Is Mac Mini really that power efficient? (For use as Server)

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Adamantoise, Oct 7, 2011.

  1. Adamantoise, Oct 7, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2011

    Adamantoise macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2011
    #1
    Hey guys, I currently have a 13" 2011 Macbook Pro (Lion) and a Dell XPS 8100 desktop (Windows 7).

    I want to have a machine act as a server in my home so I can VPN and FTP to it from any internet connection. However, I'm not sure either of these machines are suitable for that task ... Laptop for battery reasons (maybe?) and Desktop for power consumption reasons (insignificant?)

    For this reason I was considering a low power option like the Mini ... But if I buy the Mini then my desktop has to go (depending how much I get for it) ... I cannot justify owning both of them as I am not rich.

    Specifications of the Dell XPS 8100:
    Quad core i7-860 2.8GHz (Lynnfield)
    2 x 1TB SATA II (RAID 0)
    8GB 1600Mhz RAM
    ATI Radeon 5770 HD
    Blu-Ray ROM/DVD Writer
    DVD Writer
    19 in 1 Media Card Reader

    ... Regardless of which Mini I choose, it's a step down in specifications, but the important thing is I don't need all that power. Most tasking thing I do is Adobe Photoshop CS5, Adobe Lightroom 3, and Civilization V.

    What would you do in my shoes? I believe the Dell has a ~500W PSU, leaving this on 24/7 compared to the 85W PSU ... Is it really significant?

    Should I just invest my time in setting up the server on my Windows computer? Will setting it up on OS X make the server less vulnerable to breaches?

    Please advise. Thank you!
     
  2. rokey macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2011
    Location:
    NC
    #2
    Getting rid of Windows and going all Mac, that has appeal all it's own. Plus it increases the simplicity of your home to be on one OS.
    Power consumption of that big tower vs the Mac mini is a sincere consideration if you are a consumption aware person, as we all should be. Though, you can't measure the MAX power vs MAX power, it's all about the power used to perform the task. Servers for single user FTP use very little CPU process compared to server for single user VPN, neither of which use a great amount.
    The MM can certainly VPN and FTP from anywhere, I do it everyday, nearly.
    Speaking from experience, turning a laptop into a server is a bad idea... you will always be wanting to close the lid and take it with you, and you will... thus your server is offline. If you argue this point with, "well if the stuff I want is on the computer I have with me, it's ok for me to close it and go..." then, why are we talking about a server at all?
    Yes, all variations of the MM will be less powerful than the tower you own, but realistically, most people can't harness the power of that tower anyways. It has a nice processor, nice RAM, and nice Graphics Card, but the HDDs will be the "weakest link" it appears. So in all honesty, a base MM with a $100 SSD (fast read and write speeds, low capacity, but big enough for OS and Apps) could "smoke it" any day.
    I run CS5 on 2011 base MM with 8GB RAM, and it's great! Looking to get the SSD I mentioned above, but mainly to decrease boot and load times for Apps.

    Security:
    This is all about the setup, regardless of what Server OS (or Apps) you use. Some significant research on the web will help you decide what security measures to put into place. Also, consider what you're securing, what you're securing it from, and how secure it needs to be based of how secure that really is. Sometimes a great password can be enough. Consider using all characters on the keyboard. I read an article recently about password creation on Lifehacker, it was great and insightful!

    Hope this helps!
     
  3. Adamantoise thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2011
    #3
    Thank you!

    You confirmed my suspicion that I didn't need the Server version to actually turn the Mini into a server.

    So regardless of power supply power consumed depends on tasks performed? So I might not even be saving money with the Mini?
     
  4. rokey macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2011
    Location:
    NC
    #4
    No, a server version is not needed to serve things.
    I would bet (without doubt) that the Mac Mini would consume a lot less power to do the same things that your tower does. Thus, yes you could still save money on the power, but not enough to outright buy a MM. Your tower could serve too, but I haven't tried this myself and do not know what goes into making it work.
     
  5. scenemissing macrumors member

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    Jun 18, 2010
    #5
  6. Adamantoise thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2011
    #6
    Well I'm not just buying the Mini to act as a Server, it will be my primary computer. It's the reason I'm considering the Mid version, but I'll try setting it up on my Windows machine first and seeing how convenient it is.
     
  7. DustinT macrumors 68000

    DustinT

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2011
    #7
    Here's my network at home

    Mac Mini, base model with 8g ram
    Drobo Pro, 8 bay storage unit, 14.5 terabytes of disk space
    Apple Airport Extreme

    My UPS tells me that this network idles at 30 watts of power and when I'm using it fully, say transcoding some video and performing a Time Machine backup the power will spike to 70-80 watts total.

    I suspect you'd find your Dell draws considerably more power. After all, the power supply in that large unit will waste considerably more watts. They just aren't that efficient.
     
  8. jmcgeejr macrumors 6502

    jmcgeejr

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2010
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #8
    I have the 2.5 mini with upgraded graphics, just idle or nothing cpu intensive my UPS shows 14 watts of usage (that's with some usb devices as well plugged in), I leave mine on all the time, I have a good VPN client and I ended up buying Crushftp server, it's amazing and well worth the money.
     
  9. Adamantoise thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2011
    #9
    Well this is a dilemma, I've seen my Macbook Pro handle Civ V and it's horrible at it.

    This alone is making me want to buy the dGPU version of the Mini, but at the same time, I would very much like the quad core ... Decisions decisions.
     
  10. DustinT macrumors 68000

    DustinT

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2011
    #10
    Ya, they really are incredible.
     
  11. jmcgeejr macrumors 6502

    jmcgeejr

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2010
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #11
    don't forget the dual cores have 4 threads.
     
  12. philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2010
    Location:
    Howell, New Jersey
    #12
    If you buy from apple they have a 2 week return policy. buy a kill a watt meter it is about 25 dollars from amazon

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-list...s&ie=UTF8&qid=1318162700&sr=1-1&condition=new


    buy the mini run it for a day check the power use. you will never pull more then 60 watts > use the meter on the dell you will pull 200 to 300 watts. This difference will come to about 150-200 watts an hour or 1 kilo-watt every 5 hours or about 5 kilo-watts a day about 150 kilo-watts a month.

    Well at 15 to 30 cents a kilo-watt you save 22.50 to 45 USD a month. That is 270 to 540 a year.


    Of course this is a rough estimate. But It is close It won't be a case of only saving 50 bucks a year an it won't be a case of saving 1000 bucks a year. Some countries charge more then 30 cents a kilo-watt I know of a guy that is on a Caribbean Island like the Virgin Islands and he pays 38 cents a Kilo-watt. I am in NJ and pay about 23 cents.


    Also by buying the mini you get to see if it can do the work you want.
     
  13. Adamantoise thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2011
    #13
    Well I've decided against getting rid of my Dell XPS 8100 ... I think I'll just hold on to it as it's easily upgradable and I won't get much for it anyway.

    I'm now considering just getting a base Mac Mini and buying Lion Server from the App Store. Should be fine I think ... It'll only be handling 2 or 3 clients at a time anyway.

    I don't know how much of a hassle it is to install a second HDD in the non Server Minis but depending on how much of a hassle it is, I might just skip this plan altogether.
     
  14. dlimes13 macrumors 6502a

    dlimes13

    Joined:
    May 3, 2011
    Location:
    Perrysburg, OH
    #14
    I'm currently in a similar situation. I currently have an FTP server and use FileZilla Server (so easy to setup and use). I have not found anything equivalent to that for the Mac. I would like to go to a Mini and have a few dual-bay (or quad-bay) enclosures for the drives, but my biggest concerns are:

    Easy-to-use FTP software like FileZilla
    DVD Ripping like DVD Shrink (under Mac w/ out Boot Camp)

    The 2nd one is a minor, but the first is a major. I would like freeware if possible.

    My current server it just generating too much heat and I would like to down-size as much as possible, and the Mini would be perfect. 2-3 Quad bay enclosures via USB to host, 1-2 external DVD/Blu-Ray Burners for ripping, etc. There are never more than 3 users on my FTP at a time, and most of the time it's for personal use for when on the road, so power is not an issue. The base model would be perfect, w/ 8GB RAM of course.
     
  15. jmcgeejr macrumors 6502

    jmcgeejr

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2010
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #15
    I can assure you that I too went from a PC to mac and I could not find anything that was as good and free like Filezilla, I spent months on this, I use a couple that were free and they were horrible, some created new accounts and modified file permissions etc etc, and were horrible, others you couldn't pick and choose directory permissions it was all or nothing. As I stated I went with crushftp, it's not free but really after spending the 40 on it I thought wow I can't believe I was so cheap to not get this right off the bat. It has very little cpu usage the gui is great and very easy to use, plus it's not just FTP, it's http/https or SFTP, and the owner of the software responds to emails quickly and professionally.

    I have my drives in an enclosure as well.

    For DVD Ripping Mac the Ripper or Handbrake work excellent on the mini.
     

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