iMac or Mac Mini? Advice urgently needed! Thanks

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Barney0, Jun 6, 2009.

  1. Barney0 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2009
    #1
    Hiya,

    I'm new to the forums and am on the same boat of choosing between the new 20inch 2.66ghz iMac or the new 2.0ghz mini.

    I'm currently on a 10 year old Mac Cube 500mhz with 1.25gb ram and a 20gb hdd! This is my first mac and have simply fallen in love with OS X, never going back to windows for my day-to-day stuff!

    So, basically whatever upgrade I get will be an awesome speed boost from my cube!

    Basically I would like to know what you're capable of doing with your mini. I already have a lovely 22inch moniter, mouse and keyboard and also an external 500gb hard drive (unfortunately without firewire). I want to know what you can do on it before it starts to bog down on the 2.0ghz cpu.

    I have been on an imac and I have to say that I love it! Really fast and snappy. I will definitely being upgrading the ram to 4gb myself if I was to get the mini. This brings the price to £530 for the mini or £800 for a refurbished new imac. Obviously, the imac brings the advantages of 8gb expandable ram, twice the L2 cache, 7200rpm larger hdd, eye sight and mouse & keyboard. All of these apart from the cache and hdd speed don't worry me. How much of a difference will the speedy hdd make? Will the fact I will be upgrading the ram to 4gb have any effect on the slower hdd?

    I will be wanting to be running fusion/parallels/bootcamp regularly on my mac. Along with very mild photo and video editing. I want to have snappy performance running multiple O.S and multitasking, also using a few spaces. My main question is will the mini be up for the job?

    I will also be playing a couple of games (counter-strike source, team fortress 2, left 4 dead). I think the mini will have no trouble with these running with bootcamp. Correct me if i'm mistaken.

    Also, would booting off an external fw 800 hd make a significant difference to booting off the 5400rpm internal?

    Also what about snow leopard? Should I wait for the release? Will it make the mini run faster?

    Oh and my absolute maximum I can spend is £800. And with the imac I am eligible for the free ipod touch, I don't think the mini is included in this offer

    I'm sorry for all these questions but it's a very big decision for me

    Thanks in advance and I really appreciate any help whatsoever.

    James
     
  2. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #2
    Mini should handle those tasks. You can upgrade the HD as well by yourself. Booting from external drive will be much slower and it's not recommended. WWDC is just around corner (next Monday) and there should be some information about Snow Leopard, so hold your horses for few days. Mini should play those games OK but not in highest settings.

    If you want free iPod Touch, go for iMac, but refurbs are not included
     
  3. Barney0 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 6, 2009
    #3
    Thanks for the advice hellhammer, much appreciated. You say 'should' be able to handle those tasks. Do you know how much the mini can do before it starts to slow down? E.g how many VMs or how many spaces or how many different programs?

    Oh and also, I've read many forums saying that the extra .26ghz upgrade just isn't worth it. Please share your view on this as if it's going to make multiple VMs work a lot better then it may be worth it.

    Yeh I think i'll also be upgrading the hd later on to 7200rpm, but it's not urgent seeing as I already have an external.

    Thanks

    James
     
  4. opeter macrumors 65816

    opeter

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2007
    Location:
    Slovenia, EU
    #4
    Just upgrade the base 2,0 GHz mini to 4 GB RAM and maybe change the HDD to a 7200 rpm version and you are good to go.
     
  5. FilipH macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 19, 2008
    Location:
    Apple Land
    #5

    Looking at the small price difference between a mac mini and a 20 inch Imac, i'd definitely go for the Imac.

    1. Although a tad more expensive, you do get more bang for your buck.
    2. Visually the imac is a stunner
    3. Re-sell value of an imac should be higher.
     
  6. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

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    Finland
    #6
    20" iMac has only faster processor and faster HD.

    For the OP, .26GHz for 180€ isn't worth it. You won't notice the difference. I don't really know how many apps it can run smoothly at the same time but adding the extra RAM will boost your system while doing multitasking, and of course, if you don't use an application, close it. What I've noticed in my iMac is that apps which are not in use eg. iTunes is just open in background and isn't playing anything, it takes less than 0.5% of my processor. Same will happen to you, only apps which you're using will take your processing power (unless you're running some background tasks like ripping DVDs, converting music etc). 2.0GHz will be enough fast for you and 4GB RAM will boost your system.
     
  7. Barney0 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 6, 2009
    #7
    Ok thanks hellhammer, from this forum and a couple of others I've pretty much made up my mind on the mini. It's £400 cheaper and seeing as I already have an external hd, a 22inch moniter, an apple keyboard and mouse. It just makes sense to go with the mini which, looks like will be able to handle what I want it to do.

    So once again thanks and any more information about it will still be appreciated.

    james
     
  8. 007bond macrumors 6502a

    007bond

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    #8
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 2_2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/525.18.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.1.1 Mobile/5H11 Safari/525.20)

    U can also have more screen realistate with an iMac. A 20in plus your 22in will be stunning
     
  9. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

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    #9
    But space can be an issue. It's hard to fit 42" on desk and it looks ugly if they're same (I have BenQ E2400HD next to my iMac and it isn't so beautiful). And it'll be still cheaper to buy Mini and another 22" monitor if OP wants so.

    Mini is the way to go
     
  10. bigdaddyp macrumors regular

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    Aug 19, 2008
    #10
    I would buy the mini and upgrade the ram and hard drive myself. A 500 gb aftermarket hard drive (5200 rpm or 7200 rpm) will definitely boost its performance.
     
  11. Bye Bye Baby macrumors 65816

    Bye Bye Baby

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    #11
    I would go with the iMac. I have both and use the mini as a media centre to store all my stuff on a drobo that can be accessed from my ATV or iMac. I find that to be an excellent system.

    The iMac is what i use for work, the mini for play.
     
  12. windywoo macrumors 6502a

    windywoo

    Joined:
    May 24, 2009
    #12
    If you have a Cube you have a monitor, mouse and keyboard already. A large part of the cost of an iMac is its screen, no sense in spending more for that. 4GB of RAM should be fine for light video and photo work, and will run 2 or 3 virtual machines.
     
  13. Barney0 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 6, 2009
    #13
    This is exactly what I thought when I was running through the costs in my head. I was thinking what is the point in paying all this extra (£400+) when I don't need it?! Yes the .66ghz speed bump would be nice, but I'm sure I'll be fine.

    Once again, Apple, another customer who would of definitely bought a desktop in between the mac mini and mac pro. Damn you for not already having one in the production line!

    With the £££ I've saved I can also buy another identical screen which'll look better than an iMac along with this one anyday.

    Cheers for your input guys

    James
     
  14. Barney0 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 6, 2009
    #14
    The question is do I save up for another month and spend the £892 on the base iMac? I'm not sure the extra £362 is worth it? Although there are many, many advantages: (what the mini will be)

    > 2.66ghz (2.0ghz)
    > 320gb 7200rpm (120gb 5400rpm)
    > 2gb (4gb)
    > Twice the L2 cache
    > Mouse & Keyboard - not needed but would be nice
    > Would have the 20inch imac alongside my 22inch moniter, would look amazing
    > Also have the external hd for extra storage.
    > WOULD GET THE FREE IPOD TOUCH! which with my airport express would be awesome with my hifi.

    I have to say that the two screens is very appealing, and also obviously the dramatic speed bump and twice the L2 cache. Although the extra hd capacity isn't a necessity it isn't as appealing as the speed of it, 7200rpm.

    I just really don't want to buy the mini and then really regret it in a few months.

    And I know that with the iMac I won't have this concern, it will also last a lot longer.

    Do I save almost £900 for this beast of a computer and have a truly lovely setup or do I go for the sensible lower priced mini?

    I hate having to make this choice. But still I have a few weeks to decide.

    Thanks

    James
     
  15. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #15
    If you want a free iPod, go for iMac. Spec wisely there's no reason to pick iMac over Mini (an iMac is more expensive).
     
  16. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    Mar 2, 2008
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    Always a day away
    #16
    As much as I'd live to address that question directly, only you can answer that. Read on:

    The "dramatic" speed bump isn't going to come across as all that dramatic for 90% or more of the time. Only if you're doing something processor-intensive (encoding audio or video, compiling a program, etc.) will you see any difference. Most tasks like word processing, web browsing, etc. don't really take advantage of a processor, so a faster one isn't going to make a difference.

    The faster hard drive will be noticeable, but I don't know if it would be a deal breaker.

    IMO, one of the real selling points of an iMac over a Mini is the video adapter. And yes, I can vouch for the utility of using two screens (although I haven't done that with my iMac).

    I am an advocate of buying the most you can afford - but only if it suits your needs. From what you've said, a Mini sounds like a good choice. But I seriously doubt you'd ever have any buyer's remorse if you buy the iMac. ;)

    I just really don't want to buy the mini and then really regret it in a few months.

    And I know that with the iMac I won't have this concern, it will also last a lot longer.

    Do I save almost £900 for this beast of a computer and have a truly lovely setup or do I go for the sensible lower priced mini?

    I hate having to make this choice. But still I have a few weeks to decide.

    Thanks

    James[/QUOTE]
     
  17. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

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    Mar 16, 2004
    Location:
    Andover, MA
    #17
    This is a much more difficult decision now that the mini has been bumped to be competitive with the low-end iMac.

    You won't regret getting the mini. I have one of the first Intel ones, and one of the ones from last year (i.e., pre-better-graphics). I love them both. If you go that route, you'll find it to be a very capable little system that can morph into an AV box later.

    On the other hand, I really do think the multi-monitor capabilities of the iMac, coupled with the faster drive, make it a somewhat better system long-term. I have two iMacs as well, and, while I don't always have them set up in a dual-monitor configuration, it's very nice when coding or when, say, I want to watch TV or a movie (using elgato products) while also doing other things.

    If you're not going to use the dual-monitor configuration, though, I'd recommend the mini over the iMac. It's nice that the mini can be kept on without requiring that the display also be on - a pet peeve of mine WRT the iMacs.
     
  18. Barney0 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2009
    #18
    Thanks for your advice, I've pretty much made my mind up on the mini.

    For the cost of the base iMac, £892 with edu discount I can get a nicely upgraded mini.

    I'll share my plan with you all incase anyone else is in the same boat.

    I plan to upgrade the hard drive and ram, I also want a new mouse because mine is utterly crap.

    So,

    > 320gb 7200rpm 16mb cache 2.5" hard drive - £50
    > 4gb 1066 ram (2x2gb) - £45
    > Logitech MX revolution (£20 off ebay) - £20
    > External hard drive housing - £10
    So, £470 for the base Mini with the edu discount, plus the above comes to a total of £595.
    You then have the possibility of selling the 1gb ram stick for roughly a tenner. The 120gb internal hard drive can then go into the housing and act as an external drive.

    With this setup, I will have a Mini with the following specs:

    (iMac setup)

    2.0ghz (2.66ghz)
    4gb ram (2gb)
    320gb 7200rpm hd (320gb 7200rpm hd)
    9400m 256mb (9400m 256mb)

    So this gives me a setup which has a slower cpu but twice the ram. All this for almost £300 less.

    This seems a much better choice than the iMac as you can see. Although, I can get a free iPod touch, with the £300 saved, I can get a refurb iPod touch 16gb for £155.

    Cheers guys

    James
     
  19. jzuena macrumors 6502a

    jzuena

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    Location:
    Lexington, MA, USA
    #19
    Remember, the latest-gen mini can do dual monitors now, too. discussions.apple.com.
     
  20. Barney0 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 6, 2009
    #20
    Yes indeed, and I already have 3 moniters but only one 22inch widescreen. I may even be tempted to get another identical with the money I've saved ;)

    James
     

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