Mini, Macbook or iMac ???

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by mnctxusa2010, Apr 19, 2010.

  1. mnctxusa2010 macrumors newbie

    Apr 17, 2010
    I am upgrading my current network to (potentially) remove my windows 2003 server box. I do not really need the server features and will just run OSX and not OSX Server.

    I have switched to all Apple systems now and want to have one central computer that will always be on which will manage a centralized iTunes, iPhoto, etc etc libraries on external hard drives and also act as the backup for the other computers. I will also have Apple TV's attached.

    I was thinking of going mini for this and then thought, once I get screen, keyboard, mouse, should I rather just go macbook or imac for a little more.

    If possible, pros and cons of each.
  2. keantan macrumors regular

    Nov 6, 2008
    Penang, Malaysia
    I will try and help you as much as I can but I might miss some stuff out

    Mac Mini

    • cheap
    • small size
    • will do all the functions you specified above with relative ease *depending on number of devices and network activity*
    • Can be run headlessly (without screen using screen sharing aka VNC)
    • Lots of USB ports

    • Bring your own mouse, keyboard, screen
    • Limited Hard Drive space on boot disc


    • Portable
    • Will do everything you've specified so far

    • Bit of a waste of a Macbook
    • Ports (i.e. doesn't support fast FW800 drives, although a dated technology that will be obsolete soon they are relatively fast since we don't have any eSATA on any macs out the box)
    • More expensive than mac mini


    • Plenty of horsepower
    • plenty of ports

    • Cost
    • size (large)
    • Hard to upgrade internal hard drive yourself

    Edit: You will need to enable unsupported volumes on all your macs in order to back up to a non-OS X Server based machine, although if your running a Windows 2003 server at home I can pretty safely assume you've worked this out already.
  3. mnctxusa2010 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 17, 2010

    Thanks for the really prompt response. I have found numerous comparisons for imac vs mini but not all three, so this does help.

    My current system uses the windows box mainly as firewall.

    I like the idea of the small footprint of the mini and of course cost, I have a screen I can use from the windows box and extra keyboard and mouse, so mini wins hands down as far as cost.

    Other than that, are there any advantages to be gained from the other two?

    Actually, reading your response again, I think there really is no reason to go with anything but the mini as I would just be paying for stuff I do not really need.
  4. keantan macrumors regular

    Nov 6, 2008
    Penang, Malaysia
    No problem :) I'm stranded waiting for the flight problems in Europe to clear anyways, so spending much of my time on MR trying to help people.

    As far as the iMac goes, if you don't have something like a MacBook Pro that is a portable power house it is quite useful if your like myself and encode lots of say MKVs to iTunes friendly MP4s, it makes things much faster. It's a good workhorse in that sense. It's also nice to have that big screen to work with once in a while. I know when I'm doing development work the screen on my 20" iMac does wonders over the 13" of my previous MBA.

    MacBooks aren't really designed to be switched on all the time, although I do that with mine a lot (which is probably why they tend to fall apart with me every 12-18 months or so).

    When the mini first came out I didn't really think that much of it. Now I see its potential is a Mac Mini Server, it makes so much more sense.
  5. Serif macrumors regular


    Jul 10, 2008
    I'm guessing you intend to use this as a desktop machine as well as a server?

    I did the server thing recently and bought one of the new mac mini servers. That sounds a bit overkill though for what you describe wanting to do and the standard version of Snow Leopard should work fine. My plan was to run the mini server headless, sat on a shelf with my external storage, printers and network devices. That works very well for me and I've never had to attach a keyboard or screen to it since the initial setup; I just admin it using remote screen sharing.

    Either way, unless you really need the extra processing power of an iMac for other applications, a mac mini will easily handle being a shared media library / server. The more fun game may be actually getting all your existing iTunes data onto the new server. I agree that using any sort of Macbook to do this would be a waste, unless you happen to have one around with no other use for it.
  6. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    My understanding is while a Mac mini can be run headless, it still requires keyboard and mouse to boot unless Snow Leopard Server is installed. I bought a refurb Mac mini with Snow Leopard Server which I used to replace an 8 year old Dell desktop I was using as my home server. Frankly, having 1TB in the box instead of 500GB and a superdrive, and the small extra cost attributable to Snow Leopard Server made it an "obvious" buy.

    There are six other Macs in the house and a Windows box (not including the decommissioned Dell server). The Macs are iMacs, MacBooks, and a mini. Using an iMac for this task is a waste of money, and I'd never seriously consider a notebook computer for a 24/7 server. The mini's low cost, reliability (highest reliability of an Mac from what I've heard), low power consumption, and form factor (mine just sits on a bookshelf!) make it the ideal choice.

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