Mac mini or eMac? That is the question.

in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
Before the Mac mini came out I was all geared up to buy an eMac with SuperDrive but I got caught up in the excitement of the mini and ordered a 1.42GHz one with a SD and Airport.

That was nearly 10 weeks ago and I'm still waiting for my mini to arrive.

Recent eMac revision rumours have got me thinking that the eMac is a better package for my budget, even without revisions.

Here's my pros of the eMac over the Mac mini:

1) Capable of installing larger capacity, 7200 RPM hard drive inside the casing.

2) More USB and Firewire ports.

3) Audio input socket (can't believe that something so small was left off the mini).

4) Easier to perform upgrades myself (yeah I've seen the putty knife video).

5) The SuperDrive is included, not a BTO option, so I can buy the entire computer off the shelf with everything i want (except Airport, but that's a doddle to install in the eMac) meaning shorter delivery time (effectively).

6) Keyboard, mouse and display included in the price.

Cons of the eMac:

1) All in one form factor. If one component dies the whole thing is useless (same can be said for Mac mini (excluding display).

2) Much larger footprint taking up my desk space.

3) CRT display - old fashioned look. 16" viewable screen.

Of course the Mac mini can overcome some of the above with external hardware, I especially like the new Minimate so that takes care of the large capacity/fast spinning HD and the number of peripheral ports (USB & FW). A USB audio input device can take care of the audio shortfall.

The idea that I can use whatever display I choose (can afford) is appealing (I'm currently in possesion of a ViewSonic VG700 17" LCD but it's on loan). I'd love a widescreen but can't see my budget ever being that generous so I'd probably get a 17" LCD with DVI.

I generally buy a new computer every 3 years (tax write off) so whatever I buy now will become my 15month old kid's computer (both computers are perfect for kids - the mini just that little bit moreso because it can be placed out of reach).

In Australia the eMac SD currently sells for AUD$1599. Add $119 for Airport (I need Airport) and it's AUD$1718. That may or may not change with the revision.

The Mac mini I have on order comes to AUD$1273 ($949 1.42 Mac mini + $155 SD + $119 Airport + $50 Keyboard).

But add another $200 for external 80Gb HD, USB & FW enclosure(s). The cheapest USB audio input I've seen is the Griffin iMic ($70), that brings the cost of the mini to $1573 not including a display which would add $350 to $400 for a 17" LCD or $1249 for the Apple 20" LCD, now we're in iMac territory (1.8GHz iMac with SD is $2399, add on AP and it's $2518 - WAY over my budget).

I've already paid $142 for 1Gb RAM for the mini, I haven't factored that into the equations because I can sell that if I decide to get an eMac.

So I think my mind is made up on the eMac (definitely if it gets bumped up to 1.42 CPU, 512 RAM, DL SuperDrive and 64MB ATI Radeon 9600 GPU).

Can anyone can give a good argument to persuade me either way? Much appreciated

Sorry for the long post. I've chopped out as much as I can. \


  • Reply 1 of 13 Posts: 255member

    Originally posted by Bart Smastard

    Cons of the eMac:

    1) All in one form factor. If one component dies the whole thing is useless (same can be said for Mac mini (excluding display).

    2) Much larger footprint taking up my desk space.

    3) CRT display - old fashioned look. 16" viewable screen.


    eMac weight is 50 tons rrrrrrr pardon me 50 LBS

    I would go with the Mac mini and get a CRT or LCD
  • Reply 2 of 13
    g_warreng_warren Posts: 713member
    10 weeks wait? I supply that bad there?! Geesh, unlucky!

    I'd would personally go with the Mac mini. I'm in a similar sort of position - with my iBook a year and a half old, I'll be upgrading in 6 months, and have decided to go for a Mac mini with a 20in Cinema Display.

    I think this is a good option, as whilst the displays aren't cheap, I can keep the display for years, and just upgrade the mini every couple of years for a few hundred pounds. I reckon that the mini will be pretty easy to sell since it is hugely popular, so you can upgrade every few years and still get some money for it your old mini.

    If you like, there is no reason why you can't put a 5400rpm drive (or maybe even a 7200rpm?) in a mini to give it a bit more oomph.

    Overall though, my main reason is that a mini and a 20in display will just look so much better than any other setup, especially the 'old school' eMac. So personally, I'd go for the mini mate, just my opinion though!
  • Reply 3 of 13
    the mini seems slightly "half assed" it would make a great computer with the minimat AlREADY attached
  • Reply 4 of 13
    exhibit_13exhibit_13 Posts: 110member
    i'm in a similar situation. i want my parents to buy a new comp, cuz this G3 imac is past its prime, and i don't wanna fork over the cash cuz i'll be buying my own laptop (PB G5?!?) for college next year. my parents are kinda cheap, so my best chances are with either an emac or mac mini. the nice thing about the mini is that i have a 17" monitor and an extra keyboard/mouse to use, but the emac certainly has its advantages... i guess i'll have to wait and see what kind of upgrades it comes with in the next few days/weeks. if its got 1.42 or 1.5 ghz and DL superdrive and 512 MB ram and a radeon 9600 w/ 64 MB video ram, i think i'm definitely gonna have to opt for that. we'll have to wait and see, i suppose...
  • Reply 5 of 13
    ionyzionyz Posts: 491member
    With the eMac bump today, Apple has clearly set its line apart. The Mac mini is where it should have been; the slowest, cheapest and smallest desktop Mac possible, great for switchers who already have keyboards, mice and displays.

    I'm not a switcher though, but close to ordering a Mac mini. Why? I already own a 20" Cinema Display and my 450 MHz Cube has to have this noisy Nvidia GeForce 3 connected to it. With the mini I'll have a cheap (replaceable in a year), small, quiet machine I can hook into my Cinema DIsplay, black Apple Pro keyboard and logitech 500 mouse.

    There is a con for you, the eMac is loud. Not sure how Apple has modified the current model but our 800 MHz eMac has a constant-velocity 120 mm fan, set in the rear "cone" of the monitor, blowing away. The slots in the back help create an awful turbulence. 15 meters away, In my sisters room I know she is at the computer cause I can hear that fan.

    But with the recent bump, you pretty much already have your choice made.
  • Reply 6 of 13
    uymanuyman Posts: 36member
    Well, I was planning on buying a mini too but this update has given me pause for thought. I think the sweet spot for the hardware (for desktops) is clearly the iMacs for what you get for the cost. But even though I'd like to get the $1500 iMac, it's still $650 more than the mac mini I was planning on getting. And I started thinking about what I really want to do with my computer-MS word, firefox, itunes, iphoto, power point, some light games to kill time, dreamweaver, quicken etc. In all reality, I don't need anything all that fast or a good graphics card. I think I'm going to stick with the mini. Plus I already have a 17" LCD monitor that I like. Anyway, that's my 2 cents.

    oh yeah, plus the mini is going to fit right in my entertainment system so I can have it hooked up to my sound system.
  • Reply 7 of 13
    Thanks for your input guys.

    Yes the Mac mini is a great little machine, but the eMac now has a better GPU and that's something that can't be fixed with an add-on like the slow/small hard drive or the 4x single layer DVD writer, lack of audio input and USB & FW ports can (hopefully Rev B will fix some or all of these issues, but I can't wait that long, I should've had a new computer back in February).

    Yes a 20" Cinema Display would be nice, but I don't have that kind of money.

    Yes the eMac is heavy (22kg) but it's only going to be sitting on a desk - a good solid one

    Fan noise can't be as bad as my PC. I've put my ear right up to the back of an eMac in a store and could barely hear a hum and it was reasonably quiet in the store at the time - before the flurry of upgrades of 2005 so no customers

    I think the eMac will make a better workhorse for me than a Mac mini which would probably send me broke from forever adding extras to it.

    Besides in 3 years time I'll be buying again and the eMac will become the kids computer. I'm sure it will do me nicely until then.

    Thanks again.
  • Reply 8 of 13

    Originally posted by uyman

    oh yeah, plus the mini is going to fit right in my entertainment system so I can have it hooked up to my sound system.

    Airport Express would allow me to send music to my entertainment system. And there's plenty of HD recorders that would do as good a job as a mini at recording TV. Maybe if the mini had optical in/out I'd buy one.
  • Reply 9 of 13
    icfireballicfireball Posts: 2,594member
    The eMac now that its updated is a lot better than the mac mini. You get a very large hard drive, dual layer (on one model), large screen, keyboard/mouse, 512 RAM on one model, and 64 MB Video Card. I would go with the eMac (second eMac model would be the best buy)...or go with the mac mini and pump it up a bit with custom options.
  • Reply 10 of 13
    ionyzionyz Posts: 491member
    The Mac mini options do blow the system up, inflates the price too much. I plan on buying a stock 1.2 GHz off the shelf. First upgrade is a gig of RAM ($110 USD). That has to be done ASAP. Once the noise, or space constraints or lack of DVD burning get me I'll pickup a Pioneer DVR-K04 slimline 8x "SuperDrive" with DL support ($150) and a larger/quieter hard drive, maybe a Samsung Spinpoint M or just boot externally from a 3.5" firewire.

    But the big things, aren't upgradable on the Mac mini. The eMac is a good choice
  • Reply 11 of 13
    I'm surprised by how good my 1.2 mini with 1 gig of ram is. Alot faster than I was expecting, but then I was doing fine on a Powerbook G4 550mhz.

    eMac hamstrings you. With the 20" Apple display, I have tons of flexibilty for future purchases (ie g5 powerbook or PM).
  • Reply 12 of 13
    mmmpiemmmpie Posts: 628member
    The new eMac with its updated GPU is certainly attractive, but I dont think it is that vital. Im running Tiger on my eMac with a Radeon 7500 very happily.

    I think that the two big concerns are ergonomics and upgrades.

    a) The eMac screen really isnt that good. I would choose an LCD over it any day. At the same price point a system with an LCD really trumps the eMac CRT. Even my 2 year old 15" KDS is much nicer to use than my eMac CRT.

    b) When you split out the system into screen and machine you can upgrade one without worrying about the other. A solution involving a mini should be considered in the light that you might well be buying a mini G5 in a year to repalce it.

    When making this sort of decision you should write down your priorities, and see how each setup meets them. You mention audio input, airport, price etc.

    For my needs Im going with the mini for my next machine, for the following reasons:

    a) Im going to buy a Dell 24" monitor ( for my PC as well ).

    b) Its cheap, so I can afford to upgrade in a year.

    c) When I upgrade, the old mini can just stack underneath.

    d) Its very small.

    e) Its very quite.
  • Reply 13 of 13
    Once again, thanks for all your input.

    The points for the mini are valid. It sure is small, it's quiet, it comes in at a low introductory price and it allows the user to expand the system as their requirements change.

    But the eMac still wins in my book, mainly because of the GPU upgrade. Being able to handle core image without calls to the CPU is a plus, especially with Tiger and who-knows-what other future software.

    It also has everything I want in one box at an affordable price (albeit 10 times the weight of the mini). I wish I could push the budget to an 20" iMac with SD but I can't.

    The price of a mini with a 20" display, DVD writer (internal single layer or external dual layer), decent hard drive, some kind of audio input, extra USB & FW ports is actually more than a 20" iMac and that system includes a 2GHz G5 CPU, a far better GPU, Bluetooth and Airport.

    Personally I can't see how anyone can justify adding a 20" LCD to the mini.

    It all comes down to a matter of choice I suppose. And recent figures show that the Mac mini has found its place in the market:

    From AppleInsider today: new-to-Mac buyers now represent over 50% of total CPU sales. They say between 1 in 4 Macs sold on an average day is a Mac mini, but on other days this ratio is closer to 1 in 3.

    For me the eMac fits the criteria of function and price and that's all I need.

    In 3 years time when I'm next upgrading I expect the decision will be whether to choose between a G6 mini, a G6 eMac with LCD or a G7 iMac with 30" LCD

    I look forward to another civilized dicussion when that time comes
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