Help me buy a Mac mini

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
I am looking to upgrade from a P3 733 to a mac mini. My last Mac was the 512K. It would be fair to say that there have been some changes since then :-).



The Mac I've got in my sights is a 1.8 dual core with 2Gb of ram. It's second hand, saving about $200 USD on the new price.



The computer will be used mainly for word processing, internet, some video and music.



I need to be able to read and write all my old word files.

I need to be able to import my email addresses, and picture library

We have Word for Mac



I also have a few questions:



Can I place a 22" monitor on top of the mac mini?

How does the performance of the mac mini compare to a pc with the same chip?

Does the 2nd Gb of ram make a lot of difference?

Will I still need to run a anti virus software?

Will I be able to use Skype?

Will it run Google sketch up?

What's the easiest way to transfer data from my old computer to the Mac?



Would I be better off with a PC with a similar cpu and an external graphics card?



Sorry for the amount of question, answer as many as you wish





*Edit* Oops, promptly posted in the wrong forum, pays to read the lot. I am sure the mods will fix it :-)

Thanks in advance

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,129member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Apfelkern View Post




    The Mac I've got in my sights is a 1.8 dual core with 2Gb of ram. It's second hand, saving about $200 USD on the new price.



    The computer will be used mainly for word processing, internet, some video and music.



    I need to be able to read and write all my old word files.

    I need to be able to import my email addresses, and picture library

    We have Word for Mac



    I also have a few questions:



    Can I place a 22" monitor on top of the mac mini?

    How does the performance of the mac mini compare to a pc with the same chip?

    Does the 2nd Gb of ram make a lot of difference?

    Will I still need to run a anti virus software?

    Will I be able to use Skype?

    Will it run Google sketch up?

    What's the easiest way to transfer data from my old computer to the Mac?



    Would I be better off with a PC with a similar cpu and an external graphics card?



    Sorry for the amount of question, answer as many as you wish





    *Edit* Oops, promptly posted in the wrong forum, pays to read the lot. I am sure the mods will fix it :-)

    Thanks in advance





    I have a Dual Core 1.66Ghz mini with 2GB of RAM.



    Get iwork and you'll be able to open most word, excel and powerpoint files. It's a steal at $79 bucks.



    Depends on the program you want to export from. Chances are you'll get everything to come cross pretty easily. Though perhaps someone here has a better idea on how to get that data across.



    I haven't installed Skype but there's a recent 2.8 version that works on Macs. I've downloaded Sketchup and it seems to work fine though I here the PC version is smoother or something like that.



    I've had my mini for over two years and haven't run any anti-virus nor had any problems.



    No you wouldn't be better off and the reason why is that you can still run Windows in Bootcamp or via virtualization. OS X is mature and has a bunch of applications that are just stellar. Why limit yourself to just Windows/linux when a Mac will run OS X/linux/Windows ?



    Jump in. I'm thinking about taking my mini up to 2.1Ghz via buying a Core2 Duo proc and installing. I'm happy with the computer ..though I don't game so the whole "the graphics suck" doesn't affect me.
  • Reply 2 of 15
    bbwibbwi Posts: 812member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Apfelkern View Post


    I also have a few questions:



    Can I place a 22" monitor on top of the mac mini?



    Not recommended, the extra weight would put pressure on the combo drive and other internals. Put it on a stand and put the mini underneath the stand



    Quote:

    How does the performance of the mac mini compare to a pc with the same chip?



    They are comparable but the mini uses a laptop HD that spins slightly slower than your typical small/mid/full sized desktop



    Quote:

    Does the 2nd Gb of ram make a lot of difference?



    Tremendous difference, 2 gig total (which is the max) is necessary in my opinion



    Quote:

    Will I still need to run a anti virus software?



    Need? Probably not *needed* but never hurts



    Quote:

    Will I be able to use Skype?



    Yes



    Quote:

    Will it run Google sketch up?



    The Mini does not support the minimum requirements of 128 MB video card



    Quote:

    What's the easiest way to transfer data from my old computer to the Mac?



    A thumb drive or external hard drive or DVD work. There are software options out there but I believe you have to pay for them



    Quote:

    Would I be better off with a PC with a similar cpu and an external graphics card?



    This is hard to qualify. Only you can make this call even though you'll get a bunch of responses in favor of 'switching' on these forums
  • Reply 3 of 15
    To be honest, if you were buying a brand new mini, I'd take that $599 and buy a much more powerful PC. But you're getting it used for $200 less which is a pretty good deal. Better than the eBay price last I checked, and about what the hardware is actually worth.



    The mini is a good machine *for its size* but it does use a slow hard drive and obsolete graphics. However it would still be a world of difference from the P3 you're using now, and great for internet, office, and music/video stuff. I suspect Google Sketchup would run, but not perfectly. 2GB of RAM would probably be a good investment and you're not supposed to put anything on top of the mini.



    I've always transferred files between Windows and OS X by enabling the shared folder in Windows and using "connect to server" (Command + K) on the Mac to connect to it. If there's an easier way, I can't think of it.
  • Reply 4 of 15
    phongphong Posts: 219member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by FuturePastNow View Post


    To be honest, if you were buying a brand new mini, I'd take that $599 and buy a much more powerful PC. But you're getting it used for $200 less which is a pretty good deal. Better than the eBay price last I checked, and about what the hardware is actually worth.



    Yeah, the eBay price is just as ridiculous, strangely enough. As an economics major, that really puzzles me. The market has consistently chosen a price for 18-month old Mini very near the price Apple has chosen. Many that are on eBay have one or two parts upgraded and offer prices for those can go above $1000, which is laughable.



    Apparently this "Apple tax" thing is a market creation.
  • Reply 5 of 15
    Thanks for all the replies, they were most helpful.



    The mac mini I am looking at already has 2Gb, so that's a bonus. Looks like it will do 90% of what I want it to do. I am attracted to it because it is small, quiet and uses less power. I almost bought an eee box, but I think the mac has more to offer.



    I am not a gamer, but I do need to use software like Corel, Pro/Engineer and occasionally Google Sketch Up. However, I have a laptop that is able to do these things. I'll just have to hook it up to the 22" monitor. I have to keep work and home separated, otherwise I would just use the laptop.



    Anyway, I'll probably go for the mac.
  • Reply 6 of 15
    I just thought of another question worth asking. Will the mini be able to run my 22" LCD at a resolution of 1680x1050? I just figured it would, because my P75 can, but better be safe then sorry.
  • Reply 7 of 15
    hudson1hudson1 Posts: 800member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Apfelkern View Post


    I just thought of another question worth asking. Will the mini be able to run my 22" LCD at a resolution of 1680x1050? I just figured it would, because my P75 can, but better be safe then sorry.



    Most definitely.
  • Reply 8 of 15
    backtomacbacktomac Posts: 4,579member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Apfelkern View Post


    I just thought of another question worth asking. Will the mini be able to run my 22" LCD at a resolution of 1680x1050? I just figured it would, because my P75 can, but better be safe then sorry.



    Wait for the new mini. IIRC the old mini only supports a 20" monitor.



    The new mini will almost certainly get the new NVIDIA 9400m graphics that can drive a 30" monitor.



    I would wait a month to see if a new mini is released.



    Edit: The current mini can drive a 23" ACD so you'll be fine with a 22" monitor.
  • Reply 9 of 15
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Phong View Post


    Yeah, the eBay price is just as ridiculous, strangely enough. As an economics major, that really puzzles me. The market has consistently chosen a price for 18-month old Mini very near the price Apple has chosen. Many that are on eBay have one or two parts upgraded and offer prices for those can go above $1000, which is laughable.



    Apparently this "Apple tax" thing is a market creation.



    Actually, as someone who bought a Mini a couple of months ago on eBay, I was shocked to see the value they hold. Old G4 and Core Solo 1.5Ghz Minis were going for nearly $400. 1.6 Core Duo Minis were going for nearly $500 in good condition, though I lucked out and got one for $420. To only lose $100 in value over 3 years or more is absurd.
  • Reply 10 of 15
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by backtomac View Post


    Wait for the new mini. IIRC the old mini only supports a 20" monitor.



    The new mini will almost certainly get the new NVIDIA 9400m graphics that can drive a 30" monitor.



    I would wait a month to see if a new mini is released.



    Edit: The current mini can drive a 23" ACD so you'll be fine with a 22" monitor.



    The monitor's size in inches is irrelevant anyway, only the resolution matters. In that case, every mini made will output 1920x1200 to a DVI display.
  • Reply 11 of 15
    I've owned a 1.8 Mini now for about 8 months. It was my first Leopard Mac, and I simply love it (I also own a 12" iBook and Early 2008 15" MacBook Pro and am about to order a unibody 17" MacBook Pro). If you can wait, I would not buy one right now. They are definitely due for a refresh and the hardware is really outdated. Like all things Apple, I can't say when they will be updated though.



    Even if you need a computer now, I think for your needs and workflow it would be perfect. One reason I went for the Mini is because it is QUIET. Yes, the 2.5" 5400 rpm drive is not as fast as a 3.5" 7200 rpm, but it's much quieter, and it's not that much slower, especially for your workflow and needs. It also runs cooler, so there's less fan noise. The smaller hard drive is one reason the Mini can be so small and quiet. It's Apple bucking convention and doing things their way by putting a 2.5" drive in a "desktop" computer.



    For your needs 2GB RAM is perfect. That's what I have on my MacBook Pro. The Core2Duo 1.8 Mini though CAN run 4GB RAM, although it's not officially supported. You can check out macsales.com and 123macmini.com for more info. You do have to install it yourself, and this is not for beginners. It will probably void the warranty too. I've been running with 4GB of RAM since the beginning and the RAM was $60. It's been flawless with VMware Fusion.



    While you're transitioning, you can use VMware Fusion, Parallels, or Boot Camp. They all work great.



    For the best file compatibility, Mac for Office comes in handy and works better than iWork. I only use Office 2004 to open files from colleagues. Then I convert it to PDF or rtf format because I really don't like how the Microsoft products work. Once in rft format I use Nisus Writer Pro. Depending on the document's complexity and formatting, iWork may or may not work well for conversions. On my most complex collaboration docs, I'm still chained to Word unfortunately.



    No don't put anything heavy on top of the Mini such as a monitor.



    For file transfer, a nice option is to use the Targus file transfer USB cable. I've never used it, but this is a great article:



    http://theappleblog.com/2008/12/17/t...less-macbooks/



    An external hard drive or DVD burner are good options too. If you do get a external hard drive for Time Machine, get one with Firewire 400 unless you plan on using a Time Capsule (but you won't have N wireless speed). FW400 is faster than USB on Macs, especially non-Unibody ones (Barefeats.com/Hardmac.com)



    One reason I completely converted to Macs and OS X was I was so tired of the security issues of Windows. Anti-virus software often cripples the performance of Windows machines. Not for everyone, but definitely in my case. I don't use anti-virus software on my Macs. I don't recommend it to my friends and colleagues. Just be smart with all the links you click on and the sites you visit. Security and bloatware. It's why so many of us switch in the first place. Everyone has their opinion on this. This is just mine.



    The 1.8 with 2GB is more than enough for your needs. A Windows netbook or old iBook would meet your needs. So don't worry about the specs too much. For internet, music, email, word processing my iBook, MacBook Pro, and Mini are practically the same.



    The whole point of getting a Mac is not worrying about hardware and this or that. You just focus on getting your work done or enjoying yourself. With my transition to Macs I have found myself to be more creative and productive. I'm not troubleshooting software and hardware all day. I just work, and OS X just works. No, it's not perfect, but it's better and easier. The features of Leopard add up: QuickLook, Time Machine, Cover Flow, Spaces, Expose (before Leopard) to name a few.



    When I first bought the 1.8 mini, I used Dragon Naturally Speaking Voice recognition in BootCamp and VMware. It ran flawlessly. So for your needs, no sweat.



    Stop worrying about the graphics card. For your needs, and if you're not into games, it's another thing you can unload off your worry list. It's fine. My old iBook would be fine for all your needs.



    A nice thing about the current Mini is it does have Firewire 400 also, but the wireless network card is only the G type not the N type. That's why I suggest you wait for the newer model when it comes out. This is why the current Mini is not ideal with Time Capsule.



    If cost isn't an issue, I'd even recommend the "upgraded" white MacBooks that just came out today for your needs. It's more powerful than the current Mini and it's a laptop, and can run an external monitor. But it is more expensive. Think about it, the Mini and white MacBook are very similar except for the keyboard and display. The white MacBook is very versatile and affordable, and unlike Windows netbooks, POWERFUL and PRODUCTIVE. There's a lot to be said for portability. Browse the web and type on the sofa or the backyard, etc. More money, but more options and more productivity. And it has N network card too. Here's a link for the just updated today white MacBook:



    http://theappleblog.com/2009/01/21/u...ibody-macbook/



    When I first switched, I was on VMware 75% of the time. Now it's about 2%. Switching takes time. But it is SO worth it. Really that's what the Mini is all about: a cheap way for current Windows users to get addicted to the OS X kool-aid.



    Cheers and good luck!!
  • Reply 12 of 15
    Sorry, I missed that you were getting a second hand one.



    Given the cheap price. I say it's a no-brainer, as long as you get one that works. If you're good with tools, you can crack it open with a putty knife and put in 4GB RAM and an upgrade hard drive for dirt cheap:



    http://www.123macmini.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=9403



    But since it's used and so cheap, I wouldn't do a thing to it, since you are already getting 2 GB.



    Cheap. Powerful. Quiet. Small. It works for you, not the other way around.



    EDIT: and if you're going to add more RAM or bigger or faster hard drive, mind as well get the new white MacBook. So for a turn-key, second-hand solution: I think it's perfect as long as it runs all the software you think you may need, especially if you get a good price on it. One more thing, it may not have a DVD burner on it, so verify this (I forgot if it's an option or not).
  • Reply 13 of 15
    You can also actually run 2 displays with a Mac Mini too, as I did for a really cheap price and lots of real estate. No need for a Windows mini tower:



    http://www.123macmini.com/forums/vie...ht=displaylink



    http://www.123macmini.com/forums/vie...ht=displaylink
  • Reply 14 of 15
    One last reply.



    I made so many posts because your situation mirrored mine when I bought my Mini.



    I bought my Mini primarily to be used as a QUIET Boot Camp Windows PC only to be used with Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice dictation. I was disabled at that time, and computed completely by voice. For what I wanted a quiet PC would run me a couple of thousand dollars, so I went with the Mini. It's not silent, but much quieter than the typical PC.



    As I dabbled in OS X, I got tired of rebooting, so I went with VMWare Fusion. I really never thought my complete conversion would happen the way it did.



    Even if you run a Mini solely as a PC, it can be one of the nicest, most stable, reliable, quiet, stylish, and space saving desktop PC you can choose.



    Cheers.
  • Reply 15 of 15
    I just wanted to say that, ive ran google sketch up on my old macbook i used to have, with 64mb of integrated graphics since i did not really upgrade the ram, as well I ran it on my eMac which had 32mb of graphic memory, so i dont under stand why theres a 128mb graphic card needed, they have it at my school on the dells that have integrated graphics...
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