27" iMac vs. Mac Mini Server + 27" Thunderbolt screen

Discussion in 'iMac' started by grkmec, Aug 16, 2011.

  1. grkmec macrumors newbie

    Aug 15, 2011
    I was originally thinking of getting a Mac Mini Server and a 27" Thunderbolt screen... Then I asked myself why not just get a 27" iMac...

    With the iMac I can get much faster CPU, more memory and larger hard drives...

    So, if I was going to spend $2k anyway, any reason why going the Mac Mini route makes more sense than iMac?

    Also, is the 27" iMac screen the same screen as will be in the 27" thunderbolt monitor?

    Any thoughts / advice would be appreciated.
  2. Bearxor macrumors 6502a

    Jun 7, 2007
    The MAIN reason I can see getting a Mini would be for an easier SSD upgrade.

    Otherwise, the 27" entry level iMac is faster with a better video card and can hold more RAM.

    As far as I'm aware, the Cinema Displays and the iMac's have the same screen.
  3. lee14160 macrumors regular


    Nov 28, 2009
    Fruitland, Idaho
    In my mind the only right way is the iMac 27 (for all the reasons you mentioned). If you want to add a SSD you can do yourself, or take to an Apple store. Really cannot see a reason for a mini unless you are lost for space.:)
  4. theSeb macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England
    The screens are definitely not the same as seen in detailed reviews. If your heart is in the mini, get a 27" Dell ultra sharp for 2/3 of the price of the ATD. It's a better screen and does not double up as a mirror, which is a huge plus.

    What are you planning to use the new computer for?
  5. ben2e macrumors member

    Nov 26, 2007
    I'm in the same boat

    The iMac SSD upgrade is reasonable if you're replacing the optical drive, otherwise moving the MB is risky (and no fun).

    The mini is not as good on paper but as is pointed out, offers far easier SSD upgrade and a few years from now, you can swap up to newer technology without ditching your display.

    The downside is the mini server + keyboard, mouse, optical external drive costs near the price of the 27" core i7 iMac which is a screamer or just save a bunch of cash and get the i5.

    That said, the upgradability of the mini is attractive.
  6. zedsdead macrumors 68040

    Jun 20, 2007
    Go with the iMac. Much more to offer for the price.
  7. ascender macrumors 68020

    Dec 8, 2005
    Is it going to be your primary machine or just used as a server? We used to have a 27" iMac but increasingly it was just sitting switched-on serving up itunes content, generating a lot of heat and using more power than a mac mini so we made the switch.

    Machines are lasting longer and longer between upgrades now due to their power, but I guess the other thing to consider is that if the screen/machine dies in an iMac (or you just want to upgrade) you need to replace the whole thing.

    Its a cracking machine though :)
  8. mikeylikesit macrumors member

    Mar 19, 2011
    Slightly off topic, but what do you iMac users do with your machines when you upgrade? I've owned 4 mac minis over a 4 year period. One of the older models I use as a HTPC, while the other two I sold on ebay to lessen the cost of my upgrades. The mini is small and easy to ship. The most recent mini purchase I use as my desktop computer with my ACD.

    I was just wondering because I understand the benefits of the iMac and was considering one for my kids in the future. It would seem that the useful life of a display is a lot longer than that of a computer.
  9. panzer06 macrumors 68030


    Sep 23, 2006
    Usually sell or give them to family members. They are indeed a hassle to ship but I could never live with the GPU compromise associated with having a mini as my primary desktop.

  10. grkmec thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 15, 2011
    New machine will be used for ripping / encoding DVD's, managing massive Iphoto library and home-made movies. I think a 2nd 2TB drive on the iMac would be useful as a secondary NAS back-up.

    I have a Synology DS1511+ with 15TB in RAID 6 for the whole house that currently acts as my central repository. I also have an 2009 13" Macbook Pro but it kinda sucks at encoding video. I also picked up a Boxee Box to connect my NAS to my home theater. It is supposed to play raw DVD, but I want to have a secondary encoded copies of everything to keep on my Ipad / Macbooks which have limited internal storage capacity.
  11. Bearxor macrumors 6502a

    Jun 7, 2007
    Do you have a specific review you're talking about?

    The only one I'm really familiar with is Anandtech's but that was a 2011 iMac vs a 2010 ACD, not a 2011. Haven't seen the 2011 iMac go up against the 2011 ACD.

    I'm genuinely curious, because even he in the review Anand said the differences were negligible.
  12. thatisme macrumors 6502


    Mar 23, 2010
    United States
    best reason for the TB display and a mini over the iMac, is that next year or the year after, you can replace the mini and retain the TB display, thus halving (and then some) your upgrade costs to a faster, more capable device.
  13. grkmec thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 15, 2011
    Fair point. I guess the big question is at what point in the future will a mac mini form factor be able to match a 3.4ghz quad iCore 7, discrete GPU, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD and 2TB drive... And, the next question, it when would such a system be clearly superior? If 3-4 years, then I am ok with that. If 1-2yrs then NO.

    My mac book pro 2009 w/ C2D 2.53ghz just turned 2 years old. I originally spec'd it will a SSD drive and while it sucks wind running handbrake, it is a great little machine for non-cpu intensive tasks.
  14. theSeb macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England
    That's the one I can definitely remember reading. If I recall correctly, Anandtech also mentions that the display in the 2011 ATD is the same as the 2010 ACD? This is in the recent ATD and Primise Pegasus review.

    I am trying to think where I read the other reviews. It may have been Macworld and Ars Technica, or reghardware.
  15. MrT-Man macrumors regular

    Jan 22, 2008
    Nice. I'm looking at getting one of those.

    Back to the original topic -- a high percentage of the iMac screens have issues with color uniformity (there's like five threads on the topic, so you can read about it there). The issue seems to be less common on the standalone cinema display, and not an issue on the 27" Dell.

    So another benefit of the Mac Mini vs the iMac is that there's maybe 30%+ chance that you'll end up with a better screen than you would have had if you were to go with the iMac.

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