2012 Mac Mini or 2008-2010 Mac Pro as a server?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by jimmyco2008, Feb 8, 2015.

  1. jimmyco2008 macrumors regular

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    Jan 8, 2014
    #1
    Hey there!

    Currently I have a 2012 Mac Mini with SSDs, 8GB of RAM and of course the Ivy Bridge i5 as my home server. Its primary tasks are rather small and simple: it serves up files on occasion and a few websites.

    For a few reasons, I'm likely to be moving from OS X to Linux, though I've looked into building a computer from, say, Newegg, and I'm not a fan of the very limited options for "at least sort-of portable", "classy", and I'm having a hard time staying in budget ($600) while having server parts (Xeon/Opteron, ECC RAM, etc.).
    So that more or less narrows it down to the Mac Mini or Mac Pro. While the Mac Mini is unbeatably energy-efficient and as portable as it gets, the Mac Pro has two Ethernet ports (enabling me to do the intranet configuration I've wanted to do), and has more possibilities since it's a full tower. For example, I could have a RAID array of platter HDDs, possibly in RAID5 or RAID10, something impossible with the Mac Mini's max of two drives... Not to mention it packs at least one Xeon (albeit it's on the older side), and I'd be more comfortable leaving it on 24/7. I'd also imagine that the RAM is pretty cheap (ECC or no), and about to be cheaper once DDR4 becomes mainstream. All of this actually makes me feel a little more future-proofed than I do with the Mac Mini. If demands increase, I think I would be better-equipped to upgrade the Mac Pro than the Mac Mini.

    With the Mac Mini, Thunderbolt doesn't really matter since it would just be used to give me that second Ethernet port; portability isn't a big deal since it almost never moves; Also don't really care about USB 3, although SATA III is nice.

    Which would you say is better as a server?

    tl;dr I have a 2012 Mac Mini, but I'm thinking a Mac Pro, even though it would be 2008-2010, would be better-suited as a server, and might even outlast the Mac Mini in terms of upgradability. Thoughts?
     
  2. fuchsdh macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 19, 2014
    #2
    For me, the quiet performance, small footprint, and far better energy usage, plus the fact you currently have the Mini, make me think that's a far better choice. Sure, there's some more flexibility to be had with drive configs in the Pro, but you can still upgrade the mini's drives and boost its RAM if you need to.
     
  3. jimmyco2008 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jan 8, 2014
    #3
    Good points, but it is important to note that servers generally have more than two hard drives (for redundancy ofc), and the Mac Mini is limited to 16GB of RAM (because no one manufactures DIMMs with more). With the Mac Pro, I can max out at 64GB. Granted I'm not using anywhere near that atm, my thinking is sell the Mac Mini while the demand is high (for the 2012s), and buy a computer that will last me longer.

    Again, good points- it makes for a very tough call. Incumbent always has the leg up, though.
     
  4. dyt1983, Feb 8, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2015

    dyt1983 macrumors 65816

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    #4
    edit: To remove personally identifying info not relevant to the conversation.
     
  5. jimmyco2008 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jan 8, 2014
    #5
    Thanks for the reply!

    I'd consider just buying another 2012 Mac Mini, but that would cost $500 or so (used), and then the Solid State goodness would probably run me about $200 for two 240/256GB drives (from a decent OEM like Intel or Samsung), and then I'd need the "add a second drive" kit from iFixit (+$30).

    = $730

    Whereas I could get the same amount of RAM and processors (I know, not necessarily processing power, but two 2009 Xeons would hold their own), and not need to buy more SSDs if I went with the ~$500-600 Mac Pro.

    That's my reasoning at this point.
     
  6. dyt1983, Feb 8, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2015

    dyt1983 macrumors 65816

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    #6
    edit: To remove personally identifying info not relevant to the conversation.
     
  7. jimmyco2008 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jan 8, 2014
    #7
    It'd add up, true.

    The 2012 Mac Mini uses 11 watts idle, vs the 2009 Mac Pro's 115 watts (10x more). The ratios are similar for CPU under full-load. So if running the Mac Mini costs me $2/month (that's actually probably close), it would likely cost me closer to $20 for the Mac Pro (~$230/year).

    Good point, sir.
     
  8. nightmars macrumors member

    nightmars

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    Sep 21, 2010
    Location:
    Germany
    #8
    I can see HDD space being an issue when considering working with servers. As an additional input from a fellow mini-user:
    Why don't keep the mini (as you already know a quite capable machine) and look into nice, comfortable and energy efficient HDD servers to add to your mini? I am so absolutely pleased with my DS411slim. Maybe have a look at the current version (It does fit into your mentioned budget when fully loaded):
    https://www.synology.com/de-de/products/DS414slim
    Might be an alternative solution to your primary question. Depending on your "server-usage/needs" it might even run apps that you might enjoy.

    markus
     
  9. jimmyco2008 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jan 8, 2014
    #9
    Thanks for all the replies, everyone.

    Looks like I'll be keeping the Mini. Hopefully this thread will go on to help anywhere else indecisive about the Mac Pro and Mac Mini as a server.
     

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