Max Spec Mac Mini + Thunderbolt Display or moderate spec 27" iMac?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by ZacT94, Oct 25, 2012.

  1. ZacT94 macrumors regular

    Jun 25, 2012
    Hi everyone,

    I'd like to ask everyone's opinion on the question posed in the title. I can afford to get either one of these options and I have a USB superdrive, but what would be better to get? Any help would be greatly appreciated. I'd like to add that I'm in no hurry to get a new Mac, as I have an rMBP, just want a desktop for a home office.
  2. Pharmscott macrumors 6502a


    Dec 13, 2011
    Sacramento, CA
    If you get the Mini, when it's time to upgrade you can keep the Thunderbolt display and get a faster CPU without taking the loss of the selling and rebuying the display.
  3. cperry2 macrumors regular

    Jul 23, 2011
    The new 27" imac shipping in December, no question. It has a better panel than the thunderbolt display now, it's user-upgradeable to 32gb of ram, and is more powerful that the most powerful mini right off the bat. And less expensive.

    Make sure you choose the right everything besides ram though.
  4. MacSignal macrumors regular

    May 8, 2010
    I would wait for the updated TBD and go with that and a Mini instead of the new iMac. Newer thinner iMac might be the newer even less reliable iMac, with the prior versions already Apple's most failure-prone product.
  5. turtlez macrumors 6502a


    Jun 17, 2012
    I was completely set on getting the new iMac but now it is way too expensive for no good reason. I am now waiting for the next TBD (glass laminated to screen) and I will either put it on a mac mini or a hakintosh. Apple really screwed me over since I was waiting from April for that iMac. I don't know what to think about Apple as a company I was without doubt loyal to. I love that screen on the glass though so I will definitely get the next TBD!
  6. ZacT94 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 25, 2012
    If I do get an iMac, I'm only going to change the CPU and GPU for BTO. I'll replace the RAM and HDD myself.
  7. The-Pro macrumors 65816

    Dec 2, 2010
    no one even knows if the hdd is replaceable yet. who knows what apple did to make our lives miserable
  8. ZacT94 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 25, 2012
    It should be replaceable. I mean, if the SSD in the rMBP is replaceable, why wouldn't the HDD on the iMac be replaceable?
  9. wgnoyes macrumors 6502

    Jul 20, 2011
    With the iMac they probably don't really consider that, as the imac design itself pretty much shuts down user upgrades of internal components to all but the bravest of souls.

    Of course, that's also for current mid-2011 imacs. Who knows WHAT it takes to get into a late 2012 machine!
  10. ZacT94 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 25, 2012
    Is the 2011 iMac that hard to upgrade?!
  11. Yebubbleman macrumors 68030


    May 20, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    Dear OP, these two posts above this text are very good points that you should definitely heed. Toward the second one, I'd like to think that the switch to 2.5" drives and (what appears to be) away from the Gamer-Laptop-PC form factor dGPU boards in the 21.5" will make for a substantially more reliable 21.5" iMac, the machine isn't out for another month and data is not in yet. I'm hopeful, but I'm also skeptical.

    Given this, and given that your retina MacBook Pro is essentially comparable to a high-end 2012 21.5" iMac itself, going the Mac mini route is probably the most sensible. As for waiting on a Thunderbolt display; I'd say that if you really badly want a Thunderbolt display and you want that to be a lasting investment, you should buy a comparably low-res 24" monitor and save the rest of the money saved by that for the next Thunderbolt display (which I'm presuming will make its appearance by the end of 2013, given Apple moving away from FireWire, making its improvements on anti-glare on the 27" screens and overall thinness of the units themselves); that way, when you pull the trigger on your thunderbolt display, you can hook your 24" monitor to your HDMI port and your Thunderbolt display to your Thunderbolt port allowing for a pretty nice two-screen set-up.

    RAM you can't do on the 21.5" iMac; that has to be maxed out BTO (though you can on the 27"); as for hard drives, unless you have suction cups and have read the service manual (which wasn't up on GSX last I checked), you probably don't want to plan on doing this.

    It'll be replaceable. Apple has yet to make a Mac that doesn't at least have a technician-servicable drive. User-servicable is highly doubtful and shouldn't really be planned for unless the person really knows what they're doing.

    It's not hard, it's just a major pain in the ass.
  12. ZacT94 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 25, 2012
    I never wanted to get the 21.5" iMac anyway. I like bigger displays. And the somewhat higher upgradability of the 27" iMac is appealing.
  13. adam9c1 macrumors 68000


    May 2, 2012
    Then don't get the 21.5 iMac.

    I'm only in my mid thirties and I'm feeling my eye sight is getting worse and worse.
    At home I have a 28" hannspree 1920x1200 and at work two 28" somethings with similar resolution.

    In the past I had a Mac Mini and then upgraded to 2008 Mac Pro.
    I do love the 27" apple display however... I've seen it at the store. LOL
  14. SimonMTL macrumors newbie

    Feb 7, 2005
    Montreal Canada
    Good question OP, I was asking myself the same question.

    I'm not 100% sure yet, but I've had my iMac for close to 6 years now and thinking about upgrading. Of course, in 6 years, monitor technology has evolved, so I'm glad to get a new monitor.

    So whether I get a TBD + MacMini or an iMac now, my next upgrade will probably be in 2018, and by then, I probably won't want to keep the TBD when upgrading the Mac Mini to a more powerful version, so might as well just get the iMac which is a better overall package.

    Or maybe it'll just make me do a Mac Mini upgrade more often...

    See, I don't know! :) I like the idea that the TBD has a subwoofer in it, versus the iMac's lack of. I guess if you want to upgrade more often, better off with a mac Mini, and if you keep your computer for a longer time, an iMac with always the nicest and freshest display is the way to go.

    I also need a minimum of 2TB storage, so the Mac Mini will force me to have extra boxes around, or to just clean up my files more often!. I like tidy, and I have less time nowadays to fiddle around with cleaning up. iMac 27" with Fusion Drive 3TB for me! (PS: I upgraded my iMac with an internal 2TB drive - I like to dig in and have a challenge)
  15. ZacT94 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 25, 2012
    I don't really need too much space on a hard drive, so I will get an SSD regardless as I would like fast boot up times and quick application opening times (that's half the reason I bought my 15" rMBP).

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