Is the new Mac Mini worth it?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by a19, Apr 5, 2009.

  1. a19 macrumors newbie

    Apr 5, 2009
    I've been planning/wanting a Mac Mini for quite some time now (it'll be my first mac if I buy it), but whenever I contemplated the next move, I was faced with the constant questions:
    • Is it going to be worth the money?
    • Is the hardware going to last in the long run?
    • What about my current PC?!
    These questions possibly arise because I'm not sure I need it as much as I want it.

    The third question is probably the most important one for me, because my current PC's working fine, and it's not too much trouble. The specs are as follows:
    • Intel Pentium 4 CPU @ 2.66 GHz
    • 512MB RAM
    • 40GB HHD
    • A GeForce FX5200 (64MB)
    • A DVD/CD Drive+Burner
    So it's not the awesomest computer ever. It's not even latest by some standards. But I've managed to scrunch up games like Halo and NFS:Carbon and they run without *much* trouble. Apart from that, my PC runs pretty good as it is and does everything without making me complain about it's speed, processing times, or anything of the sort.

    This brings me to the next topic.
    I'll be using the computer mostly for designing (Photoshop; which also ran somewhat smooth on my current computer), some gaming (as mentioned), and other light uses (web browsing, office suites, etc). Occasionally, I'll wear a programmer's hat and sweat it out in C++ or something.

    Finally, I'm considering a Mini specifically because I have an *awesome* Sony monitor, and I don't want to trash it.

    So, should I buy one? Or should I stick the PC I have?

    *PS: I was considering the $599 one.

    Thank you for your time :)
  2. Eidorian macrumors Penryn


    Mar 23, 2005
    You'll be fine with the base model Mac mini and bumping up the RAM to at least 2 GB.
  3. J&JPolangin macrumors 68030

    Jul 5, 2008
    Thule GL @ the TOW
    I was also considering a new mini but then thought about a whitebook for not alot more $$, then realized at that price point a previous gen iMac was the way to go for feature to $$ ratio.

    Have you considered maxing out your RAM on your PC, that's cheap and would give it a good performance increase also...
  4. ditzy macrumors 68000


    Sep 28, 2007
    It sounds like you are pretty happy with your PC. However the mini would be an improvement in every way. If you want a new mini, the only good reason not to get one, would be if you could not afford it.
  5. iknowyourider macrumors 6502a


    Mar 26, 2008
    ^^^All good answers. Go Get It! You will love it. Yes, it is worth it for a Mac.
  6. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    Why don't you just upgrade the RAM/HD in your current machine?
  7. clevin macrumors G3


    Aug 6, 2006
    first, you don't NEED it.

    then, check the game compatibility to see if your game works with OSX. chances are they do not, if thats the case, why bother buy a mac then put windows on it?

    also, why new mini? you can get cheaper old model, which works just fine. Unless your game specifically said you need new mini, which I doubt.

    Lastly, do keep in mind the memory update in mini is very difficult, I did it, but its not pleasant in any way.

    I do suggest you try out a mac, so you wont have any regret later, but $599 is just too much for my taste, especially the changes over the old model are those that can hardly been felt by users.
  8. jtgotsjets macrumors 6502


    May 20, 2004
    Lawrence, KS
    It is always a good time to switch from PC to Mac. Even if your PC is currently adequate, I think you'll find that OSX will totally change your computing world. The mini you're looking at, if you max the RAM before purchasing, should last you many years (especially given that your relatively outdated PC hardware [no offense meant, honest—I'm running essentially equivalent hardware in my iBook] is working fine for you). People that don't have cutting-edge needs are typically able to use the same Mac for years upon years—I'm sure there are people on these forums running decade-old machines still. Check out for an idea of what I'm talking about.
  9. timestoby macrumors 6502

    Jun 10, 2007
    north devon,uk
    haha my old pc is the same specs as say the mac mini would most deffo give you a boost in multitasking,plus the graphics would help with hd movies.

    plus you can hook up two monitors with the mac mini which is good
  10. flopticalcube macrumors G4


    Sep 7, 2006
    In the velcro closure of America's Hat
    Halo on an FX5200? You must be a masochist. :D

    If you don't NEED to upgrade you should probably wait. In six months or so they should start appearing on the refurb site for up to $100 off and you may be able to snag one with Snow Leopard by then. If you game you will definitely need to dual boot to run XP or Win 7. If you want to learn to program for the Mac or iPhone/iPod touch then the mini would be ideal.
  11. a19 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 5, 2009
    Aloha there.

    Thank you for all your replies! It seems like I really should go for the Mini.
    And maybe I should max out the RAM like Eidorian and jtgotsjets said.

    @clevin, the old mac mini didn't feature the GeForce 9400M for graphics. Since installing Windows is no issue (I have the CD), the GeForce is the essential component that'll allow me to run NFS:Carbon, or other games of the sort. But you're right when you say there's no real point in buying a Mac when I'm eventually just going to put Windows on it. I guess I'll switch over to Windows just for gaming...

    @flopticalcube, I really haven't heard positive reviews about the refurbs..and doesn't Apple let you update from Leopard to Snow Leopard for free? :confused:

    Well, all things considered, the Mini seems really good. But, the superhuge problem of "What am I going to do with my current PC?" now emerges, considering there's nothing wrong with it. :p
    Any ideas? Some creative repurposing? :p

    Anyway, thanks again for all your replies :) :D
  12. clevin macrumors G3


    Aug 6, 2006
    give it to me, I can pm your my address :D

    or give to to whoever you like

    or put it on ebay.
  13. neiltc13 macrumors 68040


    May 27, 2006
    I disagree. It was a good time to switch from PC to Mac in 2004 and 2005 when Windows was at rock bottom and Tiger came along to show everyone how it's done. Nowadays though, XP SP3 and Vista SP1 are so solid and Apple has taken steps backwards in terms of stability with Leopard. In my opinion, currently they are all pretty much even. Microsoft has shown great promise with early versions of Windows 7 and Apple appears to be taking a huge risk in rewriting much of the core of the OS which it is so famous for.

    I am sick of the "you must get 4GB RAM argument. I do pretty similar things to the OP and my MacBook has just 2GB RAM. I have no problems and I would advise against upgrading to 4GB unless you are going to be performing multiple intensive tasks simultaneously. If someone's using Photoshop CS3 today, they aren't going to need more RAM to do that in 5 years' time.

    The same can be said of any computer.

    What you really need to do is decide if you want a laptop minus the screen. That's what Apple's 'desktops' (except Mac Pro) are. You pay a LOT of money for the miniaturisation of the components and right now Apple has just raised the price of these computers in many markets. Where I live, you can get a MacBook for a fraction more than the lowest Mac mini.

    I would advise you to look at computers from all manufacturers. Have a look and see what Dell, Acer and others can do, or even consider building the computer yourself. I guarantee you that you will get a computer which destroys the Mac mini in performance for the same money.
  14. clevin macrumors G3


    Aug 6, 2006
    i agree, the page by page "max out memory" culture in this Mac community, coupled with the claim of "OSX isn't resource hog" is just so amusing.
  15. flopticalcube macrumors G4


    Sep 7, 2006
    In the velcro closure of America's Hat
    A couple of threads going around about refurb quality at the moment. The bottom line is that they are indistinguishable from new, particularly for a desktop. My mini was refurb and came in absolutely mint condition.

    Snw Leopard will be like evey other OSX release most likely, $79 unless you buy a machine within 30 days of its release. Refurbs may be an exception, however, so its best to wait until Snow Leopard is released and you are guaranteed to get it with your refurb.
  16. clevin macrumors G3


    Aug 6, 2006
    i thought it has always been $129?
  17. flopticalcube macrumors G4


    Sep 7, 2006
    In the velcro closure of America's Hat
    Your right, I was thinking about edu pricing. Sorry.
  18. clevin macrumors G3


    Aug 6, 2006
    not a problem, just also want to mention that edu price also varies from college to college. Some colleges offer it for $69, some do $119.
  19. barkmonster macrumors 68020


    Dec 3, 2001
    I totally agree. It's all about what the user wants to run under OS X to start with.

    If I've just got Firefox and iTunes open, I use 4.3Gb of VRAM and 430Mb of physical RAM, leaving nearly 600Mb of physical RAM left out of the 1Gb total RAM I have.

    If I run anything heavy like Pro Tools LE, it uses ALL the physical RAM instantly and my system is noticeably less snappy until I quit the application. so I'd say for general usage 1Gb is enough but for any creative use, there's no such thing as too much RAM.

    I know this is on a Powermac under Tiger, I've got no idea how efficient an intel mac with leopard actually is but you'd assume progress means better usage of resources, not squandering them to force a system upgrade by making you're mac progressively slower with every update.
  20. michael.lauden macrumors 68020


    Dec 25, 2008
    if you are going for a mini i would definitely say to look into some older models and do some researching first.

    my Mini was out in Sept '06 and is still kickin' butt today - and if it stops kicking butt... well... i can always upgrade the processor (which is something you can't do with the new mini).

    if you don't mind knowing you don't have the newest model i don't see why you would want to spend 3-400 more dollars on a newer model with slightly better hardware - especially if you are going more recent.

    anything with a Intel Core Duo or C2D is worth having. however if you plan to upgrade you could buy a Core Solo and still upgrade it to the max of a 2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo.

    it's all about what you want to spend. but with my 1.66 Core Duo buzzing along playing HD movies and running Photoshop+Office perfectly, i don't see a reason to upgrade :)

    i also wouldn't pay extra for Leopard as Snow Leopard is coming out sometime late this year.

    take a look at the time line. this will be a good start if you plan to buy used.
  21. txnoob macrumors 6502

    Mar 12, 2009
    I've seen you complain about the stability of Leopard and praise how great windows is a few times before, and I just don't get it. I'm not a fan boy of either, they each have purposes for me. And if you like one better than the other well that's fine too. I have 6 computers. The 3 machines in my sig and the below:

    1 Intel Centrino 1.7ghz IBM Think pad w/ 2GB Ram (Windows XP SP3)
    1 Custom built AMD X2 4600+ w/ 3GB Ram (Windows 7 Beta)
    1 ASUS Turion X2 1.9GhZ w/3GB Ram (Windows Vista SP3)

    The 3 Macs are on 10.5.6.

    The Macs are by far the most stable. I can leave all of them on for days, weeks, and they run flawlessly. The Windows Machines, especially the Vista Laptop can go maybe a day or 2 and it lags and gets extremely slow. The XP Laptop is doing well now because it's a fresh install. But from years of experience, when you start adding software they start to bog down. Removing all necessary items from startup and registry cleaning only helps so much. XP still has huge memory holes that doesn't recover after programs are closed. And the windows 7 box, while it seems snappier, it just doesn't seem to be bringing about the changes that are necessary to create a new and life breathing OS to Microsluff. Not to mention the Antivirus and Spyware programs that are REQUIRED to avoid catastrophe on your machine also slow down performance.

    I've been a windows user for years, but lately (the last 9 months) OS X has been such a breath of fresh air in terms of reliability, virus/trojan vulnerability (no it's not perfect) and usability. To me the only upgrades to Windows have all ben aesthetic.

    jtgotsjets never said "you must get 4GB RAM". What he said was:
    " if you max the RAM before purchasing, should last you many years"
    Meaning that if he did it now, he would experience the benefits for years to
    come, and not have to do it later. I honestly with my use didn't notice the difference between 2GB to 4GB, but since I did the upgrade myself and it only cost $60, why the heck not?

    What the user may do in the future may require more RAM and new software that's release may, and most likely will, have higher system requirements. What if the OP wants to run Fusion or Parallels? While it may not be a must, maxing out the ram is not a BAD suggestion.

    The issue with this statement is, besides going the "Hackintosh" route, you cannot get the Mac OS any other way. Not only that, a lot of the apps for casual users are so well integrated and much easier to use and cost much less than PC alternatives. iLife and iWork as examples. There's nothing as easy to use as iWeb, iMovie, or iDVD for the PC. I would argue that iWork is not an adequate replacement for MS Office Suite, but it's also Half the cost or more. The operating system is the prime jewel on the Mac platform. So to me what you really need to decide is do you want a change to a new way of computing, or do you want a faster computer on the same platform. You can have a computer 3 times as fast as a Mac spec wise, and still be stuck with Windows. From what I understand, the OP is fine with his current windows machine, and more that he wants to try something new.
  22. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Feb 12, 2007
    Neander Valley, Germany; just outside Duesseldorf
    I think there's only one Mac desktop worth buying and that's the Mini; but only if Snow Leopard's use of OpenCL is as good as Apple says it will be.

    Otherwise, hackintosh. :mad:
  23. clyde2801 macrumors 601


    Mar 6, 2008
    In the land of no hills and red dirt.
    Open Office is free.
  24. txnoob macrumors 6502

    Mar 12, 2009
    Okay, this statement is just wrong.

    The new Mini has nVidia 9400 graphics chipeset. No it's not the best, but it KILLS the intel 950GMA graphics. This will be more significant in SL from what I gather.

    The new Mini has a base 2.0GHz processor with 3MB of L2 Cache, while yours has a 1.66GHz processor w/ 2mb of L2 Cache.

    The new mini has 1066Mhz FSB, while yours has 667Mhz.

    The new mini has Wireless N, while your mini has Wireless b/g.

    The new mini has DDR3 running at 1066 MHZ and using up to 4GB, and yours has DDR2 running at 667Mhz up to 2GB.

    The new mini has Firewire 800 and 5USB ports, your has Firewire 400 and 4USB ports.

    The new mini has Superdrive standard on the base model, yours was an upgrade.

    I'm not knocking your machine, because as you stated it does exactly what you need. It would probably even work fine for the OP. But to claim that the difference are only slight, is not accurate. Of all the machines reviewed for the 2009 models, the changes to the mini were most significant.
  25. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Feb 12, 2007
    Neander Valley, Germany; just outside Duesseldorf
    This isn't functionally true. While the 950 Mini has a socketed processor, those cpus are getting difficult to find, and will only get more difficult since they are out of production. In addition, I have no doubt that a 9400 2 gHz Mini would swamp a 2.16 gHz 950 Mini.

    I'd say the new Mini is substantially better than the 950 Mini.

    The biggest problems with this (other than the skill needed for a cpu transplant) is the difficulty finding the proper T7600 and the 2 gb RAM limit.

    While I'm sure it works for you, yours is substantially limited in its playback abilities for 1080p content, unless it's at a low bit rate (which defeats the point of having 1080p content in the first place).

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