Is quad-core worth the extra cash?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Oujmik, Oct 23, 2012.

  1. Oujmik macrumors member

    Oct 23, 2012
    Have been holding on for the new mac mini. Like many I was disappointed to see no discrete graphics (but perhaps thunderbolt will provide?), but pleased that I can buy a machine similar to the 2011 mid-range mini for substantially less.

    Now I'm trying to decide whether to buy the base model and upgrade RAM and add SSD later, or plump for the mid-model and get i7 and the possibility of a fusion drive out of the box. Basically, I don't give a hoot about the extra 500GB of space, so I am paying £180 (UK) to change from the i5 to the i7. Would this make a big difference for Aperture or games given that I am stuck with the HD4000 anyway? I guess Aperture can multi-thread pretty effectively, but can other applications take advantage of the quad-core? It's not like I'll be doing heavy processor work all day long.

    My main use of the machine is as a media centre for streaming video and TV, plus a reasonable amount of photo editing in Aperture and some occasional gaming (I'd like to be able to run Starcraft II in 1920x1080 on high settings, and have a sporting chance of running any modern game on low settings at native resolution). My current 2009 Mac Mini is showing it's age, but I'd like to see a very substantial upgrade to make it worth the cash and the hassle.
  2. Fifemacuser macrumors member

    Mar 16, 2012
    Just posted a similar question in another thread. Machine will be used for a bit of gaming and homework for the kids as well as the usual browsing etc. interested to see what folk think, but given the price increases a % of the low end mini ost I amid tending towards the dual core myself.:confused:
  3. Mojo1 macrumors 65816

    Jul 26, 2011
    There are some tests at that may help you decide. Here is how Passmark ranks the Mini options. The first number is the Passmark test score; the second number is the CPU ranking.

    3210M 2.5 DualCore i5 3995/269

    3615QM 2.3 QuadCore i7 6738/101
    3720QM 2.6 QuadCore i7 8669/58

    I was going to get the base model but after some research and thinking I ordered the 2.3 and 16GB RAM from Crucial. Both should arrive Friday.
  4. ctone macrumors member

    Nov 28, 2006
    I have this question too (also posted in another thread), and would like some opinions.

    I don't really need the extra power now, but I keep my computers a very long time, and keep them for other uses even longer, so extra power gives them extra useable time in service.

    Based on Geekbench scores for the 2011 Sandy Bridge mini models, the quad-core i7 is 46% faster than the dual-core i5. The price difference on the new 2012 models comes out to 33% more for the mini with the quad core i7.

    I was planning on getting the base model, but am now considering stepping up to the quad-core, even for a basic office computer that won't be doing any heavy tasks beyond handing many thousands of photos in iPhoto and running several office type apps simultaneously.
  5. fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2008
    The 2.3 quad i7 is faster than the 2.0 quad i7 used in those tests, so the new models are more than 46% faster than the i5.

    I can use the quad core speed, but if I didn't need it, I wouldn't spend $200 more.
  6. Mojo1 macrumors 65816

    Jul 26, 2011
    Either Mini will work fine for what you or I tend to do. (I also run Aperture, Photoshop and some other image editing apps...)

    I usually keep my Macs until they poop-out or the resale value is still good enough to give me a chunk of cash toward my next computer. The Mini is replacing a 2006 24" iMac; the early 2011 13" MBP I bought in August 2011 replaced a 2008 15" MBP.

    My iMac with a dead optical drive may be worth around $200 on CraigsList; the 15" MBP covered the cost of the 13" MBP that I got for $909 during an Amazon sale...

    I figure that the i7/16GB RAM combo is going to keep my happy for up to five years. :)
  7. FlotationDevice macrumors newbie

    Aug 21, 2012
    My experience--if you use virtual machines to run Windows, quad-core can be a big boost for you.

    I use a dual-core i7 1.8 MacBook Air and a quad-core i7 2.0 Mac Mini (both Sandy Bridge models.

    For many day-to-day tasks I see no difference (e.g., office apps and web browsing).

    However I frequently run Windows 7 in a Fusion VM; this is where quad-core provides a good benefit. You can be quite busy in Windows 7 and still have two cores ready to handle the mac-side tasks. The dual core does lag for me on this.

    I also noticed ripping a DVD is faster on quad-core but this is not a frequent task for me.
  8. Mozino macrumors newbie

    Dec 5, 2012
    How intensive is your session on Windows?

    I'm trying to decide between dual core and quad core. I will be needing to use either Parallels or Fusion as well but not for a heavy duty application just some basic software. I'm wondering whether I need to have the quad core capability or whether the dual core could handle it fine. Or is it just a question of maxing out RAM.

    I am also worried about future proofing, how long before dual core CPUs become incompatible with future OS X's?
  9. Exodist, Dec 12, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2012

    Exodist macrumors member


    Dec 5, 2012
    Buenavista, Agusan Del Norte, Philippines
    Is a quad core worth the extra cash. Well this is a question you must ask your self.

    First off what kind of a computer user are you?

    Do you only surf, send photos, watch you tube /netflix /hulu, listen to music and little office work. Then NO a dual core i5 model is all you would ever need if not more. Your CPU prob sets at %5 work load on a busy day.

    But if you also encode music, make home videos, heavy photo editing, use VM Ware and/or any CAD or 3D graphics work. Then YES you would see the benefits of having a quad core processor. Keep in mind, if you do anything I just mentioned you need to upgrade your RAM to at least 8GB as well.

    Hope this helps..


    I dont see them becoming "incompatible" ever. Single cores are still fine, what the extra cores provide is better multitasking. Plus as refinement gets better on CPU fabrication, they are able to get more speed per core. So a single core 10 years from now could easily be faster then most dual cores of today. If they do phase out single core CPUs in the future, its not because they were to slow. It would be because production cost have got so cheap that manufactures only sell them that way to justify to consumers the cost of selling them period.

    Hope this helps.

    @OP, Back to my post about quad core. You can still do many of the things I mentioned with a dual core. They will just take a little longer. So if your on a budget you should be fine. But keep in mind you can always upgrade your RAM and Hard Drive later on, but what ever CPU you choose for your system you are married to for the life of your Mini. Its the one part that requires you replacing the entire logic board to upgrade. But dont fret, dual core is fine for most everyone unless your in a production environment were time is money.
  10. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    Or try to find a 2011-mid with Radeon if you can find it for the price of a new Entry Mini or below.
    That one is more than two times as fast as your current model (considering you have the 2.53 ghz c2d) with even more gain on the GPU. It is on par with the current basemodel on CPU, and sligtly faster than HD4000 (around 10-20% higher frame rates).
  11. Macclone macrumors 6502

    Mar 13, 2012
    I just ordered a quad core since I will have the machine for at least 6 years and if you figure the extra cost per month over 72 months it isn't much extra.
  12. Mozino macrumors newbie

    Dec 5, 2012
    Thanks for that. I think I will go for the base. The whole point of me getting the Mini is to save money, but didn't want to feel that the quad core would make a massive difference as I only use the computer for everyday tasks you mentioned there. I may use Parallels/Fusion/VM Ware but only for a basic program.

    I don't do any sort of work with graphics and have not a played a game on my computer apart from Football Manager around 7 years ago. So I don't think the integrated graphics is an issue for me.

    I will just max out the RAM and then wait a little longer to install an SSD. I think I will feel those improvements a lot more than a processor.
  13. gdeusthewhizkid macrumors 6502a


    Nov 14, 2008
    Im thinking of getting one of these mac minis they look real good. Im using it for logic pro 9 with a ton of vsts. Downloading tv shows, music, and movies from itunes and some iphoto edits. What configuration would you guys suggest?
  14. Macclone macrumors 6502

    Mar 13, 2012
    How much can you afford? Are you comfortable replacing parts on your own?
  15. gdeusthewhizkid macrumors 6502a


    Nov 14, 2008
    800. And yes I am. I'm in it. I'm a certified computer tech.
  16. throAU, Dec 12, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2012

    throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    Almost 2x the processing throughput for 25% more money.

    If you can afford it, sounds like a bargain to me.

    If you don't think you need it today fair enough, but it will give your machine a little bit of a longer usable life expectancy (i'd guess maybe an extra 12 months) - memory you can upgrade later, cpu is a lot harder/maybe not possible.
  17. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    You're likely to run out of support on something gpu related prior to quad core becoming a requirement. The Airs remain dual core chips. I wouldn't bother worrying about this at all until the day we at least have quad core ULV chips running in a Mac. Add two to three years from that date.
  18. MatthaiosSaraj macrumors member

    Nov 19, 2012
    Same dual vs quad core

    I'm having trouble deciding should I get dual or a quad core. I will use it for web and ios development and light VM usage (testing pages and programs in windows/linux).
    I'm buying it only because currently I can't afford an imac and getting an os x device would help me with ios development.
    I'm planning on giving it to my sister as soon as mini earns me an 27" imac. My sister uses computer for usual facebook, browsing, video,...
    So is 200€ more for quad reasonable for my usage and for such a short time. I'm currently using core 2 duo cpu so even i5 is a great speed boost.
    BTW how good is HD4000 compared to ATI HD 4330.
  19. gesnazo macrumors newbie

    Nov 25, 2012
    I was in your trouble and i got i5 dual base. That 200 € are saved for extra RAM and SSD.
    So far, i have no problem either Xcode or Photoshop.
  20. Mozino macrumors newbie

    Dec 5, 2012
    Well the quad core became attractive after I saw the benchmark scores. But then those scores only really test the maximum performance. As someone else said I will hardly, or ever at all, really do that much with the computer.

    I think the base is the way to go for me, and apparently it runs cooler, less noisy and with less power usage as well.

    Thanks for everyone's help.
  21. 53x12 macrumors 68000


    Feb 16, 2009
    Unless you are buying on the order of thousands of computers for a company, power usage is of minimal impact between the two CPUs. You won't notice the difference. Now maybe for a company that has several thousand computers and many of which are on 24/7, sure every little bit helps.

    Just get the fastest chip you can afford and meets your needs. Sounds like the i5 will do that for you.
  22. Mozino macrumors newbie

    Dec 5, 2012
    Oh man I only put that there because I like list of threes. Anyway cheers for the help.
  23. 53x12 macrumors 68000


    Feb 16, 2009
    I wasn't disagreeing with you because the i5 does use less power than the i7. I was just stating this probably doesn't matter to the general user but would for a large company with many many computers where that difference could lead to some cost savings over the life of the computer. That was all. But being green is good.

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