Mac Mini, Older Mac Pro, or 15" MBP?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Shintsu, Feb 23, 2014.

  1. Shintsu, Feb 23, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2014

    Shintsu macrumors member


    May 5, 2010
    I am considering adding a Mac to my mix to get a better feel for OS X. In another thread I mentioned getting my 24" iMac recently and finding it surprisingly fun to use. Thing is, my main rig is a Win 7 PC on a 30" Dell monitor with a pair of B&W speakers and Integra receiver so I strongly prefer to use this over the iMac (It's also faster). To counter this, I'd kind of like to buy a Mac to use with a DVI KVM so I can just switch to the Mac with my current setup as my usage of the Mac would be considerably higher this way than it currently is.

    The thing is, I'm not sure which would be the best choice for me. My current Windows PC does everything I need (Gaming, productivity, web browsing, etc.). I don't really use too much stuff like video editing or the like. I have Photoshop CS3 on here but I use it sparsely as the battery on my DSLR is about shot and I'm too lazy to go buy a new one. So I can't see the Mac replacing my desktop PC ever, I play games far too much to ever get rid of it and the value proposition there is very high (Just upgrade video card, not the whole PC). Honestly, I'm not even sure I have a need for the Mac other than curiosity. I'm never unhappy with my computer, it doesn't crash and with a 256 GB SSD and 16 GB of ram I basically never get slowdowns or crashes - so my choice to try out OS X is in no way based on dissatisfaction with Microsoft in any way.

    In ways this makes the Mac Mini seem like the go to choice. But it is a bit weak on the processing power side, though other than being a tech guy who wants the fastest stuff out there (even if he doesn't need it) I'm not sure that it wouldn't be just fine for me anyway. I see the older Mac Pros sometimes for prices that don't seem outrageous and what I like there is the upgradability which is like a PC - much less scary risk of failure of hardware there. Plus the processing power is even better than my PC (Again not sure I even need it though). A bonus for the Mac Pros - I just think they look cool, but not really super important since you don't stare at the computer and it'll be stuffed under my desk anyway.

    So the MBP is the last consideration. It has the power without the outrageous price of the Mac Pro (New ones expensive, used ones not always affordable so I'd definitely have to wait on finding a Mac Pro for a fair price used). I liked this option originally as if I ever needed to have a portable PC I could just unhook it from my KVM and go. But unlike apparently a lot of people, I don't go places a lot and I certainly don't use portable devices that much. Rarely if I'm out do I even use my Galaxy SII (Haven't even cared about upgrading as this old thing does what I need just fine). Tried out a retina iPad Mini and a Galaxy Note 2014 10.1 - didn't care for either platform in tablet form (Windows seems like my go to in the tablet form factor now). So with this, I'm not sure how much buying a MBP to use mostly plugged into a KVM is needed. It has the oomph to do what I need no doubt, and is probably more reasonable and easier to find than a good priced Mac Pro (and smaller) but I have concerns about reliability due to thinness (Not major, but it's there - saw a guy just list a 15" MBP and had the optical drive replaced because it failed and it was a 2011 2011 T420 still rocks on with no issues). I sort of excluded the 13" MBP since it seems marginally more powerful than the Mini and for my uses would probably not warrant the extra cost.

    I'm considering used on all these options btw, if I were buying a new Mini I'd wait on the refresh. There's currently a 2011 Mini listed near me for $400 which IMO seems a bit much for one that old. I'd just assume pay $200 extra and have a newer faster one - but wouldn't due to incoming update. As far as portability, the Mini could make do if I needed a portable PC in a sense since I could bring a small monitor with me and keyboard/mouse. It's certainly nothing I'd plan to do with enough regularity to be a concern (Talking I take a trip, stay in a hotel for awhile - bring the Mini kind of deal).

    So considering my typical daily uses, which makes the most sense? I want this Mac to be as fast as or faster than my Win 7 PC which Geekbench 3's at roughly 9200 on 32-bit multicore. This is kind of why the Mac Mini seems a bit inadequate, but again - not sure. Advice?

    EDIT: Just thought of this, so here's a really typical way I use my Windows rig. I have 7 tabs open in Chrome, I run about 12 extensions, I have a video playing in another tab, and I'm opening new tabs sometimes. Currently my memory usage is at 6.88 GB. I expect to need to beef the memory up greatly on whatever I use. As long as it can handle having this much stuff open and running. Not sure what differences OS X will present with the memory load of all that - I hate that Chrome is such a memory hog but I prefer it over FF and of course IE and other alternatives.
  2. BSQRT macrumors newbie

    Mar 6, 2012
    Computer for you

    The entire mac pro line is way more than you need. Those computers are primarily for very serious users, especially those working in graphics/CAD.

    The mac mini should be sufficient for your needs, and is upgradable if your budget allows, either through apple or on your own. (Check out iFixit's tutorials for hard drive/RAM upgrade) All those components can be upgraded with parts bought from amazon or newegg.

    The macbook pro line is split into 2 sections-Retina and Non Retina. The Retina line has a very very HD display (probably excessive if it will be sitting under your desk), all Flash storage (very fast), but are non upgradable. The specs you buy is what you are stuck with for life. This line also lacks an optical drive (may or may not be a factor for you)

    The Non Retina line is cheaper, a bit heavier, and lacks the Retina display (but it's display is still very good). It comes with a physical hard drive(slower but more storage cheaper). This model is fully upgradable, and you can swap the HD, RAM, or optical drive as you see fit.

    In the laptop line, the regular non retina MBP is probably sufficient for your needs. You don't seem very worried about portability so the Mac Book Air (Flash, non upgradable, small storage, VERY light) is probably not worth your time/money.

    Hope this helps!
  3. shaunp macrumors 68000

    Nov 5, 2010
    I use a mac mini (2012 core i7 2.6Ghz) with 16GB RAM and a 256SSD and it's become my main desktop - it's more than fast enough for Photoshop (CC), Lightroom and general stuff. However I still keep a PC for gaming - lets face it an Intel HD 4000 will never compare to a GTX 780.

    If you are just curious then a mini is a cheap way of getting OS X and if it's not for you, you can easily resell it. The Mac Pro is as others have said overkill, but it will allow you to 'play' as it's more upgradable. The older Mac Pro's don't have onboard USB 3 and Thunderbolt, but that might not bother you. I think for maximum 'messing around and finding out how things work' a hackintosh might be the best solution for you and if you don't like OS X you have a PC you and put any OS on. I personally wouldn't go down the hackintosh route long-term however as updates have the potential to break your setup. Part of the Mac's appeal to me is the 'walled garden' and a hackintosh would mean that I have to do IT stuff when I get home - I have enough of that at work.

    Have fun.
  4. Shintsu thread starter macrumors member


    May 5, 2010
    Hmm, so then this is decidedly a Mac Mini or MBP thing. I almost don't see the point in waiting on the new Mac Mini as I'd want the i7 and I don't really want to spend $800 on a new one when a used faster 15" MBP could be had for not much more and hold its value a bit better. Sure seems like waiting on an i7 Mac Mini to show up will take awhile though, would offer the highest performance for the money though.
  5. mikepro macrumors 6502

    Sep 3, 2010
    You could also look into a hackintosh - running OSX on your PC hardware. Or, get a nicely specced iMac, and get rid of your PC. Install Windows on bootcamp, and you can have both worlds on one rig.
  6. Shintsu thread starter macrumors member


    May 5, 2010
    I do not like the idea of Hackintosh. I will also never not use a Windows machine. As I just said my 30" monitor is superior to any iMac - I don't want a smaller lower res 27" display (At that lousy 16:9 ratio) with a mobile graphics card that's also due to being thin more likely to fail. No Apple computer is made for gaming, even the Mac Pro can't game as well as a PC. The best scenario would ever be me using a Mac for daily tasks and the PC for gaming. There's no real way around that to me.

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