Looking to get my parents some new hardware, iMac vs. Mac Mini?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by neoelectronaut, Jun 5, 2017.

  1. neoelectronaut macrumors 68030


    Dec 3, 2003
    Southeastern Louisiana
    So my parents' PC is fairly old (running Windows 7) and is about time for an upgrade. I'd love to move them onto a Mac, but I dunno if I should go with the entry level iMac or entry level Mac Mini. Any reason I should pick one over the other?

    Also, what's the latest on remote desktop for Mac? I'd love to be able to remotely help with tech support via a remote desktop-style solution. I used to be able to do with with my girlfriend via iChat's "share screen" feature way back in '04 but that program has been all but dead for some time.

  2. campyguy macrumors 68040

    Mar 21, 2014
    Portland / Seattle
    +1 for an iMac.

    I have a couple of 27" 4k displays attached to my late-2013 rMBP via DP, and one of them is shared with a 2012 Mini Server. I'm in my mid-50s, and wear glasses. Personally, I'm all in on a new iMac with the updates issued today or an iMac Pro when they hit the street - honestly, working on my Mini for a length of time really wears on my eyes even though I use it solely for file management/hosting.

    Regarding computer maintenance, for work I use a not-cheap VNC app, but for personal use I recommend Screens ($30 on the MAS). I use Screens with an HDMI dongle to access my at-home Mini from an iPad Pro (https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00FLZXGJ6). A recent post by the Sweet Setup goes through a bunch of screen sharing options - http://thesweetsetup.com/apps/the-best-remote-access-solution-for-mac-and-ios/ - keep in mind that Screens is now at version 4; the iOS app is another $20 but you likely won't need that (I do!). There are free options, but I figured that $50 for the two Screens VNC apps costs about the same as 15 minutes of therapy…
  3. techwarrior macrumors 6502a


    Jul 30, 2009
    If they already have a decent monitor, the Mini is far less expensive and will do the trick. Any mouse and keyboard will work, but Apple mouse and keyboard and trackpad will enhance the Apple experience.

    The Messages app on Mac includes screen sharing similar to the old iChat. If you are on a Mac too, that is the simplest way once you get their Mac setup. Start a message dialog with them on your Mac, then click the Details link in the upper right corner and select the screen sharing icon. You can invite to share your screen, or ask the OP to share theirs. It also starts a voice session with them while doing the screen sharing, so plug in some USB headphones and skip the separate phone call.

    TeamViewer (free) is also a great way to do screen sharing, but requires them to tell you the password (it changes each time the app is launched by default).
  4. MRrainer macrumors 6502a

    Aug 8, 2008
    Zurich, Switzerland
    I use TeamViewer to "support" my mother.

    As for iMac vs. Mini - what's the budget?

    I suspect there will be new Minis shortly after the iMac pro is on sale. These Minis will probably be substantially faster than today's Minis (which are really pathetic, TBH).
  5. krause734 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 30, 2010
    Current Mini is 3 years old. iMac was just updated. I don't like All In Ones though simply because you have to replace everything when you want to upgrade. I see some refurbished Minis on www.apple.com. I'd suggest a new Windows machine but Windows 10 is getting mixed reviews.
  6. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    Do not, DO NOT, DO NOT buy an "entry level" Mini.
    They are hopelessly slow. You have been duly warned!

    The "minimum" Mini to buy would be the "midrange" model with the optional 1tb fusion drive.
    This will be a modestly snappy performer.

    How is your parents' eyesight?
    You might consider the 27" iMac "the minimum" due to the fact they can make the text larger for readability yet still have sufficient "screen real estate".

    If cost is a consideration, get a refurbished 27".

    Again, DO NOT buy ANY iMac with a platter-based hard drive.
    Like the Mini above, it will be terminally slow.

    Get something with either a fusion drive or a "straight" SSD.

    Also -- you'll probably need something with 8gb of RAM going forward.
    Pretty soon, 4gb isn't going to cut it any longer...
  7. jaduff46 macrumors 6502


    Mar 3, 2010
    Second star on the right....
    Assume portability is not a requirement.

    What's the timing? Nice to have or urgently need?

    Agree with @Fishrrman to not go for a platter based drive and if they/you can hold off a bit pending potential Mini and iMac upgrades at the lower end you might end up with viable current options to compare. Note that you'll need a monitor for the Mini.

    I've used TeamViewer and it works well for supporting people.

  8. MRrainer macrumors 6502a

    Aug 8, 2008
    Zurich, Switzerland
    The faster the CPU, the more apparent it will become that a "rotating rust" drive is not only feeling slow, but is in fact slow.

    In my mother's 2012 i5 Mini, with 16GB RAM, it's not too bad actually. It's noticeable, but as she doesn't run VMWare or anything super-heavy, it's doable.

    But if the CPU was faster (like a 2017 QC-i5), you'd notice it quite a bit, I assume.
    I do notice the slow hard drive in my 2008 iMac.
  9. techwarrior macrumors 6502a


    Jul 30, 2009
    Agreed. Midrange is decent with SSD or Fusion (15-20 second boot). It is OK with a spinning drive, but not for the impatient (1.5-2 min boot). I use a 2014 with 5400rpm drive @work, and same with an external SSHD drive (connected via Thunderbolt) @ home. The work machine is adequate once booted, but slow to boot.

    If you are inclined to replace the HDD with an SSD yourself, you can save a lot of $. Also consider refurbished machines from apple.com, they come with 1 year warranty, just like new.

    If price is not an issue, iMac is a great machine. But, it is 2-3x the price of a mini, and for most elderly folks, the mini is more than enough power for the basics.

    The 2.6GHz mini was offered on apple.com for $599 recently, with 5400rpm 1tb drive. For $100 and an hour of your time, you could swap the HDD for a 250GB SSD and drop the HDD in a USB enclosure for time machine backups, and maybe extra storage. Or, look at Seagate or WD hybrid drives, Amazon is selling a 2TB Seagate FireCuda for $89 ($59 for 1TB), link here. Use iFixit.com for HDD replacement guides which cover step by step.

    The SSHD drives are nearly as fast as SSD, but offer much more capacity for the price.

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