Worth it to get a Mac mini to go along with 11"?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Whorehay, Feb 3, 2011.

  1. Whorehay macrumors 6502a


    Feb 17, 2008
    Been using my 11" MacBook Air as my only computer for the past week or two, and it's been pretty smooth. At home, I connect it to an HP 24" screen and I love the versatility of the Air so far, whether at home or on the road.

    But I'm thinking of getting a Mac mini to pair with the 24" permanently, since even though it's been super versatile, it might be better off solely as a laptop. I don't know too much about how the MBA is going to handle any higher-level graphics or photography work since I haven't had too much time to do that stuff.

    My qualm with the Mac mini is that since it and the MBA both run Core 2 Duos that there won't be a real world difference between the two, besides the potential of 8GB of RAM and 7200RPM drives in the mini.

    Anyone have both or experienced both?

    P.S. Damn, I wish Apple built a tower other than the Mac Pro.
  2. DarwinOSX macrumors 65816

    Nov 3, 2009
    Mac mini is due for a refresh soon. I would wait and see what it is.
  3. zenio macrumors 6502

    Feb 2, 2011
  4. Undo Redo macrumors 6502

    Jan 22, 2009
    Colorado, USA
    I use a mini with a big monitor for all my "heavy lifting." It's handy to have big storage, a backup drive, ethernet, etc. connected full time and then I use my Air on the couch for casual surfing, kinda like one might use an iPad.
  5. kukrisna macrumors member

    Jan 4, 2011
    Completely side with you there! I'd love to have that setup, but if only the Mac Mini were more powerful!
  6. KingYaba macrumors 68040


    Aug 7, 2005
    Up the irons
    For the price you pay you could build a much, much better computer to do the "heavy lifting."
  7. huffboy macrumors newbie

    Dec 30, 2010
    As they always say...
    If you really really really need it - then buy now.
    If you can hold off a few months and survive with your MBA - wait.. SB is just around the corner.

    Personally, I am in the same boat as you. MBA is enough for my work but I crave for a more powerful machine if I am not on the road. However, I will do with my 1.4 MBA for a few more months if it means I'll get SB over another C2D mini.
  8. Undo Redo macrumors 6502

    Jan 22, 2009
    Colorado, USA
    Had (2) Mac Pros for several years and switched to the much smaller, quieter Mac mini. It's plenty powerful for my needs. The only time I miss the Pro is when I occasionally encode video.
  9. Scottsdale macrumors 601


    Sep 19, 2008
    I have a Mac mini Server (overkill) running an HDTV and 27" LED ACD. I think it's a great way to keep a Mac on and able to do media stuff all the time. All I do with it is media (movies/music) stuff.

    I also have an AppleTV which seems redundant, BUT I use the AppleTV solely for Netflix and iTunes rentals where the remote does everything. I use the Mac mini for everything else music, Internet TV, storing movies, and etc. I use a wireless BT Apple KB and Magic Mouse. I love the setup.

    I would say the mini can be your "always there/on" solution for media if that is what you need. But if you don't plan to use it for any of those reasons, maybe just skip the Mm. Quite honestly, the MBA is much faster and there's no real "heavy lifting" as an MBA can do everything a Mm can do faster. Although you did mention RAM and there is the 2.5" dual SATA drives in a Mac mini Server (lots of storage space).

    However, I also have kids using the Mm, so there's always a reason to have an "extra" computer. If you live alone, probably not necessary other than convenience. Maybe it comes down to can you blow the money or not?

    If you want to buy a display, I highly recommend either the 24" or 27" LED ACDs. They are incredible to pair with either Mac we're discussing. They can be purchased in the refurbished store for $599 (24") and $849 (27"). For media the 27" is great, but in reality the 24" is a Hell of a lot of display for the price. My 27" almost seems too big for lame computer work, but it's not too big for videos.
  10. robscentury macrumors newbie

    Feb 4, 2011
    Depends on what you are doing....

    I did exactly this. I do a lot of development on all three major platforms, so I do a lot with VMWare. Sometimes running multiple vms at the same time.

    So for me, just getting an Air didn't cut it. I had had about 2k budgeted in 2010 for a new macbook pro, so I did the math and got both a 4GB 11" Air and a bottom of the line Mac Mini. Works perfectly for me.

    When I'm out and about an need to do something, I use Back2MyMac (or LogMeIn if the B2MM ports are blocked) to remotely control my mini.

    That being said, the mini is surprisingly capable. I haven't really encountered anything that makes it balk completely for normal user use. Even most steam games seem to run fine. (Although I mostly play OnLive games now, which it handles beautifully)

    I'd say for 95%+ of normal users, having just the Air (with some kind of cloud storage like MobleMe or Dropbox) would be perfectly acceptable.

    Think hard about what you are going to do with it and only buy both if it actually makes sense.
  11. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    True, but I'm guessing the Sandy Bridge recall may delay the refresh of the Mac Mini and MacBook Pro line by a month or so, even though neither line is likely to use the secondary SATA ports in question.
  12. kukrisna macrumors member

    Jan 4, 2011
    I'm itching to just pull the trigger, but I'll wait till I need it. I'm just worried as I do a lot of audio work (post production), and while I don't really use Virtual Instruments, when I cut FX for long form projects with video, I can sometimes go up to around 100 tracks with a bunch of plug-ins and automation.

    I have a mid-2006 Core duo MBP, and it choked up so much on my last project. That, and one of the fans died, it can no longer burn optical, and the GPU has been bugging out (blue vertical lines).

    So...I really want a new computer. I was thinking either base 15" i5, or the base Mac Mini + base 11" MBA combo (the latter of which is actually cheaper - at least with the educational discount, though this is my last semester of school). I would add the RAM and SSD afterward.

    So...dilemma haha...
  13. gglockner macrumors 6502


    Nov 25, 2007
    Bellevue, WA
    For the price of a Mac Mini + ACD, you can get an iMac, which is a much nicer computer: faster processor, faster hard drive.

    No one outside Apple knows exactly when updates will happen, but the Core2 Duo models should be updated to Sandy Bridge sometime in mid-2011. I feel (like many) that this will be delayed due to the Intel recall of the Sandy Bridge chipset. So I'd guess this will happen around WWDC in June.
  14. grawk macrumors 6502


    Jan 26, 2004
    Southern York County, PA
    The ACD is a MUCH nicer display, tho. MUCH nicer.
  15. driftmr2 macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2009
    Broomfield, CO
    I love my mac mini + acd combo. the 27" display allows me to work w/ two windows side-by-side w/o any compromise. I save a lot of desktop space too w/ a single 27" display over multiple 24" displays. I think either an ipad or mba would pair perfectly w/ the set up. The key would be how you keep both computers synced.

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