Debating between a DELL upgrade & first Mac (Mini)

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by bxmvm, Apr 28, 2015.

  1. bxmvm macrumors newbie

    Mar 15, 2012
    Hi all,

    Was looking for some advice regarding upgrading my existing DELL and switching to a mac mini.

    I have a DELL XPS 420 with Q6600 2.4 GHz processor and 6GB DDR2 RAM. I upgraded the PSU and video card in the last year but my hardrive is on its last legs and I am leaning towards purchasing a 250GB SSD and 1TB HDD for it. I know its old, but its still treating me well.

    That being said, I am thinking about finally making the switch to a Mac. If money was no object, I would be buying a iMac but I have to watch my budget right now ($600 - $700 range). I have been looking at the middle model of the Mac Mini but don't like the fact the 2014 version isn't upgrade-able like the 2012, and I also don't know that the i5 CPU in the new Mini is worth it. I've been waffling back and forth between the upgrade on my existing PC and a mid-range Mac Mini but could use some feedback.

    Does anyone have any thoughts? It would be most appreciated.
  2. dyt1983, Apr 28, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2015

    dyt1983 macrumors 65816

    May 6, 2014
    edit: to remove personally identifying information not relevant to the thread.
  3. kb12252004, Apr 28, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2015

    kb12252004 macrumors newbie

    Oct 10, 2013
    Dell & first Mac

    I really think this depends on why you are considering a Mac. If there are Mac-specific software programs you plan to use, or wish to further integrate your Apple ecosystem (on the presumption you already have i-devices) or even if you wish to explore OSX through an ongoing hands-on experience, the mid-level Mac Mini would be a good fit. This is essentially what happened to me two years ago after being completely in the Windows environment since the early 1990's. In retrospect, it was my curiosity about OSX (after several years using iOS devices) that ultimately led to purchasing the 2012 Mini (I now own the mid-level 2014 Mini). That said, much of the business software I use, by choice, continues to be Windows-based that runs via Parallels, that is if I want the full Windows experience running side-by-side with OSX. If I want to exclusively stay in OSX, I use Crossover for certain supported Windows software so I don't have to boot up the virtual machine. All the non-work stuff is reserved for the OSX side, which is a very enjoyable experience that integrates well with my iOS devices. My guess is if you purchase the 2014 mid-level Mini, your curiosity may be stirred about running a virtual machine or using Windows through boot camp. I can at least report that through Parallels, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit works just fine on 8Gb RAM, although a little patience is required until it fully loads. Perhaps a SSD replacement may address that, however I haven't yet switched to a SATA SSD. In the end, I'm glad I explored OSX and plan to indefinitely stay with the hybrid approach which suits my needs well. As for your question regarding the i5, in my opinion, its the 5400 RPM HDD that is the weakest link in this machine, which as you probably know can be switched out to a SATA SSD whenever your budget can support the expense. That's my plan eventually, but for the time being, the machine works well enough for me.
  4. wickedpapercut macrumors member


    Jul 17, 2005
    As previously stated, you need to give much more information about how you'll be using your upgraded DELL and the applications or games that you need to continue to run before anyone can directly address your situation.

    If you are simply looking to start over on the Mac platform then I think you'll find the mini to be a very capable computer. If you're concerned about the soldered memory, look around for a 2012 mini that you can upgrade. You might even be able to find the i7 model which can add to the performance. An SSD can be added to either the 2012 or 2014 model and, as previously stated, that's where you'll really notice the performance improvement.

    Good luck with your decision. If you add more information about your specific needs I'm sure you'll get many more specific recommendations.
  5. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    Others are giving you good advice when it comes to considering what use you have for your computer.

    I'll just throw more peanuts into the gallery here -

    If I am correct, you have a quad core 2.4 CPU. The new Minis are NOT quad core. You have a reasonable video card upgrade path while the Mini does not.

    Perhaps this might be worth considering about your present system as the Mini offers them -

    SATA III internal
    Ability to go hybrid SSD/hard drive

    Negatives of the latest Mini
    Soldered RAM (up to 16 gigs max)
    No video upgrade path
    No CPU upgrade path
    No PSU upgrade path

    The latest Minis are nice machines unless you have hard core applications that take advantage of multi-core and superior video requirements which renders the Mini to be anemic at best.

    I skipped buying the latest Mini offering because it did not fit my needs as compared to the Minis I have now. I'll see what the next incarnation has to offer and if no quad is offered along with other "Mini power user" features, I'll consider abandoning ship and return to the dark side or if by chance, buy a used Mac Pro for a low price.
  6. bxmvm thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 15, 2012
    Thanks for the responses everyone, I appreciate it!

    In terms of specific programs and needs, etc... I am by no means a power user and I am not a gamer. I do use Photoshop fairly heavily and I am a blogger who does a lot online, but the most intensive thing I may be doing any given moment on my PC is running Photoshop while playing music in iTunes and having multiple instances of Chrome open. Other than that, its mostly watching streaming videos or using my PC as a media center or for web surfing.

    The main reason I am looking at the mini is because I am very tempted to switch to a mac (I am a iphone, ipad, i-whatever junkie). I like the OS better than windows and I like its low profile form (especially compared to my huge XPS-machine) and I love the fact it is energy efficient.

    When I look at the specs, it seems like the low-end mini model (with an added SSD) would probably be enough to meet my needs, but I have always liked having the option to upgrade my PC as much as needed, and I think that is probably what is making me hesitate the most.

    Clearly, I am not a power user but I know enough to be dangerous, which is why I am struggling with this a bit. Plus I want to make sure I am not going from bad to worse as I do occasionally hear the mac mini horror story as well.
  7. kb12252004, Apr 28, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2015

    kb12252004 macrumors newbie

    Oct 10, 2013
    Given your use case for the Mini, I would recommend what the other contributors on this thread are saying -- if you can, try to find a 2012 Mini, preferably with the i7 configuration (although i5 will certainly do), and upgrade it to 16GB RAM (OWC) in case you decide to create a virtual Windows machine. That made an incredible difference on the i5 2012 Mini I had. Regrettably, I impulsively sold it to upgrade to the Intel Iris graphics on the 2014 Mini, but really haven't seen that much of a difference for the use case of my 2014 Mini. I do plan to upgrade to a SATA-SSD, but don't appreciate the direction Apple has taken to create barriers for those of us who prefer to service the units ourselves (i.e. soldered RAM, and a cheap, substandard HDD (not even 7200 RPM) buried deep inside the unit. My last thought is that if you decide to go with the low-end 2014 Mini, to consider the reviews as they have not been all that great. If you later decide to create a virtual machine, the 4GB RAM may be very limiting.
  8. HomeLate macrumors newbie

    Apr 29, 2015
    The Dell XPS 420... I had one a few years ago and it was a great pc.

    Although the Q6600 is/was a great processor, the i5 4278U, which you'll find the middle late 2014 Mac Mini, will probably outperform the Q6600 in most use cases.
    The XPS is a great pc, but do consider if it's worth spending money on upgrading parts in an old pc. I was asking myself exactly the same question a few years ago and decided not to upgrade the XPS 420.
    If you do buy an ssd, keep in mind the XPS's SATA port only supports sata-II (3Gbit/s instead of 6Gbit/s). The SSD will work fine, with decreased performance, but still will be faster than a mechanical drive.

    The Mac Mini... I have nothing more to add. I bought a new late 2014 Mac Mini for home office use (Word/surfing/music...).
    I still use a PC for Photoshop/Lightroom/rendering work (it uses a i7 4930K, which is a lot faster). But for general tasks, this pc is using 300 watts when idle :-(
    I bought the middle Mac Mini with 8Gb & 1Tb HDD (without fusion) and so far I haven't regret my purchase.

    If it's any help, I will install Photoshop CC on my Mac Mini (if Adobe will let me) and launch some tests.
  9. HomeLate macrumors newbie

    Apr 29, 2015
  10. imaccooper macrumors regular


    May 29, 2014
    North Carolina
    I think the base model with an SSD will be a great computer for you. As one person mentioned, you can max out the ram if you want to run a virtual machine, but otherwise you should never need it.

    It would be worth a quick check of the refurb store or any other place that you trust to see if you can find a 2012 mini just so you can have the ability to upgrade should you choose. If none are available, I believe you will be perfectly fine getting the newest model with an upgrade to the SSD or Fusion.
  11. js81 macrumors 65816


    Dec 31, 2008
    I am an equal opportunity user... :D Actually, if anything I'm more PC-heavy than Mac, though that's not by choice (I'd rather have a Mac!). Currently have 4 Apple devices in my house and only one is a Mac - my wife's Macbook.

    I have two computers that I use regularly, both Dells; a Latitude E6520 and an Optiplex 755. The Latitude is my personal laptop (bought off-lease) and has an i5-2540M, 8GB RAM, 240GB SSD, and Windows 8.1. The Optiplex is my "located desktop" at home (also bought off-lease) and has a C2D E7500, 4GB RAM, 60GB SSD & 6TB in HDDs, and Windows 8.1.

    Point of it all is this: You'll get far greater mileage out of an SSD upgrade than anything else. My Optiplex is farily similar, save for yours being a quad and mine being a dual. I typically only use the 755 as a "server" for the other computers in my house, so I hadn't seen the need for an SSD until just this weekend. Even in its admittedly limited usage, the small SSD has made a GIGANTIC difference!

    My advice is this: Since it's a desktop, just get a small SSD. In all honesty, even a 60GB like mine is plenty. I have Win8.1 and all my apps (Office 2010, Photoshop, and all the usuals - I don't game, though) and it's less than half full (27GB used, I think). All of my documents, downloads, music, etc. folders live on the hard drives. I'd advise the same setup for you, too. :)

    Since you said yourself that you're hooked on iDevices, do you really use your desktop that much? If not, ~$50 for an SSD upgrade on the Dell may be the best use of funds.

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