Is the Mini a Suitable iMac Alternative

Discussion in 'iMac' started by uptownnyc, Jul 18, 2012.

  1. uptownnyc macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2011
    #1
    In lieu of an iMac refresh, I'm considering going the Mac-mini route. Performance-wise, how close would a tricked-out Mac Mini with a Thunderbolt monitor compare to an iMac?

    I'm thinking MacMini Server to get the i7, and upgrade the drive to a less-expensive SSD than what Apple offers to keep the speed, but at a reduced price. I'm trying to find the downside of going this route, but not really seeing one, but then again, I've never owned an iMac.

    Can anyone with more iMac knowledge enlighten me to what trade-offs I'd be taking on by going this route?
     
  2. Confuzzzed macrumors 68000

    Confuzzzed

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2011
    Location:
    Liverpool, UK
    #2
    I had a mac mini server which I sold in anticipation of the new iMac. To me, the main difference was not having a dedicated GPU which was very frustrating on certain tasks. It also made it restricted to one monitor so bare that in mind. Certainly the mac mini has a lot going for it (I have been an owner of one since the 1st generation was released in 2005), BUT the prospects of doing a DIY install of SSD was beyond my competence levels. I looked at it, took advice, looked at numerous youtube videos and it requires small hands (which I haven't got). Probably been spoilt by having the speed of MBA but I really do want SSD. Beside that, there's a few more cables hanging out of a mac mini so less aesthetically pleasing. Good luck with whatever you decide to do
     
  3. Mike Valmike macrumors 6502a

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    Feb 27, 2012
    Location:
    Chandler, Arizona
    #3
    Well, first of all, I hope you'll at least wait until next Wednesday because if ML doesn't come with new iMacs, it may yet come with new Minis.

    To answer your question, I own both types of Mac and the Mini is a decent machine. The CPU clock speed options are not in the same neighborhood as the iMac's options, as they are mobile CPUs on the Mini, and the GPUs are similarly constrained. RAM has only two slots, good for at least 16GB despite Apple's claim that only 8GB is supported. Storage is limited; you have room for two 9mm drives, so an SSD and a small HDD or just two SSD. When you own a Mini, you have to accept that vast storage with fast access is only happening at the other end of a Thunderbolt cable. Slow storage is USB-able as always.

    All that said, I have a 2011 Mini Server with a quad-core i7 Sandy Bridge and 16GB of RAM that blows the pants off iMacs one generation older. So it's a matter of perspective. The equivalent generation iMac will ALWAYS be significantly faster, more powerful, more expandable, and run cooler, but the Mini still beats the previous year's tech in most cases.
     
  4. uptownnyc thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Mar 28, 2011
    #4
    Forgot about the dedicated GPU. Probably a deal-breaker for the type of work I intend to do. Thanks!
     
  5. bf2008 macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2008
    #5
    Well, although the original poster already ruled out the mini because he needs a discrete GPU, I think it's a good question. One thing it wasn't mentioned is that the mini + thunderbolt display will cost in the UK £900+£850=£1750, whereas the 27 inch imac with the same monitor will cost £1400 so there's a big price difference. In my opinion the Thunderbolt display is too overpriced (as usual for mac, hehe). If you get a third party 27 inch ISP monitor, it'll work out the same price for a mini plus the 27 inch monitor.
     
  6. uptownnyc thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Mar 28, 2011
    #6
    Yeah, I've actually already got an old Dell 2709W which is a decent 27" monitor. Not nearly as nice as a Thunderbolt display, but certainly an option if I wanted to save some cash.
     
  7. Confuzzzed macrumors 68000

    Confuzzzed

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2011
    Location:
    Liverpool, UK
    #7
    Of course if money is no object, the mid-range mac mini DOES have a discrete GPU and can also drive 2 screens. You can BTO for the i7 processor if you wanted and in some benchmarks (plenty of them about on these forums from July/August 2011), it would appear to be actually faster than the mac mini server.
     
  8. opt1mis macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2012
    #8
    Something to keep in mind is that with Mini and Thunderbolt display you can later get e.g. a laptop and you still got the 27" screen :rolleyes:
     
  9. bf2008 macrumors member

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    May 28, 2008
    #9
    Well, that's the problem with the iMac. By now everyone has a nice monitor at home. What do they expect us to do with it, throw it away? What about the environment? The iMac is a nice looking machine but after closer inspection it doesn't make sense.
    Bring a Mac Mini+ please! Twice as big as a Mac Mini but with 3.5HDD, quad core, dedicated graphics card, and uncompromised cooling.
     
  10. Duckypoos macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 7, 2012
    #10
    I'm heading down a similar route. But for me the thing that makes sense in getting a 27" and a mac mini is that I can upgrade / change the mac mini for a much smaller financial outlay every couple of years, yet retain the 27".
     

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