Mac mini buying advice

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by beatlesmith, Jan 19, 2012.

  1. beatlesmith macrumors newbie

    Jan 19, 2012
    Hi guys, long time reader, first time poster.

    Basically I am pretty set on getting a mini to replace my ageing Macbook as my primary computer (I only take my iPad to university so a laptop isn't needed. I am, as many others have been, torn between the 2.5 i5 model with dedicated graphics, and the 2.0 i7 server model.

    At this time i'm leaning towards the server model as it will serve me better in the long run with a better processor and two existing HDD connections. Primarily the Mini will be used for university work, itunes, garageband, photoshop and as an HTPC. However, I do like to indulge in a game or two.
    I have a PS3 for the bulk of my gaming needs, but some old favourites of mine, namely Rome: Total War, the Football Manager series, AOE2, Star Wars: Empire at War, Risk 2 and DEFCON, require a computer. The first two listed I have tried running on my Macbook (White, Mid 2009) and they ran ok, but were visibly lagging a bit and struggled with large RTW battles.
    I was wondering whether the HD3000 graphics (with 8GB of RAM) will run such games, and possibly some newer strategy games, smoothly?

    My second question revolves around the use of SSDs.
    I don't really have a use for 2x500GB HDDs as I already have a 500GB external for my backups and cannot imagine my media library extending beyond 500GB any time soon.
    I have seen that a lot of people get a smaller capacity SSD in place of the second hard drive to hold the OS, applications and games to speed up performance, while keeping their music and videos on the larger HDD.
    My question is how much space would be needed on an SSD to contain the OS, home directory (with the videos/music/photos on the HDD), applications and games (apps and games currently taking up about 20GB of HDD space)?
    Would I be able to get away with using a smaller SSD of around 60-80GB? If so, what are the drawbacks of such a configuration?

    Any advice and recommendations would be much appreciated :)
  2. will waters macrumors regular

    Jul 19, 2011
    Great Britain
    I would go with the i5, with the dedicated graphics, a friend has got one and it is amazing!! You can always install a second hard rive!
  3. Kaiser Phoenix macrumors 6502

    May 12, 2005
    Hi, you will be fine with the server Mini as the games you have listed are quite old, they will run fine.

    As for the SSD, I currently have a 60GB SSD in my mini, it really is recommended to be honest. First its just so darn quick, switch it on, its literally ON. This is important if you plan to use it like a multimedia machine connected to ur tv etc. I would say ofcourse the larger the better but for me 60GB was enough. However if you plan to have a windows partition or VMware fusion for example, i would get 90 and over.
  4. philipma1957, Jan 20, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2012

    philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    I would say get 128gb sad. you can even get a "slow" ssd like a samsung series 470 vs a samsung series 830

    hdd = bicycle

    series 470 sad = a malibu chevy

    series 830 sad = a corvette

    the speed boost of the lower priced ssd over the hdd is huge the speed boost of the high end sad over the standard sad is meh.

    I say get the server. I will post some links for you.

    the server as a refurbished unit

    the server at amazon

    the lower cost sad a series 470 aka series 810 samsung

    the faster samsung ssd series 830

    so with good shopping you can have a fast setup just under 1k plus a spare 500gb hdd that is pulled from the server
  5. beatlesmith thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 19, 2012
    Cheers, that is very good to know. I don't think I will bother installing windows, as I don't use any windows specific programs.

    Thanks for the help, and also a big thank you for your advice to others which has helped me greatly as I trawled through this board.
    I'm currently bidding on a 2011 Mac Mini Server with a 3 year Apple Protection Plan that hopefully I will be able to get for under $850

    In terms of SSDs, I must say, I am very jealous of you guys being able to use Newegg. Here in Australia, there is a considerable markup and websites like Newegg and Amazon do not ship here. The websites that do charge exorbitant amounts for shipping that takes many weeks, often making shopping internationally redundant.

    For convenience's sake I should mention that the Australian and US dollars have almost the same value.
    The options I am currently looking at include:
    OCZ Agility 6G 60GB ($110)

    Same as above, but 90GB ($160)

    OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 3G 120GB ($190)

    OCZ Vertex+ 3G 120GB ($160)

    Currently leaning towards the 60/90GB, faster SSD because I suspect 90GB would be all I'd need for the OS, applications and a few games. I should probably mention that money is an issue, and I'd like to get the SSD for under $200.

    Again any other options, advice or recommendations would be much appreciated!
  6. eutexian macrumors regular

    Jan 6, 2012
    Mapperley, Nottingham UK
    My view.. fwiw. is big is best and will help 'future proof' the thing. 60g may be more than enough now.. but what of a few years hence?
  7. beatlesmith thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 19, 2012
    Good point. I just managed to get a 120GB OCZ Vertex 3 for $155.
    Now all I need is the Mini!
  8. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    did you get the mini?
  9. beatlesmith thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 19, 2012
    Not just yet, auction still has 2 days to go but hopefully i'll be able to get it for a good price, between 800 and 900. Worst case scenario I get a refurb from the Apple site for $949.

    Cheers again for your help.

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