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Syrgul

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 17, 2015
57
45
Back in '12 or '14 or something, when they slashed prices on the base iMac, I convinced the wife that it was a good time to pick up a family computer, replacing the hand-built from leftover parts Windows system from the early 2000's that we were still using. We were already pretty good on the way to being tied into the Apple ecosystem, and with 2 kids just reaching the age of using computers, I wanted the ease of use of going Mac. So we picked up 2 of the base model iMacs from that year, one that's for the 'family' and one that's in my home office.

The one in the home office runs all the 'infrastructure' like Movies, Music (i.e the old iTunes), Photos, etc... for home sharing across the network. It's got a 4TB external USB 3.0 WD hanging off it to handle the storage needs for those various libraries that but generally drives the rest off the internal hard drive. In recent years, with the addition of some Roku's to the house, it's also picked up the duties of being a PLEX server, serving up all the same libraries (excluding any DRM'd Movies via some curated .plexignore settings). This iMac is wired right to the network to provide the most stable bandwidth for those server related duties.. It's also the one I use daily for day to day non-work activities, browsing, mail, etc, as my work computer is mandated for work related tasks only. The 'family' iMac sitting in the living room is just connected wirelessly, and mostly serves the kids needs, like school research, projects, gaming, etc...

They're both getting pretty long in the tooth now, and while they still run, they're being pretty taxed. Some game my son wanted installed to play against his friends chokes the system, and locks it up so bad the screen saver can't even run. Reboots take like a good 1/2 hour before everything settles down. Even mail, browsing, etc.. can sometimes feel like a chore.

Depending on how tax return season goes, I'm hoping to be able to swing a couple of new machines. The 'family' one will probably just be a near base model iMac again by going with the base Retina iMac. The home office desktop/server one I'm not sure on how I should replace it. I like the idea of the lower power consumption of the Mac Mini for the machine that's always on, but it gets up there in price pretty fast once you spec it as close as you can to the base Retina iMac, mostly due to the fact that the Mini only has SSD options for the hard drive, and the iMac allows larger storage on slower spinning drives. You take base Mac Mini, bump it to 1TB to match the base storage of the iMac, add a new mouse and keyboard, and it's coming up as slightly more than the iMac, with the same specs, also with a 1TB drive, has the mouse and keyboard included, and I wouldn't have to repurpose one of my monitors for it.

But the Mac Mini might do a better job in its server duties than keeping an iMac running all the time (like I am now) so I'm torn about which way to go. Considering that money IS a factor, what's the general recommendation for our needs? I know non-Mac is probably the cheapest options, but I'd like to stick in the Apple ecosystem for it's ease of compatibility with the way I've already got everything working.
 
You have certainly thought things out real well. There is one other option you could consider, but I have a question. For your "work" iMac, how much of the 1 TB do you use? And are you using any of it for just storage of various files? As it is, you have the 4TB WD drive that I suspect you would use with the new office machine.

Also, how much space on that external WD drive are you using?

If you did get another iMac, have you researched how much you could sell your current one for? Even if it's a 2012, that's not too "old". I recently sold my late 2012 Mac Mini with a core i7 processor, a 256 gig SSD, and 8 gig of Ram, for $250. (Helped a lot that it was in excellent condition, both externally and from a software perspective). And in fact, I actually got 3 bids for it, all close in price. (I subsequently purchased a late 2018 Mac Mini for $1,029 total, with a core i5 processor, a 256 gig SSD, and 8 gig of Ram, and I am quite pleased with it). I had used the late 2012 for more than 6 1/2 years.
 
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Syrgul

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 17, 2015
57
45
Ah, yes, I missed saying why I wanted to go 1TB on the Mini/iMac. Currently I'm running just shy of 400 GB. About 1/2 of that is our Photos library (10+ years of photos and that's with already extracting all the home videos to put in iTunes, now Movies, instead), which I could potentially move to the external drive, but on the current iMac, when I tried running it off the external, it ended up being drastically slower operating than it currently is. So I'm back to running it from the local drive for now. I wanted to leave myself room for growth so figured bumping to the iMac's starting 1TB is a good comparison.

And no, I haven't reviewed the possible resale market. Thanks, I'll look into that.
 
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D.T.

macrumors G4
Sep 15, 2011
11,051
12,436
Vilano Beach, FL
Ah, yes, I missed saying why I wanted to go 1TB on the Mini/iMac. Currently I'm running just shy of 400 GB. About 1/2 of that is our Photos library (10+ years of photos and that's with already extracting all the home videos to put in iTunes, now Movies, instead), which I could potentially move to the external drive, but on the current iMac, when I tried running it off the external, it ended up being drastically slower operating than it currently is. So I'm back to running it from the local drive for now. I wanted to leave myself room for growth so figured bumping to the iMac's starting 1TB is a good comparison.


FWIW, if you go with a high speed TB3 specific external setup, they're incredibly fast, not quite internal storage, but approaching it within ~10-15% for many operations. I'm running a TekQ TB3 enclosure, with a Sabret 1TB SSD stick, all my large media libraries stored on it, it's awesome, connected to my '18 Mini i7 with 512GB storage.
 
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jeyf

macrumors 68020
Jan 20, 2009
2,129
1,012
power consumption
if you leave a desk top running you can set up the sleep mode and power should not be an issue. The bad side on this is at least for Mojave macOS behaves odd for the sleep thingy.

"10+y of photos & videos"
you should immediately start backing up this stuff.
you should look into setting up a simple 3 or 4 bay home NAS box. Put the box next to where ever your router is and be done with it. there are a few brands; Qnap (i am having issues with my 1 year old Qnap and cant recommend it) but consider Drobo or Synology. Home photos, music, tax records and etc are not going away any time soon. 6 or 10 TB are not large hard drives these days. You should back up at least 2 or 3 levels. Just a NAS box is more professional approach than hanging Amazon drives off a local desk top.

A 2014 iMac is getting very old. Just saying. I am sure a TB3 port is fast.

I really got burnt on a butterfly MBP. Apple is not lowering their price to match the decreased reliability. Apple will do what they want but you can too. Your son would benefit having a Windows computer at home along with the old iMac or a new mac mini.
 
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Ah, yes, I missed saying why I wanted to go 1TB on the Mini/iMac. Currently I'm running just shy of 400 GB. About 1/2 of that is our Photos library (10+ years of photos and that's with already extracting all the home videos to put in iTunes, now Movies, instead), which I could potentially move to the external drive, but on the current iMac, when I tried running it off the external, it ended up being drastically slower operating than it currently is. So I'm back to running it from the local drive for now. I wanted to leave myself room for growth so figured bumping to the iMac's starting 1TB is a good comparison.

And no, I haven't reviewed the possible resale market. Thanks, I'll look into that.
By the way, is your "office" iMac a 2012 or 2014 model?
 
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Syrgul

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 17, 2015
57
45
FWIW, if you go with a high speed TB3 specific external setup, they're incredibly fast, not quite internal storage, but approaching it within ~10-15% for many operations. I'm running a TekQ TB3 enclosure, with a Sabret 1TB SSD stick, all my large media libraries stored on it, it's awesome, connected to my '18 Mini i7 with 512GB storage.
The external USB3 WD drive is handling the rest of the Media libraries just fine. Got almost 2 TB of Music, Movies, Home Movies, TV Shows, etc... and those are running fine. I don't think they need to load as much as Photos does. Photos on the other hand, almost hangs when trying to load a 175 GB Photos library from an external drive.


power consumption
if you leave a desk top running you can set up the sleep mode and power should not be an issue. The bad side on this is at least for Mojave macOS behaves odd for the sleep thingy.

"10+y of photos & videos"
you should immediately start backing up this stuff.
you should look into setting up a simple 3 or 4 bay home NAS box. Put the box next to where ever your router is and be done with it. there are a few brands; Qnap (i am having issues with my 1 year old Qnap and cant recommend it) but consider Drobo or Synology. Home photos, music, tax records and etc are not going away any time soon. 6 or 10 TB are not large hard drives these days. You should back up at least 2 or 3 levels. Just a NAS box is more professional approach than hanging Amazon drives off a local desk top.

A 2014 iMac is getting very old. Just saying. I am sure a TB3 port is fast.

I really got burnt on a butterfly MBP. Apple is not lowering their price to match the decreased reliability. Apple will do what they want but you can too. Your son would benefit having a Windows computer at home along with the old iMac or a new mac mini.

Yep, I've got my time machine doing backups to a 1TB Time Capsule. I haven't been backing up the 2TB of Music, Movies, etc... though.

By the way, is your "office" iMac a 2012 or 2014 model?

Having had a chance to double check, it's a 2014 model.
 
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D.T.

macrumors G4
Sep 15, 2011
11,051
12,436
Vilano Beach, FL
The external USB3 WD drive is handling the rest of the Media libraries just fine. Got almost 2 TB of Music, Movies, Home Movies, TV Shows, etc... and those are running fine. I don't think they need to load as much as Photos does. Photos on the other hand, almost hangs when trying to load a 175 GB Photos library from an external drive.

Yeah, my ~200GB photos library on my external - formatted in APFS (using iCloud photos) - loads instantly, there's not really any notable difference vs. my (fast) internal storage :) Obviously there's just some general performance differences in the machine, but these current gen Macs with TB3 with a TB3/NVMe PCIe drive have spectacular external performance.
 
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Syrgul

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 17, 2015
57
45
Oh, and on the resale market.... Man, people must be crazy? The prices I'm seeing people asking for these is like only a couple hundred less than I bought it new 6ish years ago.
 
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Oh, and on the resale market.... Man, people must be crazy? The prices I'm seeing people asking for these is like only a couple hundred less than I bought it new 6ish years ago.
I saw some crazy price variations also for the late 2012 Mac Mini I recently sold. Believe it or not, I have the best success with using craigslist for selling my stuff. True, you'll get some "flakes" who just post for the fun of it. But patience is the key. While the mini sold rather fast, it took longer for me to sell the two Samsung Cell Phones. But in the end, it all worked out well. Also, list the iMac "somewhat" higher, but be ready to negotiate. That's what I had to do. Also helps if you have the original box, especially if you need to ship it (but see below). And finally install the latest version of Catalina on it.

Oh, for craigslist, I always include the verbiage "Local buyers only. Cash only". For the mini, I actually did have offers from 2 local buyers, but I eventually sold it to an individual in Portland, Oregon (I am located just south of Seattle). I had the original box, and shipping, via UPS, was only $12 (got there in 1 day). So that was somewhat of an exception.

Additionally, as you post more and more details, it seems best for you to get a new iMac, and sell the old one. For the new iMac, is the 1 TB internal drive a standard HD, or an SSD? And if it's a HD, what is its rotational speed? Hopefully 7200 rpm, and not 5400 rpm!
 
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Syrgul

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 17, 2015
57
45
I saw some crazy price variations also for the late 2012 Mac Mini I recently sold. Believe it or not, I have the best success with using craigslist for selling my stuff. True, you'll get some "flakes" who just post for the fun of it. But patience is the key. While the mini sold rather fast, it took longer for me to sell the two Samsung Cell Phones. But in the end, it all worked out well. Also, list the iMac "somewhat" higher, but be ready to negotiate. That's what I had to do. Also helps if you have the original box, especially if you need to ship it (but see below). And finally install the latest version of Catalina on it.

Oh, for craigslist, I always include the verbiage "Local buyers only. Cash only". For the mini, I actually did have offers from 2 local buyers, but I eventually sold it to an individual in Portland, Oregon (I am located just south of Seattle). I had the original box, and shipping, via UPS, was only $12 (got there in 1 day). So that was somewhat of an exception.

Additionally, as you post more and more details, it seems best for you to get a new iMac, and sell the old one. For the new iMac, is the 1 TB internal drive a standard HD, or an SSD? And if it's a HD, what is its rotational speed? Hopefully 7200 rpm, and not 5400 rpm!

First, yep, already running Catalina on both machines. Secondly, the base Retina iMac comes with 5400 HD, but I was doing my price comparison using the 1TB Fusion drive (+$125.00). The SSD upgrade for a 1TB was +$750, which is a bit outside my price range. If I go Mini, it's an SSD, so there is that....
 
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Syrgul

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 17, 2015
57
45
From what I can tell from Google searches, yeah, the Fusion is still just a 5400 PRM drive, but paired with a SSD that acts like a swap with the HD, so it's supposed to be a bit faster. I've never used one, haven't tested one, etc.. so I don't know how it all works exactly, but my gut feeling is that that kind of architecture would only be faster on writes. Reads might be faster, but only for identified files that live in the SSD vs having to read from the drive. So, things like our Photos library would probably still be slow because it's too large to live in the SSD swap, but the 2kb spreadsheet I use to track our monthly bills should load blazingly fast no problem.... Which, you, know, is already fast cause it's like only 2kb.

The more and more I think through this, the more convinced I am that the Mini might be the way to go for the 'office' machine. The ability to resell the iMacs, at even 1/2 what I see the going rates are, could make up a big chunk of change for any cost differences.

Course, I need to get through tax season first to see where the funds lay before I can commit to anything. Thanks for the help talking me though this everyone.
 
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chown33

Moderator
Staff member
Aug 9, 2009
9,140
5,707
Hellanback
...
Course, I need to get through tax season first to see where the funds lay before I can commit to anything. Thanks for the help talking me though this everyone.
The Treasury Department says you don't need to pay any taxes owed by April 15. You still need to file a return or an extension by April 15, but payments can be deferred.

The bottom of that article has a link to the complete notice (PDF), which should be read carefully for details.

I got an email from my accountant yesterday about this, so many may not know about it yet.
 
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Syrgul

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 17, 2015
57
45
Unfortunately, I don't the CRA has made a similar announcement yet, so yeah, still need to get mine done here in Canada.
 
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