PC vs Mac Mini

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by chv400, Apr 10, 2005.

  1. chv400 macrumors 6502

    Dec 16, 2003
    Houston, TX
    I finally have enough money saved up to be able to consider getting a new computer and i cant decide between building a PC primarily for games or a Mac Mini. Recently i've become more interested in playing Shooters like Halo and Unreal 2004. I also enjoy using the apple's iApps. I'd keep my current mac regardless of which I bought. While the PC would meet my gaming needs I'm not sure how much longer my current comp will meet my iApp needs. While getting a Mini would meet my iApp needs I don’t know how long it will meet my game needs. To me good game performance is 24+ frames per second at 1024x768 and being able to see things like fire (it makes me really mad when I'm playing halo on my comp and I walk into Flames and die).
    Here are the full specs of my current comp and if I got a mini I'd probably put it into target disk mode for use of its resources all things listed are internal. How much of it would be accessible in Target Disc Mode to the Mac Mini.

    Current Comp (Everything is internal)
    Blue and White Tower
    600mhz G4 upgrade w/1 MB L2 cache
    768 PC 100 RAM (256 x 3)
    ATI Radeon 9200 w/128 MB vRAM
    Sonnet Tempo HD ATA 133 PCI Controller
    40 gig ATA 133 Maxtor HD @ 7200 rpm
    80 gig ATA 100 Seagate HD @ 7200 rpm (would be used in PC)
    160 gig ATA 133 Western Digital HD @ 7200 RPM
    Pioneer 4x Super Drive
    Super Disk Drive (the ones that read 120 MB Floppy Discs)

    If I get a Mini here's what it would be using the edu discount my mom gets
    • 512 MB DDR333 SDRAM - 1 DIMM
    • 80 GB Ultra ATA drive
    • Combo Drive
    • 56K v.92 Modem
    • Mac OS X - U.S. English
    • 1.25GHz PowerPC G4
    Subtotal $591.00

    If I Build the PC here are the parts I'd order
    Intel® P4 2.4AGHz (533 FSB) Box CPU W/ ECS 848P-A Motherboard

    VIKING 184 Pin 256 MB DDR PC-3200 - OEM x 2

    SAPPHIRE ATI RADEON 9600 Video Card, 256 MB DDR, 128-bit, DVI/TV-Out, 8X AGP -BULK -OEM

    POWMAX Black ATX Mid tower Case with top Handle and 450W Power Supply, Model "CP8869-3" -RETAIL


    I have a DVD Drive and 80 gig HD for use in it.
    Total $489.97 + shipping

    I know this is a Mac site but posting this on a PC forum would get responses that consist almost entirely of “GAH mac evil” from people who most likely haven't even used a mac before. By posting here I'm hoping to get responses by people who have had experience on both sides and can help me decide as I can get one or the other and not both.

    P.S. Sorry about the massive longness of this post.
  2. ravenvii macrumors 604


    Mar 17, 2004
    Melenkurion Skyweir
    You only access the hard drive in Target Disk mode. Nothing else. So you can't use the resources of the PowerMac when using it as Target Disk mode.

    Just wanted to clear that up. I don't have an answer for you.
  3. iGary Guest


    May 26, 2004
    Randy's House
  4. vouder17 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 30, 2003
    Yeah good point..But if you wanna stick to computers..I would say the PC. If you are really into the whole gaming scene. Macs arent great at gaming. But the new mini wont be too shabby, performance wise. But the final choice is up to you. Do u want Xp or OS X. The answer there is obvious. ;)
  5. MacAztec macrumors 68040


    Oct 28, 2001
    San Luis Obispo, CA
    Keep your mac, buy a gaming PC. You will get more bang for your buck.

    Use your mac for word processing, emailing, chatting, etc.

    Use your PC for gaming, and lots of it!
  6. DaveP macrumors 6502


    Mar 18, 2005
    I have an ibook for most of my everyday tasks. I have a Windows machine for gaming, development, etc. I think having both a mac and windows system is nice.
  7. ericssonboi macrumors 6502

    Mar 15, 2005
    Here's my take..
    I have a 1.67Ghz PB w/128mb Vram and 2GB of ram.
    I just played Halo the other night... and i must say it was playable..
    With that in mind..
    I personally think you need to upgrade your processor..
    If buying new is too expensive.. have you looked at used systems?

    But i'm sure all of us know.. PCs are better for gaming.
    The gaming support for Macs is next to none... how many games are out for Mac compared to PCs?

    A Mac Mini is good... but keep in mind that its not all the upgradable like your B&W... you can always use the parts from your B&W and save a bunch. You have 3 hard drives, a Superdrive... and the video card might be used.

    Another suggestion would be to sell your B&W and buy a brand new Dual G5 or something along those lines...

    I'm sure you can get a few hundred for your B&W ...and with the money you saved(600 bucks).. use that towards a Single 1.8 or Dual 1.8 ... IMO... its better that way...

    Especially if you already have a system... and your gonna be using it for gaming.. i think you'd want to upgrade in the future..
    Keep in mind... IMO the MacMini is for those want to do basic tasks ... when it gets into gaming.. Its kind of limited... Processing speed wise.. and ram upgrade wise...
  8. topgunn macrumors 65816


    Nov 5, 2004
    If you do buy Windows, buy it here.

    It's only $94 shipped and it doesn't have service pack 2 which is a big plus in my book.
  9. JzzTrump22 macrumors 65816

    Apr 13, 2004
    New York
    I really wouldn't recommend making the mini your primary gaming machine. You'd be better off just buying a video game system, it's a whole lot cheaper.
  10. amholl macrumors 6502

    Dec 21, 2004
    Get one of those proc upgrades and a Radeon 9600 and u could play any mac game you want. If the 9600 doesnt fit in the BW, sell it, buy a DA or QSor Sawtoothe and upgrade it.
  11. chv400 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 16, 2003
    Houston, TX
    My B&W's processor is upgraded and getting a faster one would bump the FSB on it from 100 mhz to 66 mhz and i also have the best graphics card i can have for it so my B&W is pretty much maxed out.

    If i got the PC and put a fire wire card in it would it recognzize my B&W in target disc mode
  12. 840quadra Moderator


    Staff Member

    Feb 1, 2005
    Twin Cities Minnesota
    You can build a Dual Processor G4 for ~$550, if you use your case (and modify it)

    I would recommend a Digital audio, or Quicksilver motherboard. Since your memory and other parts will swap over, all you would need is the mobo, processors, and an AGP video card.

    just an other idea..

    building is fun!!
  13. topicolo macrumors 68000


    Jun 4, 2002
    Ottawa, ON
    I would worry about that ECS motherboard if I were you though, that company has been known to make sub-par quality hardware. The 2.4Ghz P4 should be a pretty good choice, expecially if you're planning on overclocking. Many people have been able to get 3.0-3.2Ghz overclocks from those things.

    On the other hand, if you really want a fast processor for gaming and whatnot, you should consider getting a low end Athlon 64--they are technologically far superior to P4s at this point.
  14. Mav451 macrumors 68000


    Jul 1, 2003
    I'll second the warning against ECS.

    I say it would actually be better for him to go with a 90nm Sempr0n ($70-80) + DFI 250 ($107) and OC the snot out of it. The problem is that the OC depends heavily on the quality of memory, but if he's only putting 512MB of total RAM, finding 2 sticks of 256 to do 250+ FSB should not be as difficult (finding a brand or shouldering the financial cost of them).

    So the mobo+CPU combo would run maybe $50-70 more, but I guarantee that a A64 (even a sempr0n) would be a far better investment down the road than a P4, ESPECIALLY for gaming. Yes, the sempron lacks the 64-bit capability, but when the time comes for 64-bit gaming, then we can worry about it.
  15. Mav451 macrumors 68000


    Jul 1, 2003

    That is a good thread regarding the OCing of a 2800+ Sempron on a DFI motherboard.

    Checking the cost now, I realize that the 2800+ is more likely going to be found around $90 bucks, making the mobo + cpu combo nearly $200 (quite a bit more higher than $125 for that 2.4A combo). I guess what it really comes down to is if you demand better performance for the buck. And...I think the sempron will give you that. On the flipside, you could go for a conservative OC now (210-220FSB), and instead just upgrade to a standard 3400+ when they are much cheaper (those run @ 2.4Ghz vs. 1.6Ghz for the Semprons).

    Good article from xbit on the 90nm Semprons. They got theirs to 2.5Ghz, but they did have some damn good memory (but 1GB of it though). 2 x 256MB of good RAM is alot more affordable...
  16. AstroManLuca macrumors member

    Mar 18, 2005
    Yes, for gaming (and pretty much everything else), AMD = teh win, and Intel = teh sukc. I'd definitely recommend a gaming PC if you really want to play games. I have a Mac mini myself and it's no good for gaming in the currently accepted form. I mean, it's fine for simple games... puzzle games, sprite-based games of course, and basic 3D games, but even UT2004 makes it choke. If you want first person shooters, get a PC for it.

    Oh, also I'd say get a Radeon 9600XT for the PC. The non-Pro 9600 you configured is a lot worse and isn't much cheaper. $120 will buy you the 9600XT, which has a 500 MHz core and 600 MHz DDR, as opposed to 325/400 MHz. That'll make a noticeable enough difference.

    B&W G3s are cool. Keep it and enjoy it! Yours is very nicely upgraded and I don't think it's worth ditching it for a mini yet, especially if you're not using it for games. You should take pride in owning a B&W G3, which many consider to be one of the best computers Apple has ever made. It's certainly had one of the longest useful runs of any Mac, seeing as how it's still fully supported in OS X, and a decent performer at that (once upgraded).
  17. ReanimationLP macrumors 68030


    Jan 8, 2005
    On the moon.
    Go with the PC. Use the PC for gaming, the Mac for everything else. The x86 will always be faster at games, I mean, look at Doom 3. :D I use my Duron 900 for all my game playing and such, and my Powerbook G3 and my Powermac G4 for all other purposes. That B&W sounds nice ;) Just remember, that the Mini may have a faster processor, but it has a crippled HD, which brings down the performance a bunch xx.

    BTW - Stick with AMD. A lot faster, nicer processors. Used to have a PIII, nothin but problems, got me a Duron, smooth as butter for the past 4 years. :)
  18. Fredstar macrumors 6502a


    Nov 3, 2004
    Near London
    IMO get a Mini and an Xbox/PS2, if you enjoy using the ilife apps, the consoles can provide a good gaming experience - also allowing you to not spend too much time in front of the computer.
    Don't forget the PS3 and Xbox2 are coming out early next year, so i would not waste money on a high performance gaming pc when they will give you greatly improved gaming experience and close to the high end pc's now.
  19. FFTT macrumors 68030


    Apr 17, 2004
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    My advice is to hang in there, keep saving and see what happens after the upcoming PowerMac updates and the release of OSX Tiger.

    There should be considerable discounts and used/refurb system availablity
    on the existing lineup. Then you could go for a 1.8 or 2.0 dual tower
    covering all your needs.
    This offers you the best performance and expandibility for your money
    as long as you already have a good monitor.

    If you simply can't wait, then I'd consider the 17" iMacG5 above the mini
    for reasonable gaming performance.
  20. DavidLeblond macrumors 68020


    Jan 6, 2004
    Raleigh, NC
    The Mac Mini will play NetHack. Thats the only game you need. ;)
  21. Yvan256 macrumors 603


    Jul 5, 2004
    Small tip: the price difference between the 1.42GHz/80GB Mac mini and a 1.25GHz/40GB +80GB HD upgrade is very small, I'd go with the 1.42GHz/80GB Mac mini. Also, since you already have a Mac, I'd suggest waiting for Tiger to save even more money.

    In my opinion you'd get much a better price/performance ratio from AMD than Intel. Also, the AMD CPUs don't dissipate as much heat. Unless things have turned around (once again).
  22. Yvan256 macrumors 603


    Jul 5, 2004
    Either you don't have the same Mac mini as me or you're asking way too much. I'm playing UT2004 on mine and I have to say I see no real difference from my old Athlon 2600+/Radeon 9600XT. I play in 1024x768 with all default settings. I may not get 120+FPS but I'm pretty sure I get at least 50-60.
  23. chv400 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 16, 2003
    Houston, TX
    Is there any difference between DMA and ATA also what is the difference between the AMD cup names like Sempron, Duron, Athlon, Athlon XP and Athlon 64 performance wise.

    I also found this as an alternate to the intel CPU Motherbaord combo I had above.


    I kinda want to get something fro Fry's (www.outpost.com) beause I have a $50 gift card there.
  24. plinden macrumors 68040


    Apr 8, 2004

    Sempron is the AMD equivalent to Celeron, ie. their rating is compared to the Celeron rather than the P4. So Sempron 2800+ is approximately equivalent to a P4 2.1 GHz (if there is such a CPU, can't be bothered looking it up). (Edit: actually, looking up the comparisons in the link I gave below, it looks like I'm wrong about the Sempron comparison - it looks to be close to the P4 2.8 GHz)

    I was going to respond earlier telling you to use AMD rather than an Intel, but that P4 plus motherboard seems to be a good deal.

    For CPU comparisons, see http://www.tomshardware.com/cpu/20041221/index.html
  25. hcuar macrumors 65816


    Jul 23, 2004
    I doubt you are getting 50 - 60 fps with the Mini. I don't see that with my PM. I run the game at 1280x1024 with max settings. I see about 30 - 37 fps.

    Check your fps using the console during a game. The command is:

    stat fps

    Once you get the average fps, use the command to turn off the print out.

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