Extra CPU or better disk?

torboro

macrumors newbie
Original poster
May 21, 2016
3
2
I have an old Mid 2011 Mac Mini (2,3GHz i5, 8GB) that is starting to slow down. It lags on 1080p movies in VLC and unpacking big +4GB .rar files takes a long time.

I am therefor thinking of buying a new Mac Mini. I will definitely buy the top model, but I am unsure of custom options.

I want to buy either the CPU (3GHz i7) or disk 512GB pcie-flash drive.

My priority is lag-free 1080p movies and unpacking rar files as fast as possible. What will speed things up the most. Better disk or better CPU?
 

jpietrzak8

macrumors 65816
Feb 16, 2010
1,053
6,100
Dayton, Ohio
I have an old Mid 2011 Mac Mini (2,3GHz i5, 8GB) that is starting to slow down. It lags on 1080p movies in VLC and unpacking big +4GB .rar files takes a long time.

I am therefor thinking of buying a new Mac Mini. I will definitely buy the top model, but I am unsure of custom options.

I want to buy either the CPU (3GHz i7) or disk 512GB pcie-flash drive.

My priority is lag-free 1080p movies and unpacking rar files as fast as possible. What will speed things up the most. Better disk or better CPU?
First, lag-free 1080p movies depends far more on the GPU's hardware decoding assistance than on the CPU or disk. Any of the 2014 Minis (even the entry-level choice) should give you lag-free full-HD video, but then the 2011 Mini should as well (my 2010 Mini still does). Can I ask, where are you getting your video from? If they are using an unusual codec to compress their video, that would be the reason why it lags for you. (Then again, VLC can do most forms of decoding in software. You may need to give it full access to the CPU to avoid lagging, however.)

For unpacking rar files (assuming that you are unpacking long video rars here), I think the most beneficial item would first be maxing out the RAM; if you can fit both the rar and the unpacked video entirely into RAM, that'll be the fastest way to do it. Second, an SSD will be useful (particularly if you don't have enough RAM). I would count the CPU third; while you want to get those bits decompressed as quickly as possible, the CPU is probably spending more time twiddling its thumbs waiting for bytes to be marshalled into and out of memory than in actually performing calculations...
 

torboro

macrumors newbie
Original poster
May 21, 2016
3
2
First, lag-free 1080p movies depends far more on the GPU's hardware decoding assistance than on the CPU or disk. Any of the 2014 Minis (even the entry-level choice) should give you lag-free full-HD video, but then the 2011 Mini should as well (my 2010 Mini still does). Can I ask, where are you getting your video from? If they are using an unusual codec to compress their video, that would be the reason why it lags for you. (Then again, VLC can do most forms of decoding in software. You may need to give it full access to the CPU to avoid lagging, however.)

For unpacking rar files (assuming that you are unpacking long video rars here), I think the most beneficial item would first be maxing out the RAM; if you can fit both the rar and the unpacked video entirely into RAM, that'll be the fastest way to do it. Second, an SSD will be useful (particularly if you don't have enough RAM). I would count the CPU third; while you want to get those bits decompressed as quickly as possible, the CPU is probably spending more time twiddling its thumbs waiting for bytes to be marshalled into and out of memory than in actually performing calculations...
I'm not sure RAM is so much used. When unpacking rars or watching 1080p movies, it rarely moves above 4GB of used RAM on my existing mid 2011 mac mini.

Can I change CPU priority on VLC? How do I do that?
 

jpietrzak8

macrumors 65816
Feb 16, 2010
1,053
6,100
Dayton, Ohio
I'm not sure RAM is so much used. When unpacking rars or watching 1080p movies, it rarely moves above 4GB of used RAM on my existing mid 2011 mac mini.
Watching movies (even 1080p) should never use much RAM; unless the video application is doing a lot of caching, there really isn't a whole lot of memory required to hold a few frames of video.

How much memory your unpacking app takes advantage of is dependent on what app you are using. :) Although I have to admit I am no expert on unpacking apps.

Can I change CPU priority on VLC? How do I do that?
Basically, if I need to view a video encoded with a wacky codec, I just make sure I have nothing else running and then open it in VLC. There are various ways to increase the priority of a particular process in Unix, but I haven't yet felt it necessary to take advantage of them. (Then again, I prefer to transcode an odd video to a standard codec first, if I plan on keeping it. No need to force the machine to try and deal with alien codecs all the time.)
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
20,155
7,101
If you're going to buy a Mini soon, get the "top-level" model and add on the 3.0ghz CPU.

This comes with 8gb of RAM, IRIS graphics, and a 1tb fusion drive (comprised of a 128gb SSD and a 1tb HDD).

I would recommend this instead of the 512gb SSD (because you get twice the storage for $300 less). If you want "pure SSD speeds", you could "de-fuse" the two drives inside, keep the OS, apps, and accounts on the SSD, and keep media stored on the HDD.

There -may- be new Minis coming, but I wouldn't expect to see them before October/November later this year...
 

torboro

macrumors newbie
Original poster
May 21, 2016
3
2
Wow! I got the new Mac today! I choose the SSD drive.

I compared unpacking of a the same 4.5GB multi rar file.
Old system: 7:03minutes
New System: 30 seconds

Sure, if you need to store a lot of crap, choose a fusion drive, but I always delete after I watch a movie and speed is alpha and omega.

I actually did not expect the system to be so much quicker.

Boot time is also down to seconds.
 

Kaida

macrumors 6502
May 28, 2016
268
105
Singapore
Normally, I would say to go for better CPU as storage wear and tear and will be replace in a few years.
But with any SSD, CPU Ghz boost doesn't seem significant at all nowadays.
 

cdcastillo

macrumors 65816
Dec 22, 2007
1,269
647
The cesspit of civilization
I have an old Mid 2011 Mac Mini (2,3GHz i5, 8GB) that is starting to slow down. It lags on 1080p movies in VLC and unpacking big +4GB .rar files takes a long time.

I am therefor thinking of buying a new Mac Mini. I will definitely buy the top model, but I am unsure of custom options.

I want to buy either the CPU (3GHz i7) or disk 512GB pcie-flash drive.

My priority is lag-free 1080p movies and unpacking rar files as fast as possible. What will speed things up the most. Better disk or better CPU?
Better disk, without a doubt
 
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