Advice – Mac Mini i7 vs. 27” iMac i5

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by devincco, Mar 19, 2013.

  1. devincco macrumors member


    Aug 19, 2006
    Hi all. I’m looking to purchase a new desktop PC for home in the next few months and am torn between the Mac Mini with an i7 and a 27” iMac with an i5. As for the specific speeds of the processor, I’m not terribly picky since the increase of the speeds for each model is not that substantial and it will also be whatever is available on the refurb site at the time as I plan to buy a refurb. I currently have a 5 year old Windows PC I’ll be replacing with a 24” Dell UltraSharp monitor (not sure of model number but resolution is 1920 x 1200). I also currently have a 13” 2011 MBP.

    My main use will be basic home/office stuff, light photo and video editing, and running a couple of VM’s for testing. It will also be used as a “home server” serving up all our Audio, Video, Pictures, etc. to all of our AppleTV’s and iOS devices. I’m not really a gamer so that’s not much of a concern. I’m trying to figure out which one would suit my needs best. I’m drawn to the 27” because of the display. I mean it’s just wonderful, but I do have a nice 24” display already. I’m also drawn to the mini because of its cost. But I’d also be adding an Apple Keyboard and Trackpad so I have to factor in those costs as well. Whichever machine I choose I’ll upgrade to 16GB of RAM. If I get the mini, I’ll probably add a SSD to it for the OS drive.

    My main question is for processing power. How much different is the i7 in the mini’s compared to the i5 in the iMacs? I know the i7 in the mini’s have a slower clock speed than the i5’s in the iMacs, but the i7 is also a different architecture than the i5. Are they on the same level as far as performance or does one significantly outperform the other? I’d greatly appreciate any advice. Thanks!!
  2. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    "I mean it’s just wonderful, but I do have a nice 24” display already. I’m also drawn to the mini because of its cost. But I’d also be adding an Apple Keyboard and Trackpad so I have to factor in those costs as well. Whichever machine I choose I’ll upgrade to 16GB of RAM. If I get the mini, I’ll probably add a SSD to it for the OS drive."

    If you already have a display you're happy with, choosing the Mini will save you some $$$. I'd get the i7 with the 2.6ghz CPU upgrade.

    Get the base configuration for RAM, and add more yourself.

    If you already have a USB keyboard and mouse that you're satisfied with, there's no need to buy an Apple keyboard or mouse/trackpad. In fact, I recommend that folks DO NOT buy Apple keyboards or mice, because 3rd-party products are FAR better (better design, more functional). Try what you have first before you spend any $$$ in this area on Apple products (and I say that as having been an Apple user since 1986).

    I, too, added an SSD to my Mini, but I didn't bother to pull the inside out to install it. Instead, I found a fast USB3 external "docking station", and I configured my SSD to be an "external booter". Works _almost_ as fast as an internal, and after reading reports from others in this forum who opened the Mini, started the job, and then ran into problems -- I think it was the better choice.
  3. wartime macrumors newbie


    Mar 10, 2005
    Bournemouth UK
    Mac Mini v iMac

    Style wise, the new iMac is stunning and will easily accommodate all your requirements in one very neat package. I purchased the i7 along with the 27" Mac Screen around six months ago and would do the same again tomorrow. The Mac Mini can be left to run tirelessly and being a server, it's designed to do just that. I've got 8Gbs Ram on board and I find that plenty for my DTP work with InDesign and Quark. Sometimes I have them open together and even with Photoshop I can't say that it runs any slower. I don't have any negatives at all. I've been an Apple user since the 1980, and this is by far, the best combination I've ever had. There are sufficient usb ports in the rear of the Mac Mini and the Apple monitor, plus with the Thunderbolt connection is certainly contributes to the overall speed of the package. What I particularly like is that I can also charge my Macbook Pro from the monitor which saves having to get out the power cable for the laptop. Add the Harman Kardon SoundSticks and you've got one heck of a sound system, but the inbuilt monitor speakers aren't bad either. Good luck!
  4. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    Agree re. Apple mice. Ugh.

    Apple keyboards used to be Ugh but I like the current aluminium 'chiclet' keyboard a lot (after I got over the Commodore PET 2001 flashbacks). Of course, if you must have full-travel clicy keys you won't want one.

    Apple magic trackpad: well worth a try - I find it great for general use (once you turn on 3-finger dragging) but still need a mouse for graphics & gaming.

    If you go for the iMac - choose the trackpad instead of the magic mouse & buy a third-party mouse.
  5. martinm0 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 27, 2010
    I loved the Mini, but I do a lot of Handbrake encoding the fan noise was just too much for me to deal with. Sounds like a white noise generator when its full blast.

    In the end, I find the iMac to be just the best of all worlds. It runs quiet and cool, comes with keyboard/mouse/trackpad ($130 savings) plus has a gorgeous screen.

    If you don't need the i7 for any media encoding, go iMac. Heck, if you do need the i7 still get the iMac! If you're solely going to be doing tasks that don't tax the Mini's CPU, the thing is pretty much silent all the time.
  6. devincco thread starter macrumors member


    Aug 19, 2006
    Thanks everyone for the replies. I'm still torn. :confused: I'm leaning slightly towards the 27" iMac but maybe by a 51% - 49% margin.

    I forgot to mention that one of my projects will be to convert some of my DVD collection over to AppleTV format. Mostly my kids DVD's and stuff like that. Would the mini with it's i7 be a better option, or would the i5 iMac handle that with ease?

    Thanks again for all the replies.
  7. auhagen macrumors regular

    May 30, 2010
    The mini will do all you ask of it.

    And as your planning on using it as a server ass well, you will love the mini more. I have the 27" 2011 i7 maxed out iMac and I love it, but to be honest, the photo work and so I do, I have no problem doing on my 2010 13" mbp, so you will be just fine.

    Another thing is your gonna love the power consumption of the mini.
    The iMac is using about 40-60watt with the screen off, playing server and doing tasks.
    The mini on the other hand, is using stunningly 10-14watt doing server tasks, and playing full hd video at the same time.

    If it wasnt because I needed the GPU for other things I'm doing, I would propably swap it out with a mini or a MBA + dell / eizo / apple display :)
  8. LeandrodaFL macrumors 6502a


    Apr 6, 2011
    Can you please post a picture of your keyboard/mouse setup? cause honestly I am unaware of a better mouse then the Magic Mouse. And the keyboard is ok to me.
  9. KylePowers macrumors 68000


    Mar 5, 2011
    Logitech MX Revolution is probably the most ergonomic mouse I've ever laid my hands on (and I know many would agree)... though you need to be right-handed to fully benefit :)
  10. cheezeit macrumors 6502

    Jul 10, 2010
    Dallas, TX
    The mini uses a laptop CPU vs the full desktop CPU on the iMac. Big difference there. If go anything imac over Mac mini just for the raw power. Plus you can thunderbolt your MacBook to it and control it with the iMac and just leave the laptop closed
  11. AllergyDoc macrumors 65816


    Mar 17, 2013
    Utah, USA
    I deliberated the same thing a couple of months ago and settled on the 27" iMac. In the end, I didn't want to have to crack open cases and buy individuals computer components. The iMac is gorgeous, but I don't need it to be a server. I've ordered the 16 GB RAM upgrade and will likely get the external SSD drive next year, or later this year.

    I'm a novelist now and love the extended Apple keyboard. I use the wireless Apple keyboard with my iPad. They took a while getting used to. The Pple Track Pad is a breath of fresh air, but I don't do any gaming.
  12. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    Logitech Performance MX. Apart from being a really nice mouse, it has a couple of you-think-they'd-be-no-brainer design features that some other wireless mice lack:

    1. An on/off switch to save batteries.
    2. Rechargeable battery + standard microUSB charging cable that lets you use the mouse while its charging.

    I like the current Apple 'Aluminium' keyboards and use the Apple wired keyboard with numeric pad. The tiny wireless adaptor for the mouse fits discretely into one of its USB ports. Some people prefer full-travel keys to 'chicklet' keyboards though.
  13. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    Not quite - it has a nice, weighted scrollwheel that you can spin to get real inertial scrolling courtesy of the laws of physics (you can release the ratchet and let it spin freely). The wheel also rocks from left to right to give some horizontal scrolling, and there's a bunch of programmable buttons.

    Plus, it has a much nicer ergonomic shape, the aforementioned on-the-go recharging, doesn't register a click if it knocks against the keyboard and the battery terminals don't come loose and cause it to keep losing connection.

    Personally, I find trying to make gestures on the Magic Mouse a bit like trying to do a Vulcan salute.

    Anyway, I tend to use the mouse in conjunction with a Magic Trackpad, which is brilliant for gestures.
  14. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    "inertia scrolling and horizontal scrolling. For people who work with photography, this is a must. the magic mouse is one of the things that make the Apple experience superior to Windows...and its very better looking."

    Use USB Overdrive to set up a Logitech mouse, and it will be SUPERIOR in every way to the Apple mouse or trackpad.

    My opinion only.
  15. LeandrodaFL macrumors 6502a


    Apr 6, 2011
    I still prefer the horizontal touch capabilities by the touch technology, no whell can match that. BTW, there is a similar app for touch devices, lets you put 150 touch gestures on it.

    I happen to have a logitech mouse with my macbook, for sometimes when its better to have a mouse then use the trackpad. But in my main desktop Im using the magic mouse

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