Mini for digital art? Plus some setup questions.

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by tgrays, Nov 4, 2013.

  1. tgrays macrumors member

    Apr 21, 2013

    I'm looking for some advice (and confirmation?) please as to whether the Mini is doable for the stuff I'll be putting it through. I've done some searches and it seems it's spiffy enough for Photoshop CS6 work, however what I've read seems mostly geared towards photo editing and such.

    What I'd like to know is if this is the same for digital art... as in digital painting, drawing, lots of brush work, working with layers, filters, and so on? Or is that a different ballpark altogether?

    I also make high-res brushes and draw stuff for print. Other than digital art on Photoshop, I sometimes do general graphic design/vector work on Illustrator. I use Sketchbook occasionally, and I may look into using Manga Studio or other drawing apps in the future as well. Other than this, I usually have (at the very least) my browser open with quite a bit of tabs, FTP for web stuff, and Mail running as well.

    So, my question is, will the Mini be able to handle this smoothly? If so, which one should I be getting? Will there be a big difference between the i5 and i7 in my case? (If I get the i7, I'll be going with the base and not the 2.6)

    My budget is a bit tight so I'd like to get the most bang for my buck so to speak. I just don't know which upgrades, if any, makes a difference and which doesn't. I do plan on maxing out the ram to 16GB, but that's the only thing I know at this point. I'm not very computer hardware savvy (I only know the general basics), so benchmarks and all these specific numbers are kind of gibberish to me, to be honest. :p

    Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks very much!

    ETA: I forgot to mention that I occasionally do a bit of animated gifs, but no real video work. I don't know if this makes a difference, but I'm throwing it in anyway!
  2. fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2008
    Nothing you do will tax the Mini. You don't even need an i7. Just make sure you have enough RAM. How much is enough? That depends on the file sizes you typically work with, but 4 GB is likely not enough. I use 16 GB. That's the current max for the Mini.

    Don't buy the RAM from Apple. Fools do that.
  3. strider21 macrumors newbie

    Mar 5, 2011
    kind of similar scenario, confused between:
    • 2012 Mac mini with 2.3 GHz i7, 4GB RAM and 256GB SSD.
    • 2013 21.5 imac with 2.7GHz i5, 4GB RAM and 256GB SSD
    usage will be Graphic design (Photoshop and Illustrator running simultaneously, CC version ). In Photoshop i'll be working at a resolution of 4500 px x 4500 px (max), 300dpi, RGB. Predominantly using brushes and filters.
    purely Performance wise, which do you think is better?
    also any reviews/ opinions for the display-quality of 2013 21.5 imac ( Graphic design usage )
  4. tgrays thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 21, 2013
    Thanks fa8362, may I assume from what you said that the i7 vs i5 doesn't make a difference in terms of performance for graphics and digital art? What types of design work utilizes the i7 then? Video? I've heard that i7 is recommended for design work, but I guess what I'm trying to figure out is what type, exactly.

    I may in the end have to go with i7 regardless though if I want the ssd, as I just realized that there's no ssd option for the i5.

    Ram-wise, yes, I'll definitely be needing the maximum 16GB. 8GB is hardly enough for me as it is with my usage. I'd have gone with 32 if it were possible!
  5. tonsouhugou macrumors newbie

    Nov 5, 2013
    8GB is hardly enough for me as it is with my usage. I'd have gone with 32 if it were possible![​IMG]
  6. fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2008
    If you're doing 3D design work, or video, or audio processing, the i7 is recommended. If you're doing traditional 2D work, you don't need it. As I mentioned previously, just make sure you have enough RAM. Photoshop is a RAM intensive program and I don't recommend less than 8 GB for most artists. If you work between Photoshop and Illustrator or like to keep lots of programs open, I'd seriously consider 16 GB, which is what I use.

    I use an i7, but I dabble in video, and do a lot of high resolution audio processing in addition to my work in Photoshop and Illustrator.
  7. Schnort macrumors regular

    Oct 24, 2013
    The 4 core devices (i.e. i7) are good for video because that's a job that's easily split among multiple independent cores. Photoshop, if you're doing heavy filter stuff, may get a boost when running the filters, but otherwise it won't make much difference. Audio, CAD, other stuff like that really gets minimal benefit from multicore or it's just not terribly taxing that it makes no visible difference.

    Otherwise, the only benefit the i7 has is it's top end is slightly faster.
  8. tgrays thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 21, 2013
    Thanks guys, that helped put things into the proper perspective for me!

    One more question, please and thank you. How much difference will having the SSD make in terms of design and my workflow? Forgive me if that's a dumb question - I'm aware the SSD is supposed to speed a lot of stuff up, but I don't actually understand where/how it speeds things up. Start-up speed or even application launch speed in general doesn't matter to me all that much, but I do care about speed and how smooth things run when it comes to design and process work.

    It seems Apple doesn't offer SSD for the i5, so I guess this would be the make or break deal as to whether I end up with the i5 or i7. Is the SSD (or Fusion) worth it for me to make the jump to i7 when it seems I don't actually need the i7?

    (And yes, I do have to go with Apple on the SSD. Installing my own is not an option. I can install my own RAM but that's the extent of it. :eek: )
  9. fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2008
    If you have 16 GB of RAM, the SSD isn't going to do much beyond open Photoshop faster. Its impact on operation speed will be minimal because the files you're working on will be in RAM.

    When I was considering an SSD, I saw some benchmarks that OWC did with Photoshop. With 16 GB of RAM, the impact of SSD was slight. The SSD has much more impact with RAM at 8 GB and 4 GB.
  10. BigRed1 macrumors 6502

    Dec 13, 2011
    If it becomes a problem, you could always get an external ssd using a usb3 or thunderbolt enclosure. You can swap out the drive yourself, but that looks way too involved for me.
  11. tgrays thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 21, 2013
    Thanks very much for all the help and the patience in answering my questions! Guess I can pass on the i7 and SSD for now. :)
  12. bad03xtreme macrumors 6502a


    Jul 16, 2009
    Northern, VA
    I am in need for a new desktop to replace my old G5 iMac because I switched employers and lost the MacPro laptop I was issued. I wanted to get a Mini so I can work on my graphic/web design side jobs at home. If the new mini doesn't come out by the end of the year what model would be a better machine for graphic design work i.e. CS6 suite? Thoughts?

    I was looking at:
    2011 model w/ 2.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 with the AMD graphics card
    2012 model w/ 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 with the Intel HD4000
  13. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    Not true: Photoshop stores every brush stroke or whatever action directly on HD. It runs horrible on a 5400rpm 2,5 inch HD. Unless you use your RAM as scratchdisk or set your history to 1 step, SSD will improve things VERY MUCH.

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