21.5" iMac or MacMini for Parents?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by JulesK, Jan 28, 2015.

  1. JulesK macrumors 6502

    Dec 17, 2002
    I need to move my parents to a Mac, and am trying to decide between the mid-level Mini (with a 256GB SSD) or mid-level 21.5" iMac (also with 256GB SSD); it's about a $600 difference. They have minimal computing needs, and either will suffice, but simplicity and fewer cables have some value in this scenario.

    Any thoughts on pluses-minuses of either option would be greatly appreciated. I would be tempted by a refurb iMac, but the need to get a Apple trackpad (hate the magic mouse) and an EPP discount greatly offset the savings.

    Many thanks.
  2. plastictoy macrumors member

    Jan 20, 2014
    Are you sure they need the SSD? If they're like my parents, any recent computer that works is fast enough.

    The low-end 21.5" iMac seems ideal for everyday tasks. It has everything including trackpad keyboard for not much more than the similarly configured Mini if you add all the peripherals.

    One single cable versus one power plus display cable plus display power cable.
  3. ssls6 macrumors 6502a


    Feb 7, 2013
    I think you're spot on. Get the SSD and 4GB basic 21" iMac. They'll be happy and it looks like a TV, very comfortable. Get a cheap usb3 external for Time Machine.
  4. BrettApple, Jan 28, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2015

    BrettApple macrumors 65816


    Apr 3, 2010
    Heart of the midwest
    I would recommend the iMac for simplicities sake. Less cables, comes with KB/Mouse too.

    My mother got her iMac in August 2007, and still uses it to this day. Only issues she's had has been with lighting strikes going through the internet line before we used wireless back in '07-'09. Both PSU and GPU were replaced under Apple Care though.

    It was the base 2.0GHz model that shipped with Tiger :D

    Upgrades over the last 8 years would be 2GB to 4GB RAM, and a 128GB SSD over the stock, old, slow HDD. It's been through every OS X release from 10.4 to 10.10. Never a hiccup.

    She isn't a power user, but she uses Mail, Safari/Chrome, iTunes for her music and iPhone, Office 2011 and Pages '09/newest one, and some iPhoto.

    I'd just pick the middle iMac as it is, perhaps with the 256GB SSD for the future and to reduce a point of failure. Should be good for the next decade. I think my mothers iMac can make it through two more years easily.

    Ain't she a beauty, for being an 8 year old computer :cool:


    As for the Mac Mini:

    It is cheaper for the unit itself, but you have to factor in the cost of a decent monitor, keyboard, mouse, and speakers. Also some cable management would be needed.

    On the plus side, they are easy to get into (with the right tools) should something fail or need replacing years down the line when it's out of warranty. Though the 2014's have soldered RAM, the SSD is replaceable-ish as is the power supply.

    As I stated with our iMac, it wasn't bought as is and left alone, it was upgraded in 2012 with more RAM because of Lion and ML using so much, and then the SSD in 2013 to help it along with Mavericks and Yosemite. It was the base model however, so for future proofing with either the iMac or Mac Mini, go with 8GB RAM now, since it'll be stuck with it later.
  5. ixxx69 macrumors 65816

    Jul 31, 2009
    United States
    I think the iMac is the way to go, dependent on the screen. Is the 21.5" screen comfortable enough for them to view at native resolution? Maybe a 24" or larger would be appreciated. Will the iMac's glossy screen be an issue where they'll have it placed? There are obviously external displays that are matte.

    In my experience, trackpads just get computer neophytes into trouble. I know they tend to "like" them better - the physical movements on a trackpad as it relates to the screen is an easier concept to grasp than a mouse. But when it actually comes to precision pointing and clicking, they struggle despite themselves.

    While less cables often results in less troubles, and would be appreciated in the OP's situation, I do want to point out that the "jumble of cables" for a Mac mini gets overstated quite a bit. We're talking about one additional power cord (for the external display), and one simple display cable linking the two, i.e. a mDP or HDMI, which are very simple ports (no turning of the screws like on DVI/VGA). It just depends on the person. My dad just can't get the concept of cables down... when some electronics started needing more than a power cord, it was game over for him. My mother has no problem with cables... the ethernet cable is just the big phone-looking plug, and so on.
  6. JulesK thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 17, 2002

    All - Thanks for the comments. iMac will be the way to go; I'll have to see whether they are more comfortable with a 21.5 or 27 screen, but I think physical size will be an issue (27" too big).

    I wanted something a step up from base, and between the stock spinner and either fusion drive or 256GB SSD, I'll likely go with the 256GB SSD because it's very unlikely they will ever fill even that. Plus, a cheap USB3 drive can cover TM duties.

    Appreciate all the thoughts.

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5 January 28, 2015