Real problems deciding between iMac and mini

Discussion in 'iMac' started by xxmarkc, Jan 13, 2012.

  1. xxmarkc macrumors member

    Feb 17, 2011
    Putting aside waiting for 2012 refreshes. Just dealing with 2011 models. Final decision may well be delayed until after refresh though.

    Not fussed about games - i am a xbox 360 man.

    Will for sometime - maybe forever - run a mixed pc and mac environment. Not considering laptops as 3g iPad 2 has been working well for the last 6 months as my carry around device.

    PC will remain as my 3d animation (maya) and video and photo editing (adobe elements and premier elements) for now.

    Would like Mac to take over iTunes, fileserving, backups, media management, general word processing, speadsheets, presentations etc (so I can get some benefit from iCloud). Intererested in music making with garage band, iMovie and iPhoto as a take out for pc photo and video editing. Possibly some website design and some programming (bored of visual studio).

    From a what I want to do point of view I conclude both the iMac and the mini will be fine regardless of what model.

    My problem is both have things I really don't like. The mini whilst amazing from a power usage point of view is really poor value wrt to the iMac. And the iMac is terrible from the single point of failure perspective.

    When I think buy base mini I conclude that by the time I have included the price of keyboard and mouse plus upgraded the memory I am getting a somewhat under powered device at a premium price. Up next is the mini with separate graphics card. Still only 2 cores. Ok get the server - but now by the time I have got the keyboard and mouse I am paying more than a base iMac. The base iMac gets me 4 cores 4g of RAM and a screen keyboard and mouse. That sounds like a much better deal to me.

    So what have I concluded? Unless you demand the mini form factor for whatever reason it is bad value for money and you should get an iMac.

    Is this a reasonable conclusion or have I missed something?
  2. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    Only other thing is if the iMac has issues the whole thing has to be taken in. Screen, everything. It is a deal breaker in the enterprise unless you keep multiple in storage. YMMV.
    But overall iMac is the best deal going right now. You can't get an IPS display AND Core i5 for a much better price even if you built it yourself.
  3. srxtr macrumors 6502a

    Jul 1, 2010
    I had the same "problem" as you.

    Just get the 2012 iMac.
  4. jwm2 macrumors regular

    Jan 5, 2012
    I was in the same boat, i bought an iMac last week. Its a much better deal imo. Awesome screen, quad core processor, much better graphics card and keyboard and mouse that feel like butter.
  5. franksnow macrumors newbie

    Jan 14, 2012
    Camarma de Esteruelas ZIP: 28816 Madrid - Spain
    Apparently the Mac Fever is working hard :D. I was thinking about it since 10 days ago :eek: but I finally decided to await for the 2012 iMac refresh so I don't want the Mac mini without the DVD reader or get another "jalopy" over the Mini with the SuperDrive. Unibody is Unibody and from my point of view Apple made a big mistake removing the DVD from the Mini.

    As iMac has Airplay and my TV is ready for a WiFi connections I can use the iMac on my working room as a media center too and obviously the new iMac will be more powerful than the Mini.

    Now my headache is to decide between a 21.5" or the 27" Display. The difference will be 1 extra month saving the money :p

    Best Regards
  6. mentaluproar macrumors 68000


    May 25, 2010
    Ohio, USA
    I just sold my 24 inch iMac and am in the same boat. I really hate how apple killed the 24. That was the perfect size for me. If you are comfortable with mission control and full screen apps, the 21.5 should do well for you.

    Remember, the mini uses laptop-class parts too, whereas the iMac uses a desktop CPU. Even if they were both dual core and the same clock speed, the desktop chip in the iMac would destroy the mini due to the higher thermal envelope.

    As I see it, the mini only has 2 markets. If you want an HTPC, use a mini. While its sitting there it can function as a server too. If you already have a monitor and are a newcomer to Mac, get a mini. Anyone else, go for the iMac. The base models are a good deal.
  7. xxmarkc thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 17, 2011
    Useful comments.

    More and more convinced that the mini is only the right solution if you demand the form factor, or the low wattage, or want to put it in the lounge attached to the TV. I am finding my ATV 2 at a mere £99 is doing a sterling job of streaming to my telly to be quite honest so don't feel myself very tempted with the mini at this point.

    If I do go for an iMac I think I might splash out on the Apple care. The fact that everything is integrated worries me enough to pay for some insurance.

    I have waited long enough (last Mac I have was a Mac Classic!) so I guess I should wait to see what 2012 refresh brings. Only thing against that is that I was to reward my self in late Feb for a very hard year in the office and a new Mac will be a very nice reward.

    i5 v i7 / 500G v 1TB / which graphic card etc is less of an issue for me.

    The 21.5 v 27 is a hard choice. I too would like to see a 24.
  8. franksnow, Jan 14, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2012

    franksnow macrumors newbie

    Jan 14, 2012
    Camarma de Esteruelas ZIP: 28816 Madrid - Spain
    Hi Mark, just keep on mind that the new iMac will be launched maybe not before mid-april.

    Regarding the HD, from my side it has not sense to ask for a 1TB HD so I don't work with video. My current 650 HD is still half used so I don't have on my head to use a 1 Tb for the next years but if I need it I can get a cheapest solution.

    The display is a different issue so I could spent around 3 hours just processing some Astro-images and as I've got the chance to use a 21,5" Apple display as well as a 27" I can say the difference exist. My suggest is to get the 27" if you can get the money.

  9. ajohansson macrumors regular

    Dec 5, 2011
    I have a mac mini and if today I needed another mac I would get the iMac for all the reasons the OP states. Plus you have to get separate optical drive if you want one if you go the mini route.

    I got a mini a few years a go because it was a cheap way into apple. At the time it had an optical drive and I just upgraded it to 8gb of ram. I kept my old hp monitor its silver so it looks ok but the prices of apple displays are a turn off.

    So the iMac is a hell of a deal when you consider you get a quad core processor, a great display, blue tooth keyboard, a choice of a magic mouse or pad plus it has an optical drive and to boot the easiest damn RAM upgrade process in the world. Now the new mini does have an easier access to RAM than the one I have but still the new mini other than the server is a duo core and like I said has no optical drive.

    I just can see where apple is coming from with what they charge for RAM especially how damn easy it is to install. They want $200 for a product you can purchase yourself for $50 and a 5 year old could install. I mean you already spent good money on the computer why do they want to bend you over for more. Hell you can get 16gb of ram for 100 bucks!!!

    The only down fall is when you get a HD failure or something like that. The whole thing has to go in to the shop so in that case the mini is very nice indeed so save your iMac box.
  10. TexasCoder macrumors newbie

    Jan 9, 2012
    I am in the same boat. I was looking at the mini, before looking into the iMac. The mini is great, but I could not get passed the 8GB RAM limit and under powered video card, along with having to purchase a keyboard and mouse...something tells me the USB Microsoft Ergonomic set I have now, probably won't work with Lion OS X ;)

    With the iMac, I can use 16GB of RAM (32GB if you believe the rumors) and get a 2GB video card, which will help when rendering my videos for personal use and for YouTube.

    I agree with you here, and it was another reason I am saving up for an iMac. I am going to be running Visual Studio and MS SQL Server, for my development job, and needed the ability to have 16GB of RAM.

    Just out of curiosity, what are you planning on building .NET applications with? Does Apple or anyone else offer a development environment (besides XCode and Mono for .NET)?
  11. iSayuSay macrumors 68040


    Feb 6, 2011
    To be honest, iMac is the best computer from Apple in terms of price performance ratio. It has the best bang for your buck amongst all Mac.

    And I'm only talking about raw power here. Let's say you have around $2000, you can go with:

    1. Standard hi end 27" iMac .. desktop quad core i5 with 3.1 GHz, Radeon 6970M 1GB (a really decent GPU if you ask me) .. it's a powerhouse, and looks nice on your table too.

    2. Basic Macbook Pro + 27" ATD .. well you get dual core i5 2.3GHz, lousy Intel HD3000 GPU, not so fast CPU and could cost more since you need to buy another bluetooth keyboard/Magic TrackPad, unless you want to hold onto your MBP while working on ATD?
    Plus it only has 2 slots of RAM, iMac has 4 so potentially it can be upgraded up to twice as much as MBP can.

    3. Mac Mini + 27" ATD .. basically a headless low end 13" MBP. Not so fast, unless you only want it for light editing, movie viewing or HTPC.

    MacPro is not an option, basic MP roughly equivalent to $2000 iMac in terms of performance. But the tower alone cost $2500, and you still have to buy monitor ($1000 for 27" ACD) unless you want to get cheapo and buy any $200 display for glorious MacPro. Such a waste if you ask me.
    But remember MacPro now has outdated hardware, long in the tooth with future uncertainty. So I wouldn't recommend going this way until we see refresh on the line.

    Sweet things aside, iMac have their own problem, mostly display. Many people complain with yellow tinge, screen failure, smudged mark (as I have). While it's not affecting performance, it looks really bad when you look at it. Expensive computer with sucky display quality. What a deal breaker.

    Now if MacPro price tag including 27" display, I wouldn't go with iMac. Well .. live and learn I guess.
  12. hchavarria macrumors 6502

    Oct 8, 2008
    My HP desktop died and I was thinking about what to do but I gave in and bought a 27" iMac about a week or two ago and I am glad I did. Because this is a single built in machine I bought Apple Care just in case I ran into some hardware issue later on. I thought about waiting for the 2012 model but then thought there will always be a newer model coming out of anything so I looked at the specs and jumped the gun. I purchased the entry level 27" since I thought the graphics card would be enough for what I want to do.
  13. xxmarkc thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 17, 2011
    OK pretty much convinced iMac is a better deal for me.

    I am used to be able to being able to self fix any PC hardware problem by buying a new component and plugging in. For this reason alone I am would very likely buy apple care even though I never have brought extended warranties for electronic goods before.

    Base model is okay. 21.5 v 27 is still a dilemma.

    Regards waiting. That is a hard one. In actuality there is nothing stopping me waiting. There is nothing wrong with my PC, even if it dies, I have a backup, and a backup for the backup (that is the problem with tower pcs you can keep them going for ever!).
  14. franksnow macrumors newbie

    Jan 14, 2012
    Camarma de Esteruelas ZIP: 28816 Madrid - Spain
    27" display is much better than the 21.5" I can ensure it!!!. If Photo and video editing are part of your hobbies then you'll appreciate it.

    Also against what hchavarria said before I'm agree that we'll see a newer model next year 2013 but from my side has no sense to get a model that will be updated just only in 3 months. I can understand it from their side so his/her HP Desk has died but as Markc said, if you've no problem with your current desktop PC/Mac just await for 3 monthss would be the right way.

    Kind regards

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