i7 or i5 Mac Mini - VMware Fusion

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by peterpando, Jul 20, 2013.

  1. peterpando, Jul 20, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2013

    peterpando macrumors newbie

    Jul 20, 2013
    Hello Macrumors!

    I would like to get some advice.

    After a couple of years having a iPhone and iPad en last month a Hackintosh wich didnt work very well i went looking for a Mac Mini.
    My budget for this is 800 euro.

    The Mini will work as second computer and server.
    For my education i may want to run some Windows Server VM's wich are not going to be on heavy charge but may take some performance.
    Except that i have currently no plans for heavy video editing.

    Because this is my first Mac i dont have a Wireless keyboard or Touchpad.
    And because of the different buttons i dont know if a Windows keyboard will work very well. I already have a monitor and mouse that i can use.

    In the Netherlands the standard Mac Mini costs 615 euro with student discount.
    The core i7 version costs 803 euro with student discount.

    So my question to you is: Do i really need a core i7 or should i go with the i5?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. COrocket macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2012
    For running VMs I think you would have a better experience getting the i5 and spending the difference on a RAM upgrade to 8 or 16 GB. RAM is way cheaper if you buy it separately and install it yourself.
  3. KrisLord macrumors 65816

    Sep 12, 2008
    Northumberland, UK
    The VM's would also be better with a quad core i7 vs a dual core i5.

    I'd always suggest compromising on things you can change later vs things you can't.

    So put up with only 4GB of RAM and buy the i7. You can add RAM later.

    If you buy the i5 and 8/16GB of RAM now you'll be stuck with a dual core forever.
  4. OhHaiThere macrumors regular


    Sep 8, 2011
    Get this i7 w/SSD & 16gb ram upgrade, if available where you live....


    You can get a dual drive kit for $30 and keep the SSD for OS & VM and the 1tb drive it comes with for storage.

    Keep in mind that VM's are dog slow on HD's. Regardless of which way you go, definitely invest in an SSD. I have two laptops in front of me right now, one is at least 5x more expensive and 10x more powerful than the other, however when it comes to running VM's, the slower laptop kicks @$$ compared to the uber-powerful one. Why? It has an SSD and the other just had a 7200rpm HDD.
  5. peterpando, Jul 21, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2013

    peterpando thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 20, 2013
    Thanks for the replies.

    When i would buy the Core i7 version, my budget wont allow to buy a apple trackpad and keyboard at start. This will force me to use a Windows one.
    At the moment i have a 128GB vertex ssd left. So i could use that one for the mac mini.

    Because of the sky high taxes here the combination 'OhHaiThere' suggested will costs much more and is not in my budget.
  6. opinio macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2013
    I have run Parallels on an i5 and i7 2.0Ghz 2011 Mac mini and a current 2.6Ghz Quad. Parallels ran fine on the i5 and was not hugely different to the Quads.

    What is most important is RAM. 16GB is best and 8GB is minimum so that you can dedicate 4GB to Windows.

    I am running two 8GB (total 16GB) Corsair Vengeance chips in my 2012 2.6 Quad. I dedicate 8GB to Parallels.

    Running Parallels on an SSD drive also make a huge difference to speed particularly in terms of startup.
  7. bobtennis macrumors member

    Jul 8, 2013
    Memory First!

    Although all of the above suggestions are valid and true; SSDs are faster than included 5400 rpm drives, I7 quad core is more able than I5 dual core to process intense data loads that support multi-threading, and the more ram, the better, I would like to offer my opinions and suggestions based on what you asked and keeping your budget constrainsts in mind.

    1. You can use your Windows keyboard and mouse without difficulty. The main difference is the Windows button replaces the Apple Command button, and copying uses Command-C (Windows-C) instead of CTRL-C. There are other differences, that is the main adjustment. You can easily adjust in a short time. You can save some there.

    2. VMs are memory intensive, in that they need allocated memory to the VM taken away from total memory available. So, lets say from standard Apple supplied 4 gb you allocate 2 gb's to Windows, leaving 2 gb to Mountain Lion...well, that is minimal in either system, indeed, inadequate. Up memory to 8gb, or 16 gb if you can right away, do it yourself by 3rd party memory purchase and add yourself...very easy.

    3. Processor - this is a tough one if budget really matters. Both the I5 - 2.5 and I-7 2.3 Quad are fast processors and will allow you to run almost everything, including VMs, and pretty well. Of course 4 cores are better than 2, but will they be used? If you look at threads in this forum, it seems video transcription and CAD applications are most affected by having the faster processor, so this is an area you can save some without stopping you from achieving your goal. In my experience, I have been able to run fairly complex Photoshop operations on both dual & quad core Mini processors (even older, slower ones!). So, do the best you can here for the money. And as said, you cannot change this decision after you purchase, it will be the dual or quad for the life of the machine.

    4. SSD - Without doubt SSDs are wonderful and fast, much faster to load operations than a spinning disk. However, when watching a budget, this can be put off until you have some available cash, as they are still relatively expensive. But, I will tell you, they make a big difference once installed. That said, the included HDD on the mini is still pretty quick in it's own right, and that makes this upgrade slide down to something you can do later.

    Just as a recap, it would be my opinion to keep to a budget, to use this order of priority in considering upgrades. You will need to figure how much you really have to spend. and remember, all are good upgrades, this is a priority based suggestion.

    1. Keep Windows keyboard & mouse. 2. Upgrade memory, at least 8 gb, 16gb if you can afford it. 3. Processor, dual core OK, quad is more OK , but will pinch your budget more (forget future proofing, they all get old and slow based on new models, and all will be obsolete together...buy for now and use until it dies) 4. Add an SSD after all other considerations are met. It is a bit of a luxury and not a necessity. It would be better to get enjoyment and experience in using your computer now rather than holding off until you can afford a SSD. All other functions will run with the HDD, and you get the benefit of much greater storage room too. Add SSD later when you can afford it (or when you just got to have it!).

    I realize this is highly opinionated, and others may disagree, I accept that. However, this is my best advice to you, being you have to watch what you spend, I think this list will help you get the most "bang for the buck".
  8. OhHaiThere macrumors regular


    Sep 8, 2011
    Would it be a problem to just use some cheap USB keyboard/mouse to start? Sorry, I don't know Euro prices, the deal I posted is $1k US, which is under €800 (http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/convert/?Amount=1000&From=USD&To=EUR).
  9. peterpando, Jul 22, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2013

    peterpando thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 20, 2013
    Thanks for the advice bobtennis, i will let you know what i will choose. The price here that OhHaiThere suggested will be in the NL €1250+. Taxe rate is 21% here... + homecopyrights tax
  10. dyn macrumors 68030

    Aug 8, 2009
    If you are using virtualisation then 2 things are important: I/O performance and amount of memory. The cpu is the least important in the equation. However, this quad core cpu can give you the added benefit of allowing you to run up to 2 vCPUs in a vm which can be useful when testing multithreaded stuff. However, it is definitely not needed to run several vm's. You can do that with the dual core version just fine. In most cases you'll run out of memory (especially when using Windows as the guest OS).

    Memory and disk is something that you should upgrade yourself as this is easy to do and cheaper. Upgrading the cpu is a different question. Some people will benefit from it, most won't. If you really need cpu power you are simply looking at the wrong Mac. The i5 is more than capable. If it were me I'd stick to the i5. There is little benefit but the price is much steeper. I'd spent the saved money on memory and ssd because that's where the real power will come from, especially when using virtualisation.

    Non-Apple keyboard and mice work fine on a Mac. You have to alter the positions of the cmd and option keys though (take a look at the keyboard settings in system preferences).
  11. phuocsandiego macrumors member

    Jun 19, 2012

    Here's my advice:

    1. Get the i5 Mac Mini for 615 €
    2. Get the Apple keyboard & mouse (or track pad) for 120 € (they're about 60 € each).

    Later when you can afford it, upgrade to a 128 GB SSD for about 80 € or 16 GB of RAM for about 140 €.

    I'd go for the SSD first since it will improve the overall feel of the entire Mac by a lot. Yes, the 4 GB of RAM is still less than what is optimal but booting the OS from the SSD and swapping memory to the SSD will improve the performance tremendously. In my opinion, it will give better OVERALL performance on most common, everyday tasks.

    I speak from personal experience here as I'm on an i5 MBA with 4 GB of RAM and the standard 128 GB SSD. I do not notice the limitation of the 4 GB of RAM primarily because of the SSD. I do some light gaming (it runs Starcraft II just fine and World of Warcraft just fine), photography work with Lightroom, light video editing with FCP X and virtual Windows 7 using VirtualBox (also Ubuntu). They run perfectly for basic tasks. I use Windows 7 with just 2 GB in the VM and do a lot of work on it via VPN to my company and I've not had a single issue performance wise. For learning, you'll be just fine with the 4 GB of RAM to start. But that SSD option will make a huge difference once you get around to it.
  12. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    Get the i5.

    RAM is the first extra order of the day; 2x4GB is cheap as chips.

    Save for an SSD, you'll be wanting a 512GB or more - which ain't cheap.
  13. peterpando thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 20, 2013
    Thanks for the advice.

    This is the setup i bougt:
    Mac Mini 6,1 with Wireless keyboard and trackpad.
    Build in a 2x4GB ram kit
    Replaced the HDD with a 128GB SSD en put the original disk in a USB enclosure.
  14. comatory macrumors 6502a


    Apr 10, 2012
    Why does he need 512gbs? They are really expensive and mostly not needed. I use 128GB and it is perfectly fine for storing OS and Apps. Even for VMs its okay if he'll be running just one or two VMs. 256GB is better (but also more expensive) but going straight to 512gb is not needed I think.

    To OP:
    1. Get base i5 mini
    2. Get 128GB SSD + dual drive kit (you can also create fusion drive to have large 1TB drive and SSD speeds)

    Use your keyboard and mouse that you have. Meanwhile save up for at least 8GB of RAM (although I would jump straight to 16gigs cause RAM prices tend to go up). Buy Apple keyboard and trackpad as last: they are great with OS X but not necessary. As was stated before - the biggest improvement that you will notice right away is SSD, get only 128GB they are cheap now - keep your second harddrive for other data.
  15. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    Doing surgery on a mini is doable, but a p.i.t.a.

    512GB is the ideal (without going stupid on $$), but 256GB would prob suffice too. Don't waste your time on a 128GB as you'll quickly out grow it. Keep in mind you need to have approx 25% of your SSD untouched to maintain optimal performance.
  16. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    Use your current monitor and mouse. They probably deliver a better experience than Apple's crap, and are already there. You can map the Windows/Ctrl/Alt key as you like in OSX (the order is different, if you are used to blind type this is handy).

    Start with the built in drive. You can add an SSD later yourself, and VM's boot very well on the normal HD too (I use Virtual Box on a 2011 i5, it boots Win 8 Pro in 8 seconds).

    Get the 2.3 quad if possible, and try to put in 16Gb from a generic PC shop like 4Launch/Zercom are often cheapest in the NL right away (about 80€).
    AND WAIT FOR A MEDIAMARKT/SATURN BTW DEAL! They are always around the corner, and make the Dutch prices much more bearable. If they are sold out, BCC always joins the pricing of the 2 above, I got my Mini there.

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