Mac Mini for Parents (Photo Editing)

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by sstoy428, Nov 28, 2014.

  1. sstoy428 macrumors newbie

    Nov 26, 2014
    Hello all and thank you in advance.

    My parents (for reference in their mid 60s) have finally decided to come to the mac universe. They are asking for assistance in buying a computer. I was thinking of getting them a mac mini.

    In regards to their needs, they are pretty light computer users. They like to facetime, make photo collages, web surf, email, etc. Though I should mention my dad needs to have a virtual PC to log into the VA (was going to use VirtualBox). Also they would like to start doing some photo editing, note that they are very much an amateurs and will not being running super complicated workflows (he has a Nikon D700 (12MP full frame) with a ton of RAW files he has never yet bothered with). In terms of photo software, I was thinking either Aperture or the upcoming Photos app and possibly Pixelmator.

    Cost is a consideration, but if the performance increase is great enough it will also be weighted justly.

    I am debating between a 2014 version vs a 2012 that I would upgrade myself (add a SDD to make a fusion drive and max out the ram). If I did go with a 2012, would the cost difference to get a i7 quad core be worth it, or would the dual core i5 be more than sufficient?

  2. tdhurst macrumors 601


    Dec 27, 2003
    Phoenix, AZ

    Your parents aren't going to be doing anything that would justify an i7.

    Eight gigs ram and an SSD or Fusion Drive, they should be set for years.
  3. mtneer macrumors 68030


    Sep 15, 2012
    A mid-level Core i5 with a SSD should take care of your parents easily. If your dad has a tendency to store a lot of RAW images (terabytes), I would think of getting him some external storage to help him store it all. If not, the internal storage solution should be fine too.
  4. sstoy428 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 26, 2014

    Those were my thoughts too.

    (I would give them the internal 2Tb option only because I will have to be up all in there anyway, and a 2Tb seagate is only $80 so might as well have the option.)
    In the future will set them up with an external solution. I think for $750 it should be a nice useable upgrade for them. And unless someone thinks the extra $350 to go for a quad i7 is going to give them way better performance, saving 40% is something to be considered.

  5. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    Go with the quad simply for the sake of needing a virtual box. The quad machines are other than GPU better units and as you said - you can upgrade them. I wouldn't hesitate in your shoes to go with the 2012 models that are quad.

    For the virtual you can allocate 2 cores, provide (given you have enough) a fair amount of RAM dedicated and still have the OSX side run quite well and snappy. Good luck doing this with a dual core 2014.
  6. sstoy428 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 26, 2014
    Didn't think of the VM cores

    I didn't think of it that way regarding the VM. Very interesting point and one I will bring up when discussing with them.
    All in all, he will only be using the VM maybe an hour a week to do some charting, but still a good thing to think about in case he starts needing it more often.

  7. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Feb 12, 2007
    Neander Valley, Germany; just outside Duesseldorf
    Even the new entry-level Mac Mini will be adequate for photo work with that Nikon. However, if you can find a 2012 that's what I'd do, if only for the abilities to install a second drive and upgrade the RAM.
  8. newellj macrumors 603

    Oct 15, 2014
    Boston, MA, US
    I've never used Aperture but I use Lightroom and Capture NX2 extensively. Lightroom benefits primarily from pure CPU speed and does not benefit from going to a quad core CPU. CNX2 on the other hand improves dramatically with a quad core. I'd spend a few minutes googling what makes Aperture respond best before ruling the i7 in or out.
  9. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    If you go with a 2012, get NOTHING LESS than an i7, either 2.3ghz or 2.6ghz.

    4gb RAM should be enough to start with, but you can upgrade later if required.

    SSD can be either internal or external via USB3 (which will be fine).


    If you go with a 2014, get the MIDRANGE model, at least.

    It comes with 8gb standard (remember that RAM is NOT upgradeable on the 2014).

    Midrange model has improved graphics and the CPU is considerably faster.

    Remember that the internal SSD on the 2014's is PCI-e based. If you don't get either the fusion drive option or the SSD option when you buy it, adding an SSD later on might be problematical.
    Having said that, it will still be easy to just plug in a USB3-based SSD (but PCIe SSD will be faster).

    If they don't mind paying the additional $200 at "buy-in", the fusion drive might be the best option (looks to be 128gb PCI-e SSD + 1gb HDD).

    Others have advised about buying "entry level" models.
    Remember they will probably want this to last at least 5 years.
    You're not "getting enough" in the entry-level 2012 Mini for five more years "down the line".
    The cost differences really aren't much, about $200.
    Spend the $$$ and get the i7 (2012) or the midrange (2014)...
  10. trs0722 macrumors member

    Oct 29, 2011
    Newark, DE
    I recently grabbed a 2012 2.3 Quad on the refurb online store. I put 16 GB RAM and added a 256 GB SSD. I've noticed a definite improvement with Lightroom 5 over my 2011 2.3 dual core (8GB RAM, 240 GB SSD) Editing, importing, and exporting are noticeably faster.

    As others have said, finding a 2012 that the OP could upgrade himself may be the better option. A 2014 with a 2.8 upgrade and SSD would be a great option too. Thanks for the tip on the CNX2...I haven't really tried it yet with my "new" mini. Lightroom is awesome so no real need for CNX2 but I do occasionally open it up and toy around with it.
  11. adonis3k macrumors 6502

    Apr 15, 2012
    I'd go for a Mid 2012 version with a i5. Upgrade to 16GB ram from Crucial.
  12. Nickwell24 macrumors regular

    Nov 13, 2008
    I'd find a 2012 refurbished 2.3 Quad-Core. If you're having problems finding one there are a few refurbished tracker websites that'll notify you when one is available.

    I do a lot of photo editing on my 2.3 quad-core using CS6 Photoshop and Lightroom and don't have any hangups even with editing up to 5 RAW files at once. I did upgrade mine to 16GB Ram and a SSD Drive, but 8GB should be plenty for light editing.

    If you upgrade yours to SSD + HDD really think before merging them to a fusion drive. Having the ability to install programs to the SSD and use HDD as storage has it's benefits over fusion. Both have their advantages, just figure out what works best for you before merging them.

    Regarding photo apps, strongly consider Lightroom. Aperture is on it's way out and Lightroom is very reasonably priced for the capability.
  13. mojolicious macrumors 68000


    Mar 18, 2014
    Sarf London
    You talk about VM use which suggests your parents won't be using a Windows PC at the same time, so I'm curious why you're set on a headless solution?

    Much as I dislike all-in-ones, iMacs offer far more bangs per buck than minis. Particularly given the boost given to 2012 prices by the 2014 'upgrade'.
  14. newellj macrumors 603

    Oct 15, 2014
    Boston, MA, US
    The quad will run a faster at the same mHz, but LR performance doesn't improve anything like proportionately. There was a series of tests posted at FredMiranda that found a ~1.4x improvement going from dual to quad core, rather than the 2x you might hope for. :eek: Digilloyd posted similar results a few years ago. Going to an SSD from a HDD makes a huge difference.

    CNX2 has a couple of slick tricks and it really is a better raw converter for NEF files but the interface is so horrible that I try to use LR whenever possible. No one's paying me for my work and there is only so much time in a day... :(

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