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Greencardman
Mar 14, 2008, 08:23 AM
I was wondering how fast the latest Mac Mini with the 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo and 1GB Ram is compared to my gaming laptop. It has a 3.0GHz Pentium 4 with 2GB Ram and an ATI 9700 inside. Is there any way to know? I was thinking about getting a mini to have at home for general use, etc, but I wasn't sure. The last time I checked out a Mini at the Apple store it was kinda sluggish compared to my Dell laptop, things just weren't as snappy, which, even though it was probably only a half second slower, it was incredibly annoying. But I was there again last night checking out the MacBooks, (didn't get to the Mini's) and things seemed pretty good.

I know my laptop has an actual video card inside too, so I assume that makes a difference compared to the integrated graphics. But its almost 4 years old, mind you. How would the mini do running a game like Civ4 through bootcamp?

Any help would be appreciated.



Sesshi
Mar 14, 2008, 08:45 AM
It probably wouldn't be a whole lot different apart from the deficiencies in the video department. It would certainly run a lot cooler as well, although the Mini is hot-running for a C2D machine.

Why not make the jump to an XPS M1530 instead?

mslide
Mar 14, 2008, 08:58 AM
I've never played Civ4 but I can tell you this. I have a Macbook with the same specs as that mini you called out, except at the time I had 2 GB ram in it. When I used to play WoW on it, I had to turn all the detail off or at the lowest level and it still felt slower than when I played it on my then 4'ish year old windows laptop (1.7 GHz single core, 2GB, nVidia GeForce 4). It was because the old PC had a graphics card. General computer use, my macbook was obviously much much quicker.

The lack of a real video card will make a big difference when trying to play games, even the old ones, however, for normal computer use, it shouldn't really make any difference. The 1GB RAM in that mini vs your 2GB ram in your laptop does make a difference. I recommend 2GB ram in Macs.

AlexisV
Mar 14, 2008, 09:38 AM
The Core2Duo in the Mini is much faster than the Pentium 4. Having said that, neither CPU will struggle with everyday operating system tasks (when coupled with a minimum of 1gig RAM). The Core2 would encode video, for example, far quicker though.

The machine you tried might have been slow if it only had 512megs in it. I'd really recommend getting 2.

The integrated graphics card isn't fantastic, but should be able to run older games like Civ 4. Serious 3D games like WoW would tax it though as mentioned above.

Greencardman
Mar 14, 2008, 01:10 PM
Civ4 taxes my laptop on large maps and anything near the end game. But, I also have a 1680 x 1050 screen on this baby, which I LOVE.

I was thinking about a mini because a) I already have a laptop, even though it weights 12 pounds, and b) I don't have a Mac OS X machine, and one that ran leopard would be nice. I was just worried it would be sluggish, which I would find very annoying, since I have XP running rather snappily right now.

I was also looking at that Mac Mini mod which would let you put a PCI card in it (its somewhere on Engadget). Do you think it involves soldering? Would adding a video card make it a respectable machine? I think the comment with the post stated the problem perfectly, the Mini doesn't do graphics, but the next up is a very expensive G5.

I just want something that runs Leopard and lets me play some older games. But every used intel G5 is still too expensive.

Sesshi
Mar 14, 2008, 01:20 PM
Perhaps you're mistaking it for the mod that made it look like a Pro - by turning it on it's side.

I'd say replace the P4 machine with an XPS M1730 in that case. Same weight, hugely increased power, all-in-one solution.

Greencardman
Mar 14, 2008, 01:35 PM
Yeah, I could have been. It would be nice to stick a video card inside that thing though.
I don't think I'm going to go the XPS Route. I really don't want another heavy laptop. The one I have now is a replacement desktop, and up until now its done the job well. But, I also want at least one mac machine in the house. the question is, should I make it a laptop or a desktop. I was hoping the mini could help me compromise. I know its not the perfect fit though. What I'm really looking to migrate to is a more powerful desktop, and a less powerful laptop, rather than the other way around.

The weight and size of this thing is just too much. I seriously get sore muscles and strange aches on one side of my body from having a carry it around. It never fits in any sleeve, so every time I've dropped it it gets damaged, cause its just in my backpack or whatever. I've also settled down a little which means a desktop isn't such a bad idea.

Of course, a mac mini would only solve a few of my problems. It would get me leopard and some nice mac software, but it wouldn't be a real desktop without graphics. Touch choices. Grrrr.

flopticalcube
Mar 14, 2008, 01:44 PM
Refurb 20" iMac. Even the older models with X1600 graphics would play games like Civ4 quite well. The newer ones would be even better (well, maybe the lowest HD2400 would be about the same as the X1600). You won't get a lightweight laptop with a decent graphics card in the Mac world until Apple stops its love affair with integrated graphics.

Sesshi
Mar 14, 2008, 01:51 PM
Yeah, I could have been. It would be nice to stick a video card inside that thing though.
I don't think I'm going to go the XPS Route. I really don't want another heavy laptop. The one I have now is a replacement desktop, and up until now its done the job well. But, I also want at least one mac machine in the house. the question is, should I make it a laptop or a desktop. I was hoping the mini could help me compromise. I know its not the perfect fit though. What I'm really looking to migrate to is a more powerful desktop, and a less powerful laptop, rather than the other way around.

The weight and size of this thing is just too much. I seriously get sore muscles and strange aches on one side of my body from having a carry it around. It never fits in any sleeve, so every time I've dropped it it gets damaged, cause its just in my backpack or whatever. I've also settled down a little which means a desktop isn't such a bad idea.

Of course, a mac mini would only solve a few of my problems. It would get me leopard and some nice mac software, but it wouldn't be a real desktop without graphics. Touch choices. Grrrr.

How about a proper desktop then? $1250 gets you an XPS 630 with a Core Quad and an 8800GT (and when funds permit, you can stick another 8800GT in there for demanding current games as well as antiquated ones) as opposed to $900 for a 2Ghz Mini with 2Gb...

Greencardman
Mar 14, 2008, 01:56 PM
Yeah, that was looking like my best idea for a setup. Actually, I was thinking a home built gaming desktop, you know, like a lot of the gaming sites suggest. Give myself a budget and build something nice that I can upgrade a lot. I don't care for looks, I'll hide it under the desk anyways. I also don't need the latest thing. Just enough for decent games.

Then save up for a 12" macbook. Something with juice but small enough to take anywhere. I have dreams of doing all sorts of stuff on my laptop, but as I've gotten older I realize I don't need power when I'm on the road.

Greencardman
Mar 14, 2008, 01:57 PM
Do iMacs have replaceable video cards? That might be worth a look.

Sesshi
Mar 14, 2008, 02:00 PM
Personally I'd say a self-built machine by anyone other than who knows exactly what they're doing is one of the primary culprits for "Windows crashes on me all the time, the Mac rocks!" delusions. It is just a matter of simple assembly if you know what works together well. If you don't - and especially if you cut pennies - it's pot luck.

Enjoy the 'Mac experience' on a PC - buy one that's built and isn't from the bottom drawer.

iMacs don't have replaceable video cards - well, they have MXM modules but the chances of upgrades coming out for them is pretty minimal.

flopticalcube
Mar 14, 2008, 02:00 PM
Do iMacs have replaceable video cards? That might be worth a look.

Not replaceable.

Greencardman
Mar 14, 2008, 02:08 PM
Gaming sites make it seem so easy. Buy some parts that other people reccommend, put them all together and bam, you're done. I wasn't talking overclocking or fiddling with bios and what not sort of home-built rig. Just a generic computer.

Dell frustrates me (even though my dell is still going strong) because their website never seems to have the choice I want. If you want a nice video card, you have to get a nice chip, if you want this you have to get that. Very frustrating. I'd rather buy what suits my needs and upgrade things one by one when I have a different need, like buy a nice motherboard that will take new chips, but buy a value chip, but a nice videocard, etc. It all seems simpler with doing it yourself.

QCassidy352
Mar 14, 2008, 02:22 PM
The Core2Duo in the Mini is much faster than the Pentium 4. Having said that, neither CPU will struggle with everyday operating system tasks (when coupled with a minimum of 1gig RAM). The Core2 would encode video, for example, far quicker though.

The machine you tried might have been slow if it only had 512megs in it. I'd really recommend getting 2.

The integrated graphics card isn't fantastic, but should be able to run older games like Civ 4. Serious 3D games like WoW would tax it though as mentioned above.

I agree with this post, except for the last paragraph. I used to try to play Civ 4 on a macbook with GMA 950 (same as is still in the mini) and it was *hell.* Windowed mode, low resolution, all effects turned off, and it still ran like crap after the beginning of the game. WoW runs better on intel integrated than Civ 4 does.

Now mostly, that's because blizzard optimizes the hell out of their games while Civ 4 is one of the worst examples of bloatware out there. There's absolutely no reason for it to be as demanding as it is, but it's not easy to run at all. Even on a core duo imac with x1600 it gets pretty unbearable by end game on a large map.

Bottom line is that if you're playing games, the mini is not a good choice because you'll constantly be frustrated by the experience.

Sesshi
Mar 14, 2008, 02:30 PM
Gaming sites make it seem so easy. Buy some parts that other people reccommend, put them all together and bam, you're done. I wasn't talking overclocking or fiddling with bios and what not sort of home-built rig. Just a generic computer.

Dell frustrates me (even though my dell is still going strong) because their website never seems to have the choice I want. If you want a nice video card, you have to get a nice chip, if you want this you have to get that. Very frustrating. I'd rather buy what suits my needs and upgrade things one by one when I have a different need, like buy a nice motherboard that will take new chips, but buy a value chip, but a nice videocard, etc. It all seems simpler with doing it yourself.

Well, that's when you take the risk. I've talked with some hardcore gaming PC builders when I was hunting for someone to build me some specific - performance PC's on forums, but many of these guys have little concept of stability - they're pretty happy if the machine crashes "only" once a day. In comparison, one of my XPS 710H2C's has BSOD'd twice in a year and the other, once. And these are usually the guys who'll say it's a waste of time buying a prebuilt. In many cases, it's only when they come across a decent quality prebuilt machine (or a prebuilt Mac for that matter, which is why I made that crack previously) that they realise what stability actually is.

Greencardman
Mar 14, 2008, 02:35 PM
why do you suspect they crash so much? The parts just don't play nice with each other? Or they're trying to do too much with what they've got?

Sesshi
Mar 14, 2008, 02:40 PM
Obviously it depends on the particular fitout - I'm not saying you can't build a rock-solid PC, but given the parts involved it can be any number of things which throws a spanner into the mix - parts not getting along, parts mis-spec, inadequate power, bad drivers, you name it. And unless you know what to look for, it may be that you fall into one of those categories with the parts you've bought for your PC. With a non-bottom-feeder-budget prebuilt, you don't have this potential hassle.