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Old Nov 19, 2012, 05:57 AM   #26
Yanwoo
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I've just plumped for the i7 2.6 for similar reasons to others on this thread: can't be upgraded later if the small increase is needed, peace of mind of having the highest spec and it's not that much money extra.

If money was tighter though I'd prioritise SSD and more memory before getting that extra .3 bump (I've ordered 256GB SSD and getting crucial 16GB ram)
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Old Nov 19, 2012, 06:05 AM   #27
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Recent Geekbench results and the Macworld comparison of the 15" MBP models that use 2.3GHz and 2.6GHz i7 processors indicate an average speed difference of at best 10%. And that isn't something that people will be able to notice...
Can't really talk for everyone can you? Imagine a process that takes 40h+ to run. a 10% speed bost would mean 4h less of time.

For work reasons I usually run processes that only consume CPU and take a lot of hours. I was getting to the point of executing it for 290h in my 2010 Mini in order to get it finished.

With the new Mini it takes around 60h. If I lost another 10% that'd mean 6 more hours. Sure, not a lot compared to 290h, but still worth $100 which became $88 thank to educational discount.

Again, imho.
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Old Nov 19, 2012, 02:54 PM   #28
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I've just plumped for the i7 2.6 for similar reasons to others on this thread: can't be upgraded later if the small increase is needed, peace of mind of having the highest spec and it's not that much money extra.
I totally agree. Peace of mind is the key here. It's not always as clear cut and practical as "get what you need".

I went for the 2.6GHz i7 too, and I will notice the difference, because there IS a difference, and not just in price.

I can also see it from the other side of the fence, from a saving money point of view. However, I save money on a cheapo phone, a cheap car etc... so why the hell not to blow a few quid on the highest spec computer seeing as that is my main interest!

I say, if you went for the 2.6GHz, good luck to you! And if you wanted to save the money, and went for the 2.3GHz, good luck to you too.

It seems it's all a matter of personal reasons whether to spend the extra or not

Sam.

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Old Nov 19, 2012, 03:21 PM   #29
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Can't really talk for everyone can you? Imagine a process that takes 40h+ to run. a 10% speed bost would mean 4h less of time.

For work reasons I usually run processes that only consume CPU and take a lot of hours. I was getting to the point of executing it for 290h in my 2010 Mini in order to get it finished.

With the new Mini it takes around 60h. If I lost another 10% that'd mean 6 more hours. Sure, not a lot compared to 290h, but still worth $100 which became $88 thank to educational discount.

Again, imho.
I don't think anyone would say if you have a valid WORK reason to upgrade to the 2.6ghz model that you shouldn't. Most just want to upgrade because they think it will somehow future proof them or do better in gaming (in either case the answer is no it won't). However, if you have projects that are taking 290 hours or even 60 hours, it seems like even a Mac Mini is under powered for what you want. Mac Pro maybe?
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Old Nov 19, 2012, 04:53 PM   #30
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Can't really talk for everyone can you? Imagine a process that takes 40h+ to run. a 10% speed bost would mean 4h less of time.

For work reasons I usually run processes that only consume CPU and take a lot of hours. I was getting to the point of executing it for 290h in my 2010 Mini in order to get it finished.

With the new Mini it takes around 60h. If I lost another 10% that'd mean 6 more hours. Sure, not a lot compared to 290h, but still worth $100 which became $88 thank to educational discount.

Again, imho.
Dear lord, 60 hours? Sounds like you need to get that project running on a PC. You can save some money and a lot of time by buying a $600 Dell with a 3.4GHz i7. It'd almost certainly be much quieter too.
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Old Nov 19, 2012, 09:34 PM   #31
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Can't really talk for everyone can you?
Of course not. In my initial post I qualified my statement, something that I neglected to do in my second post. I fixed it so you can get your panties out of a bunch...

Last edited by Mojo1; Nov 19, 2012 at 09:54 PM.
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Old Nov 20, 2012, 03:20 AM   #32
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I agree that 100$ is a lot for a 0.3Ghz increase in processor, but as I see it (and others have written also), this upgrade can't be done later.

If you plan to use your computer and get another one in one year, I would recommend upgrading the RAM and forget aboout the processor upgrade.

But mind dasx's point, it depends on what you will do with your Mac Mini:
Quote:
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Can't really talk for everyone can you? Imagine a process that takes 40h+ to run. a 10% speed bost would mean 4h less of time.

For work reasons I usually run processes that only consume CPU and take a lot of hours. I was getting to the point of executing it for 290h in my 2010 Mini in order to get it finished.

With the new Mini it takes around 60h. If I lost another 10% that'd mean 6 more hours. Sure, not a lot compared to 290h, but still worth $100 which became $88 thank to educational discount.

Again, imho.

Otherwise I would upgrade the processor AND the RAM (80$ at Crucial).

Down the road I would also upgrade the HDD to something better and/or add a SSD.
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Old Nov 20, 2012, 04:56 AM   #33
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I always spring for the higher CPU when the cost is negligible ($100-ish). When it's $250 or more, I have to think harder about it. The two 17" MBP's I've had were both the "standard" CPU config... the two 11" MBA's were both upgraded (including the 2012 I have on order), and my new Mini is the 2.6. I also added the 16GB RAM and I have an SSD sitting here to put in as soon as I get around to it.

I tend to run these things pretty hard as a developer. 16GB is great because I can have everything that I normally use open and STILL have a gig or two of RAM free (including running a Windows virtual sucking up 2-4 gig of its own). But it's nice to have a bit more CPU power when the virtual only gets one core.

It's also nice to have the extra power when I (occasionally) play a game that would appreciate it, like Call of Duty.

Like others have said... since you can't upgrade it later, spend the $100 and get the bigger CPU. Memory will keep getting cheaper, and even if it stays the same, you can pick that up "next month."

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Old Nov 20, 2012, 05:30 AM   #34
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Dear lord, 60 hours? Sounds like you need to get that project running on a PC. You can save some money and a lot of time by buying a $600 Dell with a 3.4GHz i7. It'd almost certainly be much quieter too.
That's an extreme scenario. See Test 5 in my first post in this thread.

We do some stuff at work that we execute on a super machine which takes a LOT less to do these tasks. Problem is I sometimes need to try the code out and certain problems only appear when calculating over trillions of iterations.

As we need to do work on our own and getting time in that super machine is a little tight we must try things out on our own computers first. So yes, sometimes I need to run my Mini for 60h+. But thankfully that's once every three months or so.
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Old Nov 20, 2012, 04:59 PM   #35
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Fot the minimal amount that Apple are charging for the upgrade, I think it would be silly not to. Even if you are to sell the machine in future, you will get your money back, and some.
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Old Nov 20, 2012, 11:55 PM   #36
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Fot the minimal amount that Apple are charging for the upgrade, I think it would be silly not to. Even if you are to sell the machine in future, you will get your money back, and some.
Strongly disagree. I've bought half a dozen used Apple products with various upgrades like this for the same price as I could buy the base models. I claim (correctly) that the upgrades don't matter to me and eventually the seller sells me the product because presumably he isn't getting any better offers.

You might have a legit reason to get the upgrade but I would never, ever think that I'd get the money back when reselling.
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Old Nov 21, 2012, 06:31 AM   #37
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Strongly disagree. I've bought half a dozen used Apple products with various upgrades like this for the same price as I could buy the base models. I claim (correctly) that the upgrades don't matter to me and eventually the seller sells me the product because presumably he isn't getting any better offers.

You might have a legit reason to get the upgrade but I would never, ever think that I'd get the money back when reselling.
Since I sell a lot of upgraded minis the best sellers are the cheapest ones with a harder upgrade.

ie a base 2011 with a second drive (ssd) is a good seller on ebay.

the 2011 mid model with the better cpu was the most difficult machine to sell on ebay of all the 2011 minis



at my price /
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Old Nov 21, 2012, 08:07 AM   #38
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Strongly disagree. I've bought half a dozen used Apple products with various upgrades like this for the same price as I could buy the base models. I claim (correctly) that the upgrades don't matter to me and eventually the seller sells me the product because presumably he isn't getting any better offers.

You might have a legit reason to get the upgrade but I would never, ever think that I'd get the money back when reselling.
I agree. I've never seen anyone get even half their money back towards the cost of the upgrade (processor) when reselling. Getting the upgraded processor because the extra power is really needed is one thing, but buying thinking resale value will increase is a reach.
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Old Nov 29, 2012, 07:07 PM   #39
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The upgrade is definitely worth the minimal price increase.

Compare the % improvement to the % increase in price:
2.6GHz/2.3GHz = 113%
$899/$799 = 112.5%
That's breaking even.

In addition, keep in mind that as the system ages and new software comes out that requires more from your machine, the extra CPU speed will extend the life of your machine somewhat.

Finally, as several people have pointed out you can always upgrade RAM/HD later, but once you buy the CPU you're stuck with it.

If you're springing for the i7, I'd definitely go for the 2.6GHz model.
The next upgrade I'd make would be to bump the RAM to 16GB, since it's so cheap right now.
Then when you feel SSDs have dropped to a low enough price I'd make that jump.

A note on SSDs; they'll give you the biggest immediate bump to performance, most noticeably when booting or launching programs. However, if your system gets bogged down due to CPU overload or insufficient RAM, an SSD won't help you.

I recently bought a Macbook Pro 15" (non retina). I paid the extra $100 for the same CPU bump, but didn't pay the extra $300 to go from 2.6GHz to 2.7GHz - a case of diminishing returns. I'd do it again in a minute.

Best of luck and enjoy your new Mini!
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Old Nov 29, 2012, 07:14 PM   #40
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The upgrade is definitely worth the minimal price increase.

Compare the % improvement to the % increase in price:
2.6GHz/2.3GHz = 113%
$899/$799 = 112.5%
That's breaking even.

...
Although typically people only use one core at a time, so it's better to compare the maximum turbo boost clock rates. In that case the improvement goes down to 3.6 / 3.3 = 9%.

And if we're going to talk typical use, it's probably relatively unusual to fully utilize even one core. Computers are typically waiting for the user to click on something or type something. So it will be relatively rare for that 9% increase in speed to make any difference at all.

So it really ultimately depends more on whether or not you stress your CPU vs. how much money you have to spend on a computer.
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Old Nov 30, 2012, 06:30 AM   #41
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Although typically people only use one core at a time, so it's better to compare the maximum turbo boost clock rates. In that case the improvement goes down to 3.6 / 3.3 = 9%.
That may be true for some people, I doubt it's typical though. I'll virtually always have a dozen browser tabs open; I'll be listening to iTunes; if I'm working I'll have at least two VMs running; I'll have a torrent client running in the background; I might be ripping a disc, compiling code, etc. Four cores and hyper-threading are far more valuable to me than turbo boost. In particular, if you do anything with VMs you'll be using all those cores.

In addition, a big trend in software development platforms is to make it easier to write software that takes advantage of multiple cores/CPUs (I should know, I work at a software company).

In any event, what's always true is that each generation of software requires more resources than the previous, so eventually whatever you get will be obsolete. Getting a faster CPU will help stave that off just a bit.
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Old Nov 30, 2012, 06:53 AM   #42
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I ordered the 2.6. I use VMware Fusion and run a Windows VM for working when I'm home and that takes a lot of CPU so every little bit helps. I ordered the Fusion drives too because VMware Fusion has to work sweet on a Fusion drive, right? Its like Fusion squared. I'm surprised they're not suing each other over the name...
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Old Nov 30, 2012, 01:16 PM   #43
motrek
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That may be true for some people, I doubt it's typical though. I'll virtually always have a dozen browser tabs open; I'll be listening to iTunes; if I'm working I'll have at least two VMs running; I'll have a torrent client running in the background; I might be ripping a disc, compiling code, etc. Four cores and hyper-threading are far more valuable to me than turbo boost. In particular, if you do anything with VMs you'll be using all those cores.

In addition, a big trend in software development platforms is to make it easier to write software that takes advantage of multiple cores/CPUs (I should know, I work at a software company).

In any event, what's always true is that each generation of software requires more resources than the previous, so eventually whatever you get will be obsolete. Getting a faster CPU will help stave that off just a bit.
Just because you have a bunch of stuff running doesn't mean you're making full use of even one core. Most of the stuff you list only takes a tiny fraction of one core's time--listening to music in iTunes, for example. That doesn't even take 5% of one core on my Mini. Ripping a DVD--that's just copying data from the USB port to the hard drive at a relatively slow rate. I'm not going to rip a DVD to check, but that can't take much CPU either. Running VMs doesn't matter unless you're actually *doing* something in the VMs.

Basically you have to check Activity Monitor to see how much CPU time you're actually using. I have a dozen programs open and at least a dozen web pages (including some with Flash) and according to Activity Monitor I'm using less than a third of one core, so I would expect that if I did anything CPU intensive then I would get almost the full benefit of single-core turbo boost.

----------

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...
In any event, what's always true is that each generation of software requires more resources than the previous, so eventually whatever you get will be obsolete. Getting a faster CPU will help stave that off just a bit.
Whoops, forgot the rest of your post.

As for software always requiring more resources--that's true most of the time but certainly not all the time. Snow Leopard ran faster and used less memory than Leopard, for example. I can think of half a dozen examples off the top of my head of newer versions of software using less resources, but I guess that's academic.

I don't think getting a CPU that's 10% faster is going to make your computer last longer before it becomes obsolete. It means that a 10 second operation will take an extra second. I doubt anybody will think that extra second is a deal-breaker... as in, "I would have been happy if this took 10 seconds but instead it took 11 and now I'm going to throw this piece of junk out the window..."
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 12:01 AM   #44
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Just because you have a bunch of stuff running doesn't mean you're making full use of even one core. Most of the stuff you list only takes a tiny fraction of one core's time--listening to music in iTunes, for example.
Speaking for myself, I've got a quad core i7 in my work PC, and I rarely have problems with that, unless I've got multiple instances of my dev environment open. At home however, if I use my Macbook Air (dual core i7) the way I'm used to using my work PC, even without any VMs running I'll start maxing out the CPU usage. I usually have Activity Monitor open in the dock so I can monitor it (because the system slows down enough that I felt I needed to check what the deal was), and much of the CPU usage is from OS X itself (or components thereof). Apple likes everything pretty and shiny and making everything pretty and shiny takes CPU.
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I don't think getting a CPU that's 10% faster is going to make your computer last longer before it becomes obsolete.
Not if you're not using it to its potential. However if you are, spending 10% more will save you 10% of your computing time, which over the life of the computer is significant. That is of course if you actually use it a lot; if you don't, or if you don't use it to its potential, then it's not going to make much difference. Then again, if you're not using it to its potential its useful lifespan will increase dramatically.
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 12:16 AM   #45
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There's another entirely different tack to this argument regarding silicon yields and the wafers considered "just" good enough to use for the lower chip levels (a concept introduced to me by a university friend of mine who went on to work for a semiconductor firm as an industrial engineer). Based on his anecdotes the difference in silicon quality alone is worth the price bump up to the mid-range CPU speeds, from a reliability and operational temperature standpoint. I don't have any firsthand experience on this though so I can't elaborate.
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 12:24 AM   #46
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There's another entirely different tack to this argument regarding silicon yields and the wafers considered "just" good enough to use for the lower chip levels (a concept introduced to me by a university friend of mine who went on to work for a semiconductor firm as an industrial engineer). Based on his anecdotes the difference in silicon quality alone is worth the price bump up to the mid-range CPU speeds, from a reliability and operational temperature standpoint. I don't have any firsthand experience on this though so I can't elaborate.
Interesting. But reliability probably isn't an issue if you upgrade each new mini release or if you take out AppleCare right?
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 12:57 PM   #47
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... At home however, if I use my Macbook Air (dual core i7) the way I'm used to using my work PC, even without any VMs running I'll start maxing out the CPU usage. I usually have Activity Monitor open in the dock so I can monitor it (because the system slows down enough that I felt I needed to check what the deal was), and much of the CPU usage is from OS X itself (or components thereof). Apple likes everything pretty and shiny and making everything pretty and shiny takes CPU.
...
Not if you're not using it to its potential. However if you are, spending 10% more will save you 10% of your computing time, which over the life of the computer is significant. That is of course if you actually use it a lot; if you don't, or if you don't use it to its potential, then it's not going to make much difference. Then again, if you're not using it to its potential its useful lifespan will increase dramatically.
Don't know what you're seeing with the CPU usage but I've been using Macs almost exclusively for the last 4 years and I've had no problem keeping CPU usage down to 1-5% when I'm not running my own CPU intensive software--and that's with a bunch of web pages open, iTunes, XCode, etc. Occasionally the indexer (mds) will use a bunch of CPU time but that doesn't happen. Care to elaborate on which OS X processes are consuming all your CPU power?

As for a 10% increase in CPU speed making you 10% more productive, that means you must be using your CPU at 100% all the time, which I doubt, but if you were, why even consider a Mac Mini at all? You can get a Mac Pro with 3 times the cores that will seemingly make you 3 times more productive. Surely that's a huge win in whatever business you're doing that's so CPU limited?
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 01:05 PM   #48
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I had the same dilemma when I bought my 2009 Mini. It came stock with a 2.0Ghz Core 2 Duo, and a 2.26Ghz Core 2 Duo was $100 more. In the end, I didn't really think it was worth the extra cost, and I've been fine with that decision.

Now on my 2011 Mac Mini, I did do the processor upgrade, but it went from an i5 to an i7. Much more worth it IMO.
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 01:08 PM   #49
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I had the same dilemma when I bought my 2009 Mini. It came stock with a 2.0Ghz Core 2 Duo, and a 2.26Ghz Core 2 Duo was $100 more. In the end, I didn't really think it was worth the extra cost, and I've been fine with that decision.

Now on my 2011 Mac Mini, I did do the processor upgrade, but it went from an i5 to an i7. Much more worth it IMO.
I agree the bump from i5 to i7 is well worth it. Just for the quad-core over dual core. But slight bump in speed might not be worth it for most people. I guess you can make same argument from dual core to quad core.
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 01:09 PM   #50
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There's another entirely different tack to this argument regarding silicon yields and the wafers considered "just" good enough to use for the lower chip levels (a concept introduced to me by a university friend of mine who went on to work for a semiconductor firm as an industrial engineer). Based on his anecdotes the difference in silicon quality alone is worth the price bump up to the mid-range CPU speeds, from a reliability and operational temperature standpoint. I don't have any firsthand experience on this though so I can't elaborate.
Sort of, but not quite. You make it sound like every chip that rolls off the manufacturing line is expected to work at ideal frequencies and voltages; not true. What happens is that every chip Intel makes is slightly different due to manufacturing tolerances and can work correctly at different frequencies and voltages. The chips are sorted, priced, and sold accordingly.

So based on Intel's current product line and prices, it seems like the majority of chips they get off the line work as 2.3GHz parts, and a much smaller percentage function at 2.6GHz at a voltage low enough to meet the specifications for the chip used in the Mini.

So instead of thinking of a 2.3GHz chip as somehow substandard or defective, you could think of the 2.6GHz chips as the ones that just barely work at the low specified voltage.

But in reality, Intel makes a great product and I would not worry for a second that an Intel CPU is somehow sub-par. When was the last time you heard of somebody's CPU breaking or being DOA? Other parts, yes... RAM, hard drives, etc... but CPUs? Haven't heard of it.
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