Mac Mini w/BYODKM or 27" iMac

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by CAWjr, Mar 12, 2015.

  1. CAWjr macrumors 6502


    Jan 19, 2010
    Atlanta, GA
    My 2007 MBP that I have been using as a desktop forever has reached it's end life. It can no longer operate as a primary machine efficiently, even when scaled back to bare bones. I am going to retire it to some other kind of side use, but I need to replace it with something new. I am not looking for a power machine & I do not need a laptop (I already have an Air as my "away from home" portable mac. I'm looking for something that can do internet, basic office work, photo/music/video management (with light editing), and some occasional web development work. Basically, I want something that can do more than a basic user would need, but less than someone who would consider a Mac Pro. Plus, something that will be about as future-proof as you can get (knowing that nothing is really "future-proof").

    Last year, I was planning to do a Mac Mini setup with BYODKM & get a pretty sweet monitor (or two) for it, but when they released the new Minis last year I was just as disappointed as everyone else to see that they actually took a giant step backwards from the 2012 models. The advantage of the Mini is that it's not all in one & if the monitor dies, I can just replace it. If the Mini has an issue, I don't have to bring in my monitor. Typical non all-in-one stuff. Plus, the setup is cheaper overall.

    The iMac is cleaner and more powerful. It comes with everything I need in one box. No need to go out & get a new keyboard, mouse, & monitor. But that also means it costs more, and if one thing breaks, the whole thing has to go in for repair.

    So, what would you do? Seems that there are good & bad sides to both setups, but neither one would really be a wrong decision.
  2. MiniMe77 macrumors member

    Feb 18, 2015
    My iMac from 2007 recently gave up too and I pondered whether to get a new iMac or switch to a Mini. I went for the Mini because I am kind of bored with the iMac design at the moment. I also started off with a Mini the first time I switched to a Mac, so I knew what to expect this time around. But I wasn't expecting it to be as fast as it is!

    I got the i7 Mini with 16 RAM and 1TB SSD and I really love it so far. Very fast! Have only done basic things with it so far, but everything is zipping along.
  3. chogue23 macrumors member

    Mar 16, 2015
    Waco, TX, USA
    The biggest thing to remember is that the iMac uses a more powerful processor than the Mac Mini. The Mini mostly uses a dual core laptop processor, while the iMac uses a quad core desktop processor. Upgradability is now the same on both models (nonexistent) so that is not a deciding factor anymore. It really depends on what your needs are and what applications you run. If it is for just word processing and internet use, anything that will run Yosemite should work well for you with at least 4GB of ram. If you are doing any photo editing the Mini or iMac would be great, but if you do any video editing or want to run Windows in Parallels or VMWare, you will want the quad core iMac.
  4. DGord macrumors newbie

    Feb 25, 2015
    I was also deciding between an iMac and a Mini to replace an 06 iMac. Based on my relatively basic use (nothing really requiring high processing speed), I decided I would much rather go the mid-model Mini route and turn it over for the latest model after shorter periods than buy an iMac which I would keep longer (and therefore would want to upgrade more - just the upgrades alone that I wanted to get on the 27in iMac were almost the cost of the Mini). Bonus was that even with the cost of a great 27in 4K monitor, I am way ahead now and even after one replacement Mini, I am still ahead.... another bonus is that now I have a great monitor I can also use it easily with our laptops and when I replace this Mini with a new Mini in a few years. Also, I suspect even a 3yr old Mini will have some value and so when I get a new one I can either sell the Mini and get something back or give it to our son as his "own" computer so end up even further ahead than getting an iMac. Turned out that I got a nice refurbished Mini and saved $100 that I wasn't even expecting to save.

    I often wonder how much "overkill" the latest and fastest chips are for most users..... in theory nice to have of course but I wonder how many people would really notice the difference in day to day use.
  5. Micky Do, Mar 17, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2015

    Micky Do macrumors 68000

    Micky Do

    Aug 31, 2012
    An island in the Andaman Sea.
    Not really the big step back that it was made out to be. More a step sideways, in keeping with other computers in the Mac lineup (and elsewhere? I dunno)….. There has been a check on the ever increasing grunt, speed and installed RAM, and a move toward functionality.

    Geeks who like to meddle with computers may be a bit more vociferous, but folks who just want to do stuff are more important in the end.

    If big power is important a tricked out 27 inch quad core iMac would be the way to go….. heck a mate just went all the way and stumped up for a Mac Pro (to replace a several year-old 27 inch iMac) which he is well pleased with.

    Otherwise, for more general use you have several options in the Mac Mini or iMac range…. choose according to your needs and situation.

    I went for a Mini in 2005 because I wanted something that was easily occasionally transportable (sans peripherals). Also I wanted a monitor of my own choosing, rather than the glossy iMac offering. Nearly ten years on I am still on my second Mac Mini (bought in 2009), that I got when replacement was more cost effective than repair at the time.

    Late last year I replaced the monitor I bought back in 2005. I am still using the wired Apple keyboard that I bought years ago because I like it (not everybody does) and it has a couple of USB ports. I like the Apple Magic Mouse, but not enough to buy one. A basic Logitech one is fine.

    My demands as a teacher, and for general internet, entertainment and photography use are not demanding, so modest specs are just fine.

    Three year old Minis certainly do have value, and have plenty of use left in them. As such, they have a reputation for holding their value compared to other computers.

    Yes, as with cars, motorcycles and many other consumer products, bragging rights to having the latest and greatest is probably more of a factor than any real need in many cases.
  6. MiniMe77 macrumors member

    Feb 18, 2015
    I think it's not always about 'bragging rights' though. I maxed out on the Mac Mini simply because:

    a) my last computer was 2007, the iMac.
    b) this one has to last me at least another seven years like the iMac did. Preferably longer.
    c) therefore, you look at what you can afford and naturally tend to go for the higher spec if you can afford it. In my case I wanted SSD badly. I went for the highest possible SSD because it's the only storage drive I intend to use long-term. I chose the 16 GB Ram over the 8GB because it's better to be safe than sorry as you can't upgrade it anymore and I didn't want to be kicking myself wondering if I should have gotten 16GB.

    The only thing I wasn't sure about was whether to get the I5 processor or the I7 and I went for the I7 simply because 200 Euro extra doesn't make that much of a difference, even if the processor difference isn't that tangible in most areas. I probably would have been happy with an I5 but I had no way of testing it out beforehand so I just went for the I7.
  7. Celerondon, Mar 18, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2015

    Celerondon macrumors 6502a


    Oct 17, 2013
    Southern Cal
    Magic Mirror On The Wall, Who's The Fastest One Of All?

    These posts should make your choice easy. You can buy the reasoning that jobs like "any video editing" demand nothing less than an i7 quad core iMac or you can resist the hype and listen to the voice of sanity.

    All of it is good advice but I think that DGord and Micky Do made sage observations. Selecting that desktop i7 quad core is not really critical for most users. I ran with the hyperbole and bought an i7 2012. For the moderate video & photo work that I do, a 2014 mid range machine would work fine as well. The i7 is faster at certain multi-core tasks but the i5s are certainly not unusable! The main point is, I simply wanted the beast!

    Pursuing the title of speed and processing power champion is entertaining but it can also be expensive. Satisfy your needs but know that market realities doom the quest to own the best to be ultimately futile. The Wicked Queen could not handle the answer provided by her magic mirror, can we?
  8. Altis macrumors 68030

    Sep 10, 2013
    Going from quad-core to dual-core is actually quite a step backwards. My 2007 computer has quad-core (Q6600)... don't know why you'd see it as a side-step towards "functionality". I'm not sure I'd buy a computer in 2015, expecting it to serve me well into the 2020's, with less power than models from years ago.

    I'm curious how they've managed to improve functionality on the new model.
  9. Celerondon, Mar 18, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2015

    Celerondon macrumors 6502a


    Oct 17, 2013
    Southern Cal
    Here is How

    Apple has improved functionality on the new models by including:
    Dramatically better WiFi - AC
    Dramatically faster storage interface - PCIe
    Clearly improved video - Intel 5000 or Iris
    Two Thunderbolt 2 ports!
    Full line Fusion Drive Availability

    All of these advantages over the prior minis are available all of the time. There is no point arguing with the fact that the i7 quad core processors are twice as fast at some tasks. Should that fact by itself outweigh all of the real improvements that I listed for all users?

    My 2012 doesn't do video work every day or every week either for that matter. When I do get that fan whooshing, it is good to have an i7 QC. If this machine had an i5 processor, those particular jobs would take about twice as long. In all other things, there would be little or no perceivable difference.

    If I were purchasing a 2014 mini and had to choose between fast storage like an SSD(or Fusion Drive) and an i7 QC processor I would want to pull a Kobayashi Maru and take both. Of course Apple doesn't offer a 2014 i7 QC mini and I am not James T. Kirk.

    So I would pick the fast storage and at least for a while, smile -
    Every time I booted that little screamer
    Every time I saw Yosemite or a newer version of OS X on my monitor
    Every time that I did things or fully utilized peripherals that older computers could not handle
    And especially every time that things moved with that "Pop" that Macs have when a PCIe connected SSD is behind the scenes
  10. Micky Do macrumors 68000

    Micky Do

    Aug 31, 2012
    An island in the Andaman Sea.
    The Mac Mini didn't go from quad-core to dual-core. It went from having a quad-core option to not having one.

    The dual-core options in the 2014 Mini range, perform at least as well as their 2012 equivalents.

    The 2012 Minis came with 4 GB of RAM, and up to 16 GB could be installed. With the 2014 Minis you get 4 or 8 GB as standard, and you have the option of specifying up to 16 GB at purchase; more convenient from the point of view of many, albeit not DIY geeks.

    The 2014 Mini range has better graphics, up to date connectivity (2x TB2, updated Airport Extreme support) and lower power consumption.

    Call the loss of the top end quad-core option a step back if you like, but for most users that is / was not relevant. For the most part the 2014 line up is a step sideways in performance and a bit more modern in connectivity.
  11. bbnck, Mar 20, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2015

    bbnck macrumors 6502

    Mar 19, 2009
    The main reason I personally chose a Mac mini over an iMac is because I can easily use multiple matching monitors of my choice, and the Mac mini supports at least three displays with compatible adapters (if you have Thunderbolt Displays, then even more than three with daisy-chaining).

    If big performance is something you need, then you realistically need to look at the iMac. In my case, I don't need the world's best performance but I do need something that can handle (relative) medium-heavy multitasking and also allowing me to play casual/non-demanding games too - and the Mac mini does this well. I also find it so much easier to multitask with multiple monitors. I think you can use an external monitor with the 27-inch iMac (check to be sure), but you'd have to spend quite a bit of money to get something that closely resembles the overall design of your iMac if you wanted to do that. For anyone else: I know the 2011 21.5-inch iMacs doesn't support external displays so I am assuming the current 21.5-inch models don't either.

    It is a shame Apple does not offer something that is between a Mac mini and a Mac Pro. Hopefully it is something they do in the future.

Share This Page