Your $.02: mac mini server v 21.5" 2.5GHZ imac

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by overmedium, Jan 22, 2012.

  1. overmedium, Jan 22, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2012

    overmedium macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    #1
    Hello All,

    I am new to this forum, and it looks like some very well informed folks are around here!

    I'm am upgrading from a very tired and on-it's-last-legs 2007 Black Macbook, and would like to hear your opinion on what I'm considering. I do basic web browsing, email, etc, plus hobbyist music production with Reason 6.0 and editing with Audacity. I am looking forward to upgrading either way because I'm getting a huge boost in power regardless and of course want the best bang for my buck. The reason I'm considering mac mini server is for the 2nd drive (dedicated for Time Machine backups), i'll have to buy external HDD for imac for backup. Plus I understand the mac mini server has a little more processing grunt than the base imac (i7 vs i5) I don't have a budget for any SSDs at the moment, but sure wish i did!


    Here's my potential setup


    Mac Mini Server 2011 & HP LA2405 monitor 24", apple keyboard& mouse

    -or-

    imac 21.5", hitachi 3TB touro external HDD, applekeyboard & mouse.

    after dust settles and the tax smoke clears, I'm paying about $50 more at the apple discounter (b&h in nyc; love these guys!) for the Mac Mini server with much smaller available HD capacity, but slightly higher screen resolution. Applecare either way. Both have 4G RAM, but I def. will upgrade to 8G for either.

    Whadya think and thanks in advance!
     
  2. wrinkster22 macrumors 68030

    wrinkster22

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2011
    Location:
    Toronto
    #2
    I would get the iMac.
    The iMac also has a dedicated GPU.
     
  3. overmedium thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    #3
    That's a good point about the graphics. I'm not a huge gamer though, however i do occasionaly watch dvd...

    that reminds me: gotta add some $ to bottom line for optical drive for mac mini.....
     
  4. wrinkster22 macrumors 68030

    wrinkster22

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2011
    Location:
    Toronto
    #4
    Honestly, the iMac is probably better. It looks nicer, had mouse and everything, etc.
     
  5. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
    #5
    Yeah, this is false. Yes the i7's will be faster than i5's, but it isn't going to make up for a 25% faster clock speed of the Desktop i5 vs the mobile i7. Both have the same 6MB of L3 Cache. Further, the i5 has turbo boost of up to 3.3ghz in single threaded apps, and the i7 in the mini can only pull 2.9ghz max. The only real advantage the i7 has is that it does hyper threading which will give you 4 real cores and 4 virtual cores compared to only 4 real cores.

    Edit: For your edification: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_Bridge#List_of_Sandy_Bridge_processors
     
  6. Mojo1 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2011
    #6
    My current 24" iMac will be my last iMac. The deal-killers for me are the lack of an anti-glare display option and the total lack of ergonomic adjustments. When I purchased my iMac I was barely able to make it workable with my computer desk and chair, and I am average height at 5'10". I won't make the same mistake again...

    If you can live with the smaller display, the lack of adjustments and want a faster Mac, then go with the iMac.

    Otherwise, I would suggest taking a look at the mid-level MacMini. The server model is simply too much money for what you get. NewerTech is coming out with a new external drive/DVD drive combo that matches the MacMini design. Unfortunately, we don't know how much it is going to cost. If it is priced too high then I would get a Firewire 800 enclosure and a $40 DVD drive from Amazon.

    I am currently using an NEC2490WUXi2 display with a 13" MBP. The display can be lowered to within 3" of the desktop vs. around 6" with an iMac. Some displays can be lowered to a point where the bottom almost touches the desk. The NEC display that I purchased is a high-end model for critical color work and it beats the socks off all the current Apple displays. Snagging it for $549 vs. its MSRP of $899 was icing on the cake.

    I consider SSDs to be the latest hardware fad among Mac aficionados. I understand the benefits but I don't think that at current prices that they pencil-out for me. If you are on a budget the speed boost costs a lot of money. Even the 2.3GHz i5 CPU flies when running Lion. You will be amazed at the difference compared to your current Mac.

    I've been hanging around the MacMini forum because I am still on the fence about getting another 13" MBP vs. a MacMini. I like being able to take my main Mac anywhere I go and simply connecting it to an external display for desktop use.
     
  7. overmedium thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    #7
    One of the reasons I was thinking that mac mini Server has more grunt is I looked at this graph of test results (http://www.primatelabs.ca/geekbench/mac-benchmarks/) and saw that the server scored a 8611 v 7257 of the imac. is this where the hyper threading and 4 real cores come into play?

    ----------

    SSD's are next in line, first i want to lay down the base of my system! and i'm patient to wait for their price to eventually go down
     
  8. ea9 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2011
    #8
    SSD a fad ?
    Hah, it's so much more important then CPU speed boost advantage for any basic tasks.

    My 1.2Ghz ULV processor is more then enough with an SSD attached to it :D
     
  9. Alrescha macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    #9
    This. I put an SSD and maxed out the memory in my 2007 Macbook instead of buying a new laptop. In Snow Leopard, apps launched and were ready to go before the dock icon finished the first bounce.

    A.
     
  10. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    #10
    Benchmarking software is a bit different from how it will work in a real application. It's not exactly as simple as i5 vs i7. The imac actually uses a desktop class cpu with slightly different tdp limitations. The mini uses a laptop cpu. The i5 vs i7 thing in itself is confusing. Dual core i5s and 7s both have hyperthreading enabled. It's disabled in quad i5 cpus. Not all applications benefit from it in any way. In some cases in the past it has caused performance hits, but it varies. The mini server does have a garbage gpu. If gpu is important to you, you won't want that one. It's fine for photoshop and stuff, but in any really OpenGL heavy application, it would suck as integrated graphics are not only slower, but typically buggier.

    You need to reference things with context. It launches applications faster. It saves your ass to a degree when you're short on ram. It boots up faster. If you're working in a heavier application that can really benefit from cpu power while not constrained by ram in any way (as in the system isn't having to shuffle things around to make it work) the SSD won't do anything for you. It's been tested many times. For the people who are just opening up their laptop to quickly check email or do various short tasks, it makes a much bigger difference.

    See this is where it would help. If you're actually cpu bound for any reason, the SSD will not help you there. Like I said it also makes a faster buffer for ram than the slow 2.5" HDDs typically seen in laptops otherwise. I'm not going into how it also covers for the slop of a file system used in OSX. Apple tried to develop a new one for it in the past, but they've just been letting it sit now. HFS+ should have gone away long ago, and it would have alleviated some of these problems that are just being somewhat masked by really fast hardware.
     
  11. elliotn, Jan 22, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2012

    elliotn macrumors regular

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    Sep 5, 2011
    #11
    Photoshop is almost unusable on the mini Server. There's word that 10.7.3 might fix the problems (which are all related to the gpu).

    https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3340098
    https://discussions.apple.com/message/16654674
    http://feedback.photoshop.com/photoshop_family/topics/brushes_not_working_on_2011_macbook_air
     
  12. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    Aug 5, 2010
    #12
    Do you know if it works properly with OpenGL drawing disabled? What is described here is a driver issue rather than one of raw power. Apple is notorious for gpu driver issues, and it's always a blame game thing with the gpu manufacturers. Apple is actually quite restrictive on code, so it requires some effort on both sides. Lion seems to have made things worse, and I've still successfully avoided Lion. I wouldn't suggest anyone use it without testing in their work environment in advance. Unfortunately SL won't necessarily work on a new computer, so you end up without a choice.
     
  13. elliotn macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2011
    #13
    I've already returned my mini Server to Apple for a refund, so I've missed the chance to test that.

    But if you go to the third link I posted and search for 'OpenGL' you will find one mini Server user who says that disabling OpenGL solves the problems... and then another mini Server user who says it doesn't help at all...

    Bottom line, don't buy a mini Server if you plan to use Adobe products. Or at least wait until 10.7.3 has been released.

    I swapped my mini Server for a mini i7 2.7 and Photoshop now behaves properly.
     
  14. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    #14
    I'm glad you have something that is working properly now. I mentioned the OpenGL thing because at that point it would be back to using the cpu to make drawing calculations as it did prior to CS4 (when OpenGL became an option there). It's really not that difficult for a gpu to draw 2d imagery. Gaming and 3d applications run it much harder, but driver issues can really ruin any experience. I don't really isolate blame on these things because Apple is quite restrictive on drivers, so it's their responsibility to work with Intel to ensure that these things work correctly. I'd like to see the minis in general all have discreet graphics. The quad cpu is not a significantly more expensive component. They should be able to deliver it with both without drastically inflating the cost of the machine.
     
  15. ea9 macrumors regular

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    Mar 14, 2011
    #15
    I did reference things. I said basic tasks. Ie almost everyone that buys a pc or a Mac.
     
  16. overmedium thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jan 22, 2012
    #16
    THANKS EVERYONE for your two cents! I'm leaning toward the imac now: good graphics, plenty of processing power for my use, optical drive...
     
  17. CoolmaxMini macrumors member

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    Jan 22, 2012
    #17
    For what you plan to do, iMac 21.5" Core i5 Quad is the best value.
     
  18. Mojo1 macrumors 65816

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    Jul 26, 2011
    #18
    Thanks thekev...

    You detailed the benefits of an SSD well. It's too bad that logic isn't applied to this subject more often on these forums.

    The bottom line is that for many people their money is better spent on upgrading other hardware components before getting an SSD.
     
  19. CoolmaxMini macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    #19
    Unless you can get a 60Gb SSD drive for $39 each for which I did for 2 of them, then it would not make sense at all.

    I was actually in OP's shoes as well. I have an early 2008 Macbook which I souped it up to 4Gb of RAM and a Seagate Momentus XT 500Gb drive, but it just couldn't do HD video fast enough anymore. What drove me towards a Core i5 2.3Ghz Mini was several well placed opportunities. RAM was cheap, a refurb model from Apple store online came up over the holidays and the Patriot Pyro and OCZ Agility 3 over Christmas came up on sale, so I bought it knowingly that I need SSD performance for video editing as I have a fast Quad Core PC with RAID SSD and RAID hard drives that I come to love. The only cost not on sale was the $69.95 which I paid $100 Canadian for the iFixit dual drive kit shipped Fedex and heavily dutied. Once the SSD drives were in, it was simply night and day. It's like running a Macbook Air (instant to desktop), plus video editing and editing photoshop on a scratch SSD drive is a joy. Again, it was just pure good timing on my part. Now just waiting for a consumer pocket friendly Thunderbolt RAID hard drive box and I'm happy as a clam.
     
  20. iamthedudeman, Jan 24, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2012

    iamthedudeman macrumors 65816

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    #20
    A SSD is the most important upgrade you can make for your computer way more important than any CPU.

    A i5 mini with a SSD will be faster in most tasks than the top of the line quad imac in most tasks. You can even throw in the i7 iMac also. That is how important a SSD is. Boot time faster, file transfers faster, application launching faster,you get the picture, basically the most used tasks are HD dependant surfing the web,application launching,wordprocessing,which is all bottlenecked by the hard drive.

    People tend to forget most tasks are initiated by the hard drive which is the bottleneck in any modern computer. not just booting your computer or just starting applications file transfers in just about everything is speeded up by an SSD.
    Anyone who is telling you different either has not used one or are in denial take your pick. SSD's also improves the life or your computer,makes it totally silent,runs cold and all the above. The hard drive is going the way of the floppy,mechanical disks are a thing of the past.
    You couldn't pay me to have a hard drive any of my computers they're good for external drives only.

    Remember if you buy a Mac Mini you can always upgrade the hard drive whanever you like or upgrade the monitor whenever you want.Also you can upgrade a Mac Mini more often than you would an iMac.

    Something wrong with an iMac well guess what there's something wrong with your computer to because it's an all-in-one. Or try adding an SSD later on for more performance good luck with that it isn't going to happen without voiding your warranty.
     
  21. Confuzzzed macrumors 68000

    Confuzzzed

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2011
    Location:
    Liverpool, UK
    #21
    Haven't owned an iMac for years so can't be certain although I was in a similar position as the OP 4-5 months ago and went with mac mini server in the end. I am not a gamer so didn't particularly care about dedicated GPU. Also, like the option of DIY (be it adding SSD or increasing RAM, which I already did in less than 2 mins). And, quite frankly, I like changing my computers frequently but don't see the need to concurrently change my processor. Although I acknowledge visually, the iMac is a more elegant solution for a desk top, I believe it is significantly more cost effective to replace a mac mini than an iMac. Not least because of the expense and ease of logistics compared to an iMac.

    Whatever people say, the mac mini is plenty fast enough and my other machine is a 2011 macbook air so know the benefits of SSD.
     

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