Mac Mini - i5 or i7?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Stephen Valente, Jan 22, 2013.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2012
    #1
    Thinking of buying a Mac Mini to replace my ageing, and currently disabled MacBook Pro.

    Is there a lot to be gained by getting the more expensive Mac Mini over the cheaper model? Apart from the i7 over the i5, and the bigger hard drive (would get a cheap, high capacity network drive instead), would it be better to get the cheaper model?

    Want to have RAID storage to back up iPhones, an IPad and a Nexus 7, plus usage as an XBMC hub, etc. Would the best option from a cost per Tb issue be to buy an external hard drive such as WD Mybook Live model?

    Whilst I'd love another iMac, don't think it'd be practical in terms of cost, and as a multimedia solution.
     
  2. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2012
    #2
    If you're just using it as a backup server, the i5 is fine. If you'll be doing processor intensive tasks like video encoding or virtualizing Windows, I'd get the i7. The processor is the only thing you can't upgrade. Keep that in mind.
     
  3. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2012
    #3
    I agree in that sense. Just can't get over the feeling that the hard drive gain is a little meagre, but that's Apple for you!
     
  4. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2012
    Location:
    Germany & Hungary
    #4
    if you don't want to do anything very CPU intensive (XBMC could run on my alarm clock too :D), then there's no need to spend extra 200 $, just because some says that the base mini can't do anything (which is bullsh...).
     
  5. macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
    #5
    The base mini is a fine machine. As already stated, unless you are doing a lot of encoding or VM's or what not, just go with the base.
     
  6. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2012
    #6
    Agreed... The base mini packs enough punch for most anything.
     
  7. macrumors demi-goddess

    costabunny

    Joined:
    May 15, 2008
    Location:
    ~/
    #7
    Yep for most uses the i5 is plenty - I have the i7 and its only when i have my virtual machines or handbrake running that the cpu is taxed.

    If you aren't using power cpu intensive apps the the i5 base plus a 3rd party RAM boost to 8 or 16Gb would be good value. Coupled with something like the Western Digital MyBook Studio II RAID external would make a pretty awesome setup.
     
  8. macrumors 68000

    53x12

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2009
    #8
    Or even a 128/256GB SSD to run OSX and apps off of.
     
  9. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2009
    Location:
    Central, Louisiana
    #9
    I got the mid level to sort of future proof myself a bit. I do occasionally do some video ripping and the difference is very darn noticeable in terms of rip time even doing 1080P.

    I'd say make the investment, future proof yourself and enjoy the heck out of a really fast machine.

    Oh I did add a SSD as my primary drive, then moved the included 1TB as my secondary drive.

    Freaking sweet setup!
     
  10. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2001
    #10
    I have the same issue. I got a deal on an i5 Mac mini 12 for 480 which i plan to run windows 7 via parallels or virtual box. However now I'm second guessing the i5. I won't be gaming on either Mac OS or windows. It's mostly business software so nothing hardcore. Occasional handbrake rip. I plan on getting an ssd. Thoughts? Also debating about pure ssd vs a DIY fusion.
     
  11. macrumors 603

    philipma1957

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2010
    #11
    my diy fusion is really good. 500gb samsung ssd plus 1tb oem hdd used a refurb 2.3 quad


    http://store.apple.com/us/product/FD388LL/A/refurbished-mac-mini-23ghz-quad-core-intel-core-i7


    this pops up every once in a while
     
  12. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2013
    #12
    I'm in the same boat. Buying a mini tomorrow or Tuesday and not sure what to get still ( i5 vs i7 ). I have the aftermarket RAM bought and have a SSD for it. So whatever version I get will run to the max BUT I'm going to run a Win7 VM full time.

    Will running 1 VM all the time kill the performance of an i5?

    My guts are telling me i7 just to be safe


    Sorry for the thread jack
     
  13. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2007
    #13
    Get the i7.
     
  14. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2002
    #14
    Nothing you are likely to do on the Mini will tax the i5 processor. Take the extra money and throw in a SSD and an external case for the hard drive. And bump the ram to 8gb. The ram will be a better performance improvement than the jump to i7 in most cases.
     
  15. 7thson, Jan 27, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2013

    macrumors 6502

    7thson

    Joined:
    May 13, 2012
    Location:
    Six Rivers, CA
    #15
    Unfortunately Apple doesn't allow hard drive upgrades in i5 configuration. My bad if you meant he could upgrade to ssd himself after he bought it.
     
  16. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2001
    #16
    So i5 should be plenty then if its only 1 virtual machine (again no games)? Just up the RAM.

    I keep going back and forth on SSD vs fusion. I have a 256gb SSD, but it looks to be a pain to put it in as a second drive (I have taken apart many laptops though).
     
  17. macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
    #17
    It's really not that much pain. I did it this weekend in about a half hour (and part of that time was spent figuring out where I left off because I was called away in the middle). You just need to have the right drives for the different screws. I had done it in October 2011 on my 2011 Mini, but hadn't done it since (and really couldn't remember the entire process) so I just pulled up ifixit and followed their guide step by step. My SSD is just "floating" above the mechanical drive in mine (just like it did in my 2011) with no issues.

    The other alternative, is that I believe you can just swap the mechanical for the SSD without even removing the logic board, but someone else will have to speak to that as I haven't tried it. You could then put the mechanical drive in a USB 3.0 enclosure and just use it as an external (cost was should be a push since you will have to buy the extra SATA cable if you want to run two drives).
     

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