Mac Mini vs. Mac Pro

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by colin.dunn, Jul 22, 2011.

  1. colin.dunn macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2011
    #1
    Thinking about buying a new desktop machine, I'm torn between two options. Both cost $800:

    Mac Mini (New)
    2.5 Dual-Core i5
    4GB Memory
    500GB HD
    AMD Radeon HD 6630M

    Mac Pro (Used)
    2.66 Quad-Core Xeon
    5GB Memory
    1TB HD
    GeForce 7300 GT 256MB

    It's primary function would be running Adobe Creative Suite. Currently I use a MacBook Pro (late 2008 unibody) connected to an external display. It works okay, but it's far from the Mac Pro I use at my studio. Any guidance would be appreciated.
     
  2. colin.dunn thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2011
    #2
    Mac Pro vs. Mac Mini

    Thinking about buying a new desktop machine, I'm torn between two options. Both cost $800:

    Mac Mini (New)
    2.5 Dual-Core i5
    4GB Memory
    500GB HD
    AMD Radeon HD 6630M

    Mac Pro (Used)
    2.66 Quad-Core Xeon
    5GB Memory
    1TB HD
    GeForce 7300 GT 256MB

    It's primary function would be running Adobe Creative Suite. Currently I use a MacBook Pro (late 2008 unibody) connected to an external display. It works okay, but it's far from the Mac Pro I use at my studio. Any guidance would be appreciated.
     
  3. iBookG4user macrumors 604

    iBookG4user

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2006
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #3
    The Mac Pro would have a great deal more expandability than the Mac Mini would. As the Mac Pro has 4 hard drive bays (5 if you count the lower Optical Bay), 8 RAM slots, 4 PCI-express slots and a plethora of USB, FireWire, etc.

    I would say go for the Mac Pro because of the expandability.
     
  4. Resist macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    #4
    The Mac Pro is a better choice due to its upgradability. While the Mac Mini has limited upgrade possibilities and thus a limited life.
     
  5. colin.dunn thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2011
    #5
    I had the same thought. Initially, do you think there would be much of a performance difference between the two?
     
  6. iCheddar, Jul 22, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2011

    iCheddar macrumors 6502a

    iCheddar

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2007
    Location:
    South Dakota
    #6
    Honestly, you're better off with the Mini, in my opinion. Especially since both are priced the same.

    For performance, the original Mac Pro scores roughly 5000 on Geekbench, the new Mini easily has the same performance. You won't get the same multi-threaded performance as you would on the Pro, since it has dual CPUs, but the Mini ought to be enough. Also, keep in mind that the Mini will be running faster (albeit less) ram than the Pro. I think the original MP's ram ran at 800mhz, the Mini's runs at 1333ghz.

    Judging the differences between the 6630 and the 7300GT becomes more difficult. The 7300GT is capable of driving 2 30" displays with some ease, and it appears that the 6630 will be able to drive two thunderbolt displays...if nothing else, the Mini can drive one thunderbolt display or two 1920x1XXX displays with relative ease.

    Also, as far as upgradability goes, I don't believe you'll be able to upgrade beyond the 8800gt GPU for a Mac Pro that old, and that card will be hard to come by as it is. For ram, upgrading the Mini to 8gb is simple and cheap (~$50). For storage, it'll be simple to add FW or TB drives as needed going forward.

    By going with the Mini you're going to get a new system, with 1 year of Applecare, and a machine that uses FAR less power. I believe the original Mac Pro had a 800W PSU in it, the Mini has an 85W PSU.
     
  7. Macsonic macrumors 65816

    Macsonic

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2009
    Location:
    Earth
    #7
    It's quite hard to compare accurately between the Mac Pro 2006 and current Mac Mini with real world stats. If you're getting the 2006 Mac Pro , would suggest you upgrade the videocard. The Nvdia 7300GT is a weak card as its capacitor tends to die out. And the card design had no cooling fan unlike other cards I used to have a 2006 Mac Pro, Card died and had it replaced. I think in this forum there was another thread about this card problem or you can google and check. The edge of this Mac Pro would be the expandibility while the Mac Mini is maxed out already and that's it.
     
  8. AppleDroid macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2011
    Location:
    Illinois
    #8
    That's an ancient Mac Pro and for the money, unless you need 5 internal drives and 24GB of ram, is not worth it.
     
  9. scupking macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
    #9
    Go for the mini its a little powerhouse of a machine. The only thing I wish it had are 2 front usb ports.
     
  10. toxic macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    #10
    Everymac reports the 2.5 Mini Geekbench score is 6515...I'm having trouble finding a 1,1 2.66 with a score higher than 5000. so CPU and memory-wise, the Mini is likely much faster.

    IO-wise, 2.5" HDDs are pathetically slow. I find 3.5" drives fast enough that I don't care for an SSD in my Mac Pro.

    I'd be wary of pushing a Mini very hard because of its lack of efficient cooling.

    outside of that, there's the whole issue of external vs internal drives. the graphics card isn't an issue unless you use AE or Premiere.
     
  11. iSavant macrumors regular

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    Mar 31, 2007
    Location:
    Colorado
  12. MacinJosh macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2006
    Location:
    Finland
    #12
    I recently got a 1,1 MP for dirt cheap. It's the 3GHz Quad. I could sell it and get
    3-4x what I paid for it and get the new Mini. I won't. It's too awesome. 6800+ on geekbench, insane upgradeability and it's just, well... Pro.
     
  13. saulinpa macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2008
    #13
    I migrated yesterday from a loaded 2x3.0GHz dual core Xeon Mac Pro to the stock 2.5 mini. It is noticeably slower for everyday tasks.:( May be the 4GB ram or it may be Lion. I really need to get the 8GB upgrade on order.

    That being said the mini should be more than enough for Adobe products.

    I do see that running the CPU cores at 100% causes it to really pump hot air out the back. Definitely hotter than my previous minis.
     
  14. TonyK macrumors 6502a

    TonyK

    Joined:
    May 24, 2009
    #14
    If it were me I'd go with the Mini because it is new and new means warranty and the ability to run the latest OS X version and software.

    The MacPro takes up a LOT of room. I know because my MP is sitting on my desktop next to me. It produces a lot of heat and uses a lot of energy.

    With the Mini, I would consider a memory upgrade and a good external HD. But that would be the same for the MP. Neither has the memory I think would be needed to run CS at its best.

    Trying to get memory for the MP is going to be expensive. The last time I checked the memory for my 3,1 MP was more expensive than my wife's 4,1 MP.

    So get the Mini, save up some more for extra memory and a good external drive. Actually I would replace the internal drive with a SSD and put the 500GB drive in an enclosure. That will make the Mini sing. :D
     
  15. MTI macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2009
    Location:
    Scottsdale, AZ
    #15
    Mac Pro for the flexibility and upgrade options.
     
  16. btbrossard macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 25, 2008
    Location:
    Chicagoland
    #16
    Your electric bill would be much happier with the mini.
     
  17. moxxey macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2011
    #17
    And your health ;)

    I had a Mac Pro in my small office and I found it generated way too much heat and definitely increased the temperature in summer by a few degrees. It's like having a fan blow hot air all the time.
     
  18. DarthMoops macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2010
    Location:
    Baltimore MD
    #18
    I know it blows up your pricing comparison a little bit, but I'd say the 750GB (7200 rpm) drive is well worth it. Unless you plan on swapping for an SSD yourself.
     
  19. colin.dunn thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2011
    #19
    Wow, thanks to everyone who responded. Combining feedback from another thread, this is a summary of responses:

    Mac Pro (5 votes)
    -Upgradable
    -Fast, multi-thread performance
    -GeForce 7300 should be replaced
    -Relatively old machine
    -Requires a lot of power, generates a lot of heat

    Mac Mini (7 votes)
    -RAM runs faster (1333ghz v 800mhz)
    -Scores higher on Geekbench (6515 v 5000)
    -Uses less power
    -One year of AppleCare
    -Thunderbolt
    -Not really upgradable

    I think I will go with the Mini :)
     
  20. colin.dunn thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2011
    #20
    Wow, thanks to everyone who responded. Combining feedback from another thread, this is a summary of responses:

    Mac Pro (5 votes)
    -Upgradable
    -Fast, multi-thread performance
    -GeForce 7300 should be replaced
    -Relatively old machine
    -Requires a lot of power, generates a lot of heat

    Mac Mini (7 votes)
    -RAM runs faster (1333ghz v 800mhz)
    -Scores higher on Geekbench (6515 v 5000)
    -Uses less power
    -One year of AppleCare
    -Thunderbolt
    -Not really upgradable

    I think I will go with the Mini :)
     
  21. eoren1 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2007
    #21
    Hey Colin
    For what its worth, I am a photographer using LR/PS CS5
    Just got that mini yesterday. MOved up from a 2007 Macbook. I posted LR start/render times yesterday in the post below. Hope it helps:
    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1193962

    Will redo the testing after the 8gigs RAM arrives.
    From everything I've read, LR doesn't speed up with SSD. Not sure if PS does. The mini is fairly upgradeable (at least RAM/HDD).
    E
     
  22. eoren1 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2007
    #22
    Also, there is a new PS Speed Test that I just ran. You can find it here to run on you MB Pro to compare
    http://clubofone.com/speedtest/

    The Mini finished in 24 seconds on CS5
     
  23. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #23
    One other thought. In theory at least, external HDDs hooked up to the Mini via TB are supposed to be as fast as if they were internal HDDs. This changes the whole "wisdom" of internal vs external drives.

    At the moment there are not a lot of choices for TB peripherals, but that should change within a year, I would think. I expect the people who make those external HDD units that look like Minis to add TB connectivity soon. Imagine putting a stack of 10,000rpm HDDs in an external unit that runs as if they are internal? And including an DVD drive?

    However balance that with the max RAM that a Mini vs Mac Pro can support. The new Mini supports up to 16GB, and MP up to 32GB.

    Personally, if those were my only choices, I would probably buy the Mini simply because it's new. Get AppleCare, then save your pennies for 3 years - and get a new Mac Pro. Your Mini should be able to be sold for a few $$ at that point, or kept as a backup system.

    Good Luck.
     
  24. flopticalcube macrumors G4

    flopticalcube

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2006
    Location:
    In the velcro closure of America's Hat
    #24
    An SSD will improve your experience. More RAM may or may not help.

    OP, note that the mini has SATA 3 ports whereas the Mac Pro has SATA 2 so a SATA 3 SSD will run at full speed on the mini but at half speed on the Pro. Unless you need massive storage via cheap drives or huge RAM, get the mini.
     
  25. Prodo123 macrumors 68020

    Prodo123

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2010
    #25
    That Mac Pro is 5 years old, from 2006. A MacBook Pro 15" 2011 outperforms a 2010 Mac Pro. May that give a comparison of Sandy Bridge vs previous generation processors.

    Performance and expansion
    That being said, the Mac Mini will EASILY outperform that Mac Pro. You won't have much expansion, but that may change with the utilization of Thunderbolt's high throughput. Instead of internal upgrades like Mac Pro, the Mac Mini will have external add-ons like the new Sony Vaio Z-series's Media Center.
    Because of this possibility, expandability and upgradeability cannot be argued.
    However, if you are not going to upgrade, the Mac Mini will be outperforming that Mac Pro.

    Size
    The Mac Mini is diminutively small. Mac Pros, if you have seen one in person, is a full tower, which is gigantic.
    Both will let you use your own monitors, keyboard, etc. but Mac Pros will allow for multiple monitors. Unless you get Apple's new Thunderbolt Display, of course, Mac Minis won't be able to do that (although it seems they are more than capable of doing so).

    Heat
    The Mac Pro has an inefficient, outdated, big-die Xeon processor, but has a better cooling system. The Mac Mini has a cool, efficient, small-die Sandy Bridge, but early adopters are saying that it has some heat issues. But due to the sie, the Mac mini will ultimately have a cooler average temperature.

    Bluetooth
    Mac Mini has 4.0, extremely power efficient. I don't know if that Mac Pro even has a Bluetooth module inside.

    Storage
    Again, cannot be argued due to Thunderbolt

    Conclusion

    Thunderbolt is the game-changer. It has so much potential. However, even without Thunderbolt, the Mac Mini will be better than the Mac Pro.

    Also, do you want a 5-year-old near-EOL Mac Pro or a brand-spankin-new Mac Mini?
     

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