Core Solo Mini vs. Duo

Gmac07

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 13, 2005
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Ok im very limited on money and i need a mac for school. I was hoping on a macbook but its just not a viable option at the moment. I really dont do much other than internet, ripping cds onto my ipod, and school work. And i have a digital camera as well. A superdrive is not too important right now, so looking at the minis, is the duo going to be a huge difference for me? Also is the solo basically a centrino? I know a 1.5ghz centrino isnt too quick. I have a 2.4ghz p4 in my compag laptop that has been giving me trouble. I do want a boost in speed over this computer. My question is, is the Duo Mini worth the $779???
 

jsw

Moderator emeritus
Mar 16, 2004
22,910
41
Andover, MA
Neither mini is going to be a speed demon - they are primarily meant to be a usable system in a very small form factor.

The core solo is somewhat faster than an equivalent Centrino and would probably do what you need, but... any stock system with 512MB RAM is going to crawl a soon as you run more than a few small apps at once. The duo will be faster. I have a duo w/1GB RAM, and it's very usable. But... much costlier. There's one for US$699 at the refurb store (Apple->Store->SAVE icon) now.

You might want to wait a short while to see if they're updated.
 

Chundles

macrumors G4
Jul 4, 2005
11,966
375
Gmac07 said:
Ok im very limited on money and i need a mac for school. I was hoping on a macbook but its just not a viable option at the moment. I really dont do much other than internet, ripping cds onto my ipod, and school work. And i have a digital camera as well. A superdrive is not too important right now, so looking at the minis, is the duo going to be a huge difference for me? Also is the solo basically a centrino? I know a 1.5ghz centrino isnt too quick. I have a 2.4ghz p4 in my compag laptop that has been giving me trouble. I do want a boost in speed over this computer. My question is, is the Duo Mini worth the $779???
Core Solo is a processor, Centrino is a chip-set comprising a processor, various wireless components and other stuff. They are two different things, a Core Solo can be part of a Centrino chip-set.

Apple do not use Centrino chip-sets.

What you consider a "1.5GHz Centrino" is most likely the old Centrino chip-set with a 1.5GHz Pentium M processor. A 1.5GHz Core Solo is much faster than a 1.5GHz Pentium M and is probably quicker than your P4 at a lot of things. You see, the term "speed" is misleading, a P4 may be quicker at some things whilst the Core Solo will be quicker at others.

And yes, the Core Duo processor is worth the extra money but for what you do a Solo might be fine - I'd be inclined to go with the Duo though just to future-proof yourself somewhat. Don't forget to give it at least 1GB of RAM. Can't stress RAM enough, 1GB is the minimum you should be considering.
 

jsw

Moderator emeritus
Mar 16, 2004
22,910
41
Andover, MA
Chundles said:
Can't stress RAM enough, 1GB is the minimum you should be considering.
Given the budget of the OP, I'd agree that a solo w 1/GB is better than a stock duo. 512MB is nearly worthless unless you rarely do more than one thing at a time and that one thing isn't a memory hog - remember, 80MB is consumed by the video, meaning 512MB is "really" 432MB.

*** fondly remembers running Mac IIci with 4MB and no issues ***
 

amac4me

macrumors 65816
Apr 26, 2005
1,302
0
Have you considered purchasing an Apple Certified Refurbished Mac mini? You can get a Refurbished Mac mini 1.66GHz Intel Core Duo for $699 and it comes with Apple's One-Year Limited Warranty.
 

Josias

macrumors 68000
Mar 10, 2006
1,908
1
jsw said:
Given the budget of the OP, I'd agree that a solo w 1/GB is better than a stock duo. 512MB is nearly worthless unless you rarely do more than one thing at a time and that one thing isn't a memory hog - remember, 80MB is consumed by the video, meaning 512MB is "really" 432MB.

*** fondly remembers running Mac IIci with 4MB and no issues ***
Dude, I think you're overexcaggerating.;) It's not useless. I tried many a Mac with 512 MB, also CD/CS Mini's, and they worked great with PhotoBooth, Word, iTunes and GarageBand open. I'd say you should get a Core Solo with 1 or 2 GB RAM. To compare.
1.42 GHz G4 Mini has 1 performance unit.
1.5 GHz Core Solo Mini has 3.7 performance units.
1.67 GHz Core Duo Mini has 5.4 performance units.

I can assure you, that a 1.5 GHz Core Solo will spank a 3 GHz P4.

BTW, this is the 30th time I explain about the GMA memory consumption:
The GMA/950 takes in OS X, up to 64 MB of memory. Upon bootup, the OS steals 16 MB to keep it running. The GMA is stealing nothing more but 64 MB. The GMS ccannot steal more than 64 MB in OS X, and therefore, these last 16 MB are used to keep OS X running. ;)

See:
 

Gmac07

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 13, 2005
65
0
hey guys, thanks alot for the info...
I would really like the duo just for future proof.
I know 512mb isnt enough but i dont see why apple still sells computers with 512mb, all other companies are offering 1gb in most mid level computers. They need to get with the program on that.
Do you think the mini is going to be updated soon? even if it is, merom prolly wont have a huge impact on me. What i am worrying about is upgrading to leopard down the road. i want to be able to upgrade with losing any features. so are the 32 bit core solos and duos going to run well with leopard?
 

kellen

macrumors 68020
Aug 11, 2006
2,363
55
Seattle, WA
Go for the refurb in either case. Not uncommon to get an upgraded one and if you get one with 1gb you're set.

Either solo or duo would probably work in your case. I have a duo right now with only 512 and it works for everything I have used it for as a basic user, internet, word processing, itunes, dvd making.

If you get the solo, later when you have money you can upgrade and throw a higher duo processor for a couple hundred bucks. People have put the 2.0 and 2.16 into them.

Either way good luck at school.
 

7on

macrumors 601
Nov 9, 2003
4,940
0
Dress Rosa
Gmac07 said:
hey guys, thanks alot for the info...
I would really like the duo just for future proof.
I know 512mb isnt enough but i dont see why apple still sells computers with 512mb, all other companies are offering 1gb in most mid level computers. They need to get with the program on that.
Do you think the mini is going to be updated soon? even if it is, merom prolly wont have a huge impact on me. What i am worrying about is upgrading to leopard down the road. i want to be able to upgrade with losing any features. so are the 32 bit core solos and duos going to run well with leopard?
indeed. Anything that runs Tiger will run Leopard equally.

My old 1ghz G4 is 3 and a half years old - and these mac minis are hordes faster. I say go core solo. Unless you have the money of course.
 

Gmac07

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 13, 2005
65
0
thanks alot guys! I love this forum. I think im gonna order a solo and go and get atleast 1gb ram. 1.25gb should be good for awhile. im a student and have to pay for this myself so moneys tight. once i get a job next year ill be able to get something real nice, but right now i gotta bear down and just get something that will get me through school. Im still considering the duo though, how much of a difference in speed is there for what i do. i would think that a 1.25gb solo is faster than a 512mb duo, right?
 

aristobrat

macrumors G5
Oct 14, 2005
12,255
1,333
Gmac07 said:
i would think that a 1.25gb solo is faster than a 512mb duo, right?
Probably.

IMO, although the 512MB Duo will have a faster processor, if you have more than 3 or 4 programs open at the same time, you're going to spend too much time looking at the beachball (waiting) while OS X swaps virtual memory in or out because it lacks adequate physical memory. That totally negates any speedup that you'd feel from the faster processor. Too bad faster processors don't make the disc drives work faster. ;)

If you don't mind just having 1 or 2 programs open at the time, then the 512MB Duo might be OK. It's just that I've never seen anyone that does that...
 

dpaanlka

macrumors 601
Nov 16, 2004
4,868
6
Illinois
Geez I really don't think 512 is that bad. I have a few machines with 512 and they're perfectly fine. My PowerBook G4 has a 1gb of memory, and Activity Monitor often says that more than 512mb of it is unused when all I'm doing is iChat and Safari.
 

Unspeaked

macrumors 68020
Dec 29, 2003
2,448
1
West Coast
dpaanlka said:
Geez I really don't think 512 is that bad. I have a few machines with 512 and they're perfectly fine. My PowerBook G4 has a 1gb of memory, and Activity Monitor often says that more than 512mb of it is unused when all I'm doing is iChat and Safari.
Couldn't have said it better myself...
 

dpaanlka

macrumors 601
Nov 16, 2004
4,868
6
Illinois
A LOT of low end PCs still come with only 256mb. Almost every computer owned by a friend or family member of mine who is not *into* computers has about 256mb of ram.
 

wPod

macrumors 68000
Aug 19, 2003
1,654
0
Denver, CO
Gmac07 said:
thanks alot guys! I love this forum. I think im gonna order a solo and go and get atleast 1gb ram. 1.25gb should be good for awhile. im a student and have to pay for this myself so moneys tight. once i get a job next year ill be able to get something real nice, but right now i gotta bear down and just get something that will get me through school. Im still considering the duo though, how much of a difference in speed is there for what i do. i would think that a 1.25gb solo is faster than a 512mb duo, right?
I bought the mini solo with the intensions of upgrading to a core duo . . . by the time i got the money together someone had dropped a pre-production merom in the mini, so now im waiting for the merom to be readily availble so i can buy one and drop it in my mini. so yeah, the solo is somewhat 'future proof'

as for speed. the 512 on the solo is somewhat slugish, especially when multiple apps are open. yes, it still works, but theres a bit of a delay in everything. but i just dropped in a 1GB stick (for a total of 1.25 GB) and man, does it ever fly! I run AutoCAD under windows in Boot Camp and that runs much better/ faster than a P4 3.2GHz with 1 GB ram. and much faster than a 64 bit AMD 2.0GHz with 1 GB ram. so yeah, speed wise the solo will be fine for a year or two till you get a job and some more cash!

as for the student part, (as long as you are a college student) be sure to get the student discount (though I hope that is already obvious to you! just thought id remind you)
 

Gmac07

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 13, 2005
65
0
wPod said:
as for the student part, (as long as you are a college student) be sure to get the student discount (though I hope that is already obvious to you! just thought id remind you)
Im actually looking at the refurb for 519 instead of the edu for 579...i dont need the nano so i dont know. is buyng a refurb safe?
 

AvSRoCkCO1067

macrumors 65816
Sep 6, 2005
1,401
0
CO
Gmac07 said:
Im actually looking at the refurb for 519 instead of the edu for 579...i dont need the nano so i dont know. is buyng a refurb safe?
You don't get a free Nano with a Mac Mini purchase anyway.

And buying a refurb is definitely safe - I haven't done it, but many people on this forum have, and they come with a solid 1-year warranty (the same as new computers) anyway.
 

Gmac07

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 13, 2005
65
0
Hey guys, I went and ordered the refurb solo for $519. Im pretty excited because this is my first mac! I cant wait the 2 weeks its extimated to ship. hopefully it gets here quicker. I was hoping to get a macbook but i could live without portability. Now im going to order a 1gb chip for it. i just need to get through one year with it and it would be worth it. thanks for the help guys!
 

Gmac07

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 13, 2005
65
0
also in the future if i want to upgrade to merom, how hard is it to install, do you have to take it to a professional?
 

jsw

Moderator emeritus
Mar 16, 2004
22,910
41
Andover, MA
Gmac07 said:
is the ram for a notebook like the g4. or desktop ram?
It's notebook RAM. See any reputable RAM dealer and they'll tell you what you need. The Intel Macs - at least prior to the Mac Pro - all use the same type of RAM.
 

aristobrat

macrumors G5
Oct 14, 2005
12,255
1,333
dpaanlka said:
Geez I really don't think 512 is that bad. I have a few machines with 512 and they're perfectly fine. My PowerBook G4 has a 1gb of memory, and Activity Monitor often says that more than 512mb of it is unused when all I'm doing is iChat and Safari.
I'm sure.

Like I said, if you're a person that's fine with having just one or two programs opened at a time, 512MB isn't an issue.

But if you're the type of person to have a few widgets on your dashboard and have Safari, iChat, Mail and iTunes open most of the time, your system is going to start swapping (beachballing) because of lack of memory, especially if the next app you try to open isn't Universal (and requires Rosetta, which is a memory hog).

From my personal experience with my dual core mini and after all of the "Why is my new mini so slow" threads I've seen here and on 123macmiin / MacNN / Apple's support forums, I stand by my thought that a Core Solo mini with more memory is going to be a better user experience than a Dual Core mini with 512MB.
 

Gmac07

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 13, 2005
65
0
i think im going to order crucial ram because i dont want to get a no name brand thats not goingto work. $125 for 1gb, is that a good deal right now?? and im just trying to find out how hard it is to upgrade processors yourself