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Old Nov 12, 2012, 02:49 AM   #1
sc25893
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iMac i5 2010/2011 vs Mac mini i7 @ 2.6GHz

Hi everyone,

I'm still having trouble deciding between these two.

For roughly the same price (about 820), I could get:

a) an iMac 2011 i5 refurb from apple store
b) a mac mini 2012 i7 (from store with student discount), upgraded to 2.6GHz with 8GB RAM and SSD. The RAM and SSD would be bought separately (might even be able to get 16GB if I can find it cheap enough).

I already have a nice 24" samsung monitor, with mouse and keyboard, so the 21.5" iMac would be smaller.

Can anyone help me with this. I am aware the graphics would be better on the iMac, as would the quicker stock hard drive. However, the smaller screen is a bit off putting as I do design work and the space really counts! Conversely, the extra speed would be nice too.

I don't do any gaming whatsoever but my base 2011 mac mini was a bit jerky on photoshop/fireworks when performing colour adjustments/levels etc... on large images. Actually, any work on large images was a bit slow. This is why I want a quicker machine.

I'm torn between the two! Thanks for any input.

Sam.
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Old Nov 12, 2012, 04:26 AM   #2
cyclotron451
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a third option would be

c) third option 849 to get a MacBookPro (refurb) UK store 2.5GHz Dual-core Intel i5 which is a Mac mini with portability! It would drive your Samsung screen nicely I'm sure, with the right adapter.
The 2012 MBP: its easy to upgrade the RAM, easy to upgrade the HDD to a 768GB Momentus XT hybrid or whatever

does that help?

Personally I decided not to get the 2011 iMac's (new or refurb) for 2 reasons
A) the HDD has the unique Mac Firmware for the HDD temperature monitor - ever upgrade the 2011 iMac HDD and you get full-on fans, or you have to bodge something. I have upgraded all my iMacs over time from the original 250GB HDDs to samsung 1.5TB ecogreens. It would be a pain to be locked-out from iMac HDD upgrade as with the 2011 and mybe the 'sealed' 2012 iMacs?
B) some people got an iMac screen that went yellow over time due to the heat from the cpu/gpu & their replacement iMac 2011 went yellow...
oh and a 3rd reason is that ppl complained about dust eventually ending up between the LCD and the glass protection panels.

of the 10 Mac minis that I've bought in the past, even my handful of 2005 1.25GHz G4 40GB 1GB RAM minis are still working (in use daily) - some of the newer minis are on mountains in Peru!

From your planned mini BTO, there's actually no reason to upgrade the CPU from the stock 2.3GHz to 2.6GHz as you'll never notice the difference in practice! I'd try and keep the temperature lower by having the lowest clocked CPU - hence for my edu mini purchase I just got the dual 2.5 i5.
Spend the 80 difference on an Samsung 830 128GB SSD and maybe an external FW800 box to house it? (I will be fitting one of these eventually inside my mini - I just haven't the time to order the bits - tho' I have bought the SSD drive and will try it in a x86 PC for a while) in the meantime the mini 5400 rpm HDD's are snappy enough, being faster than some old 7200 rpm drives, all allegedly.
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Old Nov 12, 2012, 09:49 AM   #3
sc25893
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Thanks.

You know one thing that is quite annoying, the mini in the US costs just $899 which is only 566?!

The same machine with same spec in the UK costs 759, that's $1205! (without the student discount)

Not exactly a small difference. Whether or not the 2.6GHz is 'noticable' to me, it's all in my mind and makes me feel better! That counts for some IMHO.

I can upgrade the drive later, and with a better spec comes a better price when it's time to sell.

I am slightly concerned about adding an SSD and messing it up though. I wanted to get apple care.

Sam.
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Old Nov 12, 2012, 10:28 PM   #4
Yebubbleman
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sc25893 View Post
Hi everyone,

I'm still having trouble deciding between these two.

For roughly the same price (about 820), I could get:

a) an iMac 2011 i5 refurb from apple store
b) a mac mini 2012 i7 (from store with student discount), upgraded to 2.6GHz with 8GB RAM and SSD. The RAM and SSD would be bought separately (might even be able to get 16GB if I can find it cheap enough).

I already have a nice 24" samsung monitor, with mouse and keyboard, so the 21.5" iMac would be smaller.

Can anyone help me with this. I am aware the graphics would be better on the iMac, as would the quicker stock hard drive. However, the smaller screen is a bit off putting as I do design work and the space really counts! Conversely, the extra speed would be nice too.

I don't do any gaming whatsoever but my base 2011 mac mini was a bit jerky on photoshop/fireworks when performing colour adjustments/levels etc... on large images. Actually, any work on large images was a bit slow. This is why I want a quicker machine.

I'm torn between the two! Thanks for any input.

Sam.
I'm also going to say that a non-retina MacBook Pro is a better option than either of those given that you can attach a monitor of any size to it AND have it be portable AND much more upgradable than both the Mac mini and the iMac (given that hard drive and RAM are both user-replaceable on the MacBook Pro, whereas only RAM is on those two desktops).

But if that's not what you want, then I'd go Mac mini; the CPUs will be faster in the Mac mini (albeit not by a lot), the drives will be much more easily upgraded/replaced, and the machine will be much more reliable. Graphics is the only area in which you'll suffer on the mini compared to the iMac. Though, if that's important to you, don't get either machine, get either the MacBook Pro, the Mac Pro, or...dare I say it...a PC. Or go the Hackintosh route if none of those three alternatives are satisfying to you, as a Hackintosh offers much more flexibility in terms of what kind of upgrading and customizing you can do of your hardware.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 03:57 AM   #5
sc25893
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But if that's not what you want, then I'd go Mac mini; the CPUs will be faster in the Mac mini (albeit not by a lot), the drives will be much more easily upgraded/replaced, and the machine will be much more reliable. Graphics is the only area in which you'll suffer on the mini compared to the iMac. Though, if that's important to you, don't get either machine, get either the MacBook Pro, the Mac Pro, or...dare I say it...a PC. Or go the Hackintosh route if none of those three alternatives are satisfying to you, as a Hackintosh offers much more flexibility in terms of what kind of upgrading and customizing you can do of your hardware.
Thanks.

I don't want a laptop and I have looked at the hackintosh route.

I do think the mini would be a better route. An i7 2.6GHz mini with SSD would probably be enough for my use.

Would the intel 4000 be ok for video editing though? I wanted to mess about with iMovie beside my adobe fireworks/photoshop work as I've never made/edited videos before and am quite keen to give it a shot as my stepson would enjoy that too.

The time it takes for processing a video i.e. 5mins instead of 2.5mins (for example) on a quicker machine is not my concern. My concern is that everything needs to be smooth, no jerkiness going on like I got in fireworks (with large images when applying filters etc...) using the 2.3GHz dual core i5 mini.

Do you think the i7 mini would be good for these tasks? Thanks.

Sam.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 09:58 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by sc25893 View Post
Thanks.

I don't want a laptop and I have looked at the hackintosh route.

I do think the mini would be a better route. An i7 2.6GHz mini with SSD would probably be enough for my use.

Would the intel 4000 be ok for video editing though? I wanted to mess about with iMovie beside my adobe fireworks/photoshop work as I've never made/edited videos before and am quite keen to give it a shot as my stepson would enjoy that too.

The time it takes for processing a video i.e. 5mins instead of 2.5mins (for example) on a quicker machine is not my concern. My concern is that everything needs to be smooth, no jerkiness going on like I got in fireworks (with large images when applying filters etc...) using the 2.3GHz dual core i5 mini.

Do you think the i7 mini would be good for these tasks? Thanks.

Sam.
A Core i7 mini would be more than fine for iMovie and it ought to be just fine for Fireworks provided your usage isn't super-heavy. Really, the only stuff that the HD 4000 sucks at is serious video work (like heavy Final Cut/Premiere/Motion/After Effects), serious 3D rendering work (CAD), and gaming. If you won't be doing any of that, then the HD 4000 won't be bad at all for you.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 12:58 PM   #7
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A Core i7 mini would be more than fine for iMovie and it ought to be just fine for Fireworks provided your usage isn't super-heavy. Really, the only stuff that the HD 4000 sucks at is serious video work (like heavy Final Cut/Premiere/Motion/After Effects), serious 3D rendering work (CAD), and gaming. If you won't be doing any of that, then the HD 4000 won't be bad at all for you.
Thanks for the input. And what about this compared to the 2011 i5 2.5GHz with the radeon graphics?

Is having a better graphics card worth losing out on the better processor? It's getting me quite frustrated trying to find a suitable mac, but I know it's worth it in the end!

Sam.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 06:23 PM   #8
Liquidstate
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"Trying to find a suitable mac..."

I think you expressed it well with "trying to find a suitable mac."

For those who want a desktop work machine rather than a fashion statement, Apple's offerings have become extremely complicated. It's not like we can configure our own machines beyond a very limited range of options now. It's frustrating. And underneath a lot of this is no MP and no idea of what or when or how much or whether it will fit existing workflows.

So then we have to lurk the forums and grope around to try to glean enough info to make the best possible compromise.

This is a pretty good thread. It talked me out of a 2011 refurb, that's for sure.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 09:06 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by sc25893 View Post
Thanks.

You know one thing that is quite annoying, the mini in the US costs just $899 which is only 566?!

The same machine with same spec in the UK costs 759, that's $1205! (without the student discount)
You are going to university? Do you know what VAT is? Can you think of any laws that would make selling in Britain (and the EU in general) more expensive than in the USA?
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Old Nov 15, 2012, 04:11 AM   #10
sc25893
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You are going to university? Do you know what VAT is? Can you think of any laws that would make selling in Britain (and the EU in general) more expensive than in the USA?
Yes, I am doing a degree, on top of a busy family life, full time work, and self employment on the side. Perhaps if I wanted a joke I would have joined another forum.

I was merely pointing out that the product is cheaper if you live in the US.

I have opted for a 2012 mini with i7 upgraded to 2.6GHz, will arrive about 22nd November, can't wait! Then just to add the RAM and SSD later.

Sam.
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Old Nov 15, 2012, 10:57 AM   #11
mschmalenbach
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Yes, I am doing a degree, on top of a busy family life, full time work, and self employment on the side. Perhaps if I wanted a joke I would have joined another forum.

I was merely pointing out that the product is cheaper if you live in the US.

I have opted for a 2012 mini with i7 upgraded to 2.6GHz, will arrive about 22nd November, can't wait! Then just to add the RAM and SSD later.

Sam.
I am a Brit, living in the US for the last 2 years or so - looked at buying over here for my Mum back in the UK etc...

There is a price difference, for sure... most of this is import duty. On top of that, prices in the US are almost always EX VAT (equivalent), though sales tax tends to be 5-8%, not the 20% in the UK...

Also in the UK you get a whole bunch of retail/buyer protection - 2 year + warranty in the EU, etc etc etc - in the US it's 90 days and good luck having a good experience if you do have an issue...

The only reason I would buy in the US for a UK end user is to buy a refurb on a really good price... otherwise, stick with buying it legitimately in the UK - to buy in the US and import it legitimately will negate most of the savings you think you'll make, plus shipping costs (NOT cheap!)... In short, it's not worth it, in my book.

Second, I've been kicking around this question myself... mini or iMac...

I too have a very good screen etc. If an iMac screen etc goes wrong, a recent model, you have problems... like no machine!

With a Mac Mini, you just need to get a new screen etc...

I'm likely to opt for a Mac Mini - may even go the Hackintosh route simply because I'm an unreconstructed recovering electronics engineer...

Good luck!
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Old Nov 15, 2012, 02:05 PM   #12
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I'm likely to opt for a Mac Mini - may even go the Hackintosh route simply because I'm an unreconstructed recovering electronics engineer...

Good luck!
Lol. I thought about hackintosh, the building it I could handle but what about future support for the OSX? Sounded like a lot of hassle for a little saving, building a really good one still costs a load.

I can just imagine when it's built, "oh, we don't support intel chips anymore in the next version..." There goes your 100 board and 250 intel i7. This is a situation that IMHO, Windows wins hands down, the hardware support is incredible, it'll run on practically any combination.

I think Apple is truly proprietary in every possible way, but even though I am more pro linux and open source, mac OS X is remarkable and I really enjoy using it. That said, if linux support for software stepped up a gear, I'd use that instead (and I don't mean dual booting or running virtual machines and all that faffing about).

It's for these reasons (to name a few) that I went down the mac mini route.

Good luck to you too mschmalenbach if you go down the hackintosh route!

Sam.
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Old Nov 20, 2012, 03:03 PM   #13
Yebubbleman
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Originally Posted by sc25893 View Post
Thanks for the input. And what about this compared to the 2011 i5 2.5GHz with the radeon graphics?

Is having a better graphics card worth losing out on the better processor? It's getting me quite frustrated trying to find a suitable mac, but I know it's worth it in the end!

Sam.
The Radeon HD 6630M in the higher-end Mid-2011 Mac mini, from what I've seen and been told, is noticably better than the Intel HD 4000 used in the new ones, but it not substantially so. Obviously, if you do gaming, finding a refurbished higher-end Mid-2011 model will be preferable to buying a 2012 model, but if your needs are light on GPU usage, the new models will be better.
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Old Nov 24, 2012, 05:15 AM   #14
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Thanks, I went for the 2012 2.6GHz i7 with HD4000 in the end. It's a super bit of kit, and pretty quick too. I do no gaming whatsoever on the computer so my needs should be fully met.

Sam.
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Old Nov 26, 2012, 03:28 PM   #15
mschmalenbach
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Thanks, I went for the 2012 2.6GHz i7 with HD4000 in the end. It's a super bit of kit, and pretty quick too. I do no gaming whatsoever on the computer so my needs should be fully met.

Sam.
Good for you - enjoy it!
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