Processor or Video card? What is the best mini for me?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Username02, Jul 21, 2011.

  1. Username02, Jul 21, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2011

    macrumors regular

    Jul 13, 2010
    Hi all.

    Opinions welcome.
    I am trying to decide between the Mini Server and the upgraded Mini with the dedicated graphics.

    The uses of the machine will be:
    - Home file server
    - iTunes TV & Movie repository for streaming to Apple TVs
    - HTPC hooked up via HDMI to TV
    - Back up machine to use in lieu of my 2010 i7 15" MBP in the event of MBP breaking (I can not have computer downtime due to work ~ must run Parallels very good)
    - Machine will be accessed mostly with Apple's Remote Desktop software and VNC applications but will be hooked up to an ACD in the event of MBP downtime.

    Also, a quick question, if I get the server, can I restore from a Time Machine backup of a current machine in order to get my programs and files on to the server software (machine is currently running Lion standard)?

    Thanks for looking.
  2. macrumors 6502


    Jun 19, 2010
    Albuquerque, NM
    Judging by what you listed, you'll benefit from the quad core more than the dedicated GPU. The HD3000 can handle all the things you listed just fine. Unless you plan to do any gaming on the machine, which I don't think you will, the AMD GPU will be overkill for your needs.

    EDIT: as for your time machine question, I'm honestly not sure how that would work out. I'd assume that you can make a new profile on your machine and use time machine to restore your files from the MBP to the profile, but I'm not positive on that, since I've never dealt with the server versions of OSX.
  3. thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 13, 2010
    Thanks so much for your thoughts!

    SO I take it that with only an HDMI connection used and mostly VNC/ARD access the graphics card is not necessary.

    Will the extra cores help in Parallels vs. video card?
  4. macrumors 6502


    Jan 17, 2008
    If I may add on to the discussion of processor vs. video card.

    Which would be better for this application:

    Photoshop and Lightroom work with a lot of large files displaying on a 61" 1080p flat screen TV.

    I know that maxing out the RAM is a must for PS and LR, but which would serve better for this: the quad core processor or the better video card?
  5. macrumors 6502


    Jun 19, 2010
    Albuquerque, NM
    For those tasks, I'm fairly certain the HD 3000 graphics will work just fine. You will definitely benefit more from extra cores when using Parallels than you would with the video card (assuming you don't plan on doing any heavy gaming while running parallels) because Parallels is more CPU reliant than GPU reliant.
  6. macrumors newbie

    Jul 20, 2007

    Thanks, C
  7. thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 13, 2010
    Thanks so much for your help and advice on this.. I really appreciate it.
  8. macrumors 6502

    Aug 5, 2010
    Granted, this is on a Windows machine, but I ended up building a small profile 3.2ghz Sandy Bridge box w/ 8gb of ram and the HD3000, and I've found the video to be a little sluggish. For most everything it works decently, and I can play Halflife on high settings unless it gets really intense (then it just stutters alot) but even in Photoshop, you can feel it dragging a little. At this point, I'm buying a new case so I can use my better vid card.

    The mac mini is going to be my introduction into the apple world, and based on my HD3000 experience, I'm really thinking I'll need the discrete chip for graphics.
  9. thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 13, 2010
    What version of Photoshop if you don't mind me asking?
    Adobe has sure done a great job of bloating their software of late. :(

    Mac Mini is a great machine for first foray to Mac. Such a great machine and Parallels is no joke for Windows needs. Just be sure to max out the machines ram! (not through apple. go with a 3rd party provider, but I am sure you know that if you build machines ;))
  10. macrumors 6502

    Aug 5, 2010
    CS4. On my previous machine, which was an AMD 949 Quad 2.8, I had a 512mb nVidia 9800gt in it, and it was smooth as butter. It lead me to believe it was the video that was doing it.
  11. thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 13, 2010
    Thanks much for this insight. I do use CS3 on the Mac side (and so happy it still works in Lion) so I am going to have to give this some more thought now.

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