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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Desktops > Considering a Mac Mini

Considering a Mac Mini
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driven
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Dec 19, 2010, 01:51 PM
 
Have been looking at iMacs and Mac Minis.

The ONLY reason I'm considering a mini is that I have monitors a-plenty laying around. (Decent ones at that.) I also have a few terabtyes of external disks that would be hooked up to an iMac or a Mac mini, so internal disk space isn't a huge issue. (Although the idea of putting an SSD in a Mac Mini is an interesting thought)

Software development (XCODE), iPhoto and iMovie will be the main uses for this machine.

the iMac has a Core i3 (or better). The Mac Mini has a Core 2 Duo.
The iMac has more video card options. The Mac Mini has none.

Is it worth spending the extra for the iMac, or would the MM do me well? (assuming 4GB RAM) ?
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Veltliner
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Dec 19, 2010, 03:53 PM
 
What kind of monitors do you have? Higher end, wide gamut NECs? Or Eizos or other high end monitors? Or rather OK middle of the road units?

What if you sold your monitors and got an iMac. Much better performance, including in regards to the graphics card.

Don't get me wrong, the mini is a nicely designed machine, but I'd never consider it as a main computer. It's the minimum in expandability, and the graphics card should be a great deal weaker than an iMac's. And with the speed gains the multi-core iMacs have gotten recently this decision is, if you aren't hitting your wallet's RAM ceiling, almost a no-brainer for the iMac.

But if you go for an iMac, get a 27" with four cores. That's a really nice and fast machine and will stay current for a while.
     
driven  (op)
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Dec 19, 2010, 03:59 PM
 
Dell U2410. Fairly high-end. Was going to share with the PC.

Was thinking about the 21" iMac. The 27" is really just a tad too big. Would overwhelm the desk. Duly noted about the quad-core.
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P
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Dec 19, 2010, 05:03 PM
 
The mini is fine if you accept that it will be a fairly short-lived machine - the RAM ceiling and the old CPU will see to that, even if you put an SSD in it. The low-end iMac gets you Hyperthreading and some clockspeed, double the RAM ceiling and a discrete GPU, plus the HD is quite decent. As Veltliner says, the quad i5 in the 27" is a HUGE step up, but it comes at a price.

It basically comes down to how long you'd like to keep it. Short term tide-me-over: mini. Medium term: iMac i3. Long term: iMac quadcore. Or - and I know you should never say this - wait 4 months for Sandy Bridge. SB is looking like a winner.
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.
     
driven  (op)
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Dec 19, 2010, 05:50 PM
 
Thanks for the advice. I'm thinking a machine for about 3 years. (of course my 2001 era G5 is still in daily use, so ....)
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Dec 30, 2010, 04:43 PM
 
I think the aesthetic and simplicity of the iMac make it the better choice. I love the mini but I like it as a server or perhaps attached to a TV.
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Lateralus
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Dec 30, 2010, 05:25 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
The mini is fine if you accept that it will be a fairly short-lived machine - the RAM ceiling and the old CPU will see to that....
8GBs is a low RAM ceiling?
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driven  (op)
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Dec 30, 2010, 07:30 PM
 
Thanks again all:

Sort of a side question:
A local vendor has a new (in-box) iMac 27" Core 2 Duo 3.06 Ghz, 1TB/4GB for $1299.

Is this a good buy?
- MacBook Pro 15" Core i7 2.3Ghz / 256SSD (Work laptop)
- iMac 3.2Ghz 1TB
     
Veltliner
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Dec 30, 2010, 09:39 PM
 
No.

I would not buy a Core 2 Duo machine.

Add tax to this price and compare it with the internet price of the four core: the price difference is not worth the enormous loss of processing power that you face when choosing a Core 2 Duo over a 4-core.

But then: if you know you will never edit digital video or have large files in Photoshop or use a processor hungry application like Capture One then you may be fine with a Core 2 Duo. Just I wouldn't consider it.
     
imitchellg5
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Dec 30, 2010, 09:44 PM
 
Personally I'd rather have a base i3 iMac (which I do) than a top line Core 2 Duo. It simply blows Core 2 Duo away.
     
driven  (op)
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Dec 31, 2010, 01:00 PM
 
They also have a 2.8Ghz Core i7 for $1699.

Need to compare with current offerings ....
- MacBook Pro 15" Core i7 2.3Ghz / 256SSD (Work laptop)
- iMac 3.2Ghz 1TB
     
Chinasaur
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Dec 31, 2010, 02:41 PM
 
Originally Posted by driven View Post
A local vendor has a new (in-box) iMac 27" Core 2 Duo 3.06 Ghz, 1TB/4GB for $1299.
Is this a good buy?
The refurb store has the same model for $1,269. Does the machine at your vendor have the 4670 or 5670 video card?

Either way, from what you're describing you will do with this machine, the Core2Duo™ sounds like more than enough power for iMovie, iPhoto or compiling.

Luck!
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driven  (op)
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Dec 31, 2010, 04:49 PM
 
Originally Posted by Chinasaur View Post
The refurb store has the same model for $1,269. Does the machine at your vendor have the 4670 or 5670 video card?

Either way, from what you're describing you will do with this machine, the Core2Duo™ sounds like more than enough power for iMovie, iPhoto or compiling.

Luck!
Thanks!

Yeah, that's about the only "need a mac" things I do right now with the Mac. I'm in the mobility field. Most of the "heavy lifting" that I do (DB work, data mining, load testing) can all be done on the servers or on my Core i7 using Windows. No need to do it on the Mac just for the sake of doing it on the Mac. For better or worse, these Windows machines are staying in my life for the foreseeable future. Might as well make the most of it.
- MacBook Pro 15" Core i7 2.3Ghz / 256SSD (Work laptop)
- iMac 3.2Ghz 1TB
     
   
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