Buying a mini vs buying an iMac?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by gdourado, Dec 18, 2012.

  1. macrumors 6502


    Apr 22, 2010

    How are you?
    So today I was thinking about this...
    What are the plus points of buying a mini vs buying an iMac?

    From what I can see, the Mini is cheaper, but it does not include a monitor.
    If you add a thunderbolt display, the price of the mini and the thunderbolt display is more expensive than an iMac...

    So, what is the plus of the mini?

  2. macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
  3. macrumors newbie

    Sep 13, 2012
    A grate mac mini config is with apple bluetooth keyboard and mouse and a least fancy display making the price point of the mini very interesting.
  4. macrumors 601


    Sep 21, 2010
    Hard drive is more easily replaced. Can add a second hard drive.

    You can use a monitor you already have.

    You can buy any monitor you like instead of being stuck with built-in Apple monitor... for example you might prefer a matte screen, more ergo adjustments, cheaper, multiple inputs, larger, smaller, more expensive, TN panel, better, or worse monitor. Or maybe you just want a monitor with a power button.

    When the Mini becomes obsolete, the monitor isn't stuck to it. Just get a new Mini and keep using the monitor... for example, my monitor is on its 6th year and its 4th computer. And because it's a 1920x1200 24" widescreen Dell Ultrasharp, it isn't obsolete at all, even by today's standards.
  5. macrumors 6502


    May 11, 2012
    North East US

    I recently tried to go through the pluses and minuses here and got some good replies.

    Basically, my response would be: the Mini is cheaper and it doesn't have a monitor. Both on the plus side for me since the Apple screens don't work for my specific needs and wants.

    The other plus is that it is cheaper to get one with i7 processor while an i7 iMac is a lot more expensive (screen or not). The only advantages I see with the iMac is the better GPU for those who need that and more than one TB port. The Mini on the other hand still has a designated FW 800 port which can be important to some folks like musicians.

    Or to say it differently: neither is perfect and Apple makes you prioritize or rather pick you poison. It's the price for not having to deal with Windows8 I suppose.
  6. philipma1957, Dec 18, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2012

    macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    I am using my mini with a 46 inch led tv basically making all other points mute. to be less flip it is always what do you want to do with youR mac. if you want to use it with a large screen tv you want a mac mini. if you want all computer use OF imacs can be argued over the mini. if you do intensive gaming iMac set the screen for 1080p get the new 2012 with the top end gtx680mx gpu it will game well. no mac mini can touch this
  7. macrumors 6502a

    Jun 26, 2010
    The biggest plus of the mini is price.
    You can also upgrade it in ways that you can't an iMac.
    You also get the freedom of choosing your own monitor.
  8. macrumors 68000


    Feb 16, 2009
    You mean RAM and SSD? Many guys are taking apart their new '12 iMac to do that. RAM is easy on the 27, but SSD and RAM on the smaller iMac takes a bit more courage. But doable.
  9. macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    YOU can alter cooling ,
    you can use an endless variety of monitors and tvs. if you buy the 21 inch iMac without fusion you can not add an ssd and convert it to fusion.

    all 2012 mac minis can go to diy fusion
  10. propower, Dec 18, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2012

    macrumors 6502

    Jul 23, 2010
    With the iMac the computer guts are always 3 feet from your face :)

    If you make the fans spin - there they are

    With the mini you can stash it 10 feet away.

    The worst thing about the 2012 imac is there is NO reasonably priced all SSD option. I don't do spinning drives anymore. 256G internal for $250 would be a game changer for me on the 27" model. 768G for $1300 is just not realistic (to me) and it is the ONLY all SSD option!!
  11. macrumors 68000


    Jul 22, 2002
    I toyed with this choice for the last few months, but ended up ordering a 27" iMac with all the upgrades, but not the way too expensive SSD. I got the 1Tb Fusion Drive. I plan to keep it at least 4 years.

    As for the LCD issue, I've had a G5 Tower for the last 5 years, it's on it's 4th monitor. The first one stopped working, 2nd has a similar issue, 3rd developed lines on the screen. So getting a separate LCD doesn't mean it will outlast the Mac Mini but at least if a problem occurs it's a lot easier to replace.
  12. macrumors 601

    Mr. Retrofire

    Mar 2, 2010
    Easy upgrades (modern HDD & SSD), you can use your own display (matte, minimal light leaks (see and so on. And the i7-3720QM processor in the high end Mac mini is not much slower than the i7-3770 in the iMac:
  13. glasgood, Dec 19, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2012

    macrumors member

    Dec 18, 2012
    I purchased the Mac Mini 2012 because:

    1) Easily add your own aftermarket Solid State Disc. You then have a HDD and a SDD in your Mac Mini :) +
    Dual Hard Drive Upgrade kit

    2) Memory easily upgraded. +
    3) It has more than enough computing power for my needs, Web Dev and Programming with xCode. +
    4) HDMI +
    5) Choice of monitor. My personal choice is the Dell S2440L or the 23" Dell U2312HM IPS
    6) Easy to take to Apple Store in the event of a suspect hardware failure. +
    7) Bring your own Keyboard and Mouse.
    8) Quad Core option +
    9) Price +

    Reasons that prevented me from purchasing an iMac 2012

    1) 27 inch not within my budget. -
    2) 21.5 inch no longer has an option for an aftermarket Memory upgrade. --
    3) No option to add a 2nd HDD or SDD to the 21.5 iMac. -
    4) Very difficult to upgrade, requires heat gun just for starters. -
    5) To many eggs in one basket. -
    6) Price. -
  14. macrumors 6502a


    Dec 14, 2009
    Helsinki, Finland
    One potential plus-point of a mini is, that when you hide the CPU (e.g. under the table), you can
    - install BootCamp and Win7
    - get a run-of-the-mill PC monitor, keyboard and mouse
    => Pretend you're using Wintel hardware (no Apple logos to spoil the image).

    Seriously, I'm not saying the Apple monitors (thunderbolt or built-into iMacs) are bad, they're not, but they are still seriously overpriced. If you can make do with FullHD, there are loads of good quality monitors for your mini in the 300$ range.
    Considering how horrendously difficult Apple's made the updating of the new iMac, the mini might start gaining serious traction.

  15. macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    A better-than-thunderbolt display is just 550 bucks (Dell U2713HM). But even with TB display you can stay within the iMac price (remember that the Mini 2.3 quad is already faster than the entry iMac 27inch).

    And with the Mini, you can update your computer to every new mini the coming years for roughly 100-150$ per update. You will stay at front of tech. For the price of a basic 27 inch iMac, you have a faster mini with a better screen and money for 2 updates of your mini for the next 3 years!
    Big iMacs are usually bought for 3-4 years. The Mini has the least TCO of any mac.
  16. macrumors 65816

    Jul 26, 2011
    Aside from being very well built, offering a choice of over 50 monitors, anti-glare coating and excellent ergonomic adjustments, NEC displays come with up to a four year warranty that is included in the cost. (The NEC warranty would have covered the time period during which you purchased four displays.) I can say from personal experience that NEC customer service is top-notch.

    I think that you should consider spending more on your display. You really get what you pay for and it sounds like you haven't been paying enough to obtain a display from a reputable company that offers a decent warranty.
  17. macrumors 68000


    Jul 22, 2002
    I would have but I couldn't afford to, especially with the first plus I've been upgrading in size, started with a 19", then 21" now on a 24" BenQ. Also if I'd gone for a much better LCD I might as well have bought an Apple one.
  18. Mojo1, Dec 19, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2012

    macrumors 65816

    Jul 26, 2011
    Just curious: What is the total amount that you spent on the four displays? Were there any additional costs such as shipping for warranty service? How much is your time worth futzing around with defective hardware?

    And just because it's an Apple-branded display doesn't automatically mean that it is the best quality or a good value for the money...

    A smaller, higher-quality display would provide a better user experience and save you money in the long run. As you have discovered, size isn't everything...

    44 models starting at $89 with 3 or 4-year warranties. Online retailers such as Newegg routinely offer some models at a discount and NEC has online specials too. I snagged a soon to-be-discontinued high-end 24" display for $550 vs. its $899 MSRP from B&H Photo.
  19. macrumors 6502a

    Micky Do

    Aug 31, 2012
    Thailand, for now.
    The reason I got the Mini in the first place was that I wanted something transportable, not portable..... Being an ex-pat on an annual contract, and a motorcyclist, without a home to call my own, it fitted my lifestyle, and budget.

    Perchance I have been in the same place for the past nine years, and when it cam time to replace my original Mini, the other advantages of a modular set up became apparent. All I had to replace was the computer; I already had the keyboard, monitor and so on that served my needs.

    I will probably be moving on some time next year. It will be just the Mini and Apple keyboard that will be going into my backpack.
  20. macrumors 68000


    Feb 16, 2009
    So what do you use for a monitor?
  21. macrumors 6502a

    Micky Do

    Aug 31, 2012
    Thailand, for now.
    Beg, borrow, or buy another; same for speakers, and mouse...... obviously I would have thought.
  22. macrumors 68000


    Feb 16, 2009
    Nope Micky, not obvious.
  23. macrumors 68000

    Dec 8, 2009
    Sydney, Australia
    With the 2012 imacs and minis the main difference is the dedicated graphics card in the imacs vs the lower price of the minis. If you don't need dedicated graphics go the mini, you can upgrade easier and choose your own monitor, if you need dedicated graphics then you have to get the iMac.
  24. macrumors 6502a

    Micky Do

    Aug 31, 2012
    Thailand, for now.
    How easy is it to stuff a monitor, speakers and other paraphernalia into a back pack to carry on a motorcycle, or ship the same across an ocean?

    I suppose not obvious to some geek with a room full of computer stuff, though plainly obvious to a simple itinerant used to moving light.
  25. macrumors 68000

    tom vilsack

    Nov 20, 2010
    ladner cdn
    Besides being able to upgrade ram and of the reasons i would pick the mini is because i don't like the default height of the imac screen...i prefer to look slightly down at my monitor (way better on back).
    Another reason,i prefer a Matte vs Glossy screen.

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