The iMac / Mac mini equation

Discussion in 'iMac' started by jcmguitar, Dec 9, 2012.

  1. jcmguitar macrumors newbie

    Dec 9, 2012
    I would be very interested in your thoughts on my situation.

    I have a white 2007 2.33Ghz iMac and have never gotten over the novelty of using OSX Tiger (yes!) since I switched after my Windows PC died. However I think it is now time for an upgrade.

    I am a guitar tutor and currently use my iMac for recording Audio with Garage Band. I would like to start using Logic Pro and am also interested in creating some guitar tuition videos so I would like to able to run Final Cut ProX too.

    My computer hardware budget is around £1500 (I'm from UK).

    I am very tempted by the 2.6 i7 Mac mini with the SSD (£1,115) I would also add 16GB of Crucial RAM. (£60). I have my eye on a nice £360 27" inch monitor (DGM IPS 2701 WPH) which I understand has the same panel as the Apple Thunderbolt display. Here is review of the monitor:

    My other option is a 2.9Ghz i5 21.5 inch iMac with Fusion Drive and Apple supplied 16GB of Ram. This is about £100 more expensive than the mini option but I could just about stretch to it.

    So here is the equation - For my needs does the i7 of the mini trump the faster (in Ghz terms) i5 of the iMac? If it does would the discrete graphics card of the iMac redress the balance?

    I need the machine to be quiet and as both machines have only one fan I would guess they would be evenly matched here?

    I also have to consider the pros and cons of the displays (and then there's the mini's screen flickering issue which is causing me some concern).

    So is it iMac > Mac mini or Mac mini > iMac?

    Thanks for your thoughts.
  2. mchoffa macrumors 6502a

    Jul 12, 2008
    Asheville, NC
    The only reason I cancelled my mini order a month ago to get the iMac was because I didn't think the GPU could really handle pushing 2 thunderbolt displays PLUS hdmi (and couldn't get confirmation that it was even possible). The iMac will be able to handle one thunderbolt plus hdmi via adapter easily. I think if you're comparing i5 and i7, if you use anything that can take advantage of hyperthreading (or could in the next couple years if you plan on keeping it a while), then you should get the i7, but if you do anything that makes use of the GPU in any way, that would help more than i7.

    I know nothing of audio production so not sure if it would benefit from i7, but if you really want to get into video, a gpu might be a good thing to have.
  3. jcmguitar thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 9, 2012
    Not wishing to veer too far off-topic but I must admit that I have always been unclear as to the role played by the video card in Final Cut and how the tasks are spread between the GPU and the CPU. I can't see me going down the multiple monitor route so that wouldn't be a concern for me.
  4. MetzoPaino macrumors member

    Oct 24, 2012
    If you were doing a lot with soft synths you would likely need the i7, but for just recording (and especially for recording one track at a time) the i5 should be totally fine.

    You would likely want a fusion drive/SSD in either though, my old 5400rpm drive frequently halts playback and recording because it can't write to disk quick enough. A modern 5400rpm drive is likely better, but to be safe get the fusion.

    I think the GPU helps Final Cut with rendering effects, which you might not be doing if you're just starting out but it would be nice to have. However it won't, "redress the balance". An i5 is still totally capable of video creation, it's just if you're churning them out where you would want the i7 to speed the process up.
  5. mchoffa macrumors 6502a

    Jul 12, 2008
    Asheville, NC
    I really don't know (as it's not what I do), but I've heard FCP uses GPU acceleration for rendering? Maybe I'm wrong.
  6. MetzoPaino macrumors member

    Oct 24, 2012
    I think for your needs you would be happy with either.

    I went with the iMac because I occasionally game (so I need a discrete GPU), and I really like the iMac design.

    However the mini would have been fine for all my "work" needs, and I think a lower GHz i7 is better than a higher GHz i5 in your case, though I'm not 100% sure of that.
  7. jcmguitar thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 9, 2012
    I don't do any gaming at all so that aspect is not a concern for me. Interesting point about the clock speed. So would the i7 run cooler than the i5 for a similar task?
  8. jcmguitar thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 9, 2012
    I was wondering what config of iMac you went for and how you find it from a noise point of view?
  9. MetzoPaino macrumors member

    Oct 24, 2012
    I'm waiting for a 27", but I went that big because I game and I could use an education discount. Fan noise and heat have never really been an issue/interest of mine.
  10. ashleypenny macrumors member

    Dec 8, 2012
    One of your students must be at uni...with edu pricing you can get a straight out 27" imac.

    I've paid £1796 for 27" with top spec CPU & GPU & added magic trackpad, so if you dont need that then considerably less.
  11. Chupa Chupa macrumors G5

    Chupa Chupa

    Jul 16, 2002
    If you only plan on making straight forward videos w/ few complex effects the the mini wins due to being easier to upgrade storage, and also add dual drives w/ adapter.

    The only reason to get an iMac IMHO is you need discrete graphics, but doesn't sound like you do.
  12. jcmguitar thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 9, 2012
    Many thanks for all your advice - I feel myself gravitating towards the iMac but will give it some more thought.

  13. Jimmdean macrumors 6502

    Mar 21, 2007
    The lack of any sort of discrete graphics in the Mini is a real bummer. I like the platform a lot but pure integrated graphics on something that is relatively expensive just isn't acceptable.
    Additionally, the fact that it is so easy to get an i7 on the Mini and so difficult on the iMac has basically convinced be not to buy any of the new releases this gen at all.

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