My turn... iMac or Mac Mini??

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by btdpi007, Sep 4, 2012.

  1. btdpi007 macrumors member

    Jun 9, 2009
    North Carolina
    So, I really enjoy reading these forums and seeing the should I buy this or that, keep this or buy this, etc. Never thought I would do it but I guess it's "my turn".

    I have a early 2009 iMac (2.66GHz, 8GB Ram). I mainly use it for the basic things and photo related (Aperture, Photoshop, Nik plugins, etc) and some video encoding. There are some instances when working with photos (especially Aperture 3) where I see some sluggishness but nothing horrible. Video encoding takes a while. EyeTV encoding it's native format to AppleTV mp4 takes a long time. I, typically, have it encode during sleeping hours but I believe an EyeTV encode takes several hours for a one hour episode. Additionally, if I ripped a DVD (one that I own), the encoding process takes just a bit less than 1:1.

    Not certain I want to purchase a brand new iMac, and I am considering going the Mac mini route, as I like the thought of being able to keep a monitor and just replace the CPU as needed. I've never had any issues with my iMac's all in one construction, but just keeping my options open.

    How much of an "upgrade" would I see if I upgraded from my early 2009 iMac to a Mac mini (current model)?

    I appreciate anyone's/ everyone's insights... Thanks.
  2. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    I have a 2010 Mac mini purchased recently from Apple's refurb store. I put 8 Gig of RAM in the thing and I'm running Mountain Lion. It's VERY easy to upgrade the recent and current generation Mac mini. Transcoding a DVD in handbrake takes about 40 minutes on my mini while it takes over an hour on my 2008 Macbook. I think a large part of that is the spinning media. I bet it would be faster if I copied the thing to my hard drive first using makeMKV but then that step takes close to an hour. :eek:

    To me the biggest factor in sluggishness is RAM. Since you have 8 GB already, I don't know how much of an overall "boost" you're likely to get. I do know the newer Macs have more cores so that should help with some apps.
  3. RedCroissant Suspended

    Aug 13, 2011
    I have the same model iMac and I can tell you from my experience with my 15" i7 MBP that the i7 itself makes a big difference; even if it is still a dual core machine. I would not recommend going through with that plan though because there wouldn't be that much of an upgrade for the cost of having to get another monitor.

    If you can find a late 2009 iMac though(the one that had a quad-core i7 in it with a max of 16GB RAM), that shouldn't be very expensive and you'll get a very noticeable upgrade from your current machine. Good luck!

    I would suggest the least expensive iMac being sold refurbished through Apple. That would be very nice and would have the 1 year warranty and eligible for AppleCare.
  4. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    [MOD NOTE]
    Updated the title to make it more descriptive
  5. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    I take it your current machine is a Core2Duo, so yes, the upgrade to the i5 in the Mini will make some improvement in encoding times. You can look up the specific benchmarks of both your processor vs. the processors offered in the Mini to see if the improvement would be worthwhile to you.

    I'd offer another opinion, however. Why not sell your existing iMac and use the funds to purchase a more modern one? They have excellent resale value, and as a photographer, I'm sure you'd appreciate the beautiful 27" screen the iMac's are equipped with - a screen that, coincidentally, costs $1000 on it's own through Dell. Sure, you'll save a little bit of money with a Mini, but the downgrade to a cheap monitor will remind you of exactly that every time you use it.

    Now another thing is the advantage that a SSD brings to the computing experience. It won't help with the processes that are encoding bound, but for everything else, they make far more difference than just about any other upgrade you can buy. I'd seriously consider that option.

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