to do the things notebooks generally cannot.

While I will likely not need to make any decision this year, given all the other expensive things that have been cutting into the savings as of late, this is certainly in the cards for 2019.