Mac Mini vs. iMac vs. Hackintosh

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Dee908, Apr 9, 2011.

  1. Dee908 macrumors newbie

    Aug 13, 2008
    Hey guys,

    I'd just like your suggestion on which setup I should get. I'm a college student that will be working this summer to save up for a computer setup which I'm in desperate need. I currently have none, and spend most of my time in the computer lab at school on the iMacs. I previously owned both the aluminum Macbook circa 2008 as well as the 1st generation iPad but at separate times.

    I'm not necessarily in need of a powerhouse computer, I don't really do anything intensive though I do plan on learning the ins and outs of Photoshop as well as web design this summer. The most video editing I'd do is of sports clips I record on my Flip camera.

    The setups I'm currently contemplating are..

    1) Unibody Mac Mini + Apple Wireless Keyboard + Magic Trackpad + BulletTrain Express + Logitech Z2300 Speakers + HDTV

    Which would come up to $1375 in my estimation. The benefit of this setup is that I can take my Mac Mini with me whenever I travel back home (international student) as well as the HTPC aspect of it, I used to use Boxee and Plex when I had my Macbook. The downfall I guess would have to be the power (it's a 2.4ghz Intel Core Duo which although I really don't know that is exactly I know is a lot less power than I'd get from 3.06ghz i3 iMac)

    2) 21.5" iMac + Apple Wireless Keyboard + Magic Trackpad + Logitech Z2300 Speakers.

    This setup would cost a little more at $1430. I wouldn't need the BulletTrain Express as I'd be sitting at a desk to use it and can probably do without both the Wireless Keyboard and Magic Trackpad though I'd love to have as clean of a setup as possible (Removing the Magic Trackpad and purchasing MM Fixed for the Magic Mouse that comes standard with the iMac would bring the price down to the same $1375 as the Mac Mini)

    The benefit of it is I guess would be a cleaner setup and ofcourse the power increase over the Mini. However unlike the Mac Mini I wouldn't get an HDTV out of the deal (note: I do not have cable and the only benefit of the television would be to hook up to an OTA antenna in the future, which I'm aware I can do with the iMac in the future if need be by purchasing an Elgato EyeTV Hybrid) So it isn't that big of a deal, just something I keep in mind because it may be helpful in the future. The downfall would be portability, when I go home from school in the summer and during the Winter break I'd have to pay to bring it as extra luggage on the airplane or bring it as a carryon and end up having to pay for another suitcase regardless.

    3)Hackintosh Setup + CR48 Netbook + Logitech Z2300 Speakers

    The total of this setup would be a little more expensive at $1460. I've included the price of all peripherals and the monitor in the total but it is not an HDTV as in the Mac Mini setup. Also included in the price is the netbook. The processor I would use is a 3.06ghz i7 which would be the most powerful of the 3 setups. The benefit of this is that I get a netbook out of it. This would be the least portable of the solutions so I'd get the ChromeOS netbook to use whilst I'm out of the country. I can also take it to my classes with me to do note taking.

    No matter what setup I chose I plan on getting an iPad 2 as well after falling in love with the first one I had. I do not factor it into the equation because it is a definite that I'll be buying one at some point. With the Mac Mini and iMac setup I would use my iPad & Wireless keyboard in class to take notes but with the Hackintosh setup I can use my iPad for what I'd really want it to be and that's for entertainment purposes, movies, games, books and some light browsing. When it was my sole device I didn't really feel it functioned well as a full on computer but as far as just taking notes on to edit later on my other device I'm pretty sure it'll do the job well enough for me.

    Another benefit would be the upgradability of it. I hope to someday install a SSD, blu ray drive (for ripping & converting) and include a wireless keyboard and mouse eventually, concessions i had to make in order to keep the price down and get everything I wanted. The downfalls obviously would be the slightly higher price, lack of portability of it as well as the time it would take me to put it all together, something I've never done before but I have four months of summer and a lot of free time on my hand so i actually look forward to the challenge of it all.

    I really appreciate any input I can get from anyone on which setup you think is ideal or even suggestions as to other things that might be better. Money is not the issue when it comes to purchasing what I want, I’m just really unsure of which one I want and which would be best for me.

    Thank you in advance, sorry for such a long question. I can provide more details if needed.
  2. Yvan256 macrumors 603


    Jul 5, 2004
    A few missing details that might help others reply to your question:
    - what size and resolution would the HDTV be in your Mac mini setup?
    - have you accounted to buy extra RAM to put all three configuration on the same footing? (at least as far as RAM is concerned)
    - the hackintosh route might not be ideal since you probably will need to mess around with configuration, updates could be problematic, etc. I would stick with only the Mac mini and iMac options myself.
  3. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    iMac for a couple reasons. A hack can be a pain to maintain with updates, and it is generally good for those who need power, but don't want to spend as much. For your uses, that wouldn't be ideal.

    Second, if you want to photo edit, an HDTV makes an awful monitor, so it sounded like that was your plan with the Mini, which would be less than ideal. My personal suggestion is to wait for the upcoming revision of the iMac, and get that.
  4. richard.mac macrumors 603


    Feb 2, 2007
    51.50024, -0.12662
    just quickly, you have only said which CPU you would use for the Hackintosh. to get a 100% working setup you need to research every major part. that CPU would allow for a vanilla (without hacks) install, but you need to research the GPU, audio, NIC and mobo wtc.

    i suggest the site and check the forums for compatible builds and a DSDT for your mobo. i researched all my parts before i found that site, but i found out how to do a vanilla install and use a DSDT from there.
  5. balamw Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
    Or stick with something compatible with Kakewalk.

    Personally, if you're going to get the iPad 2 anyway, I'd shoot for the iMac. As alust2013 I'd wait for the next iMac rev. If they are insanely great, get one. If not, pick up the current generation cheap from the refurb store.

  6. Aries326 macrumors 6502

    Dec 28, 2007
    I've gone the route of creating a hackintosh out of a Shuttle SG33G5. It worked great. But now I'm making more money, and working more, I just don't have the time to mess around with the Hackintosh everytime I want to upgrade it. I've installed Windows 7 on my SG33G5 and left it at that. I still miss using OSX on it. I've got it hooked up to my 52" HDTV and use it as my media server. I have XBMC running on it as well as Air Video to stream to my wife's iPad 2 and our iPhone 4s.

    Now that I'm making more, I finally bought a REAL Mac. I got myself a PowerBook 2.66 ghz late 2009. I use it mainly for Aperture, surfing and work.

    If I were in your shoes, I would go get the iMac when it comes out with Sandybridge (or has it already?). Forget the Hackintosh. Its more hassle than its worth and Apple's use of current i5, i7 chips make it a no brainer. When I built my hackintosh, I put in a Q6600 quad core and overclocked it. It was faster than any Mac Mini or iMac at the time. I can probably build another Hackintosh for less than an iMac with similar specs, but I don't think you'd be saving that much more money, you won't get the form factor and you'll still have the headaches of not being able to do hassle free updates.

    For what you want to do, the Mac Mini will be a disappointment compared to the processing power an iMac offers. For me, if Apple were to make a Mac Mini with an i7 quad core, I'd be all over that and bye-bye SG33G5 Hackintosh.
  7. durruti macrumors regular


    Mar 26, 2004
    mac mini updates soon

    New Mac mini updates advice is to wait till then...if i didn't say it, someone else would.
  8. opera57 macrumors 6502

    Feb 15, 2009
    iMac or Mac Mini. A hackintosh can be good at times, but it can be a pain to maintain and sometimes isn't as stable as an actual mac. I have a core i7 hackintosh and actually find myself using my much less powerful MacBook air instead as it is just more stable and just works.
    As said, if you can wait to see if the mac mini will be updated that would be a good idea, if not I would lean towards the iMac as it is quite a lot more powerful. [​IMG]
  9. MBPro825 macrumors member

    Oct 4, 2009
    I would suggest buying a low end iMac and if you're buying an iPad 2 also that should suffice.

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