Mac Mini Vs. iMac Vs. Macbook: Which one is best for me?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by ethan86, Feb 25, 2010.

  1. ethan86 macrumors member

    Jul 14, 2009
    I am looking to upgrade my computer and want to buy a Mac. I just want to know what everyone's opinions are regarding a Mac Mini vs. a iMac for a desktop and a Macbook vs. a Macbook Pro for a laptop. Graphics, processing power, stuff like that. (I would guess the Mac Mini would be close to the Macbook in those categories since they pretty much have the same specs) I will not be buying both a laptop and a desktop, I just want my options open and am looking at both ends, but am leaning more towards a desktop since my current laptop (a 2 1/2 year old Toshiba) still works great.

    What I plan on using the computer for is:
    Web browsing
    Streaming movies from Netflix
    Watching stuff on Youtube
    Watching video files
    School work
    Lite gaming using Windows
    Virtual Box

    Thanks in advance
  2. newdeal macrumors 68020

    Oct 21, 2009

    get a macbook pro once they refresh it. You won't want to use your toshiba anymore once you get used to the mac operating system. You will either find yourself not using the desktop because you don't want to learn a new OS, or having no laptop if you learn the OS and start hating the toshiba.
  3. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    Get a macbook or mac mini, the imac is too expensive for light usage.

    I'd suggest only having one computer, as that makes life easier, and get a macbook. Or if you want to use two computers, I'd suggest a service like dropbox or live mesh to keep them sync'd.
  4. ethan86 thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 14, 2009
    Oh, I'm familiar with the operating system. I've been using Tiger for 1 1/2 years on an old G3 iMac and G4 Power Mac that I'm currently using as a media server. I bought the iMac to familierize myself with OS X since I'm a Computer Information Systems major in college. I thought that because of the field I'm getting into, I should know both Windows (boo!) and OS X. Within 10 minutes of hooking up the iMac, I knew my way around that system.

    I wouldn't say my usage is "light"; I'm constantly on my computer doing stuff (mainly my laptop).

    I should have stated this in my opening post, but next term I will probably be running Virtual Box for my Linux admin class. How would the Mini and Macbook handle that? I keep hearing people say the Mini is underpowered for anything but web browsing and office work.
  5. MacMini2009 macrumors 68000


    May 22, 2009
    Who said the Mac Mini is underpowered for anything? It has the exact same specs with the current Macbook and Macbook Pros. (except for 9600M in 15/17in MBP models)
  6. rumorguy macrumors newbie

    Dec 26, 2009
    buy an imac

    laptops are always more expensive--less computer for your money and repairs are greater--a 21 inch screen vs a 13 inch screen--bigger is better in computers too

    half of the threads ask when do the new laptops come out, those of us with imacs complain less.

  7. striatedglutes macrumors 6502

    Feb 22, 2009
    From limited in-store experience, the mac mini has trouble driving high resolution displays like the ACD when it comes to the little accents of the UI. It's enough to rule it out for me, so I thought I would pass it along.
  8. ethan86 thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 14, 2009
    That's always what I think when I hear this, but the Mac people I've talked to at school (and discussions I've seen on the internet) always say the Mini is underpowered and to go with a iMac.
  9. polotska macrumors 6502

    Sep 23, 2007
  10. MacMini2009 macrumors 68000


    May 22, 2009
    The Mac Mini is not slow at all. Those people are misinformed because the 2009 models of the Mac Mini are now on par with the rest of the Macs. All of the Mac Mini models before 2009 were underpowered. You buy the Mac Mini if you already have a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. You buy the iMac if you have no peripherals.
  11. sliceofman macrumors newbie

    May 26, 2007
    well the bigger problem here is what u have already. U have a laptop, and if it suits you fine for what u need it to do mobile wise then there is no real point to get a macbook pro. But as for the iMac vs the Mini it depends… do u already have an external screen? b/c if u do i'd say go for the mini…*if u dont once u buy the mini and an external screen then u'd be up to the price of a 21" iMac. Personally i'm an iMac fan, mainly since i dont have an external screen… but either way works.
  12. ethan86 thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 14, 2009
    I do have two external screens, a 20-inch LCD hooked up to my PC and a 15-inch LCD hooked up to my Power Mac. I can't take the monitor away from the PC because I live with my mom and brother and my brother hates Macs, so he would want to keep using the PC and I would like to have a bigger screen than 15-inches, so that one's out of the question. So, I guess this kind of nulifies me buying a Mac Mini. I also find myself working on my laptop more than my PC because I use the laptop at school and it has all the programs I need for my classes loaded onto it. It also doesn't help that my PC isn't up to par anymore.

    Regarding the Macbook and Macbook Pro, what advantages does the MBP have over the MB besides SD Card slot, illuminated keyboard, and aluminum casing?
  13. iMacThere4Iam macrumors regular

    Dec 28, 2009
    Really, nothing more than you'd really notice in day to day use, although you do get a glass screen with the MBP. I'm inclined to recommend the 21" iMac, since you want a bigger screen, and the 17" pro is $2,500. For the price of a 13" MBP, you can have more power, a bigger hard drive, and twice the RAM. You can always haul the Toshiba around when you really need mobility.
  14. ethan86 thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 14, 2009
    That 17" is a little too pricy for me and I can't imagine hauling around a 17" laptop. When I said bigger than 15" I meant for a desktop I would want something bigger than 15". Regarding laptops, 13" would be fine. I've looked at the Macbooks in Best Buy and thought the 13" screens looked great. Now, can the White Macbook's RAM be upgraded to 8 gigs or just 4? Apple's site says it only goes to 4 gigs, but I've read that it can actually go up to 8 gigs. Can anyone shine some light on this?
  15. opeter macrumors 65816


    Aug 5, 2007
    Slovenia, EU
    It can be upgraded to 8 GB. Has the same motherboard and chipset as the Mac mini. But the 8 GB RAM (2 x 4 GB modules) is quite expensive these days.
  16. ethan86 thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 14, 2009
    Has anyone ever used Virtual Box on a Mini, iMac or Macbook (Pro)? How is it's performance? Last semester I attempted to run it on a dual-core PC for my Linux class and it was very very slow. Right now I'm using it to run Windows Server 2008 on a quad-core PC and it works a lot better. Since I will be using Virtual Box, should I look into getting a iMac or would it run fine on either of the Macbooks?
  17. ethan86 thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 14, 2009
    Update: I just ran Linux via Virtual Box on my laptop to see how well it would run and am pleased to say it worked great. I was a little worried that Virtual Box would be too much for the laptop's single core CPU, since it ran like crap on the school's dual-core PCs, but it ran just fine on mine. I am very very pleased with my Toshiba. So I guess I'm no longer looking for a new laptop. That narrows my Mac purchase down to the iMac and Mini. So everybody, which one? (that 3.06Ghz C2D makes the iMac look very tempting)
  18. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    I've got a 27" i7 iMac, a 2.4GHz 13" Al Unibody MacBook (basically same as current 13" MacBook Pro), and a 2.26 GHz Mac Mini (the entry model). So I've got all three here. The Mini is used as an entertainment center, however the high end Mini would be more powerful than the MacBook, and I use the MacBook with Parallels to run Electrical Engineering CAD programs that are quite "hefty" with no problems. As an instructor, I have to run demonstrations and performance is important. The iMac, though, is in a class by itself. Even the C2D models would be much faster than the Mini considering the faster CPU, graphics processor, and hard drive. I've had no problem running multiple virtual machines (Windows and Linux, both, simultaneous with OS X!), as well as a handful of OS X apps all simultaneously with no performance issues.
  19. ethan86 thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 14, 2009
    I just ordered a current gen refurb iMac from the Apple store. It came to a little over $1,050 w/ tax. It should arrive in a couple days.

    Just my luck after I get it, the Macbook Pros will get updated.

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