How much does the graphics hurt Mac Mini Server?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by powerbook911, Oct 7, 2011.

  1. powerbook911 macrumors 68040

    powerbook911

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    Mar 15, 2005
    #1
    I am very seriously considering 2011 Mac Mini Server. I may order in the next couple of days.

    I plan to get the Server model with the only option being 256 SSD alongside 756 HD. About $1500.

    The RAM I can upgrade myself. The SSD seems a good deal to just get it done by Apple.

    I think with Quad processor and SSD, this would scream (and about $500 less than a Quad iMac with SSD and smaller to put anywhere).

    However, how bad will the graphics performance hurt on this Mac? It would really be a super Mac, but would the Intel graphics kill it?

    Appreciate your advice.
     
  2. simsaladimbamba

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    #2
    It depends on what you do with that Mac mini.
    Running Safari or some number crunching mathematics software is probably as fast with the Intel IGP than it is with the ATI GPU.
     
  3. martinm0 macrumors 6502a

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    #3
    Are you planning to do any gaming? What are you GPU needs out of this machine?

    Outside of moderate/heavy gaming, the Mini should do fine. I had a Mini Server for a week running handbrake and streaming movies, but it got pretty warm and the fan ran at max (and was quite loud). I went refurb 21" iMac i5 quad core and find it to be a much better match for my needs running much cooler and more quiet than the mini did (max CPU temps have been around ~72C, where the mini was right at 90C doing the same tasks).

    I loved the idea of the Mini Server, but in the end the base iMac does everything better and only cost a few more dollars in the end.
     
  4. powerbook911 thread starter macrumors 68040

    powerbook911

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    #4
    THis is a good idea, sadly when you factor in the SSD, it's quite a bit more.

    Nevertheless, I will keep this all in mind. Very much appreciate it.

    ----------

    Once available someday, would a thunderbolt SSD be nearly as good as internal SSD? I suppose I could get the iMac and wait for thunderbolt SSD and move the main boot to it.

    WIth my Air, I have simply come to see that on day to day normal work, the SSD just blows away a HD, so I am being very hard headed about that being a feature I want on my new computer.
     
  5. simsaladimbamba

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    #5
    Again, what are your computational needs regarding a GPU? If we would know that, we could help you better.
     
  6. powerbook911 thread starter macrumors 68040

    powerbook911

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    #6
    I doubt I will ever start gaming all of a sudden. No issue with 1080p video and the like though?

    What about issues having two displays attached?
     
  7. simsaladimbamba

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    #7
    Even my 2007 iMac with a weaker dedicated GPU than the one in the 2011 Mac mini Server can play 1080p content.
    You will not have problems driving two external display with that Intel GPU too, unless you plan to run GPU extensive applications.
     
  8. shortcut3d macrumors 65816

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    #8
    The Intel HD 3000 Graphics does have the advantage under Windows of Intel QuickSync. This helps with MPEG-2 and H.264 MP4 encoding / decoding. So the Intel HD 3000 is not all bad.

    The AMD 6600M series with only 256MB GDDR5 is not that much of a boost for modern games. If it had 512MB then we would have a debate, or even an answer.

    In very specific use cases the AMD discrete is required, but the Intel HD 3000 with fast RAM 1600MHz or 1866MHz is fairly good too.
     
  9. The-Pro macrumors 65816

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    #9
    If you add 8GB of RAM then the Intel 3000 is allocated 512MB instead of 384MB.
    Now the Intel HD 3000 is not a "good" GPU but for normal uses its more than adequate. I use a 2007 mini 1.83GHz C2D with Intel GMA 950 (64MB) for a home cinema. Its attached to a 1080P beamer and I play HD movies with it all the time. The HD 3000 is waaaaayyyy, better then the 950. In my studio a 17" PowerBook G4 is used all the time, hooked up to a 30" ACD. Yes its slow, but the GPU handles it very well, the only problem is the slow CPU.
    If you don't do gaming or use GPU intensive programs like 3D CAD software which leverage the GPU, then you wont notice a difference between the AMD 6630M and the HD 3000.
    The mini server is a beast of a computer, and is more than enough for most people.

    BTW, you can do an aftermarket SSD upgrade in the iMac, its not the easiest of tasks, but its possible. Just so you know, you don't have to do it over Apple if you decide to go for the iMac which is expensive all ready compared to the mini, especially when adding the extreme costs for the apple SSD.
     
  10. bibon macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2010
    #10
    Hello everyone,

    I bought a Dell U3011 monitor and Mac Mini Server 2011. I try to play videos at 1080p resolution and the Mac Mini looses frames. Do you have any idea if I upgrade the memory to 8GB will I see any difference? Many thanks in advance.

    If my mac mini doesn't make it I am thinking very serious to sell it.
     
  11. simsaladimbamba

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    #11
    Maybe analyse the video via VideoSpec (I prefer that, though it hasn't been updated since 11/2009), MediaInfo Mac (10/2010) or MediaInfo (4/2011, there is a Mac OS X version to download, VideoSpec and MediaInfo Mac are using the same library as MediaInfo) and report back with the report, as the Mac mini should be more than fine playing 1080p content.
    How do you connect the Mac mini to the Dell display?
     
  12. The-Pro macrumors 65816

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    #12
    What type of videos are they (format) and what are you playing them with (quicktime, vlc, etc.)?
    Flash from some websites just laggs, even some 360p vids lag at full screen on my mac pro :D
    would it help to upgrade to 8GB? not sure, it might because the Intel HD 3000 then allocates 512MB.
     
  13. bibon macrumors newbie

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    Sep 6, 2010
    #13
    I connect my monitor via dual link dvi.

    I try to play that video http://www.vimeo.com/29950141 and my mac looses frames...

    Many thanks for your instant answers!
     
  14. simsaladimbamba

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    #14
    That is because of Flash.
    Use this method to download the .mp4 file or maybe it even opens in a separate Safari window, thus you can play it while it downloads.
     
  15. shortcut3d macrumors 65816

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    #15
    The Mac Mini Intel HD 3000 is decent. My only reservation with HD content is live TV. Depending on how you are getting your HD content you may encounter the 29/59 frame rate bug, which the Intel HD 3000 is not capable of handling. It does not crash like some graphics cards, but its ugly stutter even when bolstering the performance with 1866MHz memory and TV buffer on an AHCI enable SATA 6Gbps Max IOPs with AHCI (hacked).

    If you have any reservation about video performance, the mid-range Mac Mini is the better choice. Personally, I purchased 4 Mac Mini's (2 Server, 2 i7 dual-core) because I was using them as HTPCs. I went with the server model first because everyone said the Intel HD 3000 can handle all HD content thrown at it and I wanted the quad-core for ripping blu-ray discs fast. The 29/59 frame rate bug could not be resolved. I switched to the mid-range i7 dual core with AMD 6630M discrete graphics and everything ran smooth; even the MC interface was smoother and de-interlacing was better. Now, somehow I'm giving my mother a 2011 Mac Mini Server with 8GB RAM and Lion on a RAID-0 Stripe.
     
  16. powerbook911 thread starter macrumors 68040

    powerbook911

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    #16
    Too bad they can't cram a GPU in there with the dual hard drives and Quad processor.
     
  17. shortcut3d macrumors 65816

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    #17
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    The thermal and power profile of a dedicated GPU and quad-core is too much at this point for such a compact format.
     
  18. Mak47 macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    If you're not gaming, you'll likely be just fine. There are a lot of people out there who like to decry the HD3000 as being incapable of the simplest of tasks. In reality it is more than adequate for the vast majority of users.

    I have the new quad core Mini server and it works like a beast. I run two 1080p monitors, occasionally switching to my 1080p HDTV by swapping out to a long HDMI cable if I want to watch something on the TV.

    The discrete GPU that comes with some of the Minis isn't all that great anyhow, and other models that have used graphics switching have experienced weird glitches and graphics errors as a result. My Mini server hasn't missed a beat.

    All that said, I'm not a gamer. From what I read, neither are you, so you should be alright. Some apps to rely on a great GPU, but from my understanding, the alternative isn't all that impressive anyway.
     
  19. The-Pro, Oct 8, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2011

    The-Pro macrumors 65816

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    #19
    Well they probably could have done it. Problem would have been that it is a lot of heat though and the cooling might not have been adequate.
    Bigger reason for them not to include a quad and discrete is so that they still sell the iMac. Lots of people would pick a quad and discrete GPU mini over a low end iMac (which has less CPU power). Apple knows what its doing to maximise the profit.
    Also the quad mini is a SERVER!!!! and servers usually don't need a good GPU in it, hence why the 2009 Xserve, even with 8 cores, had a "crappy" 256MB GT 120
     
  20. Adamantoise macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 1, 2011
    #20
    Just because Apple called their Quad Core offering a server and pre load it with a GUI suite of networking tools doesn't mean everyone intends to use it as a server.

    Will you guys please stop making that silly argument?
     
  21. The-Pro macrumors 65816

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    #21
    I fully agree with what your saying, but then how many people used the xserve as a main computer?? :D
     
  22. Adamantoise macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 1, 2011
    #22
    Lol.

    This is different though, Mini Server is a beast of a computer, and it would have been nice to have a dedicated GPU.

    But I guess it only matters to those who play games. I personally am torn between the Mini Server and the dedicated GPU model ... I play Civilization V once in a blue moon, and I mean blue moon.
     
  23. The-Pro, Oct 8, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2011

    The-Pro macrumors 65816

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    #23
    Maybe they will add a quad option for the non server down the line (silent upgrade like the 2.8 i7 was added to the 2010 MBP's) but i doubt it. Maybe next generation will sport quad and dedicated GPU.
    Honestly though a quad for gaming isn't necessary, i doubt it'l help much with performance either because as far as I know the games are cannot use more than 4 threads!!?? But if I would want to get a mini i would love to have both quad and dedicated. As I would need the quad for my renderings and the dedicated for other renderings :D
     
  24. AuroraProject macrumors 65816

    AuroraProject

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    #24
    My mini server has 8gb ram and plays that video just fine. I'm not certain it's the ram having any effect though.
     
  25. stebesplace macrumors newbie

    stebesplace

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2011
    #25
    Okay, how about this one for size?

    2011 Mini Server
    8GB RAM
    120 GB SATA III OWC 6G Primary
    500GB 7200 RPM Secondary
    Two (2) 20" Apple Cinema Displays (HDMI>DVI & MDP>DVI)

    I'm not pushing major displays here, just two 20". I work in Photoshop, and Lightroom for photo processing, as well as CS5 tools for web development. I do not game at all. This is pretty much just a workstation. Only doing mostly 2D, and processing where the CPU really comes into play.

    I don't want much video content, and what I do watch is usually 720P. I don't expect to see any frame drops in anything I'm doing, but wanted to get some real world input on that configuration above.

    Thanks!
     

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