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Old Feb 5, 2013, 08:29 PM   #1
jmine83
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Question Mac mini 2012 Dual-Core or Quad-Core?

I am planning to purchase a model 2012 Mac mini, but I am trying to decide if the low-end dual-core processor model will be sufficient, or if I would significantly benefit from getting the quad-core model.

Based on an earlier thread I posted, I am satisfied that the dual-core model will suffice if I'm essentially just using it as a private media server attached to my big screen TV for video watching.

I neglected, however, to consider that I do have a bunch of DVD discs that I would live to convert over to iTunes format video files to be stored on the hard-drive of the Mac mini. I would imagine that performing this sort of conversion is rather "resource intensive" on the part of the computer. Would the process of converting DVDs to video files be substantially "faster" with the quad-core Mac mini compared to the dual-core model? Are there other benefits to having the quad-core over the dual-core that I should be aware of?
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 08:39 PM   #2
The-Pro
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The quad core model will be a lot faster for converting the dvds, nearly twice as fast. However it up to you to decide if the extra costs for the quad core a worth it that you will have converted the dvds quicker.
How many dvd's do you have to convert? If its not too many in my opinion I'd save the cash and just convert them over a longer period of time. As after you are done converting you wont notice a difference between the dual and quad core.
There aren't any other benefits from getting the quad core model.
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 08:55 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmine83 View Post
I am planning to purchase a model 2012 Mac mini, but I am trying to decide if the low-end dual-core processor model will be sufficient, or if I would significantly benefit from getting the quad-core model.

Based on an earlier thread I posted, I am satisfied that the dual-core model will suffice if I'm essentially just using it as a private media server attached to my big screen TV for video watching.

I neglected, however, to consider that I do have a bunch of DVD discs that I would live to convert over to iTunes format video files to be stored on the hard-drive of the Mac mini. I would imagine that performing this sort of conversion is rather "resource intensive" on the part of the computer. Would the process of converting DVDs to video files be substantially "faster" with the quad-core Mac mini compared to the dual-core model? Are there other benefits to having the quad-core over the dual-core that I should be aware of?
6MB of Cache instead of 3MB (that's fairly substantial); you have significantly more in the way of Apple-supplied storage options (and can thusly opt for the Fusion drive, which will improve both system performance and capacity). Otherwise, that's it. Given this, I'd do the quad-core model if you can.
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 11:52 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yebubbleman View Post
6MB of Cache instead of 3MB (that's fairly substantial);
This is the shared cache, the so called “Smart Cache”, which means 1.5 MByte/Processorcore for a QuadCore-system or 1.5 MByte/Processorcore for a DualCore-system. So the cache on a QuadCore-system is not better than the cache on the DualCore-system. Especially processor-intensive, multithreaded applications (like Adobe apps or HandBrake) do not run faster, if you increase the L2 and/or L3 caches. Another reason is, that many applications are already optimized for a certain CPU, so that the code runs faster than the RAM and L2/L3 caches can deliver the necessary data.
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Old Feb 6, 2013, 12:05 AM   #5
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Especially processor-intensive, multithreaded applications (like Adobe apps or HandBrake) do not run faster, if you increase the L2 and/or L3 caches. .
So Handbrake won't run faster on a 2.3 quad-core i7 than on a 2.5 dual-core i5? If this is the case, I've just been talked into a "lesser" mac for my next purchase!
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Old Feb 6, 2013, 12:10 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by ToomeyND View Post
So Handbrake won't run faster on a 2.3 quad-core i7 than on a 2.5 dual-core i5? If this is the case, I've just been talked into a "lesser" mac for my next purchase!
No, that is wrong. It runs faster on the QuadCore, because HandBrake and other multithreaded applications can use the two additional cores. The 6 MB shared L2/L3 cache, the so called “Smart Cache” (see post above) in the QuadCore does not increase the speed of the QuadCore processor, if you use multithreaded apps, so that Yebubblemans comment that:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yebubbleman View Post
6MB of Cache instead of 3MB (that's fairly substantial);
is wrong. Let us call the increased L2/L3 cache “necessary” instead of “substantial”.
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Last edited by Mr. Retrofire; Feb 6, 2013 at 12:16 AM.
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Old Feb 6, 2013, 12:17 AM   #7
ToomeyND
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Thanks for the clarification.
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Old Feb 6, 2013, 09:22 AM   #8
pil0tflame
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Retrofire View Post
This is the shared cache, the so called “Smart Cache”, which means 1.5 MByte/Processorcore for a QuadCore-system or 1.5 MByte/Processorcore for a DualCore-system. So the cache on a QuadCore-system is not better than the cache on the DualCore-system. Especially processor-intensive, multithreaded applications (like Adobe apps or HandBrake) do not run faster, if you increase the L2 and/or L3 caches. Another reason is, that many applications are already optimized for a certain CPU, so that the code runs faster than the RAM and L2/L3 caches can deliver the necessary data.
In single-thread applications/tasks that can only use a single core, the 6 MB of L3 cache can make a difference vs 3 MB. Since the L3 cache is shared (not split), each core isn't limited to 1.5 MB of cache when more is available and desired.

In other words, in a multi-threaded task such as transcoding video where all cores are (more or less) equally sharing a load, it's reasonable to assume that the L3 cache will also be shared equally (1.5MB/core) between cores. In a single threaded task where TurboBoost is also boosting a single core faster, that core is also likely to use more of the shared 6 MB of L3 cache if beneficial.

That said, if OP is doing any CPU intensive tasks and can afford the extra $200, I think the bump from dual to quad core is very worthwhile.

EDIT: I've removed the text below, which Mojo1 rightfully points out as incorrect:
"Also, bumping from the i5 to i7 gains Hyperthreading, actually presenting 8 logical cores to the system vs 2 in the i5. Hyperthreading itself doesn't often provide much of a performance bump, but in this case it's another minor bonus in moving to the quad-core i7."

Last edited by pil0tflame; Feb 6, 2013 at 12:30 PM. Reason: Highlighting technical error
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Old Feb 6, 2013, 10:55 AM   #9
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By low-end dual core, I'm assuming you mean the i5 non-BTO config that you can get at any retail Apple store? If so, there will be a significant performance boost by going with the quad-core i7 non-BTO choice.

Geekbench 64bit
Mac mini (Late 2012)
Intel Core i5-3210M 2500 MHz (2 cores)
6626

Mac mini (Late 2012)
Intel Core i7-3615QM 2300 MHz (4 cores)
10739
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Old Feb 6, 2013, 11:28 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by pil0tflame View Post
Also, bumping from the i5 to i7 gains Hyperthreading, actually presenting 8 logical cores to the system vs 2 in the i5. Hyperthreading itself doesn't often provide much of a performance bump, but in this case it's another minor bonus in moving to the quad-core i7.
The i5 CPU also has hyperthreading that allows for four virtual cores.
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Old Feb 6, 2013, 12:33 PM   #11
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The i5 CPU also has hyperthreading that allows for four virtual cores.
Thanks for the correction! I didn't realized that Intel enabled hyperthreading on the Ivy Bridge i5 line. In the Sandy Bridge line (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_B...dge_processors), the feature was disabled on nearly all the i5's.
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Old Feb 6, 2013, 01:37 PM   #12
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if you want faster transcodes go with the quad core, there's no doubt about it, it will be a lot faster

otherwise the dual core is totally sufficient for your needs
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Old Feb 6, 2013, 05:31 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by pil0tflame View Post
Thanks for the correction! I didn't realized that Intel enabled hyperthreading on the Ivy Bridge i5 line. In the Sandy Bridge line (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_B...dge_processors), the feature was disabled on nearly all the i5's.
Hyperthreading was always enabled on the mobile i5's, since the first generation. Its not since Ivy bridge. On the Desktop cpus, the i5 did not have hyperthreading though, which made the main difference between the i5 and i7's in desktops.
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Old Feb 6, 2013, 06:20 PM   #14
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I don't know whether a quad core processor will encode video much faster than a dual core processor.

If you're importing DVDs, the Mac mini doesn't have an optical drive, so presumably you'll be ripping them on another machine (unless you also have an external optical drive you can use). The question then is will it be be faster to also encode them on that machine, and then transfer the smaller files to your mini, or transfer the larger files first and then do the encoding on the mini?
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Old Feb 6, 2013, 08:18 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by warvanov View Post
I don't know whether a quad core processor will encode video much faster than a dual core processor.

If you're importing DVDs, the Mac mini doesn't have an optical drive, so presumably you'll be ripping them on another machine (unless you also have an external optical drive you can use). The question then is will it be be faster to also encode them on that machine, and then transfer the smaller files to your mini, or transfer the larger files first and then do the encoding on the mini?
Most use an external disc drive to rip Blu-rays anyway due to lack of a Blu-ray player on any Mac. I use the internal drive on my MBP for DVDs (convenience) and an external Samsung Blu-ray drive for my Blu-rays. And the quad will smoke the dual using Handbrake as has been beat to death in this thread.
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Old Feb 6, 2013, 08:51 PM   #16
Mr. Retrofire
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Originally Posted by Mojo1 View Post
The i5 CPU also has hyperthreading that allows for four virtual cores.
Hyper-threading (HT) is thread-management in hardware (OS X supports thread-management in hardware AND software). HT does not increase the available computing power.
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