MacPro 2x 2.8GHz QuadCore or Mac Mini Server?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by DHart, Sep 14, 2011.

  1. DHart macrumors 6502


    Jan 17, 2008
    At present I'm using this machine with 10GB of RAM:

    Model Name: Mac Pro
    Model Identifier: MacPro3,1
    Processor Name: Quad-Core Intel Xeon
    Processor Speed: 2.8 GHz
    Number Of Processors: 2
    Total Number Of Cores: 8

    almost exclusively for LightRoom 3.5 editing of large (Canon 5DMkII) RAW files. Seems like this may be more machine than I need, overall, for this purpose. SO I'm thinking of doing a trade in on the new Mini Server, maxed out with RAM and processor.

    The MacPro works great. But I'm wondering how close to this performance I might get with the new Mini Server, a maxed-out version.

    Does anyone know how these two machines might compare for LR3 processing of large RAW files?
  2. DustinT macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    Well, your maxed out Mini will have half the cores and 2g less ram. Plus, you'll be moving to a 2.5" laptop style hard drive from the, presumably, 3.5" drive in your current machine. All that adds up to a considerably slower piece of hardware.

    The Mini is capable of editing large raw files. I have done it a few times and it performs fine. Plus, it uses significantly less power. I think I'd recommend you grab the quad core with an SSD and do the ram upgrade yourself. If you aren't happy with the performance just return it within 14 days.

    There's really no way to know for sure until you try it.
  3. reebzor macrumors 6502a


    Jul 18, 2008
    Philadelphia, PA
    First of all, the mini can take 16gb of RAM.
    Second of all, a 7200rpm drive is a 7200rpm drive. Regardless of if it's 2.5" or 3.5"
    Third, the mini has SATA6G, and the MP has SATA3G, so the mini's harddrive can actually be faster (for a SSD anyway)

    All of this being said, the MP you have still scores higher on Geekbench than the new Mini. (only by a couple hundred so it might not be a big deal)
  4. HHarm macrumors regular

    Mar 4, 2009
    You would be spending money to gain _little_. :p

  5. DHart thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jan 17, 2008
    I would probably come out money ahead with the trade in. And the smaller form factor would be very useful to me. So if the performance is close, that would make it a good move for me.
  6. Lokheed macrumors regular

    Jun 10, 2009
    The CPU performance would actually be around a 20% drop. If you look at GeekBench, the minis flutter around 8500, while the Mac Pros tend to stick closer to around 1,000. You'd also lose the dedicated video card, which Lightroom may offload some of the work too, making your Mac Pro that much better (may want to look into this).

    Aside from the new niceties, like Thunderbolt, 6 Gbps controller, a faster FSB, new architecture, etc., you would probably see a 15-20% performance drop. It wouldn't be a lateral move that's for sure.
  7. Adamantoise macrumors 6502a

    Aug 1, 2011
    Sounds like you have already made up your mind but want people to agree with you that you're doing the right thing.

    I don't understand how you've been using a Mac Pro and all of a sudden decided that you needed a smaller form factor. You didn't even consider the iMac, you're going all the way to the Mini.

    Personally, I think you just want a new computer/toy. It's a stupid move in my opinion, but hey, it's your money do what you want with it.
  8. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Jun 9, 2009
    Yes, 7200rpm is 7200rpm, but since the data platters in the 3.5" drive are larger than the ones in the 2.5" drive, data at the edge of the platter (most hard disks tend to put data here if possible) actually travels faster on the bigger drive due to the increased radius.

    I can understand the OP's position-

    The imacs are great computers but for photo editing, they may not be the best fit for everyone. The reason is that they have built-in displays. This means you're forced to use a glossy display, that also is not wide gamut. For upper-level photo editing, this can be a dealbreaker as you can get a better experience by bringing your own matte and/or wide gamut display along.

    Furthermore, Lightroom (at least in its current version) does not utilize the GPU for processing. So a high-end dedicated graphics card will have little to zero impact. With LR it's all about CPU speed.

    The drawbacks would be that in the future, LR may be written to take advantage of GPU processing, and the mini would lack that. Also, you'd likely be moving down from 10-8GB of RAM, which could have a tangible impact on operating performance. Yes, the mini can accept 16GB of RAM but at the moment that would cost upwards of $500+, making the value proposition somewhat less attractive.

    I ultimately agree though that at least looking at those Geekbench numbers it would probably be a lateral move at best, so unless the smaller form factor is really important to you, it's probably not worth the money to switch systems.

    FWIW, I just bought a 2011 mini server, for general use and photo editing using Lightroom. I was moving from a 2009 13" MBP, so I did get an appreciable step up in performance, and another big benefit was that I can hook up 2 external displays and get a lot more screen size and screen real estate (in addition to moving to 2 IPS displays- instead of 1 IPS external and the TN laptop screen). The 2011 mini works great in this regard, but if you already have a Mac Pro that is comparable, you may be better off just upgrading it to 16 or 24GB of RAM plus an SSD instead.

  9. Adamantoise macrumors 6502a

    Aug 1, 2011
    Adding more RAM won't solve a thing if RAM isn't the bottleneck. I'd say it's the hard disks
  10. DHart, Sep 16, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2011

    DHart thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jan 17, 2008
    WOW... you offer a heck of a lot of negative judgement and nothing else... especially from someone who hasn't a clue about my personal situation and needs. Personally, I'd say you're out of line with these judgemental comments. (How old are you?)

    Not that you need to know this to answer the question that I posed, but I have eight different Macs that I use at the moment in various roles, including the MacPro, two MacBook Pros, a 27" i7 iMac, two other iMacs, and a two year old Mini. I've been using Macs personally and in my professional studio since, oh, about 1984.

    I asked for a comparison of performance between my MP and the new Quad core MiniServer for Lightroom use, that's all... not a lecture on your judgement about my quest. :rolleyes:

    I do thank everyone else for your thoughtful and helpful comments! :)
  11. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Jun 9, 2009
    Just my personal view, Adamantoise, but it's not really necessary to quote someone's entire post just to add a one-liner response, particularly if your response will show up directly beneath the post you're responding to :)
  12. Adamantoise macrumors 6502a

    Aug 1, 2011
    Yeah my bad, it's a habit carried over from other forums. The placement of the "Post Reply" button just makes me make that mistake too often.


    Not my fault that you didn't mention you had several iMacs ... Garbage in, garbage out.

    Still, from where I'm standing it just sounds like you just want a new computer. There's nothing wrong with that, you work for your money, so buy what you like with it.

    Personally I don't subscribe to the idea that you have to "need" something before you own it.

    That being said, I have no clue why you're taking offense. From a practical/performance stand point it makes no sense to go from a Mac Pro to a Mac Mini, so yes, it's a stupid move in that regard.

    But like I said earlier, it's your money, do what you want with it. I bought a 2011 Macbook Pro even when I owned a 2010 Macbook Pro ... It was stupid but its my money and it's no one's business what I do with it.
  13. DHart thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jan 17, 2008
    Man you might consider bailing from this thread. My question had nothing to do with any computers but the MP and the MiniServer. Did you miss that somehow? Not my fault that you didn't stick to the question but decided to head off in some other direction entirely.

    More blah, blah, blah that has nothing to do with the question. No point wasting any more of your time (or ours) with this drivel.
  14. DHart thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jan 17, 2008
    Thanks to almost everyone here for your input. That gives me a good estimate on the performance difference between my particular MP and the MiniServer Quad Core. You've answered my question very well.

    From what most of you have said, it sounds like the MiniServer is approaching the performance of the MP that I have, though not quite there. That might be good enough for my considered computing changes, but I'm still considering the switch. Thanks again.

    BTW, for the record... before this thread I had the impression that the performance of the new MiniServer Quadcore was edging closer to my older MP, and you've confirmed that for me.
  15. MRU Suspended


    Aug 23, 2005
    How come your not factoring in GPU ?

    Both lightroom and aperture can use your GPU to accelerate, grab a GTX285 in your macpro and your current machine would outpace that mini in all situations.
  16. DHart thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jan 17, 2008
    MRU... thanks for that info. I wasn't sure how much Lightroom benefits from the GPU. I'll toss that into my consideration as well. :)
  17. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Oct 21, 2008
    What kind of timeline are you on? The next update to the mini probably won't be for a while, but by that time it will probably be a true upgrade to replace your Pro with a new machine. If you handle another year or so with your Pro, that would make the most sense (imo).
  18. DustinT macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    Another strategy that would make sense is to grab a nice SSD now and then keep it when you upgrade. That will make a difference no matter which system it's in.
  19. HHarm macrumors regular

    Mar 4, 2009
    Not just an SSD, but with the PRO you can easily have a fast SSD boot drive, fast and big HDD's for your images and a Time Machine HDD for backup. You also have raid0 options to up the performance of the boot drive and/or data drives.

    If you wanted to have those with a mini you would need an external enclosure (or two) at which point some of the small form factor benefit would be lost.... and you'd pay more for it anyway!

    With the MP you would have the option for a new GPU although I don't know if it makes any real difference in your usage.

    To conclude the Mac Pro is still has expansion possibilities that are available cheaper than what you get with Thunderbolt. I don't know your benefit from the small form factor and how much you value it. To me it seams a bit silly since your MP has real benefits compared to a mini and it still has a lot of life in it with you usage.

    But that's just my 2 cents! (I have a 09 MP that I'm currently upgrading)
  20. DHart thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jan 17, 2008
    Demosthenes... no rigid timeline at all, I was just kicking some ideas around with varying uses of my computers. I don't need to do anything at present and could wait a year.
  21. DHart thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jan 17, 2008
    HHarm... the small form factor aspect is raised as I won't be using the MacPro for quite a few months and if I parlayed it into a MacMini Quad, I'd take it with me as a movie server. But I have enough machines such that I don't NEED to swap the MP for the MiniQuad... it is just a switch-up of my machine usage that I have been pondering. If the MiniQuad offered close to what my MP offers for LightRoom editing (which is all I use the MP for), then the swap to a smaller form factor would give me some extra utility in terms of portability. Of course, I do recognize the convenience factors of the additional drive bays, which I would have to shift to external enclosures.

    I have no qualms about periodic (even annual) trade ups of various machines that I use. A local Mac store has an awesome trade-in program where I've gotten excellent money back out of machines I have traded in for new. So perhaps I should just do the swap so I'll have the portability of the mini, then next year repurpose that mini to replace my current (aging) 20" white iMac print server and get the then new Mini, which may be very close to the performance of the MP.

    There certainly are lots of possibilities! I'm just kicking it all around in my head. The significantly enhanced power of the new Mini Quad just has me considering some new options that I hadn't considered before.

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