Switch from a 27-inch iMac to an M1 Pro MacBook with a 4K external display [Setups]

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

“When I work from home, I needed the ability to use the screen on both a personal computer and a work device,” Andrew said. Cult Maca (he asked us to use only his name). “I started Windows on the iMac via Boot Camp and used Miracast to wirelessly expand to the iMac screen from my ThinkPad. When it worked, it was great, but over time it became unreliable and I decided that a multi-input monitor was the right way to go. ”

Andrew said the Miracast connection to the iMac became unreliable when it got the mesh network. Sometimes it would work great, but often it failed to connect, despite rigorous problem solving. So, it’s time for a small purchase.

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M1 Pro MacBook with Dell 4K external display

When the new M1 Pro and M1 Max MacBook Pro came out, Andrew got a 14-inch M1 Pro. Its base model, which has 16 GB of integrated memory and a 512 GB SSD. In order for the external multi-input display to work with both the Mac and its ThinkPad, it achieved a solid second-hand 4K display.

“[It’s a] The Dell U2718q was found very cheap on Craigslist. 4K with pretty good color reproduction. It will keep me until Apple releases a consumer monitor. And the aesthetics are really beautiful, ”he said.

But in the midst of its upgrades and alterations, he worried that the 4K monitor might look worse.

“I was looking for a panel that would fit my 5K iMac and I was really worried that running 4K would look like a big step down,” he said. “I’m glad to say that running the MacBook Pro on a 27-inch 4K monitor scaled to 1440 pixels looks like a Retina in my eye, and I haven’t discovered that there are any performance issues with the scaling. I saved a lot of money compared to the Ultrafine 5K and I had more flexibility! ”

Easy connection suits his needs


Andrew said his personal work with the Mac includes photos of nature and landscape, as well as macro photography – especially clocks. As someone who has only recently replaced a bunch of mechanical watches with the Apple Watch Series 6, I can agree. The Swiss clock dial and the movement below it make good subjects for macro photography.

His new Dell monitor is flexible for switching between his Mac and PC needs, with inputs for HDMI, Mini DisplayPort and DisplayPort, he said.

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


He added that the MacBook is powered via MagSafe and has three more cables: a DisplayPort for the monitor, an upstream USB 3.0 monitor cable and a 3.5mm cable connected to its Audioengine N22 Mini Desktop Audio Amplifier. He said he preferred the DAC on the MacBook than on the monitor because he noticed more clarity and detail when connected that way.

Andrew’s speakers are Q Acoustics 3010 compact shelf speakers along with Q Acoustics 3070 active subwoofer. But he’s pretty impressed with the six speakers built into the MacBook Pro.

“Since the MacBook is usually in folding mode, I don’t mind the cables,” he said. “I used to use an Apogee One connected to my iMac to send sound to speakers, but a MacBook sounds just as good to my ears. This allowed me to simplify and use only Apogee One when shooting. Recording music is really just a hobby. I like to make rhythms in Logic Pro X and apply over my guitar. ”

This shot is easy to pull out and shows the greater glory of the installation, including the Philips Hue Bloom smart light on the right.
Photo: Andrew Michaletz

Two sets of input devices

Andrew changes input devices when he switches the computer between work and play.

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

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

Lighting and furniture

Andrew illuminates his setup scene with two Philips Hue Bloom smart lights behind a biased lighting monitor, he said. The task lamp visible to the left of the monitor is the Anglepoise 1227 with a Hue bulb in it.

“This lamp is great because it will stay set at any angle,” he said. “I like how you can have adjustable lighting during the day to reduce eye strain.”

Andrew sets up his entire setup on the Ergotron Workfit TX standing table converter. And when he’s not standing, he’s sitting in a Steelcase Think chair.

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Naveen Kumar

Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.

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