Mac Mini Server as a Desktop

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Tastydirt, Mar 19, 2012.

  1. Tastydirt macrumors member

    Sep 25, 2009

    I'm looking to get a Mac Mini Server, if anyone here uses it as a desktop computer (it will be literally sitting on my desk), could you answer the following questions:

    • Does the fan noise bother you?
    • Is it quieter with one of the HDDs replaced with a SSD?

    I would love the quad-core CPU as it does make a difference in Xcode and when running VMs, however if the noise is a problem I would rather have the base spec Mini and save £300.

  2. lc25 macrumors 6502

    Jul 31, 2009

    I will do my best, i used one at work for a while and in all fairness i couldn't really hear it, i mean you could hear the drives sort of but its minimal background noise (having the window open and listening to birds and general city noise was more overpowering) as for swapping the drives for SSD obviously this would remove this from the equation.

    Hope it sort of helps but its down to personal preference and what you would class as noisy.

    Can always return it before 14 days if your not happy.
  3. TacticalDesire macrumors 68020


    Mar 19, 2012
    Is the form factor the only reason your getting the mini server and using as a desktop?
  4. qCzar macrumors regular

    Feb 27, 2011
    SFBA, CA
    It's not going to be louder if both drives are working. I rarely get over 2500RPM, and it's still quiet. Granted I'm sitting in front of a 37" TV about 7 feet away, so the noise was never really an issue. I can hear the fans when they speed up under load though, such as handbrake or rendering. Nothing turning up the volume or headphones can't fix.
  5. Confuzzzed macrumors 68000


    Aug 7, 2011
    Liverpool, UK
    Unless you are a gamer or need dedicated GPU, this, indeed, is the spec to go for so your instinct is right. I have been running one for 6 months now and the quad core i7 knocks lumps out of my base 13' MBA. Even in rendering I don't really hear much noise but my work is basically hardly ever more that 10 mins of clips on iMovies. A chap on this boards called Phil Burma did some excellent work benchmarking this machine, I'll try and dig it up for you or you can do a search in the mac mini boards and his stuff is on there. From memory, on some benchmarks the mid-range machine upspeced for i7 should allow you as good performance particularly as it comes with dedicated GPU. The attraction for me was the 7,200 rpm HDD as standard in the server, which doesn't sound like much of an attraction to you give you are looking to replace them...word of warning, the replacement of the second HDD with a SSD may require skills that are certainly beyond my capability at this stage especially given my fat fingers! Good luck
  6. Confuzzzed macrumors 68000


    Aug 7, 2011
    Liverpool, UK
    Ok, I couldn't find his benchmarking thread but here's another one of his threads showing his work upgrading HDDs to SSD. I am sure if you DM him, he'd point you to the benchmarking work also
  7. Tastydirt thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 25, 2009
    Thanks for the replies.

    I already have the base Mac Mini running as a Windows server, and it's very quiet. If you're close enough you can heard the HDD spinning, but otherwise no noise from it.

    The Server I've read is noiser, I think due to the double HDD and hotter CPU, but if I'm replacing one of the HDDs with a SSD it should help slightly with interior temps.

    I'm getting the Mac Mini Server as I'm not too keen on buying a 27" iMac when I think a few months down the line there will be a new generation, the Mini Server will be plenty fast enough for now and I have a decent 24" IPS monitor as well.

    Well I'm getting the Mini Server tomorrow, so I'll find out myself if the noise level is acceptable.
  8. theSeb macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England
    There are various accounts on these forums and I wouldn't say there is general agreement that the Mini server is indeed louder than the normal 2011 Mini. I replaced the one HDD with a SSD, but I don't recall hearing much noise from the HDDs in the stock configuration. Frankly, I don't really notice the HDD in the mini when it is being used.

    I use my mini server for similar purposes that you described in your original post and it's great for now, but I'll probably update to the Mac Pro when it comes out.

    Only you can decide whether the noise is acceptable since it's a personal thing. Some people have different tolerances. You can always return it within 14 days for a full refund, if you buy from Apple.
  9. California macrumors 68040


    Aug 21, 2004
    My Mac Mini server 2010 is completely quiet. Completely. I'm running it like a regular Mac Mini with normal Mac Mini OEM software.
  10. radek42 macrumors regular

    May 27, 2008
    Here, there, and everywhere
    I use mine as a desktop. I sit about 2 feet from it (it's on a lower shelf of my desk) and I can only hear it in the middle of the night when it's dead quite.... and just barely. During the day; no chance although the study is pretty quite and free of street noise as it faces back yard.

    The minimum fan speed is 2300rpm compare to 2000rpm in dual-core minis. I am not sure how much of that noise is coming from HDDs; I suspect it's all fan noise.


  11. srf4real macrumors 68040


    Jul 25, 2006
    paradise beach FL
    What fan noise? Two feet from my head at ear level (I am slouched back), never hear a thing. Come to think of it, maybe the SSD does have something to do with it..:p:D
  12. MadTester macrumors regular


    Mar 24, 2012
    I 'invested' in one (October last year). I use mine as both server and desktop (mainly for photography etc and also a bit of gaming).

    The only time i really hear the fans is when I've been gaming for more than an hour, but with an online MMORPG the graphics card does get a fair workout ;)

    I don't mind it to be honest as it's nowhere near as noisy as my aluminium 17" MBP when the fans are running at 6000 rpm, so in that respect noise is minimal. I'm not too fussed about replacing one of my drives with an ssd atm.... but I will be bumping up the RAM as I'm looking at getting acquainted with Final Cut Studio....
  13. Tastydirt thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 25, 2009
    I got my Mini server this weekend.

    I can say the noise isn't a major issue, although on my desk the fan is clearly audible when idling. I swapped one of the HDDs for a SSD, and manually spun down the 2nd HDD and the noise level stayed the same, so most of the noise I can hear is from the fan and not the HDD.

    Luckily the fan noise is quite muted and much less "whiny" than my MacBook Pros fan noise, it also doesn't spin up as much, only when the CPU core temps exceed 90C.

    I do have the current base spec (2.3GHz i5) Mac Mini, and it is louder at idle but not by much.

    Overall I'm very happy, I get similar performance to the (old) 15" MBP i7 for half the price and in a more suitable package as a desktop.
  14. Aries326 macrumors 6502

    Dec 28, 2007
    I just ordered one for the exact same purpose. I can't wait to get it. I even ordered faster ram for it. This should last me a 3-4 years. Like one of the other posters, I'm not in a rush to put in an SSD. I'll wait until one of the HDs die.

    Anyone have comments on the graphics capability of the Mac Server? Is it much more inferior to the HD 6630M?
  15. dmk1974 macrumors 68020


    Sep 16, 2008
    My boss is also looking to get a Mini Server and just to use it as a desktop machine since it has the larger hard drives and faster processor.

    One question we are unclear on is, while intending to just use it as a desktop, when Mointain Lion comes out, do you have to pay extra to upgrade it to a server version compared to what the upgrade might be for the normal desktop version? Thanks.
  16. qCzar macrumors regular

    Feb 27, 2011
    SFBA, CA
    More than likely. I bough the Mini Server and the Server App doesn't register in the App Store (wether a bug or on purpose). So, if Apple were to update Lion Server in the App Store to Mountain Lion Server, you'd have to buy Mountain Lion Server.

    Now, since I believe you can only update Snow Leopard Server to Lion Server, don't be surprised if you attempt to purchase Mountain Lion and you get a message saying you need to spend another $40 on Mountain Lion Server.

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