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Review: Apple's aluminum Mac mini and Mac mini Server (2010) - Page 3

post #81 of 88
Apple's Mac offerings are a little quirky right now. The iMacs offer incredible value, but one model is too small for pro work and the other is comically large. And if you already have a monitor, your options are either a screen-less laptop (Mac mini) running a four year old chip, or a $2,500 - $5,000 xeon workstation. The hell? A decade ago Apple offered a tower for $1,599.

Whats the roadmap for the i3 reaching the necessary size and efficiency to fit in the Mac mini, and what's the most likely pairing of graphics chip?
post #82 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by guinness View Post

Then there is the MB or MBP, but I don't need a laptop, as my current one is fine. In the end, I just built a new PC back in March, as I wanted a quad-core Core i5, BR, USB 3, and Radeon 5xxx graphics.

What is the price comparison between your quad i5 and the 3.6GHz dual i5 21.5" iMac at $1699? Exclude the display initially.

Quote:
Originally Posted by guinness View Post

To get a Mac, it seems like you have either settle on a few fronts, or spend more than you need.

Definitely and it goes against what Jonathan Ive was saying about the iPad about you not having to fit the computer. I think from their point of view, the strategy will work for them though.

If they sell a headless i5 quad now, someone will get one and never upgrade for 5 years like they do with the Mac Pro. By selling hardware with constraints like the AIO and Mini, it forces people to upgrade more often.

One thing I don't like about the AIO is the hard drive restriction. In the recent model, you can see there is no BTO option for the entry model but there is for the next one up for absolutely no reason. So if you want the entry model with a $50 1TB drive, instead of the $1249 you would pay, you actually pay $1499. You do get additional upgrades for that money but you only wanted a $50 upgrade and get landed with $250 of upgrades you don't want.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cory Bauer

Whats the roadmap for the i3 reaching the necessary size and efficiency to fit in the Mac mini, and what's the most likely pairing of graphics chip?

They have 2 options:

- stick with Intel and use a dedicated GPU from NVidia or ATI as Intel IGPs don't support OpenCL
- drop Intel, switch to AMD Fusion, which has a quad Phenom + Radeon 5000 series chip

Intel is forcing them into a corner and Apple doesn't like being in the corner so my guess is that 2011, they will at least switch the low-end to Fusion. I don't think we can see a Macbook Air update before this happens.
post #83 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

They have 2 options:

- stick with Intel and use a dedicated GPU from NVidia or ATI as Intel IGPs don't support OpenCL
- drop Intel, switch to AMD Fusion, which has a quad Phenom + Radeon 5000 series chip

Intel is forcing them into a corner and Apple doesn't like being in the corner so my guess is that 2011, they will at least switch the low-end to Fusion. I don't think we can see a Macbook Air update before this happens.

I think when Sandy Bridge is released that NVIDIA IGPs are again possible. I read this at Ars and will try to find the link. This would allow Apple to use Intel cpus and pair them with an Open CL compatible IGP from NVIDIA. I've still not read anything that suggests that the next Intel IGPs will be OCL compatible.

But like you I wonder if AMD will be 'good enough'. Everything I've read suggests that Sandy Bridge will keep the performance crown with Intel. But if a Fusion chip solution can offer Nehalem comparable performance at a competitive price, I don't see why Apple shouldn't consider it for the mini.
post #84 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

What is the price comparison between your quad i5 and the 3.6GHz dual i5 21.5" iMac at $1699? Exclude the display initially.

Mobo was about $130, (also features USB 3/SATA 6*)
4 GB PC1600 DDR3 was $105,
Core i5-570 was $195 (and easily hits 3.2 GHz from 2.66 GHz stock, which actually allowed my RAM to run at full 1600 MHz),
BR drive and SW was $70,
Antec 650W PSU was about $75,
ATI 5770 was $160,
6' HDMI cable was $5.
Adding in a copy of Windows 7 HP 64-bit upgrade was $119.

Including tax and shipping, that was $926. I reused my case, 3 previous internal HD's, and old DVD burner, that might have added another $200 or so, if I had to by new. My case is a Cooler Master 690 - I love this case; size wise, it's as big as a Mac Pro.

I've since then, added a 1 TB internal HD for $60, and a refurb Logictech 9000 webcam for $33. Say that's another $100 roughly, and if I didn't already have a monitor, but a very similar IPS monitor to the 21.5" iMac is the Dell UltraSharp U2211H for $280.

If I round up the price of that monitor to $300, that makes it $1526. All components from newegg, monitor direct from Dell. And chances are, it would be cheaper than that, as both newegg and Dell run sales all the time (that's how I got the 1 TB HD and webcam so cheap), the OS I downloaded directly from Microsoft.

*because of Intel's limitations, there is no dedicated controller, so it uses part of the PCIe x16 lane, basically turning it into x8. But in benchmarks, that doesn't affect games, the 5770 isn't that powerful, and if I wanted to, I could have bought a board with a dedicated controller for like an additional $40.
post #85 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by guinness View Post

Mobo was about $130, (also features USB 3/SATA 6*)
4 GB PC1600 DDR3 was $105,
Core i5-570 was $195 (and easily hits 3.2 GHz from 2.66 GHz stock, which actually allowed my RAM to run at full 1600 MHz),
BR drive and SW was $70,
Antec 650W PSU was about $75,
ATI 5770 was $160,
6' HDMI cable was $5.
Adding in a copy of Windows 7 HP 64-bit upgrade was $119.

Including tax and shipping, that was $926. I reused my case, 3 previous internal HD's, and old DVD burner, that might have added another $200 or so, if I had to by new. My case is a Cooler Master 690 - I love this case; size wise, it's as big as a Mac Pro.

I've since then, added a 1 TB internal HD for $60, and a refurb Logictech 9000 webcam for $33. Say that's another $100 roughly, and if I didn't already have a monitor, but a very similar IPS monitor to the 21.5" iMac is the Dell UltraSharp U2211H for $280.

If I round up the price of that monitor to $300, that makes it $1526. All components from newegg, monitor direct from Dell. And chances are, it would be cheaper than that, as both newegg and Dell run sales all the time (that's how I got the 1 TB HD and webcam so cheap), the OS I downloaded directly from Microsoft.

*because of Intel's limitations, there is no dedicated controller, so it uses part of the PCIe x16 lane, basically turning it into x8. But in benchmarks, that doesn't affect games, the 5770 isn't that powerful, and if I wanted to, I could have bought a board with a dedicated controller for like an additional $40.

Thanks very much for those details. It shows some interesting information about current desktop performance.

The quad-core i5 750 even overclocked to 3.2GHz manages between 7500-9000 on Geekbench (64-bit is towards the higher end) and the 3.2GHz 3.6GHz i5 in the 21.5" iMac gets 7000-7800.

The iMac comes with a 5670 and the 5770 is about 60% faster.

With an IPS display, your setup comes to about $1500, which you could get a bit cheaper vs $1700 for the iMac.

What you gain is a slightly faster CPU, a 60% faster GPU and upgradability. What you lose is space given that it is the size of a Mac Pro, perhaps some fan noise you wouldn't get from an iMac, power consumption, which will be more than the iMac's 240W maximum.

Once you factor in resale value, you would probably break even with the iMac.

As time goes on, the benefits of building a custom machine diminish. Personally I do like the option of having my own display and being able to switch out a hard drive but for $200 difference (eBay machines with the same spec similarly sell around $1300 minimum no display), the iMac is so much less hassle.

In this example, the 'Apple tax' is coming in at around 13%. Although you also get a wireless keyboard and mouse thrown in, which would cost about $100 if you get decent ones.

If they'd allow access to the hard drives easily by using 2 x 12.5mm 2.5" drives that slot in the bottom and perhaps a matte option or better anti-glare, the iMac would be a pretty compelling alternative.

Thinking 4-5 years down the line though, the Mini will get to this point and have wireless display tech.
post #86 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

Thanks very much for those details. It shows some interesting information about current desktop performance.

The quad-core i5 750 even overclocked to 3.2GHz manages between 7500-9000 on Geekbench (64-bit is towards the higher end) and the 3.2GHz 3.6GHz i5 in the 21.5" iMac gets 7000-7800.

The iMac comes with a 5670 and the 5770 is about 60% faster.

With an IPS display, your setup comes to about $1500, which you could get a bit cheaper vs $1700 for the iMac.

What you gain is a slightly faster CPU, a 60% faster GPU and upgradability. What you lose is space given that it is the size of a Mac Pro, perhaps some fan noise you wouldn't get from an iMac, power consumption, which will be more than the iMac's 240W maximum.

Once you factor in resale value, you would probably break even with the iMac.

As time goes on, the benefits of building a custom machine diminish. Personally I do like the option of having my own display and being able to switch out a hard drive but for $200 difference (eBay machines with the same spec similarly sell around $1300 minimum no display), the iMac is so much less hassle.

In this example, the 'Apple tax' is coming in at around 13%. Although you also get a wireless keyboard and mouse thrown in, which would cost about $100 if you get decent ones.

If they'd allow access to the hard drives easily by using 2 x 12.5mm 2.5" drives that slot in the bottom and perhaps a matte option or better anti-glare, the iMac would be a pretty compelling alternative.

Thinking 4-5 years down the line though, the Mini will get to this point and have wireless display tech.

I don't use the HDMI cable as my main video cable, that's still VGA (my Mini is connected through the DVI port), but I use it to connect to my HDTV - I have a small apartment, and my TV makes a great 2nd monitor, and it's pretty sweet to throw Hulu desktop, a movie, or game on it. In a lot of respects, it makes it similar to my 360, but just more powerful.

Noise isn't an issue - probably not an iMac, but there's an option in the BIOS, to set the fans at certain levels, I set it to 'quiet', and it's temperature controlled.

I don't care a lot about resale value, I reuse parts, or give them away to family members, and building my own, allows me to pick and match components, and if something does somehow break (probably a HD), it's easy to replace. Hardly any downtime, and I don't have to screw around with an Apple Store, or glorified computer tech.

If I bought an iMac back in March, like I sort of wanted to, I would've had a C2D, some integrated junk graphics, 4 GB of slower DDR3, a few USB 2.0 ports, less HD space, and it would've cost another ~$300.

Even now, I'm ahead on connectivity, graphics, CPU, RAM, expandability. I even have a Bluetooth KB/trackpad, got that for about $65 at Best Buy, makes it great for the HTPC setup too. Windows 7 is really good - I can do BR, do the gaming stuff, it picked up the HDTV with no problem, DX11/OpenGL 4.0, OpenCL (if it ever amounts to anything), Flash acceleration is terrific.

In the end, I may have spent about the same, but I feel that I'm still ahead, and it just comes down to OSX vs Windows, and it's a wash IMO. I'm really not that impressed with SL, my Mac is too old for some things, and Win7 has rock steady for me.

Apple just isn't going where I want - I really don't need all the power I have, but I won't have to upgrade for another 3-4 years, but on the other hand, I want all my multimedia - Apple shut the door on a lot of that, they just care about cultivating some image at this point.

I just remember when I was a kid in the early ninties, reading Mac User and Macworld, and not even owning a computer, and though Apple was the shit - anything and everything was done with one, and it could run it. Now, it seems like a consumer-ish electronics firm, and whatever SJ wants, happens.
post #87 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

One thing I don't like about the AIO is the hard drive restriction. In the recent model, you can see there is no BTO option for the entry model but there is for the next one up for absolutely no reason. So if you want the entry model with a $50 1TB drive, instead of the $1249 you would pay, you actually pay $1499. You do get additional upgrades for that money but you only wanted a $50 upgrade and get landed with $250 of upgrades you don't want.

Not only that, the lack of any SSD options for the Mac Mini have totally killed it for me.

Yes, I'm probably better off buying my own SSD and custom installing it given Apple's usual price gouging on upgrades, but then I end up with a 320 Gb 5400 RPM drive that isn't even worth selling and is useless unless I had an old laptop that I could put it in. With the server option you might get something for one 2.5" 500 Gb 7200.
post #88 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by s.metcalf View Post

Not only that, the lack of any SSD options for the Mac Mini have totally killed it for me.

I'm off the idea of getting an SSD for now. I was under the impression they'd be more reliable but return rates suggest they are just as prone to failure as a HDD for whatever reason, possibly the controllers:

http://www.ocztechnologyforum.com/fo...0GB-SSD-failed
http://www.ocztechnologyforum.com/fo...-after-6-hours
http://www.ocztechnologyforum.com/fo...ay-on-Vertex-2
http://www.ocztechnologyforum.com/fo...0Gb-is-SO-slow
http://www.ocztechnologyforum.com/fo...2-already-slow
http://www.ocztechnologyforum.com/fo...ks-Up-Randomly
http://www.ocztechnologyforum.com/fo...Keeps-Freezing
http://communities.intel.com/thread/9473
http://forums.macrumors.com/archive/.../t-708741.html

Generally manufacturers will claim the return rates are similar to HDDs but at least with HDD, even if the manufacturer didn't replace it, the expense would be about $50 or so.

Plus, although the read/write speeds are much quicker with SSD, you have way less space and sustained writes aren't generally that much faster.

When we get to the 25nm refresh in Q4 this year, it might look a bit better price-wise:

http://www.guru3d.com/news/intel-ssd...sh-600gb-x25m/

I'd hold out for that anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by s.metcalf View Post

Yes, I'm probably better off buying my own SSD and custom installing it given Apple's usual price gouging on upgrades, but then I end up with a 320 Gb 5400 RPM drive that isn't even worth selling and is useless unless I had an old laptop that I could put it in. With the server option you might get something for one 2.5" 500 Gb 7200.

Hard drives have low resale value no matter what you get now. You'll get $75 max regardless. But doing it yourself, you'd be able to pick a 180GB drive for $420:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820227609

and you can send just the drive back if it fails. By Q4 this year, I'd expect SSD capacity from Intel at least to nearly double for the same price so a 320GB for $400.
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