Need help with Mac mini purchase decision

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by zerozoneice, Jul 16, 2013.

  1. zerozoneice macrumors regular

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    Jun 26, 2013
    #1
    Found an offer for a late 2011 Mac Mini Server, i7 Quad @ 2GHz, 2x256GB SSD, 4GB RAM, HD3000 graphics. For the same price i can get a new Mini (not server) i5 2.5GHz, 500GB 5400rpm and HD4000 graphics.

    Main usage area will be light home video editing (AVCHD, MP4, MOV sources all 1080p), and probably photo albums, light editing, very little RAW input.

    Question is: does the quad i7 with its dual SSDs (but with sucky GPU) offer a better deal than dual i5 with mechanical HDD and better GPU?

    Or should i get a normal (even 2010 mac mini) with C2D CPU and HD3000 for way less money? Will it handle the above tasks acceptably?

    I have absolutely no Mac experience except ipad and iphone :)
    PC is a quadcore with nvidia 560Ti for reference.
     
  2. fa8362 macrumors 65816

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    Jul 7, 2008
    #2
    I would be suspicious of any 2011 i7 server with two 256 GB solid state hard drives selling for 500-600. Sounds too good to be true. Be aware.

    Also, you don't need a server.
     
  3. zerozoneice, Jul 16, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2013

    zerozoneice thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jun 26, 2013
    #3
    500-600 what? USD or EUR?
    The Server has Apple Care until 2015
    So is that much of a problem that it's server version? I read that you can ignore the server features or even disable the services. Some ppl claim to have installed vanilla OS X on a server macmini.

    The price is ~1000USD by the way :)
    We don't have Apple stores here so we rely on distributor prices. The new i5 has the same price as this used i7 server.
     
  4. zerozoneice thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jun 26, 2013
    #4
    800 views and no real advice yet....nice.
    are the 2x SSDs and quad i7 and HD3000 worth over dual i5 with HDD and HD4000?

    by the way can the HDD in the newest i5s be swapped for a SSD?
     
  5. KrisLord macrumors 6502a

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    Sep 12, 2008
    Location:
    Northumberland, UK
    #5
    As long as your not planning on playing games on it I'd definitely get the older one. Quad core and SSD's are going to be more noticeable than a slightly better GPU.

    Also, the drives in the current machines are just standard notebook drives. So yes they can be replaced with an SSD. If you buy a drive cable you can actually add a 2nd drive rather than replacing the original. This is how lots on here have home built "fusion" drives. They've bought it with a mechanical drive and added an SSD before merging the drives in OS X
     
  6. zerozoneice thread starter macrumors regular

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    #6
    aha, thx!
    will do some research
     
  7. COrocket macrumors 6502

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    Dec 9, 2012
    #7
    Are you in a location where Apple prices are significantly higher than in the US? You can get the new i5 computer you were mentioning for around $600USD here in the US, so the $1000USD for the older model is significantly more.

    That said, the two SSD's are worth at least $400USD by themselves, so the older computer is a good deal IMO if you can not get a new i5 for less than $1000USD.
     
  8. philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

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    #8
    THIS also I am assuming the 2011 works
     
  9. opinio macrumors 65816

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    Mar 23, 2013
    #9
    I have the 2011 2.0 and 2012 2.6 quads. I don't notice a huge difference between them for general computer work. Main diff is usb3.0 and a faster CPU when you run the mini at max with say video editing. I see no difference in the GPU for general htpc use. I'm not a gamer.

    I wish people would stop saying 'you don't need the server model'. There is no difference except the server app. So don't use the $20 server app. Also when you do an OS upgrade you don't get the server app with it anyway. My 2011 'server' which was upgraded last year to ML (raw install) has nothing serverish about it, apart from its quad config.

    Why does it need two SSDs? Is it running RAID?

    You could sell one of the SSDs and drop in a HGST 7200 1tb and have a nice fusion drive.

    The 4gb of ram in the 2011 is not fantastic. The hd3000 will have max memory under 8gb ram. Under 4gb the shared memory is less in the GPU.

    I ran 16gb of corsair vengeance ram in the 2011 server. I think the GPU memory sat at 512mb. While on 4gb the GPU memory was 384mb or something like that.

    Options... Options...
     
  10. zerozoneice thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jun 26, 2013
    #10
    yea we don't have apple stores, just resellers.
    The ssds can be set up as raid 0 which is very tempting indeed, add that quad i7 and it should fly...that hd3000 and missing usb3 is what is breaking the whole speedboat down.

    On the other hand i can get a 2013 i5 from other countries and upgrade ram, swap 500hd for a 256gb ssd just to have that hd4000 but with lower speed cpu.

    The hell....still a lot of cash for the "cheapest mac" around :(
     
  11. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #11
    Buy a new i7 2.3ghz in the "base model" configuration.

    Get it configured (software) as you like.

    Add RAM yourself. However, I suggest giving things a go with the 4gb "factory configuration". It may suit your needs just fine for now.

    Add an SSD whenever you wish. You can either open up the Mini and install it yourself (can be risky business, as other posts on this board show), or buy an external enclosure or USB3/SATA dock, and just leave it "outside" as your "external booter". You will be amazed and pleased at how well this works.
     
  12. KrisLord macrumors 6502a

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    Northumberland, UK
    #12
    If a i5 costs 1000 USD then a new i7 is going to cost even more and thats without the SSD's. I don't think it would be worth it.
     
  13. Fishrrman macrumors G3

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    Feb 20, 2009
    #13
    "If a i5 costs 1000 USD then a new i7 is going to cost even more and thats without the SSD's. I don't think it would be worth it."

    New Mac Minis do not cost $1,000 US.

    I got a brand new i7 2.6ghz (upgraded) Mini for $860.

    A new i7 2.3ghz is less.
    Buy a refurb and it's less than that...
     
  14. KrisLord macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    I don't think you've read the whole thread...

    The OP has already stated they are not in the US and that either this upgraded 2011 or a new 2012 model (i5) would cost 1000 USD.
     
  15. scbond macrumors 6502

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    Oct 16, 2010
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    Nottingham, UK
    #15
    How do you know they don't need a server?! And even if they don't, they could just as easily install regular OS X like you would with any other Mac.

    OP, if the graphics actually mattered to you then you wouldn't be looking at a Mac mini at all so ignore that. Other than that, it's entirely up to you...do you want a higher spec. used mini or a lower spec. brand new one?
     
  16. zerozoneice thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jun 26, 2013
    #16
    correct, about 1K USD.
    i might get a i7 2.3 2012 from the US (B&H) it's 40USD cheaper than Apple and they offer Parallels 8 for free as bundle...744 USD

    Or 560 for the 2012 i5 :D

    Is 4GB RAM enough for Lion? I have WIn8 with 4 GB and is fine
     
  17. scbond macrumors 6502

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    Nottingham, UK
    #17
    Don't forget things like sales and import tax. It may appear to be $40 cheaper but if you import it from the US then you'll be looking at more than that in tax.
     
  18. zerozoneice, Jul 19, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2013

    zerozoneice thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jun 26, 2013
    #18
    some relative is in the US and can bring it over so i can now focus on US prices :)

    So what's the better deal:

    Base i5 w/500GB = 565 USD
    Mid i7 w/1TB = 774USD

    If i pimp the i5 with 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD Samsung 840 Series, it's the same price as the mid-tier i7!
    Is the i7 quad that much better than dual i5? I think SSD vs HDD has a bigger impact than i5 vs i7 CPU right?

    I heard iLife does not support multi-core so whatever comes bundled with the mini won't use the extra cores.
    I'd use the mac for home video & image editing, 1080p sources, nothing fancy effect-wise. Think about Powerdirector-like on PC
     
  19. eecyclone macrumors regular

    eecyclone

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    Jul 10, 2013
    #19
    I think the processor is less important than ssd and ram, but that might be different for video editing compared to general use where the ssd and extra ram will make the computer "snappier".
     
  20. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

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    Oregon
    #20
    If you ever "move up" to Final Cut Pro X or Aperture, these applications will use all 4 cores in the i7 and you will be glad if you go with the i7. My experience with FCPX is it is CPU-bound such that the processor is the limiting factor and it doesn't matter how fast your disk drive is.

    I'd expect that the next version of iMovie and iPhoto will make use of multiple cores since that is the way processors are heading.
     
  21. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #21
    "Is 4GB RAM enough for Lion? I have WIn8 with 4 GB and is fine"

    I suggest you try it with 4gb of RAM _before_ you put any more in.

    4gb might be all you need for now. You can always add more later on.
     
  22. zerozoneice thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jun 26, 2013
    #22
    must admit i'm spoiled by the very fast Win8 boot times, when watching all those mac mini videos on youtube, even with SSDs it takes ages to boot :)

    i'll probably go for the i7 and see if i need more memory or SSD later on.
    did some reading though and seems Apple does not edit AVCHD natively, it converts it to AIC so that sucks for my collection.

    i'm wary though not to blow $700 for Apple hardware instead of buying a nice SSD for my PC setup :D
     
  23. talmy, Jul 19, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2013

    talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

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    Oregon
    #23
    My solution -- don't boot, sleep the system when not in use.

    Good reason to go with FCPX. It will edit AVCHD natively.

    EDIT -- It doesn't see the clips if you have removed them from the AVCHD folder structure (which I never do). I just did some research and Panasonic has a free program, AVCCAM Restorer, that will put the clips into a proper folder structure.

    That's up to you!
     
  24. KrisLord macrumors 6502a

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    Location:
    Northumberland, UK
    #24
    I would have said for video encoding the i7 would be a better option.

    Remember you can always add the SSD further down the line when you have more cash.

    I bought the i7 on release day and added an SSD at Christmas.
     
  25. zerozoneice thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jun 26, 2013
    #25
    Or maybe i should wait also for Xmas and get an iMac :) The new ones look really classy

    For the purpose of trying a Mac for the first time i'll go for the mini though ;)

    @talmy: so you have to copy as BD structure off sdcard? That sux, i got old ones archived in the mts format
     

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