Mac Mini Server - Do I need to turn off the server part?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by rodsky77, Jan 3, 2012.

  1. rodsky77 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2011
    #1
    Hi all,

    I have the new Mac Mini Server with 8 gigs of ram. I use it as a desktop and to stream all my media to an ATV2.
    The Server application seems to be configured and running, however, all the services are turned off.

    Should I make an attempt to turn off the Server app, does it eat a lot of resources if all the services are turned off?

    Thank you for your help.

    Cheers.
     
  2. jackrv macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2011
    #2
    The server app is really nothing more than a preference pane. If the individual services aren't running (open directory, mail, etc), then no resources should be used at all. I'd keep it, in case you ever need a quick and dirty web server or something.
     
  3. schmoofee macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2012
    #3
    mac mini general server questions

    @rodsky77

    hi there. thank you for your post. i have the same question!

    i am planning on getting a 2011 mac mini server this week and am curious about your experiences with yours. i have no present need for the server tools, am looking for more computing power even though i am a non gamer and will be using it mostly for non guzzling software tasks. mac pro is out of my budget right now...

    how did you bypass the server set up? is there an obvious way to do that?

    what is the temperature range when in normal use?
    and what about when streaming to atv2?

    what had you opt for the server vs the other mini options?
    please share any other thoughts relating to your decision and its performance!

    cheers
    schmoofee
    oakland ca
     
  4. IscariotJ macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2004
    Location:
    UK
    #4
    If you have no need of the server app, save the cash and buy one of the cheaper mini's ( unless you need the quad core? ). Server can be bought from the MAS for not very much if you find you need it later on. A friend of mine has done just that; he ended up buying a Radeon equipped Mini and then buying the Server app.
     
  5. jimboutilier macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2008
    Location:
    Denver
    #5
    I don't know of a way to completely avoid any of the server setup, but when initially setting up the machine you activate only a very small part of the server processes (like monitoring IP address).

    The heavy lifting comes IF you run the server app to completion and this is where the vast majority of server components, services, and processes are set up. If you simply don't run the server app and set it up you have very little overhead extra over stock LION.

    My mini usually runs between 50-60C and fan purring along at 2300rpm during regular work. It can dip into the high 30's when sitting idle and into the 90's under heavy load. It seems to let itself get fairly warm and slowly ramp up the fans only as absolutely needed. Even the few times I've briefly seen it in the 90's the fan had not ramped up to max yet (was in the 5000rpm range).

    My mini sits in a cupboard with many other heat generators (several disk drives, printer, router, switch, vonage box, etc. The cupboard has some venting around the large glass doors and via some electrical conduits but is otherwise enclosed and no fans. Cupboard temp hovers around 25C. Clearly no significant heat issues for me at least.
     
  6. schmoofee macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2012
    #6
    jimboutilier & jackrv
    thank you for your replies and comments

    so, absent a present need for the server tools, do you think my day to day user experience will be snappier with i7 2ghz (server) or i5 2.5ghz?

    again i am not a heavy duty user, nor gamer, just looking for the fastest horse/computing power and hoping to not have to replace it within 3-5 years.

    i am confused by the clock speeds - what would make a 2ghz show better performance results to a 2.5ghz?

    another forum person pointed me to the geek bench results at primelabs. they show the server model as capable of ~30% more oomph. i7 2ghz server = 8611 and i5 2.5ghz = 6393
    link: http://www.primatelabs.ca/geekbench/mac-benchmarks/#64bit

    now... the little i know tells me that that kind of difference would be noticeable, appreciated as well as time saving - don't you think?

    i would appreciate a few more thoughts from you. :)
    cheers
     
  7. rodsky77 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2011
    #7
    Hi,

    I did not really bypass the server setup, I think I just opted to configure it later, and never really did.

    The system really runs at 48-55 C when I am simply using it or just streaming video through Plex. It does get up to 60 C when I am re-indexing/refreshing the Plex libraries. When I use HandBrake, it can go up to 75 C - I do use the Lobotomo fan control to kick up the fan from the 2300 RPM, the SMC Fan Control (without changing the stock fan RPM speed) to output the fan speed and temperature onto the app bar at the top and I did just get a notebook cooler, which I put under the mini to drop the running temps - the temps dropped 6 degrees or so when running idle - have not tested it under stress.

    The experience has been great so far, I love Mac OSX - I have been a windows user for 15 years, but the previous Unix admin in me craves the Terminal and a more or less painless OS to work with on a daily basis.

    I got the server version because I needed the upgraded dual HDs (750 GB - thy are faster) for Lightroom and Photoshop work. I don't game much, and running 2x24 inch displays with the HD3000 video is just great - without any issues. I needed the quad core of the server because I will be running Parallels for a Win 7 OS - strictly for MS Office - as sad as it is - the Mac Office can't handle all the doc formatting I need to deal with for work - the rest of the company is on Windows. The quad core is also extremely helpful with HandBrake processing.

    The dual drives and the additional cores made this a simple decision for me.

    Cheers.
     
  8. jimboutilier macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2008
    Location:
    Denver
    #8
    It really depends on what programs you run, how many you run together, how intensely you run them, and if they are capable of only single core use or multi core use. As a gross generalization I say most people would be better off with the dual core i7 with faster graphics.

    If you took a dual core 2.5ghz and said each core was capable of doing 2.5 units of work per core in a given duration, your whole cpu is capable of 2x2.5 or 5 units of work. For the quad core you have 4 cores capable of 2 units of work each. So 4x2 or 8 units of work. If you completely consume your whole CPU (as in a benchmark) you see the QC in theory is capable of about 50% more work.

    The question is, how often is your machine going to generate that much demand across that many cores. Many (most) programs can only use a single core at a time and a program like that would run better on a faster cpu than one with more cores. If you run two programs like that the OS would have one running on each core and you are still better off with the faster CPU. Run 3 or more programs like this and you might see some QC benefits. This assumes the programs can actually generate enough cpu demand which most interactive programs tend not to do except sporadicly. Some programs like HANDBRAKE can max out all your cores. If you spend a lot of time ripping DVDs, you'll see a significant difference in performance with the QC. Some video editing, photo editing software can generate this type of demand and benefit too. But most programs and usage styles would be better served with the faster dial core with faster graphics.

    Most people task witch or do very limited multitasking. They may have a lot of programs running but they are only using one and the rest are sitting there using little or no cpu until they make one of those their main program. If you are also playing music or watching a video thats real multitasking but you have a second core for that. And how often do you peg your CPU (or even a core)?

    In my case I may be mainly doing task switching or light multitasking like most folks working in one main program and maybe playing some music. But I may also be running some large queries or simulations that can take hours, and may be running a couple of virtual machines that are actively doing things like streaming content all at the same time. The QC allows me to accomplish these active background tasks while keeping my foreground interaction responsive and smooth.

    Hope this helps but everyone usage patterns and programs differ somewhat and so whats best for them can too.
     
  9. rodsky77 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2011
    #9
    Thank you for the response. I figured that it would be something like this.
    I really did not want to uninstall the server bits from the system or disable them, and the system is really not slow at all with it running, I thought that I would just ask the ones with the knowledge out there :)

    Thanks again.

    ----------

    Thanks for the reply. I needed the extra cores for Parallels and the dual drives - set up Lightroom catalog on the main drive, and the actual photo library on the 2nd drive - Lightroom is blazing fast this way. I don't really game much, I still have a PC if I really want to play some games, and I can also play some on the server even with HD3000 :) Plus, I think that they will eventually come out with an external TB enclosure for a better video card - I will buy that then, if I need it - for now I just need the cores and the drives :)
     
  10. rodsky77 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2011
    #10
    I 2nd these thoughts. My usual day consists of me running HandBrake on some video, importing an 8GB set of photographs into Lightroom, running Firefox, Outlook, Citrix for remote connectivity, Parallels for MS Office, streaming a movie or some music to ATV, and doing some coding in XCode. Now, I don't do all of these things at once, however, if I have to, I think that the quad core i7 will deal with this load better than the dual core.

    Cheers.
     
  11. schmoofee macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2012
    #11
    @jimboutilier
    thank you ever so for your thorough explanation and real world details. i wish the answer was simpler! here is what comes to mind to ask now...

    say i was only using 2 of the 4 cores on the i7, would it out perform the i5 2.5 with a similar load?

    in other words, does using an i7 chip bring more than the multitasking/threading abilities to the table with its extra 2 cores when compared to the the i5?

    here is another angle... the stores only stock the i5s and the server models. and it is now a 2 week wait for the i7 2.7ghz. truth is i have been using an i5 2.5ghz for a few days at a friend's place. i wonder if i will notice any difference if i opt for the server.... that's the bottom line for me --- with "regular" usage, will the server be a better all-around performer (than i5 2.5ghz) and be a better long term investment?


    @rodsky77
    again thank you. i appreciate you bringing up the what if situations. i may find myself wanting/needing the extra benefits of 4 cores and i7 in the future. i am still stuck and welcomed any further thoughts and perspectives

    -=-=-

    both of you are being very supportive. thanking you. again! after hearing back from you on this round, i will make final deliberations.
    cheers
     
  12. rodsky77 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2011
    #12

    No problem, I just went through the same thing - I know what it's like :)

    You will most likely get some benefit from upgrading to the i7 2.7 from the i5 2.5. When you upgrade from the i5 2.3 to the i5 2.5, the only real benefit is the AMD GPU. If you are not a gamer, the GPU will not matter, unless you are doing some 3D rendering.

    I doubt that you will see any difference from the i5 2.5 to the server version unless you would do some CPU intensive tasks where some of them need to run in the background. You will probably see a difference from the i5 2.5 if you get the i7 2.7 AMD - this is just an assumption on my part, but a higher grade of processor with higher clock speed should make a difference, although, I can't quantify it. Someone just ran a comparison in a thread on this forum and what they saw is that the server gives a 25-30% advantage on CPU intensive tasks over the i7 2.7 - but running some rendering tasks in Photoshop was of equal speed on both.

    Here's something that can help you make the decision, I don't see your location in your profile, I'll assume that you are in the US in order to use the US pricing for this comment: the drive speed is important, and from what I've read, it make a lot of sense to upgrade to the 750 GB 7200 RPM drive as it is not only much faster than the 500 GB 5400 RPM drive (stock in both i5 and i7 AMD GPU minis) it is also faster than the 500 GB 7200 RPM server drives when filled with 300 GB or more of data (figures provided by philipma on this forum).

    So the minimum to do here would be be to upgrade the i5 and i7 AMD minis with the 750 GB drive. The US pricing with the upgraded drives would then be:

    i5: $949
    i7: $1049
    Server: $1099 with 2 internal 750 GB drives (1.5 TB of storage)

    If you go for the i5, you would save $150 over the server, and for that remaining $150, you can get yourself a nice external drive

    If you go for the i7, you don't save much. and you have only 750 GBs of storage.

    My decision was simple, I needed the drive space - I like the fact that both drives are mounted internally, and I don't have to open my mini for anything - at the very least for the next few years. So, if you need the drive space, the server is the clear choice.

    Also, one more small comment, people have noted that the i5 and i7 AMD minis run a bit hotter than the server, if that's of any concern or interest to you - the GPU generates quite a bit of heat.

    And just to close things out, I don't know what you are using now - a Windows PC or a Mac, but I came from a Quad Core Q6600 2.4 GHz Dell PC with an AMD Radeon 5700 series card that can run 3 monitors - and I did not notice the MM server being any slower, it's definitely faster. And even though it runs only 2 monitors (that's why I constantly stream to ATV2 - it's connected to the 3rd monitor), I have no regrets whatsoever, if anything, I am happy, the AMD card could not run video properly to the 3rd monitor, it would be a bit laggy/choppy, if I had anything open on the other 2 screens.

    The geekbench score for my old computer ranged from 4000 to 5500. The score for the MM server ranges from 8500 to 9500. I never thought that my old computer was slow at running everyday things like MS Office, Firefox, Lightroom, Photoshop, outlook, etc. It was not that fast at encoding video. So here, the MM server definitely excels at running Handbrake. Everything else is just a bit snappier than my old PC.

    Good luck with your decision.

    Cheers.
     
  13. philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2010
    Location:
    Howell, New Jersey
    #13
    I cloned the base mac mini's hdd from 2011 onto the empty server drive. I erased the server and my mac mini server has standard osx.

    BTW not being able to purchased standard lion for a 2011 mac mini server is a sad thing.

    fact is you can't purchase it you have to do some type of work around.
     
  14. jimboutilier macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2008
    Location:
    Denver
    #14
    As I recall the main differences between the i5 an i7 is the larger cache and hyper threading in the i7. In theory that means an i7 with an equil number of cores and same cpu speed would be faster. Not sure what this practically means in the real world but benchmarks I've seen put the i7 around 10% faster. It's also been shown that most folks don't perceive faster or slower until the difference hits about 10%

    So pegging 2 2.5ghz i5 cores would in theory be faster than pegging 2 2.0ghz i7 cores (5 work units vs 4.4 work units) but that difference being close to 10% is barely in the noticeable range for most people.

    Under light use I doubt most folks would notice the difference between the 2.5 i5 mini and the 2.0 i7 server. The midrange 2.7 i7 might seem a little snappier because of its faster graphics and the combination of i7 processor and faster clock speed.

    Under heavy use - and as more and more software is optimized for hyper threading and Multi cores over time (which is the trend) the QC i7 is going to perform better. Also the default 7200 rpm dual hard drives are nice. So the server might be a little more future proof for some.
     
  15. rodsky77 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2011
    #15
    Is the difference between the standard and server OS that profound?
    I am more concerned that you can't get the lion server OS on a disk, but from what people told me on this forum you can go through a recovery process to get a copy of the server software for free, if you already own the mac mini server.
     
  16. philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2010
    Location:
    Howell, New Jersey
    #16
    no the server os is more of an app add-on.

    in fact if you want you can delete it fully from the mac. part of your concern that you can't get lion server on a disk is not a problem.

    think of lion 2011 mac mini and lion 2011 mac mini server as the same os except for 1 more app. right now the problem is you can't buy lion for a 2011 mac mini or lion plus server app for a 2011 mac mini.


    the usb stick does not download to a 2011 mac mini and the store purchased lion does not download to a 2011 mac mini. it is a mistreatment of mac mini owners to not sell us a working usb stick.


    this stick does not work on a 2011 mac mini

    http://store.apple.com/us/product/MD256Z/A

    so if your mac mini 's osx fails you need to use the net recovery. Since my net can run slow and take 4 to 7 hours to recover lion.

    I made 3 clones of my server hdd and 3 clones of a 2011 mac mini standard osx. this is silly on apples part and btw they have had 5 months to correct it.
     
  17. kas23 macrumors 603

    kas23

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2007
    #17
    I like this thread, lots of good information. Now, what if someone wanted to run a light traffic website from home and wanted to run it off a Mini (as a dedicated server). Is the Mac Mini server model the only way to go? Can't you just select Personal Web Sharing in regular Lion and run it off a non-server model? Or would it be best to get the server for added power, plus you have the RAID 1, and Ip monitoring/DNS processing?
     
  18. rodsky77 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2011
    #18
    It's interesting that this is the case. The page with the link above CLEARLY states:

    System Requirements: Mac computer with an Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, or Xeon processor

    I believe that the Mac Mini fits that requirement :D. Have you or anyone else tried contacting Apple support regarding this? Did they have anything meaningful to say? I really would like to have a copy of the OS.

    Need to make some clones ASAP.

    Thank you for the heads-up.
     
  19. jimboutilier macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2008
    Location:
    Denver
    #19
    With great unlimited hosting available for about $50 a year from a number of providers, I'm not sure I'd dedicate even the least expensive mini as a web server. Figure 10-20 years of hosting for the price of a mini. But of course this assumes a provider that offers the functionality you need and will host the content you want to provide. I run several sites but have them all hosted. Lot less time and hassle and saves a lot of money (at least in my case). I create the sites and maintain them (using Sandvox) but don't have to worry about bandwidth, keeping servers up, keeping hardware up, backups etc.
     
  20. kas23 macrumors 603

    kas23

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2007
    #20
    If you don't mind my asking, who hosts your sites?
     
  21. jimboutilier macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2008
    Location:
    Denver
    #21
    I used to use FATCOW (www.fatcow.com). Their actual web hosting was very reliable, great support, and had good performance and I was generally happy with cost, ease of use etc. But their IMAP email had reliability and usability issues so I ended up switching just for better IMAP email.

    Now I use A2 Hosting (www.a2hosting.com). Similar reliability and performance. Not quite as good support (although still very good), a little more expensive, not quite as easy to setup. But IMAP email rocks and I needed that.

    There really are a lot of very inexpensive, reliable, good performing hosting companies out there. Most (including these two) provide simple site development tools but they are fairly limited. I've been using a Mac app called Sandvox for years and its quite flexible and powerful and creates very low overhead high performance sites that are attractive and look close to identical in all browsers.
     

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