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View Poll Results: iMac vs. Mac Mini
Maxed-Out iMac 15 34.88%
Maxed-Out Mac Mini 28 65.12%
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 07:03 PM   #26
53x12
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Originally Posted by dukee101 View Post
A very simple reason: can't custom-order BTO options through those retailers. How else would I get my 2.6 GHz Core i7 CPU upgrade?
Here you go: http://www.macmall.com/n/macNavLinks-317?q=9418780

And here: http://m.bhphotovideo.com/mobile/detail;MSESSIONID=W1yDQ18byy!-99611931?R=897806_REG&title=W1yDQ18byy!-99611931?output=Mac+mini+Desktop+Computer

Two options right there.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 11:45 PM   #27
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Two options right there.
My God, you're right! Mac's can still be customized through third-party retailers!

While I want to thank you, 53x12, unfortunately, MacMall is still charging me sales tax!! I already have a $50 gift card at the Apple Store so it's okay, we'll let this one go like that. Not sure if B&H would've been tax-free either but at this point, I just want my Mac mini by this Friday so I've let that order stay.

Good to know though.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 11:56 PM   #28
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My God, you're right! Mac's can still be customized through third-party retailers!

While I want to thank you, 53x12, unfortunately, MacMall is still charging me sales tax!! I already have a $50 gift card at the Apple Store so it's okay, we'll let this one go like that. Not sure if B&H would've been tax-free either but at this point, I just want my Mac mini by this Friday so I've let that order stay.

Good to know though.

No worries. Happy to help. B&H only chafes sales tax to NY. They ship very fast. I understand the gift card but you could always save that for some accessory. But I hear you. Just thought I would point this out. You will love your i7 Mini. I sure love mine.
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Old Jan 16, 2013, 03:15 AM   #29
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[*]aggressive document work
What does that even mean?

Just buy whatever YOU think is cooler, either machine will work fine.
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Old Jan 16, 2013, 03:56 AM   #30
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What does that even mean?
I know that might seem vague but let me clarify. A lot of people say they can "get serious work done" on their iPads. I can't agree with these people, because when I'm working, I often have two documents open side-by-side, constantly comparing and copy/pasting data. I'll usually do split-screen with a browser loaded with 10 tabs on one side and a document on the other, constantly flipping to the desktop to move files around, rearrange things there. There's multiple desktops, etc. That's what I mean by "aggressive document work." It's in contrast to somebody who opens up a simple Word window and just works in it. You could get that job done an iPad as well, but that wouldn't cut it for me.

I have a 2011 Mac Mini in the house doing some other duties and the Intel HD 3000 does tend to lag when you give it this kind of workload. I trust that the 4000s are a cut above that and no longer suffer those issues. After all, Apple wouldn't include them as the ONLY graphics option if they weren't up for the job.
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Old Jan 16, 2013, 04:08 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by dukee101 View Post
My God, you're right! Mac's can still be customized through third-party retailers!

While I want to thank you, 53x12, unfortunately, MacMall is still charging me sales tax!! I already have a $50 gift card at the Apple Store so it's okay, we'll let this one go like that. Not sure if B&H would've been tax-free either but at this point, I just want my Mac mini by this Friday so I've let that order stay.

Good to know though.
Do you understand how sales tax works? If they have a physical presence in your state, they charge it. Some of them will mention they collect tax in the following states or whatever. It has nothing to do with their being online retailers. If they have an office, warehouse, or any building in your state, they collect sales tax there. Otherwise they wouldn't be registered to collect it.

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Originally Posted by dukee101 View Post

I have a 2011 Mac Mini in the house doing some other duties and the Intel HD 3000 does tend to lag when you give it this kind of workload. I trust that the 4000s are a cut above that and no longer suffer those issues. After all, Apple wouldn't include them as the ONLY graphics option if they weren't up for the job.
That just sounds like a bug. Refreshing a desktop and a bunch of windows is trivial for any modern gpu in terms of computational expense.
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Old Jan 16, 2013, 07:46 AM   #32
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Looking for a powerful desktop Mac. Already have a Thunderbolt Display (TBD) but will gladly sell it and use the money toward the 2012 iMac (and its gorgeous display).

Mac Mini (Late 2012)
2.6 GHz Intel Core i7 Quad-Core
16 GB RAM
1 TB Fusion Drive (optional: 512 GB SSD x 2 RAID 0 setup)
Intel HD Graphics 4000
Apple 27" Thunderbolt Display (already purchased/not part of final price below)
~12,800 GeekBench Score
---
$1,300 (with education discount + 3rd party RAM upgrade)

--vs--

iMac 27" (Late 2012)
3.4 GHz Intel Core i7 Quad-Core
16 GB
1 TB Fusion Drive
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX 2 GB
27" LED / IPS Display
~14,000 GeekBench Score
---
$2,700 (with education discount + 3rd party RAM upgrade)

There's a $1,400 difference between these two machines but that's not a fair comparison. If I buy the iMac, I'll sell my TBD for ~$800, making the difference really closer to $600.

The question then becomes: is the powerful desktop CPU, bleeding-edge GPU, and beautiful new LED display worth an extra $600 over the fully-loaded Mac Mini?

You might also be asking: Why such a stark comparison? Why not get a cheaper iMac? Well, to me, it's only worth comparing apples-to-apples (no pun intended). Why get the i5 iMac that scores a weaker GeekBench than the little i7 Mac Mini? If I could have an i7 at $1,300, I should have one at $2,000... but Apple doesn't offer that. And I've got to get a 27" because that's what I'm used to with my current TBD plus I find the lack of RAM upgradability on the 21.5" preposterous.

Another important thing to note is that very soon, FirmTek will be offering a uniquely fast USB 3 external drive enclosure that's actually faster than Thunderbolt! This makes the internal drive upgradeability of both machines moot. I can just add whatever SSD I want and enjoy its top speed by simply plugging in a USB device.

I don't do any heavy work at all, nor do I ever expect to:
  • no photo/video editing
  • no gaming
  • no hardcore data-crunching

But I do push my system around:
  • large media libraries I like to browse very quickly (300 GB of personal photos and videos and 500 GB of music)
  • aggressive document work
  • typically have 40-60 browser tabs open
  • 10-15 documents and spreadsheets open
  • 10-12 Mission Control desktops
  • tons of Finder windows
  • at least 15 little applets running in the background (Menu Bar apps, etc.)
  • often only have 5-6 GB free of 16 GB RAM

What does the community think I need?

Footnote: If you were buying the Mac Mini setup from zero, as in you had to include the price of a new TBD (~$960) and keyboard+mouse (~$140), then you'd be at $2,400 for the Mac Mini, which is just $300 less than the iMac. Now for $300 it seems like a no-brainer to just get the iMac, right?
I did similar math. I haven't bought it yet but I decided to go with the Mac Mini. The iMac form factor and its screen are actually a negative for me and I'm ok with giving up the better GPU for that. Not that I need it anyway. My main applications are photo editing and home studio/audio processing. So I would benefit from a a really really good screen with a wide color gamut and the firewire connection that the iMac just lost (I know there are TB adapters but why bother).

But financially it probably comes out to be a wash in the end and both solutions have advantages and disadvantages depending on preferences and needs. I also like that the Mini is easier to open and that I can relatively easily install the drives that I want (and Apple doesn't offer).

So even with your last paragraph I would prefer the Mini - in fact I'd be willing to pay MORE for an optimized Mini than for a comparable iMac - but don't tell Apple that. The i7 Mini strikes me as almost an entry level rock-bottom poor man's Mac Pro if you will - while the iMac is now more than ever really just another pretty consumer product that can't be upgraded without lots of pain or cost. And I really don't care one bit how thin and stylish they make it while leaving out things that in the audio world is still necessary - and while continuing to provide a shiny basic screen with no option for a wide color gamut.

----------

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Originally Posted by dukee101 View Post
I know that might seem vague but let me clarify. A lot of people say they can "get serious work done" on their iPads. I can't agree with these people, because when I'm working, I often have two documents open side-by-side, constantly comparing and copy/pasting data. I'll usually do split-screen with a browser loaded with 10 tabs on one side and a document on the other, constantly flipping to the desktop to move files around, rearrange things there. There's multiple desktops, etc. That's what I mean by "aggressive document work." It's in contrast to somebody who opens up a simple Word window and just works in it. You could get that job done an iPad as well, but that wouldn't cut it for me.

I have a 2011 Mac Mini in the house doing some other duties and the Intel HD 3000 does tend to lag when you give it this kind of workload. I trust that the 4000s are a cut above that and no longer suffer those issues. After all, Apple wouldn't include them as the ONLY graphics option if they weren't up for the job.

Interesting. I have the same kind of work style for my work-work. I'm on ancient PCs for that don't have any issues with lag. Are you sure that the Intel 3000 in an issue for that? And that the 4000 is much different? Not that I'd be using my new yet to buy Mini for any of that since it would be my creative work computer but still.

The other thing though to remember is that even with the OP's math there may still be room for an external enclosure plus GPU. Just as a thought.
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Old Jan 16, 2013, 01:13 PM   #33
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Do you understand how sales tax works?
Yes, I knew all that. When I said I was unsure about B&H charging tax, I meant "I'm not sure if they have a physical presence in my state nor do I care to check right now because..."

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That just sounds like a bug. Refreshing a desktop and a bunch of windows is trivial for any modern gpu in terms of computational expense.
That's not a bug. That's the crappy GPU performance of those base 2011 Mac mini's pushing 2560 x 1440 pixels with all the app switching invoking CoreAnimation/Quartz to no end.
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Old Jan 16, 2013, 01:35 PM   #34
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I also like that the Mini is easier to open and that I can relatively easily install the drives that I want (and Apple doesn't offer).
Absolutely, and if you read my "I decided to buy a mini" reply, you'd see that this was a big factor for me as well. The iMac makes it virtually impossible to upgrade the storage easily. The Mac mini's got a fairly straightforward route to doing a replacement, a little more complicated for a dual-drive. But personally, as long as I have one big SSD in there, I don't really have a need for a 2nd drive since USB3/TB external drives can give me extra storage whenever I want it without having the dreaded plug/unplug annoyances of laptops.

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Originally Posted by 7enderbender View Post
So even with your last paragraph I would prefer the Mini - in fact I'd be willing to pay MORE for an optimized Mini than for a comparable iMac - but don't tell Apple that. The i7 Mini strikes me as almost an entry level rock-bottom poor man's Mac Pro if you will - while the iMac is now more than ever really just another pretty consumer product that can't be upgraded without lots of pain or cost.
I feel you on this too brotha! It drives me nuts to see Apple include full-fledged 3.4 GHz i7s on the iMacs but not on the minis, and that goes for GPUs too. C'mon Apple! It's a desktop for crying out loud, give it some heft! And ditto for the iMacs: why isn't there a 2.6 GHz i7 iMac that's more affordable? These things piss me off but what can you do? As someone who used to love building custom high-performance PCs for himself, these are the cons of the Apple world, but on the upside, you get seamless integration and beautiful designs (and an unparalleled software experience).

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Originally Posted by 7enderbender View Post
Are you sure that the Intel 3000 in an issue for that? And that the 4000 is much different? Not that I'd be using my new yet to buy Mini for any of that since it would be my creative work computer but still.
Yes, see my post above this one. The 3000 was an issue for the 27" LED Cinema Display it was connected to and all the graphic rendering it was doing just in terms of switching desktops and apps. I have a 2012 MacBook Air with a 4000 connected to a TBD right now and while it lags here and there, it's MUCH smoother. The 4000s were a real step-up and that's why I think Apple felt confident enough to keep them as the only GPU option on the minis.

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Originally Posted by 7enderbender View Post
The other thing though to remember is that even with the OP's math there may still be room for an external enclosure plus GPU. Just as a thought.
That's true, but that option is still purely speculative right now (at least for an officially-built solution). Everything else is more of a hack.
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Old Jan 16, 2013, 08:10 PM   #35
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Absolutely, and if you read my "I decided to buy a mini" reply, you'd see that this was a big factor for me as well. The iMac makes it virtually impossible to upgrade the storage easily. The Mac mini's got a fairly straightforward route to doing a replacement, a little more complicated for a dual-drive. But personally, as long as I have one big SSD in there, I don't really have a need for a 2nd drive since USB3/TB external drives can give me extra storage whenever I want it without having the dreaded plug/unplug annoyances of laptops.



I feel you on this too brotha! It drives me nuts to see Apple include full-fledged 3.4 GHz i7s on the iMacs but not on the minis, and that goes for GPUs too. C'mon Apple! It's a desktop for crying out loud, give it some heft! And ditto for the iMacs: why isn't there a 2.6 GHz i7 iMac that's more affordable? These things piss me off but what can you do? As someone who used to love building custom high-performance PCs for himself, these are the cons of the Apple world, but on the upside, you get seamless integration and beautiful designs (and an unparalleled software experience).



Yes, see my post above this one. The 3000 was an issue for the 27" LED Cinema Display it was connected to and all the graphic rendering it was doing just in terms of switching desktops and apps. I have a 2012 MacBook Air with a 4000 connected to a TBD right now and while it lags here and there, it's MUCH smoother. The 4000s were a real step-up and that's why I think Apple felt confident enough to keep them as the only GPU option on the minis.



That's true, but that option is still purely speculative right now (at least for an officially-built solution). Everything else is more of a hack.
I'm driving a 27" Apple LED display on my Macbook Air with the intel 3000 gpu. It's smooth and fine for me. And I am constantly switching between desktops, mission control, dashboard etc. None of that lag you talk about.

Usually running about 30 tabs open, streaming music and have a bunch of pdfs and word docs open.

The only thing is the fan revs up to 6000 rpm on heavy loads. But again, no lag or choppiness. The intel 3000 gpu handles it all very well.

Maybe you are lacking ram?
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Old Jan 17, 2013, 12:10 AM   #36
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The intel 3000 gpu handles it all very well.

Maybe you are lacking ram?
Hm, that's strange. The 2011 Mac Mini has 16 GB of RAM. Truly strange. Might be the ridiculously slow 500 GB 5400 RPM hard drive?
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Old Jan 17, 2013, 02:11 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by dukee101 View Post
I know that might seem vague but let me clarify. A lot of people say they can "get serious work done" on their iPads. I can't agree with these people, because when I'm working, I often have two documents open side-by-side, constantly comparing and copy/pasting data. I'll usually do split-screen with a browser loaded with 10 tabs on one side and a document on the other, constantly flipping to the desktop to move files around, rearrange things there. There's multiple desktops, etc. That's what I mean by "aggressive document work." It's in contrast to somebody who opens up a simple Word window and just works in it. You could get that job done an iPad as well, but that wouldn't cut it for me.

I have a 2011 Mac Mini in the house doing some other duties and the Intel HD 3000 does tend to lag when you give it this kind of workload. I trust that the 4000s are a cut above that and no longer suffer those issues. After all, Apple wouldn't include them as the ONLY graphics option if they weren't up for the job.
That puts it in context. I have a 2011 myself, but I went for the discrete GPU and it's not too bad, but I was hoping for something more potent in the 2012, so I guess I'll hold out for 2013. Slap 16Gigs and an extra SSD in these things and they're handy, I view them as science projects.

I did just get a brand new 2010 because I need a Snow Leopard Machine for some old software I'll need to run for the forseeable future (it doesn't need to be powerful, just has to run Rosetta). I was surprised to find one, but it's legit, even has a disc drive like the good old days.
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Old Jan 17, 2013, 05:06 AM   #38
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I was hoping for something more potent in the 2012, so I guess I'll hold out for 2013.
I hate to say it, but I doubt we'll see discrete GPUs return to the Mac mini line. Intel's upcoming Haswell micr-architecture contains a significantly upgraded on-die graphics component that will make it a lot easier for Apple to decide on keeping the integrated GPU as the only option.

Early project leaks have stated an expected doubling of performance of the integrated GPU (Haswell's GT3 vs. Ivy Bridge's HD 4000). Indeed, a recent AnandTech article shows that the GT3 and Nvidia's GeForce GT 650M offer comparable performance. That's crazy!

Haswell chips should be coming out in June, with Apple computers sporting them some time after. That means Haswell Mac minis in late summer / early fall 2013, but don't hold your breath for discrete GPUs. As I've just been making a case for, you probably wouldn't be missing out on too much without one anyway!
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Old Jan 17, 2013, 06:41 PM   #39
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I hate to say it, but I doubt we'll see discrete GPUs return to the Mac mini line. Intel's upcoming Haswell micr-architecture contains a significantly upgraded on-die graphics component that will make it a lot easier for Apple to decide on keeping the integrated GPU as the only option.

Early project leaks have stated an expected doubling of performance of the integrated GPU (Haswell's GT3 vs. Ivy Bridge's HD 4000). Indeed, a recent AnandTech article shows that the GT3 and Nvidia's GeForce GT 650M offer comparable performance. That's crazy!

Haswell chips should be coming out in June, with Apple computers sporting them some time after. That means Haswell Mac minis in late summer / early fall 2013, but don't hold your breath for discrete GPUs. As I've just been making a case for, you probably wouldn't be missing out on too much without one anyway!
Apple always seems to be about not giving you a choice, unless it's paying way too much for RAM or a Wacky Hard Drive.

I'd heard the Haswell's would be good, but I've never seen a motherboard solution that was any good at running things beyond spreadsheets, so I'll be skeptical till it ships. Why they think I care about the thing being a half inch smaller here and there, when it could have 3.5 HDs, decent graphics and an optical drive, I'll never know. Fortunately with SSD's getting cheaper the drives don't matter as much anymore. They may be running out of ways to pump the heat out of these little things, anyway.

Apple seems committed to never offering a solution in the middle. But I'm okay with that. If they bring out a new MacPro, I'll get one, and if they don't, I'll jump ship. HP or someone else will take my money if Apple doesn't want it. I make a living with Apps, not operating systems.

The Minis are just my little emergency and paperwork minions, in case I get stuck in a Gulag with very low wattage. I Velcroed my 2011 to the back of My Wacom Cintiq, so can knockout a little illustration on the road, and I find it handy.

Can't wait to set up my new 2010, Booting a fresh, new Snow Leopard machine is like a nice slap in the face to Apple. They won't care, they're all too busy trying to cash in their stock options.
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Old Jan 17, 2013, 11:12 PM   #40
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I Velcroed my 2011 to the back of My Wacom Cintiq, so can knockout a little illustration on the road, and I find it handy.
Hah! That's really clever! It's like a battery-less touchscreen laptop.
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Old Jan 18, 2013, 03:41 AM   #41
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Hah! That's really clever! It's like a battery-less touchscreen laptop.
It's the 20" Wide Touchscreen Laptop I always wanted, but lightweight it's not.
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Old Sep 23, 2013, 03:36 PM   #42
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[QUOTE=dukee101;16665046]I've decided to buy the top-spec 2.6 Ghz i7 Mac Mini with stock components everywhere else (4 GB RAM / 1 TB HDD). I paid Apple ~$1,000 for it, pretty good for a machine that eats 2008-2009 Mac Pros for lunch. Hah that feels cool to say![QUOTE]


I'm not too sure about that. I have a 2009 mac pro 8 core (16 threads). 24 gb ram, ATI Radeon HD 5870 with 1 gb, nvidia gt120, 1 solid state drive, 3 regular 7200 rpm drives (ranging from 500gb-2 tb each), PCI-E ESATA card, LG blue ray drive and I still have room for expansion. Pretty sure my mac pro is faster (and more future proof) than your mac mini. I paid 1500 cash, with thousands of dollars worth of software installed. I bought it from a studio that makes professional music videos...If you look hard enough you can find deals like this, if not better.
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