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ZballZ
Jul 29, 2011, 05:09 PM
I need a little help here on a decision to buy the new mac mini or not. I do a lot of photo editing - also professionally - and have been using my Macbook Pro on an external monitor to do retouching and grading...

Recently, I've become really tired of carrying my MBP with me to my office every day - and now thinking of getting a secondary computer, and just leave it there. The iMac is no good for me b/c of the glossy screen; the Mac Pro is too pricy and overkill for my needs. I really dont want to buy another MBP; so this basically leaves me with the mac mini. Which sounds ideal, only I've never used one before, and have no frame of reference for it. I know the new ones have benchmarked really well. Would a mac mini be good enough for photo work?? I am thinking of getting the "cheaper" version and maxing out on the RAM to 8 GB. I figure the GFX-card in the bigger model is only usefull for 3D-gaming and stuff, and wont really make a difference in photoshop-work?

Any help appreciated...



Ruahrc
Jul 29, 2011, 05:54 PM
I think the quad core is technically the better choice for photoshop work if you use a lot of complicated plugins or do a lot of stitching or HDR stuff, etc. But I am in a very similar situation and feel just about the same as you do re: the available Mac desktop choices and have trouble buying a 2GHz quad core with Intel HD3000 graphics. I like the concept of the discrete graphics in the dual-core version but then I'm buying another dual core computer...

There is definitely some psychological aspects to it but still. I with that Apple made either a Mac Mini Pro (with GPU and CPU options that match what you can buy in the MBPs) or a Mac Pro Mini (full-featured desktop with PCI-e graphics but in a smaller form factor, does not need to be dual CPU, and is a little cheaper since the Mac Pros are pretty expensive for what they are).

I'd also suggest getting an SSD though, since fast I/O will help a lot too.

Ruahrc

eoren1
Jul 29, 2011, 06:42 PM
Just went through the same exercise and posted my comparison of the mini and iMac at this thread:
http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1201654

carlgo
Jul 29, 2011, 09:04 PM
I do basically what Ap3 allows for in its adjustments menu. My old 2007 core 2 duo MBP is fine for this. The addition of a new 7200 rpm HD and a total of 4mb RAM helped with most everything.

If your work is somewhat basic then a new Mini would be far better than my old MNP and would be more than ok. I have had odd slowdowns at times, but I am convinced they are software problems.

I would recommend at least a faster HD option, at least the 7200 or the SSD. Again, more complex tasks might well make SSD more compelling.

Whoops...forgot to mention that I do a small number of really big scans. The old MBP is pretty slow dealing with these. If I did these for a living I would go Pro, or the top iMac at the least. But the Mini should suffice for most everything else.

OreoCookie
Jul 30, 2011, 04:03 AM
The iMacs are still significantly faster than the Mac mini and you can get a matte film for the screen for ~$20 (http://www.radtech.us/Products/ClearCal-Displays.aspx). Perhaps you should reconsider getting an iMac?

srf4real
Jul 30, 2011, 06:06 AM
The iMacs are still significantly faster than the Mac mini and you can get a matte film for the screen for ~$20 (http://www.radtech.us/Products/ClearCal-Displays.aspx). Perhaps you should reconsider getting an iMac?

Except the mini server, which is quite remarkable when used with ssd and a ram upgrade. I chose this one because I know that I have no interest now or never in making my own movies or gaming on my workstation. I was having the same dilemma about getting a dual processor with better graphics. So glad I went with quad.:)

My 2011 mini scores higher than all but the top end 2011 27' iMac and the mac pros in 64 bit geekbench. (9640 geekbench).

OreoCookie
Jul 30, 2011, 06:42 AM
Except the mini server, which is quite remarkable when used with ssd and a ram upgrade.
My parents have a (Core 2 Duo-based) Mac mini while my former boss has an iMac. Overall, I think the iMac is by far the better machine: it's much more sleek, you have far less cables to deal with, the screen is beautiful and needless to say, faster.
My 2011 mini scores higher than all but the top end 2011 27' iMac and the mac pros in 64 bit geekbench. (9640 geekbench).
The cpu used in the top-end Mac mini server is the same as the cpu used in the lowest-end iMac, all of them have four cores and are Sandy Bridge-based. So I doubt your statement is accurate.

edwins
Jul 30, 2011, 09:36 AM
I was in a similar situation - the iMac was perfect for my needs but I couldn't use the glossy screen and didn't want to use a film covering it. I ended up buying a nice 24'' IPS Asus monitor and now am really loving using dual monitors - the matte screen for my photo editing, the iMac for the PS and Aperture tools (the gloss doesn't bother me for that.) Otherwise, I either cover the iMac or use a solid black background image because it can't easily be turned off. If you already have the external monitor, it might be worth a try? Good luck.

TheGenerous
Jul 30, 2011, 09:56 AM
The Mac Mini is good enough to do Photoshop even with RAW files. Of course there is a difference in performance compared to any other Mac. It's an entry level computer but very capable

sth
Jul 30, 2011, 09:59 AM
The iMacs are still significantly faster than the Mac mini and you can get a matte film for the screen for ~$20 (http://www.radtech.us/Products/ClearCal-Displays.aspx). Perhaps you should reconsider getting an iMac?
A matte film on the glass is not the same as a matte screen because of the distance between the diffusing film and the screen itself.

Anyway, the glossy screen is a problem for professional photo editing, but it's "okay" if you can control the lighting in the room. A window reflecting on the screen is an absolute no-go, though.

For the Mac Mini: It's not as fast as an iMac but still faster than your C2D MacBook Pro. The dedicated graphics card is not a must, but may help with applications that make heavy use of the graphics card for processing (Aperture, Final Cut Pro X). Adobe's applications also use the graphics card for some stuff, but last time I checked, at least Photoshop only used it for a few selective functions, so it probably won't matter that much here.
The integrated Intel GPU of the cheaper Mac Mini has about the same power as the Radeon X1600 (I guess, given the specs in your signature) in your MacBook Pro.

In any case: You can save a few $ by not buying Apple RAM. You can get an 8gb set for ~$50 these days and the installation is very simple on the Mini as well as the iMacs.

srf4real
Jul 30, 2011, 10:22 AM
Oreo Cookie I digress, looks like the geekbench (http://www.primatelabs.ca/geekbench/mac-benchmarks/#64bit) marks have been updated since I compared my mini server and the 2011 iMacs do a little better.. plus have the dedicated gpu.

But the iMacs all have a mirror like finish that is totally unacceptable for my office, besides I have two hd IPS monitors that are astonishingly accurate and combined cost less than one 27" ACD.

OP, in my opinion the mini server is the best option and easily capable of meeting any photographer's needs.. heck the base model mini probably is easily capable. Certainly a huge leap from all but the 2011 model Macs currently released. Mini server beats a lot of 2010 Mac Pro base models in processor performance even due to the i7 quad core Sandy Bridge chipset.

There are a hundred threads on the related topics, but one thing you've got to decide is are you expecting to game heavily and crunch hd movies. If so, consider the mid-range mini with dedicated gpu or an iMac if this suits you better..

It really came down to value for me, and what best suits my needs. Having a tiny desktop that is up to technological snuff tucked neatly and hidden behind my two monitors is ideal. And the prospect of taking an iMac to the next level with ssd + second hdd, then hating the display rules it out for me completely when compared to my relatively low cost maxxed out mini. I don't feel like I am missing the extra gig of processor performance factoring in turbo boost and multi-threads. I'm not doing rocket science, just photography.:p

sth
Jul 30, 2011, 10:23 AM
My 2011 mini scores higher than all but the top end 2011 27' iMac and the mac pros in 64 bit geekbench. (9640 geekbench).
The entry level 2010 Mac Pro scores slightly lower than the 2011 Mac Mini Server (which is impressive, I admit).

The top end 2011 iMac scores ~12500.
The top end 2010 Mac Pro scores ~24000.

http://www.primatelabs.ca/geekbench/mac-benchmarks/#64bit

ZballZ
Jul 30, 2011, 12:00 PM
Thx for all the replies!! Seems like this is something on many peoples minds :-)

Anyway; since I'm after a cheapish solution, the mini-server is out. Upgrading to 8 GB RAM and I've almost got myself a new MBP...!

The thing is about the dedicated graphics or not. Going low-end and maxing the RAM to 8 GB would still be fairly cheap, so this is my priority so far. But does the dedicated graphics card help much in 2D photoshop anyway??? I am not gaming at all, so I dont care about Medal of Honor 2 FPS benchmarking :-), but I would like to know if a dedicated card would help my image-work...

(or do video-work as well, but this would not be primary for this machine ... maybe the occasional overnight re-compressing of footage...)

sth
Jul 30, 2011, 10:00 PM
If you're searching for a cheap solution: Get the base model and put 8gb 3rd-party RAM into it.
It will work just fine.

ZballZ
Jul 31, 2011, 02:03 AM
If you're searching for a cheap solution: Get the base model and put 8gb 3rd-party RAM into it.
It will work just fine.

So, are you saying that the base model maxed to 8 GB RAM would be better than the discrete GFX-card version with only 2 GB RAM?

srf4real
Jul 31, 2011, 06:04 AM
So, are you saying that the base model maxed to 8 GB RAM would be better than the discrete GFX-card version with only 2 GB RAM?

I have spent a few days now doing normal tasks, running multiple editing apps simultaneously, while browsing Safari and Firefox.. CS5, Bridge, Aperture, iPhoto, watching iTunes hd video fullscreen on one monitor and youtube hd video on other monitor in fullscreen, iMovie, Bigasoft total video converter, etc., and have not seen one instance where I've said, "darn I should have got the dedicated graphics." Using two 1920x1080p 22" widescreens. At most I have seen half of the HD3000 memory showing to be allocated at one time in iStat menu. That was in iTunes store doing nothing strangely enough.. Integrated graphics are beautiful without choppy playback and CS5 is whiz bang fast.Zero page outs.

Handbrake is not installed on my server mini nor any games.

*8GB ram, Apple ssd.
*upgraded from G5 dual 2.0 powerMac with ATI Radeon 9600 Pro with 64 MB of DDR SDRAM. It was awful at hd playback in every case and didn't like fullscreen anything.:p

Teevau
Jul 31, 2011, 06:21 AM
Mac Mini Server flies, I juste upgraded (finally) from a G5 Quad to the new i7 quad, run RAID0 and upgraded to 8gb. On every benchmark I have about 2x more performance. It flies.

ZballZ
Jul 31, 2011, 06:54 AM
I have spent a few days now doing normal tasks, running multiple editing apps simultaneously, while browsing Safari and Firefox.. CS5, Bridge, Aperture, iPhoto, watching iTunes hd video fullscreen on one monitor and youtube hd video on other monitor in fullscreen, iMovie, Bigasoft total video converter, etc., and have not seen one instance where I've said, "darn I should have got the dedicated graphics." Using two 1920x1080p 22" widescreens. At most I have seen half of the HD3000 memory showing to be allocated at one time in iStat menu. That was in iTunes store doing nothing strangely enough.. Integrated graphics are beautiful without choppy playback and CS5 is whiz bang fast.Zero page outs.

Handbrake is not installed on my server mini nor any games.

*8GB ram, Apple ssd.
*upgraded from G5 dual 2.0 powerMac with ATI Radeon 9600 Pro with 64 MB of DDR SDRAM. It was awful at hd playback in every case and didn't like fullscreen anything.:p

So which Mac Mini do you have exactly?

cube
Jul 31, 2011, 07:07 AM
All Macs with only Intel graphics are obsolete. They don't have OpenCL.

srf4real
Jul 31, 2011, 11:52 AM
So which Mac Mini do you have exactly?

mini server, i7 quad core.

sth
Jul 31, 2011, 01:36 PM
So, are you saying that the base model maxed to 8 GB RAM would be better than the discrete GFX-card version with only 2 GB RAM?
I wouldn't go below 4gb these days.

You said you're on a budget, therefore I would suggest getting the cheapest model and upgrade the RAM yourself. It will be relatively cheap and still outperform your MacBook Pro.

Discrete GFX depends on the programs you use. If it's only Photoshop, I wouldn't get the discrete GFX version.

OreoCookie
Jul 31, 2011, 02:20 PM
All Macs with only Intel graphics are obsolete. They don't have OpenCL.
Yet they're still faster than many Macs that do have OpenCL support. So what?
(To be honest, when I read that in a review, my update cravings subsided, so I do think the new machines would be even more awesome if they featured full OpenCL support.)

Ruahrc
Jul 31, 2011, 05:30 PM
Can you list some examples of applications that currently use OpenCL? Outside of Aperture and Final Cut Pro X, I cannot find any- aside from some very high end or highly specialized custom software suites or tech demos (stuff like this (http://developer.amd.com/zones/openclzone/pages/openclappexamples.aspx)). And even the gains you get from Aperture are not earth-shattering.

It would seem to me that unless you use Aperture, OpenCL has essentially zero benefit for users right now, and by the time OpenCL is more widely adopted (if ever), you probably would be ready for new hardware anyways.

Ruahrc

fpnc
Aug 1, 2011, 01:24 AM
OpenCL can run either on the CPU or GPU or a combination of both. Thus, OpenCL works fine on the Mac mini, it just doesn't get as much benefit from the the integrated GPU. In fact, the new Mac mini is supported by Final Cut X, which can't be said for some of the older machines that have discrete graphics.

In any case, I think you'd be fine using one of the new Mac minis for your photo editing. I'd say skip the higher-end discrete GPU model and just max out the DRAM (unless you can afford to do both). Also, don't get your DRAM from Apple, go for the 2GB model and upgrade the memory using a good third-party supplier. Crucial is selling their 8GB upgrade kit for the new Mac mini for only $66 ( http://www.crucial.com/store/listparts.aspx?model=Mac%20mini%20(Mid%202011)&Cat=RAM )

cube
Aug 1, 2011, 01:10 PM
OpenCL can run either on the CPU or GPU or a combination of both. Thus, OpenCL works fine on the Mac mini, it just doesn't get as much benefit from the the integrated GPU. In fact, the new Mac mini is supported by Final Cut X, which can't be said for some of the older machines that have discrete graphics.

In any case, I think you'd be fine using one of the new Mac minis for your photo editing. I'd say skip the higher-end discrete GPU model and just max out the DRAM (unless you can afford to do both). Also, don't get your DRAM from Apple, go for the 2GB model and upgrade the memory using a good third-party supplier. Crucial is selling their 8GB upgrade kit for the new Mac mini for only $66 ( http://www.crucial.com/store/listparts.aspx?model=Mac%20mini%20(Mid%202011)&Cat=RAM )

I know that OpenCL might be implemented on the CPU side. Other than for compatibility, that is useless.

DxO and Capture One can also use OpenCL.

fpnc
Aug 1, 2011, 04:51 PM
I know that OpenCL might be implemented on the CPU side. Other than for compatibility, that is useless.

DxO and Capture One can also use OpenCL.
Compatibility is useless? That seems to be a pretty weak argument to support your previous claim that, "All Macs with only Intel graphics are obsolete. They don't have OpenCL."

Furthermore, I'm fairly certain that the new Mac mini will eventually get hardware assisted h.264 support through either Intel's Quick Sync technology or through the HD3000 IGP itself (that may already be implemented in Lion, I don't know). In any case, unless you are a fairly serious "gamer" or 3D user I doubt that you will find the graphics and video capabilities in the new Mac mini that much of an issue.

cube
Aug 2, 2011, 12:02 PM
When someone says a machine has OpenCL, she means IN THE GPU.

"OpenCL" that is not in the GPU is worthless and a lie.

fpnc
Aug 3, 2011, 12:40 PM
When someone says a machine has OpenCL, she means IN THE GPU.

"OpenCL" that is not in the GPU is worthless and a lie.
"...a lie"? -- so says you. However, I've never claimed that the Sandy Bridge CPU can run OpenCL as well as a discrete GPU. It's just that you seem to be implying that all Mac without a discrete GPU are "obsolete" and "useless" which I think is a pretty over the top statement.

HBOC
Aug 3, 2011, 06:34 PM
The iMac is no good for me b/c of the glossy screen; the Mac Pro is too pricy and overkill for my needs.

When I had an early 2011 MBP, I had the Matte screen installed on it. I now have a new iMac base model (which is killer BTW - almost as quick as my MBP was) and I have no problems with the glossy screen. TBH, i actually forgot about it being glossy until I read what you said, lol.

I sold my high-end 15" MBP and bought the 2011 model base 13". I thought I could live with its' "shortcomings", but it simply didn't fit my needs. I think the mini is more or less the same as the base 13" models.

You could always test drive an iMac and see if it meets your needs, or vice versa.

VirtualRain
Aug 4, 2011, 01:48 AM
I believe that Aperture utilizes old-school OpenGL... Not OpenCL (but I'd love to be proven wrong). And even then, the GPU is inconsequential. The fact is, if the OP is satisfied editing on a MBP, the Mac Mini will perform very similar (depending on the generation of the MBP and Mac Mini being compared). The Mac Mini has the same basic internals as a MBP or iMac for that matter... They all use Intels mobile CPU and chipset platform and the latest Sandy Bridge chips are Rock Star performers regardless of form factor.

Things that I believe can make a huge difference in performance: 8GB+ RAM and/or an SSD for storage (even if it's just for your active project and you archive images to a bigger, slower, HD)

That's my 2-cents :)

OreoCookie
Aug 4, 2011, 03:34 AM
I don't know if Aperture uses only OpenGL or OpenCL, but I haven't seen benchmarks specifically aimed at finding out how much Aperture benefits from a more powerful discrete GPU. One way to test this would be to take a machine with both, an integrated and a discrete GPU and run a benchmark twice. Does anyone know where to get Aperture benchmarks or how to make one yourself?

mackmgg
Aug 4, 2011, 09:41 AM
Am I missing something from this debate? You can order a Mac Mini with a Radeon HD, which does support OpenCL. So what's the problem with ordering a Mac Mini with a discrete graphics card, and using that for editing?

VirtualRain
Aug 4, 2011, 01:23 PM
I don't know if Aperture uses only OpenGL or OpenCL, but I haven't seen benchmarks specifically aimed at finding out how much Aperture benefits from a more powerful discrete GPU. One way to test this would be to take a machine with both, an integrated and a discrete GPU and run a benchmark twice. Does anyone know where to get Aperture benchmarks or how to make one yourself?

Here's the stuff I've seen indicating that Aperture uses OpenGL...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Core_Image
http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1030867 (see post #3)

I haven't seen anything definitive indicating that CoreImage has been rearchitected to use OpenCL.

Now, as for benchmarks, Barefeats has attempted some benchmarking of Aperture on a few occasions but the results have always been somewhat perplexing...

http://www.barefeats.com/mbpp23.html

4. Aperture ran our export test 24% faster than on the iMac Core i7 than on the MacBook Pro Core i7. Surprisingly, the Mac Pro not any faster than the iMac.
5. Using an SSD for boot drive and output drive speeds up the Aperture export process on the Mac Pro by 20%.
6. Lift and Stamp ran just as fast on the MacBook Pros as it did on the iMac and Mac Pro. We're scratching our heads on that one.
7. Another puzzle: Aperture 2 does the Lift and Stamp twice as fast as Aperture 3. More testing and head scratching is required before we post that graph.

http://www.barefeats.com/wst10c4.html

As for the GPU, according to Hardware Monitor, none of the four tests put more than a 4% load on it.

http://www.barefeats.com/wst10c2.html

Difference between a 4 core iMac and a 6 core Mac Pro is only 2 seconds.

The conclusion I draw from all this... to get the most out of Aperture, you don't want to starve it for RAM, store your images on an SSD if at all possible, and don't stress over the GPU (since the difference, if any, is hard to quantify).

OreoCookie
Aug 4, 2011, 03:33 PM
The conclusion I draw from all this... to get the most out of Aperture, you don't want to starve it for RAM, store your images on an SSD if at all possible, and don't stress over the GPU (since the difference, if any, is hard to quantify).
I agree with the conclusion, but barefeat's benchmarks are not very useful. I'll spare you the rant, though ;)
Personally, I'd like to find out exactly how much of a difference a powerful GPU makes. The simplest way to gauge the benefits is to keep the rest of the configuration fixed.

VirtualRain
Aug 4, 2011, 06:16 PM
I agree with the conclusion, but barefeat's benchmarks are not very useful. I'll spare you the rant, though ;)
Personally, I'd like to find out exactly how much of a difference a powerful GPU makes. The simplest way to gauge the benefits is to keep the rest of the configuration fixed.

Agreed that Barefeats leaves a bit to be desired sometimes. They rarely explore any anomalies they uncover to any satisfying extent. :rolleyes: (so no rant was forthecoming :) )

It would be great for someone to dig deeper. However, I don't have a very capable GPU (Nvidia GT120) in my Quad Core Mac Pro and Aperture just flies on my machine. I really don't think that Aperture relies heavily on the GPU or the capability of the GPU is of little consequence.

srf4real
Aug 4, 2011, 07:51 PM
It would be great for someone to dig deeper.

If the question is which Mac is best suited for photo editing, answer would be Mac Pro.

If the question is whether the mini is capable and efficient, I have been digging through a hundred folders with tens of thousands of files culling out rejects and spot retouching some that catch my eye for about a week straight now, with Aperture 3, Adobe Bridge, and Photoshop CS5 running simultaneously on two 1920x1080 ips panels while listening to iTunes and answering Mail on and off.. a few quick breaks for Safari browsing.

No beachball. Hyperfast rendering. Hell I'm having to cut back on smoking because things are happening too fast that I used to have to wait long enough to puff one.. or two.. surprisingly iTunes is the huge processor and ram hog.??????

I chose the mini server for its i7 quad option and bto with the solid state in bay one and 7200rpm hdd in bay two. 8 gigs ram for now, until 16 is reasonably priced. And it cost far less than a Pro, or an iMac with similar configuration (admittedly lower frequency processor) or a MBP with similar configuration. I feel smart, and lucky to have something here that does not bring my work flow to a bottleneck at the processor.

By the way, no dedicated gpu. fwiw....

OreoCookie
Aug 5, 2011, 03:40 AM
If the question is which Mac is best suited for photo editing, answer would be Mac Pro.
The question is not `which machine is the fastest one I can buy today?' That'd be very easy, fill the 4 bays of a Mac Pro with 500 MB/s read/write SSDs, put in 16+ GB or RAM, several fast graphics cards and the machine will be faster than a Mac mini or a MacBook Air ;)

The question is how much of a return you get on your investment. In your case, the question could have been `will Aperture run faster on a quad core CPU with slower graphics or a dual core CPU with faster graphics?' In my case, the question was whether I should get a more portable 13" MacBook Pro with a Core 2 Duo or a less portable 15" MacBook Pro with a Core i5? Some people have forgone a 13" MacBook Pro in the past, because of the discrete GPU and the (suspected) impact on performance of apps such as Aperture.

srf4real
Aug 5, 2011, 09:14 AM
The question is not `which machine is the fastest one I can buy today?' That'd be very easy, fill the 4 bays of a Mac Pro with 500 MB/s read/write SSDs, put in 16+ GB or RAM, several fast graphics cards and the machine will be faster than a Mac mini or a MacBook Air ;)

The question is how much of a return you get on your investment. In your case, the question could have been `will Aperture run faster on a quad core CPU with slower graphics or a dual core CPU with faster graphics?' In my case, the question was whether I should get a more portable 13" MacBook Pro with a Core 2 Duo or a less portable 15" MacBook Pro with a Core i5? Some people have forgone a 13" MacBook Pro in the past, because of the discrete GPU and the (suspected) impact on performance of apps such as Aperture.

Sorry, thought the question was in thread title.. Read OP and didn't see reference to another ded gpu debate, just a simple question.

My experience is shared, good luck to all!

radek42
Aug 5, 2011, 11:33 AM
This is very interesting post. I am currently weighting the same decision. I'd love to use that computer (iMac or mini) mostly for photoshop stuff (advanced amateur stuff). Here are some of my thoughts:

1. I like compact and self-contained appearance of iMac including camera for Facetime.

2. I don't like fact, that you'd have to take the screen apart to change/upgrade HHD.

3. I like(ed) mini with dedicated graphics until I read this post :-) I might not need it which would make it cheaper.

4. After reading the post the server seems more and more compelling despite the price tag.

5. I assumed that mini (even server version) will have lower power consumption which I like to file sharing and video/photo streaming. (I thought that iMacs are now using desktop components, which might be false).

Before I read this post I was leaning towards iMac despite some draw backs just because it seemed overall cheaper solution if you plan on buying keyboard, mouse/trackpad, and cd/dvd drive from Apple. I am nor crazy about glossy screen, but I think it should not be too big problem considering light conditions in the study.

I do have couple question for current mini owners here:
1. Did you get SSD from Apple or did you install it yourself.

2. Did anybody try fitting the second drive into non-server version? According to iFixit teardown there should be enough room to do that.

3. Can base mini handle full HD video (.mkv files)?

Thanks.

Cheers,
R>

Edit: Can you put 16GB ram into mini?

If the question is which Mac is best suited for photo editing, answer would be Mac Pro.

If the question is whether the mini is capable and efficient, I have been digging through a hundred folders with tens of thousands of files culling out rejects and spot retouching some that catch my eye for about a week straight now, with Aperture 3, Adobe Bridge, and Photoshop CS5 running simultaneously on two 1920x1080 ips panels while listening to iTunes and answering Mail on and off.. a few quick breaks for Safari browsing.

No beachball. Hyperfast rendering. Hell I'm having to cut back on smoking because things are happening too fast that I used to have to wait long enough to puff one.. or two.. surprisingly iTunes is the huge processor and ram hog.??????

I chose the mini server for its i7 quad option and bto with the solid state in bay one and 7200rpm hdd in bay two. 8 gigs ram for now, until 16 is reasonably priced. And it cost far less than a Pro, or an iMac with similar configuration (admittedly lower frequency processor) or a MBP with similar configuration. I feel smart, and lucky to have something here that does not bring my work flow to a bottleneck at the processor.

By the way, no dedicated gpu. fwiw....

VirtualRain
Aug 5, 2011, 11:51 AM
Before I read this post I was leaning towards iMac despite some draw backs just because it seemed overall cheaper solution if you plan on buying keyboard, mouse/trackpad, and cd/dvd drive from Apple. I am nor crazy about glossy screen, but I think it should not be too big problem considering light conditions in the study.


I think the key consideration in any iMac vs. Mac Mini debate must be your disposition towards the Apple 27" display. If you like that display, the iMac is a great value. If you don't, well, the solution is kinda obvious. Otherwise, in terms of performance, expansion (via ThunderBolt), etc. the Mac Mini and the iMac are nearly identical and based on the same core components and I believe perfectly capable of being great Aperture machines.


I do have couple question for current mini owners here:
1. Did you get SSD from Apple or did you install it yourself.

2. Did anybody try fitting the second drive into non-server version? According to iFixit teardown there should be enough room to do that.

3. Can base mini handle full HD video (.mkv files)?

Thanks.

Cheers,
R>

Edit: Can you put 16GB ram into mini?

You may want to ask some of your questions in the Mac Mini forum but I'm sure the answer to all your questions is YES. (I use mine for 1080p video all the time)

radek42
Aug 5, 2011, 12:10 PM
Thanks for your reply.

I think the key consideration in any iMac vs. Mac Mini debate must be your disposition towards the Apple 27" display. If you like that display, the iMac is a great value. If you don't, well, the solution is kinda obvious. Otherwise, in terms of performance, expansion (via ThunderBolt), etc. the Mac Mini and the iMac are nearly identical and based on the same core components and I believe perfectly capable of being great Aperture machines.

Actually I was considering 22in version ...


You may want to ask some of your questions in the Mac Mini forum but I'm sure the answer to all your questions is YES. (I use mine for 1080p video all the time)

Funny, there is similar thread in the mini forum and they suggest posting in photography :-) I do realize that my questions were more-less hardware related.

Cheers, R>

TheReef
Aug 7, 2011, 04:38 AM
2. Did anybody try fitting the second drive into non-server version? According to iFixit teardown there should be enough room to do that.


And there's a spare port for it, the question is can you find the right kind of cable?

I'd be inclined to go for the quad i7 server myself, Aperture is CPU intensive and will happily max out both CPUs on my '09 mini, and you won't have to worry about finding the right cable.



FWIW on A2 (see my specs at bottom of post), from what I can see, Core Image (therefore the GPU) is used for "live adjustments" on the display, whereas CPU is for rendering the image.

When scrubbing adjustment bars back and forth, I notice a spike in GPU usage (Up to 60%)

http://img855.imageshack.us/img855/6011/screenshotio.jpg

When you are done and click on the next photo, you will see the "rendering previews" circular indicator appear, and you'll observe your CPU bars rising (in my case maxing out). GPU usage remains around 0% during this time.


Similarly huge GPU spikes while dodging and burning, when you click save and return to Aperture's main interface you'll notice CPU spike to render the image, whilst GPU remains low, around 0%.


You can look for yourself:

/Developer/Applications/Graphics Tools/OpenGL Driver Monitor.app



2009 Mac Mini, Aperture 2, Snow Leopard, FWIW.

This may or may not be of use to you - as I can't speak for A3, OpenCL, Lion etc, but this is my general observation.


I'd be interested to see what people running A3 on SL/Lion (with an OpenCL compatible GPU) achieve, specifically if a notable increase in GPU usage is observable in scenarios other than "live" manipulation.

whiteyanderson
Sep 4, 2011, 10:53 AM
You guys are way overthinking this. I am a professional retoucher and work exclusively in PS CS5, dropped down a couple years ago from Pro to a 2009 2.53, core 2 duo mini and did not miss a beat. Awesome little machine and that was with the stock 4GB of RAM. I recently cracked the case open (this weekend as a matter of fact) and installed 8GB finally, and it's even more impressive now.

The OP is referring to photo editing and I haven't even tried a 2011 mini yet, it will serve your purposes just fine. I work on massive RAW images 8-16 hours a day, 6-7 days a week and have never had an issue. And I do full on pixel by pixel, published retouching.

Get a mini and a nice 26" display like a Lacie or NEC or Eizo (if you wanna go whole hog) and be happy. Apple displays are no longer worthy of correct calibration for photo retouching or editing. Imac displays are even worse. How can you retouch or edit without accurate color calibration?

You do not need a dedicated graphics card for photo editing.

Only "upgrades" on my 2009 mini are the above mentioned 8GB RAM and 2 external FW800 drives.

Ruahrc
Sep 4, 2011, 03:06 PM
Thanks for the fresh perspective. I too agree that people are overthinking it here. And also I like your point about monitors. Don't underestimate how important a quality monitor (or two) is to good photo editing. A slow computer with a good monitor will produce better results than a fast computer with a crappy monitor, every time.

Not to mention 2 important facts that are being overlooked:

1) OpenCL implementation is not some magic fairy-dust that all of a sudden makes a 5-yr-old computer fly through processing. Be realistic about how much faster it really goes. VirtualRain's post above sheds light on this- it's not like Aperture is written to take massive advantage of OpenCL anyways.

2) Don't forget that even though it is discrete graphics, the 6630M is still a pretty low-end GPU. In my research I estimated that it is only about 50-100% faster than the Radeon X1950GT GPU in my 6-7 year old gaming PC. And back then, the X1950GT was only a upper midrange GPU. Even if things do get sped up by OpenCL, how much faster is it gonna go with such a weak GPU, compared to having an additional CPU core? Don't overestimate the gains afforded by an OpenCL-implemented program.

My recommendation is that if you don't intend do do 3D gaming, go with the quad cores. They will benefit you more and more often for processing-intensive tasks than the rare application that uses OpenCL would. If you do want to game, look carefully at how powerful the 6630M is really going to be for the games you want to play, and decide if it will cut it. If yes, then get the discrete GPU- if not go with the quad core again and figure out another solution for your gaming needs (build a gaming PC, get a console, etc).

Personally, I recently ordered the quad-core mini after coming to these realizations. I will upgrade it to 8GB RAM and replace one of the 750GB internal HDDs with a fast SSD.

Ruahrc

critmoney
Oct 19, 2011, 09:27 PM
It sounds like the consensus from people working with the Mini's is that PS and other photo-editing software will do just fine in either 2011 Mini when retouching, editing, importing, etc.

My question is this:

As a professional photographer and digital tech to other shooters, is a 2011 Mac Mini (probably Quad server model) capable of handling 1500+ images a day being pumped through via tethered capture in Capture One Pro? I'm primarily concerned with previews being rendered in a timely manner as captures continue to be imported simultaneously. I've noticed a huge improvement in this on a 2011 Macbook Pro (SSD, 16GB Ram) that I rented.

I'm planning on putting in a SATA 3.0 SSD and at least 8 GB of RAM in the Mini.

Ideally I'd love a new Mac Pro for pure processing power of high volume shoots, but I can't justify spending $5k for "old" technology when the Sandy Bridge Xeon processors are potentially due out 1Q 2012. So this is an in between that can then become an office machine eventually.

I would go for iMac but the glossy screen is very frustrating in brightly lit environments.

Thanks!

Any input would be extremely helpful.

srf4real
Oct 19, 2011, 09:48 PM
Yep. Four 2.0 GHz cores eight threads, eight gigs ram, ssd.. no worries. Previews render fast even in the thousands on my mini server with above specs.

thekev
Oct 19, 2011, 10:16 PM
It sounds like the consensus from people working with the Mini's is that PS and other photo-editing software will do just fine in either 2011 Mini when retouching, editing, importing, etc.

My question is this:

As a professional photographer and digital tech to other shooters, is a 2011 Mac Mini (probably Quad server model) capable of handling 1500+ images a day being pumped through via tethered capture in Capture One Pro? I'm primarily concerned with previews being rendered in a timely manner as captures continue to be imported simultaneously. I've noticed a huge improvement in this on a 2011 Macbook Pro (SSD, 16GB Ram) that I rented.

I'm planning on putting in a SATA 3.0 SSD and at least 8 GB of RAM in the Mini.


Why not check out what the other digi techs are using these days although their setups might be a bit biased. The thing about the digi techs that have survived is they basically did so (or it seems the case with most of them) by offering motion capture support as well, thus requiring a heavier rig especially in terms of storage throughput.

Regarding Capture One in recent versions it does seem to scale pretty well with core count, and it depends what kind of camera they're shooting. They go up to 80 megapixels these days although I haven't seen much from those but the files would take longer to process. I'd like to see manufacturers actually move away from the whole bayer RGBG array design rather than continually pump up the pixel count. At least they enlarged the sensor on that one. You'd want some kind of storage solution if you're using a mini including backup on site.

----------



Get a mini and a nice 26" display like a Lacie or NEC or Eizo (if you wanna go whole hog) and be happy. Apple displays are no longer worthy of correct calibration for photo retouching or editing. Imac displays are even worse. How can you retouch or edit without accurate color calibration?

You do not need a dedicated graphics card for photo editing.

Only "upgrades" on my 2009 mini are the above mentioned 8GB RAM and 2 external FW800 drives.

I'm with you on this (and in the same line of work). Really even integrated graphics won't choke on simple openGL editing. With Lion 8GB is starting to feel like a minimum if you work with really large files. Getting too low on ram is pretty noticeable especially if it's not scratching to an SSD. Apple displays were never that great. If you look at when the 23" cinema display came out and put it against a CG210, there was literally no comparison. It was the same with the newer cinema displays and the CG211. The Apple displays had inferior stability, terrible clipping, and they were too bright when new, but looked like crap when dialed down.

Imacs are ok for a secondary display. It's just if you need a quality display for editing photos or video, it'll never be your primary display there. If you own one, you keep the expensive display turned off when you're not working on stuff and just use the imac (or in my case an older display) to check email and post on macrumors :D