Mac Mini Impressions coming from a Mac Pro

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by KScottMyers, Aug 20, 2011.

  1. KScottMyers macrumors regular

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    Jul 17, 2009
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    #1
    After a lot of research and soul searching, I decided to make the leap from my aging 2006 Mac Pro to a new Mini. Yes - sounds crazy, but after researching this a bit I thought I'd give everyone a little insight on the transition.

    I did the BTO 2.7, i7 Dual Core Mini and moved my two 240GB OCZ Agility II SSDs from the Mac Pro into the mini and set them up as RAID 0. This gives me about 480GB of usable space. As you can see from the screen shot I'm getting pretty decent read and write speeds. I can boot to the desktop in about 10 sec. These are only SATA II Disks - can't imagine what SATA III SSDs would be like.

    Disk Speeds:
    465 MB/s Write
    508 MB/s Read

    Geekbench gives me a score of about 7100 while my Mac Pro scores about 6300.

    Moving the drives is pretty straight forward as you can read from everyones experience on this board. I upgraded the memory to 8GBs and have two external firewire 800 drives setup for extra storage and Time Machine.

    All in all this is a great desktop machine unless you are using serious processor intensive applications or wanting very high gaming frame rates. For me this is a great little machine that's more than enough for most uses.
     

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  2. philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

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    Apr 13, 2010
    Location:
    Howell, New Jersey
    #2
    yeah I have a hex 3.2 2010 mac pro (upgrade from a quad 2.8) and I have a server 2011 mini .

    in my case the pro is better but cost is 2900 vs 1100 power use is 285 watts vs 40. if you count the power cost you could have 3 minis instead of 1 pro. I do use handbrake but 3 minis could do more movies then one pro.
     
  3. Martyimac macrumors 6502a

    Martyimac

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2009
    Location:
    S. AZ.
    #3
    Glad you posted this. I am seriously considering buying a mini and moving from my pro (5.1 quad 2.8) to a mini. I basically overbought and my plans didn't go as planned, no pun intended. I am giving serious consideration to selling my pro and going to a mini.
     
  4. KScottMyers thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 17, 2009
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    Orlando, FL
    #4
    philipma1957 - thats exactly why I switched - the price per performance is crazy.

    Martyimac - if i was going to pick on the biggest things I miss, it would be the ability to have four internal fast drives. Transferring files from the internal SSDs to an external firewire 800 drive just doesn't move like it did with the internal SATA drives in the Mac Pro. I also liked not having external drives hanging off the computer.

    But I will say - this thing rocks!
     
  5. TheRdungeon macrumors 6502

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    Jul 21, 2011
  6. Herndon macrumors newbie

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    May 14, 2011
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    Virginia, USA
    #6
    KScott, thanks for posting. I have a fairly stock Mac Pro 1,1 with a GeForce 7300 GT video card and have been considering a 2011 Mac mini. What video card did you have in your Mac Pro? Do you have any thoughts about graphics performance Mac Pro vs. mini?

    Thanks.
     
  7. KScottMyers thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 17, 2009
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    Orlando, FL
    #7
    I had upgraded to the ATI Radeon HD 4870 in the Mac Pro. I haven't really done any testing to see how the Radeon HD 6630M compares. I would bet the Radeon 6630M out performs the GeForce 7300 GT.

    I'm still actually getting everything setup. When I have time, I'll report back.
     
  8. thirdkind macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2005
    Location:
    Columbus
    #8
    I have a 2006 Mac Pro and have been waffling back and forth among my upgrade options: a used 2009/2010 Mac Pro, a new Mac Mini, or a new Macbook Pro.

    I don't do much gaming at all, but I do tend to have a lot of windows and apps (including a Windows 7 VM) open at once spread across multiple spaces, and my next setup will have a pair of 2560x1440 displays. I'm concerned the 256MB of video RAM in the Mini won't be enough to keep up. I don't like lag when switching spaces or using Exposé. Any chance you'll have your Mini hooked up to 2 27" Thunderbolt displays in the near future? ;)

    I'd also like to have 16GB of RAM, which is dirt cheap in a Mac Pro, but prohibitive in both the Mini and Macbook Pro. I have 10GB now and hit that ceiling easily once all my Mac apps and that Windows 7 VM are up and running.

    Cool to hear that you consider the Mini a viable option regardless.
     
  9. KScottMyers thread starter macrumors regular

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    Orlando, FL
    #9
    Yep - a lot of my concerns as well. I will be hooking up the 27" Thunderbolt Display as soon as its available.

    As for 16GB of RAM, I think we'll just have to wait a bit for the prices to come down.

    Don't get me wrong, the mini isn't a Mac Pro replacement - but it does a good job at much more reasonable price.
     
  10. jmcgeejr macrumors 6502

    jmcgeejr

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    Oct 7, 2010
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #10
    Cant wait for thunderbolt enclosures to come out :) then we will have everything we need with this little mini!!
     
  11. dolphin842 macrumors 65816

    dolphin842

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2004
    #11
    10.5-style Expose with the 2010 Mini (320M, 256MB shared) is less than 60FPS with 2 screens. 10.7 Mission Control is even worse.

    I've tried to test the 2011 Minis with the Radeon GPU in the Apple Store, but all their demo machines are messed up. App windows rearrange at 0 FPS (literally... they just go from normal to arranged). This problem affected all the store's Macs, so it's impossible to say how well it'll perform normally. I wouldn't hold out my hopes though...
     
  12. KScottMyers thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 17, 2009
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    Orlando, FL
    #12
    Take a look at this. Cinebench Open GL Test
    http://www.barefeats.com/mini11_01.html

    The Radeon GPU is actually pretty decent.
     
  13. manicwinter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2011
    #13
    Expose does lag when I hook my 6630m up to my 27 inch and a second 1080p screen at the same time. It does not lag with just the 27. Launchpad does lag at times with just the 27 hooked up though (especially when drilling down into folders). With just a 1080p screen hooked up there is no lag on anything. They should have put at least 512 in the 6630 mini considering they only sell 27 inch screens.
     
  14. dolphin842 macrumors 65816

    dolphin842

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2004
    #14
    I forgot to add that my pessimism was fueled in part my testing last year's iMacs: Models with a 4670 (256MB) could not run 10.6 Expose smoothly even with just one display running, whereas models with a 5670 (512MB) could.

    (As an aside, that's a somewhat sad observation regarding the current state of window management in OS X: My entry-level 2006 iMac with an X1600 (128MB) could run 10.5-style Expose at 60FPS when using just the internal LCD, but 2010 iMacs can't run the 10.6 version smoothly...)

    Thanks for your report. Unfortunately it seems to confirm my suspicions, but maybe there's still hope for people who run displays with lower resolutions? (Then again, at the current rate I wouldn't want to hold out hope for 10.8 working smoothly...).
     
  15. xraydoc macrumors demi-god

    xraydoc

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    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    192.168.1.1
    #15
    I did basically the same thing as the thread starter...

    I have a 27" core i7 iMac at home that replaced the big, hot 2006 Mac Pro. The iMac is significantly faster as one might expect (9800 vs. 6100 on Geekbench) and of course eliminates the tangle of cables that was growing.

    Now, at work I kept a 2.4GHz C2D unibody MacBook with a 120GB SSD connected to an external display. I almost never used this machine as a portable (iPad and new 11" MacBook Air for that), and on top of that my son wants a laptop of his own. So I was going to bring my old, giant Mac Pro to the office and give him the MacBook.

    Then I got thinking. The Mac Pro is so freaking huge, has a bank of RAM slots on one of the risers that doesn't work (it's a motherboard problem since the bad bank stays the same even after swapping riser order), and makes a fair amount of noise since I need to run the fans at 1200 RPM or it'll overheat (even after thoroughly cleaning).

    So I stopped by the Apple store and picked up the 2.5GHz i5 Mac mini. It's faster than my '06 Mac Pro in both CPU and OpenGL tests, makes zero noise whatsoever, is nearly invisible compared to the Mac Pro, and unlike the MacBook I was using as a defacto-mini it'll support a second display.

    When I get a chance, I'll swap the stock 500GB HD with the 120GB SSD from my MacBook and put the 500GB in a FireWire case to use for data (debating on whether or not to do the complete teardown to put both drives internally though I've already ordered the second SATA cable just in case).

    I'm not a "professional" in terms of requiring Final Cut Pro/ProTools/Motion/etc., but I am a power-user and I do earn part of my livelihood with Keynote, PowerPoint and Word and plan on using two 20" displays on the mini. And I'm remarkably satisfied with the mini, my iMac and my 11" MBA. Big ol' Mac Pros no longer necessary.
     
  16. spda242 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2010
    #16
    I been thinking of doing the same. I have a Mac Pro 2006 with 10gig of memory, 2xSSD and 2xHDD and an ATI5870. My computer room are a small 1-2 step "walk in" closet. The temperature in the room especially after I installed the 5870 are way to high :(

    I been thinking of getting a 799$ Mac Mini 2011 (Add 8gig of memory and a SSD) and use it for everything except gaming. "Everything else" for me are Safari, Mail, NetNewsWire Lite, iWork/MS-Office, iTunes, iPhoto.

    The Mac mini 2011 sounds like the perfect computer for that kind of use, the only thing which it doesn't solve are that I need to (sometime) Rip/Handbrake about 300 DVDs for that I would prefer an even faster CPU.
     
  17. KScottMyers thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 17, 2009
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    #17
    I think that mini setup would be perfect. I was basically in the same situation and built a high end quad core i7 Hackintosh just for ripping. Seems to work well for me.
     
  18. accessoriesguy macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 8, 2011
    #18
    very impressive, high end computing on a budget!
     
  19. thirdkind macrumors member

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    Oct 20, 2005
    Location:
    Columbus
    #19
    Thanks for the confirmation. You saved me from what likely would've been a dissatisfying purchase.
     
  20. ryanide macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    #20
    The mini will out perform the 2006 Mac pro when it comes to Handbrake. Actually I have an 06 MP 1,1 with 16gb ram, 4870 video and SSD for boot drive, and the new server version i7 mac mini, stock with 4gb ram. I did a side by side rip test in Handbrake ATV2 from MKV files and the mini finished about 25% faster than the Mac pro. So, now I use the Mac pro to rip MKV from Blu-ray and save them to the server, which does the Handbrake conversions.

    My mini fan runs like a cheap hairdryer @ 5500rpm when encoding with the CPU @ 190F, but that's nothing compared to the heat generated by the Mac pro on a normal usage.

    I can see the mini as a good replacement for the Mac pro, but at this point I have so much money invested in 'upgrades' for the MP that it would be a shame to throw it out.
     

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