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4 or 6 Core Mini for Graphic Design?

TandemStudios

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 4, 2018
9
5
I am looking to upgrade my 2011 21.5" iMac and have more or less decided on a Mini. The question is, which one? I'm a print designer, running InDesign primarily, with Photoshop and Illustrator as needed. I do little/no video work.

Here are the two options I'm looking at:

For $1499
  • 3.0GHz 6‑core 8th‑generation Intel Core i5 (Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz)
  • 16GB 2666MHz DDR4
  • Intel UHD Graphics 630
  • 512GB SSD storage
For $1399
  • 3.6GHz quad‑core 8th‑generation Intel Core i3
  • 16GB 2666MHz DDR4
  • Intel UHD Graphics 630
  • 512GB SSD storage
I know enough to be dangerous, but am not tech-savvy enough to know which is the better option.

Also, looking for a recommendation on a 4K monitor that won't break the bank that would be appropriate for what I'm doing.

OR should I go for a 27" iMac since I still would need to find an appropriate monitor and at that point I'm in the same ballpark, price-wise? The only issue I see here is then I still need to drop even more $ to get the amount of RAM I feel I need.
 

archer75

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Jan 26, 2005
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If it were me i'd get the i7. But of the two you listed the i5. I'd get the 8gb option and upgrade to 32gb yourself. Just with my background tasks running and me not touching my mini i'm using 16gb alone. With your work the more ram the better.
 
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F-Train

macrumors 65816
Apr 22, 2015
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As someone who owns both a 27" iMac and a Mac mini, I think that there's a lot to be said for the simplicity and integrated monitor of an iMac.

On the issue of Mac mini CPU, in your position I'd be inclined to take a project on a flash drive to an Apple store and test how the i3 and i5 perform. I haven't used an i3 mini, but I've owned both the i5 and the i7 mini. I believe that the i5 will work for you, unless your Photoshop projects involve a lot of layers. In that case, I'd test the i3 and i5 with an open mind to getting an i7.

If you use your computer as a workspace for current projects and keep everything else on external drives, it might be worth thinking about whether 256GB of flash would be sufficient. It would save US$200.

At the moment, there are a number of pure 4K and 4K plus HDR monitors on the market. I'd suggest that you ignore the latter from the get go. I have a 4K HDR monitor, and true HDR adds hundreds of dollars to the price. It is not worth it unless you really need it, or have some spare cash and want to play with HDR.

Also, I'd point out that LG monitors, including those purchased from Apple, come with only a one year warranty, in a market where three years is the norm. Personally, I would not purchase an LG monitor, especially for work. Apparently, some people have purchased third party insurance, but I just don't want the potential headache of dealing with one of these third party consumer goods insurers.
 
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Coyote2006

macrumors 6502a
Apr 16, 2006
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If you use your computer as a workspace for current projects and keep everything else on external drives, it might be worth thinking about whether 256GB of flash would be sufficient. It would save US$200.

It depends on how many external drives you have and how fast they are and what enclosure you have. If you have normal SSDs you'll only get about 500MB/s.

So it might be better to go with a 1TB internal pcie-SSD at about 2500MB/s and use the external SSDs for Backup and/archiving.
 
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bigfatipod

macrumors 6502
Sep 22, 2011
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I agree the iMac might also be a good pick. The monitor it comes with is excellent. I love my 2012 mini, but have just a run of the mill Acer monitor since I don't do much graphic design, etc. I think there's a lot to be said for the simplicity (and power) of the iMac.
I'm not up to speed on when the last models were released or when new ones are rumored to be announced, so you may want to look at that information if you're not on a time crunch.

Just curious.. what versions of the Adobe software are you running? I'd just make sure it works with Mojave or that could be an ugly surprise (I'm not familiar with what's supported, just suggesting one more thing to verify).
 
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TandemStudios

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 4, 2018
9
5
I agree the iMac might also be a good pick. The monitor it comes with is excellent. I love my 2012 mini, but have just a run of the mill Acer monitor since I don't do much graphic design, etc. I think there's a lot to be said for the simplicity (and power) of the iMac.
I'm not up to speed on when the last models were released or when new ones are rumored to be announced, so you may want to look at that information if you're not on a time crunch.

Just curious.. what versions of the Adobe software are you running? I'd just make sure it works with Mojave or that could be an ugly surprise (I'm not familiar with what's supported, just suggesting one more thing to verify).

Thanks for the input. I'm running the latest versions of Adobe Creative Suite, so all 2019 versions. That's part of what I'm dealing with, actually - my 2011 won't update to Mojave it's so old.

Now I'm back to the 27" iMac as my primary choice. Refurbs (when available) are only $200 more. Granted I'd need to pump up the RAM, but aftermarket isn't too bad. I need to buy before the end of the year so I can deduct it. Great timing to buy a new machine, what with Christmas and all...
 
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archer75

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Jan 26, 2005
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I would avoid the imac simply because if it dies you've lost both a computer and a monitor. This happened with my imac. Known video card issue. Had it repaired once and it died again later. So now I have a perfectly good monitor that is unusable. And a new video card for it costs almost as much as the entry level mini.
 
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TandemStudios

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 4, 2018
9
5
I would avoid the imac simply because if it dies you've lost both a computer and a monitor. This happened with my imac. Known video card issue. Had it repaired once and it died again later. So now I have a perfectly good monitor that is unusable. And a new video card for it costs almost as much as the entry level mini.

Valid point. I've also run multiple iMacs exclusively for the last 10-ish years and never had one puke. This is the issue - I feel like both are really solid options. It would be nice if I had unlimited funds - Then I'd just pop for a MacPro and be done with it LOL
 
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pl1984

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Oct 31, 2017
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Valid point. I've also run multiple iMacs exclusively for the last 10-ish years and never had one puke. This is the issue - I feel like both are really solid options. It would be nice if I had unlimited funds - Then I'd just pop for a MacPro and be done with it LOL
Given the current Mac Pro is five year old technology I don't believe it's as straightforward as that. A Mini or iMac could easily outperform it depending on the task.
 
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TandemStudios

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 4, 2018
9
5
Given the current Mac Pro is five year old technology I don't believe it's as straightforward as that. A Mini or iMac could easily outperform it depending on the task.

It was meant to be tongue-in-cheek. Thanks, I guess?
 
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F-Train

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Apr 22, 2015
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I would avoid the imac simply because if it dies you've lost both a computer and a monitor. This happened with my imac. Known video card issue. Had it repaired once and it died again later. So now I have a perfectly good monitor that is unusable. And a new video card for it costs almost as much as the entry level mini.

I see this quite differently, especially when purchasing for work purposes. If an iMac dies and you have AppleCare, the fix is easy. You walk into an Apple store, assuming that you are within range of one, and they deal with it.

If I have a problem with my fancy new Asus monitor, I get to deal with a Taiwanese company whose U.S. head office is on the other side of the country, and that has four U.S. repair facilities*, two in Puerto Rico, one in Georgia and one in NY*. Were it not for the facility in NY, where this particular monitor is going to live, I would not have purchased this monitor. I am really not interested in trying to deal with someone in a call centre followed by shipping a 32" monitor for diagnosis/repairs hundreds of miles.

Apple is really easy to deal with, and I put a significant dollar value on that.

* There may be others; this is what Asus shows me on its web site.
 
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archer75

macrumors 68030
Jan 26, 2005
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Oregon
I see this quite differently, especially when purchasing for work purposes. If an iMac dies and you have AppleCare, the fix is easy. You walk into an Apple store, assuming that you are within range of one, and they deal with it.

If I have a problem with my fancy new Asus monitor, I get to deal with a Taiwanese company whose U.S. head office is on the other side of the country, and that has four U.S. repair facilities, two in Puerto Rico, one in Georgia and one in NYC. Were it not for the facility in NY, where this particular monitor is going to live, I would not have purchased this monitor. I am really not interested in trying to deal with someone in a call centre followed by shipping a 32" monitor for diagnosis/repairs hundreds of miles.

People really underestimate how easy Apple is too deal with, and I put a significant dollar value on that.
I had applecare. It died outside of the warranty. Since it was a known issue they covered the part for everyone for 4 years. It died 6 months outside of that. So I was screwed.
I see your point but no, applecare doesn't always help.
 
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bigfatipod

macrumors 6502
Sep 22, 2011
269
102
Regarding the downside to an iMac breaking means the whole thing, my experience with Apple is that they tend to take very good care of their customers that don't abuse their policies. I do recommend apple care, anyhow. But on numerous occasions, they've helped me with iPhone problems well after the standard warranty had expired.

So while it would be a pain if anything broke (on any computer), I think you'll be treated well by Apple.
 
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Santabean2000

macrumors 68000
Nov 20, 2007
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For business/work, get the iMac.

The RAM is a lot easier to access on the 27” for a start.

Simplicity is everything. Focus on the job, not the tool.


The mini would make more sense if you had existing, high-quality monitors.
 
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F-Train

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Apr 22, 2015
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I had applecare. It died outside of the warranty. Since it was a known issue they covered the part for everyone for 4 years. It died 6 months outside of that. So I was screwed.
I see your point but no, applecare doesn't always help.

I'm trying to talk about this from a business/work perspective. AppleCare on an iMac and my Asus warranty are both three years. The former is significantly easier to deal with, certainly for someone in the eastern U.S. who doesn't live in NYC, Georgia or Puerto Rico.

Anybody can have a product fail outside of warranty. That could happen to my iMac, to my mini or to my Asus. That's just life.

In reality, my iMac is now four years old (late 2014) and is running as well as the day that I purchased it.
 
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kingjames1970

macrumors regular
Mar 18, 2008
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Hampshire, UK
There's likely nothing more important to a designer than a decent monitor. You can always wait for files to open/save or effects to render but deliver files with poor colour...

iMac all the way. Make sure you get AppleCare as it's for work. Keep your old Mac as an emergency backup.
 
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archer75

macrumors 68030
Jan 26, 2005
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Anybody can have a product fail outside of warranty. That could happen to my iMac, to my mini or to my Asus. That's just life.
Of course. But when it's an all in one you're really screwed. At least if your monitor dies the computer connected to it still works. And vice versa. You don't lose both items.
I'd be much happier to lose a monitor, out of warranty, then the entire computer or an AIO, which is much more expensive.
 
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TandemStudios

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 4, 2018
9
5
I appreciate all the feedback. I think the 27" iMac is probably going to be the way I go. I need a quality monitor, and being able to easily upgrade the RAM post-purchase is a plus. My past experience with iMacs has been positive, so that has to play into it, naturally. Since I'm looking at a wash from a cost-perspective, it feels like the safer bet.
 
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kingjames1970

macrumors regular
Mar 18, 2008
246
457
Hampshire, UK
I appreciate all the feedback. I think the 27" iMac is probably going to be the way I go. I need a quality monitor, and being able to easily upgrade the RAM post-purchase is a plus. My past experience with iMacs has been positive, so that has to play into it, naturally. Since I'm looking at a wash from a cost-perspective, it feels like the safer bet.
Great decision, if you're not in a panic time-wise hold on for a bit if you can, they've not been updated in quite a while and you could get a refurb on the current models. Not a big deal probably though as pretty much everything will seem lighting fast compared to your 2011 Mac!
 
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TandemStudios

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 4, 2018
9
5
Great decision, if you're not in a panic time-wise hold on for a bit if you can, they've not been updated in quite a while and you could get a refurb on the current models. Not a big deal probably though as pretty much everything will seem lighting fast compared to your 2011 Mac!

I wish I could wait. I am going to get a refurb, but I need to buy before year-end so I can claim it on my taxes.
 
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opeter

macrumors 68000
Aug 5, 2007
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Slovenia, EU
I haven't used an i3 mini, but I've owned both the i5 and the i7 mini. I believe that the i5 will work for you, unless your Photoshop projects involve a lot of layers. In that case, I'd test the i3 and i5 with an open mind to getting an i7.

You are comparing notebook CPUs (old Mac mini generations) with the desktop CPUs (2018 Mac mini).
Apple and oranges.

The CPUs in the new Mac minis are competitive (i3-8100b) in other cases faster (i5-8500b and especially i7-8700B), than the CPUs you can find in the actual (2017) iMacs.
 
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F-Train

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Apr 22, 2015
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You are comparing notebook CPUs (old Mac mini generations) with the desktop CPUs (2018 Mac mini).
Apple and oranges.

Huh? Where are you getting this from?

Look at my signature, for starters.

I've never touched, let alone owned, a pre-2018 Mac mini.
 
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