Any advantage of Mac mini + ATD over new iMac?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by 53x12, Dec 11, 2012.

  1. 53x12 macrumors 68000


    Feb 16, 2009
    I am still considering selling my iMac that I bought in 2010 (2.8 GHz i7/12GB RAM/2 TB HDD) before the AC expires. Rather than go with another iMac, I am curious if there is any advantage of going with the Mac mini + ATD? Costs seem comparable however seems you get more computer with the iMac?

    Option #1: ATD @ $999 + Mac mini 2.6 GHz i7/ 4GB RAM/ 1 TB HDD @ $899 = $1900

    Option #2: 27 iMac 2.9 GHz i5/ 8GB RAM/ 1 TB HDD @ $1800

    The mini has the ability to upgrade the RAM and HDD at a later time (to 16GB and a SSD) however the 27 iMac you can only upgrade the RAM (to 32GB) and won't be able to add an aftermarket SSD. While both drop the optical drive, the iMac retains the dedicated GPU which is nice. That NVIDIA GeForce GTX is one nice card. Since the mini uses the mobile processors, I assume the iMac will be slightly faster?

    So it seems there are two major difference: with Mac mini I get ability to upgrade system and with iMac I get dedicated GPU. Is that it?
  2. Dr Charter macrumors 6502

    Feb 26, 2011
    I don't know how often you buy new computers but an upgrade in a few years will be cheaper because you can keep the monitor and just buy a new mini.
  3. KrisLord macrumors 65816

    Sep 12, 2008
    Northumberland, UK
    Nice analysis. Would you make use of the better GPU?

    The new iMac is beautiful on paper but I see it as a compromise too far between form and functionality. I also see a benefit in seperate computer and screen.
  4. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey

    I would buy the iMac I would get the 3.2 quad i5 with the maxxed gpu cost is 2149. down the road you can add ram and you can add an external ssd as a booter.

    I say this because you want that ATD . my theory is with the 1440p screen always get the best gpu available.
  5. chouseworth, Dec 11, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2012

    chouseworth macrumors newbie

    Dec 3, 2012
    Wake Forest, NC
    Mini/ATD Combo vs iMac

    Unless you are a gamer, and require the high powered graphics, I think the Mini/ATD is the best choice. You can use the ATD for many years with other computers and you can update the mini with the best SSD technology down the road, which will undoubtedly be far better from a price/performance standpoint than what exists now. I have the Mini/ATD combo and just love it. I am a semi-pro photographer and it serves my needs perfectly.
  6. chrise2 macrumors 6502

    Sep 17, 2012
    Yeah, this all pretty much sums it up. However, I saw the new iMac for the first time in the apple store today and it is one good looking machine. I had a 2010 iMac and recently switched to a mini with a TB display. I got it for the reason that future upgrades will be cheaper. As far as performance goes, I don't game, but the day to day 2D graphics are super smooth on the large display with the HD 4000 embedded video. I do only have the single display. I got the 2.6 i7 w/ Fusion drive. Its way faster than my 2010 iMac w/ first gen i3 proc.
  7. 53x12 thread starter macrumors 68000


    Feb 16, 2009

    That is a good point about being able to upgrade the Mac mini down the road for a cheaper price. Right now I would say I upgrade my computer every 3-4 years. That is a rough estimate. Keeping the ATD and just selling the Mac mini + buying a new Mac mini might be the way to go. Still have a new computer and don't loose too much money on transaction assuming I keep the ATD for a long time.

    Good question regarding the GPU. I use the computer for home use. Do some iPhoto/Aperature and some iMovie/Final Cut Express. I am not a gamer but do play the occasional game like Assasins Creed. Mostly use it for email, Internet, Netflix, Hulu, VLC, Handbrake, FaceTime/Skype and the occasional video/photo project. But the sound of having a dedicated GPU is nice.

    I'm not a big fan of an external SSD for a boot drive. Would rather have that internal. Don't mind an external drive for backup or media files.

    As I mentioned I am not a big time gamer but occasionally play games on it. My current iMac has suited me well. Happy to hear the mini has suited your needs so far. That is encouraging.
  8. AC Rempt macrumors 6502

    AC Rempt

    Feb 24, 2008
    I'm in almost the exact same situation, but my 2010 iMac is an i5. The TBD makes sense to me since I also have an Air that could use it, and I like the idea of loading up the Mini with an SSD at a later date to save some cash up front.

    My only concerns are the graphics, which most of you have addressed, but also going from an i5 with a higher clock speed than the i7. Have there been sufficient advancements in chip power and efficiency to make up the difference, or will the i7 be slower? Sorry if this is a dumb question, but it used to be easier for me to make sense of all these specs when I was younger and had more time :)

    I spend most of my time writing, browsing and developing web pages.
  9. 53x12 thread starter macrumors 68000


    Feb 16, 2009
    The iMac i7 is going to be faster than the Mac mini i7. Partly based on one being a desktop processor and the other laptop processor. But my guess (haven't seem benchmarks yet) is probably going to be a 10-15% difference.

    The big issue is the GPU which is a huge advantage of the iMac. Especially for more GPU intensive projects/programs.
  10. AC Rempt macrumors 6502

    AC Rempt

    Feb 24, 2008
    Thanks for the reply, but my concern was of the i7 in the new mini versus the i5 in the 2010 iMac. I've looked up some benchmarks, and it looks like the '12 Mini eats the '10 iMac for breakfast.

    Does this sound right?
  11. Ayemerica macrumors 65816


    Oct 18, 2011
    Atlantis but in space
    I had a 2009 iMac and "upgraded" in my opinion for my needs in 2011 with a 2011 Mac mini, I already had 2 LED 21.5 inch monitors so i bought the baseline mac mini and an adapter for the 2nd monitor, i bought the 2012 mac mini for 588, mainly for USB 3.0 and I don't plan on buying another mac desktop for another 3 years. So that's rought 196 dollars a year for a very good desktop for web browsing, email, itunes, media server, small form factor, quiet...I think it's worth it.
  12. 53x12 thread starter macrumors 68000


    Feb 16, 2009
    Sorry. I misunderstood what you meant.

    The 3.6 i5 in the '10 iMac has a geekbench of ~7700.

    The '12 Mini 2.6 i7 gets ~12,800. So yes that is a significant difference.
  13. mapleleafer macrumors regular

    Nov 2, 2009
    You can also get monitors of comparable quality for less than the ATD.
  14. 53x12 thread starter macrumors 68000


    Feb 16, 2009
    Sure. But none that match or look as classy/sleek as the ATD combined with the mini.

    Plus the ATD was used in this analysis as it matches with the iMac. Helps compare price to performance rather than influence other factors. But you are correct in that you could go with another brand. I just really like Apple's monitors.
  15. propower macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2010
    I bought the mini ATD combo

    Refurb ATD, mini 2.6/256SSD from apple/16G ram Newegg
    total price delivered to my door $2300.

    after 1 month.. sold my mac pro + 30" ACD

    imacs look like a great idea but I change computers every couple of years.
  16. majkom macrumors 65816

    May 3, 2011
    if only ATD/ACD had more than just on graphic input, it would be awesome:(
  17. LeeM macrumors 6502a

    Jan 1, 2012
    dont forget toi add $140 for keybopard and mouse/travckpad unless you already ahve one
  18. 53x12 thread starter macrumors 68000


    Feb 16, 2009
    Good point but I already have one.
  19. LeeM macrumors 6502a

    Jan 1, 2012
    well if you buy the imac you'll have spares lol!
    if it was me id go for the mini though, makes future upgrades easier and cheaper and i thihnk the apple displays look better than the iMacs. hide the mini and it looks much slicker
  20. Exodist macrumors member


    Dec 5, 2012
    Buenavista, Agusan Del Norte, Philippines
    The Ivy Bridge Core i7 was a 10% jump in performance over the previous Sandy Bridge. Plus now you have USB 3.0, PCI-X 3.0, DDR3-1600 support as well the HD4000 is 60% faster then the HD3000 was. A lot of users still think that integrated GPUs are horrible, but the fact is they are getting much better every year. The HD4000 may not be the latest nVidia, but they have come a long way.


    I agree. I went with an ASUS monitor myself. But if you get a mini and a ADP and next year the next mini comes out with features you just must have. Well if you got a iMac you got to spend a ton, if you got the mini you can get the newer mini without having to spend half that. Plus you can sell your older Mini.
  21. APlotdevice, Dec 13, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2012

    APlotdevice macrumors 68040


    Sep 3, 2011
    But by that same token many who buy Mac Minis already have a monitor for it. Especially since it has HDMI built in, meaning you can even use an HDTV as a monitor.
  22. 53x12 thread starter macrumors 68000


    Feb 16, 2009
    For sure. But someone like myself coming from a current iMac or someone coming from a laptop without a monitor, a monitor purchase would have to be included. Sure you could go with something cheaper than the ATD.
  23. iamthedudeman macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2007
    The Mac Mini is faster CPU wise. The only imac faster than the i7 2.6 mini is the i7 2012 imac which has 14000 in geekbench in 64 bit mode. The 2.6 Mini has a little over 13000 64bit and the i5 2012 imac has 9600 in 32 bit mode. Which would translate to about 11000 in 64 bit mode, give or take.

    Gpu wise the imac is better.

    So with the Mac Mini you get a faster CPU and slower GPU but can upgrade the system and imac get dedicated GPU. That about sums it up.
  24. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    Make that BETTER quality.
    A Dell U2713HM for example is better on all aspects, and 400 bucks cheaper.
    And hey, if a screen is ON and you work on it, you won't see the housing. So whether a screen is pretty, can ONLY BEEN SEEN WHEN NOT BEHIND THE COMPUTER, and you should do other things then anyway, like kissing the girl, purring the cat or having a good meal. Nice looks of a TBD is fun for 1 hour max, then you had that part. And the match with the mini does not matter, because when you want less cable clutter than with an iMac, you are better off glueing or double-side-taping your mini UNDER your desk. Match it with a nice black 3$ logitech mouse whichs eats ANY APPLE MOUSE EVER FOR BREAKFAST when it comes to using a mouse as a mouse, and throw in a generic black PC keyboard for 10$ which types better than the total flat apple-crap-keyboards.

    Hey there is nothing APPLE on my DESK. PERFECT! NO BURGLARS and they will take you SERIOUS for your work and don't wonder whether you could have spend too much money.

    The Dell has qualities you can use all the time
    - ergonomic settings (tilt/swivel/height/pivot)
    - 24p playback (for films, almost no other monitor handels other framerates than 60)
    - better uniformity and better sRGB calibration
    - matte display
    - support for more machines (XBOX/PS3, laptop, mini)
  25. 7enderbender macrumors 6502a


    May 11, 2012
    North East US
    For me personally one of the biggest advantages of the Mini is that you don't have to use an Apple display but can pick something nice from another company according to your preferences. The Apple screens have beautiful design but lack otherwise depending on your application.
    Downside is the GPU if you need more power in that department - though I doubt the iMac is really a huge advantage for that either. That's why people buy Mac Pros or equivalent Windows PCs I suppose.

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