Mini i7 2.7 AMD vs Mini Server for Photoshop etc.

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by elliotn, Jan 4, 2012.

  1. elliotn macrumors regular

    Sep 5, 2011

    I recently bought a Mini Server to use as a photo workstation.

    I was disappointed to discover that the Server is the only Mini which doesn't allow the full range of Photoshop's OpenGL settings. So I also bought a Mini i7 2.7 AMD to do some comparison tests using different photo apps (both computers with 8Gb RAM). (The tests are to figure out which Mini is fastest, and do not specifically address any OpenGL issues.)

    Here's what I found:

    - Photoshop. The two Minis showed identical performance. Timed running a long, complicated Photoshop action.

    - Raw Developer. 10% advantage to the Mini Server. Timed processing 30 Nikon raw files.

    - PTGui. 20% advantage to the Mini Server. Timed stitching 15 12MP tiffs.

    My Geekbench scores (Mini AMD = 7000, Mini Server = 8800) suggest a 25% performance boost for the Server, but with real-world photo applications the performance boost is less.

    So I've decided to keep the Mini AMD (upgrading the RAM to 16GB) and return the Server.

  2. elliotn thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 5, 2011
    I've been asked for some clarification:

    You've demonstrated that the Server is faster, so why have you opted for the i7 2.7?

    I expected the Server to be significantly faster but it turns out that with the apps that I use it's only slightly faster. The Server cost me a lot more than the i7 2.7, as I ordered it with SSD + 750GB HD (£1289), compared to the i7 2.7 with 750GB HD (£899).

    Most would benefit from the SSD upgrade (in Photoshop it's like having infinite RAM), but I've recently purchased a Promise Pegasus R6 12Tb. The Pegasus is set up as RAID5. It houses my archive and working files, and also acts as my Photoshop scratch disk.

    So for me opting for the expensive Apple SSD with the Server was a mistake, and is the main reasons I'm returning it. The other (trivial) reasons are that I feel uncomfortable not being able to fully kill the server aspects of this set up, and also I'm puzzled by the Server's limited OpenGL performance in Photoshop.

    (For my tests, I cloned the Server's SSD to its 750GB 7200RPM HD and booted from that (the same Hitachi HD that comes with the i7 2.7) - a level playing field, I think.)

    The Server ordered with two 750Gb HDs is only £30 more than the i7 2.7 with one 750Gb HD. It's a bit faster than the i7 2.7. And it has a bonus HD! But its graphics capabilities are less than the i7 2.7 - and may well be stretched with forthcoming photo apps.

    Hmm, for my purposes, there's not a lot to choose between them. I'm new to Minis (previously used a G5 tower). My idea is to flip this one for the latest in about 18 months time. I figure a regular Mini will be easier to shift on ebay than a Server version.
  3. calderone macrumors 68040


    Aug 28, 2009
    Some quick comments on the "Server" aspect of OS X Server as this seems to be a common misconception around here.

    Nearly every technology used by OS X Server services already exist in OS X Client. LDAP, AFP, SMB, FTP, HTTP, etc etc etc. Much of it can be configured for use on OS X Client.

    Server makes some extension upon that and exposes more advanced configuration through its preference panes. In other words, as long as you don't configure anything there is nothing to kill. And for the more common functions like file sharing you get a better interface and more flexibility for configuration.

    Even if you did have some things configured, it isn't as if your Mac is going to be vulnerable (which seems to be a common idea here as well...)

    In regards to OpenGL, there is nothing to be puzzled by it has Intel graphics only.
  4. elliotn thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 5, 2011
    I've come across a more serious workflow issue with the mini Server running Photoshop.

    When using large brushes (>1000px), the brush cursor (circular outline corresponding to brush size) will often been replaced by a generic 'pointer' icon. This makes painting/dodging/burning etc impossible.
  5. calderone macrumors 68040


    Aug 28, 2009
    Sounds like a Photoshop issue no?

    You also may want to check your cursor prefs.
  6. elliotn thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 5, 2011
    No, I don't think so. This problem only occurs on the mini Server, not on the mini i7 2.7.

    Everything is virgin. Clean OSX install. Clean Photoshop install.

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