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When does it make sense for me to get a Mac Mini? ...
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cmeisenzahl
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Apr 1, 2008, 01:28 PM
 
I realize this is a rather subjective question.

But I'm interested in the opinions of folks here.

I have a G4 iBook and WinTel desktop at home. The wife agreed that when the desktop gets long in the tooth we'll go fully Mac. I had assumed we would get a 17" iMac. But she noted that we already have a 17" LCD that we're happy with, and of course a keyboard and mouse, etc.

How is the performance of Mac Minis compared to iMacs, assuming both are new? Do they both use roughly equivalent hardware? I'm not worried about the latest high-end video cards, not really a gamer.

What else should I consider when looking at the Mini vs. the iMac?

Thanks very much in advance!

Chris
     
peeb
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Apr 1, 2008, 02:17 PM
 
The main issue with the Mini from my perspective is that you can only have one monitor - if that's not an issue for you, the mini is clearly the better value if you already have a monitor, keyboard etc.
     
cmeisenzahl  (op)
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Apr 1, 2008, 03:32 PM
 
Originally Posted by peeb View Post
The main issue with the Mini from my perspective is that you can only have one monitor - if that's not an issue for you, the mini is clearly the better value if you already have a monitor, keyboard etc.
Good points, thank you!
     
mduell
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Apr 1, 2008, 03:49 PM
 
With the price of a refurb 20" iMac so close to the mini, and the advantages of the iMac over the long term (desktop hard drive, DVD burner, easy to upgrade RAM, discrete GPU), I can't see buying the mini just because you already have a display. Be sure to buy the previous generation (white, not aluminum) iMac to get the good 20" display (the new ones are already the subject of a lawsuit for missing 98% of the colors they advertise).
     
peeb
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Apr 1, 2008, 03:55 PM
 
Well, yes, the previous gen refurbs compared to current gen minis are good value, but it's not really comparing like with like. Upgrades with the iMacs are definitely easier. I still think comparing like with like the mini is better value, but the iMacs are appealing, for sure. Of course, you can use your spare monitor as a second one for the iMac! You won't go back to only one.
     
imitchellg5
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Apr 1, 2008, 07:51 PM
 
I think that a mini is a good machine for you. My mom recently got a 1.83 GHz mini. It's our first Intel Mac, and we love it. However, I already had a nice monitor and keyboard and mouse that I gave her to use with it. If I wouldn't have had those things a mini wouldn't have made much sense. Your situation seems pretty similar, so I think a mini would be a great idea for you.
However: if an iMac is within your budget, I would still go for it. While a nice GPU, a faster hard drive, and better upgrade potential aren't neccessarily something that you might not fully appreciate right now, if you plan on keeping your new Mac for a while, those things all add to longevity. An integrated GPU might be great right now, but what about in 3 years when 10.7 comes out and it's too graphics intensive for the mini?
[sorry for the long post/]
     
shawnh
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Apr 1, 2008, 08:35 PM
 
Originally Posted by peeb View Post
The main issue with the Mini from my perspective is that you can only have one monitor - if that's not an issue for you, the mini is clearly the better value if you already have a monitor, keyboard etc.
Is the Multi-display Mini finally about to debut? - The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)
or a KVM switch

Mini's are practical if you're a middle class American.
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peeb
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Apr 1, 2008, 08:43 PM
 
Originally Posted by shawnh View Post
Mini's are practical if you're a middle class American.
Can you unpack that statement a little?
     
mduell
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Apr 1, 2008, 09:50 PM
 
Originally Posted by peeb View Post
Well, yes, the previous gen refurbs compared to current gen minis are good value, but it's not really comparing like with like.
You're right; the mini has a slower CPU and a smaller hard drive.
     
jojo gunne
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Apr 2, 2008, 12:04 AM
 
New Minis coming soon. Wait a month.

LOL!!1!11!
     
Simon
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Apr 2, 2008, 04:54 AM
 
Eventually a new Mac mini will arrive just as the iMac will also soon see an update. Regardless of that, the bigger picture will remain unchanged: the Mac mini is the lowest end Mac. It comes with the slowest CPU, slowest GPU, and uses a slow and low capacity notebook HDD. You get what you paid for. OTOH the iMac (faster CPU, faster GPU, bigger/faster HDD, more expansion options, dual-display capability) covers pretty much most consumer needs at a very good price/performance ratio.

IMHO the Mac mini is a great computer for two types of buyers:
• those that want a small headless Mac as a light media server (for example if you want to hook it up to a movie projector)
• those that already have an excellent monitor, KB, and mouse, don't need/want performance, and are on a very tight budget

The OP could fit into category two, but I would hardly call any 17" screen excellent. I doubt that 17" is so great it's worthy of keeping. A new 20" screen with its much higher 1680x1050 resolution will certainly be a nice improvement. On top of that the iMac will offer much better performance, is easier to upgrade, and offers all this in a very compact and sexy enclosure.

Unless the OP's budget is so tight that he absolutely has to hang on to that old 17" screen, I think an iMac would be a much nicer deal.

[Disclaimer: I'm not trying to bash the Mac mini. I own one myself to drive my movie projector and I'm very pleased with it.]
( Last edited by Simon; Apr 19, 2008 at 02:41 AM. Reason: typo)
     
MacosNerd
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Apr 2, 2008, 07:31 AM
 
I love the mini form factor, kind of reminds me of the Cube. That being the case, apple is marketing this as its low end machine and with that in mind you need to ask yourself this question. What are you going to be using this computer for and what's your budget. I had owned one for a period of time, great computer but I found for what I was looking to do it was a little too underpowered.

When the next gen of minis roll into the stores I'll re-evaluate them as I will with the iMac when that gets updated as well.
     
bearcatrp
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Apr 2, 2008, 08:44 AM
 
Remember that the mini uses shared memory for video. If your not gaming or anything that requires heavy video requirements, then the mini will be fine. Another nice thing about the mini is hooking it up to your tv and view home pictures in iPhoto. Easy to move around. Would wait for the next upgrade though.
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MichiganRich
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Apr 2, 2008, 11:15 PM
 
I'm absolutely fed up with self-admitted computer geeks saying the mini isn't 'enough'. The original poster has made it very clear he does not need MacPro-class power, as he is getting along okay on what he already has. The mini is fast, silent, incredibly compact, and brilliant. It fits the bill at lower cost and smaller footprint than any other Mac. How is that bad?

Not to mention it's as fast or faster than most pre-Intel Macs could hope to be. It's also not bolted to the TN-based displays that everybody's complaining about.

Base model mini, 4 gigs of dirt cheap PC5300 SODIMM RAM from newegg, and you're laughing.
     
mduell
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Apr 2, 2008, 11:20 PM
 
Originally Posted by MichiganRich View Post
Base model mini, 4 gigs of dirt cheap PC5300 SODIMM RAM from newegg, and you're laughing.
There went the warranty. May as well buy used.
     
Jacke
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Apr 3, 2008, 07:25 AM
 
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
There went the warranty. May as well buy used.
Upgrading RAM voids warranty? Since when?
     
Simon
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Apr 3, 2008, 08:40 AM
 
Originally Posted by Jacke View Post
Upgrading RAM voids warranty? Since when?
On a Mac mini it always has. RAM on the mini is not a user-replaceable part.

It always baffled me that Apple went for this plastic tab solution that requires a sanded off putty knife to open up when 4 small screws in the bottom plate would have accomplished the same thing. Maybe the tabs helped save 2mm in width. Yippee. Anyway, thanks to this, RAM is a non-user-replaceable part and swapping DIMMs will void your warranty.
     
darcybaston
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Apr 8, 2008, 05:03 PM
 
If you just need an extremely useful computer and want to spend the least money possible, get the Mini. They hold their value very well.
Macbook (white glossy) 2.16GHz | 4GB RAM | 7200RPM HD | 10.5.x
     
ApeInTheShell
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Apr 19, 2008, 01:47 AM
 
You might as well make use of your 17 inch monitor and if you have it a usb mouse. I bought a mini because it was cheaper than an iMac and I did not need the "superior" graphics card. It reminds me of the iMac G3 when it first came out. If you are desperate it is not uncommon for 17 inch monitors to go missing or run over by SUVs.
     
ApeInTheShell
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Apr 19, 2008, 01:50 AM
 
You're partially right shawnh. However, I think the lower middle class that works in customer service, retail, or the food service are more qualified mac mini owners. You are also missing the people who have never had a computer or Windows switchers. The intent of the Mac Mini was to either be an additional computer for a Mac user or to be for beginners and switchers.
You might consider another laptop if you want to replace the iBook G4.
     
stwain2003
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Apr 20, 2008, 06:04 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
On a Mac mini it always has. RAM on the mini is not a user-replaceable part.

It always baffled me that Apple went for this plastic tab solution that requires a sanded off putty knife to open up when 4 small screws in the bottom plate would have accomplished the same thing. Maybe the tabs helped save 2mm in width. Yippee. Anyway, thanks to this, RAM is a non-user-replaceable part and swapping DIMMs will void your warranty.
Actually, not true. The warranty on the mini is effective until you BREAK something on the inside.
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Simon
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Apr 21, 2008, 02:53 AM
 
Originally Posted by stwain2003 View Post
The warranty on the mini is effective until you BREAK something on the inside.
This has been debated many times on this board (here for example). Obviously if you open the mini w/o breaking anything and it goes undetected you'll be fine. But in principle if Apple believes something broke because you opened the mini (regardless if that is the case or not) they will claim your warranty was voided because you opened it up and they will refuse warranty repair.
( Last edited by Simon; Apr 21, 2008 at 03:06 AM. )
     
Cadaver
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Apr 27, 2008, 09:58 PM
 
Originally Posted by MichiganRich View Post
Base model mini, 4 gigs of dirt cheap PC5300 SODIMM RAM from newegg, and you're laughing.
Except the current Mini only supports 2GB of RAM. Here's hoping for a hardware update soon.
     
Simon
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Apr 28, 2008, 03:14 AM
 
Originally Posted by Cadaver View Post
Except the current Mini only supports 2GB of RAM.
The current mini "supports" 4 GB as in you can insert 2x2GB and it will boot and recognize the DIMMs. It will actually use 3 of those 4 GB. The 2 GB limit you mentioned applies to the older CS/CD Mac mini.

With the mini update we can expect Apple will switch it to the Crestline chipset. That means the mini won't just accept 2x2GB DIMMs, but it will actually use all 4 GBs.
( Last edited by Simon; Apr 28, 2008 at 03:53 AM. )
     
   
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