I think I talked myself into the i5 over the i7,+ acc. advice needed.

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by XBeatzX, Apr 24, 2013.

  1. XBeatzX macrumors newbie

    Apr 24, 2013
    Hello, Longtime lurker (really great forum here by the way), and about to make the jump into a Mac for the first time and could really use some general advice before I pull the trigger here on my purchases. Sorry in advance for the long post.

    I will be in front of this computer 12+ hours a day for work, and really thought that the i7 mini was a no brainer since I am a fairly heavy user. But the more I monitor what I am doing throughout the day, my main usage is internet for about 97% of my time (Small online sales website), the other 3% is organizing photos/music and the occasional MKV conversion or photo edit. I currently have a core 2 duo windows laptop, top of the line from 4-5 or so years ago and it hits its cpu limit multiple times throughout the day, even powers off from overheating a few times a week, and is constantly hitting 100% cpu capacity on a little widget I use.

    My real question and concern I guess is that if I do go with the dual core i5 over the quad, am I going to be taxing the system as I am now. Constantly waiting for my cpu to catch up. That 5-10 minutes a day really adds up. I don't mind a few seconds here or there, but not hours a month. I can't get it out of my head that both my old system and new mini would be both dual core. Or am I comparing apples to oranges here (almost literally I guess).

    I can certainly swing the i7, and either way I will upgrade the Ram and likely pop in a ssd at some point. My rational is, either get the i7, it would no doubt last me 3 years, so certainly get the Applecare to make sure I am covered if any problems arise. Or get the i5 with no Applecare and just upgrade every year. I believe the math works better going the i5 route. The base models also typically hold their value a bit better. The best deal for the i5 is usually B&H at $565 with Parallels (easy sell at $40 and change), however the i7 is probably better bought on the refurb store at apple over B&H.

    Quick math says the i5 route saves a couple hundred bucks over the three years, BUT you get a brand new model every spring with any upgraded features that may have been added, a fresh install since its a new machine (which I like to do annually anyway). In exchange you may be sacrificing some cpu that first year of every rotation, and a slightly smaller hard drive. Probably putting too much thought into this, and if I was a power user that often uses very cpu intensive programs it would be a no brainer, I just don't. Just curious if anyone has any input on the matter, and specifically am I going to run into the brick walls I have been with my current Core 2 Duo if I go the i5 route. I am just not sure I would see any benefit from the quad core. But on the other hand, 4-5 minutes every day of beach balls really adds up if the cpu is being taxed.

    A few other random thoughts. Plan is to get the new Apple Monitor when it is finally released, and will use that for years to come with as many versions of the mini until it is obsolete. One of the main reasons for going with the Mini over the iMac I guess.

    So in the interim just want to pick up a 23-27" 1080 monitor to get me by, and use it as a second monitor when the new Apple displays are finally released. Probably playing movies or music in the back ground more then anything. Does not have to be fancy, but something that will look half way decent next to the Apple monitor which I think we all know will look very close to the current iMac.

    Three or so model lines fit that bill in my opinion. The New MX series from Asus, Xi series from HP or one of the AOC models. All have a somewhat or very close resemblance to the current iMac, and all in the $150-250 range. I was really leaning towards the Xi from HP, but after playing with them in the store, I cannot believe how cheap they feel, think dollar store toy type cheap. Anyone have any preference over the AOC or Asus models? I know the resolution is not state of the art, and of course would probably be wiser going with a higher resolution Korean off brand, Monoprice, or Dell. But I would rather not look at the word "Dell" every day, and really just don't want to deal with any off brand quality issues. Plus I save a few bucks, and it will just be retired to a glorified TV monitor sooner rather then later.

    Also on speakers. Believe me, I have my reservations about Bose. Never been a fan. But the Companion 20's sound pretty good, look great, and that little pod they include is maybe the most useful feature to me, even over absolute sound quality. The ability just to turn a quick dial to adjust volume, and give it a quick touch for mute, is probably more user friendly to me then having to reach around a speaker or adjust on the screen. And they hold their value nearly as well as Apple Products. Anyone have any experience with these?

    Thanks again folks, any input really is appreciated.
  2. opinio macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2013
    Well I don't think I can add anything that you have not already thought about. But I have the current i7 2.6 quad and a 2011 i5 (and a 2011 i7 2.0ghz quad server). I am happy with all my Mac minis. Being a quad i7 user I would normally say go for gold and get the best, but in your case, if you are not going to use the CPU that much and you have some cryptic plans on how to say money over time then I think you will be more than satisfied. Any Mac mini packs a huge punch for its size. I have also used the i5 to transcode video (which uses 100% of the CPU) and it gets the job done in reasonable time. Just not as fast as the i7.

    If you don't have the "I have to have the biggest (metaphorically speaking), baddest, fastest Mac mini" bug (which is usually bought on by a Mac variant of OCD) that some have then the i5 is still an excellent Mac mini and incredible value for money.

    Personally I find the SSD (or fusion drive) is the major overall difference/benefit in the speed of the mini because you benefit from the SSD 100% of the time, while you only generally benefit from the larger processor when you push the mini. Although you do only get one shot at the CPU as you cannot upgrade it.

    That's my two cents worth.
  3. SMDBill macrumors 6502

    Apr 12, 2013
    For what you will spend on a mini, a HD monitor to go with it now, and a new Apple monitor later, the iMac will meet your needs today for a longer period of time due to the quad core processor and enhanced video capabilities. Plus, when you find Apple releases a new Apple monitor you may later be able to dual output from the iMac to the latest technology (assuming something like retina display in a new Apple display) and use the iMac as a secondary screen. That does assume you still would need the Apple display of higher resolution, of course, and I do understand it would be another $1000 to do so.

    Or you may find the latest iMac screen meets your needs, it's the latest technology right now from Apple in that size, and it's fast.

    Whichever route you go will be great compared to what you are currently using. However, if you're able to use an iMac at a store for any length of time you may find it perfectly acceptable for your needs and maybe save a few dollars in the process. Good luck! It's always a hard choice for me as well to pick a new machine.
  4. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    If you can afford the i7, get it.

    You will not regret having done so in the future...
  5. Team Timm macrumors regular

    May 17, 2012
    Whatever you end up deciding to get, just do yourself a favor and upgrade the Mini to a SSD and up the RAM to 16gb.

    I myself have the i5 and I have no regrets.
  6. ToomeyND macrumors 6502

    Sep 14, 2011
    I think you may have just saved me $200. I'm ordering a mini today once some gift cards arrive. The base mini already geekbenches 2x what my 2007 iMac did. I get really caught up in maxing out specs, especially when visiting this website. :eek:

    So thanks for your frugality rant. :)
  7. gtstricky macrumors regular


    Apr 19, 2012
    The problem I always have is trying to predict my future needs. Either of those will do what you want today, but how about 3 years from now? I always buy a little more than I need now thinking I will be a heavier user in the future. Usually turns out I am not. I do not do any more photo editing or video work now than I did 3 years ago.

    However with the resale value on these machines hanging where they do you can get a majority of the price difference back on resale. (at least that is what I tell my wife)

    I would go i7 in case you want to run some crazy program a couple of years from now.
  8. COrocket macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2012
    Seems like an interesting tradeoff. Get the i5 and save some money to upgrade earlier or go for the i7 and be in it for the long haul. I went for the i7 because it was twice the processor and storage for a lot less than twice the price.
  9. thirdgen88 macrumors newbie

    Jul 30, 2012
    Get an SSD

    I have some insight for you on this subject. I own a few macs, and was surprised at how much of an impact an SSD can have on system performance. My 2009 Core 2 Duo MBP, upgraded with a 512GB SSD still feels snappier than my 2011 Core i5 iMac with a 1TB HDD.. I would say you will notice the difference of having an SSD way before you run into CPU cap issues. If your daily tasks were ripping and encoding movies, I might say otherwise, but almost every other use case will benefit more from the SSD than the extra crunching power.

    Get the i5 if it means you can get an SSD instead...
  10. Soulman macrumors member


    Dec 16, 2006
    Detroit, Michigan
    I second this...

    Get the i5 if it means you can get an SSD instead...[/QUOTE]

    Along with any added ram, is all you need. Heck you can take the ram out when you resell in use it in next years mini.

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