Prospective PC convert, questions about MM server, non-server

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by mike pfeifer, Feb 20, 2012.

  1. mike pfeifer macrumors newbie

    mike pfeifer

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2012
    Location:
    Aurora, IL
    #1
    Hello all!

    Hopefully I can get a few questions answered. I am a PC guy that wants to jump ship. I got an iPod touch for a birthday a couple of years ago and love it. Now it's time for a new computer. I have been thinking about a Mac Mini. In theory, this seems like the perfect option for me, but I need some clarification first.

    I am trying to decide between 2 specific models: the 2.5 GHz dual core i5 with AMD graphics, and the 2.0 GHz quad core i7 with Intel graphics.

    The primary use for this will be for audio recording / production (Pro Tools with Firewire interface)

    I do not intend to do any gaming on this system. I have a PS3 for that as well as a laptop with decent graphics hardware.

    I may do some light photo editing, art creation type stuff (not realtime 3D stuff). Probably also some finance and other things like that. And iTunes, Safari...

    Here are my questions:

    1) Does OSX Lion use hardware accelration for the actual OS interface? In other words, will I notice any difference (lag) moving around just in the OS between the Intel graphics and the AMD graphics, apart from actual 3D rendering. I want to know about displaying the core OS functionality and the eye candy that comes with it. Screen transitions, iTunes coverflow, Safari...

    2) Do applications for photo editing such as Gimp or Photoshop use graphics hardware acceleration? I am by no means a power user of these typs of applications, but I want to have the best experience when I do use use them.

    3) Is it easy to get 2 screens set up? I have 2 19 inch LCD's on my current PC. The left one is the main desktop with the clock, task bar, start menu, and so on. The right one is "extended desktop". If I maximize a window, it will only fill the screen that it is on, not both. I DO NOT want it to fill both screens as though it's one big screen if I maximize a window. Is it possible to set it up this way?

    4) Any other issues I may not know about, relating to the trade-off between 'Intel graphics and a better CPU' and 'AMD graphics and a lesser CPU'? Noise?

    I am leaning heavily for the server version, and just want to make absolutely certain I will not miss the AMD graphics of the other model.

    The nice thing about the server version is the 2 built in hard drives. That is a must. If I get the 2.5GHZ i5, I would need to also buy an external FW HD.

    The extra horsepower of the quad core i7 would be very helpful, but I am willing to trade that for a much better overall OS experience.

    Sorry for the long post, and thanks for the help!
     
  2. shortcut3d macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2011
    #2
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    1) Yes, OSX Lion uses hardware acceleration. No you will not have a problem with 8GB of RAM. Pushing two monitors however may be an issue if they are very high resolution.

    2) Yes, Photoshop use GPU acceleration however neither is a powerful enough GPU. The AMD 6630M does support OpenCL. But for encoding the 2.0 GHz Quad-Core Intel i7 is superior.

    3) Very easy to setup. OSX does not have traditional maximize. Everything is windowed except full screen introduced in Lion. This means no borders or menu bars. Apps can be placed on spaces or screens in this mode.

    4) The 2011 Mac mini server is louder than the other models, but runs cooler than the mid-range. I'd recommend 8GB of faster aftermarket memory if going with the server. Windows Experience Index on the server with 8GB is higher than the AMD 6630M in business graphics. The server model also has much better hard drives than the base or mid-range. Plus the dual drives are standard which makes it easy to change one to an SSD.
     
  3. mike pfeifer thread starter macrumors newbie

    mike pfeifer

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2012
    Location:
    Aurora, IL
    #3
    The 2 screens I currently have are both 1280 x 1024 native resolution. Both the same model number (LG). Would this cause a performance issue? Would it be better with the AMD graphics? If so, how much better? If it's just a tiny amount better I might still go with the server model.

    Am I understanding you correctly that upgrading to 8GB RAM would help any slow-downs I might encounter? Or are the 2 screens and the actual OS performance 2 seperate issues here?

    Thanks again!
     
  4. fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2008
    #4
    Mike, why not find a site that caters to folks who use Pro Tools and ask your questions? You might also try calling an Apple store and seeing if you can get a Pro Tools demo on the Mac Mini's you're interested in.
     
  5. shortcut3d macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2011
    #5
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9A406 Safari/7534.48.3)

    That resolution is fine for the server for dual monitor setup.

    I'd recommend 8GB to max out the VRAM allocation to 512MB on the server. This would help 2D much more. An SSD would see the most benefit for the general speediness of OSX. I'd also say any pro tools benefit from 8GB of RAM. Take a look at diglloyd for his testing on SSDs and RAM in various pro tools. 8GB is also very affordable at the moment.
     
  6. mike pfeifer thread starter macrumors newbie

    mike pfeifer

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2012
    Location:
    Aurora, IL
    #6
    I have done my homework on the ProTools end of things, and either model would work just fine, with the server model having a real advantage due to the second HD built in, and the extra processor power. My questions were about more day to day uses apart from that. I figured users here would have a better idea of these things. Sorry for the confusion there.

    Awsome, thanks for the help! I'll probably stick with the stock HD's for the time being. The RAM upgrade is something I'll probably do sooner rather than later though. For ~40 bucks, it's a non issue.

    My biggest hang-up was that I would regret not having the AMD graphics built in, but it seems that it wont really be a noticable issue for what I plan on using it for.

    Again, thanks for the helpful responses.!
     
  7. drmark, Feb 24, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2012

    drmark macrumors newbie

    drmark

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2012
    #7
    How are you getting 2 monitors on a mac mini? I have the mid level i2.5 and there is only one HDMI port.
    So after looking a lot more I think this is the answer
    1 HDMI to HDMI Mini to TV
    2. thunderbolt cable $50, to Thunderbolt adapter $40 to HDMI cable more $ to TV. Really, 2 cable and an adapter?
     
  8. mike pfeifer thread starter macrumors newbie

    mike pfeifer

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2012
    Location:
    Aurora, IL
    #8
    The Mac Mini comes with HDMI to DVI adapter and you can buy a seperate displayport to DVI adapter. the Thunderbolt port is the same as the Displayport and it will just plug right in. Found one on amazon for under $6. This will give you 2 DVI ports effectively. This is the way I will set it up once I order everything this weekend.
     
  9. mike pfeifer thread starter macrumors newbie

    mike pfeifer

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2012
    Location:
    Aurora, IL
    #9
    Well, just pulled the trigger.

    Mac Mini Server, Magic Touchpad, mini DP to DVI adapter, FW800 to FW400 adapter. $1040 on amazon with free shipping and no tax.

    Held off on the RAM upgrade, will see if I need it first.
     

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