Help me decide which mac (long)

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by kgdg, Nov 8, 2007.

  1. kgdg macrumors newbie

    Nov 8, 2007
    So guys, help me decide whether mac pro is right for me:
    - This is my 1st mac ever and my use (besides the regular email, chatting, surfing etc.) is thus:
    - This will be in my living room connected to my 56" JVC 1080P RPTV as my monitor.
    - I will be doing image editing using RAW image processing software, am currently using Capture One, may someday move up to CS3...Have tons of photos
    - I will also use it for home movie editing, dvd making of home movies etc. Probably just use IMovie, IDVD to begin with.
    - Will be getting an antenna and/or EyeTV software/hardware and use the mac as a DVR to record OTA HD programs and playback on TV.
    I am an HD junkie and would like a machine that can record, play full 1080i/p, 720p signals without stutter, lag etc.
    Eventually when more and more channels broadcast in HD (and who knows hopefully, they will broadcast in 1080P) i'd like this machine to be capable to handle that.
    - Use it as an HTPC in other ways as well like playing dvd (via HD-DVD/Bluray drive option added on later once the format war winner is clearer, i know, this may never happen and there is the whole other can of worms on whether any mac in it's currrent form is HDCP compliant?)
    - I am skeptical of on-board graphics for the above reasons, but have heard many mac mini owners are currently successfully using their minis as HTPC's, DVR's and playing back HD channels in all it's glory without any issues like lag/stutter etc. So not so sure anymore.
    - I have a couple of FW800 external drives already, so i was also leaning toward macpro for this reason since mini does not support FW800.
    How much difference would I see from a performance standpoint between FW400 and FW800?

    I know for the uses I mentioned above, the mac pro is probably overkill. Mac Mini would have been ideal if it had a dedicated graphics card at least.
    But then there is the whole issue of having drives, devices (hd/br dvd drives) hanging off of the mini that will make it look ugly as opposed to having 3TB
    inside the mac even in that sense, mac pro could make for a cleaner option.

    So what do i do? In any case, i will be buying only after the mac pro is updated with Penryn just so i have all the options laid out.
    Is the mac mini going to be updated with GMA1300 like the macbooks?
    Would the GMA1300 (over GMA950) make it even less of an issue with playback/recording of HD OTA?

    Oh and last, but not least, i am looking for this machine to last me a good 4+ years....This point keeps bringing me back to mac pro,
    but at 3x the price of the mini, i come right back to square one...!
    If only Apple made a desktop tower with more expandability than the mac mini and dedicated graphics.. yes, i am one of them who longs for such a m/c,
    whether or not apple will ever make it....

    Thanks for listening to me.
  2. lallenlowe macrumors member

    Oct 29, 2007
    Mac Pro Mac Pro Mac Pro

    Listen, just get the cheapest mac pro, or even a refurb, or used one or something. It'll last longer, and work better for all that stuff, and FW800 rocks!
  3. ab2650 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 21, 2007
    Yup; That's probably what would be best for you. I sure wish they would release something between the Mini and Pro without a built-in screen.

    lallenlowe has a point that for everything you want to do a Mac Pro is what you'll be happy with. A mini is just not going to cut it for all the stuff you want to do; It'll be fun, and work, but it won't have the survivability and performance you'll get with the Pro.

    Unfortunately there will be some big problems with the Pro and how you're going to use it: Size and noise. I wouldn't consider putting my Pro in the living room. It's huge. It's not totally quiet. Maybe I'm too sensitive (hey, the Tivo ambient noise bugs me) so your expectations may be different.

    And finally there's a lot of speculation (for a while now) that the Mini will be discontinued. What will fill the gap is anyone's guess but we can always be hopeful it'll be something that will better fit our needs.

    HTH - Just be cautious that the Pro is big and unless you're a bachelor, the living room would look like the wrong place for the brushed metal beast.
  4. elistan macrumors 6502a

    Jun 30, 2007
    Denver/Boulder, CO
    Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe that the graphics card in any of the Macs is used to process HD video. It runs purely on the CPU.

    Given that, the 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo available in the Mini should be more than enough to handle HD video - you don't think that HD-DVD players or HD Tivos have a quad-core Xeon or the latest NVidia graphics card in them, do you? :) A high-end graphics card is really necesary only for games and other 3D rendering tasks, from what I can tell.

    Granted, the Pro's Xeon processors will be able to encode a movie in less time than the Mini - I don't know how much quicker though, so I'm not sure it'd be worth the cost difference. Besides - you mention EyeTV, which has a sister production called the turbo.264, a USB device that offers hardware accelerated MPEG4 encoding.

    Oh, and a Mini maxes out at 2GB RAM - if that's not enough then you'll definitely need to go to another platform.

    To sum up - if you don't need to play games, I'd recommend the Mini, and use the price difference from the Pro on something else, like perhaps an upgraded amp, new speakers, an HD camcorder, additional storage, or whatever.
  5. kgdg thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 8, 2007
    Thanks for the replies guys...

    lallenlowe - i like the way you think ... :)

    ab2650 - i am fortunate, my wife is very understanding so WAF is not a factor, in fact, i asked her to play with both mac pro and mini at the apple store. Knowing me, she said I'd be happier with the mac pro coz there were some delay/lag in opening multiple applications etc.

    elistan - I am more worried about the ability to display/run a 1080P native display at it's full resolution WHILE handling the recording of FULL HD signals and also have maybe an applicaiton or two running in the background...
    And as for the HD-DVD (not too sure about HD TIVO), they have a dedicated DSP and HQV chip for video and audio processing.
    I don't know if the GMA950 would be up for this task as easily as a discrete graphics card would be....
    Moreover, the 2Gb limit plus the GMA950 would share 128Mb of that 2Gb RAM leaving even less system memory.

    Geez, sounds like I am already convinced I need/want a mac pro isn't it? :)

    I will await the new mac pro now....

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