iMac vs Mac mini and my needs

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Dentifrice, Jan 13, 2014.

  1. Dentifrice macrumors 6502

    Aug 27, 2008

    I need your advices on this.

    I use Adobe Lightroom/photoshop and some other photography apps on my old mac mini and It's slow

    I have two alternatives :

    1- I have a good price for a used iMac 2013. Specs are Core i5-3.2 ghz, 16 gb of ram and 1 terabytes hard drive (not fusion, a normal 7200 rpm).

    2- I brand new Mac mini 2012. 2.6ghz Core i7, 16 gb of ram, ssd.

    So the mac mini has an i7 instead of a i5 but has a lower clock. At the same time, it has hyperthreading.

    The mac mini would have an SSD but I remember playing a little with an imac with a normal HDD in an Apple store and I was really impress by the speed of booting and when I was opening apps. I remember my old mac mini with it's original HDD (was a 5400 portable hdd of course..) and it was just awful. This little 7200 rpm drive seems really faster.

    On the other hand, the imac has better video card, but I'm not sure it will help on most of my tasks. I7/SSD with a lower clock and earlier generation or an iMac with an haswell and an higher clock but I5/HDD. One thing I think of is put my current SSD drive (from my old mac mini) in an USB3 case and boot the iMac from it then use my 1TB only for data only.

    what do you think ??

  2. CH12671 macrumors 6502

    Dec 29, 2013
    Southern US
    The 2013 i5 should hyperthread as well, doesn't it? My 2012 MBP i5 hyperthreads, but my 2011 iMac i5 doesn't (of course, the MBP is dual physical core with 4 logical cores, and the iMac is 4 physical cores only).

    Having said that, and I admittedly haven't studied the exact chips, but there are some i7's that are dual you may be getting just a dual core i7 in the Mac Mini, that is hyperthreading to 4 logical cores. Check it out before you make your decision.

    IMO, in any configuration, the iMac is going to be stronger than the MM.....and I own both.
  3. Wuiffi macrumors 6502a


    Oct 6, 2011
    The Mac mini uses mobile chips (where i5 do have hyperthread) while the iMac uses desktop chips where they do not. Intel

    And the i7 in the 2012 model of the mac mini both (2.3 and 2.6Ghz) are quad cores.

    To the OP: what's the price difference? (Personally I'd never ever work with just a HDD again)
  4. CH12671 macrumors 6502

    Dec 29, 2013
    Southern US
    There you go, thanks!


    Oh, and I second the part about spinning hard drives!
  5. Dentifrice thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 27, 2008
    price difference is big but I'll need to buy a better display for the mac mini and I don't need to on the imac. At the end, they are pretty much equal.

    What do you think on using an ssd in a usb3 case ? Thunderbolt is way too pricey
  6. Wahlstrm macrumors 6502a


    Dec 4, 2013

    Check geekbench to get an idea of the performance.
  7. Wuiffi macrumors 6502a


    Oct 6, 2011
    if the mac minis had thunderbolt 2 /HDMI 2 I'd say go for the mini (cause then you could use a 4k display @60Hz in the future) but right now it's really hard. (if the mini with i7 and aftermarket 16GB Ram + SSD + keyboard and mouse/trackpad + a good [probably 1440p] display was cheaper personally I'd go for it)

    About the USB 3 SSD. I have not tried it. But:
    1. I personally prefer the SSD inside, because I want the OS and the important programs on it and
    2. the speed you can expect from the SSD is probably limited by USB and slower than a SATA3 one

    3. theoretically you could put 2 SSDs in RAID0 into the mini and it would fly
  8. Dentifrice thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 27, 2008
    the problem is, the current mac mini (2012) doesn't support 4k display... :(

    If apple could update this damned mac mini I could make a better choice
  9. Wuiffi macrumors 6502a


    Oct 6, 2011

    Yes an update would be great, as long as it keeps the upgradability. If they go for a smaller design with soldered Ram PCIe SSD, the mini (with better specs) would get way to expensive!
  10. Dentifrice thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 27, 2008
    if everything is soldered, that would suck a lot. 16 gb of ram and ssd from Apple is way too expensive.

    Mac mini 2012 is outdated and need to be updated but I'm pretty sure Apple will come up with a full soldered setup...What surprises me is that there is no solid rumors about this next mini. Something very different is coming....
  11. tgrays, Jan 13, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2014

    tgrays macrumors member

    Apr 21, 2013
    I actually went through a similar decision not too long ago and ended up going with the iMac. I'm not one of the experts who can tell you about the specific differences in specs and all that, and even now I'm not entirely positive I made the right decision (my iMac is being delivered and I haven't received it yet), but here are a few of reasons why I chose the iMac:

    1. The Mini's hardware is already over a year old and no one knows when it's going to be updated.

    2. I was a bit worried about the fact that the Mini can only have a maximum of 16GB ram. I'm a heavy Photoshop user (among other Adobe stuff) and I multi-task with a ton of stuff open simultaneously. 16GB may be kind of enough now, but I don't think it will be in a year or two. Apps seem to suck up more and more ram these days.

    3. I would have to buy a new monitor, because my current monitor is very old and has a ton of issues. After factoring in a good monitor and the various upgrades, the price came rather close to the iMac.

    And then I considered the fact that the iMac came with a new keyboard, a trackpad/mouse, a much better graphics card, AND it was updated not too long ago... well, it became hard for me to justify spending just a bit lower on the older Mini.

    At that point, the only thing holding me back from choosing the iMac was my concern for its QC. The Mini in general is more stable than the iMac and I don't have to worry as much about what happens if a part fails like the way I would with an AIO, but I also think that I would grow out of the Mini quicker than the iMac (speaking from experience of owning 2 Minis in a row for the last 7 or so years).

    The i7 vs i5 did stump me for a while, but then I don't do much video and I doubt the majority of the stuff I do would need the multi-threading. Meanwhile, I knew that at least I would definitely benefit from the dedicated graphics card.

    (And then what finally cinched it was the Red Friday sale that went on in Asia last Friday, where the iMac had a discount but the Mini didn't... which brought the price even closer, so that was that...)

    Not sure if any of this helped... but it could be food for thought anyhow. :)

    P.S. I forgot to add that from your use, it looks like you might also benefit more from the graphics card than the multi-threading.
  12. Lambros macrumors regular

    Feb 24, 2010
    Sydney, Australia
    I don't have a specific answer for you, but I have a 2013 iMac (i7, fusion drive, 32gb ram). Hopefully this will help; at the moment I have open the following:

    • iTunes
    • Mac Mail
    • iCal
    • Programming Application (Coda 2, to be precise)
    • 3 Web Browsers (I'm a web developer, nobody does this just for the sake of it)
    • Photoshop with 8 layered PSDs open, each of res approx 1600x1200

    This leaves me with 18.2gb RAM free (I haven't restarted the computer today, so I guess that could be less if I did). The fusion drive will only really come in handy when actually opening or closing applications/files, because otherwise no data is being read/written at a fast rate. It is a nice luxury though, I won't deny that. The i5/i7 question is invalid - I have, since the purchase of this Mac, realised that unless you're a video editor, you will likely never see the difference. It's an unfortunate truth...unless you're still forcing this computer to run top level applications four years from which case the differences will still be very minor.

    So I'd be considering HDD vs. SSD, and 16gb vs. 32gb RAM. In my eyes, they're the only important factors here. Yes, external video card is necessary...but will you be gaming/video editing?

    That said, if you want to wait, Broadwell is coming in 2014 :p
  13. fig macrumors 6502a


    Jun 13, 2012
    Austin, TX
    Actually Photoshop uses very little GPU-based operations. You'll benefit more from CPU and RAM (not to mention hard drive speed).

    I'm a pro designer who has a dual 2.7ghz Mini and it can handle pretty much anything I can throw at it right now outside of heavy 3d work.
  14. Dentifrice thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 27, 2008
    thanks for your answers guys

    in my current mac mini, I have two HDDs, the default 5400 RPM drive and I added a SSD. I created a DIY fusion drive and it works great.

    However, a laptop 5400 rpm drives is very slow.

    If I buy a new mac mini, what would you recommend :

    1- same setup, 1 SSD and 1 HDD, both internal

    2- only one internal drive (SSD) and one big 7200 RPM drive connected via USB3. The external one would be for my photos. I won't do a DIY fusion drive in this case (anyway I think you can't with external drives)

    I suppose a 7200 RPM drives via USB3 is faster than a sata 5400 drive ?
  15. xraydoc macrumors demi-god


    Oct 9, 2005
    Internal SSD and an external two drive RAID via Thunderbolt.
  16. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    Desktop i5 chips don't hyperthread.
  17. CH12671 macrumors 6502

    Dec 29, 2013
    Southern US
    Got it. I had forgotten about the differences. Better to have 4 physical cores than 4 logical cores, though.
  18. redheeler macrumors 603


    Oct 17, 2014
    Yet in the 2014 update they give us soldered RAM without a smaller case design or PCIe SSD standard. Shows how much Apple cares about user upgradability.

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