The New Mac Mini - Logic, CS4 and WoW?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by TDR, Jun 15, 2010.

  1. TDR macrumors newbie

    Apr 26, 2010
    I'm in need of a new home set up - my 533MHz Graphite G4 lost its cutting edge a little while ago if I'm honest.

    I'm pretty much sold on getting a Dell Ultrasharp, either 24" or 27". I'm not keen on getting an integrated unit, which rules out an iMac. I've been looking out for a Mac Pro update too, but I'm wondering if people think the new Mac Mini would satisfy my needs.

    My main requirements are using CS4 for image editing, illustration and setting up documents. I would want to play WoW on it, but don't desperately need everything set to maximum ( I currently get about 2fps in a busy city or battleground :) ) I also want to use Logic Pro, so it would need to do this reasonably well.

    Would a 2.66Ghz Mini with 4Gb or maybe even 8Gb suffice?

    In some ways it would be an interim computer for a few years. I'd hope that the monitor would last for maybe 5 years, and in 3 or 4 years I could upgrade the computer again.

    Technology seems to me to be progressing at a faster rate than ever at the moment, and forking out the cash for a Mac Pro in the hope that it'll still be a decent computer in 6 or 7 years time might be unrealistic.

    What are peoples thoughts?
  2. Corrosive vinyl macrumors 6502

    Corrosive vinyl

    Sep 22, 2006
    I am running a 2.26 Ghz C2D with 2 GB of RAM and run WoW. It is a Macbook Pro, which starts getting hot after a while playing. With 4 GB of RAM and a faster processor you should be just fine, at least for WoW.
  3. FourCandles macrumors 6502a

    Feb 10, 2009
    I am running CS5 Design Premium on a Mac Mini 2.53GHz/4GB RAM. Works fine for me. Though I do use external FW800 drives for images, PS scratch disks etc.
  4. skellener macrumors 68000


    Jun 23, 2003
    So. Cal.
    Should be just fine. Max out the RAM and all will be better than fine. ;)
  5. xparaparafreakx macrumors 65816

    Jul 29, 2005
  6. ditzy macrumors 68000


    Sep 28, 2007
    You should be fine with the Mac mini. Plus I think that in general it is better to spend half the money twice as often, rather than twice the money half as often.
  7. TDR thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 26, 2010
    This is the way I'm leaning at the moment,

    thanks for the advice folks,

    any other views more than welcome :)
  8. lcseds macrumors 6502a

    Jun 20, 2006
    NC, USA
    I don't know what to say. These upgrades Apple are making are pathetic. I am speechless that there is not at the VERY least an i3 in the mini. the video subsystems are equally marginal and yawn inspiring. I need a new MBP and a new desktop. I wanted a Mini bad as I use my own video. Today's update is embarrassing for a company that prides itself on moving new technology.
    I just can't believe it. C2D????
  9. CubeHacker macrumors 65816


    Apr 22, 2003
    WoW should run remarkably well. I'm on the previous generation with the 9400M, and get 30fps on average with everything turned up (except the shadows), and even 2x FSAA enabled. The new chip should be about twice as fast, giving you a good 50fps in the same areas.
  10. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    Have you actually looked at the i3 models available and compared them to the C2D chips? Apple used C2D either because it's faster given the TDP of the mini, or because the i3 wasn't possible in that form factor. Maybe both.

    Current i3 mobile lineup, straight from Intel:

    Current C2D mobile lineup:

    If you scroll down that list, you'll see that Apple is using the P8600 and P8800 in the new Minis (those are the only chips with 2.4/2.66GHz, 1066MHz FSB, and 3MB cache).

    The fastest i3, the i3-350M, runs at 2.26GHz, has a 1066MHz FSB, and 3MB cache, with a thermal design power (how much power it uses, and therefore how much heat it needs to dump) of 35W.

    The P8600 Apple is using in the slowest mini runs at 2.4GHz, has a 1066MHz FSB, and 3MB cache, with a TDP of 25W. That's 140MHz more clock with 10W less power than the i3.

    The faster option in the current mini, the P8800, runs at 2.66GHz, has a 1066MHz FSB, and 3MB cache, with a TDP of 25W. 400MHz faster, 10W less power than the best i3.

    Feature-wise, the i3 does have hyperthreading and a built-in GPU, which the C2D does not. However, the NVIDIA graphics Apple is using for the video in the mini is faster than the graphics core in the i3, so that's not doing anything useful anyway. And unlike the i5 and i7, the i3 does NOT have turbo boost, so no win there despite the slower clock speeds. The i3 may, however, be faster than the C2D per clock, depending on what you're doing with it.

    The desktop version has 2.93GHz and 3.06GHz speeds available, but with a TDP of 75 watts, which isn't going to happen in a mini.

    Therefore, given the thermal and power constraints of the mini case, and that they're including a BETTER GPU with it, Apple has selected the lower-power chip between the C2D and i3M--by a large margin, at that--and the one with the faster clock speed, which may or may not be faster in real-world use. It's quite possible, in fact, that if the i3 actually does draw 35W of power that it wouldn't even have been possible in the new mini form factor--it might've been too hot.

    I don't think you're getting ripped off here, at the least, and you might, depending on what you do with it, be getting the faster chip. (I only found side-by-side benchmarks with Passmark, in which the i3-350M showed about 7.5% faster than the P8800).

    As for the OP: Yes, it'll probably work just fine for what you want to do. Not going to be a screaming monster, but perfectly serviceable, especially if you bump it up to 8GB of RAM (although that's going to cost a fortune relative to the cost of the mini).

    Now, were I personally planning on doing anything significant with CS4, I'd probably opt for an iMac, on account of the built-in IPS screen (when you factor in the cost of an IPS monitor, the iMacs are quite reasonably priced, especially when you factor in that the 4 RAM slots make adding 8GB much cheaper). Actually, that's exactly what I DID do. But if you already have a nice monitor, the mini could be a great option.
  11. ManofMac-au macrumors newbie

    Mar 12, 2010
    Nice smack down of Icseds :p

    Will most likely buy a new mini (if Pro doesnt show up) for my day to day desing/code work then do all my CPU hungry work on a PC.

    Thx for the comparison.
  12. Horus macrumors regular


    Mar 5, 2009
    You really owned that guy, but he deserved it.
  13. alfonsog macrumors 6502


    Jul 17, 2002
    Cape Coral, FL
    If you have the space and money I'd say wait for the mac pro. I'm still using the first Mac pro 2006, upgraded ram to 6gigs, 4x1 terabyte drives, newest video card (unsupported by apple but it works fine) and the led cinema display. I'm sure it will last a few more years and it's still fast and plays wow at full high settings (i dont play but i tried it.) I sold my laptop and just use my iPad and iPhone for portable computing, I don't get laptops (not enough storage, too hot, and awkward ergonomics.) the mini is great I use one at my restaurant, but I love having the awesome internal storage and power of the Mac pro, love how many virtual instruments I can load up at once. I just wish apple would support bluray...
  14. guyducati macrumors regular

    Jan 28, 2010
    Chicago IL currently, Tuscon AZ soon...
    I have a Macbook Pro C2D 2.4GHZ with 4GB of ram. WoW gets to about 25FPS in the city playing 1440x900 most settings medium. Rural areas I average around 60FPS. CS4 runs without any problems. I have a 9600m GT, which I think is close to what is in the new Mac Mini.
  15. lcseds macrumors 6502a

    Jun 20, 2006
    NC, USA
    Glad you all think this was a "smack". It's not. My i3 was an example. Heck, it should have been i5. As crappy as the specs are for Apple on new systems, I selected an i3 as a WORST possible scenario. My issue is Apple not using a modern processor in a NEW revision. Your post has a lot of hypothetical assumptions. Very good post, and good research. But starts sounding more fanboy as the use of a C2D is attempted to be justified. It's a dog compared to the i series with hyperthreading, turbo boost, etc, and optional external GPU (except i3). A new 2.4 i5 will run circles around my C2D 3.06 desktop. Forget clock speed. That's not what it used to be. Forget power consumption, we are not talking a portable here.
    If you all think the C2D is a good choice for a brand new hardware release, then have a ball with it.
  16. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    You really don't need to quote an entire post when replying, nor was I trying to insult you--I just explained why it wasn't as obviously bad of a decision.
    Nobody is arguing that an i5 isn't faster than a C2D, and even an i3 has an advantage in some operations (I finally tracked down some benchmarks which showed the i3-350M vs a P8800 with the advantage going to the C2D in some operations, the i3 in others).

    The main point I was trying to make is that the C2D Apple used doesn't stack up all that badly to the i3, and more importantly has 10W less TDP. 35W vs 25W is very substantial in a system that small.

    And THAT, really, is the point here. It's not a "desktop" in any sense other than that it needs an AC cord. It's a mac mini--it is, for all practical purposes, a home theater component now, which is exactly what many people want. Ever dB of sound less and every watt less of power means it costs you less to run if it's sitting there being a server 24x7, and less noise in your living room. The increased noise baffles inside are pretty much proof that that's what Apple had in mind when designing the thing.

    It's in the same basic category as all the "quiet PC" stuff, with power, heat, and noise taking precedence over raw speed.

    Because the fact of the matter is a 2GHz C2D is perfectly sufficient to play 1080p video smoothly (I know, because my older Mini was doing exactly that less than an hour ago), output multichannel sound to your home theater system, and saturate a gigabit ethernet port to your home network. Those are the three use cases I want mine to do, and past that every watt less of power it uses means less money out of my pocket and less noise in my living room.

    If you gave me, personally, the choice between a mini that had a 2.4GHz C2D and drew 35W continuous with an inaudible fan, and one with a 2.5GHz i5 that drew 45W with a slightly louder fan, I'd take the former. Heck, I'd take the former even if it was more expensive.

    Not saying that's what you want the computer to do. Just saying that it's what Apple wants the computer to do, and what a lot of us also want a computer to do.

    Now, you're free to argue that Apple should be selling a "maxi" (man, if the iPad got laughs, imagine that name) that's essentially an iMac without the screen--4-core desktop processor in a quiet, attractive desktop case, maybe with a PCIe slot or at least an ExpressCard slot. But that's a completely different discussion than saying Apple is doing some sort of injustice by focusing on size, noise, and power consumption for their HTPC/home server/component computer.

    The real lesson, here, is that not only does clock speed no longer really mean anything, past a certain point, for most users, speed period doesn't mean anything. Somewhat surprisingly, after so many years of exponentially-increasing CPU speeds, things leveled off considerably and "fast enough" for most people really hasn't changed all that much in the past several years. There's a reason a 1GHz single-core CPU in the iPad feels more than adequate for most people. I say this being someone myself who owns an iMac with a 4-core i7 in it--I need that power for some of the stuff I do. But for 90% of even my needs, my 4-year-old, 2.16GHz Core Duo MBP is perfectly sufficient, and I spend more time using it than the iMac.

    [Edit: I'm editing this post instead of posting a new message, because I didn't want to unnecessarily bump it. I'd completely forgotten about an article from MacRumors itself explaining exactly why Apple stayed with the C2D on the MB and, presumably, the mini (or at least it was a factor on the mini): better graphics performance. Read the article for yourself, but long story short Intel, due to being jerks about licensing, REQUIRE that you use either the integrated graphics core in the i3/i5/i7 or discrete external graphics. This means that an i3/i5 mini would have been either saddled with Intel's crappy built-in graphics rather than the much-faster NVIDIA chip it has, or would have to be substantially more expensive (and presumably larger) to include full discrete graphics. Maybe this was the reason over even the power draw of the chips. But, hey, Apple could've used an i3 and then let people complain about the new model having worse graphics performance than the previous one. This mess is one of the reasons rumored that Apple is now looking seriously at AMD.]

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