Mac Mini or Mac Mini Server?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by belltree, Jun 15, 2010.

  1. belltree macrumors 6502

    Feb 17, 2008
    Tokyo, Japan
    Despite my grumblings about the sad CPU and pricing I am still considering to purchase (not 100% yet though). During my pondering, I have found that the Mini Server may be a better option:

    Mac Mini (Spring 2010)
    CPU: 2.66 Ghz (option)
    RAM: 4GB (option)
    HDD: 500GB (5,400 rpm)
    Super Drive (default)

    TOTAL: 104,080 yen (1,137 USD)

    Mac Mini Server (Spring 2010)
    CPU: 2.66Ghz (default)
    RAM: 4GB (default)
    HDD: 500GB (7,200 rpm) x 2 (default)
    MacBook Air SuperDrive (option)

    TOTAL: 110,600 yen (1,208 USD)

    For an additional 6,520 yen (~71 USD) I see the following...

    * an additional 500GB HDD.
    * both HDD's are 7,200 rpm instead of 5,400 rpm.
    * I can then use the second internal drive for Time Machine over SATA instead of USB 2.0 (less desk clutter). I don't use my optical drive very often aside from the odd DVD burning and OS install so it can sit on the shelf.
    * no SuperDrive slot on the front of the case for dust to enter!

    * OSX Server instead of the client OS (not a deal breaker).
    * The addition of a second HDD and the increased rotational speed of both has me wondering about noise and heat.
    * Having the second HDD on all the time purely for Time Machine seems like a waste of electricity and potentially reducing the longevity of the spare HDD. Perhaps I will use it in a RAID 1 configuration but then I would need an external HDD for Time Machine and I want to avoid that.

    Just curious if anyone else is contemplating similar to the above? Or have any of you done this with the previous generation Mini server that can offer some feedback/advice?

    One final thing I am wondering about is how easily removable the HDD's will be. I assume just removing the grill held in place by the torx screws will allow easy access to them but I'm sure the Ifixit guys will let us know soon enough.
  2. Serif macrumors regular


    Jul 10, 2008
    I've been doing the same sort of sums for the Apple store in the UK with similar results. The only difference is that I already have an external superdrive and an unused copy of Snow Leopard. I'm thinking about buying the server version but then loading the client version of the OS and using it as a desktop machine.

    The reason I have the external superdrive is because I already have one of the first generation mac mini servers and thought the drive might be useful if I had problems and needed to do a reinstall. I'm very happy with my existing server. It runs silently and cool and just sits on a shelf providing file and print services, VPN access and one or two other things.

    Since the power consumption of the new machine has actually gone down, I don't see how even with the faster disks that heat is going to be a problem. Add the improved GPU and I'm really very tempted :)
  3. belltree thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 17, 2008
    Tokyo, Japan
    I just realized though that the your (and my) current copy of Snow Leopard may not work with the new Mini Server as it will not have the necessary video driver's included. I wonder if it would still install correctly and then simply download the appropriate driver after a software update.

    I don't know why they don't offer Snow Leopard as an option instead of the Server OS for this hardware. I'm sure many folks would be being it up for a regular desktop.
  4. newConvert macrumors regular

    Aug 25, 2006
    Mac Mini Server. I've been doing those calculations and here is what I got (from the Canadian store)

    Purchase the mac mini server w/ educational discount ($1050cad)
    - Sell SL server software on ebay, seems going price is about $200cad
    - Aquire iPod through rebate program
    - Load regular SL on there.
    - Sell iPod ($200)

    Net cost $650, regular mac mini = $700

    Comparing the two you get (w/ base configurations). So with a little more work (if you are a student) you can get it cheaper than base config!

    2.66ghz vs 2.4ghz
    4gb vs 2gb memory
    1TB vs 320gb
  5. HLdan macrumors 603


    Aug 22, 2007
    The Time Capsule automatically parks the drive between Time Machine backups. For OS X, In System Preferences under Energy Saver you can tick the radio button to put the hard drives to sleep when not in use. It's usually set this way by default.
  6. MikeinJapan macrumors regular

    Apr 23, 2010
    Don't forget if you buy the server edition from yodabashi or bic camera, you will get points and bag.
  7. belltree thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 17, 2008
    Tokyo, Japan
    LOL. I figure it'd be cheaper to get it online with the Edu discount...or have you calculated differently? I'm hoping it'll be on display by the end of this week in Yodobashi/Bic so I can go and drool. :p
  8. indg macrumors 6502

    Feb 7, 2007
    are you talking about the back to school deal? if so, the mini doesn't qualify for the free ipod.
  9. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    Does the Server OS X have serial? If it doesn't, you can't sell it as the install disks are system specific thus won't work in other Macs.

    Also, Mini does not qualify for free iPod
  10. hakuryuu macrumors 6502

    Sep 30, 2007
    Lomita, CA
  11. newConvert macrumors regular

    Aug 25, 2006
    arggg, oh well. Hopefully you can resell the server OSX, would still help to make it a good deal.
  12. Phantom Gremlin macrumors regular

    Feb 10, 2010
    Tualatin, Oregon
    Why buy the SuperDrive? Can't you just beg, buy, borrow, or steal a drive for the rare occasion that you might need one? Do you already own a Mac? If so, the Mini can utilize the drive in the other Mac over the network.
  13. LeeTom macrumors 68000


    May 31, 2004
    I would get the standard Mac Mini without the server OS. Since the Mac Minis use a custom version of 10.6.4, it's going to be a pain to install OS X 10.6.4 client on there without getting a disc or disk image from someone else.
    Why not get the standard mac mini and plug in a bus-powered external fw800 drive for a 2nd hard drive if you need it?

    I have a Mac Mini server, and i can tell you that the install discs only work with my specific model of mac mini, and os x server requires a serial to run. So if you want to sell it, that person will have to find discs for OS X Server that run on any system anyhow. pain in the arse.
  14. belltree thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 17, 2008
    Tokyo, Japan
    Thanks for your suggestions but I would rather purchase one and know that I can use it any given time. Yes, I have another Mac on the network at home so that's another possibility. The SuperDrive is way overpriced for what it is (suprise, apple).
  15. sdv5 macrumors member

    Jun 15, 2010
    Is the version of Mac OS that is available for purchase from Apple different than the version that ships with the new Mac Mini? For some reason, it's hard to find which version of OS Apple currently ships either standalone or bundled with Mac Mini.

    Would it be possible to install Mac OS client purchased separately from Apple on the new Mac Mini server? They have two options: $29 for just the OS upgrade or $169 for the Mac Box Set. Are these installation DVDs incompatible with the new Mac Mini? If so, when is the next OS version coming that will cover the new Mac Mini?
  16. belltree thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 17, 2008
    Tokyo, Japan
    Can anyone confirm if the pricing for Apple Care is the same for both the Mac Mini and the Mac Mini Server?
  17. daibachin macrumors newbie

    Jun 3, 2010
    hmm... I dunno why the OSX server is the Cons... this software alone is selling for US$499. And unlike Window Server.. it's unlimited user!!! very good deal actually..
  18. joeinid macrumors member

    Jan 19, 2010

    Unfortunately you have to go through some gyrations to make it work. Not for the faint of heart. See this thread for more instructions. Don't buy the client versions of the os, it's a different build. Not everything works and some issues on update. You need a regular 2010 mini restore disk or possibly wait until the next version of SL client comes out.

  19. calderone macrumors 68040


    Aug 28, 2009
    It doesn't matter how good a deal is, if you don't need it.
  20. a2applegirl macrumors regular


    Jun 16, 2010
    I couldn't decide which version to get either. I am using the mac mini as a media hub and server. I did the math and ended up buying the server version for the following reasons:

    1. The one terrabyte of storage will keep me from having to add external storage for a long time. A terrabyte of external storage that will go well with the mac mini in my living room (ie the nice looking firewire 800 drives that can stack on top of the mini) will cost $150 for a half terrabyte. Add that to the price of the mac mini with the $100 upgrade to the 500gb harddrive, your $699 mini is now $950 and ram has not been upgraded yet, and you have the client license and a slower processor.

    2. Upgrade the memory to 4 gb, that now makes the $699 mini $1,050 without the unlimited server license.

    3. Upgrade the cpu to the 2.66 that comes with the server edition. Your $699 mini is now $1,200 without the unlimited use server license that comes with the server edition.

    4. The server license makes it easy to stream your video content over the web, (comes with quicktime broadcast edition) manage the server remotely, etc.

    For me once I did the math it was a no brainer, and I got the server edition. Now I already had a superdrive from my old macbook air, so I wasn't losing dvd ripping functionality. If you do not have a superdrive, you would have to add that in for an extra $100 and that might make the purchase not worth it, but for me, the server actually came out cheaper given the purpose I was purchasing it for: video ripping, encoding, playing and streaming.
  21. calderone macrumors 68040


    Aug 28, 2009
    QTSS (and QTBS) is buggy and is not very intuitive to setup or use. It is also extremely limited. If you bought it on that basis, you made a poor decision.

    OS X Server is not designed to be a media serving operating system, it is designed for centralized client management.

    You can manage OS X client just as easy as you can OS X Server.

    I think you will be very surprised once you attempt to manage OS X Server and use it out of the box in the ways you want.
  22. a2applegirl macrumors regular


    Jun 16, 2010
    Well, I have quite a few of my dvd's ripped and encoded now using handbrake 64 bit and I am able to watch the videos in itunes, front row, plex, or vlc and use an apple remote to navigate. I have not had any issues except for 1 kernel panic when I overheated my cpu due to handbrake (that would have happened on the client version too). I like sharing my screen with my macbook pro so that I can manage the server from there and I don't have to deal with the bluetooth going in and out. I have not tried the quicktime streaming yet so I will take your word on that. Do you have any suggestions of a good substitute for quicktime broadcaster?

    Basically I bought the server edition because it had the built in terrabyte of storage and the unlimited use server license and if I had built out the other mini the way I wanted it, it was going to come to more money anyway.
  23. calderone macrumors 68040


    Aug 28, 2009
    It isn't "unlimited use". It is unlimited clients, meaning you can have any number of OS X clients (and Windows) clients bound to the server and using server resources such as file sharing. The only real restriction removed is the 10 client AFP restriction.

    The only real limit on OS X Client is 10 connections via AFP. SMB does not have this limit, meaning you could have any number of clients over SMB.

    In your case, it is absolutely worthless unless you plan on having more than 10 clients connected to the server (via AFP) at any one time. And even more so, if you aren't going to utilize Open Directory.

    I understand the decision from a hardware perspective, but I also think that the 2.66Ghz upgrade offers little advantage.

    In regards to streaming, basically QTSS is not a replacement for Plex, it is frankly pretty worthless outside of web based video deployment.

    As far accessing your content over the web, I have covered it many times, but the most basic way to accomplish this is covered in my recent post here:

    You can quite simply use Finder to get to your media, or you can connect to your share over the web and use Plex as you would normally.
  24. a2applegirl macrumors regular


    Jun 16, 2010
    I agree with most of your comments Calderone. The server license was a bonus, that I am enjoying playing with, but didn't really need. I like monitoring the cpu since I am pretty much exclusively using the mini for encoding, which maxes out the cpu. I am sure that there are many free utilities to do such monitoring for the client version of snowleopard, but I have the server version so I might as well use the bells and whistles. :cool:

    I am seeing no downsides to the server version of snowleopard. I would not have bought it out of the box, but its nice to have the extra features if I ever need them. But like you said, my decision was a hardware based one, and the server edition of the mini gives you better hardware value for the money if you need a lot of storage and want 4gb of ram.

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