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

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This M1 Pro MacBook setup uses a 27-inch Dell monitor and a pumped-up audio rig.
This M1 Pro MacBook setup uses a 27-inch Dell monitor and a pumped-up audio rig.
Photo: Andrew Michletz

Andrew, a customer service experience manager for an internet service provider in Minneapolis, shared his computer setup with Cult of Mac after a big revamp. He replaced a 27-inch 2017 iMac with a 14-inch 2021 M1 Pro MacBook, which he runs alongside his work laptop, a Lenovo ThinkPad T480S. He uses his Apple gear mostly for photo editing and music production.

“With work from home, I needed the ability to use the screen with both my personal computer and my work device,” Andrew told Cult of Mac (he requested we use only his first name). “I had been running Windows on the iMac via Boot Camp and using Miracast to wirelessly extend to 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 are the way to go.”

Andrew said the Miracast connection with the iMac became unreliable when he got a mesh network. It would sometimes work great, but often fail to connect, despite rigorous troubleshooting. So it was time to do a little shopping.

Part 1: From PC pigsty to prim M1 Pro MacBook workstation [Setups]

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Before: A fine Dell Inspiron laptop perched atop a mess.
BEFORE: A fine Dell Inspiron laptop perched atop a mess.
Photo: David Snow/Cult of Mac

Not long ago I sold, gave away or trashed most of my possessions and moved across the U.S. Soon after arrival, I found my computer unresponsive. The ol’ HP Pavilion laptop stopped powering on reliably. So I borrowed a perfectly good Dell laptop from my brother and kept on writing, mainly for Cult of Mac. I just happened to be “between Macs” at the time. But now I have a brand new 14-inch M1 Pro MacBook.

Thanks to the swanky new Apple laptop plus a few other bits and pieces I quickly acquired, as of today I no longer wallow in a PC laptop pigsty (yeah, the photo above is genuine, though I swear it wasn’t always quite that messy). I’ve got a proper Mac computer setup for the first time in a while.

No external monitor? Build an ergonomically correct setup around your laptop. [Setups]

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It may look complete, but this M1 MacBook Pro setup is waiting for a big secondary display.
It may look complete, but this M1 MacBook Pro setup is waiting for a big secondary display.
Photo: Cypher_27@Reddit.com

From time to time, as you work on making your computer setup all it can be, you order new equipment. And maybe it takes a long time to arrive. Perhaps “supply chain” issues intervene. And if that piece of equipment is your workstation’s visual centerpiece — the magnificent display, placed just so for graphical and ergonomic bliss — then what do you do, when you have no external monitor?

Do you hunch over your laptop until your neck and your back and everything else hurts? Not necessarily.