Alternatives to mini?

dazed

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jun 23, 2007
884
139
So at present I'm using a 2007 mini under the stairs as my media server. It's now about to be retired since it can't take the later os's.

I now seem to have 3 options.

. Buy the new mini even though it's not upgradable
. Buy a refurb or used (assuming one can be found for a sensible price)
. Buy a mini pc machine.

Any recommendations for a pc machine? I'd like to keep the form factor as small as possibles

My imac is my main machine so it doesn't need to be a powerhouse :)


Thanks.
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
63,840
30,360
Boston
If you're using the mini as a media server, do you care of the ram is not upgradable?

Check out this article 7 Mac Mini Alternatives

I didn't read the article, but did a quick google, and this came up
 

millerj123

macrumors 68000
Mar 6, 2008
1,613
999
If you're using the mini as a media server, do you care of the ram is not upgradable?

Check out this article 7 Mac Mini Alternatives

I didn't read the article, but did a quick google, and this came up
I originally got a mini because of looking into small, quiet, efficient computers and I kept finding that the mini was pretty much the best value. That was in 2007, and still appears to be the case. The comments to the article point out that the highest CPU in any of those boxes is an i3, with most being Celerons. In other words, at $500, the mini is still in a class by itself, unfortunately.
 

rrl

macrumors 6502a
Jul 27, 2009
511
56
He said that he didn't need a powerhouse and wanted to keep the form factor as small as possible.
You think that's big? It comes with a VESA mount for Christ's sake. Also, he/she will appreciate the extra CPU/GPU headroom without even knowing it. Get the better machine, read the anandtech articles to help you:

http://anandtech.com/show/7648/gigabyte-brix-pro

http://anandtech.com/show/8175/gigabyte-brix-pro-a-second-look-at-the-intel-i74770r-with-iris-pro-hd-5200
 

CobraX80

macrumors newbie
Oct 19, 2014
5
0
You think that's big? It comes with a VESA mount for Christ's sake. Also, he/she will appreciate the extra CPU/GPU headroom without even knowing it. Get the better machine, read the anandtech articles to help you:

http://anandtech.com/show/7648/gigabyte-brix-pro

http://anandtech.com/show/8175/gigabyte-brix-pro-a-second-look-at-the-intel-i74770r-with-iris-pro-hd-5200
The Gigabyte BRIX Pro is a loud beast. I quote from the Hexus review:
Wondering where that Core i7-4770R processor is? The soldered, non-upgradable chip is on the underside of the motherboard and sat beneath a good-sized copper heatsink that's topped with a single exhaust fan. It's this cooling that results in the Brix Pro's above-average chassis height, yet questions still remain: can a compact heatsink and fan effectively cool a 65W chip in such a small enclosure?

We'll have temperature results a little later in the review, but let's start by confirming an unwanted attribute: the Brix Pro is loud when in use. And we mean really loud. When sat on top of a desk, its diminutive size is overshadowed by an audible roar: you can't help but notice that it's there. Noise levels aren't too offensive if you try not to do anything with it, but apply any sort of CPU load - even a Windows Update is enough - and the variable fan speeds become frustrating.

During our benchmarks we recorded a maximum noise reading of 52dB. It wouldn't be a stretch of the imagination to say that, despite the performance on offer, noise is very much a concern in a quiet office environment.
Not to mention the high load temps of the BRIX Pro, which is 97°C according to Hexus.

But load-up the CPU's cores and the chip gets really, really hot. Our sample would regularly hit 97ºC when transcoding video, and the box quickly becomes hot and bothered as the fan ramps up noisily in a vain effort to keep the processor cool.

And it makes no odds as to whether the load is of the 2D or 3D variety. Push either the CPU or IGP components, and the chip is quick to soar past 90ºC.

It's worth mentioning at this point that we didn't run into stability issues during use. The CPU only rarely dipped below 3.4GHz, and on the whole it seemed happy enough running at such extreme temperatures. Question is: would you be as comfortable?

It's a little too hot and loud for our liking, and though we've no reason as yet to question long-term reliability, we don't feel entirely at ease having a 65W desktop processor in a chassis as small as this.
BTW, I have my own custom PC as a fileserver. It has a really old dual-core CPU (Intel Pentium E2160) and that CPU is already OVERKILL for its purpose.
 
Last edited:

rrl

macrumors 6502a
Jul 27, 2009
511
56
The Gigabyte BRIX Pro is a loud beast. I quote from the Hexus review:

Wondering where that Core i7-4770R processor is? The soldered, non-upgradable chip is on the underside of the motherboard and sat beneath a good-sized copper heatsink that's topped with a single exhaust fan. It's this cooling that results in the Brix Pro's above-average chassis height, yet questions still remain: can a compact heatsink and fan effectively cool a 65W chip in such a small enclosure?

We'll have temperature results a little later in the review, but let's start by confirming an unwanted attribute: the Brix Pro is loud when in use. And we mean really loud. When sat on top of a desk, its diminutive size is overshadowed by an audible roar: you can't help but notice that it's there. Noise levels aren't too offensive if you try not to do anything with it, but apply any sort of CPU load - even a Windows Update is enough - and the variable fan speeds become frustrating.

During our benchmarks we recorded a maximum noise reading of 52dB. It wouldn't be a stretch of the imagination to say that, despite the performance on offer, noise is very much a concern in a quiet office environment.


Not to mention the high load temps of the BRIX Pro, which is 97°C according to Hexus.

BTW, I have my own custom PC as a fileserver. It has a really old dual-core CPU (Intel Pentium E2160) and that CPU is already OVERKILL for its purpose.
It's like having your own airport inside your house.
 

giggles

macrumors 6502
Dec 15, 2012
435
315
Whatever a 2007 Mini had been doing until yesterday, a base 2014 499$ Mini can do today.
Not to mention it's extremely energy efficient, probably will end up drawing 1/3 of what you draw now.

Multi thousand dollar NAS/mediaservers have Atom + 4GB ram by the way.

Also, keep in mind that 99% of the other "small footprint" solutions have external powerbricks (like your current Mini actually, except they're black and crappier), whereas current Minis have internal PSU and just use a standard IEC C7 power cord connector on the outside.

Now since you're gonna keep it 7 more years, you might wanna max out the RAM online anyway. Then if and when you will feel like voiding the warranty, you can replace the 5400rpm HDD with a 2.5" SSD. It will be slightly harder but possible.
 

icerabbit

macrumors regular
Jul 2, 2006
102
3
I have a maxxed out nuc with dual drives around, pretty sweet thing, wouldn't mind it as a mini alternative, but my '12 mini is faster (quad i7 vs dual i5) takes a while to load it up though with drives, firmware updates, windows, all the drivers, windows updates, etc. Takes the better part of a day, with slow internet.

Something you may be able to avoid if you can get a mfr's built out mini system, that has ram, hdd and os already installed.

Thing is, if you're used to a mini and OSX, you may want to stick with that, because, well windows 8 takes a bit of getting used to and tweaking.
 

tom vilsack

macrumors 68000
Nov 20, 2010
1,880
62
ladner cdn
Have you considered a "chromebox"? (asus at bb $179)

I've been using for well over 6 months and love it.

For web browsing,video (utube 1080p no problem),simple office and pic editing,fb,twitter ect,it's perfect....Lots of nice free programs in chrome store,updates are fast and simple...If you ever need to reset (clean install) it takes all of about 30! seconds.

My asus came with 200g of cloud storage,which works great with docs and spreadsheets (auto uploads them).

Like android you can setup user to remember all settings,bookmarks ect ect.

For the price you really can't go wrong!
 

dazed

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jun 23, 2007
884
139
What have you upgraded in your current mini?
Maxed out ram and replaced hd.

I like the ability to upgrade as needed.


Thanks for the feedback, I will have a look into the pc alternatives vs the older Mac mini.
 

Darby67

macrumors 6502
So at present I'm using a 2007 mini under the stairs as my media server. It's now about to be retired since it can't take the later os's.

I now seem to have 3 options.

. Buy the new mini even though it's not upgradable
. Buy a refurb or used (assuming one can be found for a sensible price)
. Buy a mini pc machine.

Any recommendations for a pc machine? I'd like to keep the form factor as small as possibles
Why not keep using what you have? As a media server it likely has enough power for what you need or is there an issue other than not being able to install a shiny new OS on it?

Other than that I would suggest looking for a used i5 mini which will have more than enough oomph.
 

giggles

macrumors 6502
Dec 15, 2012
435
315
Maxed out ram and replaced hd.

I like the ability to upgrade as needed.
2 years from now the world will have moved completely to ddr4 and ddr3 will cost its weight in gold (like ddr2 nowadays), you might want to max it out from the get go anyway.

The hdd on the new mini is just as replaceable as on your current Mini, you just need a suction cup to open the base instead of a putty knife.
 

germinator

macrumors regular
Apr 22, 2009
135
32

dazed

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jun 23, 2007
884
139
So my local best buy has the 2012 2.5gz i5 for same price as the current 1.4gz.

Anything I would be missing out on if I went with the 2012? I can add more ram later which is a nice option. Is 4gb enough for an itunes server streaming 1080p HD?


Thanks
 

tom vilsack

macrumors 68000
Nov 20, 2010
1,880
62
ladner cdn
So my local best buy has the 2012 2.5gz i5 for same price as the current 1.4gz.

Anything I would be missing out on if I went with the 2012? I can add more ram later which is a nice option. Is 4gb enough for an itunes server streaming 1080p HD?


Thanks
One day down the road you just know Apple will build a version of OSX that won't support the gpu of the 2012 model (you won't be able to install it) but will support the 2014 today's model.

Also it might be a good idea if we all wait to see some test scores before coming to a conclusion!
 

VTECaddict

macrumors 6502
Sep 15, 2008
373
23
One day down the road you just know Apple will build a version of OSX that won't support the gpu of the 2012 model (you won't be able to install it) but will support the 2014 today's model.

Also it might be a good idea if we all wait to see some test scores before coming to a conclusion!
Test scores have been available. Just look at tests of the MBA and 13 rMBP. They use the same hardware as the new mini, just in a different shape.

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Why does your media server need to have the latest OS? As long as it runs and other devices can access it's files, isn't that all you need it to do?