Mac mini buying advice

beatlesmith

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 19, 2012
9
0
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 :)
 

Kaiser Phoenix

macrumors 6502
May 12, 2005
359
0
London
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.
 

philipma1957

macrumors 603
Apr 13, 2010
6,271
192
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

http://store.apple.com/us/product/FC936LL/A

the server at amazon

http://www.amazon.com/Apple-MC936LL-Server-NEWEST-VERSION/dp/B004YLCO64/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1327062947&sr=8-5


the lower cost sad a series 470 aka series 810 samsung

http://www.ebay.com/itm/128GB-Samsung-470-SSD-2-5-PM810-MZ7PA128HMCD-2011-SATA-TRIM-/290653847608?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item43ac51c038#ht_980wt_889



the faster samsung ssd series 830

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820147137


so with good shopping you can have a fast setup just under 1k plus a spare 500gb hdd that is pulled from the server
 
Last edited:

beatlesmith

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 19, 2012
9
0
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.
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.

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

http://store.apple.com/us/product/FC936LL/A

the server at amazon

http://www.amazon.com/Apple-MC936LL-Server-NEWEST-VERSION/dp/B004YLCO64/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1327062947&sr=8-5


the lower cost sad a series 470 aka series 810 samsung

http://www.ebay.com/itm/128GB-Samsung-470-SSD-2-5-PM810-MZ7PA128HMCD-2011-SATA-TRIM-/290653847608?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item43ac51c038#ht_980wt_889



the faster samsung ssd series 830

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820147137


so with good shopping you can have a fast setup just under 1k plus a spare 500gb hdd that is pulled from the server
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)
http://www.megabuy.com.au/ocz-ssd-25-sata-60g-agility-3-p263745.html

Same as above, but 90GB ($160)
http://www.megabuy.com.au/ocz-ssd-25-sata3-90g-agility-3-525ms-p280369.html

OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 3G 120GB ($190)
http://www.macfixit.com.au/shop/index.php?_a=viewProd&productId=2449

OCZ Vertex+ 3G 120GB ($160)
http://www.megabuy.com.au/ocz-ssd-25-sata-120g-vertex-250ms-p279549.html

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!
 

beatlesmith

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 19, 2012
9
0
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?
Good point. I just managed to get a 120GB OCZ Vertex 3 for $155.
Now all I need is the Mini!
 

beatlesmith

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 19, 2012
9
0
did you get the mini?
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.