Upgrading from a MacMini - some help please

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by CoolHandLu, Apr 16, 2010.

  1. CoolHandLu macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2010
    #1
    So I've got a 4+ year old MacMini running 10.4.11 that I use primarily for my photography. I primarily use Lightroom (older version 1.4) but I want to add CS4 and generally upgrade.

    I'm thinking the iMac 21.5 will do the trick nicely. I really don't need portability, so there's no advantage to going with a Macbook - plus my eyes could use the larger screen (currently I have a HP 22207 22' monitor hooked up to my MacMini and I don't want to go back to a smaller screen!).

    I'm no gamer, and I'm no professional photographer, so I don't need blinding fast processing speed or huge amounts of RAM. I am looking for a nice improvement in speed over my MacMini, though. I'll be doing a fair amt of RAW processing as well.

    Is there anything I'm missing or should consider? Have folks who have moved up from a MacMini to an iMac been pleased with the increase in speed and processing power when running Lightroom and the like?
    Thanks!
    Brian
     
  2. CoolHandLu thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Apr 16, 2010
    #2
    HMMmmmm . . . maybe I'm in the wrong sub-forum?

    Should this have been posted elsewhere?
    Brian
     
  3. NEiMac macrumors regular

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  4. jackerin macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    I almost recommended a new Mini since you already have peripherals, then I remembered the dual-screen opportunities you'd get with the iMac and your existing screen. So yeah, sounds good to me.
     
  5. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #5
    I'd guess that you'd want the iMac with a discrete graphics card rather than the low-end integrated 9400M. Although your Mini probably has the older, and much less speedy, Intel graphics chipset.
     
  6. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #6
    If money is an issue, I'd go with a new Mini from the refurbished store.... It will do everything you seem to need, and it will drive two monitors. Mini's go fast off the refurbished store so you have to check a couple of times a day and then pounce when you see one that will suit.

    If money is not the biggest issue, look at the 24" iMac off the refurbished store. That extra couple of inches is huge. I've got a 23" ACD and find any screen smaller than that cramped. I am a professional photographer, so having room for the image and the palettes is really nice.

    Higher end graphic cards are primarily aimed at moving images (games and movies).

    Good Luck.
     
  7. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    Jun 9, 2009
    #7
    It appears that the new iMacs have turned out to be good photo editing machines. If you have the desk space, the 27" one is going to be great for the really high resolution. However, dual monitoring with the 21.5" and your current screen (can it be flipped to portrait mode?) would be nice too. The point is the more screen space, the better the photo editing experience.

    IMO, there would be an advantage to getting the i5/i7 processors in the 27" iMac, as photo editing (particularly RAW) does rely on the CPU. Can't say I've really had any particular problems with my C2D MBP, however, it's just that the C2D is getting a little long in the tooth at this point and do you want to be stuck for the next 4 years with a C2D?

    Also, RAM is a good thing for photos too. CPU and RAM are probably more important than a top-of-the line graphics card, as GPU processing is nowhere near as dependent for photo editing as it is in say gaming or video rendering.

    Ruahrc

    P.S. personally I find the mac minis to be a little bit expensive for what you get. If you compare equivalent specs, the 21.5" iMac costs essentially the same as a mac mini, meaning you get a 21.5" IPS screen "for free".
     
  8. CoolHandLu thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Apr 16, 2010
    #8
    Thanks for this feedback folks!

    I hadn't really thought about duel monitors. Indeed, my HP w2207 CAN flip to portrait mode, but the issue really is desk space. I was going to either sell the HP monitor or move into a guest room (where it will likely never see the light of day, as these things tend to go).

    So I'm hearing the 21.5 iMac would be plenty for me, but if I have the cash go for the 27 for the increased screen size. Also seems like spending more money upgrading the graphics card may not be all that necessary as I"m not a gamer.

    I also never thought about going refurbished - is there a link to the "refurbished store" on the Apple website?
    Thanks again!
    Brian
     
  9. John.B macrumors 601

    John.B

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    #9
    I don't know, the minimum mini you'd want to get into today would be the 2.53GHz/4GB/320GB which is $799 plus tax from Apple (discounted to about $759 or $769 from the usual places), or $679 plus tax from Apple's Refurb store (when you can find one in stock). The refurb including tax is probably only about $40-$50 less than you could get a discounted new one and the new one might have a tad better resale value two years down the road. Probably a wash.

    The entry level 21.5" iMac starts at $1199 with a 500GB HDD and the same 9400M Nvidia graphics as in the mini, the upgrade to discrete graphics in the 21.5" iMac with a 1TB HDD gets you into the $1499 price range. The i5 processor in the 27" iMac is worthy but puts you into the two grand territory, and of course the i7 upgrade to the 27" iMac will set you back a cool $2,200. (Not including any discounts you can find.)

    And, don't forget you can run any of the Apple laptops (MB, MBP, MBA) in clamshell mode like a desktop with your existing display, keyboard, and mouse.

    My point is, like any good retailer, Apple's tiered system will easily nickle-and-dime you into spending triple what the base model costs.

    At some point you have to decide what your budget will bear and what's good enough for the work you are doing with it and just go with that.

    Personally I buy somewhere-in-the-middle-tier, hold it for about two years (+/-), sell while there is still some value left to buyers, and use the proceeds towards a somewhere-in-the-middle-tier model in the current lineup.

    Obviously, YMMV.

    Best of luck with whatever you decide to buy.

    Edit: BTW, my Late 2009 mini does dual displays (one mini-DVI to DVI and one mini-DisplayPort to DVI) without breaking a sweat.

    Second edit: The link to the rapidly changing inventory of refurbished Macs is http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/specialdeals/mac but make sure you know which model (generation) you are buying as it is not always as apparent as it could be. The "% off" figure is often based on the original list price and has no bearing on the current value of models from previous generations; caveat emptor.
     
  10. pukifloyd macrumors 6502a

    pukifloyd

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2008
    Location:
    Scottsdale
    #10
    While the above poster almost covered everything...i would advise you that you either buy the Macbook or the Macbook Pro (almost same price as the imac)
    that way you'll have portability. I know you don't want portability...but it would be nice sometimes to sit on the couch with your MB/MBP etc ... and since the MBP were updated last tuesday, you'll get a more faster machine...

    You already have a monitor so just attach it to your (if you buy it) MB or MBP...

    You should also check out bhphotovideo ... they are selling the last gen MBP for (i think) $1050 something...thats a good price...plus there is no tax and no shipping...and the current ones(the updated ones) are $40 less too form the apple store

    And even if you buy the imac(which is awesome too) buy it from bhphotovideo...you will have to pay no tax or shipping...plus its $50(usually) cheaper from the apple store...so you save the tax as well as get the discount...

    cheers and good luck
     
  11. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #11
    Yes. Depending on which country you are in, but on the US and Canadian sites scroll down to near the bottom of the "store" page, and you should see a link on the left side called "special deals - refurbished macs".

    Refurbished products are sold "as good as new". They are cosmetically mint, plus a technician has gone through each one and checked it out. They are sold with the same warranty as new, and you can get Applecare.

    Refurbished products are restocked as inventory comes in.... and when a good deal hits the shelves, they will sell out fast. I got a Mac Mini a few months ago for 42% off. It was so cheap, I bought it to use as a media centre.

    Check out MacPerformanceGuide.com. They have good info on how to get the best system for Photoshop tasks.

    Cheers
     
  12. CoolHandLu thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2010
    #12
    WOW - you folks rock! But my mind is reeling with the choices . . .

    I would be lying if I told you good people I understood everything that was stated in these recent responses. I'm not stupid by any stretch, but my hardware knowledge of Macs is pretty limited. So based on these responses, let me ask one more question:

    For my relatively simple needs - remember, I'm really only buying this to use exclusively as a photo processing/storage comuter, running Lightroom and CS4 (or latest iteration) - it looks like I could spend a grand on last generation MacbookPro and just hook it up to my w2207 monitor at my desk? Any reason why I shouldn't just buy the most recent generation Macbook (new for a grand)? Again, given my meager needs, I guess I still need to know what's the best option in my goal of upgrading my 4+ year old MacMini? It seems the choices are overwhelming, and i'm suffering from a surplus of option paralysis.
    Sorry to be sounding so ignorant here folks, but I do appreciate the help!
    Brian
     
  13. FourCandles macrumors 6502a

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    Feb 10, 2009
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    England
    #13
    You might also want to check out the refurb.me widget, which makes checking up on your refurb store a little easier.
     
  14. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    Oct 22, 2007
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    #14
    The advantage of going with a notebook is that you will still have the Mini...

    You could use the new notebook for all your photography needs, and retire the mini to media centre. That old Mini can be hooked up to a TV and/or stereo system and act as a jukebox (although admittedly you may need to add an external HD - though it can be cheap one since for streaming music or movies you don't need a speedy HD).

    I've got ours hooked up to the TV, with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and we stream music around the house and watch movies on the Mini.
     
  15. pukifloyd macrumors 6502a

    pukifloyd

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    Scottsdale
    #15
    There is no reason you shouldn't buy the new gen MBPs..its just that you don't need so much power(IMO) and you can save money(around $150-$200).

    If you buy a MBP from refurb store, its usually $999 for the base model plus some tax...so you'll get one for around around $1100. If you buy the last gen model (there are no new gen refurbs model available right now) from bhphotovideo, you'll get it for around $1050 (plus there are many mail-in-rebates available) and there is no tax or shipping.
    Or you can spend $100 more and get the latest MBPs with better processor and more RAM and HDD (from bhphotovideo.com).

    All depends on you now.
     
  16. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    #16
    I think ergonomically the iMac will be better than the MBP, especially if dual monitors are involved. The MBP is nice for the portability but if the OP doesn't forsee using that, then I'd get the iMac.

    The original plan for the 21.5" iMac still seems like a solid and logical choice. Extra points if the OP can keep using the external monitor and run dual displays (especially for things like LR, dual monitors is great).

    Ruahrc
     
  17. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #17
    There are two ways that a notebook is portable.... and sometimes people new to notebooks only see one way. I'm not assuming you haven't thought of both, but just in case....

    1) Portability to take outside to a coffee shop or to travel. Most obvious, since you have probably seen notebooks here.

    2) Portability around the house. If you need/want to take your work to a different room, a notebook allows this. If you connect to the internet with a wireless router, then you can be just about anywhere.

    If it's too nice to be stuck inside, but you have a big project you want to get down.... take the system outside. Want to sit by a window because the sun finally come out from behind the fog.... sit by the window.

    Are you experiencing a power outage? Take the notebook to coffee shop and check your email.

    My wife has an old MBP that she uses as her desktop system (desktop being defined as staying in the house) and in fact is usually parked on her desk - but not always.

    If you are concerned about colour fidelity between your notebook and your external monitor, just remember that there is lots of stuff one can do in Lightroom that doesn't work with colour - keywords, flagging and rating, organizing, etc. etc.

    Good Luck
     
  18. gnomeisland macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2008
    #18
    While I understand the argument for buying a MBP I would say go with the iMac. Obviously being tied to your desk isn't an issue for you. Yes, the MBP line did just get updated but the 13" (which is the only model at a comparable price to the low-end iMac) got only a modest bump in speed. You still get a much faster Core2 Duo proc in the lowest end iMac.

    If you can spend more money, I would recommend the 27" Core i5 for the size and screen quality coupled with an significant increase in speed when rendering RAW files. Aside from more processor speed per $, the iMac also offers cheaper and bigger RAM expansion (four slots to the MBP's two allowing you to either get double the RAM or get the same about for less than half the price--4GB modules are still at a premium). Not only that but a middle of the road or high end iMac is going to have a very nice dedicated Graphics processor that will not suck system RAM like the 9400M.

    It is probably less of an issue with Lightroom, which does not make good use of Core CL (a graphics library which uses both the CPU and GPU for rendering images), but Aperture 3.0 users have reported a significant difference in the 9400M vs. dedicated graphics cards. I wouldn't be surprised if Adobe starts leveraging that technology real soon making the higher-end iMac a better long term investment.

    I probably wouldn't pay the premium for the Core i7 processor in any case. It makes a difference, but most dramatically in long video render times. Since it sounds like photography is a serious hobby the half second saved here and there isn't worth the price and the i5 is plenty future proofed.

    Currently you can get the 27" i5 iMac for $1700 refurbished.

    http://store.apple.com/us/product/FB953LL/A?mco=MTU3ODQ4Mjg
     

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