Mac Pro to Mac mini switchers - need advice

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by comatory, Jul 12, 2013.

  1. comatory macrumors 6502a

    comatory

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2012
    #1
    My story first:

    A year back I was in need for a "powerful" computer. I spent one year using 2011 i5 Macbook Air that my father borrowed me as my main rig because I lost my previous MBP. As everyone here I use my computer daily, 70 percent of the time for daily stuff but there comes a time every few weeks when I use my computer for video editing (HD, mostly SD but from various sources) and compositing (not that heavy stuff but I still like to have some overhead - mostly After Effects).

    Macbook Air surprised me that it handled some of the tasks well but I was constantly running out of memory and SSD space when in the middle of intensive session. I knew I needed something more robust and I set my mind on getting a desktop (I already have second-hand 15" MBP 2009 for my mobile needs).

    I was really looking forward to getting an iMac but wanted to wait for new models. After seeing them I didnt like it (I was aiming for low-end 27"), especially with new price hikes in EU (around 25 percent more). By that time I was already afraid of having AIO because of display issues (I already had 24" LCD anyway that I used with portables in clamshell mode).

    So I did a lot of research on Mac Pro's and started looking for Quad 2009 model. I was very lucky and got myself a pretty nice machine - used 2009 MP with upgraded CPU to Quad 2.93, 8GB of ECC RAM, ATI 5870 plus SSD drive with additional two platter drives for really really good price (around 1000 USD shipped). That was before Mac Pro's got banned here in EU haha :)

    Since then I put additional 2x500GB drives in there for RAID0 scratchdisk and replaced ECC memory with 32GB of DDR3 memory. Fast forward to present, I am happy with the machine, I have lots of room for everything, I never run out of memory, system is very fast and stable. So whats the problem you might ask?

    Its not really a problem, just a thought. I read a thread about energy-efficiency comparisons between MP and MM and started rethinking my computer use.
    After some conclusion I figured I'm fine with four core CPU (I thought about putting hex processor in MP but the price is too high for me). I was toying with the idea of putting GTX-style GPU inside to have some CUDA support (and maybe occasional gaming of 5-2 year old titles). I think I could get along with 16GB of RAM as well, the only time I hit the ceiling is when rendering something in AE that is intensive.

    I figured that I got myself MP mostly because of SATA ports, I guess I like having 5 drives in the box but then again, I read few articles and saw that USB3 nowadays is perfectly fine for 1080P ProRes editing so my two 500GB in RAID0 are cool but maybe its too much (?). 1080P is the biggest video size I use anyway (AVCHD in Premiere Pro from my Olympus Pen camera), I don't think I'll be doing anything bigger than that in foreseeable future (maybe 4K when that gets mainstream in 5 years).

    I mean I dont mind having externals around. I already have corded keyboard, USB audio interface, webcam and UPS connected to MP (along with one external drive and ethernet). I guess I would be fine with single USB3 drive as scratchdisk and another external for my CCC backups (of course I would put additional SSD inside mini for OS).

    It would be nice to have something with small footprint, energy efficiency and whatnot. On the other hand I'm that kind of a guy who likes to have overhead because from time to time I have like 20 apps launched at once (and of those are Premiere with project loaded and After Effects rendering in background perhaps, Photoshop on top and some other stuff) - but this happens once or twice a month and this usage is sustained for only 2-3 days.

    TLDR: I was wondering if any of you "stepped down" from Mac Pro to newer Mac mini (quadcore) and what were the reasons. How are you feeling with Mac mini compared to your former Pro, do you feel limited? Are there times you wished you had Mac Pro?

    (sigh) I guess Im the type of customer who would really like the New Mac Pro if it had a reasonable price in base config (around 1700-2000 USD including taxes).
     
  2. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
    #2
    I'll save anyone who reads this thread a lot of time: OP has a 2009 with a quad core 2.93ghz Xeon and wants to know if stepping down to a Miji is doable using USB 3.0 drives for mass storage instead of internal.
     
  3. COrocket macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    #3
    There are some advantages to the mini like USB 3, SATA 6Gb/s internal ports, energy efficient, comparable processor power. You are correct USB 3 is plenty fast for dual desktop drives in RAID0, so storage space isn't an issue. However it sounds like you need the graphics power, and that is the mini's weakness. The integrated graphics that it comes with is equivalent to an entry level laptop GPU at best. So you would be taking a huge hit in that department. If you are happy with your current computer, I don't see a reason to switch. Those power saving threads seem exaggerated (a Mac Pro does not use 980 watts just because it has a power supply rated for 980 watts) so I wouldn't switch unless your power bill is becoming unaffordable....
     
  4. Omnius macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2012
    #4
    Thanks. I got bored reading that post. For most purposes, USB 3.0 will be just fine. Really the only time he might miss the 2009 pro is if he does stuff thats GPU intensive.
     
  5. comatory thread starter macrumors 6502a

    comatory

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2012
    #5
    thanks. GPU doesnt seem to be an issue now. sorry got carried away with the post.
     
  6. scbond macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2010
    Location:
    Nottingham, UK
    #6
    I think you need to check your facts...the Mac Pro wasn't banned in the EU, Apple were just unable to retail the current model as a brand new machine because it didn't meet the new power restrictions. They were still allowed to sell off those that were in-stock past the date of the new restrictions.

    Trying to compare a Mac mini and a Mac Pro is a bit daft. Obviously the Mac Pro is much more powerful. Now, whether you need the power of a Mac Pro or whether a Mac mini would be suitable for your needs is the question. If you're doing. The Mac mini will still do everything you need to do but will be slower than the Mac Pro at doing them...but then you only need to do those power hungry tasks every so often I feel a Mac Pro would be overkill. If you were doing tasks like video editing daily for a living and the faster things are processed then the more you get done in a day THEN you could justify a Mac Pro. Then again, if you want to spend much more on a machine you don't really need because you like it then that's your choice.
     
  7. hudson1 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2012
    #7
    I think it was the fact the Mac Pro has exposed fans inside that caused the EU to stop new retail sales.
     
  8. Omnius macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2012
    #8
    As you mentioned, it was some insanely paternalistic regulation that suggested people were being mauled by mac pro fans.
     
  9. scbond macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2010
    Location:
    Nottingham, UK
    #9
    Fair enough. I have only heard that it was due to power restrictions but I only read that at the time it happened. Either way, they were still able to sell what was left.
     
  10. monkeybagel macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2011
    Location:
    United States
    #10
    I don't really see any justification for you wanting to downgrade to the Mac mini from the flagship Mac Pro. The Mac Pro it sounds like meets all of your needs very well now and will into the future. It sounds like you want to get something else almost for the sake of change; to tinker with something new. I don't think in the long run this would be a wise decision.

    I have a Mac mini, albiet a 2010 model, but there is no comparison between that machine and my Mac Pro. I am sure the new ones are much faster than mine, but you lose the optical drive and get integrated graphics which are two disadvantages from the Mac Pro.
     
  11. comatory thread starter macrumors 6502a

    comatory

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2012
    #11
    yeah yeah i know i was trying to be sarcastic.

    thats my dilemma you see. im perfectly fine with something low powered most of the days but then from time to time i need that power. i dont do it for living (although i did at one point at time) so i dont mind waiting for renders a bit longer.


    i guess in that regard you could say having a mac pro would be more "future proof" for me. there might come a time when i will start to use my MP for money again where i need quick turn around... although i did that with Macbook Air and it was possible (although not comfortable).

    i think i was under the false impression that there were users coming down from MP to Mac mini and it seems there are not many (otherwise someone would reply i guess). of course the target user for both systems are very different and i realize that MP is a workstation.

    for now, i will keep MP. of course i wouldnt want to change computers just for the sake of changing (that wasnt my intention, maybe it came out that way) and for now it works very well. i am also familiar with being on the "low end", all my macs and iDevices (except the iPhone) are second-hand and I dont mind using older technology (for example my 2009 MBP works fine for most of my work although im starting to feel limited by the machine).

    i will probably buy mac mini as my next computer in 2-3 years, by that time i think i wont be able to run newest OS X and my need for a computer might change again so who knows.
     
  12. monkeybagel macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2011
    Location:
    United States
    #12
    I think this is why anyone is moving from a Mac Pro to a Mac mini - those that are on the Mac Pro 1,1 and 2,1 models that cannot run 10.8 without modifications to the boot process.

    If you didn't have additional drives, additional RAM, etc., that you were using, I would say that going to the Mac mini may not be a bad idea. But from the way you described your usage, you are using the "Workstation" side of the Mac Pro.
     
  13. aced411 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2007
    #13
    I'm a switcher. Went from a 2009 Mac Pro quad (16gb) to the 2012 i7 quad mini. Like you I lusted after power to fulfill my need of mixing over 100 tracks in Logic running tons of plugins without a hiccup. The pro gave me that ability for sure, but the fact that my bedroom lights flickered every time I powered it on made me wonder if using all that electricity was overkill for my needs. Since the pro was also doubling as an iTunes/file server, I felt it was best to invest in long term energy savings.

    I will admit having every drive external (including optical) is less than ideal, but I have yet to encounter a performance issue and its nice using a fraction of the power. In my case the mini was actually a slight performance increase according to geekbench. Crazy.... Anyway happy with my decision. Zero regret.
     
  14. comatory thread starter macrumors 6502a

    comatory

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2012
    #14
    Good to hear from someone who had the same setup (almost). Yeah Im bit worried about energy as well, on the other hand, the computer usually runs anywhere from 2h-8h daily (8h being weekends), so it's not that bad really.

    I'm wondering if there'd be any performance hit, especially from CPU but benchmarks seem to suggest that it shouldn't be an issue (maybe from lack of RAM but that would happen only on occasion so its not a big deal).

    Yep, having those drives external is not very nice but I've been looking at some solutions and it doesnt seem that bad. I will need to have two drives, one single for CCC backups and the other as a scratchdisk over USB3 (might get RAID0 enclosure for that), maybe i'll fork some money for single TB drive.a
    I have a little closet on the side of my work desk, all the drives can go in there and i'll be keeping my mini with peripherals (and usb audio) on top.
     

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