Mac Mini as iMac replacement

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by OW22, Mar 4, 2016.

  1. OW22 macrumors 6502

    OW22

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2006
    Location:
    Dublin, Ireland
    #1
    Hi all,

    I currently have a 5 year old 27in iMac. Still going well but I'm due to replace it as the HDD is beginning to lag and new, rich, websites are clearly putting a bit of a strain on it.

    My instinct of course is to go for a new iMac, simple. But the issue is I do a lot of work from home and I plug my work Windows laptop into my iMac and use the mac as a really good monitor. Simple Displayport to mini displayport cable, no issues.

    The new iMacs can't do that, I've searched and searched on this topic and there seems to no way to plug a Windows laptop into the thunderbolt ports on the new iMacs. No adapters, nothing. And mirroring is not an option for me.

    So the choice is to look at something like a MacBook Pro or Mac Mini and then buy a good 27in monitor which I can also plug my work laptop into.

    I don't game on the Mac, it's all just web browsing, netflix watching, NFL gamepass watching etc. No photo or video editing. I don't really need a MacBook pro as I will have the iPad for travelling so it would just be a desktop Macbook.

    Would the Mac Mini be fine for me along with a top class monitor like the Dell Ultrasharp? I love the iMacs, they're the best desktop PCs put there. But this restricted port thing is a killer.

    I'm thinking top spec Mini. Is there a downside? My worry is the display. It won't get near the iMac retina display. Is it acceptable? My current iMac is running the 2560 x 1440 display and it looks fine to me!
     
  2. keysofanxiety macrumors 604

    keysofanxiety

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2011
    #2
    Nah, I wouldn't go for the Mini. Just too locked down and you don't really get much for your money. Same goes for a new iMac really -- you need to be paying through the nose. If you're looking for the best power/performance, plus portability, the 15" Retina MacBook Pro is your best bet.

    Regardless, I'd simply recommend fitting an SSD in your existing iMac and maxing out the RAM if you haven't already. That would be a much cheaper option and should guarantee another few years of life from it.
     
  3. gsmornot macrumors 68030

    gsmornot

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2014
    #3
    If you like what you have now the cheapest option would be an external SSD via Thunderbolt. You would continue with everything else as-is but have a faster overall drive/system. Next option would be to consider a used or refurbished mini with a new display of your choice. Select a display based on the resolution you need/want and the overall size. Look for IPS. Option 3 would be either the new mini or new iMac, both good choices with the iMac being the better option of the two in my opinion. If you go with a new mini keep in mind the soldered ram and buy all you need from the start. If you're thinking the top model you will be covered. The new mini's will do 4096x2160 so no issues with available resolution as long as you make sure your monitor is able to display the resolution you want. 2560x1440 is a standard resolution on a 27" monitor. (generally but some will do less and some will do more but most will do 2560x1440).

    Short answer is, consider an SSD internally or externally if you're nervous about opening your system and see if that is enough of a boost to keep your current system a while longer. You use is general and should not require several thousand dollars to improve.
     
  4. OW22 thread starter macrumors 6502

    OW22

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2006
    Location:
    Dublin, Ireland
    #4
    Cheers. I've thought about that as well. Is there any scope for upgrading the processor as well?

    Are the MB pros that good, much better than the iMacs?
     
  5. jpietrzak8 macrumors 6502a

    jpietrzak8

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2010
    Location:
    Dayton, Ohio
    #5
    Yeah, I have to agree, with that mix of applications and the fact that this will be a desktop-only machine, the Mini would be a fine choice. It should have no trouble with any of those tasks, and of course will be much less expensive than a Macbook Pro.

    The biggest downside, of course, is that the new Minis are not upgradeable; so what you get today will be what you always have. I don't think there are any problems with driving large resolution displays (at least for non-gaming purposes), but you'd probably want to check first if you've got a specific monitor in mind...
     
  6. keysofanxiety macrumors 604

    keysofanxiety

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2011
    #6
    Hi there OW22, depending on the model of your iMac, the processor may be upgradeable. However it's not an easy task, and depending on what CPU you already have, it may not be necessary to upgrade it.

    The 15" MacBook Pros are really really powerful. The base i7 2.2GHz CPU in the 15" rMBP has a Passmark of about 9000, which spanks the 3.3GHz i5 in the 27" 5K, as that has a Passmark of about 7200. Although the 4GHz i7 in the iMac is more powerful still with a Passmark of around 11,000, you'll need to be paying a lot, lot more over the rMBP to be getting that sort of power. This is because the BTO CPU option is only available if you get the 2nd-tier 1TB Fusion Drive/R9 M390 27" iMac rather than the base 1TB/R9 M380 iMac.

    Plus the 15" rMBPs come with 16GB RAM standard and all Flash memory. Naturally the 5K screen means that you need to pay more for the iMac to get that sort of equivalent power.

    Unfortunately the Mac Minis aren't anywhere near as capable and pretty much offer the same power as a 13" rMBP as they don't have a quad-core option, and they're non-upgradeable.

    TL;DR: upgrade to SSD/max RAM in your existing iMac if you can -- failing that, IMO the 15" rMBP is the best power to performance option and offers better hardware longevity over the other options.
     
  7. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #7
    OP:

    If you're interested in the Mini, the high-end model should do what you need quite well.

    It comes with a 1tb fusion drive standard (that means it has a 128gb SSD -and- a 1tb HDD inside).

    Or, you can opt for a 256 "straight" SSD for about the same price.

    If it was me, I'd take the fusion drive.
     
  8. scottrngr macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2015
    #8
    Your other option would be to find a 2012 quad core mini on Craigslist or Ebay. You can easily add a 2nd hard drive and ram if you wish.
     
  9. OW22, Mar 4, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2016

    OW22 thread starter macrumors 6502

    OW22

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2006
    Location:
    Dublin, Ireland
    #9
    Thanks all for the replies, very helpful.

    It's the one thing I don't like about Apple, the closed off structure of their devices. What will guide me here quite simple will be if I can plug my work windows laptop into the monitor. My current iMac I can, simply plug my laptop via a display port to mini display port cable and it works great.

    Now Apple for some reason, only provide Thunderbolt IOs. I can't be the only person who needs to do this, uses their big iMac monitor as a great monitor for a work laptop. And yet because they've closed it off now, Apple are basically going to stop me buying a new iMac and I will probably end up either going for the cheaper Mini or sticking with my iMac now and maxing out the ram and SSD.

    My iMac btw is a Mid 2010 unit. 3.06GHZ i3. I forgot it's a bit old now!
     
  10. Ebenezum macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2015
    #10
    OP:

    I agree with your sentiments about closed of current Macs.

    Given your usage I am fairly certain that external SSD on FireWire and extra RAM (8 Gb should be enough) will be sufficient. Your Mac won't have Thunderbolt, first iMac to have it is 2011 model.

    If you have steady hands and patience other option is to open the iMac and install SSD. You can find instructions on iFixit. Do not attempt the install if you aren't certain of success after reading instructions, repairs (depending on what part breaks) are expensive!
     
  11. roland.g macrumors 603

    roland.g

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Location:
    One mile up and soaring
    #11
    I'm in a similar boat. I have 2013 27" iMac that actually runs very well, 24GB RAM and 256GB SSD, however I ordered a Dell 34" Ultrawide (not Ultrasharp) at 3440x1440 because too work from home more and more and am connecting my work Windows laptop to it. I need the additional screen at home and cannot connect it to my iMac. So I ordered a Mac Mini 2.6 16GB RAM 256 SSD to replace the iMac so I can connect my Mini and laptop and toggle between inputs.

    However, I am cautious that the Mini is now 18 months since an update and would prefer one with a new architecture and better integrated graphics. Doubt it is coming on 3/22 though.

    Part of me is considering a used Mac Pro.
     
  12. lali macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2007
    #12
    I have a 2013 iMac and really really like it. the mac mini is an idea I have been researching for a second desktop, however where I am struggling, is to find an equally good LCD monitor. I have never seen such a good monitor as my 2013 iMac (non-5k).

    I like glossy monitors (I am an heretic I know) so good 27's are very difficult to find. I hear the monoprice ones aren't so bad but not at the level of my imac on performance and looks

    Thanks and good luck.
     
  13. OW22 thread starter macrumors 6502

    OW22

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2006
    Location:
    Dublin, Ireland
    #13
    Speaking of monitors....any further recommendations? The ones I keep seeing come up are the Dell Ultrasharp U2715H or the Samsung SD850.

    But something like the Asus Designo Series look very nice.[​IMG]
     
  14. jpietrzak8 macrumors 6502a

    jpietrzak8

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2010
    Location:
    Dayton, Ohio
    #14
    I've gotta admit, I'm personally a fan of all things Samsung myself. :) And the SD850 includes a couple of my favorite features -- the ability to manage input from two different computers at once, and the ability to rotate into portrait mode (which is far superior for managing text or web browsing, in my opinion).

    But, if possible, it's best to check out monitors in person; what's best for one person won't necessarily be best for another...
     

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