Mac Mini vs 2012\2013 iMac 27"

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Grubster, Feb 17, 2014.

  1. Grubster macrumors member

    Jun 25, 2010
    My 2007 imac 24" 2.8 extreme seems to have died. I was jumping right to getting a refurb 2012 (1399) or 2013 (1549) 27" imac.

    I then started thinking why not a Mac Mini. I already have a Dell 21" monitor. I probably would pick up another 27" monitor (I saw a samsung at costco for like 279).

    Then I started to think of all the little things you need with a desktop, Web Cam, Speakers, Microphone (I have keyboard and mouse and trackpad from iMac already). While they are minimal, they can add up a bit and add clutter. Than I noticed there is no discrete Graphics on the Mac Mini.

    So say I find a I7 Mac Mini Refurbished (they are not there now), for like 679+Tax, update the RAM on my own, add a monitor, I am up over a grand now. I assume anymonitor I get for around $300, is not going to stack up to the 27" iMac monitor in terms of quality.

    The positive of the mini, if it dies, I only have to replace the box.

    I assume many have been down this road. Can someone help me decide?
  2. COrocket macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2012
    You can get 27" monitors like you specified for around $300, but it will not have the same resolution as a 27" iMac. To get something comparable amazon has 27" Dell ultra sharps for around $600. So all in all, Mac mini + 27" screen is around the same price as the iMac. Like you said, the huge advantage is that a few years down the road if u want a new computer it is a $600-800 expense rather than a $1400-1500 expense if you keep the peripherals.

    I switched from a laptop to the Mac mini and I wondered if I needed to buy a webcam. I ended up doing all my skype on my iPhone/iPad and honestly I haven't missed my laptops built in one. As for speakers you can get a really cheap set for $10-20 if you just need something to play sound - you can spend a little more money and get something that sounds even better than the iMac built in speakers (BTW - the Mac mini does have a built in speaker but it's pretty wimpy - think similar to a laptop)
  3. Grubster thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 25, 2010
    Those are great points. I have a work laptop already. And 2 iPads in the house plus iPhones. I guess a base model Mac mini plus monitor would be marginally less, but I probably would not want a bare bones. I'm leaning towards a 2012 imac since the Mac mini hasn't been updated in a while. If they update soon, I'll think more on it.
  4. ElectronGuru macrumors 65816

    Sep 5, 2013
    Oregon, USA
    Im on the same road. 2007 imac 24 2.4 that is starting to die. Drive is already gone, screen is looking splotchy. Speed is getting in my way.

    The point of a mini is not cost savings, but versatility. You can choose to apply that by removing things (and saving), but as shown above, if you replace everything the imac offers anyway, youll spend as much or more and have less performance. So how closely does the new imac fit with your needs.

    For my next mac planning, Im starting with where do I want to be. In my case, I run multiple tall windows and find even 1200 to be short. So Im waiting on the new mini and plan to combine it with 2 or 3 Eizo FlexScan EV2436WFS. These are business class screens, each equal in size and pixel count of our current machines. Low power draw and low eyestrain. And each can be turned vertical, giving both height and raw acreage (4.6-6.9 megapixels).

    And of course, less than the 7 years I waited to maximize the use of all those imac components, swapping the box sooner and for less money. And a 2018 mini should be at least as fast as a 2013 iMac. And because its a mini, that older box can be repurposed to less important uses - or easily sellable / shipable.
  5. thedeske macrumors 6502a

    Feb 17, 2013
    Wise choice. I have a 2012 Mini and a 2012 iMac 27. In order to get the mini close to the iMac, I'd need to max the ram, Add SSD and there's the monitor.
    You can't compete with the Apple 27, not to mention the cam/mic, ports, etc.

    Hint, if you can find a way to order with Flash Drive, do it. No contest the best upgrade they offer for either year.

    Good Luck
  6. blanka, Feb 21, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2014

    blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    - The Mini 2012 quad 2.3 is FASTER than all non BTO iMacs.
    - The Mini has a GPU, on the same die OK, but that only IMPROVES things as the bandwidth is much higher. The GPU is a lot smaller and thus slower, but integrated will be the ONLY way in the near future. It is not dirty per se. Don't stare blind on that. The HD4000 is capable of most stuff we need (guess you're not doing 3D modelling). GPU power need is HIGHLY OVERRATED. People buying a stellar GPU for say Adobe CS/CC and sticking to an i5 when buying an iMac, are not buying smart for their needs. GPU use of CS/CC is marginal.
    - The Mini is a lot cheaper than a comparable iMac, even including all the extra's. The Dell U2713HM for example has the same panel as the iMac, yet all the rest outperforms the imac display: better ergonomics, 3yr warranty, pivot, matte, not the typical iMac loose coating problems, better ventilation and lifespan, 24p support, HDMI input. With the typical combination price, the Mini will leave 200-300$ in your pocket, enough to upgrade to the newest Mini that will blast the current iMac away in 2 years.
    - The Mini is the only mac you can easily upgrade: that extra RAM, Fusion Drive or SSD costs half the price Apple charges.
    - The Mini can be upgraded to outperform the PCI SSD in the New Mac Pro, with dual Samsung 840 pro drives in RAID 0 you get 1GB/S write/read, and the biggest fun is that you can do it yourself!
    - It is the mac that looses the least in value over time. 100$/yr is about the depreciation you will face. The dell will loose another 100$. Double that figure for an iMac. I recently sold my old G4 Mini for 100€, and bought back a similar powerful iMac lamp with built in screen in immaculate condition, Harman Kardon Speakers, iSight FW camera (yes the pretty one), keyboard, mouse all together for 70€! That kind of sums it up!
  7. Grubster thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 25, 2010
    Thanks for feedback. Now the mini i7 comes with only 4gb ram. I'm guessing there are only two slots so I have to throw those out to upgrade ram. Imac comes stock with 8gb. I can upgrade and not waste ram as there are 4 slots. My worry is the machine breaking. My current imac is in pieces. I put two logic boards in and still can't get it to work. I have to now scrap it for parts. I am thinking I just got unlucky and will get 6+ years out of next imac. I'm looking at 1529 for refurb 2013 imac, or 679 for refurb Mac mini with i7. I have a dell 21" monitor, but will need a second display for 300-600. Plus I would like to upgrade to 8 gb ram. Plus I want apple care!

    Basically, I don't like spending 1700 for a computer, but sounds like the mini creeps up in price fast as I add on the missing pieces. I already have mouse, key board, trackpad, speakers somewhere.
  8. COrocket macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2012
    You are correct that the mini has only two RAM slots and can take up to 16GB total. I've seen a lot of people max out the RAM initially so they don't have to upgrade the RAM a second time if they develop the need for the extra capacity a few years down the road.

    In terms of servicing, the mini is one of the last apple computers that can be disassembled using standard torx/hex bits and features removable RAM and HDD slots. It is possible to do similar upgrades on the iMac but I've heard that the new thin ones are a pain to disassemble and replace internal components. If it does break 3+ years down the road and you are attempting DIY repairs, I would place my bets on the mac mini being much easier to service.

    I'm not sure how reliability between the iMac and Mini compares, but I do know that all of the mini's are built to the same spec as the server models, which people run 24/7/265 for many years in a row. Longevity/reliability seems to be one of the Mini's strong suits.
  9. Grubster thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 25, 2010
    Well a late 2011 27" imac just popped up on apples site for 1129 so I decided to grab it. For 1200 with tax I get a beautiful display included, and don't have to shop around for all the extras with the mini. With my use, i figure I'm good for another 4-6 years easy and I"ll add apple care.

    With the mini I was looking at 750 after tax for a refurb i7, plus a 2560 x 1440 display would be 500-700 for a good one. The 2012 and 2013 imac were more than I wanted to spend and scared me a bit from a service standpoint. My thought is, if I jump to 32 gig of ram down the road, and upgrade to SSD as well, my basic usage will last.

    Of course I will add AppleCare, which I would do with either machine.

    Does anyone know if I can buy apple care from b&h? And use it on a machine purchased from apple direct?
  10. dalupus macrumors regular

    Jul 19, 2011
    Interesting, I wonder what they do with them the other 100 days. :)

    To me the 3 questions are:
    1. Do you need 32 GB of ram or is 16 ok?
    2. Do you need a discrete GPU?
    3. Do you need to be at least a little bit mobile? (lots of people throw their mac minis in a bag and bring them with them)
  11. thedeske macrumors 6502a

    Feb 17, 2013
    Doesn't sound like a bad deal at all. One thing about the 2011 - installing an SSD is much easier & they're cheap these days. Enjoy!

    You can get apple care for imac in many places. Check auction sites (bay) sometimes you can get a nice deal on sealed factory apple care. Just get it before the first year is up or whatever your time limit if it's a refurb.

    I think the retail is still 169.00 for iMacs.
  12. Grubster thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 25, 2010
    Great, I am excited. B&h sells them for 122 , so I will pick up from them.
  13. Serban Suspended

    Jan 8, 2013
    what configuration do you have in the new iMac?
  14. jlus3, Mar 8, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2014
  15. OneMike macrumors 603


    Oct 19, 2005
    I prefer Mac mini over iMac. Can better customize.

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