Mac mini perspective/mini review of a former Windows user

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by pine88, Feb 15, 2013.

  1. pine88 macrumors member

    Feb 15, 2013
    Last week I took the plunge - swapped to a Mac. There wasn't a real reason for it, I suppose Windows was getting boring and Windows 8 in particular is irritating. I sold off my home built SSD based HAF desktop and sprung for the base mini - no upgrades, just the base i5 model. I needed a basic office box to connect to my 24" Dell Ultrasharp (and 1920 x 1200 works fine via the included DVI adaptor) and I'll never do any browsing on a tiny tablet or laptop screen. The point of this rather long thread is to do a mini review on the hardware and how everything ticks along, so:

    CPU: As the mini is basically a laptop with no screen, the base processor is the i5 3210M, dual core. Its roughly 10-15% slower than a desktop i3 3225, but for a basic office or HTPC there is no real difference. I wouldn't do any heavy duty rendering or encoding simply because its a dual core and those take forever to do anything that heavy. I doubt the mini is intended for those sorts of task anyway. General performance is indistinguishable.

    RAM: Been bumped up to a default 4GB, and interestingly 1600MHz, the maximum that the CPU can run at stock. I've noticed that Mountain Lion is rather porky in its RAM usage even with 4GB. Page outs never exceeded more then 1 or 2MB, and swap was only 10-20MB after a few hours of standard office tasks - 5 or 6 browser tabs in Chrome, one or 2 pdf's, libreoffice etc but OS X swallows as much memory as it can get its hands on, from my initial impressions. However, I wouldn't upgrade beyond the default unless you really do need it i.e. for a basic box 4GB is still sufficient.

    HDD: 500GB, 2.5", 5400RPM. Coming from an SSD you'd think this would be laughably slow. OS X ticks along nicely though and I've only noticed a brief wait time to load apps, and maybe a bit of stuttering on some flash heavy sites on initial load, and that is very brief. The only substantial difference for me is that boot up and shutdown take a while, as opposed to an SSD, but overall no real difference.

    GPU: This is Intel's HD 4000. It has the puff for 1080p video and desktop work and thats about it. Gaming is possible on maximum ugly settings. For the mini it does the basics fine.

    OS X: Seemingly the elephant in the room, I've found that I actually prefer the whole UI to Windows. Seems more logical, from the dock to the menu bar up top. The only real problem was NTFS, I need full support but Paragon NTFS fixed that easily. As for the iOS features, I still use a $30 dumbphone, so I couldn't care less. The point is OS X is its very stable and works for whatever I need to do, end of story. Its also refreshing to have everything literally just work, no fiddling with drivers or BIOS settings or anything.

    OVERALL: I'm impressed. I know that iMacs and iPhones/iPads are Apple's bread and butter, but the mini shouldn't be overlooked. It does the job for basic tasks extremely well and is an excellent primary system to boot.
  2. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
  3. dma550 macrumors 6502

    Sep 3, 2009
    I agree, I am getting a mini for the Mrs. once her crappy vista Dell dies out. Cant beat the footprint and package.
  4. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    Actual memory in use is the "Wired" plus the "Active". The "Inactive" is typically programs that have been exited but are still residing in memory in case they are needed again. 2MB of page outs represents a miniscule amount of lost time. If you have 100 MB in a day that's only a couple of seconds lost time.

    Adding memory is inexpensive, however the need for lots memory is exaggerated. For just web browsing, mail, word processing and other office tasks even 2GB works fine.
  5. warvanov macrumors 6502a

    Oct 13, 2011
    Thanks for the review. Tell your friends! You don't have to convert any of us. :p
  6. toddzrx macrumors 6502a


    Nov 20, 2012
    Welcome to the club!

    I converted to Mac about 8 years ago, when the very first Mini came out (those were back in the PowerPC days). Having only used PC's for many years before that (with the exception of programming class in high school on an Apple, but that's ancient history), OS X was a major breath of fresh air. Currently, I am chained to a windows machine for work. Yes, it does the job, but it comes with all the hassles of working with Windows 7. I still look forward to sitting down at home to my (now) iMac that simply does the job without drama.
  7. Omnius macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2012
    I'm a life long mac user. I can tell you that the intuitive UI and relative stress free nature of running a mac has been a major selling point for their products for a long time.

    "It just works" sounds corny but frankly I'm astounded by the number of products that I'm told are not compatible with OS X that end up working fine. Many years ago, I adopted a motto of plugging stuff in before asking questions because it was so rare to find something that actually didn't work.
  8. Osamede macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2009
    Please keep us posted on this - any problems, does it stay stable over time, etc. Thx...
  9. pine88 thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 15, 2013
    No problems. Works fine with a 3TB external HDD (EZRX 3TB Green) reading and writing. No odd glitches or performance drop offs. Same with a 2TB and 500GB that were previously Windows only.
  10. Cape Dave macrumors 68000

    Nov 16, 2012
    Look around. I bet you can get 16GB for that price.
  11. Osamede macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2009
    Thanks I may try it - I'll need to transfer a bunch of data from the Mac Mini Server to a windows machine.

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