Mac Mini or Custom Build?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by lumencreative, Dec 2, 2018.

  1. lumencreative macrumors regular

    May 19, 2014
    Ok, so I'll start by saying I absolutely love MacOS. The mrs has a Macbook, I've had Macbook Pro's for years until recently switching to Windows due to necessity. If I had it my way, our whole company would be on Macs but we just couldn't afford it.

    So, at home I currently use a HP Envy i5 laptop for my 'work', but it's not up to the job. I've looked at laptop options and just cannot justify the cost for the spec I need, so I am about to set up a new 'home office' with a desktop computer. My first instinct was 'iMac', but I know the new Mac Mini's are super good spec for the money.

    I'd be looking at the 256GB model with the CPU upgraded to the i7. I'd also upgrade the Ram myself to 16GB, so total cost would be around £1250 with my wifes student discount. But then I'd need to buy a decent external hard drive (probably USB C SSD or something) for the extra space.

    However, for around £1150, I could build the following system: Core i7 8 Core 3.6GHz, 16GB Ram, 512GB Intel SSD, Geforce GT1050 Ti 4GB.

    So obvious advantages for the PC are 512GB vs 256GB SSD, a dedicated GPU plus 2 extra CPU cores and £100 saving.

    Obvious advantages for the Mac Mini are, MacOS, Resale Value, MacOS, oh and MacOS.

    I know this seems a silly question to ask on a Mac forum, but which would you choose?
  2. MRrainer macrumors 6502a

    Aug 8, 2008
    Zurich, Switzerland
    How much do you love MacOS and its apps (of which how many have you bought that you either need to re-buy or live without)?
    How much is your privacy worth?

    What do you need the GPU for?

    Is the PC you want to build as small? Is it OK that all the ports are not within reach if it's a big tower?
    Likely, you'll need a Windows 10 license and an Office-license. Microsoft has you covered with AV these days, though.

    My work-PC (HP Prodesk or some other business-class PC) with OpenSUSE Leap 42.3 is super-stable.
    But I couldn't sync my iPhone to it, its drawing-apps are **** compared to OmniGraffle and I miss Spotlight in combination with
    Also, iWork is nice. LibreOffice can't match it. And I hate the dynamic menus of MS-Office. If you need dynamic menus like that, it's a sign that you've got too many features.

    Linux handles XTerms way better than macOS, though. No questions.
  3. lumencreative thread starter macrumors regular

    May 19, 2014
    That's the thing...I love MacOS from a user perspective, but I don't use any MacOS specific apps. I don't particularly like the Mac version of Microsoft Office, and my main programs (Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat), are available on the PC as well and as I have a Creative Cloud license, I'm covered in either camp.

    I don't get the question?

    I don't particularly, and can save some money (probably about £80) by going for something cheaper.

    The PC option would be a tower which in itself isn't a huge issue as it'll be situated in a home office. The screens I am planning on buying have a built in USB3.0 hub so port access isn't an issue.

    I have a Windows license available to me and I get Office via my works Office365 account which covers both Mac and Windows versions.

    I think the biggest appeal to MacOS is the integration with iPhone/iPad, however, to make the best of this you need to be using Apples apps such as Pages, which I never use. I also like iMessages coming through to the Mac but I don't think that's enough reason to go one way over the other.
  4. Maccotto macrumors regular

    Oct 6, 2012
    I have same doubt : Mac mini or desktop pc.

    My problem is easy, i have an windows desktop little old and very big (ATx tower).
    Last year i bought geforce asus 1060 6gb and new PSU for boost it . In last weeks i see my desktop work little slow and the fan system work noisly and bad.

    I tried with my macbook pro touch 2016 15" into desktop mode but i have problems. The macbook sometimes doesn't switch into desktop mode and i need unplug/plug the monitor and the devices as keyboard and mouse.

    So i want change my desktop for some little system to put in the table.

    I Don't know wht is better solution bewtween:
    1) Mac mini with 256ssdd,16gbram and i7+ sonnet egpu with the 1060 from my actually desktop= 2000€
    2) 1070€ PC.JPG

    I use lightroom and photoshop but i little play with games for mac and overwatch and battlefield 5 when i can install windows (I play rarely them). My works are all into various external hdd for more protection.

    I have a space of 30w-42/44 lenght for the desktop case or egpu (MAc mini will be under the monitor).

    The monitor is an old Dell 27" with display port, DVi, hdmi and vga .

    Mac mini solution make me more expensive but i have a lot of free space and i can connect my ios devices (iphone and ipad). The mainly problem is EGPU:
    1) i read about the display switch every time you are into login/filevault. This problem is everytime you are into login (After sleep ad example) or only in the first boot?

    PC solution has space and fa n noise problem.

    So what is better solution for me?
  5. MRrainer macrumors 6502a

    Aug 8, 2008
    Zurich, Switzerland
    I don't have an iPad, just an old iPhone - and I don't have my primary mail-account on it, because it is way too big.
    Because I have a 2012 MacMini and no microphone, I don't even use the hand-off feature to answer calls on the Mac.
    I just like the way applications work on MacOS.
    I don't know. I use Linux (with LXDE) a lot and I have no problem with it. But some stuff it simply can't do quite right.

    I guess if you mostly use MSFT-applications anyway, there's little point in not using Windows (apart from the malware etc. angle).
  6. Maccotto macrumors regular

    Oct 6, 2012
    Novody answer me, after you, and i need take a decision.

    For moment i choice option N1 but with 512 gb ssd.
  7. G5isAlive macrumors 6502a

    Aug 28, 2003
    Perhaps you expected a more passionate response, but this is a really tired, old, discussion... if you believe specifications define the computer then there you go. But some believe its also the intangibles, like user experience (after all you are going to be using this for hopefully a long time), lifetime (its not cheaper if you have to replace it sooner), and what do you really need to get the job done ( only you know that). So it seems you discount the advantages of a Mac to just go for specs which might not mean much in the years to come. That’s okay, its called choice. It wouldn’t be my choice though, life is too short to spend with a machine that I don’t enjoy using.
  8. Maccotto macrumors regular

    Oct 6, 2012
    I don’t change my desktop since 2012 but now I need because the motherboard started to have problems (usb3.0 works bad and started to be slow and noisy ) and I can’t find/buy old hardware components.

    The technology is very slow for moment and I don’t need change hardware every year .

    I love Macs but the Apple ‘s philosophy was out of my budget.
    I hate and I haven’t money for I7 IMacs or Mac Pro, but I wanna work with my tons raw with this Mac mini.
    I have the MacBook touch 15” and I loved the fast speed of OS X but a notebook is a notebook and make it a desktop has a lot of problems.

    I think to change the mini 2018 only when Apple will kick it from OSX upgrade or It is damaged and is expensive fix the error.

    The only solution at moment is try because now body answered me about egpu problems but I see a lot use this solution in this forum.
  9. codeablemag macrumors newbie


    Feb 10, 2017
    Since, It really matter what your requirements are than there is no question of thinking about the mini one. Go for the custom build where you will still end up with upgradeoption if required later. Plus you will be getting much more higher reliability. That is how I choose PC for my work.
  10. Maccotto macrumors regular

    Oct 6, 2012
    I wanted buy the customed Pc option but I wanna try to have more space and less fan noise in my desktop .
    I am tired to make another big (40x27x40) desktop case with a lot of fans, noice and liquid cooling for lightroom, photoshop and some games.

    I was happy to use my macbook pro touch 15" and OSx is an organized system connected with every apple device (In last update i love insert photos from my iphone directly).

    Windows 10 is a beautiful OS very flexible and secure , but at moment i start it only for non-mac apps (proshow, 1-2 works with publisher and battlefield 5).

    I have my desktop since 2012 and i can't change any component without change all hardware (new motherboards need new ram and new cpu) except Gpu/audio card/Psu. I see now that mac mini is in the same boat, if i need change Cpu, i will change all machine but GPU and audio card can be external without problems.

    I hate a lot Imac for this problem of All in one machine and i will be blocked if an element dies.
  11. obiwan macrumors 6502

    Jun 7, 2004
    Although this YouTube video compares a Mac Mini 2018 to a Hackintosh, you might find it useful. (Obviously building a Hackintosh, is actually more difficult than just building a bog-standard PC running Windows). Might be worth a watch:

  12. shaunp macrumors 68000

    Nov 5, 2010
    From everything you've said I'd go with a PC. Once you are in the apps you don't really notice the OS. You get more performance for the money, and a more flexible hardware platform for the long-term. I'm thinking here with a business head on rather than a personal preference of Mac OS vs. Windows.
  13. G5isAlive macrumors 6502a

    Aug 28, 2003
    Performance for what? For most day to day business we can all open and modify our files fast enough regardless of i5 or i7. Its the OS that gets out of your way and just works every day thats going to mean the best overall performance. I am thinking with my business in mind here which is why I used a Mac at work.
  14. Razzerman macrumors regular

    Sep 11, 2007
    Ayup OP,

    For what it's worth, I'd personally go for the mac mini. It seems ideal for what you want to use it for. It is a bit on the pricey side, but as it's for business use, I'd say it's easily justifiable, especially if you're used to macOS. The only potential issue would be the on-board graphics of the mini. I don't know how crap they are, or how it would affect the apps you've mentioned, but I'd certainly do more research on that before parting with any cash. Yes, you could get an eGPU, but that's a significant extra cost.

    P.S. Like the Lancs accent; always makes me smile, in a good way :)


  15. Maccotto macrumors regular

    Oct 6, 2012
    Egpu for me is alow cost because i need only the box .
    Tomorrow i think will receive it and i will try with my macbook pro.
  16. Maccotto macrumors regular

    Oct 6, 2012
    I decided to return back my mac mini when will arrive because nobody told me the incompatibility of my nvidia 1060.
  17. Helpfixit, Dec 7, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018

    Helpfixit macrumors member

    Mar 31, 2015
    Apple has went a step to far again by soldering flash storage onto the logic board on the Mac Mini, this is only so that they can overcharge gullible idiots for flash storage upgrade at point of purchase. A Mac Mini (DESKTOP COMPUTER) with 128gb of storage, phones have this now! And to add insult, that storage is soldered to the logic board. £799.00 is just taking the piss.

    Don't recommend buying anything from Apple, show Apple the middle finger for their contempt and and utter greed. Please purchase a custom build PC. You will then be able to upgrade storage and other components at a later date.
  18. shaunp macrumors 68000

    Nov 5, 2010
    And I use Windows for exactly the same reason - it's better for my business. Each to their own.

    But you miss the point. The point was you will get more performance for your money with a PC than a Mac because Mac's are more expensive in comparison, and this was a consideration for the OP which is why I mentioned it.
  19. Maccotto macrumors regular

    Oct 6, 2012
    Mac are expensive everytime , but they have the best small system .
    I have few space in my dwsktop and the difference between egpu+mini are better than new desktop micro atx. ( Mini itx motherboards and case are a lot expensive without you have warranty about temps and cooling problems.)
    Mac mini will be under monitor and i will have all space free less Sonnet box (37 X 19 X 20cm) while a Corsair Crystal X280 is more fat (40 x 35 x 28)
  20. shaunp macrumors 68000

    Nov 5, 2010
    Lenovo M series takes up even less space and is cheaper.......

    Again, this wasn't the point of the question, it was about performance for the price.
  21. opeter macrumors 65816


    Aug 5, 2007
    Slovenia, EU
    The H110 motherboard isn't compatible with the 8th generation of intel CPUs. You need at least the 310 chipset.
  22. G5isAlive macrumors 6502a

    Aug 28, 2003
    No, I got your point, it's the same one voiced over and over that if all one measures are certain specifications that you can appear to get 'more bang for the buck' initially but studies have shown that this is not always true over the lifetime of the device and certainly is not true for intangibles that depend on the individual. As you say, to each their own, and this does factor in. Shrugs.
  23. Maccotto macrumors regular

    Oct 6, 2012
    Sorry for my last post. The performance is better into a windows machine and I am sure at 100%.
    I see as few hardware are Mac compatible and the egpu solution, into some review, is more bad then the same Gpu into a windows machine (I will confirm this when I will receive radeon card)

    My desktop configuration is the same, or near, of the Mac mini solution: the difference of prices is about the 50% more for Mac (1100€ vs 1800€ without box for egpu, Gpu and sound card)

    Thx for the hint . Do you think is good also the chipset 370?
  24. shaunp macrumors 68000

    Nov 5, 2010

    LOL. What exactly are you trying to factor in? That Mac OS is superior to Windows? Don't kid yourself. They both have strengths and weaknesses don't get me wrong, but not to the point where one OS is going to make such a difference that it makes up for a large disparity in performance at the same price point between Mac and PC. I'm not trolling the Mac here, I'm simply saying you get more for your money with a PC and the inclusion of Mac OS doesn't magically make this difference disappear. It simply doesn't. Nor does Mac hardware, as quite often ports are either missing or in stupid places - SD card at the back of the machine anyone?
  25. G5isAlive macrumors 6502a

    Aug 28, 2003
    Who’s fooling whom to say cheap hardware parts make up the whole computer experience? Did I say you were trolling the Mac? Nope. You brought it up.

    You aren’t saying anything new. Just getting more insulting. Wonder why?

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