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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Desktops > iMac vs Mini

iMac vs Mini
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Dec 16, 2013, 07:42 PM
 
I am trying to decide if there is any advantage to buying a mini for $599 and adding a $400 display versus a base iMac at $1299. I already have a wireless mouse and keyboard with my 8 yr old iMac. Is the savings . . . roughly $300 real or am I simply getting what I paid for.
     
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Dec 17, 2013, 08:32 AM
 
What you get for your $300 is:

* A quadcore processor instead of the dualcore in the mini
* Significantly more powerful graphics (Intel Iris Pro 5200 instead of HD 4000)
* A camera (for video conferencing)
* Stereo speakers
* 802.11ac Wifi (instead of 802.11n in the mini)
* Mouse and keyboard
* The option to add a Fusion Drive

If you're considering the mini, I would wait for a refresh, as that would add new Wifi and better graphics - eliminating one point and reducing another.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
Harvey  (op)
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Dec 17, 2013, 11:20 AM
 
Thank you. That was certainly an eye opener.
     
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Dec 17, 2013, 11:40 PM
 
You can also consider purchasing a "higher" end Mac Mini, the Late 2012 model with a 2.3 GHz Intel Core i7 processor. Recently, Best Buy had them for $740. This machine has a quad core processor.

You can purchase 21" Monitors for less than $400. In fact, there are quite a few choices for ones that cost as low as $130. And, you can install an SSD inside the Mac Mini to create a Fusion Drive (by the way, you can also install an SSD in the $599 model you mentioned). Myself, I recently replaced the 1 TB 5400 rpm internal drive with a fast Samsung 256 Gig SSD, and put the 1 TB drive into a nice, slim external case.

So, the "only" advantages for the iMac would be 1) the 802.11ac Wifi, 2) the stereo speakers, 3) a camera, and 4) better graphics. If you wait for a new Mac Mini, you will not get any speakers, nor a camera.

Myself, the 802.11n Wifi easily satisfies my needs, and I already have a camera on my Mac Book Air (did not have one on my defunct MacPro desktop, which the Mac Mini replaced).
     
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Dec 18, 2013, 10:37 AM
 
Another positive for the mini (although really only aesthetic) is that you can hook up two matching monitors. The iMac will always look like it's got a deformed conjoined twin.
     
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Dec 18, 2013, 12:07 PM
 
You can connect two identical monitors to the iMac and not use the built-in one, if you want...

Seriously though: The iMac has a quite nice IPS display, and while the old advantage of the 3.5" HDD is no longer there on the 21.5", it still uses faster desktop CPUs. The step up in graphics performance is also significant even if you stay at the bottom rung.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
Harvey  (op)
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Dec 18, 2013, 03:28 PM
 
Thanks to all you responded. All of your points are helpful. I may have misled some of you into thinking it was a money matter when actually it isn't. I was only looking for the best buy and wonder if the older iMac from Best Buy may fill the bill. . . . . then again the newest and the shiniest is always nice.

Harvey
     
cgc
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Dec 18, 2013, 10:07 PM
 
The Mac Mini is due to be refreshed soon so it will have the same WiFi and very similar integrated graphics (e.g. Iris 5xxx). I'm buying a new Mini once it's released as I have a monitor and KB/mouse but the iMacs are great.
"Like a midget at a urinal, I was going to have to stay on my toes." Frank Drebin, Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult
     
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Dec 19, 2013, 05:46 AM
 
If the mini gets a straight update to the latest chip of the same level as it has now, the base model might get Iris 5100. Which is nice and all, certainly a big boost, but not on a level with the Iris Pro 5200 in the bottom iMac. The quadcores might get the Iris Pro, but the risk is that they all get the HD 4600)

(Sidenote: Performance for the Iris Pro apparently improves quite a lot with higher memory bandwidth. Officially they only support DDR3-1600, because they're mobiles, but semi-officially Intel supports "XMP" for faster memory. Would be interesting to see if Apple at least moves up one notch to DDR3-1866)
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
   
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