Mini for Graphics/3D Modeling...

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by whyrichard, Jan 6, 2012.

  1. whyrichard macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2002

    I'll be buying a mac mini for use in a design/fab office. We do a lot of 3D modeling using Parallels and Rhino, and the usual CS5 etc.

    Question is regarding Mac Mini configurations...
    Usually I do not consider a processer that is only a bit faster to be worth a few hundred bucks when buying a new computer. The thinking goes it is not a good investment to be 20% faster 5% of the time. However, the ram to 4gigs + the better graphics card might make it worth it? How much better is the graphics of the $800 machine?

    Thanks for any advice!


    Here are the specs...

    2.3GHz : 500GB
    2.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5
    2GB memory
    500GB hard drive1
    Intel HD Graphics 3000

    2.5GHz : 500GB
    2.5GHz dual-core Intel Core i5
    4GB memory
    500GB hard drive1
    AMD Radeon HD 6630M
  2. ThunderSkunk macrumors 68030


    Dec 31, 2007
    Colorado & Ontario
    Rhino will be fine, running natively in OS X.

    Depending on what you're running in Parallels, that may not cut it. We run Autodesk Inventor and Solidworks in Para, and originally had an office full of iMacs with essentially the same specs as your $800 mini there. They really struggled, because of the nature of Parallels, sequestering, not sharing your system resources.

    You're right, the main processor choice is nearly inconsequential. An almost imperceptible speed increase was noted when we went to 4 cores over 2 but speed was never an issue to begin with.

    We've found RAM to be the biggest factor. OS X seems to like about 2GB min to run stable, and Win7 seems to desire nearly 2GB by itself as well. Try shoehorning a big modeling application in, and the 4GB total wasn't nearly enough. 6GB would have been comfortable, but since that's not an option, you'll want 8. We give an even 2 or 4 to OS X, and the rest to Win, depending on if you use other OS X apps in your workflow or your multipart assemblies are a couple dozen parts or several thousand. This makes the biggest difference in your ability to work for any length of time without windows running out of ram and crashing like mad. With 4GB total, win ran out of ram every 20-30min. With 8GB, never. A lot of our competitors still run their design & engineering software on XP Pro, because it's faster & lightweight compared to 7. If you're lucky, and your modeling software will run on XP Pro, that may be an option.

    Video Ram is next most critical. 512MB was actually enough to squeek by most of the time, but once we got a machine in with 1GB, it put an end to the various video glitches that prompted many a reboot. We've found the best results, splitting vram evenly, regardless of how much you have.

    We now use Macbook Pros (same as 17's, but more portable when they need to be). ...connected to the big 30" Cinema Displays Apple used to make before they went glossy. It's top of the line for MBPs right now, but still middle of the road for desktops. We could go crazy with Mac Pros for more horsepower, but that'd be excessive and wasteful. The ability to have our designers grab their workstations off their desks and collaborate on-site somewhere has been hugely beneficial.
  3. itszackry macrumors newbie

    Jun 10, 2010
    I'd get a used late model iMac for about the same price, but will have more power, and obviously, a screen.

    Check eBay and certified Mac re-sellers.

    Never be worried about used computers, especially Macs. If you do the right amount of research, you will be just fine.

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