Mac Mini or Mac Pro - buying advice

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by jessicadg, Jul 30, 2012.

  1. jessicadg macrumors newbie

    Jul 30, 2012
    Hi everyone,
    I was looking to get opinions on what would be the best for my needs.

    I am considering the current Mac Mini server:
    2.0GHz : Dual 500GB
    2.0GHz quad-core Intel Core i7
    4GB memory
    Dual 500GB 7200-rpm hard drives
    Intel HD Graphics 3000
    I am planning to upgrade the ram myself and maybe buying ssd..


    Second hand Mac Pro from ebay
    I would love to get Mac Pro but used Mac Pros are not cheap (€1700+) and it’s a little bit annoying paying fortune for 2009 tech...
    I have already decided to go with Nec MultiSync PA271W (as we have one at work and I am in Love!.. it is simply OUTSTANDING!)

    So I was wondering if the Mac Mini will keep me happy for an year till I save some money and buy the 2013 Mac Pro upgrade (if they upgrade the Mac Pro line at all)
    Also is the Intel HD Graphics 3000 considered to be “OK” and what is the Mac Mini RAM capacity.. I mean can I put 16 GB of RAM?

    I won’t consider any other Apple product.. I have an iMac than has been replaced twice since 2010 because of display issues.. I will never ever buy an iMac!

    The machine will be used for work and study and it has to handle with ease the following tasks:

    1. Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, MAMP (for local Magento, OpenCart etc.. development), Font manager, all available internet browsers – all open and running at the same time.

    2. vmware – mainly Linux distributions for study purpose.

    3. some light photography use – mostly scanned film negatives.

    4. I don’t play any games or do any video rendering.

    5. I don’t like to switch it off every time I leave the desk.

    6. I don’t want to feel like someone is hoovering my desk all the time (the mac mini fan issue?)

    What is everyone’s opinion – advice on which device to get?

  2. throAU macrumors 601


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    A mac mini will do what you want.

    I ran a 2007 spec mini (in my sig) for a couple of years just fine, and i even ran a couple of small VMs on it. The current ones take 16gb of RAM, and the fan noise isn't that bad.

    If it irritates you, they're easy to relocate somewhere further away from you so the noise is quieter :D The fan will only spin up when the CPU is working hard, and for the uses you list above that will not be very often.

    A core i7 mini will probably be faster CPU wise than any mac pro you'll get for double the price.

    For what you do the HD3000 will be more than adequate. Buy the mini, pop in 16GB and enjoy.

    Be aware they are well overdue for a hardware refresh however, if you can hold off for a little bit, that may be worth it - you'll likely get USB3 ports and the new ivy bridge CPUs with HD4000 GPU, which is slightly faster.
  3. eutexian macrumors regular

    Jan 6, 2012
    Mapperley, Nottingham UK
    They have upgraded the Mac pro - by giving it a retina screen. However in my opinion (and thats all this is) Apple have made a BIG mistake in glueing in the battery and soldering in the RAM.

    I for one simply cannot understand why they have done this and as a consequence the new mac pro is NOT on my 'wants' list.
  4. ChristianVirtual macrumors 601


    May 10, 2010
    OP is talking about desktop version Mac Pro, not laptop Mac Book Pro ;)

    to OP: Mac Mini is a good machine; will serve you well.
  5. comatory macrumors 6502a


    Apr 10, 2012
    I was in the same position as you, week ago, although my needs are a bit bigger.

    At first I inclined toward Mac Pro so I was looking for used units everywhere and researching on them. After some time I decided that buying anything older than 2009 model won't give you that much more performance, than let's say quad core i7 in Mac Mini/iMac. 2009 can be upgraded to 2010 xeons (including hex core versions).

    But the prices I got were kind of crazy, usually around 1300 euros ($1600) - not that great when I consider it's a used unit with no warranty (I don't have access to refurbished units). I'd have to buy additional RAM and harddrives for it as well.

    Then I calculated I'd be better off waiting for new Mac mini server, replace one of the HDDs with SSD, thus utilizing the original HDD as external drive with cheap USB3 enclosure. Add 16GB of RAM, keyboard and some other little accessories and I was at the same price as basic used MP but had brand new unit with 2 year warranty (mandatory for PC equipment in EU).

    Throughout the year I'd save for Pegasus R4 RAID with Thunderbolt, if I buy a new computer in the future, I can still keep using that RAID - be it more powerful Mac mini server or some redesigned MP.

    Buying new Mac mini server and possibly reusing SSD (or maybe even RAM) every two years might be the best solution for me. Sell the old one, buy the new one. Thunderbolt will probably be present on Macs for few years to come.
  6. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    The mini is a valid option, but if you go with it there are a couple things to mention. None of the graphics options are excellent for OpenGL enabled drawing. Filter accelerations with things like liquify and iris blur won't run on these graphics. You're stuck to cpu only there, but for most people it's not a big deal. Ideally I'd wait for an ivy bridge revision and opt for a quad option with 16GB of ram if possible. Don't go with any less than 8. It may be a bit more tolerable with OpenGL drawing. OpenCL/mercury engine computation would still be disabled. It's simply not supported there. This doesn't mean you'll be truly affected by it. It goes for CS6. Mountain Lion is still immature. I wouldn't go past Lion yet.
  7. eutexian macrumors regular

    Jan 6, 2012
    Mapperley, Nottingham UK
    Oh bugger - I had forgotten about those behemoths. :eek:

  8. comatory macrumors 6502a


    Apr 10, 2012
    Yes it's true you are severely limited by GPU performance but from what I gather there aren't that many cards for MP anyway (but they are still way more powerful than integrated or even dedicated GPU in Mac mini).

    It's really strange - I would love to have MP, it feels like a great fit for me but the high price tag (even on used units) keeps me away and the tech is outdated in some regards, especially seeing those benchmarks on barefeats comparing hi-end iMac to MP. MP doesn't seem that good value after all when you think about it, but I get it that for some people Mac mini is just not possibility.

    Agree with ML not ready for all the software but the revision of Mac mini won't probably let you install Lion anyway, not without some kind of hack. I hope that my CS5 Suite will work fine and fast on it.
  9. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    There's no guarantee that it will really affect you one way or the other. You can look up the full set of features that requires OpenGL acceleration or mercury engine (opencl) functions. My main concern is that the mini is due for an update. The discrete version isn't any better in terms of gnu there. Photoshop cares about OpenCL compliance and vram. If it's not enough, certain gpu functions simply won't work. What matters is whether this actually affects you.
  10. jessicadg thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 30, 2012
    what do you mean by It goes for CS6. I have an option to get CS6 license for my home computer.. does it mean that I wont be able to run it properly?

    Thanks everyone
  11. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    I can't remember now. An ivy bridge revision may only support mountain lion, but that remains to be seen given that the newest macbook pros still supported lion. Anyway CS6 will definitely be updated for full mountain lion compliance if that hasn't already happened.

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