Buying Advice: Server/Regular Mini

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by ConnorTurnbull, Jul 30, 2011.

  1. ConnorTurnbull macrumors 6502

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    #1
    I'm in the market for a Mini. The problem is, even when localised to a single forum, different users offer different advice for the various options. Some will rate a choice as being significant, while others will say it's minute.

    I've started considering the server model (this is just regular Lion with the server apps, right?), but does the quad-core i7 have such a significant difference over the dual-core i7?

    Also, the difference in graphics (384mb Intel vs 256mb AMD). Is that such a problem, when the only game I want to play is The Sims 3?

    The server has two 7200rpm drives versus the regular's 5400rpm, so is that a big factor too?

    Thanks.
     
  2. fa8362 macrumors 65816

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    Jul 7, 2008
    #2
    You need to assess what your needs are. Other than the Sims game, you haven't listed what you plan to do with the Mini. Given your questions, I'm guessing you don't need a server or anything beyond the bottom of the line Mini.
     
  3. ConnorTurnbull thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #3
    Well, a bit of light video editing but it's mainly Safari. So yeah, I probably don't need anything beyond the entry-level Mini, but when I have the budget, I want to try and get as much power to make it future-proof. I'd like to run that game - even though it's quite light - at the highest settings possible, so I was wondering whether going down to an integrated graphics card but a quad-core CPU would make much difference from using a dedicated graphics/dual-core setup?
     
  4. Mal67 macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    I'm a bit confused to. Does the server come with server Lion on one HD and individual Lion on he other? Does it boot into one or the other? Can you remove the server edition and just keep the individual lion? How does it work? Basically if you get the server do you have to run it in server mode?
     
  5. ConnorTurnbull thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #5
    Lion Server isn't a different OS. So you get Lion on the Server edition (with iLife, unlike Snow Leopard's Server OS) but with the Server apps installed also. I assume you could delete these to free up space, and redownload from the MAS when needed (like iLife, I assume you automatically redeem the suite when you login with one of the new Macs).
     
  6. zap2 macrumors 604

    zap2

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    #6
    I was in a similar boat to you very recently. At first I was eye up an iMac with a Core i7 and SSD/HDD combo. After realizing that was both too large and too pricey for my needs/wants, I began to look at the Mini(after it got its most recent bump)

    If you are a techie person, I wouldn't pay Apple to upgrade the HDD/SDD as they charge an arm and a leg. I also wouldn't pay for the Server Mini just to get two HDDs, as it seems thats a pretty easy upgrade on the desktop model. I'd way my budget against the powers of a Quad Core Mac or the extra video power of a GPU.

    For me, the serve Mac mini won out because I couldn't purchase a dual core desktop Mac in 2011 and have it last as long as I'd like. For the HDD, I'm going to upgrade one to an SDD ASAP and the other to a large HDD down the road.
     
  7. ConnorTurnbull thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #7
    So, between the following, which is overall better for graphical power?

    Quad-core 2.0GHz i7 + Intel HD Graphics 3000 w/ 384mb of shared memory (7200rpm HDD)
    Dual-core 2.5GHz i5 + AMD Radeon HD 6630M w/ 256mb of GDDR5 (5400rpm)

    It looks like the Server is a better all-rounder, but what would be the difference in graphical power?
     
  8. Tulpa macrumors regular

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    May 11, 2011
    #8
    We should also mention the refurb 2011 iMac in this discussion, which has a quad core i5 and better Radeon graphics than any of the 2011 minis, and is technically only $20 more than the mini server.

    My only problem with it is that I'd have to pay tax on it because it's only available from Apple.
     
  9. ConnorTurnbull thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #9
    But the Mini Server has higher benchmarks than the baseline iMac.
     
  10. Tulpa, Jul 30, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2011

    Tulpa macrumors regular

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    #10
    The benchmarks we've been discussing are only for the CPU. The server mini's i7 is indeed faster due to hyperthreading.

    But you were asking about graphics performance, no? The iMac's GPU is much better. And its CPU still blows away all of the dual core minis. The GB scores (all in 64 bit) I first come across on their site:

    9602 mini 2.0GHz i7 quad
    8821 iMac 2.5GHz i5 quad
    7578 mini 2.7GHz i7 dual
    7653 mini 2.5GHz i5 dual
    6336 mini 2.3GHz i5 dual

    so the difference between the server mini and the iMac CPU-wise is less than the difference between the iMac and the other minis.
     
  11. indg macrumors 6502

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    Feb 7, 2007
    #11
    lion server is just lion with addtional server services built into it and an app called server.app that controls them. none of the services are enabled by default, so you never even have to open server.app, and can just use your mini server as if it had the standard lion on it.

    this is what the server app looks like.
    [​IMG]

    a lot of the same settings are in the system preferences. unless you want to run your own private ichat server or internal wiki, you'll probably never need to use this app.

    i believe the amount of ram dedicated to the hd 3000 is dependent on how much system ram you have. so 288MB (or 256MB?) with 2GB ram, 384MB with 4GB, and 512MB with 8GB of ram.

    for me, the hd 3000 scored 11.80 fps on the OpenGL test and 4.28pts on the CPU test in Cinebench 11.5. i'd wager the Radeon HD 6630M scores much higher on the OpenGL tests, but lower on the CPU test. if gaming is your primary concern, you might be better of with a discrete video card that can handle openGL better. that said, the hd 3000 is no slouch and can handle games like portal and modern warfare. either way, you'll want to either get an ssd or raid0 the internal hdd's in the server since that will be the biggest bottleneck for performance.

    5400rpm drives get around 60MB/s read/write. striped raid0 of two 7200rpm drives will be about 180MB/s. SSD anywhere from 250MB/s and up depending on the brand.
     
  12. ConnorTurnbull thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #12
    Wow, thanks for your informative answer! Gaming is certainly not my primary concern, but i'd like to play The Sims 3 on the odd occasion, and maybe a bit of Portal 2 (although I don't really care about the latter since I play that on my PS3 now anyways). If I can get 512mb from 8GB of RAM, I think that's the best option to go for. I know it's integrated, but I think even that can handle The Sims 3.

    May I ask, what is "striped raid0"? 180mb/s is very attractive, especially when you consider how close that is to SSD speed. What is it, and how do I achieve that?
     
  13. indg macrumors 6502

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    Feb 7, 2007
    #13
    striped raid is basically using 2 physical disks to act like 1 big disk. the server comes with 2x500GB, so 1TB striped. upside is fast speed since data is being read/written to 2 drives. downside is if either one of the drives fail, the entire raid fails, so you better have a good backup.

    sims 3 system requirements don't seem too heavy. must be an older game.
     
  14. ConnorTurnbull thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #14
    Then again, you're drives always have a chance of failure don't they?

    Is a striped raid a significant performance boost? Will I notice that, and does it at all contribute to gaming in any way? I don't care so much about whether it effects gaming, but it could be the crucial to my choice whether or not it provides a noticeable, significant performance boost.
     
  15. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Fishrrman

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    Feb 20, 2009
    #15
    "striped raid is basically using 2 physical disks to act like 1 big disk. the server comes with 2x500GB, so 1TB striped. upside is fast speed since data is being read/written to 2 drives. downside is if either one of the drives fail, the entire raid fails, so you better have a good backup."

    With the Mini Server, do both drives come "pre-RAID'ed" from the factory?

    If you are buying one for personal use, and don't need the server capabilities or the RAID, does that mean that you have to re-initialize (and "de-RAID") the drives and re-install from scratch?
     
  16. JupiterTwo macrumors 6502

    JupiterTwo

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    #16
    The server comes configured as two separate drives.
    You need to set up raid0/1/concurrent drives and reinstall Lion to get that working.
     

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