Mac Mini to run only Windows 8 Pro?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by OhHaiThere, Jul 20, 2013.

  1. macrumors regular

    OhHaiThere

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    Location:
    USA
    #1
    Hello everyone, I'm considering getting a couple of Mac Mini's for different tasks, but in both cases I want to run only Windows 8 Pro on both. The only option I'm aware of in running Windows natively is to dual boot. Is it possible to run Windows 8 WITHOUT keeping OS X? I don't want to waste the space on an SSD with an OS I won't use.

    Next question that I have is: how is driver support in Mac Mini? I bought a MacBook Air for my wife with the same intent: running Windows 8 only (we tested it in dual boot though) and unfortunately the drivers provided by Apple were extremely basic. Stuff worked but no options to tweak settings (even things as simple as changing the two-finger scrolling direction in the track pad). Ended up getting her an X1 Carbon and that ended up being much nicer for her anyway.

    I want Apple hardware, but not the software... am I looking to just have problems similar to what we had with the Air? Should I just look for a PC alternative instead?

    TIA
     
  2. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2012
    #2
    You'd have to find the drivers for some specific things yourself. Really you're looking for drivers and software that may not exist, that apple has no real reason to develop and microsoft has no real reason to care about (i.e.: track pad gestures in win 8). You might just be better off getting a computer designed for windows 8. Win 8 is supposedly designed around a tablet concept and it's extremely unpopular among the vast majority of computer users so it's unlikely you'll be happy using mac minis for win 8 only.

    Honestly, I've never even heard of someone so committed to win 8 before your post. My own experience with it was that it was awful, disjointed, cluttered and counter intuitive. My impression coming from professional use of windows since winxp and home use of Mac OS for decades. As I understand it, most pc users feel the same way I do.

    Is there some odd use or need that you have for win 8?
     
  3. macrumors regular

    Thraun

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2008
    Location:
    Abbotsford, BC
    #3
    Sorry, but what I find even odder is the desire to use Apple hardware without their software. Especially the Mini. Hardware wise it's nothing special.
     
  4. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2013
    #4
    I think it is quit cruel to subject a Mac mini to a pure diet of Windows 8. It is the Apple equivalent of farming bear bile. Such practices should be outlawed.

    ;)
     
  5. macrumors 6502a

    iMacBooked

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2013
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    #5
    That would be like buying an iPhone 5 to run Android.
     
  6. macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2011
    #6
    This. If you had researched the Mini hardware more you'd have discovered there's nothing special about it and comparing it to an MBA is wrong.
     
  7. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    #7
    There are other small form factor PCs that are equivalent to the mini, that come with windows and would save a lot of hassle and money.
     
  8. thread starter macrumors regular

    OhHaiThere

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    Location:
    USA
    #8
    What about things like lack of BIOS? Will that be a problem in running just Windows? I understand a direct comparison to the MBA may be wrong, but I want to get some opinions before I blow almost $2k on the solution.

    I like the mini because it's little, pretty, power efficient, has great hardware for such a small package, etc.

    Thanks!

    ----------

    The only thing I've found was the Intel NUC and I don't like it. Can you please give me some links to the ones you may be referring to?

    Thanks!
     
  9. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    #9
    For $450 this ACER seems similarly spec'd to the base mini and comes with windows 8 preloaded and a few extras like mini PCIe expansion and a wireless mouse/keyboard http://us.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/model/DT.SPMAA.001

    Lenovo Q190 http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/desktops/ideacentre/q-series/q190/index.html

    A variety of ASUS models http://www.asus.com/us/Eee_Box_PCs/
     
  10. thread starter macrumors regular

    OhHaiThere

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    Location:
    USA
    #10
    Wow, never seen these before. One of these can definitely serve one of the roles, which is to run Windows Media Center. I'll look further into the i3 versions...thanks!

    However, for the second, I'd need something with a lot more power. Is there anything similar which I can get with a quad-core i7 (expandable up to 16gb of ram as well).
     
  11. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    #11
    Quite honestly I've never seen a computer besides the Mac mini with a quad core i7. I'd imagine because either people want a computer as a media server or web browsing/office work device (i7 is overkill) or a computer with the power for gaming/video editing (uses the i7 but needs a GPU that draws too much power/heat to work in a compact chassis). So it really depends on what you need it for.

    If I were to get a computer with a lot of muscle I would probably go all out and get a full blown desktop rig http://t.costco.com/.product.100049266.html A 3.4 Ghz i7-4770 desktop processor, 12 GB of RAM (4 DIMM slots) and a 1GB RadeonHD graphics card is a pretty sweet setup for $700 (sells for over 1k on dell.com)when compared to the mini. I just think that processing power and compact form conflict with each other. You could find a compromise computer somewhere in between, but it wouldn't be great in either respect.

    That said, I'm thoroughly impressed with the power of the Mac mini. If you look up the CPU benchmarks between the mini and the rig I linked to above, there's only a 20-25% difference between the two, so the mini has a very good combination of size, power consumption, and speed. But simply looking at speed for your dollar running windows, the dell or similar desktop wins.
     
  12. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2012
    Location:
    Northeast
    #12
    I looked at every single one of them and none are as cool looking or as powerful as the mini. So I got the mini. Considered just Win 8 on it, but could not make it happen due to well, too long of a story for here, but I also had a 512GB SSD so I had plenty of space and am now happily doing the Parallel's thing.

    I will admit I do have my eye on the next mini. Haswell plus PCIe SSD maybe? I wouid have to have that.
     
  13. thread starter macrumors regular

    OhHaiThere

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    Location:
    USA
    #13
    Thanks, I thought so. Looks like at least one Mini might be in my future...

    I guess PC manufacturers (excl. Apple) see the "mini" market as a "cheap/value" market and don't offer premium solutions with premium components. Kind of upsetting.

    I'm in the same boat, but don't want to keep OS X. Can you tell me why you couldn't make it happen? I'd like the story - in fact that's why I started this thread.
     
  14. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2012
    #14
    Why are you so bent on windows 8? It's the most hated Microsoft OS since Vista release. It makes no sense at all to want a mac mini running win 8 only.
     
  15. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    #15
    Any comparison to PC manufacturers usually draws a "cheap/value" side to the argument regardless of product line, whether it be laptops, desktops or all-in-ones. I think the apple aluminum unibody construction is a step up across the board, mini line included. On the other hand there are components on the mini that are not proprietary, such as dual SODIMM slots and 2.5" SATA drives which many see as an advantage since they can be user-upgraded. With the exception of processors, there are many similarities in the specs between Mac minis and other brands.

    One option you do have is to keep OSX on the stock hard drive and install the SSD with windows in the second hard drive slot. It takes some disassembly but you can add second internal drives to the mini with kits like this http://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/DIYIMM11D2/ I think it would be useful to keep OSX if you get the mini for troubleshooting purposes or if you ever had to take the computer in for service.
     
  16. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2010
    #16
    Maybe he wants the Thunderbolt port? Mac mini is the only computer I think of its size that has thunderbolt. Other than that, Mac mini hardware is really nothing special.
     
  17. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 24, 2013
    #17
    As the post above me suggests if you're that dead set on a mini get it, but instead of a separate drive, you can, partition the drive and install windows 8 on a part of the partition without using bootcamp. It's not possible to erase the original partition, however, so you would be stuck with the other partition, however you can pretend it never exists and have the mini boot into windows 8 all the time, and you won't have any issues with drivers except for Apple's gestures, which I don't think you can do anything about.
     
  18. macrumors 6502a

    monkeybagel

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2011
    Location:
    United States
    #18
    I would not recommend a Mac mini for Windows 8.

    There is no "BIOS" on a Macintosh. It may or may not boot Windows 8 using EFI. If it does, it would not be "supported," and that is one thing that gives Windows 8 its faster boot time.

    You can format the entire SSD if you wanted to do so.
     
  19. thread starter macrumors regular

    OhHaiThere

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    Location:
    USA
    #19
    Would it make you happier if I said Windows 7 or Linux?

    Ugh, I must be a sucker for these lines, but I don't agree. I like the X1 Carbon more than the Air (unfortunately, the X1 was more expensive too).

    Ok, anyway... back on topic.

    The goal is to take out the drive out of the mini, install an SSD (or dual SSD) and fresh-install Windows. Is that doable?

    That's the question... could I do it though?
     
  20. MJL, Jul 21, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2013

    MJL
    macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2011
    #20
    I've done this with Windows 7, it is no problem.

    What I suggest you do is:
    - make a Time Machine backup to an external HDD but also leave some space for an OS X partition
    - reboot into Time Machine and restore into the empty partition on the external HDD
    - reboot into the restored partition on the external HDD
    - see if you can use Bootcamp assistant to create the Windows install on the SSD
    - if yes then no problem
    - if no then buy Winclone (shareware)
    - if no then boot from the internal OS X partition and use Bootcamp assistant from there
    - install Windows
    - boot into OS X on the external HDD
    - install Winclone and make a backup of Windows
    - wipe the SSD with the diskutility and create a MS DOS partition
    - restore the Windows partition, follow instructions on the Winclone website
    - boot into windows and use the Bootcamp utility in the system tray to ensure that your function keys are set properly and that you are booting the right partition (windows)
    - remove the external HDD but keep it for backing up / restoring the Windows partition

    Enjoy - these machines are very silent and take up next to no space.

    PS no special drivers are required - the Bootcamp software that you need to download in the Bootcamp assistant has all the drivers. In fact I regard it as one of the easiest windows installs that there is.
    Bootcamp has two purposes: One to create a "hybrid partition scheme" (OS X wants GUID and Windows MBR) and two to supply all the drivers. Extensive testing has shown me that if you only use windows on a hybrid disk everything is fine but if you use both OS's then you can have problems when you need to do a restore. (you may finish up having to do a restore of OS X and a fresh install of Windows). Often the problem starts with that one wants to resize a partition which is not the case if the whole disk is dedicated to a single OS.

    PS 2 One of my machines is now dual booting with Windows 7, the other is now running Mountain Lion. Don't like Windows 8 and wanted to have automatic backups, time machine is a life saver for me and there is not something that is close to that under windows. Have been using Microsoft products since MS DOS 2.1 and Windows 3.1 but that is slowly coming to an end due to that I've retired and no longer have a compulsory need for Word, Excel, Outlook, Powerpoint which have a hefty price. If the office software is included in the purchase price then Apple works out cheaper to own (also due to the higher resale value). Just like that at the rise of the PC's IBM went into decline so now Microsoft is starting to decline as well and I do not need/want the high manual maintenance activities associated with Windows.
     
  21. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2010
  22. macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2012
    #22
    There are not! Show me a nice lightweight PC with built in PSU, comparable weight, comparable sturdiness and comparable price. I carry the mini like a laptop, and I don't want to carry cables and power adapters. With the mini I can buy an extra 1$ AC cord and leave that with my display/keyboard/mouse at the second location.

    Face it: the Mini is the best Mac ever made and the best PC ever made. I run both Win 8 Pro and Snow Lopy on my 2011 mini and I'm totally fine with both. It is the best kilo of computing ever.
     
  23. MJL
    macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2011
    #23
    That is always the first answer I get confronted with.

    You do not know my requirements. However the Mac mini represents for me the machine with the lowest TCO (Total Cost of Ownership), no but's or if's.

    ----------

    Fastest boot time is the last thing on my mind and not important if you normally run it 24 hours 5 days a week.
     
  24. macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2011
    #24
    Search for other threads by Cape Dave.

    No need to duplicate all that information here, which is why Cape Dave didn't. :rolleyes:
     
  25. macrumors 6502a

    Dark Dragoon

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    #25
    Maybe another option would be to build a small computer yourself, that way you can choose the exact components and the case.

    maybe take a look on http://www.mini-itx.com/store/ for some ideas as to the parts that are available.
     

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