Yet another base vs mid model Mac Mini question (sorry)

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by westcoastin, Oct 6, 2011.

  1. westcoastin macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2011
    #1
    Hi all,

    I am interested in buying a Mac Mini to replace an aging custom-built desktop, but am having trouble deciding which model would best suit my needs. I have gone back and forth between the base model (2.3 ghz) and mid-model (2.5 ghz processor with discrete GPU). In an en effort to make the right purchase, I've sifted through pertinent threads on various forums including but not limited to MacRumors and Apple's discussion forum, yet still am seeking the help of someone who could perhaps steer me in the right direction.

    My primary uses for the Mac Mini would be the same as my current uses - internet, music, and 2d Photoshop work. Also, with the introduction of 1080p recording on the iPhone 4s, I'll likely be using either iMovie or Adobe Premiere CS5 to edit footage and create short (~5 min) video clips. My 2d Photoshop work primarily consists of editing large (4-8mb) RAW and JPG files individually, and sometimes combining several photos into a single working file. I also stream videos in both 720p and 1080p via YouTube. Additionally, I often multi-task with the aforementioned programs, so being able to do so without any beachballs or hiccups is of critical importance.

    From what I have gathered in my research is that the base Mac Mini would be sufficient for my needs, but I'd like to ensure that that is the case. Would the HD3000 present a problem in any of the above situations? My understanding is that the GPU is not utilized as much as the CPU and RAM are for 2d Photoshop work, but I've read conflicting information with regard to the HD 3000's performance in video editing. Moreover, can the HD3000 stream videos in 1080p without breaking a sweat? I understand that quality is also based on internet connection, but am curious as to the GPU's overall performance. Further, another concern of mine is the 5400 RPM drive in the base- would this be a significant bottleneck while working in Photoshop, or overall performance in general? Or would the extra memory somewhat offset the slow access times of the hard drive?

    Given my circumstances, between the base and mid-model, which Mac Mini do you recommend? I've been leaning towards the base considering the significant price difference compared to the mid-level 2.5, but I'd opt for mid-level only if the base could not adequately perform the aforementioned tasks.

    Thanks, I'd greatly appreciate any and all help in this matter.
     
  2. shortcut3d macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2011
    #2
    All of the 2011 Mac Mini will work for your needs. The only significant bump in speed would be the server model for the tasks you listed. However, I recommend you get 8GB from Amazon ($50) if you go with the base model. 2GB does not cut it for anything but web surfing.
     
  3. fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2008
  4. megadon macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2008
    #4
    I'm n the same boat, except I alredy got the 2.3 and have one week to return it. I'm going with the 2.5 just cause it has better resale value and also I've gotten the beach ball once or twice in running multiple apps in different desktops. I'm gonna see if the 4gb ram is good enough.
    Also,I might need to run some design software on it in a year or two so I didn't wanna take any chances.

    I say buy the base, try it out, but then again it's hard to say because the 2gb is not enough, so if you get that you need to increase the ram for sure.
     
  5. SR45 macrumors 65832

    SR45

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2011
    Location:
    Florida
    #5
    Light photoshop, internet, music, light gaming such as Angry birds (nothing taxing) and Word programs and my MacMini i5 2.3 ghz with 8 gb of memory is doing just fine.

    I cannot hear the spindle drive (5400rpm) nor is there any heat issues. I was surprised by this coming from a home build PC. My boot up time is slightly less than on windows 7 and my shut down time is around 3 to 4 seconds, better than windows 7 as well.

    Do get the extra ram since its cheap and very easy to install.
     
  6. surroundfan macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2005
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    #6
    You shouldn't buy computers for resale value, because you're unlikely to get the full $200 difference back over the base model when it comes time to sell. But I digress...

    Personally, I grabbed the base model and spent $58 on 8GB of RAM. It's smooth as silk for my moderate needs.

    For the extra $142, I would have got ~8% extra CPU and a 'just okay' discrete graphics card, but be down 4GB of RAM. As I don't game, the choice was a no-brainer.
     
  7. westcoastin thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2011
    #7
    Thanks for all informative responses, everyone. The general consensus seems to be that the base will be more than enough for my needs, therefore I'll likely end up going with the base and adding 8gb of aftermarket memory. Again, thanks for all the input.
     
  8. megadon macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2008
    #8
    Ya I know what you mean, so with 8gb, if you have multiple desk tops running different apps, have you gotten the beachball?
     
  9. surroundfan macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2005
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    #9
    Nope - no beachballing. (I was actually blown away yesterday when I checked the RAM usage - with Firefox, iTunes and Word open, I was using 3.5GB of RAM! This is crazy...)

    To work out whether you need more RAM (especially if its beachballing), go into Activity Monitor, click on System Memory and look at Page outs and Swap used. If these are above zero, it means that the computer is relying on the (slow 5400RPM) hard drive to do some of the heavy lifting (waiting for the HDD is one of the main sources of beachballing).
     
  10. philipt42 macrumors 6502

    philipt42

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2009
    Location:
    RI
    #10
    I think you'd still be able to sell the 2.5 for about the same percentage more when the time comes...
     
  11. surroundfan macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2005
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    #11
    At the risk of turning this into an analysis of the second-hand market for Macs...

    Maybe, although in practice, unless there was something lacking in the HD3000 that was present in the 6630M to run a new OS (e.g. OpenCL), the desire for second hand buyers to save money above all else means that the video card is unlikely to be valued (I assume that the integrated graphics of a mini in three years time will far outperform the discrete graphics of the current model, particularly given that Intel has promised to get their **** together). Hence, I'd expect depreciation to be higher on the mid-range model.

    Additionally, changeover costs are always in absolute dollar terms, rather than percentages. Hence, if your mini is worth 50% of $600, you get $300 to put towards your new machine. If your mini is worth 50% of $800, you get $400 to put towards your new machine, BUT you spent $200 extra upfront, meaning you're still $100 worse off over all.
     

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