iMac or Mac mini 2012?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by donkey1337, Nov 29, 2012.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2012
    Hello, I am sure this has been asked 100 times by now and this may not even be the right place to post this if it isn't forgive me, I am new. I have been a PC user all my life and have decided to make the mac jump this month. I do a lot of programming and web development and I am curious as to which route to take. So far what I have heard is that the quad core i7 in the mac mini with fusion drive will perform better than a 21.5 i5 iMac also with fusion drive.

    I plan to later add 16GB RAM to the mac mini if I choose to go the route and I know that RAM will not be able to be added later. This has been weighing in my decision quite a bit is the lack of ability to update RAM in the iMac.

    So does anyone know that if this model mac mini will perform better than the iMac with fusion drive?? I heard that the i5 in the iMac isn't actually a desktop CPU it's a mobile one similar to the mac mini. Is this true??

    Will I just have to wait for reviews to find out??

    Any input will be nice, let me know which would be the more powerful and overall better experience for a first time mac user.
  2. macrumors newbie

    Nov 20, 2012
    Sydney, Australia
    The Mac Mini will probably out perform the bottom end iMac, but doesn't have the screen (sort of a selling point for the iMac is that it's an all in one). If you're tossing up between a baseline iMac and a top model Mac Mini, I'd go with the Mac Mini. Apple displays are fantastic though, so I think it would cost more to get a Mac Mini with a Thunderbolt Display than to just get an iMac 27" (and all the benefits that brings). If you do go for the Mac Mini, you'll have to supply your own monitor (don't forget to get the necessary adapter — so many people forget this!)

    The 27" iMac can have a DIY RAM upgrade, up to 32 GB, which would be cheaper than get a maxed out BTO iMac.

    The Mac Mini uses mobile processors, the iMac uses desktop processors.

    I would say that an iMac would be the best introduction, as it's an all in one, and everything comes with it. The Mac Mini doesn't come with keyboard/mouse or display, so you're going to have to factor that in.

    The iMac is certainly better value in my opinion. People criticise Apple regularly, but their displays are second to none in my opinion.
  3. macrumors regular

    Mar 16, 2005

    well if you can wait for the reviews, which should probably be online next week, then that will help your decision making. I was going to wait for the Late 2012 iMac, but it became too late so I bought the 2012 mini - just the dual-core i5. This behaves extremely well, I've added a single 8GB ram so I now have 2+8 = 10GB. I'll stick another 8GB in early 2013 as I noticed a few percent decrease in geekbench scores with losing the dual channel memory access.

    personally, owning both Qi7 laptops and dua-i5 systems, the mini with the Qi7 and Fusion would be much better than the 21.5" iMac. The CPU is actually almost irrelevant, your biggest gain is the flexibility of the mini. Stick a nice Dell e-IPS 24" displayPort monitor or better on the mini and you're away.

    you will eventually have a bunch of cables hidden behind the display connecting to the mini - the iMac purely wins if your computer will be on public display, and needs a single power-cable connected to look 'cool' and minimalistic. if your office/home is a stark white designer loft with zero possessions on display anywhere, then the new thin iMac wins over the mini.
  4. macrumors member

    Sep 28, 2012
    The fact that so many people have asked this question is a testiment to how far the mini has come and how much the imac (21 inch atleast) has gone backwards. You will hear countless people here say by the time you bought a thunderbolt display it will be as much as an imac. Thats just rubbish. You don't have to buy the thunderbolt display and ts not the best display out there. Ask any gamer worth his salt. Plus the glare on it is horrible. Apple don't actually make their own screens they use a 3rd party soo. You can get a bigger 24 or 27 inch 3rd party monitor with the same high end resolution same anti glare etc for way way less.

    What no one else will mention is that you will still have a monitor you can re use in 2-3 years. And you can keep upgrading the mini or simply sell your old one and buy new for not much difference. With an imac if the motherboard or something in the display goes after 3 years your left with a useless screen and a useless computer.

    Coming from PC you prob have a screen and peripherals. You could use what you have and invest in a 2013 anti glare thunderbolt if you wanted. PS if you did want the thunderbolt again you would re use it when you upgraded your 2012 mini in a few years time.
  5. macrumors 6502

    May 1, 2012
    Seattle, WA
    I currently have a 2009 mini and will be getting the 27" iMac. When I am writing code, I have several windows open at one time. So, for me, screen space is a big deal. The characters on the screen also need to be really crisp. I've not found a monitor that compares to Apple's 27". My husband writes code for Amazon and he uses 2 27" monitors. Because I also like to do some light gaming, the lack of a dedicated GPU in the mini was a factor for me - enough to push me towards a new iMac.
  6. macrumors regular

    May 26, 2011
    Name one Display that is 27" and compares to the Apple Cinema or Thunderbolt Display...and is "way way less" than the ATD...

    don't think you'll find one. There is the 27" Dell, but that one costs about as much as the Apple Display and doesn't have speakers or an HD webcam..
  7. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2012
    Yeah I have decided that I will wait into the weekend to see a couple reviews but I do not think that I will be able to wait much longer than that. I too write a lot of code so I was planning on getting two ASUS 24 inch led monitors.

    I also don't do any gaming so I don't think the integrated GPU will limit anything I do but it was one of the minor downfalls regardless.

    I am leaning towards two 24's as opposed to one 27 inch.

    I am thinking a fusion drive is a must on either one but the lack of being able to upgrade RAM at a later date is a real bummer when it comes to the new iMac.

    You are all very right about the ability of the mini to hold it's resale value.
  8. macrumors member

    Sep 28, 2012
    Gladly Sir,

    If you really look into the specs colour gamut, refresh rate etc etc. Don't come back at me saying it's not pretty or aluminium. Because I know you didn't bother to read or research. Im talking specs I couldn't give a rats ass if a 3rd party monitor doesn't look as cool in a trendy NY loft apartment. Don't you ever wonder why hardcore gamers don't go for Thunderbolt displays?????

    Asus PB278Q

    Samsung S27B970 - Glossy but still cheaper than thunders*t by a over a few hundred.

    Dell U2711,Dell Ultrasharp U2713HM

    Samsung SyncMaster S27A650D

    To name but a few. Viewsonic, NEC have some nice ones also.

    Ok none of them have a webcam but ive rarely used mine on my imac and you can buy one for like 30 dollars boo hooo. Speakers, well I have 100 w per channel monitors and a sub as a big as your head. Don't need crappy thunderbolt / imac speakers with ZERO bass response. Try playing some sub at 30 hz see if you can get the thunderbolt to produce a sound lol.

    All apart from one of the monitors listed above have no glare issues. And most have speakers and Usb 3 and all that other crap thats not more important than the actual SCREEN.

    BTW the dell one costs just about 500 uk. So about half as much as the thunderbolt. Just to let you know.
  9. macrumors regular

    Apr 19, 2010
    I like the mini but I don't think it offers much in the way of value. If I had to guess I would think the mini offers Apple some of their highest margins.

    Performance between the top of the line Mini and entry level iMac is comparable.

    The iMac comes with a discrete graphics card, a great Apple display, mac keyboard, and a magic mouse.

    To buy a display equal to the 21" iMac your probably gonna have to go for at least 350 another 100 or so for the mac mouse and keyboard. You are still limited to the integrated graphics performance which isn't bad but quite basic unless you find a good EVGA solution which can be costly.

    Ofcourse if you already have the monitor, keyboard and mouse then the mac mini is compelling.
  10. macrumors 603


    Aug 5, 2010
    I'd suggest that the quality of NEC is superior, and it's just slightly cheaper for a PA271W. It came out around the time of the 27" cinema display. The cost is just lower now. You gain a height adjustable stand, better warranty, etc. If you want an anti-glare display, it's definitely a better option. I'm not big on the coatings LG uses. Some of the older NEC branded panels were better in terms of surface coatings. As for the Dell, the U2711 is $862 at B+H at this point. I think the PA271W is roughly $950 there. The HD webcam on the Apple display is a nice feature. They're really aimed at different markets. The Dell and NEC displays are aimed at the lower end professional markets in terms of media editing (video, still, CG, etc.).
  11. macrumors 65816


    Jul 6, 2000
    Since I could not use a real 2012 iMac, I set up a surrogate with similar abilities: the 2012 MacBook Pro Retina Quad-Core i7 2.7GHz with GeForce GT 650M versus 2012 Mac mini Quad-Core i7 2.6GHz with Intel HD 4000.

    I emphasize the GPU because that's the key difference between the 2012 Mac mini and 2012 iMac. One has a "real" GPU. The other has a "toy" GPU.

    If you are doing CPU intensive tasks, the mini can keep up. But if it is a task requiring the GPU to render, the mini struggles:
  12. jksu, Dec 1, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2012

    macrumors regular

    Nov 26, 2009
    value - mini over iMac

    would have loved a 27" imac but at $2000 for 27" with fusion or $1700 for 21" with fusion (non-upgradeable ram) just out of our budget (<$1500) unfortunately. too many ipads on santa's list this year :)

    we paid around $1200 for her c2d 21" imac a few years ago... i was hoping apple would provide an 2012 iMac in our budget but i really wanted ssd/fusion for my wife. having sung the praises of my MacBook Air and it's ssd, i definitely wanted her to experience Mac OS at warp speed!

    we spent $1100 (edu w/tax) on the mac mini with fusion.

    and we wanted to try a non-glossy screen, since we have a skylight right behind her desk... the new iMac lamination process would've been nice over her current iMac screen.

    instead, for $295 I ordered a dell 2412 (no tax, free ship from b&h photo), it seems to a solid value. matte/antiglare display. i know i know, wish it didn't say dell on it but she doesn't care although if it bothers me viscerally and aesthetically :p. actually we have another 21" non-ips asus i bought 2 years ago but use rarely with my 11" MBA but I wanted her to have a 24" ips...

    add $50 for 16gig ram (gskill via newegg) and $40 ext dvd (samsung via amazon). we have spare keyboard/mice so that wasn't an issue.

    4gb ram/250gb drive/c2duo/21" monitor drive --> 16gb ram/1tb fusion/i7/24" monitor .....
    wifey should be set for a while (dvd ripping, iphoto, imovie, web)...

    i know apple doesn't compete with PCs on specs or price but if you want to stay in the apple world on the cheap, the mini is a good deal. when it's retired, the mini can be a home theatre pc i figure....

    love the look of the new imacs but just a bit too pricey this time around. as ssd prices come down they will be perfect

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