Base mini owners do you regret not going for the i7?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by mellofello, Feb 25, 2013.

  1. mellofello macrumors 65816

    Feb 1, 2011
    Just sold my pos 2010 i5 iMac now I'm debating my next move. I put in a order for a 2.3 i7 bto iMac with fusion. I ended up canceling it though. I wonder if I could get by with the i5. Besides some minor photoshopping, and working with decent sized raw files from my camera, my computer never gets used for many power intensive tasks.

    I looked at the benchmarks and the i5 mini is right in the same ballpark as my old 2010 iMac. My only real apprehension is only having a 500gb hard drive as that is tight for my photos, and music to coexist on. Whatever model I get I will max out the ram, as that has more impact on my 4000 open tab browsing habits.

    So current 2010 i5 owners would you spend the extra money for the i7 if you had the chance, or are you pretty content with what the i5 is capable of.
  2. utekineir macrumors 6502

    Feb 20, 2008
    wait for a refurb i7 at $670 on refurb site?

    that way you have the speed without the guilt of paying for what you don't need.
  3. mellofello thread starter macrumors 65816

    Feb 1, 2011
    Have they been popping up? How much have the refurb i5s been running?
  4. utekineir macrumors 6502

    Feb 20, 2008
    got one a few weeks ago, think they've been available since early january but go oos quick because of demand

    keep on checking

    my guess is apply roughly the % discount of the i7 to the i5 retail, should be similar range to what that will be.
  5. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    $509. Refurbs are generally between 15-17% off the retail price.
  6. Ice Dragon macrumors 6502a

    Ice Dragon

    Jun 16, 2009
    You mean 2011 i5? No, I don't regret going for the discrete model mini at the time. Could it play Gauntlet Dark Legends if it had the dual-core i7 processor? Maybe...

    I would definitely have bought the quad-core mini over the base mini in 2012 though if I still had my netbook though.
  7. rbrian macrumors 6502a


    Jul 24, 2011
    Aberdeen, Scotland
    My 2011 i5 2.3 is fine for most tasks, but next time I'll get the i7, or whatever the top processor is at the time, just for Handbrake. Those two extra cores ought to halve the conversion time.

    My 2011 i5 1.6 MacBook Air feels faster most of the time because of the SSD, despite the slower processor so that would probably be a better upgrade unless you really need processor speed.
  8. davisac macrumors member

    May 20, 2008
    The only time my processer is really challenged is Handbrake. (So I just let it run overnight). Besides that it rarely gets above 25%

    It's is pretty much a must to up the memory though.
  9. frank4 macrumors regular


    Oct 17, 2011
    Happy with the 2011 base i5 Mini here. Fast enough for everything I do, which isn't very CPU or graphics intensive. Toughest jobs are occasional HandBrake DVD rips and watching a few 720P and 1080P videos. I like the idea of conserving cash.

    I do have my eye on the mid-range i7 2012 mini, not for the speed but for the 1 TB drive. I could alternately (if feeling energetic) get the base i5 and replace the stock 500GB 5400rpm HD with the HGST 1TB 7200rpm HD.
  10. theonekcrow macrumors 6502a


    Jul 12, 2009
    I just got my base Late 2012 Mac mini today! I have no regrets on my decision except not getting any extra ram. (I just went with the standard config) But with RAM being a dime a dozen, I am going to get an 16 GB set and be set to go!
  11. MJL macrumors 6502a

    Jun 25, 2011
    I would not touch any of the newer higher spec'd Mac mini's with a bargepole - they run too hot and when pushed then thermal "safeguards" will slow them down to below the base model as well as making a racket.

    I am running the 2010 server and the base 2011 side by side and am quite happy with them. Skipping the 2012 model and will revisit if I want the 2013 model. Extra disk space can be obtained by using a thunderbolt external drive - almost as fast as the internal drive.

    There is these days a universal move towards storing data in the "cloud" and if you use that then the local disk space inside the device is a moot point. Speed of data access in the cloud is several magnitudes below an external local drive.

    In large organisations the data gets almost universally stored on NAS and with the higher network speed it is not much of an issue. Storing it on NAS gives you access from multiple local devices and if you set it up properly then you can access the data remotely too (basically you have your own "cloud").

    But it seems that there is a culture of "mine is bigger, faster, more expensive etc" than yours but hey, if that floats your boat then go for it. Not that it makes much difference of spending lots of money to save half a minute per day - you are not using handbrake for a living so even if it takes longer to finish so what. Just how much time do you save versus how much time do you have to work and save after tax to pay for the timesaving features. Not to mention the lower reliability of the machines that run too hot for extended periods and sound like a hairdryer to boot.
  12. Mojo1, Feb 26, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2013

    Mojo1 macrumors 65816

    Jul 26, 2011
    I have the 2.3 i7 Mini and I haven't experienced any heat/noise problems. The issues mentioned by MJL are unique to Mini owners who perform certain operations that push the Mac to the max so you are unlikely to experience them. I'm a pro photographer but my image editing requirements are modest so I don't need a Mac with a discrete GPU to take advantage of Photoshop features that utilize GPU acceleration.

    Having said that, I would probably do just fine with the base model i5, so I guess you can say that I regret having spent the extra $$$ on an i7.

    As far as the internal drive size, I suggest moving your music and image files to a fast external drive. I did it years ago when internal drives were too small to store everything. Of course, if you go that route you will need two external drives so you have a local backup of your data. (I also recommend CrashPlan for off-site backups in case of theft, fire, etc.)

    Having those files on an external drive speeds things up and reduces fragmentation of the internal drive. Having those files on external drives also simplifies things when I buy a new Mac. I partition the drives like this:

    1. SuperDuper! clone of the internal drive.

    2. Time Machine.

    3. Aperture and iTunes files plus miscellaneous data. The Aperture library remains on my Mini since I use referenced masters image files.

    4. MacBook Pro SD! clone so I don't need a multi-computer CrashPlan account. I use this once a month or so; I do regular SD! and Time Machine backups on a third external drive.

    5. Scratch disk for Photoshop and other apps that use a scratch disk. The size of the scratch partition depends on how large your image files tend to be when working in Photoshop. Adobe has info on how to determine an appropriate scratch disk size; mine is 20GB.

    I have the TM and scratch partitions on one external drive. I use OWC Mercury Elite Pro enclosures and install Samsung 7200rpm drives.

    If you get an i5 Mac Mini, two enclosures and the bare drives on sale you will wind up spending the same or a little more than just a 2.3 GHz i7 Mini. The final cost depends on the size of the bare drives and how much you pay for them. Be sure to upgrade the Mini RAM to 16GB via a third-party supplier. If you already have an external enclosure(s) you can save some $$$.
  13. fig macrumors 6502a


    Jun 13, 2012
    Austin, TX
    I don't think most folks realize how little Photoshop actually uses the GPU.

    I'm a graphic designer/animator who'll be investing in an i7 Mini in a month or two, can't wait.
  14. Mr. McMac Suspended

    Mr. McMac

    Dec 21, 2009
    Far away from liberals
    I have a base 2011 model with 8gb's of ram. It does everything I need it to do with absolutely no issues except for the HDMI output which I'm not using anymore. As an HTPC, it's fantastic!
  15. eternlgladiator macrumors 68000


    Jun 20, 2010
    Twin Cities
    Bhphotovideo has the i7 for 771 and no tax based on location. Best deal going.
  16. mellofello thread starter macrumors 65816

    Feb 1, 2011
    I really wish I could go with the i5 with fusion drive. I really like the ssd speed on my macbook air. It has way more impact on my day to day life then processor speed. I know that there are many cheap ways to circumvent it and roll your own but I value reliability over anything, and want everything covered under apple care.

    Im pretty intruiged by windows 8 so I will be building my first pc in 10 years to compliment my mac. My other option is just to dump my upgrade money into a 2012 macbook air and run it as a desktop most of the time.

    By the time I have i7 and ssd it is about the same price.

    Would only run me a few $100 because my 2010 is still fetching $7-800 on Craigslist.

    Hmm decision
  17. slickadam macrumors member

    Nov 6, 2012
    Germany & Hungary
    I'm happy with my late 2012 i5 + 8gb ram combo.
  18. MJL macrumors 6502a

    Jun 25, 2011
    Why have two different machine's? Are you going to use them at the same time?

    If you do not use them at the same time then why not install Windows on the Mac mini?

    I will mention explicitely that I only use the Mac mini because it is so silent and I no longer can cope with a smaller screen size on a laptop (at present I have the Dell U2713H) because of deteriorating eyesight.

    However windows on the Mac mini has been less stable than I experienced under XP, Vista and Win 7 on a IBM/Lenovo Thinkpad. Blame the EFI and hybrid partition scheme which were largely solved by using two drives - one for windows, the other for OS X.

    Main problems for me concern recovery - with third party SSD (Samsung 830) I need to enable AHCI otherwise it crawls under Win 7. The genuine Apple SSD - a Toshiba rebranded - does not need AHCI, not one hoot of difference and far greater ease of restore. (regularly required because of particular work I'm doing).

    I love the use of Windows on a SSD in the Mac mini and having on a second HDD OS X with Winclone for partition recovery and emergency internet acces. The HDD also has data backup for the Windows installation. In the weekends I often boot into OS X but during the other 5 days I run Windows 24hr/day.
  19. mellofello thread starter macrumors 65816

    Feb 1, 2011
    Boot camp is a headache. I would rather run 2 dedicated machines. My company has decided to add a bunch of responsibilities to my job that will require a intimate knowledge of windows. I will be running primarily windows 8, but will also have a widows7, and xp virtual machine. I literally haven't touched a windows machine for more then a few minutes in years. It has become a bit of a liability.

    The Mac comes out of my pocket but I will most likely either write off, or be reimbursed for the windows machine so why not. I also am intending to do a bit of gaming so throwing a few $ towards a nice graphics card won't hurt.

    For around $900 I can build, or buy a pretty fire breathing pc. Once it becomes obsolete it will move to my closet, and become my home server.

    This is also why I started this thread. Since I am intending on buying 2 it begging to strain my budget a bit. I allot $2500 per year for electronics and my MacBook is getting long in the tooth as well.
  20. Mojo1 macrumors 65816

    Jul 26, 2011

    Frankly, after reading your last post I am wondering why you started this thread...
  21. MJL macrumors 6502a

    Jun 25, 2011

    Bootcamp a headache? They are only a couple of drivers plus a small gadget to set which partition you want to start. How is that different from a Windows PC where the manufacturers give the drivers to Microsoft and the drivers are included in the Windows install environment.
  22. gregorsamsa macrumors 6502a

    Apr 6, 2006
    (Metamorphosing near) Staffs, 51st State.
    I get the impression that the guy's just bouncing a few ideas off people who he considers may have useful input. I can see why he might have been undecided earlier. :rolleyes:

    FWIW, as a Mac owner of over 7 years, I'm equally undecided about whether to use Windows in Bootcamp for games on a Mini with HD 6630M, or just get a gaming PC. I likewise asked similar questions on a recent Mac gaming thread:

    Overall, I get the strong impression that some people find Booting into Windows 7 no problem & far from a "headache". However, that doesn't apply across the board. :) I can also see why some people prefer to run 2 dedicated computers, rather than frequently re-boot between 2 platforms.
  23. Mojo1 macrumors 65816

    Jul 26, 2011
    His original post didn't mention anything about a BTO PC option. I also missed his "pos" 2010 iMac reference...

    There are a bunch of Mac Mini "is it good for gaming" threads on this forum. Doesn't anybody bother to use the search function instead of asking similar questions over and over?

    If I had known then what I know now I wouldn't have wasted my time replying to this thread.

    YMMV, of course...
  24. mellofello, Feb 28, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2013

    mellofello thread starter macrumors 65816

    Feb 1, 2011
    Windows 8 is not officially supported by bootcamp. My boss asked me to get a better knowledge of windows, and infered that I would be partially reimbursed. The mac mini will be coming out of my pocket. The money really isn't an issue I just wanted to see if I could get away with the i5.

    If I can't ask that question here where exactly can I ask it?

    My imac was also indeed a pos and was on its third motherboard replacement when I sold it last week. This is the entire reason why I am in the market for a mini. I dont know if you have ever tried to transport a 30 pound computer down to the apple store but it is no fun.

    I will never buy a all in one computer again.

    Thank you to everyone who replied to this thread. I think a i5 16 gb ram system will suffice.
  25. pine88 macrumors member

    Feb 15, 2013
    You don't need more than 4GB of RAM and an i5 unless you run heavy duty applications. I personally use the stock mini for basic office work and game on my self-built i7/680 system.

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