2011 Mac Mini vs 2010 Mac Pro (if I go pro, am I really upgrading?)

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by troy14, Jan 20, 2015.

  1. troy14 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 25, 2008
    Las Vegas (Summerlin), NV
    hi everyone,

    i have a rMBP and mac mini and truthfully never thought ever about buying a mac pro. Seemed too big and when they never updated them in 2010 and it was 2012/13 when I bought my mini, it seemed like a mini was a better buy.

    anyways, I was going to build a gaming PC but didn't really want to build a PC only for the occasional game and have to keep switching between computers... so now researching a bit (mainly graphics cards because thats a huge component for a gaming computer..?) it seems the 2010 mac pro can get some really impressive graphics cards installed (GTX 680, 780, 980!).

    Anyways, my current mac mini is the mid 2011 model with a dedicated (heh what a joke) graphics card, i5 processor, and is running a 500gb / 250gb SSD fusion drive. It would be nice to only have ONE computer for gaming and computing. I don't really do anything heavy, the occasional movie / file conversion, and browse the internet. (No photoshp, video editing, etc.)

    Would like to start getting into some gaming, i'm using a 24" dell monitor at 1920x1200. I'm interested in starting off WoW, Diablo 3, maybe some other ones, who knows. Would like to run them smoothly at some higher settings.

    My question is, is it worthwhile for me to sell my Mini and get a 4,1 or 5,1 Mac Pro and put in a good video card? Will it be in any way of a downgrade or the same, or an upgrade all around? Will gaming performance be decent at least? Am I completely stupid?

    Please let me know, all your pro input is welcome!
  2. omvs macrumors 6502

    May 15, 2011
    I went from a 2011 iMac (3.1GHz cpu, 6970) to a 2009 macpro, and it was a definite improvement for games. Should be even more noticeable compared to your mini, assuming you cpu put a reasonable gpu in the macpro.

    However if you keep a GT120 & the baseline cpu (2.66ghz?) it might be disappointing.
  3. Loa macrumors 68000


    May 5, 2003

    Go for the single core 2009 Mac Pro (cheapest of all the 2009+ mac pros), and add a decent PC GPU. It'll blow your mini out of the water. My guess is that even the base 2.66 GHz quad will be an improvement. Also, many components of that Mac Pro can be upgraded to match or even surpass the components of the new (2013) Mac Pro, so it still has long legs. Everything is easy to upgrade, even the CPU if you need to. (If you need dual processor set-ups, stick to 2010+ if you're planning on replacing them.)

    I have one right now, updated long ago with a PC 6870, which allows me to play Diablo 3 and Marvel Heroes 2015 at absolute max settings, on a 1920*1200 monitor. Last time I played WoW (been a while), it was maxed out as well. And that 6870 is weak compared to the cheapest cards on the market right now. Gaming performance won't be "decent", it'll be the best of any mac on the market if you buy a good GPU.

    I'm not planning on replacing that machine anytime soon. If something happened to it, I'd buy another one used without a second thought.

  4. mcnallym macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2008
    It will definitely be an improvement over the mini, however here is a question.

    you have an rMBP, why not use the rMBP for what you use the mini for, the mini is a dual core so the rMBP will; easily do anything that the mini currently does.

    Sell the mini and then build a modern gaming system. You can build a much better gaming system from PC parts then would from a 2010 Mac Pro for the money.

    You already swap between desktop and laptop so not introducing any extra swapping then already doing.
  5. troy14 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 25, 2008
    Las Vegas (Summerlin), NV
    Truthfully, my rmbp hardly gets used that much. I just graduated with my bachelors so when I was a student it was used all the time. I much prefer an actual desktop setup over a laptop... And I don't have much desire to use windows even for only loading up games. I want a system I can do everything on, sit down and use the Internet or play a game.
  6. Marhowl macrumors member


    Apr 12, 2013
    I replaced my Maxed out MBP 17" Late 2011 with Mac Pro since it was used as a desktop replacement anyway, while I happily used 2013 13" Macbook air when moving around. It definitely was an upgrade. This computer will last me until at leat until 2020 if I don't lose my mind and sell it.

    After buying a Mac Pro, I came to a conclusion that all portable Macs, even the 15" and 17" are kind of "toys" to me in retrospect. Where they lack is upgradability and graphics processing power. Even the iMacs are a little bit of letdown, since they use mobile GPUs as well but at least they allow for higher TDP, so that allows more powerful GPUs. I'd say the 27" Mid 2011 is quite a beast with the HD 6970M, and we recently managed to get totally maxed out one for a really good price for my friend.

    But even then, I'd say I made better purchase with the 2009 8-core MAc Pro. I would even go as far as saying, that it has the potential to be more powerful than any iMac, Mac Mini or Macbook Pro they will release in the next 3 years or so
  7. lowendlinux Contributor


    Sep 24, 2014
    North Country (way upstate NY)
    I'd probably just build the gaming PC and use a KVM switch for switching between MBP and the PC. That way you can use your Mac for Mac things and have PC for gaming and they can share a display.
  8. SpecFoto, Jan 21, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2015

    SpecFoto macrumors member

    Oct 23, 2013
    So Cal
    Your assumption is correct. The graphics card is the main component that drives faster FPS and better quality gaming. Not trying to sound puffy or anything, but I have all 4 computers you mention, a 2012 quad mini, 2012 MBP with same processor, 2012 MP and a pc I built to my specs for gaming about 16 months ago. No way the mini or MBP are going to compete with the Mac Pro.

    The pc has a i7 3770 processor, MSI twin frozer 3GB HD7950 (AMD) graphics card, 500 GB SSD startup drive and a special Asus gaming motherboard, all high end components last year. (I set a budget of $350 for a graphics card, I could have spent $600) It cost just about $1,600 to assemble, no keyboard, mouse or screen, I used ones I had. Yes it rocks and gives super fast frame rates.......but the downside is that I have to deal with windows. I really thought I would not mind using windows, but I did. I remember last fall not using the gaming pc for about a month. Fired it up and there were 67 system patches that needed to be installed!! If I had to do it all over again, I would have bought a playstation or xbox instead, it would have been cheaper no doubt.

    So I pulled the HD7950 out of the pc, put it in my Mac Pro and now my MP is my gaming machine. While not quite as fast of FPS, it is more than fast enough for WOW, SCII and COD. No longer any stuttering or slowdowns. I have dual 27" screens and can play Starcraft on 1 screen while running PS actions on the other. I put the 5870 card into the PC and now it sits for months at a time. However I am very interested in the new 4GB GTX 970 cards and will buy one of those for the MP, once the driver issues are resolved in the next few months. Then the HD7950 will go back into the pc.

    The best advice I can give is to get the fastest single core MP you can, dual cores will not help gaming. Both the 4,1 and 5,1 MP models can accept NVIDA or AMD graphics cards, as long as they are dual 6 pin power plugs or (6 and 8 pin with an adapter). You won't get a start up screen, but if you put a SSD system start up drive in, that means less than 10 seconds of a gray screen before the log in screen appears.

    Happy Gaming

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