I'm looking to purchase either the $799 Mac Mini or the lowest-end iMac toward the end of this month (Black Friday maybe) and I'm trying to get a good idea what the performance difference between the two are in real life. I know the iMac has a 20% faster processor, same graphics, but also a full sized hard drive which will make it a good bit faster in addition to having a full sized gorgeous monitor with built-in camera and includes a wireless keyboard (that I played with at the Apple store and DON'T LIKE) in addition to the Magic Mouse (which I really DID like and took to immediately ... probably because I've had the original iPhone for over 2 years and multi-touch is second nature to me now).
Anyway, I know that on paper the iMac is a much better value but I've really gotten to the point where I rarely use a desktop anymore and I do already have a good keyboard, mouse and 19" monitor that I could use with the mini. I may use my desktop one or two evenings per week and then a little on the weekends and have really dropped off doing anything very intensive on regular basis like I used to do. So, "cheap" is a big deal to me now since I know I really won't use it heavily anymore. But, I do want something that will run 10.6 (my current desktop is a 1.25mhz PowerPC) and want to get all the OS/iLife upgrades that I'll get by purchasing either machine. Unfortunately, the local Apple store had a slew of 21.5 iMacs on the floor but NONE of them were the base model. All had the discrete graphics card which leads me to believe the graphics performance of the 9400m on the base model's 1920 x 1080 screen may be too embarrassing for them to even put one out on the floor. Going up to the next price point (the $1499 model) isn't an option ... just too expensive for my light usage. In a nutshell,the 2.53/4gb/320gb mac mini seem like it's definitely "enough" computer for my needs but the low end iMac appears to have way too many goodies (monitor + faster hard drives and processors + mouse) to pass up.
Soooo ..... after that long intro. Can anyone who has purchased either the 2.53 mini or the lowest end iMac tell me what brand and model hard drive is in your machine and what your machine's xbench results are (or any other benchmarking application you use). I'm particularly interested in disk and cpu scores and if there is any noticeable difference on the graphics scores. I'm loathe to come off the additional 50% for a machine I won't use a whole lot (I'd almost be buying it for my gf and her kid, they're on it far more than me now). But with all the extra features I already know about, if it really beats the h#ll out of the mini in benchmarks too, it may be stupid not to bump up to the iMac just for longevity purposes.