iMac 21.5" vs Mac Mini

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by chubble10, Jul 9, 2013.

  1. chubble10 macrumors newbie

    chubble10

    Joined:
    May 29, 2013
    Location:
    England
    #1
    Hi,

    I'm currently looking at two options for a Mac to take to Uni (for CS):

    Mac Mini 2012
    2.3GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7
    4GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x2GB (will upgrade to 8GB myself)
    1TB Fusion Drive
    Intel HD 4000
    £790.80 (after education discount) and then a monitor: http://www.amazon.co.uk/LG-IPS234V-PN-AEK-inch-Screen-Monitor/dp/B008F7GW2K/ref=reg_hu-rd_add_1_dp

    iMac 21.5"
    2.7GHz Quad-core Intel Core i5
    8GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x4GB
    1TB Serial ATA Drive @ 5400 rpm
    NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M 512MB GDDR5
    £967.20 (after education discount) and a £70 BTS card - will also probably sell the mouse+keyboard since I already have some.

    The questions I have is which is better value, and also what is the real-world performance difference GPU-wise between the two (for light games like Diablo 3 and Tekkit)? GeekBench says that the Mini is slightly stronger CPU-wise (due to the hyper-threading I presume), and also I can afford a Fusion drive in the Mini! The 21.5" iMac is pretty much at the end of my budget - and also the Mini has the advantage of being open-able.

    Thanks!
     
  2. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #2
    The iMac includes a gorgeous 21" display, the mini does not. You have to supply your own mouse and keyboard with the mini as well. This will drive up the price a little (and a lot if you need to buy a monitor).

    You're right the mini has a lot going for it and depends on what you're bringing to the party, i.e., already own a monitor.

    The i7 vs. i5 debate - most applications and uses won't really see the benefit of the i7, so there's really no appreciable speed difference. The GPU is where you'll find a big improvement provided you run software that stresses the GPU, like games and what not.
     
  3. chubble10 thread starter macrumors newbie

    chubble10

    Joined:
    May 29, 2013
    Location:
    England
    #3
    Thanks for the reply!

    I already have a keyboard and mouse (and so would probably sell the ones that would come with the iMac), and have a monitor (but would probably buy another to do dual screen, which would be ~£100).

    What would the real performance difference be between the two GPUs? There seem to be very few actual performance tests of the GT 640M when it only has 512MB of memory.
     
  4. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #4
    What apps will you be running?

    Safari, MS Office, email won't see any difference in the two GPUs, where as Aperture, Photoshop and many games will.
     
  5. chubble10 thread starter macrumors newbie

    chubble10

    Joined:
    May 29, 2013
    Location:
    England
    #5
    Work: WebStorm, IntelliJ, PyCharm, Safari, iWork etc.
    Play: Diablo 3, Minecraft etc.

    Would the iMac only having 512MB for the 640M make much of a difference, as the majority of performance tests use 2GB?
     
  6. foodog macrumors 6502a

    foodog

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2006
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #6
    Diablo 3 will run but won't look that spectacular.... on either machine.
     
  7. chubble10 thread starter macrumors newbie

    chubble10

    Joined:
    May 29, 2013
    Location:
    England
    #7
    I'm used to playing it on pretty much minimum with an Intel HD 3000 laptop, so I don't mind ;)
     
  8. COrocket macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    #8
    Having a fusion drive is nice, it really speeds up boot and app opening times, and makes the computer feel faster and more responsive. The HD4000 is a significant upgrade over the HD3000, so if you've been gaming with the 3000, then either computer should be capable of what you need.
     
  9. chubble10 thread starter macrumors newbie

    chubble10

    Joined:
    May 29, 2013
    Location:
    England
    #9
    Great! Thanks for the help!
     
  10. ToomeyND macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    #10
    I used to have a 2007 iMac, and now have a base 2012 mini. Obviously you are looking at a different comparison, but the mini handles my workload (a lot of office) very well. I don't play games, so that is going to be a big factor. If you can wait for Haswell, perhaps it will have the power you need. But who knows how long that wait is?

    I have since moved the mini to 3 different tv's in my house multiple times, as well as 4 different hotels while traveling. It is powerful enough for me, but the portability of it is also a really nice feature. I have an app on my ipad to use it as a keyboard for the mini, so all i need to bring is the mini and an hdmi cable and I can hook it up anywhere I go.

    Edit: I suppose I need to be on a secure wifi network for the iPad app to work. I've also brought my keyboard and mouse on the road. They are relatively tiny as well.
     
  11. adairje macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 22, 2005
    Location:
    Sugar Land, TX
    #11
    Mac Mini vs. 21.5 iMac

    Unless you are a pretty hard-core gamer who has games that need the discrete GPU, the Mini you are looking at with the Fusion drive is a great choice. I purchased the same base Mini you are looking at last November, but my budget did not permit me to go for either the Fusion drive or a 256 GB SSD. My own Mini is fine for everything I have asked it to do thus far. I do have to deal with a few extra seconds of opening time for my MS Office programs if I haven't opened them in a day or so, and I have a longer boot time, but I can deal with that. Unfortunately for me, the Apple Stores here in the U.S. will not even install their own SSDs in a customer's Mini as an upgrade after the original purchase, so it is good you are planning to get the Fusion drive as a BTO option.

    The iMac is a drop-dead beautiful machine, but it has a real drawback in that you can't open the machine, and you can't even add RAM yourself with the 21.5 inch iMac. With the Mini, the memory upgrade is easy. I upgraded my own system from 4 to 16 GB with memory from Other World Computing (OWC) here in the USA and it went very well.

    At any rate, best of luck to you in your purchase decision and in your university studies!
     
  12. cynics macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2012
    #12
    I was in the same situation except I didn't have a monitor, speakers, keyboard or mouse. So for me it was a no brainer. I had preferred a mini just for cost if I already had everything.
     
  13. chubble10 thread starter macrumors newbie

    chubble10

    Joined:
    May 29, 2013
    Location:
    England
    #13
    This is exactly what I was thinking - thanks!
     
  14. COrocket macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    #14
    I like a modular approach to my computer setup. For example if the screen breaks then it is only that part has to be repaired/replaced. And if you ever look to upgrade in the future you only have to buy the computer, and keep the monitor which cuts down on upgrade costs.
     

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