Mac mini OR custom build?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by iballer87, Feb 2, 2013.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Feb 2, 2013

    I have been going over previous threads regarding Mac mini and music production and thought before I make my final decision I wanted to post a thread of my own.

    I am on quite a tight budget and am looking to buy a Mac mini quad core 2.3 with a 1 TB HD And 16gb ram I will buy and fit myself. I will run this on my dual 23" hd monitors setup, With potential to add an ssd drive later, if I have the skill to do so lol as I have read that it is pretty difficult.

    I would be mainly using the system for music production logic pro/pro tools with a few plug ins and so on, along with the usual browsing and some downloading (music, videos) general media system. also work purposes via pages/numbers and so on.

    I have been considering a custom built system with apple osx as for the same money it seams I could get a beast of a system, just worried about all the update issues and compatibility.

    Potential custom build specs:
    I7 3770k at 3.4 processor

    Memory 16gb ddr3 at 2000 MHz (or 32 if needed)

    1Tb sata111 hdd & ssd 256gb Samsung 840 pro

    Graphics nvidia GeForce gts 450 1gb or higher if required

    With lion 10.7 OS

    Both systems are very similar in price I will mainly be using for music production with normal web browsing, downloading hd films and so on.
    Will be running either choice on dual 23" hd monitor setups.

    I am just stuck on which to choose, obviously with the Mac mini I will get the stability and build quality of a apple product, but the custom build sounds the far superior machine.

    Any help towards making a decision would be great!

  2. macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Not going into the fact that it is not legal.

    okay did you ever build a computer?
    are you building the hackintosh?

    if the answers above are no just one either one you get to the next part.

    who will support your software issues? hackintosh pc's have them.

    now depending of the effort of picking gear/parts that can make it easier you may need 1 to 2 hours of fixes each week.
    you need to always have an old osx incase an update kills you off.

    the quad 2.3 is a beast see sale link

    this comes in once a week or so. add 16gb ram

    you will be a bit under 800. save for an ssd
  3. macrumors 65816

    Jul 26, 2011
    How Valuable Is Your Time?

    Go for the Mini. I upgraded to a 2.3 Mini in October with the stock 1TB drive and added 16GB RAM from Crucial. It's the best Mac I've used since 1995. Virtually silent. Fast. Reliable.

    If you decide to swap the 1TB drive for an SSD in the future and you don't do a dual-drive setup in the Mini the upgrade is relatively easy. I'm considering going that route myself now that 256GB Samsung 840s can be had for around $150 and 500GB for $300.

    If you are currently using Windows I highly recommend getting David Pogue's "Missing Manual for Switchers: Mountain Lion Edition." It has all the info you need for making the move and it includes an excellent easy-to-understand OS 10.8 manual. The Kindle edition is the least expensive option. Install the free Kindle for Mac app on your new Mini so you can read the book while using your Mac.
  4. macrumors 65816


    Jun 18, 2012
    Hackintoshes suck, imo. Any OS update may make you have to spend hours trying to get something to work properly again. Also bear in mind that you won't be able to have the latest OS and you might be stuck with old versions of apps due to that.

    If you really want/need OSX, go for a Mini. If not (and assuming the low budget thing), go for a custom build and stick with Windows.

    My advice: If the difference is even $300 go for the Mini. Assuming you'd keep it for 3 years, that would only mean $8 per month.
  5. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 2, 2013
    Thanks for the help.

    I have just purchased my new i7 2.3 mac mini with stock 1TB HD.
    I have ordered 16gb corsair vengance ram to install when it arrives.

    I have read a lot about installing a second ssd drive but i really dont feel confident enough to do this and dont want to void my warranty straight away, what alternatives do i have if any?

    I have 2 monitors coming to set up 1 via hdmi and the other via TB port.

    i was thinking either an external usb 3 7200rpm 1TB HD


    an external 256 ssd drive (in a case) via TB daisychain with the second hdmi monitor if that is possible. would this be almost as effective as installing an internal ssd?

    i will be mainly using the mac mini for music production, secondly for all the usual downloading, surfing, pages/numbers for work and so on.

    any help would be great, Thanks
  6. macrumors regular

    Jun 16, 2011
    Yes you would have to set the system to boot from the external SSD drive
  7. macrumors 6502a

    Jan 24, 2013
    What you have now is fine as is for music production. Just add the 16gigs of ram and you'll be set (assuming you're heavy on the VSTi's and libraries). The quad core was the correct choice, and you shouldn't have problems running your daw and recording on it.

    It seems a bit like you're getting sidetracked from your purpose (recording music) and entering into the benchmark wars territory. You've already made the essential upgrade (RAM), I would save the money from the other things and buy some new audio libraries and soft synths..
  8. macrumors 65816


    Jun 18, 2012
    I haven't installed any SSD in my Mini but I did swap the original drive for another one in my old 2010 Mini.

    There are several guides who guide you step by step. It's not difficult as long as you stay in route and you feel comfortable handling small things. But I understand if you prefer not to.

    As for other options, as you said, you can get an external enclosure and put an SSD into it. You can always put the SSD into the Mini at some point.
    With the enclosure you won't get the same speeds as if it was internal but they'll be very close. You can install OSX in it and enjoy a SSD experience. ;)
  9. macrumors 65816

    Jul 26, 2011
    I don't see the point of spending the extra money on a Thunderbolt-connected SSD. If you want the benefit of an SSD just install one in your Mini. I'm sticking with external multi-port enclosures and mechanical drives; I prefer the Mercury Elite Pro enclosures from Other World Computing. They have Firewire 800, USB 3.0 and eSATA ports so I am covered; Thunderbolt is still too expensive and the number of available peripheral devices are limited.

    TB may be the fastest option but do you really need it? FW800 and USB 3.0 is plenty fast for me; data transfer speed has never been a bottleneck for me. If you must have the latest and greatest be prepared to pay a premium to obtain it...

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