The center inlet is SLIGHTLY better at reducing cavitation because it doesn't have a 90 degree bend right on the face of the impeller. Sure, it would be great to run 3/4" hose directly to a huge barb on the front but even with the 1/2" camlock stepdown, you're in slightly better shape than the inline. Both will work OK as long as you use high flow components and don't put an additional 90 on the inlet of the inline.
To the OP, one great compromise is to design a two tier setup and get one pump. You then have the option of batch or fly sparging. A pump also allows you to lower the entire stand because you no longer have to rely on gravity to get the wort from the boil kettle to the fermenter. It affords you options on chilling as well. While you can gravity feed a CFC or plate chiller, a pump works a lot better and allows you to pump-recirculate-sanitize with heat. Even if you go with an immersion chiller, you can then use the pump to whirlpool for faster cooling and better runoff clarity. Same goes for your mash. No more pitcher vorlaufs, hook up the pump and go.
Ok, now that I got all the cheerleading out of the way, you will hate life for a bit while you get used to working with a pump but don't get discouraged. You eventually figure it out.
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