New Mini vs. iMac dilemma

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by js81, Mar 4, 2009.

  1. js81 macrumors 65816

    js81

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2008
    Location:
    KY
    #1
    OK, got a bit of an issue here. I really crazy bad want the new Mini (to replace my old Mini, which I love), mostly because of the dual display support. However, I'm a little bummed that the processor is NOT socketed on the new Mini - I had figured that I could get the 2.0 and in a couple years upgrade it. Since the processor can't be upgraded, I'm now only looking at the 2.26. However, by the time I do the "necessary" upgrades to the Mini, I'm very close to iMac territory. Here's the breakdown (all prices are from the education store - I'm a teacher):

    I have a buyer for my old Mini (specs in sig.), complete set-up with 20" LCD for $500 (assuming it doesn't fall through - I HAVE to sell my current to get a new one)

    I am considering one of the following:

    1) New Mac Mini, base ($549) model - link
    - Upgrade processor to 2.26GHz ($135)
    - Upgrade RAM to 4GB (from Newegg, do it myself - ~$70)
    - Upgrade HD to 200GB 7200RPM (would be keeping this from my Mini - FREE)
    - I have another monitor, so I won't need one right away, but I WILL be wanting duals SOON (at least $100 for a 19" widescreen)
    - TOTAL PRICE - approx. $750 w/o monitor

    2) Previous Generation iMac, base model - link
    - Upgrade RAM to 4GB (from Newegg, do it myself - ~$40)
    - That's it!
    - TOTAL PRICE - approx. $990

    Now, here's what I need to know, all-knowing Macrumor'ers - which machine would offer the best performance? The iMac has a better processor (2.4 vs. 2.26, plus more cache - 6MB vs. 3MB) and a bigger hard drive (250GB vs. 200GB, not really an issue, though) and includes the screen (I have my own, but I want TWO). However, I LIKE my current Mini and it IS cheaper. My biggest question is about the video card - which is going to be better, the Mini's integrated 9400M w/256MB or the iMac's Radeon HD 2400XT w/ 128MB dedicated?

    HELP! HELP! HELP! (OK, so that was too dramatic... advice, please?) :)

    Oh, and one more thing: :))) I will want dual screens on either machine. If I get the Mini I can get TWO identical screens. If I get the iMac, they'll never be exact... that's a small pet peeve of mine. What do you guys think?
     
  2. Eidorian macrumors Penryn

    Eidorian

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2005
    Location:
    Indianapolis
    #2
    If you're selling your monitor take a look at a refurbished iMac.

    9400M G > Mobility 2400XT

    There's also the joy of identical screens.
     
  3. js81 thread starter macrumors 65816

    js81

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2008
    Location:
    KY
    #3
    Yeah, that's kind of what I was looking at. My current screens are NOT matched and sometimes it drives me crazy. I like the iMac, but the non-matching screens may be a deal breaker. I figured the 9400M would be better than the 2400XT. And I just love my old Mini anyway... not to mention I have been waiting and waiting for this update... :)
     
  4. Eidorian macrumors Penryn

    Eidorian

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2005
    Location:
    Indianapolis
    #4
    If you want dual monitor real estate go with the mini. If you're happy with one big 24" screen and the power go with a refurbished iMac.
     
  5. js81 thread starter macrumors 65816

    js81

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2008
    Location:
    KY
    #5
    My brother-in-law has a 24" iMac - I really like it, but I like duals better. I currently have a 20" (old 4:3, 1400x1050) and a 19" wide (1440x900) using Synergy. It's awesome, but I'd rather be able to move windows amongst the screens - not to mention to get rid of that loud, huge Windows box under my desk. :D
     
  6. js81 thread starter macrumors 65816

    js81

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2008
    Location:
    KY
    #6
    OK, let me add to the story a bit. I've decided to sell both my Mac and my PC, including both monitors. If I decide to get the Mini, then I am going to buy a new monitor, as I haven't been 100% happy with my current ones anyway (I'd like a 22" that has a 1080 vertical resolution). I think if both sell then I will buy the iMac. I'm pretty sure the 2400XT will be plenty for what I want to do - I'd like to be able to run Age of Empires 3 smoothly under Windows (Bootcamp). What do you guys think? If I sell both, should I get the iMac? Or, should I get the Mini with a monitor like this?
     
  7. ziwi macrumors 65816

    ziwi

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2004
    Location:
    Right back where I started...
    #7
    unfortunately, the iMac is the sweet spot - when you lok at the mini, it is a nice little computer, but you immediatly have to look at the white MacBook from a price/performance and what you get....for $599 the base Mini gives you the same thing as the bae white macbook, but you get portability, keboard and screen with the MacBook - once you desire more performance then you hit the iMac as the sweet spot...one leads to the other.

    With the limited choices that Apple offers - all laptop component desktops (except HD in iMac's) and laptops - there is not an easy pick since Apple does not utilize desktop components - laptop and server components. That being said the iMac is the clear value buy...and now the upsale to that is to get a 24" for only $250 more with more Ram and HD and proc...
     
  8. striatedglutes macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2009
    Location:
    USA
    #8
    That monitor is a TN panel, which will suffer from bad colors at extreme viewing angles. I believe the iMac you're looking at is also a TN panel, but I may be mistaken.

    I don't know what you were using before, but If colors and viewing angles are important to you, you might want to consider the 24" iMac with an S-IPS panel. I don't think you can beat an iMac build right now once you include the price of a 24" S-IPS display.

    http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/panelsearch.htm
     
  9. js81 thread starter macrumors 65816

    js81

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2008
    Location:
    KY
    #9
    And thus begins the never-ending loop of the upsell. Hey, for just $XX more I can get XXX. *sigh* I came in wanting to simply sell my old and with the profit buy a newer model. Now I'm looking at spending more. I've just started mentally comparing the $949 previous 20" iMac with the $1149 new model. I mean, its only $200 more and I would get a faster processor, more memory (though I'd still upgrade to 4GB), a bigger HD, etc., etc...
     
  10. js81 thread starter macrumors 65816

    js81

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2008
    Location:
    KY
    #10
    Both my displays I have now are cheap Westinghouse models from BestBuy. They're NOT great by any stretch - hence the fact that I don't mind selling them. :) I don't do any color-intensive work, so I think a TN will be fine. However, the prospect of the 24"s S-IPS panel is tempting... See, there's the whole UPSELL idea again! :D
     
  11. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

    Joined:
    May 18, 2004
    #11
    I think the imac makes more sense if you're buying a monitor for the mini plus maxing out its specs....to me, the mini makes a lot of sense if you are going to use an existing monitor and aren't driven to max out everything you can upgrade on them
     
  12. js81 thread starter macrumors 65816

    js81

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2008
    Location:
    KY
    #12
    I understanding your thoughts with the white Macbook. Personally, I think the current white Macbook is the best all-around deal Apple has. However, I already have a Macbook (previous, though, with the X3100 graphics :(), so needless to say I don't need two. :) The more I think about it, the more I lean toward the iMac - especially the $999 refurbished one with the 2.66GHz C2D, 320GB HD, and 256MB 2600XT. That'd be a pretty decent improvement over my 2.0GHz CD and GMA 950, no? :D
     
  13. js81 thread starter macrumors 65816

    js81

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2008
    Location:
    KY
    #13
    OK, my mind is almost made up, but I still need advice, if anyone can help.

    Apple has both the low-end (2.4) and mid-range (2.66) previous gen. iMacs in the refurb store now. I don't really need the extra processor, hard drive, or RAM - it all comes down to the video card. I want to run Age of Empires III in BootCamp (I own the Windows version) - can the 128MB 2400XT run it smoothly, without having to turn all the options off? I don't need everything on; I just don't want to have to turn everything off. I'd like to get the mid-range one (its $999), but the low-end is cheaper ($849). If it will run AOE3, then I'm content. :)

    EDIT: I KNOW for a fact that the 256MB 2600XT will run AOE3 beautifully - I've played it on my brother-in-law's 24" iMac. My current PC that I run it on has a Geforce 7300LE w/128MB and it runs it fine, too.
     
  14. marbles macrumors 68000

    marbles

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Location:
    EU mostly
    #14
    Mini + identical monitors is very nice, you could always upgrade the Mini to new version in a year or so and keep the screens , just refresh the Mac every now and then ....my guess is your selling yourself the iMac but really the Mini will serve your needs adequately....and the dual monitors being identical must seal the deal. Mini all the way for me + you don't need a new screen that comes with the iMac


    ViVa Mac Mini stop selling the iMac to yourself and go get a Mini
     
  15. macrumorsMaster macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 20, 2008
    #15
    Did you consider the 24" refurb? It's $1149. Just keep check the Refurb store, it'll pop up.
     
  16. js81 thread starter macrumors 65816

    js81

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2008
    Location:
    KY
    #16
    This has actually proven to be a tough decision for me. If I sell my current Mini, I'm going to sell my monitor with it (same for my PC). Then I have NO monitors (mine stink anyway). After I add a decent monitor (not even a S-IPS, just a large, hi-res TN panel) I'm up into iMac territory. Then, the iMac is more powerful, larger HD... you get the picture. But I WANT the Mini (I've always loved mine...), but its slower, 2.5" HD, etc.

    Yeah, I have. But I'm funds limited, so the $849 iMac is perfect. The $999 isn't too far a stretch. If I can scrounge up enough fund-age, then I'm all for the 24". :D


    EDIT: Now the $999 iMac is gone from the refurb store. Oh well... my question still stands, though - does anybody know how AOE3 will run on the 128MB 2400XT iMac?
     
  17. neiltc13 macrumors 68040

    neiltc13

    Joined:
    May 27, 2006
  18. andiwm2003 macrumors 601

    andiwm2003

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2004
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #18
    can you keep your old mini?

    i mean it still works, probably you don't really need the dual monitors.

    the speed increase from the old to the new mini will be noticable but not so big either.

    buy a dell 24" for $350 maybe as a long term investment and then upgrade you mini in two years when you have money.

    in my opinion it's better to stay on your old machine as long as you can unless money is available. right now you're looking already at $500 and you end up more or less with what you have already. if it was a G4 mini i could see that you need a new one right now. but the CD 2.1GHz will do for a while longer.
     
  19. js81 thread starter macrumors 65816

    js81

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2008
    Location:
    KY
    #19
    To be able to comfortably run a Windows XP virtual machine in VirtualBox. Also, RAM is dirt cheap so why not? I have 2GB right now and its adequate - my wife's Macbook has 4GB and its much smoother.

    Absolutely. I just want the better video card so that I do not have to keep a SECOND computer (PC) in order to play what few games I like to play. As for the cost, I will only buy if I sell my Mini. I also have my PC for sale and several spare parts. If I sell everything I will have more than enough for the iMac. I only want to do it to consolidate into one machine, instead of having to run my Mac and keep a PC for occasions that I play games.

    Again, I agree. That's why I have to sell my old stuff first. :) I do appreciate the advice, though. If I don't sell, then my old Mini and I will just plug along for a while yet - after all, it still works, it ain't slow, and I've already upgraded everything reasonable to upgrade. I'm also simply trying to "reduce inventory" and clean out the closet.
     

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