Which to pick Server or standard with i7 upgrade

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by joe2uk, Aug 7, 2011.

  1. joe2uk macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2009
    #1
    Hi All,

    I am looking to buy Mac Mini and having difficult time deciding which to pick so thought I would turn to the forums for advice. :)

    I am looking to replace my early 2008 MacPro (with Nvidia Geforce 120GT) with Mini (space saving is important at moment).

    Mostly I will be doing web editing, iLife/iWorks stuff, some aperture editing, little WoW and SC2 playing (nothing hardcore generally happy with MacPro performance in WoW).

    I can't decide between Mac Mini with i7 upgrade and AMD graphics. Or Mac Mini Server with quad core i7, Intel graphics and two hard disks? Don't have need for server so would most liking install just client.

    Your thoughts and suggestions?

    Thanks
    J
     
  2. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

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    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    #2
    There's no reason to buy the server model if you don't need a server.
     
  3. Mr.C macrumors 601

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    Apr 3, 2011
    Location:
    London, UK.
    #3
    True unless the 2.0 quad core processor is better then the dual core 2.7 for the apps the OP is using. I'm not sure if Aperture would benefit from that significantly. Other then that you're right the dual core with a Radeon GPU would probably be better. The main difference between those two models and something that cannot be upgraded is the dual core versus the quad core CPU.
     
  4. philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

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    Apr 13, 2010
    Location:
    Howell, New Jersey
    #4
    I have suggested this to a few people that asked this question buy both and return one. You use aperture it uses the cpu and the gpu quite a bit. So it would be hard to know if either mini is good enough for you.

    I am inclined to think the server with one option the 750gb 7200 rpm hdds is best for you just remember to buy 8gb ram.
     
  5. joe2uk thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2009
    #5
    Thanks for comments so far.

    8GB upgrade is on the table for either, I am right in thinking even the Intel graphics chip will be a big upgrade over my current Geforce 120GT?

    Cost wise there seems little in it so it would seem only difference is AMD graphics over faster processor and 2 HD as standard.

    J
     
  6. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

    Joined:
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    Pa
    #6
    Web editing isn't exactly CPU intensive, but WoW is. I would go for the mini with the 6630m.
     
  7. Vermifuge macrumors 6502a

    Vermifuge

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    Mar 7, 2009
    #7
    I think its a close match but in this case i'm leaning towards the i7 Dual Core
     
  8. Mak47 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2011
    Location:
    Harrisburg, PA
    #8
    That's not true in this case. The mini server is only called that because it includes Lion Server, which is just an app that can be ignored if it isn't needed.

    For $100 more than the dual core i7 model you get a substantially faster quad core processor and two 500GB 7200 RPM HDD's. Having two HDD's preinstalled also means you have all the necessary mounting hardware for two drives built in--particularly helpful if you plan to swap one to an SSD.

    You also of course have the server app, which may not be needed now, but could come in handy at a later date. The Intel GPU isn't the best in the business, but if the OP is happy with his current GPU performance, he won't notice a difference with the Intel.

    The server is a much better value for anyone who isn't a hardcore gamer.
     
  9. jeffkempster macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2008
    #9
    I do a lot of aperture and I am definitely leaning towards the mini server. Even thought aperture uses the GPU, I think the processing power of 4 cores and two drives will help out more than a dedicated video card.

    I am think of raid 0 to double up the read/write speed. That should help read the raw files off the drives faster. The quad core will definitely help render the raw files faster.

    I would really like the OS to be on the internal drives and my aperture libraries on some external thunderbolt drive. That would be the best for throughput, but our only option right now is the promise raid.

    When exporting files as JPG I have to believe the quad will be faster. I am wanting the new cinema display, so I am just going to wait a month or so and see if any more detailed info about the server version comes out.
     
  10. Attonine macrumors 6502a

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    Feb 15, 2006
    Location:
    Kent. UK
    #10
    If you are going to be using aperture a lot and do go for the server model, I would suggest using one of the internal drives for the Aperture library, the other for your system, and use referenced files. For me, the move to using referenced files (on a FW800 external) gave aperture a significantly greater performance boost than doubling the RAM (4GB to 8GB) and adding a SSD. The performance increase was immediate and very noticable. My library is something like 168GB, all RAW. The RAM upgrade also gave a noticeable increase in Aperture response, the SSD (Crucial M4 512GB) I would say had a negligible effect, though was the last piece of the puzzle, so maybe there was less performance to be gained at that stage (also, I suspect my expectations for the speed boost the SSD would give may have been a little high).
     
  11. falterego macrumors 6502

    falterego

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    Dec 28, 2008
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    Southern California
    #11
    I'm running WoW at 1080P on the server model. I got it mostly for the 2 drive setup and then did my own upgrade to 8GB of memory. The system doesn't seem to work any harder to push WoW on 1080P@60fps than my 2010 C2D 13" MBP does to run 1280x800 (I think), but it doesn't seem to have an easier job either.

    I think if you need more graphics performance then go with the i7 dual core and the better video card. I basically looked at it as $100 more, I give up a little video performance and gain CPU/storage. I couldn't care less about the server OS components.
     
  12. Mr.C macrumors 601

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    Apr 3, 2011
    Location:
    London, UK.
    #12
    You maybe running WOW at 1080p but are you running the individual graphics settings at their highest level or even close to that ?
     
  13. mrblack927 macrumors 6502a

    mrblack927

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    #13
    Yeah how is the performance with the integrated graphics? I'm curious.
     
  14. nsegura macrumors newbie

    nsegura

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2007
    #14
    More info on NON-Server i7 Mac Mini ( Mid 2011)

    I just bought the non-server model with the i7 upgrade option and FYI when I look in Activity Monitor i see 4 cores under the CPU. Screenshot attached.

    So, as far as I can tell the graphics card is the only difference besides the two HDD/RAID setup.
     

    Attached Files:

  15. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

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    Location:
    Poole, England
    #15
    You see 4 cores because of hyper threading. They are virtual cores. You would see 8 on the quad core mini server and the difference between the two for CPU bound tasks is substantial.
     
  16. nsegura macrumors newbie

    nsegura

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    Oct 20, 2007
  17. jbg232 macrumors 65816

    jbg232

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    Oct 15, 2007
    #17
    Aperture can be a very GPU intensive program if editing/managing large RAW images. I think this is the deciding factor for you. If you use aperture regularly, go with the AMD graphics card model.
     
  18. xraydoc, Aug 23, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2011

    xraydoc macrumors demi-god

    xraydoc

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    Oct 9, 2005
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    192.168.1.1
    #18
    I went with the mid-range model with the dedicated graphics. I do manly office-type apps but I use two displays on my mini. With the integrated graphics, there was a general lagginess when going in and out of Mission Control, minimizing windows from one display to the other and other visual effects.

    I went with the i5 processor and I'll be putting in a 120GB SSD when the lower bay cable I ordered arrives. At 2.5GHz I thought it should be enough for what I'm doing on it. I think it's fairly comparable to the 1.8GHz i7 (faster, actually) in my MacBook Air.

    All in all I think the new mini is a remarkably zippy little machine.
     
  19. mdgm macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2010
    #19
    My brother went with the Mini with the better graphics.

    I went with the Mini with the quad-core CPU as I tend to do CPU intensive tasks.

    I didn't do the upgrade to 750GB HDDs, because I didn't think it was worth it for me. I would have had to do without 10% off and pay for the CTO upgrade. I'll possibly get one or both of the drives in mine eventually.
     
  20. shortcut3d macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2011
    #20
    This is my first post on the forum. I am a long time Mac user and have even done full tear downs of iMacs (see signature).

    I think I've read every thread comparing the i7 w/ AMD 6630M and the quad-core i7. At this point, I'm leaning heavily towards the quad-core i7 because I typically purchase Macs with the fastest processor since its not upgradable (for the most part) then do upgrades from OWC.

    I'm planning on using the new 2011 mini(s) as Windows 7 Media Center CableCard DVRs. I've pre-ordered Ceton Infinitv 4 USB CableCard tuner and required Windows Media Center. These mini(s) will be replacing all cable boxes so the quality of service and experience needs to be top notch (rebooting needs to be quick almost appliance like, etc.) for the wife or this project will die. The usage pattern will be a lot of heavy recording with 4-tuners and likely watching back-up copies of blu-rays simultaneously.

    All will be upgraded with Apple 256GB SSDs, 750GB 7200RPM HDD, and 8GB RAM. (Sadly these are spare parts on hand that never got to eBay).

    I believe all the encoding will be best served with the quad-core i7. I do wonder if the discrete 6630M will provide smoother Media Center transitions. Does anyone have experience with the 6630M vs HD3000 in Windows 7, especially in Media Center?
     
  21. shortcut3d macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2011
    #21
    I did further research and there have been report that the Intel HD3000 may have 24p sync issues. Has anyone trying this with HD film based content?
     
  22. raecom macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2011
    #22
    Apple advises that the server is available with two SATA and one SSD. That might be an option for you but double check with them for sure. Someone suggested that since the server does not have a discrete graphics card that that leaves room for a third drive.
     
  23. xraydoc macrumors demi-god

    xraydoc

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    192.168.1.1
    #23
    Not correct. Room for two 2.5" drives only in either model.

    I've got the i5/AMD and the lower bay drive cable was just delivered today. Some time next week (when I've got a free hour) I'm going to install a 120GB SSD for the OS and apps, and keep the 500GB HDD for data.

    For me, the 2.5GHz i5 is fast enough, but the 5,200 rpm 2.5" HDD is the bottleneck.
     

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