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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Desktops > Low end iMac or Top of the line Mini?

Low end iMac or Top of the line Mini?
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Sosa
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Oct 20, 2009, 04:17 PM
 
Alright, I've been wanting a Mac mini since they came out. I'm finally in a position were I can justify a new computer and have a nice 46" Samsung HDTV to use as a display. However, just out of curiosity I took a look at the iMacs and came away with the impression that the mini is overpriced compared to the low end iMac, someone correct me if I'm wrong!

Low end iMac + a few extras: $1267
Specifications
3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
4GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x2GB
500GB Serial ATA Drive
NVIDIA GeForce 9400M
Apple Wireless Keyboard (Spanish) and User's Guide
8x double-layer SuperDrive
Apple Magic Mouse
Apple Remote
iWork '09 preinstalled

Top perfomance Mac mini + less extras:$1086
2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
4GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x2GB
320GB Serial ATA Drive
SuperDrive 8x (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
Apple Wireless Keyboard
User's Guide (English)
iWork '09 preinstalled
Apple Remote

Notice I passed on the Magic Mouse, as I would want a track ball for couch surfing I'm thinking. I also get a smaller hard drive (it would cost $100 more to match) and weaker processor.

So, is my evaluation that the low end iMac is a much better value incorrect? If so I have to make a decision whether the form factor is worth the extra cost. I don't want the cheapest Mac mini, as I hold on to my computers for a long time and want to max out the useable life of the computer. Yeah, I'm still on my 2003 Powerbook.....
2011 iMac 2.7 i5, 16gb RAM, 1TB HD
Previous Macs: Apple IIc+, iMac 350 G3, iBook 700 G3, G4 Powerbooks 12" 1ghz & 15" 1.67ghz
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EndlessMac
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Oct 20, 2009, 08:48 PM
 
I would also pick the low end iMac over of the top end Mac mini especially if you don't already have an external monitor. The low end Mac mini isn't such a bad deal though for the market that the Mac mini is suppose to cater to.
     
Sosa  (op)
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Oct 21, 2009, 02:42 PM
 
Thanks for your replies. I've decided to pass on the Mac mini for now. I love the form factor but it is not cost effective and actually impractical for my family and kids. I will be buying an iMac, just not sure which. I suspect the entry level iMac is all my family will need for years to come, as we don't play graphic intensive games (we have a Wii) and it is mostly about regular computer use with multiple user accounts.

One issue I've found is that because several people leave applications open on their accounts it totally slows down my poor old G4 and I have to use my administrative privileges to shut down programs, typically Safari and Firefox, that hog the memory. With the low end iMac I can visit Crucial and buy a couple of 4GB sticks, that should solve it!

Update: Alright scratch the 2x4GB sticks, those things are $300 each! I'll buy two 2GB and max out at 8GB of RAM for now for under $100.

Could anyone point me to a discussion of the 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo vs. 3.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo? I'm thinking of passing on the entry level iMac because it does not have a dedicated video card. However I'll be paying $300 just for a graphics improvement? Not sure that's worth it. Also wondering if I should pay $200 more for the CPU upgrade. I've already found that Apple appears to over charge for the Quad core CPU upgrade, they are probably doing the same in this case.
( Last edited by Sosa; Oct 21, 2009 at 03:09 PM. )
2011 iMac 2.7 i5, 16gb RAM, 1TB HD
Previous Macs: Apple IIc+, iMac 350 G3, iBook 700 G3, G4 Powerbooks 12" 1ghz & 15" 1.67ghz
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Simon
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Oct 21, 2009, 03:15 PM
 
3.33 GHz vs. 3.0 GHz is a mere 9% clock increase. You don't sound like somebody who will notice that. You'd rather save those $200 and buy more RAM and a good backup HDD.
     
Sosa  (op)
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Oct 21, 2009, 03:16 PM
 
Here is something relevant from gizmodo:

There are three main graphics configs in this machine, too: An Nvidia 9400m or ATI Radeon HD 4670 discrete graphics solution in the 21.5-incher, with the latter being 4x as fast, according to Apple. The 27-inch iMac has the ATI Radeon HD 4670 as its low-end card and a ATI Radeon HD 4850 on the top end. Graphics cards should have an impact on general computing, once developers start writing for the OpenCL functionality in Snow Leopard, so its a bit more important for non-gamers than in previous generations of iMacs.

Apple iMac Hands On - iMac - Gizmodo
2011 iMac 2.7 i5, 16gb RAM, 1TB HD
Previous Macs: Apple IIc+, iMac 350 G3, iBook 700 G3, G4 Powerbooks 12" 1ghz & 15" 1.67ghz
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Sosa  (op)
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Oct 21, 2009, 03:48 PM
 
Alright, I'm convinced: I'll pick up the 21" midrange system with a couple of extras and a Cannon all in one printer free after the $100 rebate. I read Apple's own marketing materials on the iMac (which I should probably do more often) and I do like the idea of having a dedicated video card for improved graphical performance and the option to play the occasional game.

Still not sure about the improved processor. I mean, it does double the L2 cache to 6MB, whatever that means! A 10% increase in performance is not anything to scoff at. It will probably come down to budget, as I need to purchase a desk after so many years on my laptop.
( Last edited by Sosa; Oct 21, 2009 at 03:55 PM. )
2011 iMac 2.7 i5, 16gb RAM, 1TB HD
Previous Macs: Apple IIc+, iMac 350 G3, iBook 700 G3, G4 Powerbooks 12" 1ghz & 15" 1.67ghz
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Krusty
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Oct 23, 2009, 12:54 PM
 
I know this is slightly off topic but I didn't want to waste a new thread on it. The upper end standard config mac mini looks like a pretty sweet deal at $799. If you take the lower config and upgrade ram, processor and hard drive to match, it would be $949 ... so that's a pretty significant savings. If you can live the the 320gb drive in the upper config mini, then you don't have to screw with the paint scraper to crack open the mini's case as the ram is already maxed out.

I'm actually really considering the $799 mini at this point since I have all the other stuff to go with it and it has maxed out ram out of the box.
     
   
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