Base mac mini for switcher?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by familyman, Oct 31, 2012.

  1. familyman macrumors newbie

    Feb 10, 2011
    I have a question for the experienced mac users out there. I am going to switch to my first mac by purchasing a mac mini. (I have been using a core 2 windows 7 machine for a home machine that I am quite sick of at this point).

    What I would like to use for this machine for is as the main house computer - several people (wife and kids) using internet, file server, itunes, office, GIMP, and iphoto, and imovie (lots and lots of family photos). With regards to imovie, I want to combine lots of the 1 minute footage that we take of family events into longer 45 minute or so highlights of the year videos, maybe even burn to DVD/Blu-ray and send to grandparents (who still prefer the optical formats)

    With that in mind, is there any reason for getting the mid tier i7 quad core instead of the base tier i5 dual core? Did anyone have trouble doing these sorts of things on the 2011 base mac mini? Also, did anyone purchase such a mac with the goal of doing these things and found that they wanted to expand to more demanding applications?
  2. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    the base mac mini has 1 drive option a 500gb hdd cost is 599.

    the mid mac mini is 799 comes with a 1tb hdd. so for 200 bucks the cpu is a lot better and the hdd is 2x the size. in your case you don't really need the great cpu but you may need more space.

    i could argue for you to get the base model and down the road buy yourself a nice external hdd. no matter which one you get picking up some ram for 40 bucks at amazon is a good idea.

    storage for later
  3. NeuroticNomad macrumors newbie


    Apr 3, 2007
    Good Machine, Not Perfect

    ...but then again, what is?

    The mini is an excellent "family" machine for everything except gaming (for which it's only "good").

    I'd skip GIMP though. It's finally gone Mac native (used to be X11), but is still ages behind in usability. Acorn is affordable, but limited. Adobe makes the scaled-back "Photoshop Elements", for a lot less than the full-scale package, and my personal favorite Pixelmator is crazy-powerful and fast on modest hardware (and because it's in the Mac App Store, free-and-easy software updates!)

    You may notice that the mini doesn't have an optical drive. The Apple "Macbook Air" drive also works on the mini (and only on those two Macs!) - it's small, lightweight, quiet, and beautiful. It's also CD/DVD only. If you want to burn BluRays, you need a 3rd Party burner. Go to OWC ( for the best selection and prices. (Also a great place to buy Apple-spec-level RAM. Most Mac flake outs come from crappy RAM) NEVER BUY RAM FROM APPLE - they overcharge to a ridiculous level.
  4. Hessel macrumors member

    Nov 24, 2011
    why are you switching?

    I would understand it in 2005 but anno 2012 Windows 8 is WAY ahead of OSX. especially with the new touch capabilities.
  5. Mojo1, Nov 1, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2012

    Mojo1 macrumors 65816

    Jul 26, 2011
    From what you describe the base Mini will serve you well. The mid level Mini is more than you need unless you plan on spending a lot of time processing video. If video work is for pleasure and you don't mind waiting a little longer then you can save $200. Unless you plan to move to Photoshop CS6, work with large image files and do extensive editing, the dual-core is a very capable CPU. For most people the quad-core CPU in the mid-level Mini is over-kill. (I do pro image editing but my files aren't huge and I do minimal editing, so even in my case the quad-core is not really necessary...)

    The Apple Super Drive is over-priced. There are comparable drives at Amazon for $40-$50. They aren't as purty as the Super Drive but the internal mechanisms are similar: cheap plastic parts. If anything is going to die during normal use it's the optical drive, so don't spend a bunch of money. When it comes time to toss it in the trash you don't want to wind up crying into your beer...

    The only thing that I would highly recommend is increasing the RAM to 8-16GB. 4GB just isn't going to cut it once you begin doing anything beyond the basics. With 16GB available for $50-$80 on sale it's a No Brainer. I went with the $82 Crucial RAM because of it reliability; I don't want to mess around with budget RAM from Newegg and other suppliers.

    Take a look at David Pogue's Missing Manual for Windows switchers. It will help you make the move to Macs and get you up-and-running with the Mac OS in no time.
  6. Sir Ruben macrumors 65816

    Sir Ruben

    Jul 3, 2010
    I would imagine most people dont want touch capabilities on a family desktop computer.

    Ive just switched to a mac mini from a Windows 8 Machine and Im never going back. The new metro interface paired with the 'old' style windows interface felt so disjointed.
  7. mike693 macrumors member

    Jun 24, 2011
    SSD will allow for faster browsing of photo libraries, and significant improvement in overall system responsiveness.

    The four core i7 will generally be over twice as fast as the two core i5 for video transcoding and certain editing tasks.
  8. Lance-AR macrumors 6502

    May 7, 2012
    Little Rock, AR
    If you see yourself replacing this machine in a couple of years I would say the base model would be fine. If you plan to run it into the ground and use it for as long as you can, I think the mid model would last significantly longer.

    If you plan on ripping a movie library to it, I would definitely get the $799 model.

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