Another "is the Mac Mini right for me" thread :)

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by obsidian1200, Jul 23, 2011.

  1. obsidian1200 macrumors 6502

    obsidian1200

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2010
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    #1
    Greetings Users!

    All right, I'll make this as brief as I can. I've been running my White Intel C2D iMac since about three months after its release, and I'm thinking it's a good time to consider upgrading my hardware (I've maxed out the RAM and don't need any more internal storage than what I have, so there's not much I can do). I know that I want a desktop unit that's not the Mac Pro (too rich for my blood, and I know the consumer-grade computers work just fine for me), but I'm struggling between the newer iMac line or these shiny, pretty new minis.

    Aside from surfing the web, email, iTunes stuff (movies, music, podcasts), and document creation, here's what I find myself doing most often, in no particular order:

    1. Photoshop CS4
    2. Final Cut Express 4 (might upgrade to a version of FCP [preferably the version before X, if I can find it legitimately] or Adobe Premiere in the future if FCE can't make the 'cut' anymore, haha).
    3. Handbrake.
    4. iMovie, for tasks FCE4 would be overkill for.
    5. Dreamweaver CS4
    6. Skype/video calls

    Now, I realize that no matter what machine I choose to go with, I'll see a performance boost simply because the hardware has changed so much in the 5 years I've had my iMac. However, I would rather spend less money (in the long run) by going with the mini if it has the horsepower to do the six things I've listed above effectively.

    Also, if the responders do think the mini will work for me, which do you think I'd benefit from the most based on the uses listed above? I'm thinking the quad core server, but I might just be wrong (and yes, I am aware there are numerous threads about this subject already, but I'd rather get an opinion that matches my uses specifically).

    P.S. I'm also aware that:

    • If I want to continue to make digital copies of my DVDs, I'll need to buy an external drive.
    • I'll need to purchase peripherals separately, which isn't included in the initial cost of the computer; however, if I buy them once and don't beat them up, I should be able to use them with this mini and the next... possibly even the next. Assuming the mini doesn't get discontinued, that is :)
    • iMacs are more expandable than the minis in terms of RAM and internal storage. However, internal storage is not a concern for me, since my data is kept on external drives anyway (except for programs), and I'm not sure if I'd fill up more than 8GB of RAM.

    Thanks in advance for your time and responses! :D
     
  2. DisMyMac macrumors 65816

    DisMyMac

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2009
    #2
    Generally...

    • quad core i7 server is for creating content (all the stuff you listed)
    • dual core i5 or i7 w/ Radeon is for watching content

    There is no ideal option if you do both, however even if you bought the wrong machine it should work perfectly fine. Even the base i5 without Radeon is good.
     
  3. japtor macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2010
    #4
    Any config should be fine, with the higher end ones being faster of course.

    ...that said one caveat I can think of before you buy is to make sure whether your stuff works in Lion, or else you'll have to buy more stuff before you expected to.
     
  4. Mr.C macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2011
    Location:
    London, UK.
    #5
    I think that probably an important issue to consider as well. A lot of old software will not work especially if it is Power PC based as Lion does not support Rosetta. Anything that is Intel specific or Universal should run fine.

    The other thing to consider is if you already have a display you're happy with that you want to use or you are planning on using the display that comes with the iMac. A lot of people do not like the iMacs as they come with a glossy screen as opposed to matt.

    That said I believe even the lowest end stock iMac is going to be more powerful then the high end Mac Mini although it does depend on the price difference between the two.
     
  5. obsidian1200 thread starter macrumors 6502

    obsidian1200

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2010
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    #6
    Thanks for your input everyone :) I'm fairly certain my applications are Intel/universal, so I don't think compatibility will be an issue. I don't have rosetta installed on my laptop and my needed applications boot up just fine.

    Now, here's another question for mini users: How long do you use your mini before looking to upgrade to a new unit?

    I ask because I got a long five years out of my iMac before wanting to upgrade it, and I see people here want to upgrade their minis about 2 or 3 years after buying their last one. Is this shorter upgrade cycle necessary, or are those who upgrade their machines constantly just wanting the latest and greatest? (an idea that I gave up with after I bought my desktop only to have it replaced with a nicer unit about 5 months later). Something else I want, other than a machine that'll do what I need it to do effectively, is a machine that I can get another 5 years out of. If I can only realistically get 2-3 years out of it (I tend to run my computers as long as they'll go, especially considering the initial cost), then I might have to reconsider if the cheaper price of the mini (I'm thinking the dual core i5 w/AMD will be enough??) is going to save money in the long run.
     
  6. Mr.C macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2011
    Location:
    London, UK.
    #7
    Rosetta isn't a separate installation. It was introduced as part of Leopard or Snow Leopard I believe and is integrated into the operating system. In other words you wouldn't know it was there. It was introduced to allow Power PC applications run on Intel based Macs. I would suggest you make double sure all your applications both paid and free are either Intel or Universal
     
  7. mdgm macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2010
    #8
    I have a 2 year old Mac Mini mainly used as a HTPC. I'd like to upgrade to a newer machine, but I don't need to. I would say upgrading to a new machine is more of a need than a want.
     
  8. japtor macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2010
    #9
    I'm one of the 2009 going on 2011 mini people, for me there's a bunch of factors involved. One is the Core 2 vs the Core i-chips, the new ones provide a big enough boost that you can sort of justify the latest and greatest mentality here. In a year when Ivy Bridge comes out, I don't know if I'll upgrade...the main thing I want from that is USB 3 on board (hopefully there'll be some way to get it through Thunderbolt by then).

    Another thing for me is that I have plans for my current mini in another use (cable box DVR with Windows Media Center and some extenders around the house), so it's just as much an excuse to get that project going, and to revamp my whole setup which is a bit annoying right now.

    And that's the other nice thing about minis, you can keep them around and use them for whatever. I still have a 2006 one in use as a Windows and other test stuff box sitting on top of my 2009. It can apparently run Lion with some simple tweaking (I already have a C2D upgrade in there) so there's not much reason to get rid of it. I'm sure I'll get five years out of all of them at least...just spread around in random uses depending on new technologies or my own needs.
    They made it optional in Snow Leopard.

    And keep in mind Intel isn't the only thing, stuff can be Intel and still not work right in Lion.
     
  9. Wondercow macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2008
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    #10
    A lot of people who replace their Minis after only a few years are those who use it as an HTPC. IMO the first Mini that could be used reliably as an HTPC for more than two years was last year's model. Not only was it the first with HDMI and a simple method by which to adjust the resolution and over/under scan, but it was the first to competently handle 1080p Blu-ray rips while simultaneously performing other HTPC functions. Before 2010 it was worth it (for many) to upgrade ever other release as these added a lot of capability that the models two years prior simply didn't have.
     
  10. DisMyMac macrumors 65816

    DisMyMac

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2009
    #11
    Classic dilemma - buy a fast computer that lasts several years, or a weaker computer more often?

    The important thing is that now is a great time to buy for virtually any Mac except the Pro. Also wait for the iPad/Phone/Pod to update if you want one of those.
     
  11. mdgm macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2010
    #12
    I have 2x2009 Minis. I didn't have a TV with a working HDMI port till recently. I bought a Mini Display Port to HDMI adapter and got it to work without needing special software. I know this is not the case with some TVs, but it was with mine.

    The Mac Mini isn't built into a screen and would be a Mac that you'd expect to last longer than most. There's less hardware in it that's likely to fail compared with most other Macs. The Optical drive was actually one of the more likely components in the Mini to fail.

    I don't need a new Mac, but I want the performance boost a new Mac would provide.

    There are some simple upgrades you can do to Macs to extend their life like adding more RAM, installing a SSD etc. which can help extend the life of a Mac. Often you can put more RAM in a Mac than advertised by Apple. My MacBook was sold with a 2GB RAM upgrade (I may upgrade it to 4GB, 3.3GB usable soon). My Mac Minis support 8GB RAM, but were sold with up to 4GB RAM, I think.
     
  12. obsidian1200 thread starter macrumors 6502

    obsidian1200

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2010
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    #13
    Actually, as japtor pointed out, it became optional in Snow Leopard, and in SL, I never installed it (as well as a lot of other useless items) when I upgraded my computers :)

    Firstly, thank you for affirming my implied statement that rosetta became an optional install in SL :) I was almost ready to insert my SL disk to see if I wasn't remembering it correctly haha.

    Secondly, thank you for offering your perspective. I can see where you're coming from in terms of justifying this quick upgrade over all the others, since the mini has been long due for an i-series processor... possibly since its last iteration, but it got stuck with a C2D. Now, with a good selection of Sandy Bridge i5 and i7 processors, I can see why so many are wanting to upgrade.

    Personally, though, when I upgrade my computers, I tend to sell the one that's being upgraded, since I don't have a need or use for two desktops in my currently living environment. When I decided to upgrade from my old iMac, selling it was a no-brainer, since there's no place for a second all in one in my home.

    Totally agree with now being a great time to buy any Mac except the Pro :) kind of hard not too. I already have an iPhone 4, but I'm eligible for another upgrade to a phone of my choice already (I think there was a glitch in the system, since I used the upgrade for my iPhone 4... oh well, I won't complain about that).

    Again, thank you to everyone that's replied to my thread :) you've all given me some food for thought. Making the choice between the new mini or another iMac isn't as easy as I though, lol.
     
  13. japtor macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2010
    #14
    Well on the plus side there, minis tend to have great resale value too!
     
  14. elwaylite macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2010
    #15
    The mini cannot rent tv shows in itunes, correct (just buy, as well as rent movies?)

    Im wondering if Apple pushes out this rumored 1080p HD+ movie service, if the mini would be the only small unit to handle it (ATV2 can't I reckon). Would the 2.3ghx intel cheap do fine for 1080p playback, or would you need the 2.5ghz with Radeon?
     
  15. obsidian1200 thread starter macrumors 6502

    obsidian1200

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2010
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    #16
    As far as I know, that's correct. However, you could always use another legit (i.e., no torrents) internet video source to get episodes cheaply, if not free.

    The answer to that depends on your sources. People say that the HD3000 handles 1080p content without stuttering at all, but a few members on the forums claim the chip has problems with some 1080p content. Since I've seen Modern Warfare 2 run on a Macbook Air very well, I'd say that the base mini could handle some 1080p video (although it'd help to upgrade the hard drive to a 7200rpm drive and upgrade the RAM to at least 4gb, if not 8)
     

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