Mac Mini v. iMac v. rMBP (multiple options)

Discussion in 'iMac' started by fridgeymonster3, Aug 22, 2013.

  1. fridgeymonster3, Aug 22, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2013

    fridgeymonster3 macrumors 6502


    Jan 28, 2008

    I'm wondering which setup people in this forum would rather have (cost are what this would actually cost me, peripherals such as keyboard and mice are thrown in without specifically being denoted):


    Mac Mini 2.6 i7 (refurb) (w/ user upgraded 16 GB RAM & 256 SSD)
    2 x Thunderbolt Displays (refurb)
    Cost: $2,695

    iMac 3.4 i7 (refurb)
    1 TB Fusion Drive
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX with 2GB
    User upgraded RAM to 24 GB
    Cost: $2,475

    15" rMBP (Haswell release)
    1st or 2nd Top-of-the-line CPU
    512 GB SSD
    Cost: ~ $2,600 (education discount)

    Optional Setups:

    Option A: 1 + 3 = $5,295
    Option B: 2 + 3 = $5,075
    Option C: 3 + Two Refurb TB Displays + Haswell Mac Mini (probably Spring purchase) = $4,200 (current cost) + approx $1,000 (student discount) = $5,200
    Option D: 3 + Two Refurb TB Displays + New Mac Pro in Spring 2014 = $4,200 (current cost) + approx $3,000 (student discount) = $7,200
    Option E: = 3 + Haswell iMac = $2,600 + $2,600 = $5,200

    First, these two purchases will be replacing my current classic MBP 13" and 2008 Mac Pro. Second, I honestly have no need for the power of the new Mac Pro, so Option D is almost certainly a complete waste of money and the option that I wouldn't choose 99.9% of the time, unless the entry-level MP was $2,000-$2,400 and performed at least 2-3x better than a Haswell mac mini. Third, my wife really likes the current iMac form factor and all-in-one aspect. However, I'm used to running three 1080p displays from my Mac Pro and I am hesitant to give up at minimum dual screens.

    I'm leaning towards Option A or C, a Haswell rMBP whenever they are released and then a Haswell Mac Mini either when they are released or in the Spring. I do like buying refurbished because of the savings, although I am able to utilize my student discount for the 2013-2014 school year, and the 2014 fall semester. I guess I am only a little worried in terms Option C in just having one computer in the house. My wife does have an iPad mini and rarely needs to use either computer, but we've always had two computers.

    So, I'm looking either for advice in which option you would choose in my shoes, or which option you have/will/would choose as it pertains to your actual situations. I think hearing how others would go about this is interested.

    Please note: My student discount comes from being a part-time graduate law student while I work full-time. I say this as an FYI to prevent comments regarding the assumption that such purchases could be extremely extravagant and an abuse of financial aid. No financial aid, scholarship, or grant money is involved here.

    MODS: If you could move this to buying advice Id appreciate it. I wasn't paying attention to where I posted this in the first place and was clearly wrong. Thanks!
  2. fig macrumors 6502a


    Jun 13, 2012
    Austin, TX
    Bit tough to say without knowing more of what you're planning to do on it and how much horsepower you actually need.

    I'm a professional designer/developer who recently went with a new dual i7 Mini and I'm thrilled with it, have the Fusion drive and it's nice and quick. Two Thunderbolt displays seems a bit extreme though, you could get two really nice 23-24" displays and knock $600 or more off that pricetag.

    If I didn't really need the horsepower I'd probably have gone with a MBP (or maybe even a loaded Air) and an external display, but I've already got an older 13" MBP and like having both a desktop and the redundancy of a laptop.
  3. jav6454 macrumors P6


    Nov 14, 2007
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    This information is great. However, you left out something important. Your current computer usage. That is the main one when shopping for a computer.
  4. fridgeymonster3 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jan 28, 2008
    The only "intensive" tasks I do are using Aperture, Photoshop, and video encoding/transcoding. I honestly no longer need much power, but I've grown accustomed to my Mac Pro (which I need back when first purchased), and I'm unlikely to ever go to a MacBook Air or the like. It may sound silly to some, but Id rather my Handbrake encodes be faster and my screen resolution and size be higher.

    As to the two 27" screens, I'm coming from 3 x 24" screens. I'd actually be downsizing!! I do mostly legal research and writing which I prefer to use on multiple displays. I'd rather go with TB screens (or iMac 27") because all my external peripherals have been migrated over to thunderbolt.

    I also will use the new Mac(s) to serve up all my media to my Apple TVs. Having just a rMBP would mean that it would need to be at my desk to do so, as my storage is of the DAS variety, although I do have a NAS for network backups of all household Mac devices.
  5. Serban Suspended

    Jan 8, 2013
    do like i do...wait for imac haswell and buy yourself a nice 27" and wait as well for the haswell retina macbook and again buy your self but the base line, i think if you already have an iMac with 1T storage you will no longer need more than 256GB for the portable mac
  6. Neodym macrumors 68000


    Jul 5, 2002
    Some thoughts after skimming through your posts:

    1. For the Mac mini option you plan getting 2 Thunderbolt displays, while the iMac and rMBP options don't include a second monitor. This skews monetary comparison of the three main options.

    2. What about the 3x24" screens you are using currently? Can't you use (at least some of) them for your future setup? Going all Thunderbolt is fine, but why limit yourself in terms of screen real eastate - especially if it would mean to downsize at significantly increased cost?!

    3. If you load your machine more often, e.g. with video transcoding, be careful with the iMacs. The previous model is infamous for developing black spots on screen, probably coming from too much heat of hot iMac components behind it. The current (and the upcoming Haswell) model with its even slimmer case might have similar problems.

    4. Coming from a Mac Pro, be prepared that the number of cables at your desk multiplies, as everything needs to be external. I did this move (MP -> rMBP) and I'm not really happy with the result.

    5. Options A-E: You only consider refurb for displays, but not for the actual computers. Especially when going for some kind of "backup" computer (second machine in the household) a refurb should do just fine and lower the bill.

    6. Be prepared for a higher noise level under load. While the MP is louder in idle mode compared to mini, iMac and rMBP, it barely breaks a sweat when calculating heavily. The increase in fan noise is far more disturbing on the small machines (not sure whether it's actually louder than a MP under load or whether it's the difference between idle and load being perceived more negatively).
  7. Saltymac macrumors member

    Aug 19, 2013
    Rocky Mt State
    Changes to almost all the mac lines are coming in the next few months so I would wait and see what develops. Given your use I don't see any advantage to 2 new 27' Apple monitors - except to spend alot of money. Same for a new imac 27'. Keep the macpro 2008 as it is a 64 EFI unit and continue to run the 24 inch monitors. Purchase a new 15' notebook if you want portability or get a mac mini base i5 and use one of your 24 inch monitors for those times when your wife wants a computer.

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