Mac Mini Server or Standard?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Cursor, Jan 13, 2015.

  1. Cursor macrumors 6502

    Cursor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2002
    #1
    Good afternoon,

    I'm in the market for a Mac Mini to use as a server with a Promise Thunderbolt2 DAS. My setup is as follows: Airport AC/N network, Macbook Pro retina for work (connected to Thunderbolt display) and to use as a HTPC, connected to a Samsung TV via HDMI. I'll use it with the TV to run iTunes to watch movies from the DAS, connected to the server over WiFi.

    My question is, should I get a newer Mac Mini with Thunderbolt 2 and run server software on it, or should I look for an older Mac Mini server with dual 1TB hard drives, but would only have an original Thunderbolt port. I guess I could backup both computers to the DAS, but I was interested in possibly backing them up to the other hard drive on the Mac Mini Server.

    Any thoughts/advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks.
     
  2. supercooled macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2007
    #2
    I just picked one up from the refurb store for the exact same thing as you. My DAS will be a OWC Qx2 which are populated with 12TB but it has Firewire and USB2 so the Thunderbolt isn't even relevant to me but as far as speed goes, it will probably be enough. Unless you're pushing massive data back and forth consistently, I think the TB is enough. Hell, I hope USB2 is enough for me. I'll likely do the bulk of my transfer over Wifi anyway.
     
  3. Cursor thread starter macrumors 6502

    Cursor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2002
    #3
    Good to know, thanks. I'll use it mostly for archiving graphic design jobs (usually around 1-2gb/job, but also to hold yearly photo archives and my iTunes folder (around 300gb). The problem with the Mac Mini server is that they don't make them anymore, so I'm at the mercy of the Apple refurb or clearance store, or eBay, I guess.
     
  4. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #4
    The lack of a server model is no problem. In fact the dual-drive mini server of recent vintages weren't even cost effective -- the single-drive i7 model with external storage (you need external storage anyway) is less expensive and faster. (The internal drives are slow.)

    Drive speeds for streaming will be more than adequate even with USB2 external drives, and archival use doesn't really matter what the drive speed is. My system has a 4TB and a 3TB external FW800 drive for media storage (video, audio, and photos), a 4TB USB2 drive for TimeMachine of 4 systems, alternating 1TB FW400 drives for nightly system drive backups and offsite, and a USB "toaster" to clone and offsite backup the other external drives. I originally did this with the original Mac mini Server (2009, with Snow Leopard Server), but a few months ago bought a 2012 i7 mini (not the server) to replace it. If my needs ever increase, I can now use USB3 or Thunderbolt drives, but I haven't yet run out to do so!
     
  5. Cursor thread starter macrumors 6502

    Cursor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2002
    #5
    So it sounds like a newer Mini with TB2 is the way to go. Does it matter if it has 4gb of RAM or 8gb? Also is an Iris graphics card a huge leap from Intel HD 5000 graphics? There is a $170 price difference between the two on the refurbished site. Let me know. Thanks.
     
  6. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #6
    For what you are doing, none of this will matter. If your use as a server were to get more advanced (I run a Windows virtual machine on mine for a "Quicken Server", as well as Crashplan, which is a memory hog) getting the RAM upgrade would make sense.
     
  7. Cursor thread starter macrumors 6502

    Cursor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2002
    #7
    The most intense things are iTunes server with 2 iPads and a laptop potentially streaming at the same time and accessing files remotely (out of the home office).
     
  8. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #8
    Lets say that each stream is 1GB/hr (in all probability it will be less) which would be 3GB/hr total. That works out to 0.83MB/second, or 6.7 mb/second. Basically nothing compared to a disk drive (an old FW400 or USB 2.0 drive will be running at 2% capacity) or Ethernet/Wifi.
     
  9. scottsjack macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2010
    Location:
    Arizona
    #9
    I would not buy a mini limited to just 4GB RAM and it is irresponsible for Apple to sell them that way. 8GB is the minimum and 16GB is preferable if for nothing else than future resale value.
     
  10. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2008
    Location:
    NH
    #10
    As others have said, any mini will be sufficient, you don't even need the server application unless you also want to use the DAS as a time machine backup destination for your other apple computers.

    Now if you were doing transcoding on the fly, the more powerful 4core i7s in the previous model (2012) would be better.

    In the recent past, the 4 core i7s were only available in apple refurb store server models, however.

    The 2012 server model with two drives made more sense if you were going to pull one to put SSD in. With the server model you were guaranteed to have a drive in the bottom slot which makes for simple and easy swap. So many here think the server model was the best buy all things considered, they usually came with more RAM.

    But in your case, any mini will do well. 4GB RAM is more than sufficient for a media and/or Time machine server. The OS RAM compression techniques makes more RAM less beneficial unless you are using it as a real computer and are using apps that like more RAM. In that case 8GB is plenty.
     
  11. Cursor thread starter macrumors 6502

    Cursor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2002
    #11
    Alright. I'm actually going to buy the server software, as it's only $20. In addition to backing up my laptop and the server itself, I'd like the extra security and the ability to dial in when I'm out of my home office to access iTunes and my archive files.
     

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