Display Concerns :: iMac vs. Mac mini with Pro Display?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by ciscospice, Nov 13, 2009.

  1. ciscospice macrumors newbie

    Nov 13, 2009
    I'm new to the forum. A brief history: I was "raised" on macs - used the first machines at my university when we got them in our lab back in the late 1980s. Worked on macs until the late nineties when I got a job in desktop support and switched over to windows based machines. With each upgrade of my personal machine, I've considered mac and gone PC due to price, but the time is finally right for my return to the Mac!

    I'll continue to use a PC at work as this is the choice of our corporate overlords. So, this regards my decision for a home machine. I have a small side business as a professional pet photographer and real clients who I sell print products to. My primary use of the new mac will be for photo editing. After photo editing, the other uses for my home machine are for web development (just need a good html editor) and internet browsing. Playing games or watching TV or movies is not a concern of mine.

    After much time spent putting together various configuration of apple machines, I'm currently looking at the 21.5" iMac with the 3.33 GHz processor. I'll be buying two aftermarket 2GB simms to upgrade the machine to 8GB (4x2GB). Hard drive space is not a concern as I store my photo files on external drives.

    90% of the time my machine is on, I'm running Lightroom, Photoshop and a web browser.

    I've looked at the 27" screen and for me (and my current deskspace), I think it's just too much. The only reason that I am tempted to upgrade to the 27 inch iMac is to upgrade to the Quad core processor.

    I do have a concern about the issues surrounding calibrating the glossy monitors for accurate color matching to finished photographic prints. It seems that the new LEDs may be better able to calibrate and dim, but the feedback so far is scarce, so it's hard to get a good base of solid information with which to make a final decision.

    My tentative plan is to get the 21.5" and then add on a second monitor in a year or so (A 20" Lacie along the lines of this monitor). My concern is over whether the glossy monitor is the best primary choice for a monitor.

    My ideal solution, would be to get a Mac mini with the same internal config as the imac (but that's not available!) and then use a nice professional monitor (the Lacie or an Eizo). I did look at the Mac Pro, but it's out of my price range (add a monitor and then it's REALLY out of my price range) and I don't like that it's currently behind on apple's product "curve".

    As far as I can tell, a maxed out mini would give me:
    2.66 Dual Core Processor
    4GB of ram (2x2GB)
    (not worried about hard drive space as I use externals for storage of photos)

    The price of a mini + pro monitor ends up being comparable to the 21.5 iMac (~$2000)

    I know that I'd be stuck with the slower processor for the life of the machine, but I may be able to live with that if I can upgrade to lots and lots of memory. :) So, I've got a few questions about the memory capability of the mini. I think that the 4GB would serve me until the price of 4GB simms comes down a bit. My plan would be to upgrade the mini to 2x4GB once the price on the 4GB simms drops. But! I also noticed that Apple doesn't really advertise that the 21.5 inch iMac has 4 simm slots even though it has them. Is it the same for the mini? I'd like to find out if the Mac mini has two slots for memory cards or if maybe it has 4 slots and can support more memory than the default configuration would imply. And even if it does only have 2 slots for memory, just how much memory could the mini potentially be configured with? Would it support 2x8GB simms if I wanted to install them?

    I've been suffering through using photoshop on a PC laptop with 2GB of memory with no room for growth. Other than the memory, this laptop is still perfectly usable. So my concern for my next machine is that I'll have the ability to upgrade a bit in the future so that I can use the machine comfortably for the next three to four years, at least.

    ETA: Edited to mark the most important question that I've love feedback on with bold highlighting!
  2. Fuchal macrumors 68020

    Sep 30, 2003
    There is no reason a glossy monitor can't produce accurate colors.
  3. striatedglutes macrumors 6502

    Feb 22, 2009
  4. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    For lots and lots of memory, you would want the iMac, because it has four memory slots. That means today you can get 8 GB _cheap_ (8 GB for the MacMini is really expensive because you'd need 4GB chips) and 16 GB really expensive, and in two years or so you will get 16 GB cheap, which would be impossible on the MacMini.
  5. ciscospice thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 13, 2009
    Thanks - that's just what I needed to know.

    striatedglutes - Sorry about posting in the wrong forum - just figured since this was a pre-purchase question, it would make sense here.

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