Mac Mini vs iMac vs Macbook Air

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by brserc, Aug 4, 2013.

  1. brserc macrumors newbie

    Aug 4, 2013
    Hi there!

    You might think the title is kind of stupid because there are a lot of differences between these devices, but please read before you decide.

    The main reason I want to buy a Mac is to develop applications for iOS using XCode. Also I'm an engineering student so I will use programs like Matlab and write a lot of other code. Also I might be thinking of doing a little bit of web design and using photoshop. Finally the device must be good for another 2 years, because I will not have another chance to buy another computer before I graduate.

    I need to say that I have an i7 notebook with gt630m graphics, I use it around 1,5 years and it is really fine. My main aim is to be a developer. My first thought was to buy a MBPr but it costs around 2600$'s so that was out of question.(Maybe you guys can convince me to buy one :D)

    The prices I will write are from my country, not in U.S.

    So here are the PRO's and CON's of each device:

    Mac Mini:

    i7 version of Mac Mini is about 1000$. It comes with 4gb of ram and 1TB 5400rpm hard disk. I will need a monitor to use with it, which will cost about 250$. Also in time my main aim is to upgrade the system with an SSD(200$) and 16gb of ram(150$). So the total cost of the device would be 1600$, but I will have a hell of a good Mac, I can sell it separate from the ram and ssd and use them for other purposes, also I will have a great monitor.
    The con side is of course I can only use this device at home. Also another con is the hd4000 graphics processor, I'm not sure whether can it handle a big HD screen nicely without any lags.


    The entry level 21,5" iMac interested me, it's around 1435$ in here. But it's all in one so I won't pay anything extra after buying it. The con side is I can't upgrade this guy(the harddisk mainly) and of course it's only usable at home again. Also maybe after 2 years I could still want to use this device but what if 8gb of ram is not enough? Another pro would be 640m graphics.

    Macbook Air:

    I'm thinking about the new haswell entry 13" model. It's about 1440$.
    This guy is the slowest of all three and have a 4gb of ram.(8gb of ram is not sold around here right now.) The pro side is it comes with an SSD and I can work with it wherever I want. But to develop I would probably need another monitor to work with. The main reason I don't want to buy this is 4gb of ram, and I don't know whether the i5 in this machine can handle hard developer work. Also 13" seems a little bit of small to work with. But I really like the Air so it's one of the options, and the only option that gives mobility.

    Also as a one more question to help me decide: I've never used a SSD before, how much difference is there between a SSD and a 5400rpm HDD.(I think my notebook has one of these right now)
  2. glutenenvy macrumors regular


    Sep 6, 2011
    I would consider memory soldered to the board to be an absolute CON so MacBook Air would be out for me. What you bought is what you are stuck with. I have a recent MacBook Pro with memory that is not soldered in. I believe that MBPr is soldered too. I'm talking about a non-retna MBP which is several hundred dollars cheaper and available as a non glare screen. I'd suggest that for you. It's quite likely you'll never see BluRay coming from Apple. Other than that it makes for a nice rounded machine that you can take to clients offices or climate controlled buildings when your power goes out.
  3. NewbieCanada macrumors 68030

    Oct 9, 2007
    Huge. Depending what you're doing.

    I'd be really leery of buying a 4 GB machine for development though.

    My Mac Mini runs two 2560x1440 Thunderbolt displays. One is used for non-intensive stuff (web, word, spreadsheets, email, etc.). The other is used for full-screen video playback. As long as you're not doing intensive gaming there's no problem.

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