iMac died... Mac Mini + Monitor purchase help!

smoking monkey

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Mar 5, 2008
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My late 2012 iMac display just died and Apple EOL parts for it after 6 years. There are no Authorized repair shops within cooee of me unfortunately, and I'm not convinced I'm able to replace the display myself or even find the display for sale in Japan. So...

I've decided to get a Mac Mini instead of another iMac in the case I head back home in the next few years and/or because it seems a little cheaper for my needs.

I have a MacBook Pro for work and heavy lifting - editing video, Graphical and musical intensive Keynotes and document creation. None of that needs doing on my home computer. In fact, my home computer only does the following...

1. Watch movies
2. Internet
3. Email
4. Youtube
5. live streaming of sports (Cricket and Rugby League)
6. keep photos
7. music collection

That is pretty much it. I don't have the chance to game on my computer, so that isn't a factor.

I've done a heap of reading and research, but I'm a little lost in terms of what I actually need.

I'll be watching movies and live sports not at my computer desk, but from around 2-2.5 metres away from the screen most of the time. The rest is done at the computer.

I have enjoyed having a 27inch iMac and the screen was big enough to enjoy from 2-2.5 metres away, so I was thinking to get...

Mac Mini i5 16gig ram and 1TB HD + LG 27ul850 - W/27

Mac mini -
*I won't upgrade the ram myself. I could save maybe 80-100 dollars, but it's not worth it to me to void the warranty or take a chance stuffing it up. I will pay the Apple Tax and not think about it again.
* Do I need the i5 or will the i3 be enough to last me 4-6 years?
* I've got over 500gig worth of photos and music that needs storing on the computer. I prefer to keep this stuff on the computer and not on an external. So that's why 1TB HD. Or is it easy to just get an external to keep it on? It's another thing I need on the desk though...

LG Monitor -
* It's an IPS screen which I've heard is important if I'm going to be watching movies on from a distance. My wife will also watch them, so it won't be just me sat directly in front of the screen. IPS is definitely more expensive than VA though.
* I've looked for other brands, but there doesn't seem to be anything that hits the sweet spot of size, IPS and USB C connections available.
* Is there a better brand I should be looking at? This monitor has a 3 year warranty (in Japan) and the price seems decent for what it does, although I did expect to only have to pay around 500 bucks, not 700.

Is it better to connect the mac mini via USB C or HDMI 2? Does it make a difference?

Thanks,

SM.

PS. I'd actually prefer a 32 inch monitor, but they seem crazy expensive in IPS
 
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Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
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"I've got over 500gig worth of photos and music that needs storing on the computer. I prefer to keep this stuff on the computer and not on an external."

Get an external USB3 SSD.
It will work better that way.

You'll also need a SECOND external drive (platter-based HDD will probably do fine) by which to back it up.

I just received my '18 refurb Mini yesterday.

I got the i7, although the i5 would probably have been sufficient.
Got 16gb of RAM "from the factory", so I don't have to open it later on.
The 512gb SSD was "right" -- any larger would be wasted $$$ to Apple.
 

treekram

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Nov 9, 2015
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The Apple SSD upgrades are expensive relative to what you can get externally. Photos and music doesn't require the performance that the internal SSD can provide. The Apple SSD upgrade is effectively $400 for 500GB (this is just for comparison, you can't get a 500GB upgrade on the i5 - it's either 256GB or 750GB). I got a compact 500GB external SSD for my MBP for about $85. The performance of this SSD is about 1/4 - 1/3 of the internal SSD but it's more than adequate (nowhere near close the bandwidth required) for watching 1080p videos that I want to take along with my MBP.

The LG UL850-W is a 4K UHD 27" monitor. Most people find that the content is too small at native resolution. Many people have complained about the scaling to QHD (2560x1440), which your 2012 iMac had. However, I have noticed recently that people are saying that using SwitchResX software now is providing a satisfactory viewing experience for this scaling whereas people before were saying that this wasn't the case. That maybe due to individual perceptions - I don't know.

If you can scale to 1080p, that would provide good quality but people say there isn't enough screen real estate at that scaling. This whole 4K UHD 27" screen resolution scaling thing is confusing for people, especially if you're used to a nice 27" 2560x1440 monitor and then move to a 27" 4K UHD monitor. So beware. I had to face this same issue (had a 27" 2560x1440 monitor) and I bought a 32" 4K UHD monitor. Even at this size, the content is a bit small at native resolution but there are scaling options for a lot of the applications I use and this works for me.
 
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zandorf

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Oct 24, 2013
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I recently replaced my late '12 iMac with a MM18. I liked (or at least got used to) the 2560x1440 27" iMac monitor scaling, so I got a 34" 3440x1440. This works out close to same PPI and vertical size, but adds extra pixels for width. I am happy with this choice.
 
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smoking monkey

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Thanks for the replies.

I want to use time machine to back up (which I do now on my iMac and mbp using external 2tb SSD) and also use iTunes and photos app to keep my music and photos. Is it complicated to do that on an external? I’m willing to pay the Apple tax as convenience outweighs the one time cost in this respect. I also want to keep my desk as sparse as possible as it’s a smaller desk.

I have been going through that monitor thread but I don’t game or do photo editing etc. I just want a monitor with a panel that is similar in viewing quality to my iMac SD monitor but with better resolution. 32 would be better I think and that’s what I originally wanted as 27 is fine from 2 metres away, but 32 will be better. Finding a 32 with IPS and USB c hits 1000 dollars. I think DisplayPort should work at 60khz? If so then DP would be good enough.
I’m not keen to download software to get the screen working okay. Plug n play hopefully.
 

Expobill

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May 30, 2018
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Im watching live baseball on my macmini 2012 with a samsung tv 32” 720 dpi on 4gb ram, ethernet feed original hd, my only problem was slow applications start up in Mojave so I'm adding 8gb Friday
The screen looks good, im happy totemo shiawasei!
 

nva

macrumors newbie
Apr 4, 2019
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0
If you can scale to 1080p, that would provide good quality but people say there isn't enough screen real estate at that scaling. This whole 4K UHD 27" screen resolution scaling thing is confusing for people, especially if you're used to a nice 27" 2560x1440 monitor and then move to a 27" 4K UHD monitor. So beware. I had to face this same issue (had a 27" 2560x1440 monitor) and I bought a 32" 4K UHD monitor. Even at this size, the content is a bit small at native resolution but there are scaling options for a lot of the applications I use and this works for me.
How is your experience with 32" 4K monitor? I'm about to purchase 27" 4K for 200% scaling because I'm afraid that Mac at any native resolution isn't as crisp as at HiDPI mode.

I know 1080p at 27" lack some real estate but I'm used to work with 24" 1080p screen. I can just place this 27" 4K a bit further from my face. The only issue stopping me from pulling the trigger is that I see people recommending ultra wide or big monitor to run at native resolution. So I'm looking for more inputs.

I decided to go with Mac Mini instead of iMac because I need a separate monitor for my MBP and another Windows PC.

There's a thread about the monitor issue at:
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/officially-giving-up-on-the-mac-mini-2018-4k-monitor-dream.2155175/

I think zandorf in post #4 is correct. People seem to have less angst (and less money) if they go with a 32" 4K UHD vs. a 27". I'm also happy I spent the extra money for the 32" (BenQ PD3200U).
I've just seen that thread. The issue seems to be UI lag because Intel UHD iGPU can't handle 1.5:1 scaling in a 4K monitor. But if I choose 2:1 scaling, that's should be no problem with the iGPU, right?
 
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adamk77

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Jan 6, 2008
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I've just seen that thread. The issue seems to be UI lag because Intel UHD iGPU can't handle 1.5:1 scaling in a 4K monitor. But if I choose 2:1 scaling, that's should be no problem with the iGPU, right?
When you choose scaled resolution in Settings, the only 2 options that do not give the warning "Using a scaled resolution may affect performance" is the default 1080p or the full native 4K resolution.

My 4K monitor is a 3840x2160 and I use it at this resolution.

I just tried at 2K (2560x1440), and although usable, it's not as buttery smooth and you can definitely feel the UI lag.
 
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smoking monkey

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When you choose scaled resolution in Settings, the only 2 options that do not give the warning "Using a scaled resolution may affect performance" is the default 1080p or the full native 4K resolution.

My 4K monitor is a 3840x2160 and I use it at this resolution.

I just tried at 2K (2560x1440), and although usable, it's not as buttery smooth and you can definitely feel the UI lag.
Just the person I needed!
What size is your 3840 x 2160 4k monitor, 32 or 27? I was looking at this resolution in a 32 inch LG 4k IPS. I have no idea how big or small mac os and apps are going to look. I'm getting scared off to be honest with all the talk of UI lag and the OS appearing to small or too big.

Is there any chance you could post a picture of your desktop with an app open or the like?

thanks.

EDIT: And what are your Mac Mini specs?
 

adamk77

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Jan 6, 2008
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Just the person I needed!
What size is your 3840 x 2160 4k monitor, 32 or 27? I was looking at this resolution in a 32 inch LG 4k IPS. I have no idea how big or small mac os and apps are going to look. I'm getting scared off to be honest with all the talk of UI lag and the OS appearing to small or too big.

Is there any chance you could post a picture of your desktop with an app open or the like?

thanks.

EDIT: And what are your Mac Mini specs?
I think I can help you with the monitor size because I use a 43" IPS monitor. At the full 4K resolution, I often wish it was slightly larger (45" would be perfect) because the text can be a little too small. I compensate by sitting a little closer to it than I'd like with a monitor this size.

I have the i7, 32GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 10 Gigabit Ethernet.

Edit: Oops -- forgot the picture (see attached). That's from about 2 feet away.
 

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smoking monkey

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I think I can help you with the monitor size because I use a 43" IPS monitor. At the full 4K resolution, I often wish it was slightly larger (45" would be perfect) because the text can be a little too small. I compensate by sitting a little closer to it than I'd like with a monitor this size.

I have the i7, 32GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 10 Gigabit Ethernet.
thanks for the fast reply. 43 is too big for me unfortunately! I've now read that Bluetooth apparently doesn't play well when anything is plugged into a USB A port on the mini. huh.
 

bigtomato

macrumors regular
Feb 28, 2015
156
122
My late 2012 iMac display just died and Apple EOL parts for it after 6 years. There are no Authorized repair shops within cooee of me unfortunately, and I'm not convinced I'm able to replace the display myself or even find the display for sale in Japan. So...

I've decided to get a Mac Mini instead of another iMac in the case I head back home in the next few years and/or because it seems a little cheaper for my needs.

I have a MacBook Pro for work and heavy lifting - editing video, Graphical and musical intensive Keynotes and document creation. None of that needs doing on my home computer. In fact, my home computer only does the following...

1. Watch movies
2. Internet
3. Email
4. Youtube
5. live streaming of sports (Cricket and Rugby League)
6. keep photos
7. music collection

That is pretty much it. I don't have the chance to game on my computer, so that isn't a factor.

I've done a heap of reading and research, but I'm a little lost in terms of what I actually need.

I'll be watching movies and live sports not at my computer desk, but from around 2-2.5 metres away from the screen most of the time. The rest is done at the computer.

I have enjoyed having a 27inch iMac and the screen was big enough to enjoy from 2-2.5 metres away, so I was thinking to get...

Mac Mini i5 16gig ram and 1TB HD + LG 27ul850 - W/27

Mac mini -
*I won't upgrade the ram myself. I could save maybe 80-100 dollars, but it's not worth it to me to void the warranty or take a chance stuffing it up. I will pay the Apple Tax and not think about it again.
* Do I need the i5 or will the i3 be enough to last me 4-6 years?
* I've got over 500gig worth of photos and music that needs storing on the computer. I prefer to keep this stuff on the computer and not on an external. So that's why 1TB HD. Or is it easy to just get an external to keep it on? It's another thing I need on the desk though...

LG Monitor -
* It's an IPS screen which I've heard is important if I'm going to be watching movies on from a distance. My wife will also watch them, so it won't be just me sat directly in front of the screen. IPS is definitely more expensive than VA though.
* I've looked for other brands, but there doesn't seem to be anything that hits the sweet spot of size, IPS and USB C connections available.
* Is there a better brand I should be looking at? This monitor has a 3 year warranty (in Japan) and the price seems decent for what it does, although I did expect to only have to pay around 500 bucks, not 700.

Is it better to connect the mac mini via USB C or HDMI 2? Does it make a difference?

Thanks,

SM.

PS. I'd actually prefer a 32 inch monitor, but they seem crazy expensive in IPS



Mac mini with 16 gigs is good enough, I'm running a 4k monitor, doing final cut, motion. I have the i3 option...save yourself some money you can always buy a fast EGPU that will be better and way better monitor. Its very expandable, has 4 thunderbolt three ports. Trust me don't waste your money
 

adamk77

macrumors 6502a
Jan 6, 2008
513
149
thanks for the fast reply. 43 is too big for me unfortunately! I've now read that Bluetooth apparently doesn't play well when anything is plugged into a USB A port on the mini. huh.
Yeah, 43" takes a bit getting used to and takes a bit of desk space.

As for bluetooth, I have that issue as well. My trackpad was getting really laggy with my external USB 3.0 hard drive connected to the outermost USB port. Everything fixed itself after disconnecting the HDD from that port. I instead just charge my iPad from that port, which doesn't seem to affect bluetooth.

Because I forgot to post it in my other post, here is another photo of my screen at 2K resolution.
 

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smoking monkey

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Mac mini with 16 gigs is good enough, I'm running a 4k monitor, doing final cut, motion. I have the i3 option...save yourself some money you can always buy a fast EGPU that will be better and way better monitor. Its very expandable, has 4 thunderbolt three ports. Trust me don't waste your money
Thanks for the info. What size monitor are you using?
 

harriska2

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Mar 16, 2011
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I’m using a 40” Samsung chroma 4-4-4 at 4k with 8 gb memory without issue. Doing low res video editing in FCP right now.
 

smoking monkey

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I've given up the Mac Mini dream.
I'm going to get an iMac instead. At first I was getting a Mac mini with a 4k 27 inch monitor because it was cheaper, then I wanted a 32 inch screen and now I've read about all the problems associated with the mini and a monitor, a mini and bluetooth and a mini and USB. It's just not worth the hassle. I want something that just works and for 6 and a half years my iMac just worked. Never a problem. I can also add my own ram to it easily... unlike the Mini.

PIty as I was excited to get a mini.
 

adamk77

macrumors 6502a
Jan 6, 2008
513
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I've given up the Mac Mini dream.
I'm going to get an iMac instead. At first I was getting a Mac mini with a 4k 27 inch monitor because it was cheaper, then I wanted a 32 inch screen and now I've read about all the problems associated with the mini and a monitor, a mini and bluetooth and a mini and USB. It's just not worth the hassle. I want something that just works and for 6 and a half years my iMac just worked. Never a problem. I can also add my own ram to it easily... unlike the Mini.

PIty as I was excited to get a mini.
I've gotta say that if a friend or an acquaintance asked me for my advice on which Mac to buy, I'd steer him or her towards the iMac. Simply for the reason you stated that it's less hassle.

For those in the market for a headless solution with the freedom of being able to choose an external monitor, there doesn't seem to be a good option from Apple without spending quite a bit extra on an eGPU. The majority of the people will be priced out of the Mac Pro refresh if it does happen this year.
 

ijlakw

macrumors member
Oct 19, 2013
67
210
I've read a whole host of threads this morning about the Mac Mini.... it should be clear that Apple has lost their engineering expertise. The Mac Mini was clearly a forgotten product and it's likely Cook threw us all a bone when assigning a quick Mac Mini refresh. This computer is a joke given the whole host of problems it seems to have. So... an iMac is our only solution? A nearly decade old design limited to a 27" format with no elegant offering to add a 2nd monitor.

Apple should be torched for this kind of effort... but no, too many so-called journalists have their identity and business model based on access to Apple.

At least we've got Apple news! ... and you're going to love it. argh....
 

adamk77

macrumors 6502a
Jan 6, 2008
513
149
I've read a whole host of threads this morning about the Mac Mini.... it should be clear that Apple has lost their engineering expertise. The Mac Mini was clearly a forgotten product and it's likely Cook threw us all a bone when assigning a quick Mac Mini refresh. This computer is a joke given the whole host of problems it seems to have. So... an iMac is our only solution? A nearly decade old design limited to a 27" format with no elegant offering to add a 2nd monitor.

Apple should be torched for this kind of effort... but no, too many so-called journalists have their identity and business model based on access to Apple.

At least we've got Apple news! ... and you're going to love it. argh....
I'm one of those who has posted grievances with the Mini. But I don't share your sentiment that it's a joke.

Problems like coil whine and bluetooth interference (both not limited to the Mini), though real, aren't deal breakers to me. The only deal breaker would be the poor iGPU. And that's only under specific use cases, and if you are opposed to an eGPU for one reason or another.

The Mac Mini is still the best bang for your money if you don't care for an all-in-one solution. Some may laugh and say that it's the ONLY game in town, and they'd be right! I don't have a comeback for that. The Mini is not advertised as a Pro machine (wouldn't it be great if there was such a thing as the Mac Mini Pro). It's just that some of us are trying to use it as a Pro machine given the lack of options.

At the risk of beating a dead horse, the bottom line is that a Mini with an eGPU can be used like a Pro machine. So for around $2100, you can have a Mac Mini Pro:
  • $1750 for 6-core i7, self upgraded 32GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 10 Gigabit Ethernet
  • $300 for Sonnet enclosure, $100 for RX 560 (my use case -- will need to spend more if you need more)
 
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harriska2

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Mar 16, 2011
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I'm one of those who has posted grievances with the Mini. But I don't share your sentiment that it's a joke.

Problems like coil whine and bluetooth interference (both not limited to the Mini), though real, aren't deal breakers to me. The only deal breaker would be the poor iGPU. And that's only under specific use cases, and if you are opposed to an eGPU for one reason or another.

The Mac Mini is still the best bang for your money if you don't care for an all-in-one solution. Some may laugh and say that it's the ONLY game in town, and they'd be right! I don't have a comeback for that. The Mini is not advertised as a Pro machine (wouldn't it be great if there was such a thing as the Mac Mini Pro). It's just that some of us are trying to use it as a Pro machine given the lack of options.

At the risk of beating a dead horse, the bottom line is that a Mini with an eGPU can be used like a Pro machine. So for around $2100, you can have a Mac Mini Pro:
  • $1750 for 6-core i7, self upgraded 32GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 10 Gigabit Ethernet
  • $300 for Sonnet enclosure, $100 for RX 560 (my use case -- will need to spend more if you need more)
BYOM - bring your own monitor ;)