Practical Choice Mac Mini question

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by xheathen, Nov 11, 2010.

  1. xheathen macrumors 6502

    Aug 5, 2010
    I'm wondering what the most practical situation would in this case. I'm seriously considering getting a mac mini for myself now, and I've almost got enough money saved up to do it.

    I work on website design, light gaming (left for dead - but my games are mainly on xbox), listen to music, and do digital painting. So it's not going to be extremely taxing, but I like a fairly snappy experience.

    The two configurations I've been eyeing have been:

    2.66ghz mac mini server edition - bringing it up to 8gb of RAM, and then buying an external disc drive. The advantage here is 1tb of drive space at the faster 7200rpm drives without actually having to open it up and do a HD switch.

    2.66ghz mac mini standard, opening it up and replacing the HD with a SSD and also adding the 8gb of ram, and adding a 1tb FW external HD.

    Both options look like they'll be about a $1000 to do. Do you really think the SSD will perform all that much faster to bother with the all the extra customizations? Or will the server edition feel just as fast when actually working on my programs?

    I've heavily considered just waiting to see if a refresh occurs - I'd just hate to wait until January to buy it, and then in March or so a refresh happens.

    That do you guys think?
  2. DannySmurf macrumors 6502a

    Jul 7, 2005
    I have a server mini that I'm using as a desktop machine, and it's a nice, quick machine. I've put the drives in a RAID0 configuration, so it's faster than the stock configuration.

    I bought the server specifically because it has two hard drives. Of course, it's possible to attach an external to either machine, but internal drives will always be faster, and having 1TB inside that machine is a big selling point. Of course, it will never be as fast as a good SSD.

    Since buying the 2.66 client mini puts it within $100 of the price of the server, if I were you I'd buy the server and replace one of the drives in that with an SSD instead. Unless you really, really need the internal superdrive.
  3. xheathen, Nov 11, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2010

    xheathen thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 5, 2010
    That's pretty good to know thanks for the info! I'm definitely not married to the superdrive and frankly I welcome a replacement to it since an external would be much faster.

    I'm also not familiar with the raid setting you are talking about. How does it work exactly? And how is it faster to work like that?

    What I need to do first is call Adobe and make sure I can port my CS4 from PC to Mac :)
  4. DannySmurf macrumors 6502a

    Jul 7, 2005
    RAID0 is a way of chaining two hard drives into a single volume, so that write requests (subsequently, read requests) are split more or less evenly across two drives. This improves the performance of the volume (not 2x; more like 1.5x).

    If you don't know what it is, I wouldn't do it without some significant research. There are pitfalls too (for example, if one drive fails, you lose the data on both).
  5. xheathen thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 5, 2010
    Thanks for the warning - it sounds like something I'd want to do but I will certainly do the research. I'd take the speed over the possibility of losing data (that risk is currently possible on my existing system so I have carbonite backing up all my client files).
  6. Paulywauly macrumors 6502a


    Sep 26, 2009
    Durham, UK
    Sounds like a good idea, but if you do this you might want to consider buying an external usb hard disc and do disc cloning backups of your internal drives (try Carbon Copy Cloner its easy to use and free).

    As already mentioned, you're relying on both drives to be working and as its a mechanical device your doubling your risk of hard disc failure, if one fails you lose it all without a good backup.
  7. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    I also have a Mac mini server (that I use as a server) with the two drives configured as RAID 0. I've got SuperDuper! configured to do a backup to an external 1TB drive every night. Always important to have a backup and with RAID0 it is even more so. I bought it in March, I think, and it has been running fine 25/7 ever since.

    I wouldn't say that it has particularly great performance, though. Keep in mind that mine is the older white model with 5200rpm drives. Running some disk benchmarks I found it only 50% faster than a FW800 desktop external drive, and slower than my i7 iMac with a single drive. It does feel faster than the base minis I also own but haven't benchmarked. The new mini should be much better, at least for random access. But it is software RAID, thus there is overhead, and it is possible in some cases that performance might actually be worse than no RAID at all!

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