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Old Oct 28, 2012, 08:09 PM   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2012
How limiting is HD4000? (Mac Mini vs. iMac decision)

I know this has been mentioned in several threads, but I haven't seen a decisive answer for my specific needs.

I am deciding between
(a) a refurbished 2011 27" iMac with i7 and
(b) a new 2012 Mac Mini with quad-core i7 and a refurbished 27" Thunderbolt Display.

(Not considering the 2012 iMac because I need something rather urgently and the price of a similarly powerful configuration is likely to be a few hundred dollars higher. The only advantage would be a better (less glare) screen, but my computer room lighting is good for my old iMac, so glare is not a problem.)

The price is roughly the same. Processor performance very similar according to both Passmark and Geekbench scores. I would immediately upgrade either computer to 12-16 GB of third-party RAM. I have a spare keyboard and mouse, and the cost of an external DVD I'd need for the Mini is insignificant.

The advantages of Mini are USB3, modularity (I'd probably want to replace the rest of the computer well before the display) and easier HD upgradeability. (Having seen all the videos, I would be comfortable installing an SSD myself in the Mini, but not in the iMac. That may tip the cost in Mini's favor.) The advantages of the iMac are the ability to upgrade RAM to 32 GB (I don't need that much now, but may well need it in 2 years or so) and a much more powerful GPU...

...Which brings me to my main question: How important is the difference in graphics capabilities of the two computers for someone with my needs (described in the next paragraph)?

I don't care about gaming at all. I'd like to be able to watch movies without compromises in quality. I do moderate photo editing - for now in Aperture and Photoshop Elements, but I can imagine getting more serious, and using Photoshop during the life of the computer. (Also, haven't shot any RAW yet, but may try soon.) I don't do any serious video editing. I occasionally do some amateur art, and may try some animation, but nothing serious. Other tasks I use the computer for are not graphics-intensive at all.

Is Intel HD4000 capable of driving the ATD competently for everything I need? Would I notice a significant difference in graphics? Or would the iMac's superior Radeon 6970 be a waste for me?

Also, is there anything I am missing in my comparison? Thanks for reading this and for all thoughtful responses.

Last edited by Columbian; Oct 29, 2012 at 01:17 PM.
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