2018 Mac Mini vs. iMac with Retina 5K display

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by edtorious, Oct 30, 2018.


Mac Mini or iMac 5k?

  1. 2018 Mac Mini

    42 vote(s)
  2. iMac 5k

    16 vote(s)
  1. edtorious macrumors 65816


    Aug 14, 2007
    San Diego, California
    Which one do you think it's better? It will be for just regular use and video games. I'm leaning towards Mac Mini so I can hook up my 55" 4K TV into it. What do you think?
  2. redheeler macrumors 604


    Oct 17, 2014
    For gaming the Mac mini with a Thunderbolt 3 desktop-class eGPU may be a better option. It's difficult to recommend the 5K iMac now as it still comes with last year's quad-core processors, and the mobile GPU won't be as good as a desktop-class eGPU for gaming.
  3. stillcrazyman macrumors 68020


    Oct 10, 2014
    In Exile
    I'm interested in this choice process as well. I have a well used Late 2012 27" iMac with 32GB and a 1TB SSD (I installed) .

    So, time for an upgrade. Wait for an update to the iMac or spec out a new mini with eGPU and a 4k Display ?
  4. zoom25 macrumors newbie

    Jul 30, 2018
    Wait for the new iMac. I will eventually be purchasing a Mac Mini down the road for one of my media rooms and semi-casual use, but will continue to stick with a 27" iMac for serious work and where I spend most of my time doing actual work.

    I still have a 27" Late 2009 that's working flawlessly.
  5. padams35 macrumors regular

    Nov 10, 2016
    I have the exact same question, but different setup.

    My currently (2011) 21.5" iMac is part of a dual-21.5" monitor arrangement that I like but it needs replacing. (The 6770M is now too slow, the USB 2.0 ports are too slow, it doesn't Airdrop with my iPhone, etc etc).

    Ordinarily I'd grab a 5K, but I dislike how dual-27" displays can leave windows/information outside my field of vision and wouldn't fit on my desk anyway. So I ether (a) downgrade from dual monitors to a single 5K, or (b) replace with a 4K.

    I didn't like the 4K iMac options (non-user-replaceable RAM, a Pro 560 GPU I'll probably outgrow too soon) but this new 2018 Mini... if the RAM is an easy upgrade then an i5 6(6) mini + eGPU + 24" 4K monitor would be a drop in upgrade, more powerful than a 4K iMac, and cheaper than an equivalent 5K iMac if we assume a 4(8) i7 is equivalent to a 6(6) i5.

    On a 1-10 scale for 1080p monitor to 4K/5K Retina where do modern generic 4K monitors fall?
  6. pmelsan, Oct 30, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2018

    pmelsan macrumors newbie

    Oct 30, 2018

    Could you help me make my decision please?

    I want to buy a new Mac and I am doubting between the 5K iMac (2017) and the new Mac mini. I will use it for general use but also photography editing and from time to time video editing. The option of Mac mini + egpu is a no go for me so I am looking for advice on which option would be best for me regarding performance?

    iMac 5K or new mac mini? (iMac has older processors but Better GPU? While new Mac mini has better processors and ram, but worse gpu.)

    Which one would you go for? (Disregard screen so focus on overall performance and photo editing photoshop etc).

  7. zoom25, Oct 30, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2018

    zoom25 macrumors newbie

    Jul 30, 2018
    For both above posters, I'd recommend the 27" iMac (wait for the 2018 models if possible!). The size and screen quality is well worth it. If you spend a lot of time up close to the screen reading, writing, editing (video/photo), then the iMac's screen is an absolute must. The iMacs screens are so much easier on the eyes with respect to glare, sharpness, colour gamut/accuracy. There's a lot more to it than the size/resolution. Apple has an exception balance IME. The 27" is excellent for Lightroom.

    I take their screens for granted as I have Macbook Pros, iPhone, iPad, and iMac and they are all within the same realm. Go look at some other mid or high-end level non-Apple screens and spend some time working on them. If you're picky by nature about these things, you'll quickly make up your mind.

    At home, I run professionally calibrated 1080p and 4k TVs, and they are perfect for watching videos and playing games or even light browsing, but no way I'd use them for long working sessions. It starts messing with my eyes.

    If you have the budget for a high-end screen and want to meet or exceed iMac's screen in all areas for use with a Mini, prepare to spend some money.
  8. pmelsan macrumors newbie

    Oct 30, 2018

    Thanks - and regarding performance for photo editing ? Which gpu/processor/ram combination would win, iMac 5K or new Mac mini?
  9. StellarVixen macrumors 68000


    Mar 1, 2018
    The only thing that kept me away from iMacs are laptop CPUs and GPUs.
  10. pmelsan macrumors newbie

    Oct 30, 2018
    What do you mean?
  11. redheeler macrumors 604


    Oct 17, 2014
    The 27" iMacs all come with with full desktop CPUs, and should go hex-core when Apple finally refreshes them (9th-gen Intel next spring?). The dedicated GPU is slightly underpowered for intensive gaming, but certainly better than the built-in integrated graphics of the Mac mini.

    My current main setup is a 5K iMac from 2015, the high-end model with 32 GB RAM (2133 MHz that I installed myself as this model is user-upgradable), and it has never felt like a slouch. The 5K display is still something special, even now in 2018.

    The only real complaints I have are display issues like image retention and slight dust patterns in the corners that develop over time (the 2017 models are less prone to image retention from what I understand).
  12. zoom25 macrumors newbie

    Jul 30, 2018
    All the Mac Mini model come with a Intel UHD Graphics 630. There is no upgrade option for internal dedicated graphics like on the Macbook Pro or iMac. I am not sure how well the 630 performs.

    The iMac comes with dedicated graphics. Unless you absolutely need a computer right now, I'd hold off for the refreshed iMacs. At the very least, you'll get upgraded 8th generation and potentially even 9th generation CPUs in the upcoming release. The Macbook Pros are getting Vega GPU options within the month. Let's see if the iMac (standard, non-pro) can also get Vega GPUs.

    Nowadays, I don't put much money upgrading deep into Apple products, especially not the Macbook Pros. The only exception is for iMac. It's the only Apple product where I don't hesitate to future proof it. I expect decade plus use out of them. Plugged in 24/7/365 and ready for use.
  13. pmelsan macrumors newbie

    Oct 30, 2018
    Ok so for my intended use and without waiting for next release (so what there is available now) the way to go is iMac vs mini?
  14. David G. macrumors 65816

    Apr 10, 2007
    If Apple was going to release 2018 iMacs they would have done it today. You shouldn't lead anyone on, it simply will not happen.
  15. padams35 macrumors regular

    Nov 10, 2016
    Hard to say. Most photo editing operations are strictly CPU/Drive intensive, so if the 5K has an SSD they would tie. However if you try anything designed for GPU acceleration the 5K curb stomps any mini without an eGPU.

    Faster than the Iris 6100 in a 2015 13" MBP, slower than the Iris 540 in a 2016 13" MBP. Probably a bit like the GT 640M from an entry 2012 iMac, except with more (shared) VRAM.
  16. zoom25 macrumors newbie

    Jul 30, 2018
    If you don't already have an excellent screen that you know is on par with the iMac, then the decision is automatically the iMac.

    I'm expecting the six core CPUs in the Mac Mini to perform better than the seventh generation quad core iMac. However, the iGPU in the Mini would make me reconsider. Still, I've been using quad cores on multiple 15" Macbook Pros and I don't find them limiting or giving me any problems when working on them for either photo or video editing with large files and catalogues.

    If you go with the iMac, absolutely go with the SSD only option (256GB is okay, but ideally 512GB or more). I don't keep crap on my iMac and offload things to external drives. However, stuff like apps and catalogues can take up some space and you want to keep some headroom to be able to do a project on the internal SSD in completion without constantly going back and forth.

    For my preferences and the way I work, I'd still be going with last year's 27" iMac over the new Mac Mini. I'd buy the mid or high end model with 512GB SSD (1TB would be lovely, but the money is better suited for CPU/GPU upgrades) and stock 8GB RAM and upgrade the RAM on my own over time.
  17. pmelsan macrumors newbie

    Oct 30, 2018
    Ok, so made up my mind and ordered an 5K iMac.

    In the end, the screen and the more balanced power (i7 + dedicated GPU) I think fits better my needs.

  18. blueapplepaste macrumors newbie

    Nov 30, 2013
    The office where my 2012 max mini is also where I play Xbox and they share a monitor.

    I’d love to get an iMac, but for me it won’t work because I can’t utilize it as a monitor for the Xbox.

    So for some people in a similar situation, the Mac mini is best option. I wish Apple would build target display capabilities back into the iMac.
  19. Oculus Mentis macrumors member

    Oculus Mentis

    Sep 26, 2018
    In my opinion a mac mini is far more versatile that any iMac in terms of what monitor/s you want to use and how long you want to keep it/them...
  20. SteelBlueTJ macrumors 6502

    Apr 2, 2012
    I'm in the same boat. My current machine is a Late-2013 27" iMac 3.4 i5 Haswell 256gb SSD 8gb Ram. Still performs great, but recently I started getting into video editing and noticed it slowing down. I'm also craving a retina display. But not sure if I would benefit much from a new machine? I was thinking about getting one of the new 2018 Mac Mini's with a new display but wasn't sure if I would notice much of a performance difference? I would love to get an iMac Pro but they are way out of my budget right now, even the refurbs are $4k+. I could wait it out until next year and see what the new Mac Pro's are, or even next years hopeful iMac update.
  21. archer75 macrumors 68020

    Jan 26, 2005
    Mac mini. Get whatever monitor you want with it. Then you won't be like me with a dead imac because the video card died, was replaced, died again and now it's a huge paperweight. You can just run a egpu and replace what fails as or when needed. A dead mini is a lot cheaper to replace than a dead imac.
  22. macintoshmac macrumors 68030


    May 13, 2010
    Not in my country! Entry level iMac and Mini are priced within spitting distance of each other. Makes choosing even more taxing. ;)
  23. LaloG macrumors member

    Mar 29, 2013
    Interesting posts. I just build a Mac mini plus all the stuff I need (monitor, mouse, keyboard, etc) and the price difference is very minimal. I’m leaning now towards the 5k iMac. Damn you apple!!! I was all set to order the Mac mini and then made a comparison and I think the screen of the iMac beat out the monitor I can afford for the Mac mini.
  24. now i see it macrumors 68040

    Jan 2, 2002
    Yeah, but when your 5K iMac display goes belly up, bye bye computer. Of if you need to take the computer to Apple for repair, diagnosis, have fun carting that giant iMac around.
  25. stillcrazyman macrumors 68020


    Oct 10, 2014
    In Exile
    I've been pricing out a Mini with the i7 512GB SSD and 32GB (3rd party) along with a 4K Display of some sort.
    That's where I'm at a loss. I do photography as a hobby and would like something close to a 'Retina' display.
    Prices are crazy. Then I have to wonder about if I need a eGPU.

    Everything I've come up with is more expensive than a 2017 iMac 27. Analysis paralysis :)

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42 October 30, 2018