Potential Switcher Questions

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by danp, Sep 26, 2005.

  1. danp macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2005
    Location:
    Cambridge, UK
    #1
    Hi Guys,

    I've been interested in dipping my toe in the Mac world for a while now - call it curiosity!

    With rumours floating around about possible upgrades to the Mac Mini, I've decided that's the way I'd like to go - I already own a lovely 20" Dell widescreen monitor and don't want to invest in something as pricey as an iMac.

    I appreciate that PC-Mac comparisons are difficult to make, but I really need to know whether the Mini could be a realistic replacement for my current desktop PC, or if I'm going to be disappointed.

    My current PC is a homebuilt Athlon XP 2200, 1Gb PC2700 RAM, 120Gb 7200RPM hard drive, Geforce 4 Ti 4200 128Mb gfx card and Soundblaster Live! 5.1 soundcard running Windows XP.

    Although almost all of those stats seem to make the PC technically superior to any Mini on paper, I'm interested in the user experience - is Mac OSX enough to make the (superficially) weaker specs of the Mini irrelevant?

    How would the Mini compare for low-load applications like Web browsing and Office software? How would the Mini compare for higher-load applications like high-res DivX playback, 3d gaming etc?

    I know this is very general, but unfortunately I can't get an idea of the performance of the machine in any stores, I don't have any friends that use them.

    If only Apple went thru with the 30 day test drive!

    Regards,
    DanP
     
  2. wrxguy macrumors 6502a

    wrxguy

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2005
    Location:
    Deepest Regions of Hell
    #2
    ok...first of all we need to know what you use it for mostly...as far as a direct comparison, the graphics would be pretty much the same but you wouldn't get the same sound as the mini doesn't have a 5.1 card and i dont know of any card like that for the mini. But just getting out of PC's to Mac's is worth it in itself....just imagine for a moment, ok close your eyes, ......no viruses or spyware....yep...I said it....I would go to an apple store an mess around on a mini first of course but if i was you i would do it
     
  3. fayans macrumors 6502a

    fayans

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2005
    Location:
    MacRumors: Forums
    #3
    My first mac is mini 1.25G/256MB and it is fine for simple web browsing and mail but for serious video/photo editing, it crawls. So I upgrade to 1G for better performance.

    Once you go Mac, you'll never go back! That's the saying!
     
  4. danp thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2005
    Location:
    Cambridge, UK
    #4
    I spend most of my time web browsing, emailing, IM'ing in MSN Messenger and using iTunes. I also dabble in photo editing, basic graphic work and web designing.

    I also do a little gaming (nothing hardcore - Command and Conquer Generals and Unreal Tournament 2004 are my faves).
     
  5. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #5
    The current mini specs are close to my iBook's, so I feel qualified to comment.

    I find web browsing/Office/e-mail on my iBook to compare quite favorably with browsing on my Dell Dimension 4600 2.8 GHz, 512M of RAM. Others complain that Safari is "slow", but that doesn't seem to bother me (or my wife) when using the iBook.

    I don't do divx or 3d gaming, so I really can't comment on those applications, but I have used both my Dell and iBook to render video to DVD as well as to run a custom engineering app from work. There, the slower processor starts to show, so I presume it would also show for the applications you are asking about.

    The ease of using iLife makes up quite a bit for the speed deficit as I tend to let DVD projects render overnight regardless of what machine I'm on. Things like the ability to export a slideshow of pictures from iPhoto to iDVD using a soundtrack from iTunes and having it work make the process much more enjoyable than cobbling that capability together from bits on the PC.

    The things I really like about my iBook have little to do with performance, but are all about the experience. Instant resume. 4 hour battery life (low load) with Airport on. A real unix-y command prompt at arms reach. Dashboard. Expose.

    B
     
  6. danp thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2005
    Location:
    Cambridge, UK
    #6
    That's what I was afraid about - that the more taxing stuff would be beyond the poor little Mini.

    Anyone else out there got any experiences?
     
  7. gibbon macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2005
    Location:
    Scotland
    #7
    I have recently switched from a 1.8Ghz Pentium desktop 256MB to a 1.42Ghz 1GB iBook and must admit that I am a bit underwhelmed. However, the mini is half the price of my iBook and so long as you are not expecting rip roaring speed and want to dabble in mac on the cheap then why not. With the mac mini you're buying to check out the software not the hardware anyway.
     
  8. danp thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2005
    Location:
    Cambridge, UK
    #8
    Thanks for that. iLife does indeed seem like a great package to get for free, and the main advantage of the Mini would be its small footprint and quiet running speed.

    If only someone could come back and tell me they use the Mini as a decent divx player, I think I'd be sold...
     
  9. fayans macrumors 6502a

    fayans

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2005
    Location:
    MacRumors: Forums
    #9
    This is just another thread on mini for video editing
     
  10. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #10
    This is the one thing that has bugged me about divx. Unlike MPEG1 and MPEG2 that were designed from the ground up to be computationally expensive to encode and still computationally cheap to decode, divx seems to require lots of horsepower for both encoding and decoding.

    The good news is that MPEG4/DIVX/H.264 hardware decoders are becoming mainstream. They have to since the codec is to be widely used in next generation video applications DVB/HDTV/HD-DVD/... http://www.ati.com/technology/h264.html

    If what you really want is a divx player now, why not consider something like the Philips DVP642 for $60 http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B000204SWE/002-7633879-5218447?v=glance. Or just wait until MPEG4 acceleration is built into video cards. Anyone want to guess if this'll make it into the first Mactels?

    B
     

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