Considering a Mac Mini, looking for advice

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Dolorian, Sep 9, 2012.

  1. Dolorian, Sep 9, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2012

    Dolorian macrumors 65816

    Dolorian

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2007
    #1
    Some background, my current setup: I have an early 2010 15" MacBook Pro with an i5 at 2.53ghz, 8GB of RAM and 500GB HD. I have the computer hooked to a 24" ViewSonic Monitor along with an Apple keyboard and Mouse. I use the computer for the following things:

    - Web Design / Development (Espresso, Sketch, Fireworks, Pixelmator, Photoshop and Illustrator (occasionally), CodeKit, VMare Fusion, MaMP, Transmit, etc)
    - Web browsing and site testing (Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Opera)
    - Do iWork stuff occasionally
    - Watch movies, listen to music, email, chat (the usual stuff)
    - Play games every once in a while (DragonAge, NeverWinter Nights, Diablo III, for example), but for gaming i normally use my PS3 so this point is not really important.

    My current setup works fine for all this, good performance, I get to use two screens for web design/development placing code in one and the preview in another, it is quite ideal.

    The problem: My computer suffers from the black screen of death bug and so when I use it with the external monitor, it switches to the discrete card which leads to it triggering the bug and shutting down on a random basis. The computer is no longer under warranty and replacing the logic board to fix it is just too big an investment for a computer that is over 2 years old. I can use it without the monitor using gfxCardStatus, forcing it to use the integrated card, but that defeats the whole idea of why I decided to go with my current setup.

    What I plan to do: What I am planning is to keep the 24" View Sonic Monitor I currently have along with the Apple keyboard and Mouse, buy a second monitor like the one I have and a Mac Mini (the $800 one) to which I'll add 8GB of ram which I'll get from Crucial.com. That way I'll have the dual screen setup I want (even better since I'll have 2 screens of 24" as opposed to 24" and 15" screens) but I'll lose the portability of the MacBook, yet since i plan to get myself a Nexus 7, I think that the tablet will serve me just fine for meetings with clients and showing off designs and things like that.

    The above said, I have two questions:

    - Would the 2.5Ghz Mac Mini be a good choice for the type of stuff I do? How it it performance wise compared to the MacBook Pro I have? Will it run the apps I use fine?

    - Alternatively, do you think I would be better off with a 21" iMac with an i5 at 2.55GHz, connecting to it my current monitor via the thunderbolt port (I have a DVI to MiniDisplay port adapter). The iMac along with upgrading it to 8GB would be more expensive, but it has a quad core processor.

    Any input is appreciated. Thank in advance!
     
  2. Yebubbleman macrumors 68030

    Yebubbleman

    Joined:
    May 20, 2010
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #2
    Here's what I'd do. Sell your current MacBook Pro (obviously back up your stuff and wipe the drive before doing so), use that money toward one of the newer ones.

    I recommend that over a Mac mini for a couple reasons; all computers are investments AND all computers are essentially 4-6 year rentals (longer if you are stubborn), you are paying for time, essentially. Given that, the Mac mini only has one user-service-able internal component, the RAM. The MacBook Pro has both the RAM and the hard drive, and really, as long as those two components can be replaced, the only things that will prompt you to need a new computer are speed (relative to new software) and software compatibility (relative to the latest OS you can put on there).

    I also recommend a MacBook Pro over a Mac mini simply because the MacBook Pro is using newer tech (Ivy Bridge CPUs and USB 3) and the Mac mini (as well as the iMac) is still using early 2011 tech (Sandy Bridge).

    I understand that the Nexus 7 is going to alleviate most of your mobile needs, but from the standpoint of what is inside your computer and how you can make that computer last a long time, a MacBook Pro is superior to both the Mac mini and the iMac. Not to mention, your Nexus 7 won't meet every mobile need you have. I have an iPad and even it can't replace my laptop.

    If you're set on a desktop though, I'll always vote Mac mini over iMac; the current design of the iMac packs way too many heat-generating components into way too thin a design and it is literally the most unupgradable Mac next to the MacBook Air and the retina MacBook Pro. Poor design and a poor investment over the long haul. Plus, if your screen, speakers, or optical drive (which would be external) need replacing on the mini, it's as simple as unplugging it and getting a new one; not so with the iMac.
     
  3. Dolorian, Sep 9, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2012

    Dolorian thread starter macrumors 65816

    Dolorian

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2007
    #3
    Well with the problem the computer has I don't think selling it is a viable option. I won't hide that problem from the person who may buy it, I would be lying to them. I am not sure that anyone would like to buy it knowing that it has that problem and if they do, it would be for too little money. I was planning on giving it to my sister who wants to sell her white Macbook. I explained the problem it has to her and she is ok with it as she never uses with an external monitor anyway.


    I was under the impression that you could upgrade the hard drive of the Mac Mini? Or is that not possible?


    Yeah, that's another thing, it is likely that the new Mac mini (and new iMac) will come with the newer tech that the current MacBook Pro has, but I wonder when these will actually come out. Apple seems to be dragging the refresh of products like the iMac, Mini and Mac Pro quite a bit each cycle. I am hoping that they release them this month, probably by the 12th, yet I don't see them making an event for the iPhone AND the iMac/Mac mini. Maybe a quiet update with no announcement during the event?


    That's true, the Nexus 7 can't truly replace a laptop and I won't be able to, for example, do web design/development work on it while on the go. I could keep my current defective MacBook Pro for that but then i would have a computer lying round that I use rarely, would be a bit of a waste. I would also need to keep programs and files on both computers and be always updating it. More work.


    Yeah these are among the reasons why I am considering a Mac mini as the first choice. The iMac places too many limits.

    I am not in too much of a hurry right now. Besides having the opportunity of giving the money to someone who will make a trip to the USA the 21st so that they can buy and bring in the Mac mini (saves me paying for the shipping, courier taxes and all that), I could wait some more to see if the Mac mini is eventually upgraded, but knowing Apple they may even push it's release to 2013 with the Mac Pro.

    Thanks for the advice!
     
  4. 3rd Rock macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2012
    Location:
    Over here
    #4
    Hard drive question.....

    You can replace the Hard drive, but its not real easy to do and a few have messed up a bit and one has to be carful. But its do-able. Ram is very easy



    MacMini 2011 model > 16 Gb Gskill Ram > 5400 rpm Hdd
     
  5. Dolorian thread starter macrumors 65816

    Dolorian

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2007
    #5
    I see, well I could order it with the 750GB option, can they do this right at the store? I mean, if I go there and tell them I want a Mac mini with 750GB instead of the default 500GB, do they give it to you right there or would you need to wait some days?

    In any case, I also have a 1TB external hard drive set up as a time machine, I can use that to store things too, the 500GB would prove sufficient for the time being.
     
  6. borostef macrumors 6502

    borostef

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2012
    Location:
    Zagreb, Croatia
    #6
    It is not that hard to replace the hard drive in a Mac Mini...
    I swapped the hard drive with which my Mini came with with a 120 GB SSD drive without any problems... You just have to be somewhat careful because you are working in a confined space...
    Works like a charm, and I would not exchange it for a MacBook pro... Considering the price...
     
  7. Yebubbleman macrumors 68030

    Yebubbleman

    Joined:
    May 20, 2010
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #7

    You can always sell a Mac in as-is condition or for parts or as normal but with documented issus, and it will probably knock off $300-400 from the going rate of the machine otherwise, but it is always a viable option.

    You definitely can upgrade the hard drive of the Mac mini, but it's not seen as a user-replacable part and as such, is not covered by AppleCare, whereas it is on the (non-retina Unibody) MacBook Pro.


    No, if the iMac and/or Mac mini came out now, it'd be using the SAME tech as the current MacBook Pro, with the Mac mini likely even using the same CPUs that the 13" MacBook Pro is using now. Ivy Bridge is currently the newest hardware; that's what the MacBook Pro has. The Mac Pro is a different story entirely as it uses Server/Workstation grade CPUs.


    Meh, one computer, one tablet; whether that computer is a MacBook Pro or a Mac mini/iMac, the amount of work you do to keep your one computer in sync with your tablet is the same.



    The iMac is much faster, but yeah, it's much more limiting and, as far as the design goes, it's much more unreliable, and not to mention the most guilty of all the Macs of being way too much form and not enough function.

    It really wouldn't shock me if iMacs and Mac minis were just tabled until Haswell comes out.


    Anytime, man!

    It's not hard, but it's definitely (a) harder than doing it on a MacBook Pro, (b) not "user-serviceable" by Apple's standards, and (c) warranty-voiding.
     
  8. Dolorian, Sep 9, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2012

    Dolorian thread starter macrumors 65816

    Dolorian

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2007
    #8
    Yeah, that's a good point.


    I meant keeping my current MacBook Pro in addition to the Mac mini and the Nexus 7 :p


    What I am thinking too, which is why I don't really feel too hesitant to get a Mac mini now. I really doubt they will update it this year. I can see updates for the iPhone (which was announced), iPods, Apple TV and possibly the iMac. But I think the Mac mini will be pushed back, like the Mac Pro.
     
  9. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #9
    None of the above justifies a Mac Pro. Some times Photoshop can if you have 100 megapixel images in Aperture but not if you are using only web-resolution images

    VMware Fusion can make use of a LOT of RAM so I'd say put a minimum of 8GM in the Mini, more if you can and plan to use VMware a lot.

    About computers lasting a long time and use serviceable parts: With Apple Care you don't service your own computer. Plan to replace the Mini just before the Apple Care runs out. People will pay a premium for a computer that is under 3 years old with some warranty left. You then a use the money from selling the old mini to buy a new mini. They might hold 50% of their value if still under Warranty.
     
  10. takasugi macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    #10
    Why wouldn't you take your MacBook Pro in to an Apple store and get it fixed? If this is the BSOD issue, Apple will repair it for 3 years from purchase. Lookup KB TS4088.
     
  11. 3rd Rock macrumors 6502

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  12. Dolorian thread starter macrumors 65816

    Dolorian

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    Apr 25, 2007
    #12
    Nope, actually did that and they checked the warranty, it is two years and mine doesn't falls under this warranty. Have to pay up to fix it.
     
  13. takasugi macrumors regular

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    Feb 21, 2012
    #13
    It must be a different issue - I just looked on the Apple support site again and it says 3 years from purchase.

    http://support.apple.com/kb/TS4088
     
  14. Dolorian thread starter macrumors 65816

    Dolorian

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    Apr 25, 2007
    #14
    Odd, I remember looking at that same document a couple of months ago and it said two years. They must have changed it.
     
  15. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Jan 5, 2006
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    Redondo Beach, California
    #15
    It depends on the country where you bought the computer. Here in the US we get one year warranty unless we buy "Apple Care" and then we get an extra two years for a total of three.

    The trick to upgrading Macs is to sell them just before the three year Apple Care warranty expires. If you do that they hold maybe 50% of their value so your next Mac can cost about 50% less out of pocket.
     
  16. micrors4racer macrumors 6502

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    Apr 19, 2012
    #16
    He is talking about a special issue in which Apple issued affected Macs an extra 3 (or 2?) years of warranty outside of the original coverage with the included warranty or after the apple care.
     
  17. Dolorian, Sep 19, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2012

    Dolorian thread starter macrumors 65816

    Dolorian

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2007
    #17
    I am actually giving serious consideration to this recommendation. Thinking about getting the new Macbook Pro i5 2.5GHz with 8GB of RAM. It would cost me just a little bit more than the Mac Mini, 24" display, 8GB of ram and HDMI cable combo and like you mention I would be getting a computer with newer tech. The Mac Mini is at the end of it's cycle so it is not ideal to get one now. Also, I would not lose the portability I enjoyed with my current MacBook Pro (whose guaranty for the black screen of death problem is only two years and it is already past that).

    I think it would be the best choice and I wouldn't need to change my current setup in any way whereas I am thinking that using two 24" displays for web design/development would be a tad overkill (I would also need to invest on a new desk, which makes getting the new Macbook Pro the cheaper option). I use a 23" display + a 13" MacBook Pro at work and the setup is great.
     

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