Mac mini 2011 i5 with AMD vs 2012 i7

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Iwan, Nov 24, 2012.

  1. Iwan macrumors newbie

    Jul 19, 2011
    Debating what to replace my 2009 iMac with, cant really afford the new iMacs so looking at a mini. Mainly using it for medium to heavy audio production and some video editing and gaming, thats why Im considering the 2011 model as it comes with the AMD Radeon 6630m, against the 2012's integrated intel 4000. Im not a huge gamer and not fussed at having graphics at maximum settings so Im not sure if having a dedicated GPU would be better for me rather than getting a newer processor and USB 3.0, and the option for fusion drive.

    Any thoughts and recommendations?
  2. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    The 6630m isn't enough power for OpenCL leverage anyway. If you're in need of that, look at something other than the mini.
  3. Rapscallion macrumors regular

    Sep 28, 2010
    The 6630M will handle light gaming fine if that's important to you.
  4. Iwan thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 19, 2011
    As far as gaming goes it will only be light gaming. Is the HD 4000 fine for this aswell? As the only thing swinging me towards the 2011 model is the AMD GPU. If the HD 4000 performs similarly then the 2012 model it is.
  5. Mojo1 macrumors 65816

    Jul 26, 2011
    I've read articles that assert that the HD4000 is fine for "light gaming." Do an online search on the subject and you will find some info. I read one article that referenced a number of current popular games and the quality of play at various settings.
  6. calvol macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2011
    Do yourself a favor and steer clear of the 2012 Mini with HD4000. First of all, there is an HDMI issue (see video blinking threads), secondly the Radeon 6630M is 2x faster on 3DMark tests.

    I tried both a 2012 Quad i7 and 2011 Dual-i5. With a 2011 Mini i5/6630M I get Cinebench score of 21.5 versus the 2012 Mini 2.6 Quad/HD4000 of 21.0. Also, with the 2012, I noticed a lot of choppiness in desktop transitions, e.g. from a full-screen 1080p movie to the desktop and back. The 2012 could have been stellar with an ATI card, too bad, Apple got sucked into the HD4000 blinking screen and snow screen issues.

    I returned my 2012 Mini for a full-refund, not ready for primetime, especially as an HTPC.
  7. CausticPuppy macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2012
    Depends on what gaming you do. Even my 2011 server with the HD3000 chip plays Portal 2 just fine. Not with all the details cranked to max, but it runs fine.

    For audio work I'd say you're better off with the 2012 quad core model. Just beware the HDMI output issues. If HDMI is a must, and you have problems with the signal dropping out, apparently you can use the thunderbolt to HDMI adapter as a workaround, but that's another 30 bucks to work around a defect.
  8. Yebubbleman macrumors 68030


    May 20, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    Really, it depends on which feature is more important to you, a quad-core current generation mobile CPU, or a discrete GPU. Personally, if you're going from something like a Core Duo (or even PPC) or an early Core 2 Duo, I don't think you'll be unhappy with the dual-core Sandy Bridge Core i5. If your video editing tasks are light, the Intel HD 4000 will be just fine. Similarly, if you stick with the Valve and Blizzard games, and not with some of the newer Mac ports like Bioshock 2 or Arkham Asylum, you will similarly not care. Civ 5 will run fine on the Intel HD 4000, but not as well as it would on the Radeon HD 6630M. Otherwise, stick with the older Mac mini. The Fusion Drive bit is awesome, though if you find a previous generation model Mac mini with both an SSD and a hard drive, you can turn those two drives into a Fusion Drive as well. Similarly, USB 3, while helpful for video editing, might not be as immediately useful. I guess it depends on what you do. I haven't made much use out of the ones I have on my non-retina MacBook Pro, though I am very happy it's there just in case.

    The 6630M technically supports and leverages OpenCL, but to a negligible degree. The only Apple-shipped GPU/IGP in recent years that doesn't support OpenCL is the Intel HD 3000, but that's not in either of the Mac minis up for discussion here anyway.
  9. Torrijos macrumors 6502

    Jan 10, 2006
    A site with graphics benchmark for gaming, and also other apps (somewhere else on the site). Note that this are Windows benchmarks on OS X you might get lower number if the softwares haven't been properly optimised (and Apple OpenGL too :( ).

    If you compare both GPUs the 6630m is quite a few notches more performant for gaming than Intel HD 4000... Everybody knew one day Apple would switch to iGPU for all its small form factor computers (≤13" laptops and mini) but it might have been premature for the mini as HD 4000 are clearly a step back from the previous generation.

    Personally I'm looking for a refurbished 2011 mini, or even 2011 iMac (some can go quite low), I'm also waiting to see the new iMacs BTO prices (we're quite close to Christmas ^^).
  10. blanka, Nov 24, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2012

    blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    Don't know what they measure, but on the normal videocard benchmarks (like, and in my own experience, the difference between HD4000 and 6630M is splitting hairs. I usually have 1-3 fps more on the radeon in say 25 instead of 22 fps.

    And things really depend on the surrounding conditions too. Apple used the Radeon 6630M in a way more elegant way than the PC Notebooks with this chip do. (1333mhz instead of 800mhz bus, DDR5 instead of DDR3 VRAM) and with the HD4000 turbo conditions vary from model to model (there are i7 chips with a much higher clock rate for the HD4000 than most i5 ones), yet most benchmarks for the HD4000 are on i5 based systems.

    And the HDMI issue, is a non-issue. It is bullocks right now, as a decent screen on par with the iMac display has DP as well (no issues with that), and it is an OSX SOFTWARE ISSUE. It has nothing to do with the hardware. On Windows it does not exist, so it is an Apple driver problem, which will be resolved. If you use HDMI it is just annoying for a few months max. You can always run VGA temporary if the annoyance is too big.
  11. MrXiro, Nov 24, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2012

    MrXiro macrumors 68040


    Nov 2, 2007
    Los Angeles
    It might be luck of the draw actually. My first 2012 Mini had the blinking issue, no snow issue though. Had the snow issue on my 2010 Mini that I returned a few years back but the 2012 models I've owned have been free of that issue.

    My replacement 2012 Mini that I got 11 days ago has bee perfect, besides pinwheel which I'm still trying to figure out. Might have been an RAM issue.
  12. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    That might be a HD issue, and not a GPU issue.
    I have a 3Ghz Core2Duo HackMac with really outdated Nvidia 7600GS card (half as fast as a HD3000 and a pre-GPU-movie-decoding card) and it plays every movie I throw at it flawlessly, even 90 degree rotated ones for portrait display (pain in the ss for the codec).

    My Radeon Mini though is very choppy with movies at times, so it has to be the HD, as the drive is not nearly a third of the speed of the 7200rpm drive in the old machine yet the CPU and GPU are way faster. I wonder if you run into choppy playback from fast 3,5 inch drives with a SSD OSX disc (just the media on a fast disc is not enough as that does not handle scratch activity).

    BTW what is the snow issue? I only know an iMac snow issue (snow like dust inside the IPS panel).
  13. calvol, Nov 24, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2012

    calvol macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2011
    Not true, this is an Intel thing, not an Apple OSX thing. On the Intel forums, the HDMI issue started last June with Win/Linux systems on the first Ivy Bridge PC's on the market. Since then, Intel has had two releases of MRC code, NO GO!
  14. Iwan thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 19, 2011
    So is it best to go for the 2011 due to this hdmi issue, or would it be with the quad cores of the 2012 model. Like I said, I only do light gaming, games such as Source games(Portal 2, HF2, TF2 etc), Supreme Commander, some skyrim and minecraft, oh and hopefully the new Sim City, apparently the Intel hd 4000 does meet the necessary requirements, howeever it is impossible to know how well the 4000 would run it....seeing as it isnt out yet...any beta players out there who have ran the beta on a PC running the HD 4000?
  15. benwiggy macrumors 68020

    Jun 15, 2012
    I've bought the 2012 MacMini, and I can't fault it. I've not had any HDMI monitor issues, and the GPU is good enough to handle 2 x 20" Cinema Displays. I've played two OpenGL games: OOlite and Armagetron. The latter reckons I'm getting over 400 fps...! OOlite gets a steady fps in the forties.

    For audio and photo work, it's an absolute dream. With the fusion drive, it's super fast.
  16. philipma1957, Nov 27, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2012

    philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    SADLY a refurbished 2011 imac is a better choice then either mini you picked. Maybe a 2013 Haswell mini will be better.
  17. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    That's kind of my point. It may technically support the framework, but it won't be usable in most cases.

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