dilemma... (old 2017) iMAC or (new)Mac mini

Discussion in 'iMac' started by elmarjazz, Dec 10, 2018.

  1. elmarjazz macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 26, 2010
    #1
    I’ve been a MAC laptop person from the beginning, and I mean the ‘beginning’ with a PowerBook Duo. But… with all the problems and dislike of the butterfly Keyboard and T2 in the newest MacBook Pros, they’ve kind of got me turned off to an otherwise easy decision.

    Had been waiting and putting off a purchase of an iMAC till the Oct. upgrade, which never happened, and then the Mac mini came along.

    Enter my new thoughts and dilemma. iMAC 21.5 with a quad core 3.6ghz 16gb ram that has a beautiful 4k screen, dGPU, and can be my ‘portable’ as its not too much to move around (the 27” doesn’t work with this idea), vs a new Mac mini with a 6-core i5 or i7, weak graphics, and upgrade the RAM myself to 32gb? (minimum 256 gb SSD for either as I'll just use a large external SDD with thunderbolt 3)

    I’m really caught in the middle here. Old iMAC tech, but still a nice machine, that if I can get my head past the dated hardware issue, should still last me a good amount of time, plus no known issues or worries, no T2, and can be moved from table to table and transported to another location now and then as a single unit. Or… a ‘better’ up to date hardware Mac mini, but I still need a good screen, keyboard, mouse/trackpad, and so the price should be a few hundred $ more by the time I get it all together, and although its small, is not as ‘portable’ being separate components.

    I’d wait for an updated iMAC (new processor, maybe thinner bezel, updated screen), but know there will be a T2 chip and so service limitations and maybe new computer problems. Still maybe worth it, but when will that update even happen? Probably later than sooner from the chatter.

    So… Pull the trigger on a iMAC 21.5 3.6/16/256, or newer tech and more $ with a Mac mini i7(or i5)/32/256 + display, etc... ?
    BTW: use is video and photo editing, MS office, web and other general use.

    Any thoughts that may help?

    Thanks

    (Getting by on my MacBook Pro 17” 2010 in the meantime since my 2011 MBP i7 17” died 6 months ago with the video-gate chip failure, 3rd time)
     
  2. tomscott1988 macrumors 6502a

    tomscott1988

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2009
    Location:
    UK
    #2
    Have you tried a new macbook pro?

    You didnt mention if you have tried one. I would ignore peoples opinions and try one, macrumors equates to such a small pool of people who come to complain. If you dont like it then worry about other options.

    I wouldn't be looking at a 21.5" as a portable and the mac mini although powerful is a compromise, which isnt a great compromise.

    The new 15" with vega 20 is a serious bit of kit now, they seem to have sorted the majority of the issues. It is a better choice if you need portability. T2 issues dont seem to come from the chip itself but third party additions to the system it just routes through the T2. At the end of the day T2 is the direction and every mac will have one sooner rather than later.

    It is also far more powerful than the 21.5" I wouldnt consider one myself they are expensive for what they are vs the 27".

    If it helps I have the original 2015 macbook since new and never had an issue with the keyboard and it didn't take long to get used to. Although flawed and I dont particularly go out of my way to keep it clean ive had 0 issues. But people live on them eat sleep drink so...

    The new keyboard is far better, feels better and is unlikely to break. Mine feels like typing on a table in comparison but tbh it doesnt bother me. I use the original 2012 chicklet keyboard at my desk all day and I dont find it hard going back and forth.

    The main downside to the macbook pro is it is significantly more expensive and then Applecare is also £300 which is ridiculous.
     
  3. Jrshelby macrumors newbie

    Jrshelby

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2017
    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    #3
    iMac all day long! But get a 27" for sure since neither are really portable, and the ram is not so user upgradable without voiding the warranty on the 21.5" and is the main reason the next iMac is going to be $$$$$$$$$$ $xpensive. When you do the math the 27" becomes the better value as it becomes way cheaper then if you buy the memory direct from apple. Plus it will hold its value better, so if you need to sell and upgrade when apple finally releases a new iMac in 2023 you will have that option. Not meant to confuse you any more but just my opinion.
     
  4. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #4
    There is nothing particularly "old" about the 2017-design iMac.
    It's a very nice Mac, nicest iMac yet produced.

    However -- IF you decide on an iMac, I'd advise you to pony up the extra $$$ for the 27" model.
    You will NEVER regret having done so, once it's sitting on your desk.

    And... get an SSD instead of fusion -- even if it's only 256gb.
    I'd suggest the 3.5ghz "midrange" iMac with 8gb RAM (easily upgradeable yourself) and either a 256gb or 512gb SSD.
    Not worth paying Apple's exorbitant prices for 1tb.

    My opinion only...
     
  5. Jrshelby, Dec 10, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2018

    Jrshelby macrumors newbie

    Jrshelby

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2017
    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    #5
    Thats exactly what I did and no regrets.

    Screen Shot 2018-12-10 at 10.40.27 AM.png

    I have 40 Gigs installed now and it flies. I get better Geekbench results in every category due to the SSD and ram upgrade.
     
  6. fathergll macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2014
    #6

    I think myself and other do not understand the portability comment. I think you need to clarify that for more advice.
     
  7. Fried Chicken macrumors 6502a

    Fried Chicken

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2011
    #7
    No.

    That crown goes to the iMac G3 for practicality, and iMac G4 for looks.

    The 2017 iMac doesn't have a handle or good way of carrying it. It doesn't have a swivel display. It also doesn't have an optical drive, there is no easy way to pick it up, and opening it (for cleaning or any other reason) requires buying new tape.
     
  8. d0nK, Dec 10, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2018

    d0nK macrumors 6502

    d0nK

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2011
    Location:
    UK
    #8
    Same boat here. I need a Mac for a music studio but we're going to wait for the new iMac because of the new Intel 6-core CPU's which are a decent step up from the 4-cores. We're getting the 21.5" because I find the 27" screens too big.
    I was thinking about the mac mini but read stories that build quality isn't up to the iMac and also we'd have to buy a screen.
    Roll on the iMac updates...

    We're currently living on the fumes of my 15" 2011 mbp which I have to force to use the onboard GFX. If it switches to the discrete 6750M GPU, it crashes!
     
  9. elmarjazz thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 26, 2010
    #9
    I live in Japan and have a Japanese size house that just doesn't have much extra space. For people that get that (have lived in Japan), no further explanation is needed. Its just the way it is. Coming from a MBP 17" the 21.5" iMac is actually a step-up in screen size, but still not too difficult to deal with to me. 12lbs 21.5" vs 20lbs for the 27". It doesn't have a handle, and doesn't fold over like a MacBook can, but can be picked up and moved a short way without much trouble, and there are cases available to put it in when it goes in the car for a move to another location which I'd do two or three times a month. Its not ideal, but with the MBPs out of the running unless I want to throw the dice for problems, its an option I feel, and an up-grade in screen, CPU, and graphics over what I'm use to (MBP 17"). So... although I knew there would be the 'get a 27" ' and I understand that, with the space problem the extra size of the 27" I'm not willing to deal with. The 21.5" not perfect, its of course not a 'portable' laptop, but what choice do I have in the MAC line-up at this time? Wait, MBP and the dice thing, mini, or say good-bye to MAC OS and go Windows laptop?
    --- Post Merged, Dec 10, 2018 ---
    Just to make it clear. The 27" if I had the space and could just keep it in one place would be fine and preferable for all the right reasons many suggest. But, I need small [as possible], and the ability to move it from one limited space to another now and then (still not convenient), and pack it up and moved to another house with the least amount of hassle. Its still 'all-in-one design' makes this a bit easier, a great 4K screen and good sound, older hardware yes, but enough. The MAC mini would be preferable for hardware, especially down the road, and I could get a nice 24" (still not too big) display for photo editing, but more effort to make any move with cords and separate screen, speakers, etc... And although I wanted a MBP 13" just to make life easy, and would do the trick, its just a problem waiting to happen for all I've read.
    --- Post Merged, Dec 10, 2018 ---
    this YouTube video says it better than me maybe

     
  10. fathergll macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2014
    #10



    The only logical Apple solution would be to purchase a MBP and an external monitor if needed. Trust me you will not want to lug the 21" iMac around either.
     
  11. IngerMan macrumors 65816

    IngerMan

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    Feb 21, 2011
    Location:
    Michigan
    #11
  12. J.Gallardo macrumors 6502

    J.Gallardo

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2017
    Location:
    Spain
    #12
    Mac Mini will turn more and more attractive when external Thunderbolt3 cases, PCI storage & discrete GPUs turn cheaper.
     
  13. fathergll macrumors 65816

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    Sep 3, 2014
    #13

    Not if you need to haul it around a few times a month to different locations.
     
  14. J.Gallardo macrumors 6502

    J.Gallardo

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2017
    Location:
    Spain
    #14
    Of course not. These machines are named "desktop computers". They're not designed to be ported around a few times a month!
    (I use an iPad to take with me if I want. I've heard of portable macs also. Anyway, OP's question is like asking for a portable HiFi deck system...)
     
  15. kazmac macrumors 604

    kazmac

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2010
    Location:
    Any place but here or there....
    #15
    I am in the same boat as the OP. I have a non retina 2013 27” iMac which I’d happily use in target mode for the new Mac Mini, but I am not sure if the new Mini’s internal graphics can deal with the older 1GB graphics card in my iMac. The thought of having to run an eGPU is another minus and that T2 chip.

    I am very hesitant about the T2 chip and the less I spend the better. Plus, I will be getting a higher storage 2017 10.5 iPP at the same time. If they keyboards and price didn’t suck on the MBPs, I’d get one if those.

    I will be looking at the 4K and 5K displays on the iMacs at Apple again soon. I’d prefer not to have to scale up the resolution because the text usually winds up looking wonky to me.

    So very tricky for me. I know the 27” is a better buy but if the text is too small and I have to scale the resolution, that is a dealbreaker for me.
     
  16. fathergll macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2014
    #16

    OP stated "when it goes in the car for a move to another location which I'd do two or three times a month."

    Apparently the computer needs to be portable.
     
  17. Fried Chicken macrumors 6502a

    Fried Chicken

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2011
    #17


    Skip to 6:20.

    Cheers.
     
  18. J.Gallardo, Dec 12, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2018

    J.Gallardo macrumors 6502

    J.Gallardo

    Joined:
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    #18
    Well, if we're talking about that kind of portability, a MacMini plus ext. PCI case is not too big. Keyboard & mouse are the same if we compare to an iMac. And yes, add the screen, but fits in a Mini (the car). AND perhaps you can keep video monitor in place if you have another one (and kbd.+mouse).
    In fact, to avoid moving around an iMac a few times a month (!), consider seriously the MacMini option and just take with you essential equipment.
    Moving some devices (I'm thinking about the screen) is a mess and a risk. So, if we were talking about a portable HiFi deck, I would recommend a small one and having steady speakers in each place.
    A MacMini is the portable desktop mac; and you can make it grow in time.
    And you can lift that easier than an iMac... ;)
     
  19. fathergll macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2014
    #19
    I agree a Mini is easier to move than an iMac but I still think both are no where as good as a MBP option for obvious reasons.
     
  20. SecuritySteve macrumors 6502a

    SecuritySteve

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2017
    Location:
    California
    #20
    I would go with the 2018 MBP. The keyboard is much improved, the T2 chip is not the problem that people make it out to be, and the screen is as beautiful as ever.

    I have two systems running the T2 chip, and neither has had problems upgrading to Mojave, installing updates, or run into kernel panics from the T2 like others claim. I believe if you run into T2 chip problems, you just have a defective one, and you need you exchange it. That's no different than if you had a defective intel chip or AMD GPU. People like to jump on the "blame what's new" because they are afraid of change, and what it might mean for them.

    All Mac systems will have T2s or T3+s going forward. If people don't like that, I suggest looking at Microsoft's surface lineup.
     
  21. elmarjazz thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 26, 2010
    #21
    I've been spending a lot of time today thinking about options. Thank you to everyone making useful suggestions and giving me ideas to work with.

    The easy solution would be a MBP. The 15 inch would be the most ideal, and I was almost at that point when the surprise new processor up-dates happened. With the now available quad core and mostly for cost, the 13 inch became an option. I know not everyone has a problem with the MBPs, but I've seen enough threads about keyboards (which I can say is not my favourite even without its problems), T2 chips bridge errors, and coil whine, to be more than a bit nervous. Yes, I can take my chances, and return it if the problem happens. Refurbished 2018s are not so common here at Japan APPLE, but today I saw a base end 15 in., and if it's still there tomorrow I may give it a go.

    As for my two other APPLE options...

    The 21.5 3.6/16 or 32/256 still has a great appeal, and a couple hundred $ less with 16gb RAM or a couple hundred $ more with 32gb than the MBP mentioned above. When I was looking at the MBPs the 13 and 15 both had beautiful displays, but the 21.5 display was just ’more, ’ like a bonus. No, it would not be a ’portable’ in the traditional sense, but my MBP 17” was never something I dropped in a bag to take here and there often at all, it was my ’desktop.’ I moved it around the house and took in the car 2 or 3 times a month (heard that before;-? This is still doable with the iMac 21 for me. Not as easy as folding the lid down and putting it in with other things, but it does have that bigger display, sound, and power than what I've been used to, so trade-off. And for true portability (always with me) I have my iPad mini, and have been thinking of a new iPad pro to go with the iMac. One thing about the 2017 iMac, I don't know of any problems, it's very solid, and that means a lot to me.

    As for the mini. I've thought of the two displays idea, one at each place, but seems a waste and extra expense. I could also use the new iPad pro (12in would be nice in this case) as a display when I travel and want Mac OS with the Mac mini.

    And of course the last APPLE option is to just wait. Maybe February or March will see an iMac update and all the cards will be on the table.

    My son thinks its time for a PC laptop for him, so I'll be checking that out (those Thinkpad x1 I wish ran Mac OS) and I may just have to explore that somewhat seriously for myself.

    Who's happy with their iMac 21.5 (yes, I know everyone is happy with their 27in), new Mac mini and what display? If Mac mini for me I've been looking at the benq sw240.

    Thanks again
     
  22. kazmac macrumors 604

    kazmac

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2010
    Location:
    Any place but here or there....
    #22
    If I stick with Macs, I am probably going to go with the 21.5” 32gig/512 2017 model myself, as I am also picking up a higher storage 10.5 iPad Pro.

    I’d be fine with the maxed out mid tier 21.5, but the high end model is the better buy. With my vision the 21.5 is better than the 27”.

    Just confirmed I cannot use my 2013 27” iMac in target display mode with the 2018 mini because iMac isn’t Thunderbolt 2.

    I wish the OP best of luck in their purchase.
     

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21 December 10, 2018