iMac 2012 Vs Mac Mini 2012

Discussion in 'iMac' started by JohnDory, Oct 24, 2012.

  1. JohnDory macrumors member


    Jul 11, 2012
    Has anyone an idea about which of the following two price equal options might be faster for video editing (and would it be noticable)? and can anyone see additional advantages or disadvantages?

    (1) Quad-core mini (i7 standard), base $799
    • dyi do-able SSD upgrade Corsair 256SSD + $250
    • dyi easy ram upgrade to 16MB + $114
    • Asus ML239H 23' monitor (well reviewed) + 170
    Total: $1350
    Advantages: Faster computer (?); more future proof with update-able SSD; bigger monitor; firewire 800; more versatile (as home entertainment system); and a bonus 1 TB drive which I can externalise.
    Disadvantages: Monitor performance / resolution may not be as good as iMac; I will be banished to post in the mini rumours.

    (2) iMac (i5 standard)
    • 1TB 5600 (slow HD)
    • 4MB non-upgradable ram
    • 21' monitor
    Total: $1300
    Advantages: Faster computer (?); nice design; I've wanted one for a long time; ... (there must be more)
    Disadvantages: Can't upgrade RAM or SSD (get the machine I really want) without massive expense; not yet available; possible issues with heat; slower HDs than previous model.
  2. guillemn macrumors member

    Aug 30, 2012
    I cant work anymore with at least 23-24. Imac 21.5 is not an option.

    Also notice the mini uses mobile cpu...
  3. XofDyer macrumors member

    May 24, 2012
    This is a very telling comparison. Obviously the value for money here is with the mini. One could even be tempted to say that unless you were obsessed with thinness, the iMac can't compete.
  4. smoking monkey macrumors 65816

    smoking monkey

    Mar 5, 2008
    You Only Live Twice
    If the video editing is that important to you, then get the top 21 with more ram and faster CPU. You may pay more, but all that extra time you'll spend waiting for rendering on the mini you'll be cursing yourself you didn't get a better machine.
  5. XofDyer macrumors member

    May 24, 2012
    But with this option, you are flying over the $2000 mark with only the graphics chip to show for it. If you want to spend more money, upgrade the chip in the mini - a quad i7 2.6 is only an extra $100, and should render quicker than you can think what to edit next. And consider a bigger screen (not apple, but Del or something as good but cheaper) - there is satisfaction in size.
  6. smoking monkey macrumors 65816

    smoking monkey

    Mar 5, 2008
    You Only Live Twice
    You're absolutely right! I hadn't looked at the upgrade options closely. But my point still stands - Get a better machine!!

    If you're doing a lot of video editing then the entry level imac 21 is simply out of the question. It shouldn't even be on the radar.
  7. chuckd83 macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2010
    The mobile cpu he posted beats the imac desktop cpu.
  8. mizujuggle macrumors newbie

    Oct 10, 2012
    maxed mini or lowest imac?

    Well, I have similar problem. Using computer for video editing (final) and compressing, mathematics modelling (wolfram, matlab, maple.. a lot of plotting), basic programming, cad modelling - Rhinoceros, AutoCAD (think about student projects), vector graphics...
    Keeping in on the ground, what do you recommend?

    MM -> 2,6GHz quadcore i7, 16GB RAM, 1TB hard drive or .. well Fusion drive (goes a little over imac price), Intel HD 4000, I don't need monitor, speakers, keyboard etc now

    lowest 21.5 iMac -> 2,7GHz quadcore i5, 8GB RAM, 1TB hard drive (surely can't afford Fusion drive), NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M 512MB, but yeah, there still is another screen, and accessorizes those can be used as well

    so.. is the difference in discrete graphics that important for my work? is the fusion drive worth of that money? mini vs iMac? mini + fusion drive vs iMac (HDD)? or something totally different?
  9. karpich1 macrumors regular

    Dec 18, 2007
    iMac has desktop CPU, Mini has mobile CPU. Slight different there.

    I don't know which will be better for what you want.
    Desktop i5 (- hyperthreading / + Desktop / +0.1Ghz)
    Mobile i7 (+ hyperthreading / - Desktop / - 0.1GHz)

    I think depending on which exact CPU models they use, the desktops might have more L3 cache.

    Likewise, I don't know how much GPU comes into play with video editing. I imagine not much (unless it's rendering CGI stuff).
  10. mchoffa macrumors 6502a

    Jul 12, 2008
    Asheville, NC
    I wouldn't compare a cheap monitor, and really, wouldn't consider a 21" iMac for video editing for the reasons that are obvious, but also because a 21" monitor isn't a whole lot of screen real estate. I'd want well over 1080P for editing, and I don't even do video work. To compare, I'd look at the low end 27" iMac vs a mac mini with comparable WQHD 27" monitor, so even for an ASUS you're looking at $699 for that. Not sure how that screen would actually compare to a thunderbolt in terms of colors and contrast since I've never looked into it.

    The GPU alone is enough for me to look at the iMac vs the Mini for any work, but if I just needed a more casual machine, I'd get a mini and some cheaper lower resolution monitors in a heartbeat.

    note: I'm biased, because I love the iMacs :)
  11. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    Real screen estate is the same (1080p). A smaller monitor with the same resolution is better quality than a big monitor.
  12. Torrijos macrumors 6502

    Jan 10, 2006
    Mini lacks discreet GPU (HD 4000 is quite weak), plus has a mobile CPU.

    Still make the same kind of comparison with the 27" (screen real estate is very important since most modern pro software use quite a lot of space for GUI elements).

    If there was still a mini with discrete graphics it could be a good waiting machine (for those waiting for the pros refresh, or the Haswell gen), but without it the minis have become the most basic form of computers Apple wanted them to be.
  13. redirector macrumors member

    Aug 26, 2012
    +1 Agree with that last. Just from the screen size itself, the 21" at 1920x1080 pixels leaves no room for editing tools, whereas the 27" 2560x1440 allows you to render the full size 1080p video or image with room to spare for editing timelines, events, transition tools, etc.

    Apple made the entry level 21" iMac to appeal to a mass market that values aesthetics over performance, most who would never care about 5400 vs 7200. It's nice looking, light and smaller footprint allowing more placement options beyond the office desk... the new display and non-glare improves the actual 1080p and normal on-screen playback; Media libraries, iTunes, all Facebook/Youtube Social media, normal MS Office software, and enough USB ports and SD card access to handle iLife/iPhoto media needs.

    From that perspective, its an AIO it is a worthy consideration at a premium price, and there is a sizable market for such products -- and a market that already is Apple-intensive via iPhone and iPad and iTunes.

    Granted, you can go cheaper and better specs with a PC, and the HP AIO's will get a lot of looks at well under $1000. Those are nice looking machines with touch screens too.

    It's like a stainless steel gas-cooktop with sealed burners -- you will pay a premium for that, but does it really mean a chef cannot use a cheap electric stove and make a good meal?

    If you are editing videos for a living, you will invest in more horsepower, in which case looking at the upgraded Mini's, they cannot reach what is possible on the 27" iMac, and the value begins to erode with that bigger better screen.
  14. fig macrumors 6502a


    Jun 13, 2012
    Austin, TX
    This is really true, I've worked at some pretty high end design firms and you'd be surprised at the hardware they've got powering a lot of their projects.

    For most of the work the OP is talking about the CPU is going to be more important than GPU, your typical GPU will be more than fast enough to play back most video and for general 3D use, and all your rendering/compressing is CPU based.

    So really I'd worry more about CPU than GPU, I'd imagine your argument comes down to the bang for the buck argument. I'm in a similar boat and I'm seriously considering a mini for design, development, and some 3D work.
  15. noahc macrumors member

    Oct 12, 2005
    I've been waiting almost a year to replace my G5 imac which died in January (and was limping along since then). I've been waiting, waiting, waiting for the iMac.

    Now that it has been released, I'm starting to consider the Mac Mini, which is a bit strange since I have been so focused on the iMac.

    I really like the look of the new iMac so if they would update the Thunderbolt display it would probably be a no brainer -- but at work I have a Thunderbolt display attached to my 15" rMBP and its pretty nice.

    This will be my primary home machine and I'll be using it primarily for serving up my very large iTunes library over AirPlay to my stereo and other devices, for storing and editing my photo library in Aperture, some video editing, some gaming.

    One thing I like about the iMac is the target display mode capabilities with my rMBP -- with the Mac Mini + Thunderbolt Display I'd have to manually switch cables between the two devices.

    With my ESP discount, in the Apple store I priced out the Mac Mini option:
    2.3GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7
    4GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x2GB (will plan to add RAM myself)
    1TB Fusion Drive
    Thunderbolt Display
    Wireless Keyboard
    Magic Trackpad
    Total: $2162.

    To that I'll probably have to add $100 for RAM but that still puts me at less than $2300 complete. I imagine a 27" iMac with all those things will be at least $500 more.

    Thoughts -- what am I missing here?
  16. timberg macrumors newbie

    Oct 25, 2012
    So, may I ask for opinion for my needs? I'm dismayed by the 5400 HD in both, and thinking the Fusion will be a fix for fast load times. As that drives the cost up considerably in the iMac, wondering if I come out better w/ the $799 mini w/ Fusion at $1050? I can buy a reasonably well reviewed 23" display (following Consumer reports), (or even 2) @$200ea, change to 8G memory for $50 diy, and have spent roughly the same money as base iMac.

    I'd get faster i/o, + upgradeability/serviceability on memory & drives. Plus firewire for my FW External HD, and slightly larger screen.

    I dont game, and don't do much with videos, typically have 7-9 aps open at once (Safari, mail, Bento, Word, Excel, iPhoto, Quickbooks, iTunes, Calendar). Business use, primarily.

    Or am I overthinking the effect of the 5400, and just go for simplicity in the iMac? Get this; I'm still using a 2004 g5 tower; works great, but iphoto does take a while (10,000 images) even with a 7200. Maybe that's the CPU? Otherwise, everything works crisply. Anyway, I'm well overdue to upgrade.
  17. redirector macrumors member

    Aug 26, 2012
    For a 27" new iMac, start with the top line. $2000 gets you, big picture:
    3.2 i5
    8GB RAM
    675MX/1GB GPU
    1TB 7200 NON-Fusion
    Potential to go all the way to 32GB RAM when you want

    (and you can evaluate whether AIO compares to the old TB display, since the Mini brings you the USB3, that's done, but perhaps the new 27" display is a better picture at the same resolution? Your call)

    Add a Fusion drive Upgrade (+$250?) and you're at $2250.
    Apple Care is probably another +169? Maybe more? Did you count Apple Care for both Mini and TB Display?

    So Call it $2400. I don't see a big advantage going with a "Big Mini" vs the basic 27", dollar for dollar...

    I see lots of upside options (but at what price?) for the 27:

    - Is the faster i5 on the 27" better than the little i7 on the Mini? Upgrade available to 3.4...
    - Certainly the GPU difference is significant. And, upgrade is available to 680MX
    - RAM -- 8GB standard... does $100 bring you to 16 on the Mini? Upgrade available to 32GB any time, you do it yourself

    If you actually did have $2800 to invest, I would take the 27".


    I think the downside of 5400 is overestimated given this scenario.
  18. JohnDory thread starter macrumors member


    Jul 11, 2012
    I'm not sure if it would be $500 more than your $2300 final cost.
    Top range 27' - $2000
    upgrade to i7 - $200 (I guess - mini upgrade is only $100)
    16MB Ram dyi - $82 (Crucial, taking ram to 24MB)
    1 TB Fusion - $250
    Total: $2532

    That's without an ESP discount, and now the iMac has the faster non-mobile chip, dedicated super graphics card, and a few other advantages such as the connectivity you mentioned. In this comparison the iMac is the winner.

    The mini seems a clear winner for anyone on a tight budget that wants a computer that still cooks - as per the original comparison. The 21' standard models can't compete.

    The 21' only becomes interesting with an i7 chip, more ram, an ssd or fusion drive.
    Top 21' - $1600
    i7 3.1Ghz - $300 (guess)
    16MB ram - $100 (this is based on the mini, so it might not be right)
    1TB Fusion - $250
    Total: $2250

    If you compare this to the 27' config above, the difference is $300 for the bigger screen, a faster graphics card, and the ability to easily (and cheaply) upgrade the ram to 32MB and storage in a few years time. I'd guess the 27' would last at least 1-2 years longer and retain the $300 for a re-sale.
  19. Huginnmuninn macrumors regular


    Oct 8, 2011
    Not necessarily. The mini has a mobile i7 processor, the iMac has a desktop i7. And the graphics cards in the iMacs are far superior to the ones in the minis. So if the OP is interested in video editing and transcoding he might find the desktop CPU and superior video card to be better for his needs. And of course with the iMac you also get a keyboard, mouse or trackpad, monitor, and FaceTime videocam. Lots of tradeoffs, and your choice depends on your needs. There's no clear winner for all occasions.
  20. XofDyer macrumors member

    May 24, 2012
    The mini i7 benchmarks very well. Have they benchmarked the iMac with i7 yet?

    And again, you have to factor in the upgrade cost for the iMac. $100 to go to i7 would be generous, which is only possible on the higher end 21'. Suddenly you are at $1600, and it is still likely that Mr Dorey's $1300 mini would still be faster because it has fusion / ssd, and twice as much RAM. Put fusion into the iMac, and you are at $1850. Then the iMac is definitely the winner, but probably not worth $600. As the marketing department knows, however, for a couple hundred more than this, you could get a 27', and so on, and so on... Great if you can afford it.

    I think wise old Homer Simpson once said - "Waiter? I'd like you're second least expensive wine please."
  21. MetzoPaino macrumors member

    Oct 24, 2012
    I'm currently weighing the pros and cons of an iMac vs a Mac Mini. I'm in the prosumer space for usage and budget.

    I'll use the device for audio work, which is what I'm trying to make my career, but it would also have to be my main machine for everything. Little bit of indie gaming, occasional Handbrake usage, some Xcode, but audio must come first, and considering I've put up with 7hour handbrake times anything will be an improvement.

    Currently I have an early 2008 MacBook Pro:
    • 2.5 Intel Core 2 Duo
    • 4GB DDR2 RAM
    • 5400rpm 250GB HD

    I use Logic 9 and Native Instruments stuff for composing, and when I have a moderate sized project three very annoying things things often happen:
    • Loading instruments with large audio sample can take forever, sometimes up to 30 minutes, not great for productivity
    • Too many synths causes a CPU overload, halting playback
    • Sometimes the disk cannot write quick enough, halting playback

    From what I've managed to gather, I'll need a good processor and a fast storage solution, making me think I should go i7 and Fusion Drive in whatever computer I choose.

    So I either get a tricked out Mac Mini with i7, Fusion Drive & 3rd party RAM, but there are hidden costs, (I'd buy Apple's Wireless Keyboard & Trackpad, would probably go for a cheaper, but still quite nice display). Still ends up being the cheapest option.

    A top of the line 21.5" iMac, i7, Fusion Drive and begrudgingly Apple's 16GBs of RAM. (Don't really want to open that thing up, I feel like it will never be the same after you do).

    Top of the line 27" iMac, which is really pushing my budget, but i7, the Fusion Drive seems like it will be the only one with 7200rpm, and I can upgrade the RAM myself.

    If Fusion Drive only exists with a 7200rpm HDD then I could probably live very happily with the 21" iMac. Mac Mini is a powerful little machine, but I'm nervous in 3 years it may seem sluggish and I'll have buyers remorse for the sexier solution.

    Anyway, if anyone can help narrow down my options it would help greatly.
  22. JohnDory thread starter macrumors member


    Jul 11, 2012
    My dreams of the mini failed when I started considering monitors with good sound. There are cheaper monitors with good graphics, but it turns out that only the thunderbolt monitor offers top quality sound. This shoots the total price into the big league, where you'd be better off with an iMac. You might have another system for sound, but I don't and wanted the convenience of built in.

    The mini seems the best option if you are on a budget or you can sacrifice on peripherals. But if you can spend a bit over 2000, the 27' is definitely value for the extra money.
  23. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    The Mini itself has very decent sound. It is better than any built-in-monitor-not-from-apple I encountered. For music while working, the built in speaker of the Mini is very capable.
  24. McGiord macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2003
    Dark Castle
    What did you buy at the end the Mini or the iMac?

    What would be the limitations of the Intel 4000 integrated graphics card, what could not be done with it?

  25. noahc macrumors member

    Oct 12, 2005
    Not the OP, but I bought the iMac.

    I love the iMac, it is beautiful, fast, sleek and sexy.

    But in hindsight, I should probably have purchased the Mac Mini. I'm not using the iMac to its full potential and the Mini could easily have lived a second life in a cabinet or home theater setup whereas the iMac will always have to live on a (very large) desk. Its fairly minor, and I'm still very happy with the iMac, but I acknowledge that the Mac Mini would have been just fine.

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