iMac or Mac Mini

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by thatch2013, Dec 17, 2012.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Dec 17, 2012
    In 2013 I'll be looking to replace my early 2009 24inch iMac (2.66Ghz Intel Core 2 duo - 4Gb Ram - 640Mb h/drive).

    The obvious replacement is the new iMac - 27", 2.9Ghz, Quad Core Intel core i5 / 1Tb drive or fusion drive / 8Gb ram). I would BTO and have 16Gb ram.

    However, I am wondering if the 2.6Ghz Mac Mini (Quad Core Intel core i7 / 1Tb drive or fusion drive) maxed out to 16Gb ram would be an alternative. I can't find anyway of comparing it to my present iMac. I know I would have to buy a display but I'm thinking of splashing out and buying the Thunderbolt display then every 3 to 4 years I'll only have to replace the computer (assuming display doesn't fail).

    My present iMac seems slow at times so I want something that will speed things up. I am sure the new iMac would - I'm unsure about the Mac Mini. I mainly use Adobe InDesign / illustrator / Acrobat / Photoshop.

    Some advice please.
  2. macrumors 65816


    May 20, 2002
    Dallas, TX USA
    The applications you mentioned won't have a significant difference running on the Mac Mini vs. the iMac, though latest versions of the Creative Suite use GPU acceleration. For that alone, the iMac would be a better choice.
  3. macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    The Mini is 30-40% faster than the iMac you think about.
    The HD4000 GPU is fast enough for all the CS apps. Although CS has GPU acceleration, the number of filters this works on is 1) very small and very non-usefull filters, 2) HD4000 is supported too for GPU acceleration, so this chip will speed up GPU functions as well.
    The overall speed increase of the Mini on the other side works for EVERY FUNCTION of CS. So pick your choice: 400% boost instead of 200% boost on 5 weird GPU accelerated functions, or 30-40% boost on everything.

    And if you are so much into CS, try your TB budget on a real good graphics professional monitor (adobeRGB/sRGB/tilt/swivel/height adj/KVM switch for 2 computers/30bit colour/matte). The NEC PA271W is almost the same price, and you get 3 or 5 years warranty with it, so it is a real good investment if you change the computer a couple of times the coming years.
  4. macrumors 68000


    Feb 16, 2009
    Rather than BTO with max RAM, why not do it yourself as it is super easy for both?
  5. macrumors 6502a


    Apr 22, 2009
    I thought the GPU benefit with Adobe is only with Nvidia GPUs? I have an ATi GPU and was told I missing out, but an Intel GPU is a good with Adobe too??

  6. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 17, 2012
    thanks for advice

    Thanks for the advice given. I take on board about the display and will certainly look into that if I go the Mac Mini route. I'll also look into the question of upgrading the ram myself although I'm always slightly cautious about whether third party ram is as good as Apple's ram.

    I am quite surprised that the Mac Mini is 30% - 40% faster than the new iMac. I don't know - is there any benchmark test to say how much faster than my present 2009 iMac it is ?

    How do the graphics compare - bearing in mind I use Photoshop CS6 ? I've read reviews where there is a lot of criticism about the graphics card in the Mac Mini, although I am quite happy with the graphics card in my present iMac (NVIDIA GeForce 9400 - VRAM 256Mb) so if it's better than that I don't see a problem. Being a bit ignorant about these things I assume the graphics card doesn't affect speed issues, merely colour issues. Or is that totally wrong.
  7. macrumors 68000


    Feb 16, 2009
    No need to be unless you just want to throw your money away.
  8. macrumors 6502

    Jul 24, 2002
    New Jersey
    Buy from a recognized dealer (like OWC), and you'll be fine. And have a LOT more to spend on other stuff!

    Primate Labs' Geekbench at your service. Yes, the i7 mini IS faster than the i5 iMac, but it's like comparing bananas to oranges, or Chevy Volt to a Chevy Corvette... Get the i7 in the iMac...

    As for graphics, having the discrete processor will probably be a good thing down the road a bit.

  9. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 17, 2012
    Useful advice

    Thanks to all for replying. I cannot afford the iMac i7 - one has to put a limit on it. The Geekbench site is very useful and comparing the 2.6GHz Mac Mini to the 2.9Ghz imac it looks like the Mac Mini would be the better bet - also easier to upgrade in a couple of years.

    Can anyone enlighten me as to what difference the graphics card makes. I am not actually sure what a graphics card does.Is the graphics card in the Mac Mini better than that in my current iMac (NVIDIA GeForce 9400 - VRAM 256Mb)
  10. macrumors 6502a


    Jun 17, 2012
    graphics card is for anything 3d on the computer like games or 3d software. Lately though the adobe programs have been using the GPU to help out for CPU tasks for example photoshop liquify uses GPU calculations instead of CPU. Basically the GPU speeds things up a lot in visual production as well as games.
  11. macrumors 6502a


    Apr 3, 2010
    Central CA
    It all depends on how the program in question uses it. It sounds like the Adobe programs are just starting to use it, but that for the majority of 2D uses, it would not make a difference...the user experiences you are getting here are interesting.

    Also 2013, the new Intel processors (the "Haswell" processors) are supposed to come out, with better better graphics processing over the current HD 4000. If you can wait even longer until those come out, that may be better for you.
  12. macrumors newbie

    Dec 10, 2012
    I myself bought the mac mini over the 27 inch imac.
    My ideal setup would have been the imac but soon realized that as an "all in one" package it wasnt going to work.
    I was better off with the imac hooked up to a 32 inch LCD along with my blu-ray player and HD receiver.

    Now i only have one screen in my room, instead of two.
  13. macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    Why is this crap popping up in every discussion on iMac/Mini. Have a look at adobes site and CHECK THE FUNCTIONS THAT USE GPU. It is totally bullocks to buy a faster GPU mac for THOSE FUNCTIONS (puppet warp etc). On the other hand, the CPU in the quad Mini is 30% faster than any non-BTO iMac, so it wins on every other CS function (98%). And a HD4000 accelerates GPU functions as well, although not as much.
    And if you are a pixel peep: CPU calculations are more precise as GPU ones. So despite the GPU acceleration on some functions, they are executed less precise.
  14. blackhand1001, Dec 19, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2012

    macrumors 68030


    Jan 6, 2009
    Keep in mind that photoshop can be very hard drive intensive and both the new imac and mac mini actually use a slower hard drive than your current mac.

    Also don't both with BTO ram. The ram apple uses is complete crap. Its budget hynex ram for the most part.
  15. macrumors newbie

    Dec 15, 2008
    I'm a graphic designer too, and am currently having the exact same conundrum of imac vs mac mini (currently have 2008 24" imac). I spend most of my time in Indesign or PS.

    I've come to the conclusion that the mini just has more bang for my buck, and while the GPU might sometimes be useful in the imac, the faster CPU on the mini is probably more useful. I've also done some research on monitors and this screen I've found uses the exact same panel as the imac/thunderbolt display at 1/3rd of the price, and has great reviews (not as sexy though!).

    My plan is to get the mini, and hopefully then I'll be able to afford to upgrade more regularly in future than I would with the imac.
  16. macrumors 6502a

    Nov 11, 2008
    I'm not one for graphics apps but I do do development in XCode and MSVS at the same time, OSX on one monitor (HP ZR2440w) and VMWare Fusion Win 7 on the 2nd monitor (cr@ppy BenQ which I hope to replace with a 2nd HP zr24 soon) on a Mac Mini 2.3 i7 QM HD4000 with 16GB Corsair ram and 512GB Crucial M4 SSD and 750GB 7200rpm WD Black.

    It's FAST, i have the VM taking 4 cores(it's the i7 so it's really only 2 core but HT) and 8GB ram, so it's a 50/50 split on resources and I get no lag at all. Apps compile plenty fast and rendering iPhone/iPad apps are seamless.

    All in if I had to do a cost based comparison it would go something like this.

    Mac Mini - £679
    Crucial M4 - £293
    WD Scorpio Black - £55
    Corsair Vengeance 16gb DDR3-1600 - £75
    HP ZR2740W IPS monitor - £550 (like for like monitor size wise for arguments sake)
    Apple Wireless KB - £55
    Apple Magic mouse - £50

    That's a total of £1757, the comparable 27" iMac with similar specs, ie. 16GB ram and a 1TB fusion drive, is £1859.

    So for £100 less I have something that's easier to fix and upgrade and cart around should the need arise.

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