Mac Mini or Imac - help please!

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by m83moonchild, Apr 23, 2009.

  1. m83moonchild macrumors newbie

    Apr 23, 2009
    I've narrowed my search down to two models for my first Mac (Well, not really first - I'll explain later).

    I live in Baltimore which has a 6% sales tax...but I'm also an hour away from an apple store in awesomeland Delaware with NO sales tax!!! :D

    I also am a student at college (UMBC woot) so I get that discount too.

    My choices are as follows (not including gasoline lol)

    1. Mac Mini with 4GB of Ram for $684 and a monitor/mouse/keyboard of my choosing for no more than $900 total. I can easily get a good 23inch monitor for cheap.

    2. The 20 inch Imac standard config for 1,149.

    I will be using the mac for HD viewing and photo editing and I am also pretty interested in hooking up the mac-mini to my HD set with a DVI to HDMI adaptor (WHY NO HDMI APPLE!? :( ) and audio into my stereo.

    Is there ANY reason why I should get the Imac over the Mac Mini? I have read numerous sources saying the Mac Mini does great HD when you bump up the RAM (card goes from 128-256).

    This will be my first mac in almost 8 years. I picked up a G4 Power Mac in 2002 with the intent of using music software like REASON to get some beats down, but this was when 10.1 was around and the whole OS9 - OS10 conversion thing was going on with software which long story short made my life a living hell for 2 weeks as the mac froze and crapped out on me over and over making me return it to go back to Windows.

    I got a sony Vaio which actually is still running and recently got a Dell Laptop for cheap, but it's only average with anything video related and cannot do HD. It suits my needs as a college student for classes, but not for my graphical needs.

    I really want to learn the Mac OS and am going to make my purchase mid-summer when I get some cash from my company for going to shool. This is also when Snow Leopard is supposed to drop if i'm not mistaken.

    So there you have it - can you give me a little help? Thanks! :apple:
  2. iNew2Macs macrumors newbie

    Apr 22, 2009
    Go with the Mac Mini.

    The iMac is good but its not a big improvement.

    Just go cheap, for now ;)
  3. trevpimp macrumors regular


    Apr 16, 2009
    Inside A Mac Box
    Yes I agree too

    the mac mini is a good deal.
  4. VulnoX macrumors member

    Apr 23, 2009
    The Mac Mini is a nice little machine. It is my first and currently only Mac (Just ordered an iMac 24" loaded, but it hasn't even shipped yet, and its for my fiance, I don't get it :( ) I made it into an HTPC (Get Plex, if you do HD video, its the best thing and my main reason for getting the Mini.

    Mine is the base 2.0 with the Nvidia card and I upgraded the memory to 4GB, which is a must. I have done this so far with it:

    Took it on a business trip where I had it running Photoshop CS4, Nikon Camera Control Pro 2, Parallels running Windows XP SP3 and Microsoft Office 2007, plus some other background tasks. It handled it like a champ. 12 hour work days and not a single complaint.

    Then when I got back home I hooked the DVI out to my 22" Dell monitor, and the Mini Display port (to HDMI) to our 32" LCD in our room. I then played BluRay ripped movies (My rips, all on the up and up) while I played World of Warcraft with most display settings pretty high except shadows.

    Basically, this little thing handles a lot more than people give it credit for, and I think its largely due to OSX's great resource management.

    If you don't plan on playing major FPS', doing HD video editing, or anything that you would need either a good PC or a Mac Pro for, then the Mini is perfect, I can't see you being disappointed. And for the price, if a year down the road you need an iMac to go along with it because your needs change, you won't be out as much.
  5. Po.Verse macrumors newbie

    Apr 21, 2009
  6. Tumbleweed666 macrumors 68000


    Mar 20, 2009
    Near London, UK.
    Also consider, as a student, that you may be travelling a fair amount. And it will be a lot easier to take the Mac mini back, say, to your parents house at vacation time (and perhaps use another monitor there), whereas unless travelling by car, taking an iMac home for the holidays, is far less practical.
  7. Gregintosh macrumors 68000

    Jan 29, 2008
    No contest. Go for the iMac.

    You get a decent monitor built in, far less cables to worry about. Imagine only having the power cable, and that's it. (it's possible if you go with BT keyboard and mouse).

    2.0 Ghz versus 2.66 Ghz is a significant difference - over 30%.

    You can also boost the RAM on the iMac to 4GB for pretty cheap.

    You may also want to consider a refurbished unit. For $999 in the refurb store you can get the last gen 20" iMac with 2.66Ghz, HD 2600 Pro 256MB video (which is superior to the 9400m I believe, especially since it has its own dedicated video memory and as such does not need to "borrow" RAM), and 2GB of RAM which you can boost to 4GB for around $50 I think. Same 320GB HD.

    And for $1199 in the refurb store you can upgrade to a 24" Monitor which are higher quality panels (you will SEE a difference) than the "cheap" monitors out there which I assume you were referring to.
  8. CrArC macrumors newbie

    Jan 11, 2009
    At the end of the day, nobody could really answer this question but yourself!

    I use a Mac Mini with a 24" Samsung T240 monitor. It's quite frankly stunning, considering I was a cheapskate and bought a used few-year old Mini off eBay and modded it for my needs. Quiet, small, fires up most apps in under a second, photoshop etc in under six*.

    I personally would not consider an iMac over a new Mini - too much of my existing setup would need changing. But... if I hadn't got any peripherals like the monitor and keyboard/mighty mouse already, the iMac would appear reasonable considering you get an all-in-one package with a respectable quality display panel.

    I think the difference in price for you is what will decide this. The iMac will give you a neater setup with a nicer panel but the performance benefits won't be that astronomical considering the capabilities of the new Mini. As Gregintosh has wisely pointed out, refurbed iMacs would narrow that price gap significantly, although for future-proofing and Snow Leopard support consider that the 2600 Pro will not have as large a feature-set as the 9400 in the mini or the chips in the new iMacs. In other words, the new Mac Mini will likely outperform refurbs in Video/HD related tasks, at least in the upcoming OS X.

    *just to clarify, I've made upgrades to its hardware, including an SSD.
  9. skye12 macrumors 65816


    Nov 11, 2006
    Austin, Tx
    To me, its simply a matter of whether you own an external monitor or not. If you do, get the mini. If not, get the iMac.
  10. js81 macrumors 65816


    Dec 31, 2008
    You're in the same boat I was in. I ended up getting a used 17" iMac and love it, but if you want a "new" one, I recommend the refurbished previous gen 20" 2.4GHz - its $849 with a full warranty. One caveat - it only comes with 1 GB of RAM. Go ahead and plan on getting a 4GB upgrade (about $40-50).
  11. VulnoX macrumors member

    Apr 23, 2009
    The problem there is that for $550 for the Mini (Student Discount), plus ~$50 for 4GB ram from Newegg, install it yourself, then get one of the Dell 23" LCD's that have been on slickdeals for $160. Now you are at $760 for a nice computer with a bigger display that it sounds like will still do what he wants it to do. From experience of owning a 9400M based Mini, if you read my post above, it handled HD video, games, all that just fine. I can't see what he would be doing from what he described that would need more power.

    If he needed more gaming, more video editing, whatever, then no contest, but if not, the Mini will make him happy and maybe save him some dollar bills while getting more screen real estate.

    I am not saying the other option is wrong, just giving you more to have to decide on. :p
  12. m83moonchild thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 23, 2009
    Thank you for all your help. I will be picking up the mini in June after I get my money and after snow leopard arrives.

    The refurbished and clearence models arn't available at retail with 0% tax in Deleware and do not take advantage of either my school or company discount so it would be foolish in my situation to go for either of those options. I am also not too keen on the "mighty mouse" and want to get an ergonomic keyboard.

    Thanks for all of your assistance, I'll bring this back up when I pick it up.
  13. m83moonchild thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 23, 2009
    That's almost a hundred I can shave off! I am going to look up some guides, but on a scale of 1-10 with

    1 - Putting two legos together and 10 - Building a computer from scratch, where would you rank the difficulty in doing this?

    How many people here have had success with it? Anyone not been successful?

    I found 2 2gb DDR 3 sticks on new egg for 60 bucks

  14. VulnoX macrumors member

    Apr 23, 2009
    I would put it at about a 3.

    The new model Mini's are a lot easier than the previous Gen in my opinion.
    (Look on the lower left of the page at the video)
    And many other guides exist on upgrading the memory.

    The worst part is getting the case off, you need some patience and it might slightly mark the plastic on the mini case, especially on your first time. But this is on the underside of the mini, and on mine its barely noticeable, and my first time was rough on it for sure.

    Once the case is off, its a cake walk. You just unclip the antenna like the tutorials show, set it aside, unscrew four screws (need a small, #0 phillips head screwdriver for this part, magnetized HIGHLY recommended).

    Lift the drive directly up, there is a small cable on the back that comes off very easy, its in the tutorials as well. As long as you take your time, you have almost nothing to worry about. It took me 20 minutes, and this is my first Mac.

    The ram modules come out real easy, then put in the new ones, take care to make sure they seat well. Then place the drive back on, replace the screws, and before you put it ALL back together, fire it up. If it shows the memory, turn it off, replace the cover, and ENJOY.

    Trust me, its scary at first, especially when you hear about it. The key is to take your time. Myself and two others I worked with who are friends of mine all bought our Mini's at the same time. Two of us are pretty technical minded, the third was not at all. We all found it to be very easy. Its like a roller coaster ride, it looks scary as hell at the top of that hill, but once its over, it wasnt so bad.
  15. BlizzardBomb macrumors 68030


    Jun 15, 2005
    June is very optimistic for Snowy. Unless I'm mistaken if you're doing things "video related" surely an iMac would be better because of its faster (proper desktop not 2.5" Hard Drive) and larger hard drive as well as its faster processor.
  16. m83moonchild thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 23, 2009
    I will probably just use to hard drive to boot up the Mini and from there use an external 500GB or Terabyte HD with firewire 800. I've read many people use this setup and I need a new external HD anyway.
  17. VulnoX macrumors member

    Apr 23, 2009
    The secret about hard drives is that the 2.5" on modern computers is fast enough for general work. The only time you will see a big improvement with a 7200 RPM 3.5" is if you are doing large file transfers, large file compression, basically working with large files that require many disk reads. Surfing the internet, playing a game (except loading a level), watching a movie, even HD quality, editing photos, will not be greatly improved with a faster hard drive.

    The OS will boot a little quicker, it will start some larger applications a little quicker, but I don't think its worth paying $100+ more for. An External Firewire 800 is good enough if you really want it, but everything I have done has been on my internal 2.5" drive.
  18. m83moonchild thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 23, 2009
    Cool, I'll hold off on that one then for now - if I want to do it later on.
  19. Po.Verse macrumors newbie

    Apr 21, 2009
    I got the 24" iMac, 4GB RAM, 640GB HD. it was 1499. Thing runs flawless so far. And is fast. Run photoshop with other programs running, not a single issue.

    Its nice having a all in one. Awesome monitor, and only one wire, the power wire. Built in airport so if you have to you can even use that.
  20. m83moonchild thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 23, 2009

    If I had $1499 I'd pick that up in a heart beat but my budget won't work with it. Right now the prospect of having all new parts for an apple desktop with 21-23 inch monitor for >$850 is what is even making me own a mac possible.
  21. Po.Verse macrumors newbie

    Apr 21, 2009
    Apply for a best buy credit card, pay more then the monthly minimum. Thats what Im doing.
  22. m83moonchild thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 23, 2009
    No reason to - I have credit cards with MUCH better interest rates than even the best one that apple has. I don't want to add anymore credit debt (got enough as is lol)
  23. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603


    Apr 29, 2005
    San Francisco
    Get an iMac 24" don't be lame.

    Then buy thick framed glasses that you don't need and a tweed jacket and sneer at PC users. Oh, and then get really mad when someone writes MAC instead of Mac, and then snicker at those who call it Mac OS "Ex" (instead of 10), and argue incessantly that Macs don't need anti-virus (even if no one is arguing back), and complain and be disappointed about everything that Apple releases from now on because it doesn't include copy'n'paste or Blu-Ray or the obscure graphics card you want...

    Ahhhhh, welcome to Mac! :)

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