Mac Pro vs 5x Mac Minis for Dev Teaching Lab?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by jimmydhp, Jul 24, 2014.

  1. jimmydhp macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2014
    #1
    Hi all,

    I'll be running a small teaching lab for students to learn Objective C, not sure whether I should get a single Mac Pro and try to munge it into supporting multiple simultaneous users, or get five Mac Minis and have them setup individually?

    I don't mind spending a bit to get things working nicely, but my main concern is setup/takedown - I likely won't have a permanent home for these things, so anything that minimises computer config time would be best...

    Thanks for any help,

    Jimmyp
     
  2. joelypolly macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2003
    Location:
    Melbourne & Shanghai
    #2
    5 mac minis will work better than having 1 Mac Pro running everything. Single point of failure is never a good option
     
  3. MattInOz macrumors 68030

    MattInOz

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2006
    Location:
    Sydney
    #3
    You'll need to cart around screens either way so...
    Why not just 5 cheap iMac's and a cart
    Or MacbookAirs and a pizza delivery bag?

    Nothing a beginner programmer will throw at either of those machines will be an issue. They can handle reasonable sized xCode projects.

    As far as I know MacPro will only handle one user active. It's something I've yet to find a solution for we be keen to know how if you get it to work.
     
  4. jimmydhp thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jul 24, 2014
    #4
    Thanks Matt and Joel, both worthy considerations. For a mba, might not the screen be a bit small for development?
     
  5. westrock2000 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2013
    #5
    You would still need a terminal of some kind even if the single Mac Pro was doing the back end processing. I'd say refurbished Mac Mini's if possible, something you can find for ~$400 each or so. Then everyone gets dedicated processing and memory space. Strap them to the back of the monitor :cool:
     
  6. jimmydhp thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2014
    #6
    Any suggestions about how I'd handle specific logins for users if I had five different machines? Is it possible to have one machine as the master 'user' system and then have users authenticate against that, or should I go with a generic 'student' profile for each machine and give each student a USB stick to retain their own data?
     
  7. goMac macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2004
    #7
    Not really on the 13" Air. It's good for simple development. Besides, you could always buy an 11" and plug into an external display.

    There is simply no way to set up a Mac Pro to do this multiuser thing you want in a reliable manner, so whatever you're going for here, just toss that option right out. One machine for each user is the way to go.

    USB stick is the way for users to manage their files.
     
  8. funwithdesign macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2011
    #8
    Have one machine running OS X server with mobile user profiles.
     
  9. goMac macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2004
    #9
    I don't think I'd go that route unless he had an actual server. That's a lot of strain to put on a single Mini with a not-so-fast hard drive.

    Also the pack up/move requirement makes that a less nice option.
     
  10. jimmydhp thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2014
    #10
    Okay, looks like 5 x MBA 13" is an attractive option, with the possibility of getting some cheap 21+" monitors down the line for extra screen real estate.

    As for user files, given having a central server might cause a bit of strain for a Mac Mini or whatever I was thinking what might also work is setting up each of the students with a Dropbox account and then having them login at the beginning of each class, and then logging out again at the end - would avoid the inevitable issues that arise when students forget their USB sticks etc.

    Thanks for all the help so far guys, please let me know if you see any obvious flaws with my approach.
     
  11. azentropy, Jul 29, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2014

    azentropy macrumors 68000

    azentropy

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2002
    Location:
    Surprise
    #11
    I'd spend a little bit more and go for the 13" rMBP over the MBA, especially now that the base has 8gb RAM standard - it is really only $200 more than the MBA if you want 8gb. With the bump it is ~30% faster and has a MUCH better screen (but I've never been a fan of the MBA screen as colors look washed out and has bad viewing angles besides not being retina). The trade off is weight.

    Don't underestimate the Mac mini. While graphics are limiting for some uses, the CPU itself is no slouch. Especially the quad i7.
     

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