Mac Pro to Mac mini

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by iJny9956, Dec 19, 2012.

  1. iJny9956 macrumors member

    Jun 16, 2012

    I have am a mac pro owner, I am a designer (web/graphic) I do a lot of audio work as hobby. not too much with video. I love my mac pro but its heavy and not fun when i move around. I have a macbook air 11 for the road but would love to reduce clutter at home. Is it worth it / wise for me to go from a pro to a mini?

    Mac Pro: 2010
    2.8Ghz Quad Xeon
    12Gb Ram
    120 SSD


    8GB Ram
    Mac Mini: 2012
    2.6GHz Quad i7
    120GB+1TB Fusion Drive


    advice? am i crazy?
  2. mabaty macrumors member

    Apr 18, 2011
    Boise, ID
    I don't think it is a bad idea, do you have a decent monitor already? Do you have a budget? perhaps for a little more an iMac would better suit you.
  3. iJny9956 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 16, 2012
    i have a good monitor.

    i've looked into iMacs, but they are so expensive! + mac mini seems more upgradable over imacs in terms of ram and drive
  4. mabaty macrumors member

    Apr 18, 2011
    Boise, ID
    Sounds like you already know what you want, I say if you have a good monitor go for the mini, it is much faster than your mac pro, and uses very little electricity.
  5. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    That is greatly overstated. CPU is a little better, but it will throttle more than the mac pro under heavy loads. GPU is a significant step down, but it shouldn't affect the OP much. Next year it should support OpenGL 4 and OpenCL 1.2 out the door. That would be better, but I don't think we'll see a new mini before next fall. They're usually updated after the imac, which is typically updated later than the macbook pro. I don't mention the Air because it's possible for the Air to slide depending on how long it takes Intel to optimize ulv cpus for that generation.

    The imac is what I would call a budget solution if someone was considering the single mac pro and a cinema display. If you have your choice of displays, you have other arguably better options.
  6. jjhoekstra macrumors regular

    Apr 23, 2009
    With the mini you will get about the same performance, maybe even a bit more, in a very small package. But the mini is not build for running at 100% for a long time, it will throttle down quite a bit, whereas a Pro will never ever throttle down, no matter what you throw at it. BUt design tasks and audio should be perfectly fine.
    If space and less clutter is important than go for it! You will not regret it. The fusion drive is a smart move.
  7. mpowered macrumors newbie

    Dec 19, 2012
    If your Mini throttles, it's defective and needs to be replaced.

    If your Mac Pro throttles as your post indicates, it's defective and needs to be replaced.

    We've been replacing Mac Pros with Mac Mini and iMacs for all of our CS and C4D work and users are pleased. Compared to a 2010 single-proc Mac Pro, render times are reduced by 30-60%. Not to mention the system is quieter, uses much less power and as such, produces much less heat.
  8. mabaty macrumors member

    Apr 18, 2011
    Boise, ID

    I don't think so, Those Xeon's are old, I manage about 6 Mac Pro's in my office, the Mac mini's 3720QM; core for core is MUCH faster, by about 30%, same for efficiency. Also, the Mac mini will not need to run @ 100% all of the time, so who cares? The OP stated he does not do video work, just design and music. Also, I have seen Mac mini's running 100% of the time as build servers for QA, we also have an original first gen. Intel Mac mini in our conference room thats been running non-stop for years in a ventless closet.
  9. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    I don't see how that's possible. Even benchmarks which tend to exaggerate things aren't that far apart. They're around 30% comparing the 2.8 quad mac pro to the 2.6 quad mini on geekbench. Barefeats ran it through cinebench as well. I mention that due to your reference to Cinema 4d. Your results are not typical. Edit: I'm not saying it isn't a capable machine.
  10. mpowered, Dec 19, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2012

    mpowered macrumors newbie

    Dec 19, 2012
    Hi thekev,

    Well you're talking a CPU architecture that's...3 generations newer (I'll check after I submit), PLUS a faster clock (since they always turbo up a few 100Mhz, even with all cores loaded), PLUS Hyperthreading which, in this environment, adds 10-15%, sometimes more in our experience.

    The faster single-threaded performance is a boon as well for those apps that aren't threaded well, or even at all.

    Naturally, adding a dual-proc Pro into the equation swings it back in favor of the Pro, but you're talking a lot more money for not really THAT much better performance. Note that I know you're talking single-proc here, I was just going off on a tangent.

    The real world feedback from these guys has been overwhelmingly positive.

    It's too bad the Pro Tower has been left to languish. I hope that the 2013 refresh brings Sandy-E Xeons, or maybe Ivy-based models. More importantly for me though, I want a hi-DPI desktop display.

    edit: it looks like it's more like 4-5 generations old, depending on what you consider a new generation

    edit2: context for the 30-60%. The 60% comes from less properly-threaded apps where the per-core advancements are able to shine a bit more. Turbo ramps up even more in these scenarios showing even better deltas.
  11. thekev, Dec 19, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2012

    thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    Well the W3530 in the OP's computer was a slight 2010 revision of the W3520 from 2009. It was nehalem. The Xeon EPs have gone through two generations since then. Westmere had a somewhat incomplete lineup, so all oems filled in with nehalem. Sandy Bridge E came after that. The EX Xeons used by some servers still use Westmere until next year. Anyway I don't see how 4-5 generations could be derived there. This wasn't a 2008 2.8.

    I want a hi-DPI display too. I like the display I have, but higher resolution would be extremely helpful. Unfortunately desktop displays are in a weird place. Panel development is most likely the issue. It's expensive. If such a thing was currently available in sufficient quantities, you'd see Eizo, NEC, Apple, and Dell put out products based upon them. It's just that with the overwhelming majority of desktop displays priced at $100-300, I don't know how high of a priority we'll see. We're kind of at LG's mercy here:(.

    I guess that is what's really important. I'm curious how they're using them. I still view the gpu as their major achilles heel, although I only mentioned it briefly in this thread as it shouldn't really affect the OP.
  12. _bnkr612 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 8, 2004
    To the OP, I too am in the same field as you. Had an '08 8-core Mac Pro and sent it packing so I could make room for the '12 Mac Mini, 2.3 i7, 16GB, SSD (installed myself) and the stock HDD. I must say, I am very happy and it runs great with all the day-to-day tasks I throw at it. Throttling? That's absurd.

    Best benefits:

    • Small footprint
    • Low power consumption
    • Thunderbolt, FireWire & USB 3
    • Affordable 16GB upgrade

    It's so frickin' light, I had to put some grippy tape under it so it doesn't slide around when I access the ports. Very happy with this machine.
  13. Larry-K macrumors 68000

    Jun 28, 2011
    I just don't get how people are getting by with the onboard GPU of the new Mini. It's kind of a cruel joke. Don't know why they couldn't at least get a base level iMac board in the thing, they did it in the past.

    As for Mac Pros, I've never had mine choke on a file, which is more than I can say for all the iMacs in the office, and they're pretty new.

    I like having a decent monitor, lots of SSDs and memory, just me I guess, but I could live with a little less real-estate use.
  14. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    Just use it. Tell me one app that has serious issues on the HD4000. The only thing I have problems with is some high-quality games, but that does not count for work.

    The TS is web/graphic designer, and an old 7300GT is letting all apps fly around the screen already.

    Oh and check the Dell U2713HM. Perfect sRGB out the box, great ergonomic features, DP for easy connection to the Mini and a price of 550$. It is better than a TB display at just above half the price.
  15. _bnkr612 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 8, 2004
    Well put.
  16. Starfia macrumors 6502


    Apr 11, 2011
    I switched from an 8-core Mac Pro to an entry-level 2011 Mac mini. Even when doing video editing and effects, it's still perfectly capable for virtually everything and just requires a little more patience for longer renders and complex effects. It almost never has a hitch with dozens of tracks in Logic Pro unless I'm seriously multitasking.

    I can tell it's not faster when it comes down to it, but with Mountain Lion and a (quite affordable) 8GB RAM upgrade, it's turned out to be my most reliable and loyal desktop. I think I can tell my next upgrade will be to a new Mac mini with Flash and 16GB of RAM (unless the 2013 Mac Pro turns out to be revolutionary), but I could live happily with this machine for years as it is. If you're just doing web work, you should be totally fine.
  17. jablko macrumors member

    Nov 12, 2007
    Lincoln, Nebraska
    If the Mini had a real GPU, it would be much more tempting to me. In my experience, OpenCL really does make a marked difference, especially in CS6 apps.

    The good news is though, you could replace your Mini much more frequently than an iMac or MBP for the same (or less) money. In the case of a Mac Pro, it would be a lot less money. Instead of trying to buy a computer you're planning to replace in four years, you could plan to replace it every two years. Over time, that would negate the performance gap.
  18. Liquidstate macrumors member

    Jun 11, 2012
    Pacific Northwest
    Conflicting reports...

    I was seriously considering a Mac Mini for audio production. But several posters in previous threads reported that the Mini sounds like a hair dryer on full under modest loads for audio production. However, that may be the 2011 Mini they are referring to, rather than the 2012.

    I don't use dozens of tracks (I'm a Pro Tools user) or virtual instruments, I try to keep it as straightforward (and analog going in) as possible. I don't use expansion cards, etc. But I am still on the fence, due to the conflicting reports.

    Would Pro Tools itself be putting a significant load on the Mini because it is multi-threaded?

    Or could it be that the Mac Pro people can't wrap their heads around this little Mac being sufficiently powerful for a project studio rig?

    I'm willing to change my mind and go either to a purposely dead-ended MP or a Mini. I have legacy Firewire gear that is no longer being made that I am not giving up. The Mini has Firewire, so I think I can hook it to a decent Firewire hub such as the NitroAV 8-Port FireWire 800/1394b.

    Is there enough information now to confirm the 2012 Mini can handle a multi-theaded application like Pro Tools without ramping up the fans?
  19. turtlez macrumors 6502a


    Jun 17, 2012
    Just when I thought i was set on the iMac (forcefully). Cool to know that the HD4000 is more than good enough for the adobe suite. Considering a NEC and a mini for the money I save not buying that $3k AUD iMac
  20. iJny9956 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 16, 2012
    have to be honest. there is something weird about going from pro to mini. Maybe counterbalance is right, "Or could it be that the Mac Pro people can't wrap their heads around this little Mac being sufficiently powerful for a project studio rig?"

    I guess at the moment, mac mini is in the win except for graphics card. i Found this on another thread:,3107-7.html thats scary to look at :(

    I'll stop by at the apple shop and tinker with one.

    how much are the mac pro's selling for these days anyway?:confused:
  21. iJny9956 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 16, 2012
    one more question:

    I would like to use an external USB3 osx bootable partition on the mac mini. would usb3 speed at least perform like an internal sata2 7200 drive? please let me know.
  22. jrasero macrumors regular

    Feb 26, 2011
    I say Crazy

    so 2010 MP is older is bigger but defiantly is faster than the MM i7.

    I would go with a MBP 15" or MBPR 15" or just stick with your MP

    The MP line will get revised sometime...

    I mean how much moving do you really do? I used to have the Mac Mini and never moved it.

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