Mac Mini + iPad Pro vs/ Macbook + iPad Air 2

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by LERsince1991, Dec 26, 2015.

  1. LERsince1991 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #1
    Hi,

    I've been looking to sell my late 2008 Macbook for a while but not found the right product to move to, I had an idea and wondered if it would be a good solution.

    Context
    We have no desk for a permanent desktop but use the dining table in the open plan living dining kitchen room.
    My laptop is on permanently since I use it as a media server for Plex amongst other things, this has burnt the battery out and it will probably do the same to a new one.
    I'd like an iPad for home and commuting on the train.
    I need to do work from home occasionally just on my own documents (InDesign mainly)

    Idea
    Mac Mini on as a server in the TV cabinet.
    iPad Pro lounge and commuting.
    Use iPad Pro with an app like "Duet Display" with a keyboard and mouse when working on Adobe InDesign and Photoshop and other OSX work, set up on the dining table.

    Anyone see this working as a setup?
     
  2. Osty macrumors 6502a

    Osty

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2008
    Location:
    Melbourne, AU
    #2
    My workstation/server is a Mac mini and my portable device is an iPad mini 2. I find the combination of a Mac and iOS tablet works really well. I use iTunes rather that Plex on the back end and that serves content to my Apple TV, iPad and my wife's iOS gear.

    If I didn't have dedicated space to set up a workstation then your approach is exactly what I'd do. I'd use the Mini as the server/media box and an iPad Pro as my portable. Instead of Duet Display (which I believe requires a physical connection) I'd use a Remote Desktop app and set up shop on the dining room table when I wanted a sit-down experience or the 10% of use cases where I need OS X for something iOS can't do. I'd also throw Air Server into the mix too to give me the ability to cast content from the iPad to the mini.
     
  3. LERsince1991 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #3
    Thanks for the reply, in quiet excited about this setup!

    I was looking at using duet display instead of a wireless solution to get rid of any lag, but I would prefer wireless.

    Are any wireless Remote Desktop apps capable of having no noticeable lag? With the latest wireless a/c router and iPad pro I can't see why this shouldn't be possible.
     
  4. Osty macrumors 6502a

    Osty

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2008
    Location:
    Melbourne, AU
    #4
    Screens is pretty good. I have a combination of Wireless N and Gigabit Ethernet and its performance is good enough my my use. Haven't bothered with AC yet; only my wife's iPad Air supports it.
     
  5. Algus macrumors regular

    Algus

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2014
    Location:
    Arizona
    #5
    I have not had much luck with screen sharing apps. They certainly work and I found remote desktop (I used to use Chrome Remote Desktop on a chromebook to connect to my Mac mini) adequate for office work but overall I felt it was a poor substitute for having a macbook. I love my desktop and put most of my money into it (Mac + upgrades, thunderbolt display, audio receiver & speakers) but I'd probably give it up to keep my MacBook. Having a portable computer is just to handy.

    There are a lot of small PCs besides Mac minis that would be adequate as a plex server. Really, you could save a lot of money by buying an older unit (2010-2011) as well. They're plenty powerful enough to be used as a server and you're not out much if it burns out from being on 24/7 (unlikely).
     
  6. Osty macrumors 6502a

    Osty

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2008
    Location:
    Melbourne, AU
    #6
    I agree with that on both counts. A Nuc running Linux with Plex would be a lot cheaper than a current gen mini and they have plenty of power to push and play media. My mini is a 2011 model and it does what I need with plenty of headroom to spare.
     
  7. LERsince1991 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #7
    Regarding the Mac Mini, it will be used as a main computer as well, with the iPad Pro as the screen when using Adobe InDesign etc... I need a Mac and I am selling my late 2008 Macbook plus a bit extra cash to pay for the mini so its not too bad.
     
  8. highlystrange macrumors member

    highlystrange

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2015
    Location:
    ÜT: 42.710806,-71.447929
    #8
    I use a late-2012 Mac Mini as a main computer as well as a server for my Apple TV. For the living room I use an Air 2 with a Logitech keyboard. For sketching, I usually use an older iPad Mini. The whole combination works quite well.
     
  9. LERsince1991 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #9
    Thanks, but I have no desk, so I've upgraded my to-buy list to the iPad pro to use it as a screen when on my dining table.
     
  10. LERsince1991 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #10
    After looking into this a bit more it seems there are two approaches, which is best and how did you overcome the issues I note?;

    Firstly apps like Duet & air display 3 make the iPad the monitor itself, the problem with this is when the iPad is not connected, the Mac mini could think it's headless and thus not use its GPU.

    The second approach is using a Remote Desktop app to log in, with this perhaps it is not as responsive, but also I would need a HDMI EDID Emulator which supports the pros resolution of 2732x2048.

    Which approach is best?
     
  11. Osty macrumors 6502a

    Osty

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2008
    Location:
    Melbourne, AU
    #11
    A HDMI headless adaptor will fix your GPU problem and is a pretty cheap solution :)

    https://macminicolo.net/blog/files/an-hdmi-adapter-for-a-headless-mac-mini.html
     
  12. LERsince1991 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #12
    Thanks but are there problems with this:

    If using iPad as monitor: wouldn't the mini see two monitors connected and therefore I'd have one invisible screen where Windows can disappear into? When iPad is disconnected this would be fine.

    If using remote screen app: this would have to match the iPad pros resolution of 2732x2048
     

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