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View Full Version : Mini, Macbook or iMac ???




mnctxusa2010
Apr 19, 2010, 09:25 AM
I am upgrading my current network to (potentially) remove my windows 2003 server box. I do not really need the server features and will just run OSX and not OSX Server.

I have switched to all Apple systems now and want to have one central computer that will always be on which will manage a centralized iTunes, iPhoto, etc etc libraries on external hard drives and also act as the backup for the other computers. I will also have Apple TV's attached.

I was thinking of going mini for this and then thought, once I get screen, keyboard, mouse, should I rather just go macbook or imac for a little more.

If possible, pros and cons of each.



keantan
Apr 19, 2010, 09:42 AM
I will try and help you as much as I can but I might miss some stuff out

Mac Mini

Advantages

cheap
small size
will do all the functions you specified above with relative ease *depending on number of devices and network activity*
Can be run headlessly (without screen using screen sharing aka VNC)
Lots of USB ports


Disadvantages

Bring your own mouse, keyboard, screen
Limited Hard Drive space on boot disc


MacBook

Advantages

Portable
Will do everything you've specified so far


Disadvantages

Bit of a waste of a Macbook
Ports (i.e. doesn't support fast FW800 drives, although a dated technology that will be obsolete soon they are relatively fast since we don't have any eSATA on any macs out the box)
More expensive than mac mini


iMac

Advantages

Plenty of horsepower
plenty of ports


Disadvantages

Cost
size (large)
Hard to upgrade internal hard drive yourself


Edit: You will need to enable unsupported volumes on all your macs in order to back up to a non-OS X Server based machine, although if your running a Windows 2003 server at home I can pretty safely assume you've worked this out already.

mnctxusa2010
Apr 19, 2010, 09:54 AM
keantan

Thanks for the really prompt response. I have found numerous comparisons for imac vs mini but not all three, so this does help.

My current system uses the windows box mainly as firewall.

I like the idea of the small footprint of the mini and of course cost, I have a screen I can use from the windows box and extra keyboard and mouse, so mini wins hands down as far as cost.

Other than that, are there any advantages to be gained from the other two?

Actually, reading your response again, I think there really is no reason to go with anything but the mini as I would just be paying for stuff I do not really need.

keantan
Apr 19, 2010, 10:08 AM
No problem :) I'm stranded waiting for the flight problems in Europe to clear anyways, so spending much of my time on MR trying to help people.

As far as the iMac goes, if you don't have something like a MacBook Pro that is a portable power house it is quite useful if your like myself and encode lots of say MKVs to iTunes friendly MP4s, it makes things much faster. It's a good workhorse in that sense. It's also nice to have that big screen to work with once in a while. I know when I'm doing development work the screen on my 20" iMac does wonders over the 13" of my previous MBA.

MacBooks aren't really designed to be switched on all the time, although I do that with mine a lot (which is probably why they tend to fall apart with me every 12-18 months or so).

When the mini first came out I didn't really think that much of it. Now I see its potential is a Mac Mini Server, it makes so much more sense.

Serif
Apr 19, 2010, 10:28 AM
I'm guessing you intend to use this as a desktop machine as well as a server?

I did the server thing recently and bought one of the new mac mini servers. That sounds a bit overkill though for what you describe wanting to do and the standard version of Snow Leopard should work fine. My plan was to run the mini server headless, sat on a shelf with my external storage, printers and network devices. That works very well for me and I've never had to attach a keyboard or screen to it since the initial setup; I just admin it using remote screen sharing.

Either way, unless you really need the extra processing power of an iMac for other applications, a mac mini will easily handle being a shared media library / server. The more fun game may be actually getting all your existing iTunes data onto the new server. I agree that using any sort of Macbook to do this would be a waste, unless you happen to have one around with no other use for it.

talmy
Apr 20, 2010, 12:38 PM
My understanding is while a Mac mini can be run headless, it still requires keyboard and mouse to boot unless Snow Leopard Server is installed. I bought a refurb Mac mini with Snow Leopard Server which I used to replace an 8 year old Dell desktop I was using as my home server. Frankly, having 1TB in the box instead of 500GB and a superdrive, and the small extra cost attributable to Snow Leopard Server made it an "obvious" buy.

There are six other Macs in the house and a Windows box (not including the decommissioned Dell server). The Macs are iMacs, MacBooks, and a mini. Using an iMac for this task is a waste of money, and I'd never seriously consider a notebook computer for a 24/7 server. The mini's low cost, reliability (highest reliability of an Mac from what I've heard), low power consumption, and form factor (mine just sits on a bookshelf!) make it the ideal choice.