Which model should I buy?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by torchmedia, Oct 16, 2011.

  1. torchmedia macrumors newbie

    Oct 16, 2011
    Hi guys, would love a few people to chime in on your suggestions.
    Primary usage is graphic design / web development, but once in a while I like to let the kids on so they can play some games through Steam.

    Looking at Mid range i7 ($899) or server i7 ($999) as my two choices.

    - I will be running 2 x 24" monitors at 1920x1200, so it needs to push some pixels
    - If I buy the mid-range i7, I plan to buy the ifixit dual HD kit (another $100 with shipping)
    - Will be upgrading the mini with an SSD and the 8GB of 1866Mhz Kingston memory everyone is talking about

    So.. it feels like buying the server will be less of a headache to get it up and running and will cost the same price in the end. The big question is can the graphics card plus the memory upgrade handle the 2 monitors VERY WELL (ie, not sluggish when dragging windows around etc) and will it handle a selection of steam games? (cities in motion, nuclear dawn, etc)

  2. zap2 macrumors 604


    Mar 8, 2005
    Washington D.C
    I don't play games on my Mini(the server model) but I do use a 27" Thunderbolt Display and an Apple Cinema Display and there are never any issues moving Windows around. (Resolutions are 1680 × 1050 and 2560 × 1440)

    Unless the games require the GPU, you should be fine with the server model.
  3. MJL macrumors 6502a

    Jun 25, 2011
    Don't know how much noise annoys you but the fan on the server runs at 2300 rpm versus 1800 rpm on the mid model. Even then there are numorous reports of the 2011 models running hot.

    There are also reports that the integrated GPU (HD3000) has issues with 29/59 frames/sec with certain streaming video.

    Why not go for the 2010 non-server model? It has the added benefit of integrated DVD/CD so if you travel with the computer you have one less item to carry (mini, KB & mouse - hotels etc normally have a HMDI TV)

    PS putting a second HDD into the mid 2011 mini creates extra heat. Watch out which SSD you select since some of them use heaps of power (double HDD) and others 1/10 of a HDD. You'll be voiding warranty if you do it yourself.

  4. TuiSong macrumors regular

    Sep 28, 2011
    Petone, New Zealand
    Do people really still use dvd's and cd's? Specially while traveling? I mean this as a serious question. I've really not put many discs into my computers over the years, a couple of music cds here and there in the earlier days, but now I just buy my music online. Software.. mostly buy downloads for that in the last few years too. I've even retrained the guys at hubby's work to stop sending him home with dvd's and to just throw what he needs onto a flash drive
  5. mcb001982 macrumors regular

    May 27, 2008
    Manhattan NY

    When using my Mini I do, I have a pretty decent collection of DVD's that I watch and am not going to take the time to rip several hundred movies. For the newer stuff I'm with you on the downloading/iTunes option.
  6. torchmedia thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 16, 2011
    Thank for you noting this. Noise level was actually one thing I was hoping to get rid of in switching to the mini. Unfortunately I have no idea what 500rpm sounds like though. Where I live in Canada we don't have an Apple store either, and the local stores that do carry Apple don't have mini's on display.

    Thanks for noting that. I am aware of the warranty issue, didn't realize the power issue.

    I have a hackintosh that we stream all media through using Plex (to our iPods, TV). However on vacations I do resort to the $5 bin at Walmart so I have something fresh to put in our Caravan's DVD player :(
  7. DustinT macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    It should like your use would be in the middle somewhere. But, when you start talking about gaming you really need to talk about the dedicated graphics card. If want an idea of what the integrated graphics are like, just install a game (with permission, of course) on a 13" MBP or MBA. You'll be able to see if it has enough power for your kids games.

    But, since you're getting the games from Steam I suspect you'll end up wishing you had the dedicate graphics card.
  8. MJL, Oct 17, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2011

    MJL macrumors 6502a

    Jun 25, 2011
    The 1800 rpm is less noisy than the quietest 2.5 HDD (Seagate Monetus Thin HDD - NS ST320LT023 ) but 2300 is on par with an average 2.5 HDD and louder than the the Seagate. Running at 1800 and in a home office the computer cannot be heard with a SSD.

    I did not know the noise impact of higher fan speed either and installed a fancontrol to see what difference it would make. At present I have the 2010 and am thinking about the 2011 model. The next generation Intel CPU's are supposedly having a lower TDP and if possible I might wait for the next iteration of the Mac mini - read a report that Apple did tell Intel that they were unhappy with the TDP and that it had to be lowered. The 2010 CPU's have a TDP of 18 Watt versus 35 Watt for the duo core i5 and i7 and 45 Watt for the Quad i7. The GPU in the mid is 13-15 Watt. PSU is 85 Watt so with USB and Firewire gear hanging off , hmmmm....

    For my activities I want the least amount of distraction and ultra reliability. See my other remarks on keeping temprature down and using an airfilter to keep the dust/dirt out. (the Mac mini is not a machine I like to take apart regularly...) Above ~ 2600 rpm would get annoying for me, YMMV - it is at that level on par with some of the quieter laptops e.g. the Thinkpad T61p.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/windows-7-ssd-trim,2705-19.html (saw a better comparison than that but cannot find it back now)

    edit: I like the Intel 310: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ssd-nand-reliability,3021-3.html
    Read reports that Intel and Samsung are in the topgroup of the most reliability.
  9. torchmedia thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 16, 2011
    Well I hope I didn't jump the gun on this one. I went ahead and ordered the mini server this morning straight from Apple.

    I've also ordered the 8GB of 1866mhz Kingston HyperX and a 120gb OCZ Vertex 3 SSD.

    My logic; if it runs the few games the kids want to use, great. If not, that's also fine. After all, I am buying it for business use. I felt that with the extra HD cable from iFixit on the mid level mini, the server was much better bang for my buck.

    One question about the SSD though. Newegg shows it as consuming 1.65w idle and 3w active. Is that something to be concerned about? http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227706
  10. 88 King macrumors 6502

    88 King

    Jun 18, 2011
    London, UK
    Why are people buying 1866MHz RAM?

    I thought the mini operate at 1333MHz, so unless the are ways to overclock the CPU, there seems to be no point getting the higher speed RAM.
  11. MJL macrumors 6502a

    Jun 25, 2011
    I suspect that if your Server purchase is unsatisfactory that you can always return it (we have not got that option in our country - tried it with the local reseller and they did not want to know about it).

    The noiselevel real quickly increases once fan speed increases above about 3000 rpm and at high speeds starting to sound more like a hairdrier.....

    IBM did a lot of research on fan noise and they have a patent on the shape of the fanblades. The Thinkpad T61p does not increase the noiselevel by a lot when the fan speeds up. But the T7500 and 800Mhz FSB is no longer sufficient for my requirements (this laptop is only about 12% slower than the 2010 Mac mini and the design is 4 years old - had expected more performance boost from the 2010 model, grrrr)

    re memory:
    I was taught memory speed has to match manufacturers specification to get maximum benefit: higher clock speeds have more clock cycles and hence more latency. Overclockers try to get away with lower speed memory to reduce the number of clock cycles..... (but reliability goes down) Perhaps someone can enlighten me to the contrary and have references rather than their own impressions?
  12. torchmedia thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 16, 2011
    I read in other posts in this forum that the Kingston HyperX ram does show up at 1866Mhz in on the mini. The poster also said he cross-referenced this in 2 or 3 different memory tests (rember etc). Sorry I do not recall which post it was.
  13. MJL macrumors 6502a

    Jun 25, 2011
    Showing up and passing a test is one thing - but does it improve performance? Higher clockspeed memory normally has more clock cycles which means more that more clock cycles are required to get the data to the CPU. In other words more latency.

    Only benefit (that I see) is that if you upgrade the computer to a faster one that requires faster memory (e.g. from the 2010 that uses 1066 to the 2011 model that uses 1333) then you can reuse the old memory. But at todays prices it gets a rather moot point.

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