Mac mini 2011 vs. Mac Pro 3.1 / 4.1

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by ashesofsker, Jan 22, 2016.

  1. ashesofsker macrumors newbie

    Jan 22, 2016
    Hi guys.

    Hope you can give me some advice.

    I am currently working of a 2011 Mac Mini (the 2.3 GHz i5, HD 3000 discrete graphics, 16 GB of ram and an SSD). But for the work I do the machines seems very slow:

    - No gaming.
    - Xcode programming.
    - Some simple graphic works in Pixelmator.
    - Ripping DVD's + converting in Handbrake.
    - Surfing, text editing, etc.

    If I had the money I would get the 27 iMac with 5K display... So I need some other solution and just saw some old Mac Pro's that might do me good for some years to come. I've looked at the 3.1 and the 4.1 models

    The 3.1 model with 2 x 2.8 GHz Xeon CPU's, an 2TB Seagate SSHD fusion drive from 2014, 12 GB of ram and a Geforce GT 640. PRICE APROX. 656 EURO

    The 4.1 model with 2 x 2.66 GHz Xeon CPUs, a 250 GB SSD from 2014, 6 GB of ram and a Geforce GT 120 GPU. PRICE APROX. 590 EURO

    My questions are:

    1) Does it even make sense to make an upgrade to a Mac Pro that has maybe 5-8 years behind it.

    2) Is it even an upgrade? I have a very hard time figuring out how much faster (if any) the Mac Pro's will be compared to the Mini I'm running now.

    3) Which of the two Mac Pros would be the best buy?

    Thanks in advance for your comments and thoughts on this. :)
    --- Post Merged, Jan 22, 2016 ---
    Oh and I see know that Macros shows me similar threads that might give me (some) of my answers. Sorry about that guys. I did a search prior, but Mac pro vs. mac mini didn't give me anything.

    If you're up for it though please give me your thoughts on this.
  2. h9826790 macrumors G4


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    Get the 4,1 and give it more RAM, then it will be a serious upgrade from your mini.

    2x2.66 mean 8 cores 16 threads, compare to your 4 cores 2.3 (and subject to thermal throttling). You can expect large performance boost in Handbrake.

    If you want more, just flash it to 5,1, and then you can upgrade it to 2 x 3.46GHz Hex core (which means 12 cores, 24 threads). [WARNING: The CPU upgrade on this dual processor 4,1 is tricky if you want to use normal CPU for cost saving. This machine use de-lidded CPU]

    I don't know if GT120 is good for your simple graphic work or not. You can try. If not, get a used 7950 will give it a huge performance boost in graphics (you can flash it by yourself to make it become a Mac graphic card). Or if your work can benefit from the Nvidia card, go for it (the best Nvidia card you can flash by yourself is the GTX 680, anything above it need to be flashed by professional. In other word, cost more money. But you can always keep your GT120 inside your machine to get the boot screen. And use almost any PC GPU you want). In fact, you can upgrade all the way to Titan X if you wish (thanks for the PCIe slots).
  3. fuchsdh macrumors 65816


    Jun 19, 2014
    I'm honestly not sure why your machine would be that slow. I'm using a 2011 Mini for the bulk of my design work (Photoshop, After Effects), and aside from lacking GPU acceleration it's plenty fast and can beat the 2008 Mac Pros at some tasks, including short renders. I've got the 2.5 i5 w/ discrete 6630M, although I don't think that should make much of a difference. Have you tried wiping the system and reinstalling your files?

    A 4,1 could be upgraded and certainly would beat the performance of your mini, but whether it's really worth spending the money versus just waiting a bit longer to save and get a 5K iMac that will have better performance than the Mac Pros, is the big question.
  4. ashesofsker thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 22, 2016
    Thanks for the input. And flashing e.g. a GTXX 680 is an easy enough task?
    --- Post Merged, Jan 22, 2016 ---
    As you my big if is whether this is just a waist of money and if I should just wait. But then again, the wait would be maybe 1.5 year or more (the money isn't that big...)

    So the question is how big an performance upgrade the 4.1 Mac Pro would be and if you guys think it's plausible that it will keep running for a couple of more years.
  5. h9826790 macrumors G4


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    It's quite straight forward. Everything you need to know is in this forum.

    If you are a bit worry about that, you better go for the 7950, the reference card has dual ROM design. If you really accidently make a mistake during the flash process, just flip the switch to the good working ROM to boot the machine, and then flip the switch again to re-flash the bad ROM. As long as you do it carefully, keep one ROM always with the stock VBIOS. It's fail safe.
  6. borgusio macrumors regular


    Jul 22, 2011
    Weird, I owe a Mini 2011, i7 2,7 ghz, AMD6630, 1 TB Fusion drive, 16 GB:
    The machine is still a Beats, I edit Even 4K... But No dvd - Are you Sure you own a 2011?
  7. ashesofsker thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 22, 2016
    Yes, I have the MacMini 5.1.

    But mine is only the 2.3 Ghz Dual Core i5 CPU + only an HD 3000 integrated graphics card.

    Some of it might also be that my SSD (a Kingston SV300) isn't running that fast again (even if it is running SATA 6 Gigabit).
  8. lowendlinux Contributor


    Sep 24, 2014
    North Country (way upstate NY)
    Since you've got the itch to buy a computer the the 4,1 and do what you want to it. Most of the stuff for it is cheap as chips and it can be made quite fast. If you decide to sell your mini please post it here I could use a "slow" Sandy Bridge mini, it's make a sexy Minecraft server.
  9. TonyK macrumors 6502a


    May 24, 2009
    I own a 3,1 and my wife has a 4,1. In my opinion you should go with the newer hardware (4,1) and upgrade things as needed.

    While we know the make and model of your SSD we do not know how big it is or how much free space it has. It could be as simple as getting a newer and larger SSD. If you can get a enclosure for the current SSD so you can do a migration assistant after changing up.
  10. ashesofsker thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 22, 2016
    You are actually quite right. The Kingston disk was 128 GB and although it was only 1/2 full it just didn't feel that fast.

    I came to remember that I had a Samsung EVO 250 GB disc and just installed that after cloning the disc with Super Duper.

    Write speeds has doubled from 120 to 240 MB/sec and read speeds are up from 200 to 450 MB/sec (stating Blackmagic).

    I'm gonna give it a try. The old 4.1 machines aren't going anywhere and I might be able to save the money for a Skylake iMac in the mean time.

    Thanks for all your help guys!

    Appreciate it.

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