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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > MacBook Pro vs. Mac Mini (Photoshop Machine)

MacBook Pro vs. Mac Mini (Photoshop Machine)
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Subaru_Nation555
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Nov 30, 2007, 08:24 AM
 
I realize that people hate these questions but after some research I still thought I'd ask:

I currently own a 12" PowerBook G4. It's a great little computer for the basics but I am getting more and more into photography and am starting to work heavily with Photoshop CS2, Bridge and Lightroom. Aside from the small screen size, the speed of the PowerBook is slowing me down. I have a budget of about $2,000 (w/ student discount) and am looking for a new computer that is going to be able to handle more of what I throw at it (photo editing-RAW images in the future, Internet usage, light video editing, Office and maybe some TV recording in the future).

So my question is should I keep the PowerBook as my portable and look into a Mac Mini? I was thinking the 2.0GHz model, 3GB RAM, fast external drive to use as a scratch disk and a 20" Cinema Display.

Or just replace the PowerBook with the base MacBook Pro and a RAM upgrade.

Is there much of a speed difference between the MacBook Pro and the Mac Mini for the tasks listed above? Any first hand experience and suggestions are appreciated. Thanks for your time.
2.2GHz MacBook Pro
     
NeXTLoop
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Nov 30, 2007, 03:33 PM
 
Originally Posted by Subaru_Nation555 View Post
I realize that people hate these questions but after some research I still thought I'd ask:

I currently own a 12" PowerBook G4. It's a great little computer for the basics but I am getting more and more into photography and am starting to work heavily with Photoshop CS2, Bridge and Lightroom. Aside from the small screen size, the speed of the PowerBook is slowing me down. I have a budget of about $2,000 (w/ student discount) and am looking for a new computer that is going to be able to handle more of what I throw at it (photo editing-RAW images in the future, Internet usage, light video editing, Office and maybe some TV recording in the future).

So my question is should I keep the PowerBook as my portable and look into a Mac Mini? I was thinking the 2.0GHz model, 3GB RAM, fast external drive to use as a scratch disk and a 20" Cinema Display.

Or just replace the PowerBook with the base MacBook Pro and a RAM upgrade.

Is there much of a speed difference between the MacBook Pro and the Mac Mini for the tasks listed above? Any first hand experience and suggestions are appreciated. Thanks for your time.
Given your budget, another option would be a MacBook and an external monitor. A lot of people poke at the MBs integrated graphic card, but Photoshop does its lifting with the CPU not the GPU. If you look at some of the benchmarks, such as at MacWorld.com, you'll see that the MacBook is very close (virtually neck and neck) with the MBP. With the extra money, you could get both a RAM upgrade and an external monitor.

If for some reason you don't like the MB, then I would go with the MBP over the Mini. But then again, I gave up on desktop machines years ago and haven't looked back... so I'm always partial to recommending a portable.
"Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works." - Steve Jobs
     
Gish
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Nov 30, 2007, 11:25 PM
 
I would recommend the MacBook Pro. Faster speeds and the ability to have more RAM will be really nice, and you can take your pictures with you everywhere.
     
SierraDragon
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Dec 2, 2007, 12:24 AM
 
Originally Posted by Subaru_Nation555 View Post
...am looking for a new computer that is going to be able to handle more of what I throw at it (photo editing-RAW images in the future, Internet usage, light video editing, Office and maybe some TV recording in the future).

So my question is should I keep the PowerBook as my portable and look into a Mac Mini? I was thinking the 2.0GHz model, 3GB RAM, fast external drive to use as a scratch disk and a 20" Cinema Display.

Or just replace the PowerBook with the base MacBook Pro and a RAM upgrade.

Is there much of a speed difference between the MacBook Pro and the Mac Mini for the tasks listed above?
The tasks you list are seriously hardware-challenging. You should avoid low end consumer grade boxes like MBs and Minis. I use a 2.33 GHz C2D MBP with 3 GB RAM for Aperture and Adobe's CS3 apps and it works very well for a laptop. Note that when you work with graphics images i/o can be a big deal, so the FW800 and EC34 connectivity of MBPs becomes important.

Go for the MBP and add max RAM from OWC Find the latest Performance Upgrades, Firewire and USB Hard Drives, SATA, Memory, Laptop Battery, and more at OWC.

It is correct that Photoshop today fails to take advantage of advanced graphics. However one buys a new box for the future. The next version of PS likely will no longer fail to access graphics power well. And other graphics apps (e.g. Aperture, IMO essential for DSLR photogs) already make good use of graphic hardware. Anyone intending heavy graphics work should avoid integrated-graphics boxes like Macbooks and Minis.

Test results for graphics can be found at MacBook 2.2GHz versus others.

-Allen Wicks
( Last edited by SierraDragon; Dec 2, 2007 at 12:42 AM. )
     
EndlessMac
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Dec 2, 2007, 01:56 AM
 
Originally Posted by Subaru_Nation555 View Post
I have a budget of about $2,000 (w/ student discount) and am looking for a new computer that is going to be able to handle more of what I throw at it (photo editing-RAW images in the future, Internet usage, light video editing, Office and maybe some TV recording in the future).
Am I missing something here? You have a budget for $2,000 and you are looking at a Mac Mini?? The highest priced Mini is about $800. It sounds like you are going to be a power user so the Mini would never be a choice for most power users. Is there a reason why the iMac is not only your list instead of the Mini? If it's a choice between the MacBook Pro vs the Mini I would definitely pick the MacBook Pro.

If you really want the Mini you should know that you can only upgrade the memory to 2 gigs maximum which I think isn't that much if you are looking towards the future and being a power user on top of that. Also the fastest hard drive you can get is a 5400 rpm which may or may not effect you but it wouldn't be my first choice if the computer is suppose to last into the future.
     
Subaru_Nation555  (op)
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Dec 2, 2007, 04:55 AM
 
Originally Posted by EndlessMac View Post
Am I missing something here? You have a budget for $2,000 and you are looking at a Mac Mini?? The highest priced Mini is about $800. It sounds like you are going to be a power user so the Mini would never be a choice for most power users. Is there a reason why the iMac is not only your list instead of the Mini? If it's a choice between the MacBook Pro vs the Mini I would definitely pick the MacBook Pro.

If you really want the Mini you should know that you can only upgrade the memory to 2 gigs maximum which I think isn't that much if you are looking towards the future and being a power user on top of that. Also the fastest hard drive you can get is a 5400 rpm which may or may not effect you but it wouldn't be my first choice if the computer is suppose to last into the future.
Yes the Mini is $800 plus a nice display (perhaps a CD) another 550-800 and a faster external and RAM is getting close to $2000. I was also under the impression RAM is topped at 3GB plus the HDD and processor are upgradable in the future.

The iMacs have never interested me very much. I have used one at an Apple Store and I really don't like the idea of not ever being able to replace the monitor but it does seem like a very good deal for the money so maybe I will have to bring that into the equation.

Thanks for your suggestions guys. It sounds like a MBP is a better idea for the long run. I am going to try to head to the Apple store soon and compare machines. I hope some have CS3 installed.
2.2GHz MacBook Pro
     
SierraDragon
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Dec 3, 2007, 01:10 AM
 
Originally Posted by Subaru_Nation555 View Post
The iMacs have never interested me very much. ...maybe I will have to bring that into the equation.

Thanks for your suggestions guys. It sounds like a MBP is a better idea for the long run. I am going to try to head to the Apple store soon and compare machines. I hope some have CS3 installed.
Earlier I said The tasks you list are seriously hardware-challenging. You should avoid low end consumer grade boxes like MBs and Minis. If I thoughr iMacs were in the equation I would have said you should avoid low end consumer grade boxes like iMacs, MBs and Minis.

I consider iMacs generally poor choices for graphics desktop usage because they have the limitations (primarily the serious inability to increase RAM in the coming 64-bit world) of laptops, without the benefits of portability. RAM today is a bargain performance-enhancer and RAM prices continue to fall. IMO buying a desktop box for 2008-2009-2010-2011 graphics usage that is constrained to a maximum of 4 GB RAM is usually a bad idea from a life cycle standpoint. Of course MBPs are similarly RAM-constrained, but with laptops we gain portability.

Note too that iMacs, as consumer boxes, are only offered with glossy displays that add contrast and saturation to images. Most consumers like that; most pros do not want their displays adding contrast and saturation to their images. It is a matter of personal preference, but an absolute deal breaker for me.

-Allen Wicks
     
   
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