Goodbye, Intel iMac. Hello, my new desktop – which is also my laptop. – Houston Chronicle

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The 32-inch Dell UltraSharp monitor includes a built-in USB-C hub that makes it easy to turn a MacBook Pro into a desktop computer. 
TwelveSouth’s BookArc stand includes a set of soft silicone inserts that help keep a MacBook Pro upright, saving desk space
Last month I sold my three-year-old 27-inch iMac and replaced it by turning my 2021 MacBook Pro into a desktop, with a 32-inch Dell monitor. In doing so, I cut my long-term costs, streamlined my desk and discovered how monitor and USB tech has advanced.
That’s a big deal for me and the result of a one of Apple’s biggest hardware conversions. Three years ago, owners of long-in-the-tooth Macs were confronted with a choice when Apple announced it would swap Intel processors on its laptop and desktop computers for its own M-series chips. Intel-based Macs would continue to be sold for a while, and supported for many years, but Apple Silicon would be the company’s future.
At the same time, Apple introduced an updated 27-inch iMac, the venerable all-in-one desktop, with Intel still inside, and boy was it sweet. Folks like me who needed a new Mac back then were confronted with a dilemma.
The Mac mini I was using would no longer be supported by new versions of its operating system. I really wanted to replace it with an iMac, but there was no Apple Silicon version in sight. Should I wait for a new model with Apple’s own chip, or should I jump on the Intel desktop?
I opted for the Intel-based iMac, and once I had it on my desk at home, I was ecstatic. It was powerful and the display gorgeous. But in the back of my mind, I knew the day would come when I would have to move to an Apple Silicon Mac as my full-time machine.
That day arrived a few weeks ago, when Apple unveiled the latest features in its updated operating system and, as in the years since Apple Silicon arrived, some wouldn’t be available for my Intel-based iMac. It felt like the time had come for me to jettison my iMac, as much as I loved it.
Fortunately, I wouldn’t have to buy a new computer. In late 2021, I upgraded my MacBook Pro, which featured a redesigned chassis and an M1 Pro Apple Silicon processor. I could use that MacBook Pro as a desktop, one I could take with me anywhere.
I’d been hesitant to consider this setup, though a lot of people do it with both Windows and Mac systems, particularly in business settings. Traditionally, laptops have not kept up with desktops when it comes to performance, and I have wanted my desktop system to have every advantage. I was also uncomfortable with the notion of carrying around the computer that had all my documents, music, photos and critical personal data. Even though I meticulously back up my systems, I didn’t want to risk losing it to forgetfulness or thievery.
Apple, however, has changed the performance equation with its latest chips. They’re more powerful and certainly more energy-stingy than Intel’s equivalents, both in real-world use and in benchmarks. In addition, Apple’s iCloud services means my data is available anywhere, and easily retrieved if needed.
But what to do with my existing desktop setup? I offered it — the iMac, a secondary 21.5-inch Acer monitor and twin monitor arms — on my Facebook page for $1,000. Within two days, the combo was sold for $1,000, a testimony to the excellent resale value Apple products typically carry. 
I also decided to overhaul my physical desktop. Rather than two monitors, I chose a single, larger display, using the proceeds from the iMac to buy a 32-inch Dell U3223QE UltraSharp monitor. While the iMac had a 5K-resolution display, the Dell is “only” 4K, but it is a superb screen, and I don’t miss either the iMac’s display or the second monitor.
(Quite a few folks have asked me why I didn’t go for an even bigger, curved screen. They’re great for gaming, but a professional photographer warned me that the curve can create problems when editing photos and adjusting for straight lines in an image — something I do often.)
The Dell monitor has a built-in USB-C hub, which means it includes a slew of ports for video, data and power, though most are on the underside of the monitor and a little hard to access. Best of all, this hub supports Thunderbolt connections that send power to the computer and receive video and data back from it — essentially, one cable to rule them all. This gets rid of a substantial amount of desktop clutter.
The Dell also has what’s known as a KVM switch, allowing you to share a keyboard, display and pointing device between computers. This makes it easy to also use a Dell gaming laptop I own with it, switching between it and the Mac. My mini-review: It’s a great monitor, and worth the price.
To round out my setup, I ordered a BookArc from TwelveSouth, a maker of accessories for Apple gear. It’s an aluminum arch with a soft, silicone insert that holds the laptop vertically, taking up minimal space on the desk.
Now I just have one Mac, which works great as a desktop and a portable. And in the long run, it will save money. When the time comes to replace it — and that time will come — I’ll only have to buy one computer, rather than two. Bonus!
dsilverman@outlook.com
Mastodon.social/@dsilverman
Dwight Silverman worked for the Houston Chronicle in a variety of roles for more than 30 years, serving as a technology reporter and columnist; manager of HoustonChronicle.com; social media manager; online news editor; and assistant State Desk Editor. 
He has returned as a freelancer to continue his long-running technology column. You can email him at dsilverman@outlook.com and follow him on Mastodon at mastodon.social/@dsilverman.
By Kirkland An, Katherine Feser, Nusaiba Mizan

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