New Mac Mini for photo-editing..?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by ZballZ, Jul 29, 2011.

  1. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2006
    #1
    I need a little help here on a decision to buy the new mac mini or not. I do a lot of photo editing - also professionally - and have been using my Macbook Pro on an external monitor to do retouching and grading...

    Recently, I've become really tired of carrying my MBP with me to my office every day - and now thinking of getting a secondary computer, and just leave it there. The iMac is no good for me b/c of the glossy screen; the Mac Pro is too pricy and overkill for my needs. I really dont want to buy another MBP; so this basically leaves me with the mac mini. Which sounds ideal, only I've never used one before, and have no frame of reference for it. I know the new ones have benchmarked really well. Would a mac mini be good enough for photo work?? I am thinking of getting the "cheaper" version and maxing out on the RAM to 8 GB. I figure the GFX-card in the bigger model is only usefull for 3D-gaming and stuff, and wont really make a difference in photoshop-work?

    Any help appreciated...
     
  2. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    #2
    I think the quad core is technically the better choice for photoshop work if you use a lot of complicated plugins or do a lot of stitching or HDR stuff, etc. But I am in a very similar situation and feel just about the same as you do re: the available Mac desktop choices and have trouble buying a 2GHz quad core with Intel HD3000 graphics. I like the concept of the discrete graphics in the dual-core version but then I'm buying another dual core computer...

    There is definitely some psychological aspects to it but still. I with that Apple made either a Mac Mini Pro (with GPU and CPU options that match what you can buy in the MBPs) or a Mac Pro Mini (full-featured desktop with PCI-e graphics but in a smaller form factor, does not need to be dual CPU, and is a little cheaper since the Mac Pros are pretty expensive for what they are).

    I'd also suggest getting an SSD though, since fast I/O will help a lot too.

    Ruahrc
     
  3. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2007
    #3
  4. carlgo, Jul 29, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2011

    macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2006
    #4
    I do basically what Ap3 allows for in its adjustments menu. My old 2007 core 2 duo MBP is fine for this. The addition of a new 7200 rpm HD and a total of 4mb RAM helped with most everything.

    If your work is somewhat basic then a new Mini would be far better than my old MNP and would be more than ok. I have had odd slowdowns at times, but I am convinced they are software problems.

    I would recommend at least a faster HD option, at least the 7200 or the SSD. Again, more complex tasks might well make SSD more compelling.

    Whoops...forgot to mention that I do a small number of really big scans. The old MBP is pretty slow dealing with these. If I did these for a living I would go Pro, or the top iMac at the least. But the Mini should suffice for most everything else.
     
  5. macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2001
    Location:
    Fukuoka, Japan
    #5
  6. macrumors 68030

    srf4real

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Location:
    paradise beach FL
    #6
    Except the mini server, which is quite remarkable when used with ssd and a ram upgrade. I chose this one because I know that I have no interest now or never in making my own movies or gaming on my workstation. I was having the same dilemma about getting a dual processor with better graphics. So glad I went with quad.:)

    My 2011 mini scores higher than all but the top end 2011 27' iMac and the mac pros in 64 bit geekbench. (9640 geekbench).
     
  7. macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2001
    Location:
    Fukuoka, Japan
    #7
    My parents have a (Core 2 Duo-based) Mac mini while my former boss has an iMac. Overall, I think the iMac is by far the better machine: it's much more sleek, you have far less cables to deal with, the screen is beautiful and needless to say, faster.
    The cpu used in the top-end Mac mini server is the same as the cpu used in the lowest-end iMac, all of them have four cores and are Sandy Bridge-based. So I doubt your statement is accurate.
     
  8. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2004
    #8
    I was in a similar situation - the iMac was perfect for my needs but I couldn't use the glossy screen and didn't want to use a film covering it. I ended up buying a nice 24'' IPS Asus monitor and now am really loving using dual monitors - the matte screen for my photo editing, the iMac for the PS and Aperture tools (the gloss doesn't bother me for that.) Otherwise, I either cover the iMac or use a solid black background image because it can't easily be turned off. If you already have the external monitor, it might be worth a try? Good luck.
     
  9. macrumors 6502a

    TheGenerous

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2010
    Location:
    I'm an Austronaut
    #9
    The Mac Mini is good enough to do Photoshop even with RAW files. Of course there is a difference in performance compared to any other Mac. It's an entry level computer but very capable
     
  10. sth
    macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2006
    Location:
    The old world
    #10
    A matte film on the glass is not the same as a matte screen because of the distance between the diffusing film and the screen itself.

    Anyway, the glossy screen is a problem for professional photo editing, but it's "okay" if you can control the lighting in the room. A window reflecting on the screen is an absolute no-go, though.

    For the Mac Mini: It's not as fast as an iMac but still faster than your C2D MacBook Pro. The dedicated graphics card is not a must, but may help with applications that make heavy use of the graphics card for processing (Aperture, Final Cut Pro X). Adobe's applications also use the graphics card for some stuff, but last time I checked, at least Photoshop only used it for a few selective functions, so it probably won't matter that much here.
    The integrated Intel GPU of the cheaper Mac Mini has about the same power as the Radeon X1600 (I guess, given the specs in your signature) in your MacBook Pro.

    In any case: You can save a few $ by not buying Apple RAM. You can get an 8gb set for ~$50 these days and the installation is very simple on the Mini as well as the iMacs.
     
  11. macrumors 68030

    srf4real

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Location:
    paradise beach FL
    #11
    Oreo Cookie I digress, looks like the geekbench marks have been updated since I compared my mini server and the 2011 iMacs do a little better.. plus have the dedicated gpu.

    But the iMacs all have a mirror like finish that is totally unacceptable for my office, besides I have two hd IPS monitors that are astonishingly accurate and combined cost less than one 27" ACD.

    OP, in my opinion the mini server is the best option and easily capable of meeting any photographer's needs.. heck the base model mini probably is easily capable. Certainly a huge leap from all but the 2011 model Macs currently released. Mini server beats a lot of 2010 Mac Pro base models in processor performance even due to the i7 quad core Sandy Bridge chipset.

    There are a hundred threads on the related topics, but one thing you've got to decide is are you expecting to game heavily and crunch hd movies. If so, consider the mid-range mini with dedicated gpu or an iMac if this suits you better..

    It really came down to value for me, and what best suits my needs. Having a tiny desktop that is up to technological snuff tucked neatly and hidden behind my two monitors is ideal. And the prospect of taking an iMac to the next level with ssd + second hdd, then hating the display rules it out for me completely when compared to my relatively low cost maxxed out mini. I don't feel like I am missing the extra gig of processor performance factoring in turbo boost and multi-threads. I'm not doing rocket science, just photography.:p
     
  12. sth
    macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2006
    Location:
    The old world
    #12
    The entry level 2010 Mac Pro scores slightly lower than the 2011 Mac Mini Server (which is impressive, I admit).

    The top end 2011 iMac scores ~12500.
    The top end 2010 Mac Pro scores ~24000.

    http://www.primatelabs.ca/geekbench/mac-benchmarks/#64bit
     
  13. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2006
    #13
    Thx for all the replies!! Seems like this is something on many peoples minds :)

    Anyway; since I'm after a cheapish solution, the mini-server is out. Upgrading to 8 GB RAM and I've almost got myself a new MBP...!

    The thing is about the dedicated graphics or not. Going low-end and maxing the RAM to 8 GB would still be fairly cheap, so this is my priority so far. But does the dedicated graphics card help much in 2D photoshop anyway??? I am not gaming at all, so I dont care about Medal of Honor 2 FPS benchmarking :), but I would like to know if a dedicated card would help my image-work...

    (or do video-work as well, but this would not be primary for this machine ... maybe the occasional overnight re-compressing of footage...)
     
  14. sth
    macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2006
    Location:
    The old world
    #14
    If you're searching for a cheap solution: Get the base model and put 8gb 3rd-party RAM into it.
    It will work just fine.
     
  15. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2006
    #15
    So, are you saying that the base model maxed to 8 GB RAM would be better than the discrete GFX-card version with only 2 GB RAM?
     
  16. macrumors 68030

    srf4real

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Location:
    paradise beach FL
    #16
    I have spent a few days now doing normal tasks, running multiple editing apps simultaneously, while browsing Safari and Firefox.. CS5, Bridge, Aperture, iPhoto, watching iTunes hd video fullscreen on one monitor and youtube hd video on other monitor in fullscreen, iMovie, Bigasoft total video converter, etc., and have not seen one instance where I've said, "darn I should have got the dedicated graphics." Using two 1920x1080p 22" widescreens. At most I have seen half of the HD3000 memory showing to be allocated at one time in iStat menu. That was in iTunes store doing nothing strangely enough.. Integrated graphics are beautiful without choppy playback and CS5 is whiz bang fast.Zero page outs.

    Handbrake is not installed on my server mini nor any games.

    *8GB ram, Apple ssd.
    *upgraded from G5 dual 2.0 powerMac with ATI Radeon 9600 Pro with 64 MB of DDR SDRAM. It was awful at hd playback in every case and didn't like fullscreen anything.:p
     
  17. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2011
    #17
    Mac Mini Server flies, I juste upgraded (finally) from a G5 Quad to the new i7 quad, run RAID0 and upgraded to 8gb. On every benchmark I have about 2x more performance. It flies.
     
  18. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2006
    #18
    So which Mac Mini do you have exactly?
     
  19. macrumors G3

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    #19
    All Macs with only Intel graphics are obsolete. They don't have OpenCL.
     
  20. srf4real, Jul 31, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2011

    macrumors 68030

    srf4real

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Location:
    paradise beach FL
    #20
    mini server, i7 quad core.
     
  21. sth
    macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2006
    Location:
    The old world
    #21
    I wouldn't go below 4gb these days.

    You said you're on a budget, therefore I would suggest getting the cheapest model and upgrade the RAM yourself. It will be relatively cheap and still outperform your MacBook Pro.

    Discrete GFX depends on the programs you use. If it's only Photoshop, I wouldn't get the discrete GFX version.
     
  22. macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2001
    Location:
    Fukuoka, Japan
    #22
    Yet they're still faster than many Macs that do have OpenCL support. So what?
    (To be honest, when I read that in a review, my update cravings subsided, so I do think the new machines would be even more awesome if they featured full OpenCL support.)
     
  23. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    #23
    Can you list some examples of applications that currently use OpenCL? Outside of Aperture and Final Cut Pro X, I cannot find any- aside from some very high end or highly specialized custom software suites or tech demos (stuff like this). And even the gains you get from Aperture are not earth-shattering.

    It would seem to me that unless you use Aperture, OpenCL has essentially zero benefit for users right now, and by the time OpenCL is more widely adopted (if ever), you probably would be ready for new hardware anyways.

    Ruahrc
     
  24. macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2002
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    #24
    OpenCL can run either on the CPU or GPU or a combination of both. Thus, OpenCL works fine on the Mac mini, it just doesn't get as much benefit from the the integrated GPU. In fact, the new Mac mini is supported by Final Cut X, which can't be said for some of the older machines that have discrete graphics.

    In any case, I think you'd be fine using one of the new Mac minis for your photo editing. I'd say skip the higher-end discrete GPU model and just max out the DRAM (unless you can afford to do both). Also, don't get your DRAM from Apple, go for the 2GB model and upgrade the memory using a good third-party supplier. Crucial is selling their 8GB upgrade kit for the new Mac mini for only $66 ( http://www.crucial.com/store/listparts.aspx?model=Mac mini (Mid 2011)&Cat=RAM )
     
  25. macrumors G3

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    #25
    I know that OpenCL might be implemented on the CPU side. Other than for compatibility, that is useless.

    DxO and Capture One can also use OpenCL.
     

Share This Page