Ready To Buy MacMini, Final Questions

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by drpje2000, Mar 9, 2009.

  1. drpje2000 macrumors newbie

    Mar 7, 2009
    I am new to this forum and have learned a LOT from the members. I have never seen so many good questions and answers in a Mac Forum before. I was wondering if you can give me some advice. First of all, I would like to give you some background. I currently have the following Apple products:

    1) iMac 2.16 3GB RAM 250GB Hard Drive Nvidea 7300GT graphics with 128
    2) MacBook Pro 2.2 4GB RAM 120GB Hard Drive Nvidea 8600GT graphics
    with 128 VRAM
    3) 500 GB Time Capsule using 5Ghz. N Band
    4) Airport Express (older pre N Band)
    5) Apple Bluetooth keyboards (old all white and the small aluminum)
    6) Apple Bluetooth Mouse and Logitech Revolution wireless mouse
    7) Sony 4000S 40" LCD TV

    I use my computers for the following:

    1) Database using Filemaker Pro 10
    2) Digital Photography using Aperture
    3) Photoshop CS 3
    4) Downloading Torrent files using Transmission
    5) Watching downloaded TV programs on the Sony LCD using the MacBook
    Pro. I have a DVI to HDMI cable for this
    6) Streaming audio to my home stereo using the Airport Express
    7) Skype
    8) Half of my audio and video files are stored on the iMac, the other half on
    the Time Capsule

    I am in the process of selling my iMac. It has the famous graphics chip problem that I have read about on the forums. When the CPU gets warm, I get all sorts of artifacts on the screen. The only remedy is using smc Fan Control. I am worried about the iMac failing completely down the road and do not want to invest in a $900 logic board replacement. I have been happy with the MacBook Pro and the only problem is that sometimes it gets very hot. I have always been interested in the MacMini due to the form factor but passed on buying it due to the components. The new model changes everything. After reading many positive comments on this forum and especially the use as part of a Home Theater I am ready to buy. My questions are as follows:

    1) Will I have to worry about the graphics chip causing problems like I am experiencing with my iMac. Does the MacMini get hot and will I need to install smc Fan Control to keep the temperature from causing problems.
    2) Is the MacMini quiet enough to use as part of a Home Theater/audio set up
    3) Compared to the iMac and MacBook Pro which I own will the 2.0 processor in the MacMini be enough for my needs or should I get the faster processor
    4) How much RAM will I need. After reading the posts here I feel brave enough to add my own RAM
    5) Should I get the larger hard drive or save the money and purchase an external hard drive. I can see needing 1TB for my music and videos
    6) If I am going to need more hard drive space should I sell my Time Capsule and purchase the Airport Extreme Base Station and an external 1TB hard drive or replace the 500 GB drive in the Time Capsule with a 1TB drive. What brand of hard drive would you recommend for this
    7) Should I buy the newer N band Airport Express to stream my music
    8) What kind of monitor should I get to replace the 24" iMac. The Apple 24" LED seems nice but it is expensive and has the glossy screen. Both the iMac and MacBook Pro have the matte screen which I like. One advantage of the Apple 24" screen is it has the microphone, camera, and speakers built in which would be great for Skype. With another monitor I would have to purchase the camera, microphone, and speakers which would add clutter to the desk. This has been one of the nice features of the iMac and MacBook Pro.
    9) Do any of you use a TV for your computer monitor. I am typing this post using my laptop connected to my Sony LCD TV I am able to see the print from my couch( almost 10 feet away) when I use command + to increase the letter size. The image is very sharp on my TV
    10) What device do you recommend for recording TV from a cable box

    Sorry for the long post but hopefully the questions asked will help others decide to purchase what seems to be a great little computer. Thanks
  2. Spanky Deluxe macrumors 601

    Spanky Deluxe

    Mar 17, 2005
    London, UK
    The last gen Mac Mini ran pretty cool - I never heard my one spin its fans up once and it never got particularly hot. The newer one is said to consume 40% less power at idle too so it should be even cooler. :)
    Hell yes. The biggest noise maker in my home theatre set up is probably the hard drive in my Sky DVR. The Mac Mini is quiet as a mouse.
    The processor is the same 'breed' as your other two models. If you can tell the difference between the 2.16 in your iMac and the 2.2 in the MacBook Pro then there's a chance you could tell the difference in the mini. Honestly, I don't think the extra cost is worth it for the cpu upgrade. The slower hard drive (5400rpm 2.5" vs 7200rpm 3.5" in the iMac and maybe a 7200rpm 2.5" in your MBP?) and the amount of RAM will be more noticeable.
    If you're brave enough to add your own RAM (don't worry, its easy - just make sure you have some small screwdrivers and a nice spudger to pry it open) then you may as well go the whole hog and get 4GB in there. While you're at it, you might want to throw in a 320gb 7200rpm 2.5" drive to speed things up a bit - they're not too pricey these days and you can follow the take apart guide on ifixit to see how its done.
    Depends on your usage. If you like more space then like I mentioned above, 7200rpm 2.5" drives aren't that expensive these days. Why not get a 250gb or 320gb one and a small 2.5" external enclosure for the hard drive that you take out, giving you an easy way to move data around and take stuff with you. If you find you need more space later on then get a larger external drive as and when you need it.
    If you need more hard drive space then you'd probably be better off getting a dedicated external drive later on for your mac mini - there are many that match the designs. You don't want to be transferring *too* much data around over WiFi. Think about what you need backing up - you can specify specific folders to back up etc, there's not much point backing up downloaded TV shows from torrents and using up all your backup space when what you really need safe is your user directory.
    Up to you and your needs. There is software out there, I forget the name, that can turn any mac or pc you have into an Airport Express receiver, that might be a better option. Sounds a bit like you're trying to find stuff to spend money on! :p
    Personally, I like the glossy screens. While you do get reflections, with matte screens if there's light shining on it it can dull out large sections of your screen whereas with a glossy screen you can see through the reflection so to speak. I agree that the built in speakers and iSight and general ease of use do sound nice. I'd suggest going to a store that sells the 24" LED Display and seeing how you feel. My ACD is matte but my MBP is glossy and both are excellent imo. If you decide not to go with Apple then Dell would be my other first port of call, their 24" displays have been popular with Mac users on here for years.
    I've got a mac mini connected to my 46" LCD TV. I'm running it at 720p at the moment instead of 1080p so that I can actually read it across the room. Before I got my 30" ACD I used a 30" 720p TV as my main pc screen and it was pretty nice - I just wanted more pixels in the end! The biggest issue with using a TV as your display is that sitting working at the screen is usually awkward rather than any problems with the size of the display etc. Working at a desk is far more comfortable!
    Elgato's stuff is pretty good. I've got an Elgato EyeTV Hybrid and its probably the best TV capture device I've ever used (mind you, I'm comparing it to some Hauppauge PC capture stuff and some other generic stuff from the world of Windows so that might not be saying all that much!)
    No problem!
  3. Michael CM1 macrumors 603

    Feb 4, 2008
    I'll try to answer what I know. I had a G4 Mac mini and have a MBP almost like yours.

    1) You never know with any given graphics adapter, but I haven't heard any problems about the 9400 on the MacBook line.
    2) It should be quiet enough as long as you don't do things on it that are processor-intensive. When I used mine to rip movies with HandBrake, the fans kicked up to their max. My MBP does the same thing. But right now my fans are fairly quiet (although my cooling fans under the MBP are a bit noisier).
    3) A 2 Ghz model should be fine for what you detail. My MBP is 2.16Ghz and runs Photoshop, which should be about as stressed as anything else you mentioned.
    4) Don't even think of doing anything without 2GB of RAM. If you can afford 4GB, go for it.
    5-6) Go get one of the new dual-band Airport Extreme Base Stations. It will speed up your 802.11n equipment by running at the full speed with it's new dual-whatever mode. Then buy a big Western Digital My Book hard drive for all of your external storage. You can probably find a 1TB for just above $100.
    7) For streaming music, you don't need a new Airport Express.
    8) I hear Dell has good monitors, and I like my Samsung TV. I would recommend ViewSonic until I tried to get it to work with my mom's Vista computer. Yeah, it's Vista, but ViewSonic had some generic driver that caused me to have to change the refresh rate from time to time or else the taskbar would disappear. Go to and read some monitor reviews.
    9) I used mine on my Samsung 32" 720p TV and it looked very good. The problem is the resolution is even less than my MBP screen, so I didn't have as much room as I normally do (I have 1680x1050 on my external monitor). If it was a 1080p television, this probably wouldn't have been a problem.
    10) Can't recommend anything because I haven't done it, but maybe check out eyeTV.
  4. Spanky Deluxe macrumors 601

    Spanky Deluxe

    Mar 17, 2005
    London, UK
    Oh, btw I just had a thought in regards to your monitor choices. One option that you now get with the Mac Mini is to have two 24" displays connected. The 24" Apple Display is $899. You can get two 24" Dell displays for $349 apiece. Granted they're not quite as nice and you would have to fork out extra for a camera/microphone (maybe a Logitech Quickcam Vision Pro) and a mini Displayport to DVI adapter but at first glance all of that would still come in at only about $800 delivered. Food for thought maybe? :p
  5. drpje2000 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 7, 2009
    Thank you very much for the replies to my post. It seems like the new MacMini is just what I need. I was mainly concerned about the graphics card in the Mini especially after the problems I am having with the iMac. Have there been any problems with the graphics card or screen artifacts with the Mini. Was the problem with my iMac due to a faulty card or heat. If it is heat would that cause concern in swapping out the hard drive?

    1) Where is the best place to purchase RAM and what brand
    2) What size and brand of internal hard drive for the Mini which will not cause
    heat problems
    3) What model of Dell 24" LCD to use with the Mini. Are there any LED design
    like the Apple 24" monitor
    4) What kind of performance gain with the new Airport Express Base Station

    Thanks again for the help
  6. Spanky Deluxe macrumors 601

    Spanky Deluxe

    Mar 17, 2005
    London, UK
    I haven't heard of mac minis overheating and there's no reason to believe the new one does. The cpus in the new mini are very efficient in regards to energy use and heat output, the mini should run cooler than the previous model. Swapping the hard drive shouldn't make any real difference to the internal heat - there's a lot more breathing room inside a Mac Mini than in the MacBooks and MacBook Pros and people have been putting fast hard drives in them for years now without issue.
    Personally, I usually go straight to Crucial. They're pretty good value and are very reliabel in my experience - use the Memory Advisor tool to choose the exact RAM needed for your machine. 4GB kits (2x2) are currently going for $65.99, which is pretty good in my opinion!
    Up to you. Personally, I'd go for a 320gb (or maybe even one of the new 500gb) 7200rpm Seagate SATA drives. I've got a 320gb one in my MacBook Pro and I'll be putting the 250gb 7200rpm drive that came in my MBP into my Mini.
    I can't speak from experience on the 24" displays on offer at the moment (maybe have a look in the peripherals forum). It looks like they have three 24" models at the moment. Two with a 1920x1080 resolution (1080p) both at $349 each. However, it looks like the G2410 is also LED based. The listed contrast ratio is 1000:1, same as for the other $349 display. Then they have another display at $519 which does seem to be higher quality and a bit more professional. It depends on what you're looking for really.
    Depends on your usage. If you transfer files over the wireless regularly then between 801.11n devices the transfer times will be less. From what you say your needs are, I don't think you really need a new base station though.
  7. DHart macrumors 6502


    Jan 17, 2008
    Cutting to the chase... memory is cheap and 7K320 HDDs are cheap.

    Spend $749 on a base model with 2.26GHz processor.

    Put in your own 4GB of RAM and a 7200RPM/320GB Hitachi. It's fun and easy to do!

    You will have a wonderful, sprightly, free-running and very capable machine. I use mine with heavy multitasking, numerous apps simultaneously, heavy Spaces user, graphics, music, and professional photoshop work on large files.

    The new Mini, upgraded as spec'd above, is handling it all with effortlessly. I'm very happy with this machine at this spec point. Cost is around $865 or so as configured. I see no point in going with any thing less unless you simply cannot afford to do this. With the 2.26GHz processor, 4GB of RAM, and the 7200RPM 340GB HDD, the machine will remain very capable and relatively current for a fair while.

    Max it out, bud, if you can.
  8. marbles macrumors 68000


    Apr 30, 2008
    EU mostly
    Some are saying they will remove both the optical drive and the stock internal hd and replace them with 2x500Gb drives.... 1TB in a Mini + 4Gb Ram, very. very tempting.
  9. DannySmurf macrumors 6502a

    Jul 7, 2005
    A word on TV capture... the eyeTV (even the USB device) is fantastic. I've used ATI devices in the past (on PCs, naturally) and they're not even in the same league as the eyeTV USB device I bought a few weeks ago. If you watch/want to watch/want to record a lot of TV, it is well worth the $150.
  10. drpje2000 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 7, 2009
    Thanks again for the replies. You have greatly helped me decide how to equip my MacMini

    1) Base Model with possible CPU upgrade
    2) 4GB RAM
    3) Hitachi 320 GB Hard Drive
    4) Eye TV
    5) Replace the 500 GB Hard Drive in my Time Capsule with a 1 TB drive
    6) Apple 24" LCD

    As I mentioned in my previous post I am purchasing the Mini to replace a defective 24" iMac. I will have the option to use the Mini and Apple LCD as an iMac for Aperture, Photoshop, FileMaker Pro, downloading torrent files using Transmission, web surfing, and Skype. The built in webcam, microphone, and speakers will come in handy for Skype. I can then disconnect the Mini and connect it to my Sony 40" LCD TV to record TV programs from the cable box and watch torrent videos which will be stored on the Mini hard drive or the Time Capsule. The money I will save in upgrading the RAM and hard drives myself will help pay for the Apple LCD. I really like the design of the Apple monitor and all the reviews seem to rate it as one of the best 24" monitors out there. Are there any other 24" LED monitors worth considering. The Dell monitors get good reviews especially for the price. Are any available with LED design. Thanks to your replies I have been able to put together a nice system.
  11. DHart macrumors 6502


    Jan 17, 2008
    The best monitors for photo/grahics work use S-IPS and H-IPS technology. Really do your homework before buying a monitor for critical use. The Apple 24" is a good H-IPS display. Another superb choice is the NEC 2490WUXi, which uses the same H-IPS panel as Apple's uses. About $1000. Second best are PVA-technology panels. These can be good, but only when viewed very straight-on, directly... at any angle of viewing, colors & brightness shifts. Do not buy a TN panel display for imaging. Also, for editing photos for print do not buy a "wide gamut" display... they are not as well suited for evaluating/editing images for print because the gamut they display does not correlate well with printed images.
  12. Spanky Deluxe macrumors 601

    Spanky Deluxe

    Mar 17, 2005
    London, UK
    It sounds like the 24" Apple Display is definitely the one for you. In regards to connecting to your TV, you might want to consider getting a long DVI cable from eBay so as to have both the Apple display and the TV connected permanently. Since the 24" display's audio is sent over USB, this would free up the audio out jack at the back letting you choose which audio output to use at any time, 24" out or audio to TV/Amp.
  13. spank2223 macrumors member

    Aug 8, 2007
  14. drpje2000 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 7, 2009
    Thanks again for the replies. I have never seen such good comments and advice from any other forum. You are certainly Mac experts and not with the bias as on the web site. It looks like the decision is made on the monitor. I will go with the Apple 24" LCD It certainly has great specs, beautiful design, and the webcam, microphone, and speakers, will eliminate desk clutter. The comment on the screen for photography purposes made a big impact on the decsion. How is the screen for watching videos? The comment on using a long DVI cable is interesting. Will a long cable run have any effect on image quality? The room where the Apple display will be used is 30 feet from the TV which is in another room. The only time I will connect the Mini to the TV will be when I watch videos which is maybe 5 times a week. As I mentioned previously, I have a 2.2 Ghz MacBook Pro which I mainly use for database and to connect to the TV with the DVI to HDMI cable. My iMac is my main computer which I use for downloading torrents, web surfing, Skype, and Aperture. My wife is an interior decorator and also uses the iMac for design layouts, Photoshop, and Office. She really likes the 24" screen as she can place more items on the large screen at one time. We are getting the Mini to replace the iMac which has the defective graphics card and screen artifacts problem. Would it be better to use the MacBook Pro for TV use and leave the Mini connected to the Apple LCD?
    Any chance of having a seperate MacMini forum. There seems to be a LOT of interest in the new model and it certainly has a following. The iMac certainly is a better value, but the Mini is more flexible. What do you think. Thanks a million.
  15. Spanky Deluxe macrumors 601

    Spanky Deluxe

    Mar 17, 2005
    London, UK
    Anytime, where here to help!

    DVI and HDMI cables are digital and so in theory should be fine for quite a length. I've got a 20m (65 foot) DVI to HDMI cable that I got from eBay and it works great. Bear in mind you'll also need a long audio cable but they're not too hard to find and are pretty cheap. In some ways the MacBook for TV use is easier because you'll be able to control it from the room in which you're watching stuff but then you'll have to connect it everytime whereas with the mac mini you'll have to go to the other room to control it but don't have to reconnect it ever, up to you which is better. I used to have my Mac Pro permanently attached to my TV but since we moved, my Mac Pro is a floor below the TV in my office so running a cable wasn't practical any more. We connected my MacBook Pro up to the TV to watch stuff sometimes and it wasn't too much of a hassle. I've given in now and ordered a Mini for under the TV though. :eek:

    The Apple LED display is superb, it really is. Its great for anything you want to do. The only thing you might hear people complain about is the glossy screen but, in my opinion, that's not a bad thing. With the glossy screen, the colours are richer and contrast is deeper but you do see reflections in it. I think that its actually better in some ways though since instead of getting a washed out effect when light shines on the screen, you only get a small area of reflection. As far as watching video on a reflective screen, well my MacBook Pro has a glossy screen and I love it and my LCD TV has a glossy display too and is absolutely superb. I do often switch off one of the lamps next to the sofa so that I don't see the reflection of the lamp in the screen when watching something that I'm particularly into.

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