Mini or iMac

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
A friend is just about to buy a Mac for the first time. Though she doesn't need a professional grade monitor, she still wants a high quality one.



Her questions:

Should she buy a Mini and a separate monitor or an iMac?



Is the iMac monitor as good as the 24" ACD?



Is the iMac monitor TN or S-IPS? Is the ACD TN or S-IPS?



Is the iMac monitor as good as third party monitors such as HP, Dell, Samsung, etc?



I suggested the Mini and a HP LP2475w (June 2009 MacWorld's top pick. The article didn't indicate whether the HP was TN or S-IPS.)

But what do I know? I'm just THE tech-challenged AI member in the room.



Can you guys answer her questions? Any suggestions?
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 38
    benroethigbenroethig Posts: 2,782member
    1) I would say the 24" ACD is slightly better better than the iMac display as its a newer panel that's LCD backlit. That being said, The speakers aren't as good as what the iMac has.



    2) iMac: Both. 20" is TN, the 24" is IPS. The ACD is also IPS.



    3) Yes.



    4) The 2475 is IPS. The TN based consumer model is the 2445.



    My advice would be for her to go to the nearest best buy. Chances are that she's not going to notice enough of a difference between a TN and IPS display to warrant paying twice as much for one.
  • Reply 2 of 38
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,129member
    24 iMac is the best deal.



    I agree with Ben ...the difference is probably not enough to warrant buying separately.



    The iMac is going to give her faster graphics, an iSight webcam and more RAM capability. It's a great Mac to start out with.
  • Reply 3 of 38
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,195moderator
    The iMac can support up to 8GB but few people use more than 4GB. The 20" iMacs have the same graphics chips as the Mini. They have 2GB Ram vs 1GB and 320GB HDD vs 120GB but these are upgrades on the Mini.



    Webcams are pretty cheap so the isight (although a plus) isn't special. A Logitech camera is better quality and can be positioned anywhere for good lighting as well as being easily replaced. The Mini has one extra USB port so taking up a port isn't an issue.



    The base Mini is $599. If this is for basic use, the 120GB drive will probably be enough and you'd just get the 2GB Ram upgrade (saves you opening it yourself). This comes to $649.



    For a display, the 24" Dell Ultrasharp PVA display at $479 would be good enough:



    http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/p...9&sku=320-6272



    Keyboard and mouse comes to $50 or something - just buy the Apple keyboard separate if it's cheaper than the BTO option from Apple and get a logitech mouse.



    The total would be $1178 or something.



    The base 20" iMac starts at $1199 and with the above Mini you get a 24" screen (Apple's 24" iMac starts at $300 more).



    Plus when it comes to resale on Ebay or whatever, the Mini can be sent much more easily. In this picture, the Mini box is not much bigger than the package on top of the iMac box - same goes for repairs:



    http://homepage.mac.com/czachorski/fun/imac_box1.jpg



    And the same high quality screen can be kept. The Dell screen isn't glossy either.
  • Reply 4 of 38
    sequitursequitur Posts: 1,901member
    I think the iMac is the right Mac for my friend.

    However, I prefer a matte screen - NOT an AIO - so I opted for the Mini and a third party monitor for myself.

    Thanks for the input, guys. You made it easy for me to advise her.

    I'm printing out the following table for my friend. I'm also sending her this thread, so she can read your recommendations.

    She can use the info to make the decision for herself- or not.

    \t•\t

    \t•\t

    \t•\tiMac 24"

    \t•\t•\t\t$1,717.00 (Apple Store)

    \t•\t

    \t•\t2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo

    \t•\t4GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x2GB

    \t•\t640GB Serial ATA Drive 7200-rpm

    \t•\tNVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics

    \t•\t8x double-layer SuperDrive

    \t•\tApple Mighty Mouse

    \t•\tApple Keyboard (English) and User's Guide

    \t•\tiWork '09 preinstalled

    \t•\tAppleCare Protection Plan for iMac - Auto-enroll



    Mac Mini

    \t•\t•\t$1,097.00 (Apple Store) (& HP LP2475w -$624 =$1721)

    \t•\t

    \t•\t2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo

    \t•\t4GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x2GB

    \t•\t120GB Serial ATA Drive 5400-rpm

    \t•\tNVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics

    \t•\tSuperDrive 8x (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)

    \t•\tUser's Guide (English)

    \t•\tiWork '09 preinstalled

    \t•\tAppleCare Protection Plan for Mac mini (w/or w/o Display) - Auto-enroll

    \t•\tI'm not adding the cost of a keyboard and mouse. I'll give her my old ones or she can use the ones from her PC.



    IMac pluses over Mini:

    \t640GB HDD (Mini 120GB HDD)

    \tHDD 7200-rpm (Mini 5400-rpm)

    \t2.66GHz (Mini 2.26GHz)

    \tMighty Mouse and Keyboard

    \tAppleCare covers monitor (not if she buys the HP LP2475w)

    \tiSight

    \tSpeakers

    \tLOL-$4.00 cheaper\t

    iMac negatives: Glossy; AIO



    If purchased from MacMall:

    \t iMac = $89.01 savings = $1628

    \t Mini = $25.00 savings = $1696 ($58 more than iMac)

    Buying OnLine saves sales tax:

    \tiMac = $113.96

    \tMini = $118.72

    Buying OnLine offers free Parallels; Pinter; Internet Cleanup; etc.\t\t

    ClubMac:

    \tiMac = $151 savings\t less $4.99 shipping = $146.00



    Dell Ultrasharp 2408WFP $479 ($145 less than the HP LP2475w)
  • Reply 5 of 38
    sequitursequitur Posts: 1,901member
    Ben,

    How did you determine which monitors were TN or IPS? I don't find that info when I check out monitors online.
  • Reply 6 of 38
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,129member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sequitur View Post


    Ben,

    How did you determine which monitors were TN or IPS? I don't find that info when I check out monitors online.



    Not Ben but this will help.



    Look at the viewing angles.



    A TN panel is usually 160/160 degrees

    A IPS panel will be 178/178

    A PVA panel could be 178/160



    I always look for the 178/178 for IPS
  • Reply 7 of 38
    benroethigbenroethig Posts: 2,782member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    The iMac can support up to 8GB but few people use more than 4GB.



    Technically, but with 4GB DIMMs costing close to 10x as much as 2GB. I don't see that many going for that much. 4GB is pretty much the practical limit.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post


    Not Ben but this will help.



    Look at the viewing angles.



    A TN panel is usually 160/160 degrees

    A IPS panel will be 178/178

    A PVA panel could be 178/160



    I always look for the 178/178 for IPS



    That and HP lists the type of panel in the .PDF spec sheet.
  • Reply 8 of 38
    hudson1hudson1 Posts: 800member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sequitur View Post


    I think the iMac is the right Mac for my friend.

    However, I prefer a matte screen - NOT an AIO - so I opted for the Mini and a third party monitor for myself.

    Thanks for the input, guys. You made it easy for me to advise her.

    I'm printing out the following table for my friend. I'm also sending her this thread, so she can read your recommendations.

    She can use the info to make the decision for herself- or not.

    \t?\t

    \t?\t

    \t?\tiMac 24"

    \t?\t?\t\t$1,717.00 (Apple Store)

    \t?\t

    \t?\t2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo

    \t?\t4GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x2GB

    \t?\t640GB Serial ATA Drive 7200-rpm

    \t?\tNVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics

    \t?\t8x double-layer SuperDrive

    \t?\tApple Mighty Mouse

    \t?\tApple Keyboard (English) and User's Guide

    \t?\tiWork '09 preinstalled

    \t?\tAppleCare Protection Plan for iMac - Auto-enroll



    Mac Mini

    \t?\t?\t$1,097.00 (Apple Store) (& HP LP2475w -$624 =$1721)

    \t?\t

    \t?\t2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo

    \t?\t4GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x2GB

    \t?\t120GB Serial ATA Drive 5400-rpm

    \t?\tNVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics

    \t?\tSuperDrive 8x (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)

    \t?\tUser's Guide (English)

    \t?\tiWork '09 preinstalled

    \t?\tAppleCare Protection Plan for Mac mini (w/or w/o Display) - Auto-enroll

    \t?\tI'm not adding the cost of a keyboard and mouse. I'll give her my old ones or she can use the ones from her PC.



    IMac pluses over Mini:

    \t640GB HDD (Mini 120GB HDD)

    \tHDD 7200-rpm (Mini 5400-rpm)

    \t2.66GHz (Mini 2.26GHz)

    \tMighty Mouse and Keyboard

    \tAppleCare covers monitor (not if she buys the HP LP2475w)

    \tiSight

    \tSpeakers

    \tLOL-$4.00 cheaper\t

    iMac negatives: Glossy; AIO



    If purchased from MacMall:

    \t iMac = $89.01 savings = $1628

    \t Mini = $25.00 savings = $1696 ($58 more than iMac)

    Buying OnLine saves sales tax:

    \tiMac = $113.96

    \tMini = $118.72

    Buying OnLine offers free Parallels; Pinter; Internet Cleanup; etc.\t\t

    ClubMac:

    \tiMac = $151 savings\t less $4.99 shipping = $146.00



    Dell Ultrasharp 2408WFP $479 ($145 less than the HP LP2475w)



    I'm not sure if you really want her to pay up for the 2.26 GHz processor on the mini. From many posts in various forums here, there's been an overwhelming consensus that paying more for the 2.26 vs. the 2.0 is not worth it.
  • Reply 9 of 38
    sequitursequitur Posts: 1,901member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post


    24 iMac is the best deal.



    I agree with Ben ...the difference is probably not enough to warrant buying separately.



    The iMac is going to give her faster graphics, an iSight webcam and more RAM capability. It's a great Mac to start out with.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Hudson1 View Post


    I'm not sure if you really want her to pay up for the 2.26 GHz processor on the mini. From many posts in various forums here, there's been an overwhelming consensus that paying more for the 2.26 vs. the 2.0 is not worth it.





    I was trying to get the stats as close as possible. But, as I mentioned before, I AM NOT recommending the Mini to her. I think the iMac is best for her. After laying out all the facts, the decision is still up to her.

    The Mini is best for me. No AIO, no glare. In any case, you're right. I don't think the 2.6 is worth the difference.
  • Reply 10 of 38
    backtomacbacktomac Posts: 4,579member
    Recently I bought a refurbish 20" iMac. The last generation with the x2600 dedicated graphics.



    Its pretty nice. Its been better than I expected. The screen could be better but its not bad. The speed has been much better than I expected. For an extra $50, I dropped 4 gbs of RAM in it. No page outs yet.



    Anyway the refurbed 20" iMac ( this gen or last) can be bought for $999. That's a pretty decent deal IMO. Frankly this is what I would recommend to someone right now. Personally I prefer the last gen machine with the dedicated graphics but the new ones can address more RAM.



    I'm trying not to get too attached. As soon as the Nehalem goodness gets into the iMac, its going on eBay.
  • Reply 11 of 38
    sequitursequitur Posts: 1,901member
    It appears that my friend is going to opt for the 24" iMac. She likes the glossy monitor; however, she's not sure about the AIO. It's not a deal breaker, but she would prefer a separate monitor.



    Questions she asked, and I can't answer, are: If (or when) the computer dies, can the monitor be used with another computer? Conversely, if the monitor dies, can the computer be used be used with another monitor? Answers, anyone?



    Is nothing perfect??? Apple, please market a true desk top!!!
  • Reply 12 of 38
    hudson1hudson1 Posts: 800member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sequitur View Post


    It appears that my friend is going to opt for the 24" iMac. She likes the glossy monitor; however, she's not sure about the AIO. It's not a deal breaker, but she would prefer a separate monitor.



    Questions she asked, and I can't answer, are: If (or when) the computer dies, can the monitor be used with another computer? Conversely, if the monitor dies, can the computer be used be used with another monitor? Answers, anyone?



    Is nothing perfect??? Apple, please market a true desk top!!!



    I've never heard of anyone using an iMac where the built-in monitor couldn't function. I'm not claiming it's impossible, though, but I wouldn't count on it unless someone chimes in and says they've done it and how.



    I still think your price comparisons are a bit off. Very few people buy monitors that cost around $650, unless they want an Apple monitor. Just about no one would tell you that they need to spend that much for a non-professional display. The low-end mini can be upgrades with 3rd party RAM for very little money and the cost of having the HDD upgraded by Apple is not all that much.



    If your friend's concern is around owning an AIO, then maybe the iMac is not what she really wants.
  • Reply 13 of 38
    sequitursequitur Posts: 1,901member
    As I said, the AI0 was not a deal breaker. She will buy the iMac. She was just curious about using it in the future if one part died.

    And, she said she wouldn't have bought the more expensive monitor if she had decided on the Mini. Marvin had suggested: Dell Ultrasharp 2408WFP $479 ($145 less than the HP LP2475w). That's what she was basing the Mini and monitor on. The iMac just won out.



    I don't know if you guys play devil's advocate, but I really appreciate both negative and positive thoughts on purchases and such. You don't need to go to so much trouble to give advice, BUT you do - and that makes it easier for us to make decisions. You interject ideas that wake us up to areas we probably wouldn't have thought of. Is this a great forum or what? Finding AI was pure gold. I hope all AI members appreciate it as much as I do. Too bad I didn't have you guys to keep me on the straight and narrow in other life situations.
  • Reply 14 of 38
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,195moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sequitur View Post


    Questions she asked, and I can't answer, are: If (or when) the computer dies, can the monitor be used with another computer? Conversely, if the monitor dies, can the computer be used be used with another monitor? Answers, anyone?



    If the display goes, you can use an external - having a broken built-in display just takes up a lot of space - plus you have to send the whole thing away with your data if it's to be repaired. It also has to be replaced with another IPS display, which is half the price of the machine. It's also not the easiest thing in the world to setup an external if the internal is broken because you can't see any of the settings in order to turn on video mirroring if it wasn't on by default - I've done it on a few laptops before.



    The point earlier about the warranty, the Dell Ultrasharp has a 3 year warranty and a zero-pixel return policy, which is better than what Apple offer unless you take Applecare - but even then I don't think it's zero-pixel. It's true that the machine itself can have problems but it's a lot less to think about with a $650 machine than it is a $1500 one.



    Plus, the repair on a $650 machine is unlikely to ever be close to $650.



    I would say that for the spec you get and taking into account the 24" iMac has an IPS display, it's ok value for money. It's just that given that the difference in spec won't be noticed, it's between:



    2 x 2GHz

    2GB Ram

    120GB HDD - it is 5400 rpm but they use perpendicular recording so they still get 50MB/s transfers - 7200rpm ones only get about 65MB/s. With enough Ram you don't notice the difference.

    9400M

    24" PVA matte display 3 year warranty and extra USB ports - you can also plug a Blu-Ray player into it directly via HDMI for HD movies, which you can't do with an iMac. Same deal if they have kids who want HD gaming.



    $1097



    vs



    2 x 2.6GHz

    4GB Ram

    640GB HDD

    9400M

    24" IPS glossy



    $1499



    There's not a great deal to choose between them but again it's just the versatility vs convenience. The iMac is one plug and go. The Mini + display means you can upgrade/repair each part separately and more easily. Plus you can move the Mini and hook it up to a TV if you want to browse pictures.



    The biggest concerns I have over the iMac personally is when it comes to upgrading. The first purchase is easy but you have to think how do you sell and ship the machine. The Mini is not much bigger than an external drive so shipping is easy - especially good if you aren't near an Apple store.



    Shipping a 24" 3rd party display can have similar problems but you can generally hold on to it if you are upgrading your machine and it's still a fraction of the cost of a whole iMac when it comes to possible shipping damage.
  • Reply 15 of 38
    sequitursequitur Posts: 1,901member
    Out of curiosity, I checked out the Dell Ultrasharp 2408WFP on the Dell site.

    It showed 178°/178° (typical). Does that 'typical' mean that Dell may give you something else without telling you? How would you know?
  • Reply 16 of 38
    sequitursequitur Posts: 1,901member
    I also found this at Amazon:



    Dell UltraSharp 2408WFP - LCD display - TFT - 24" - widescreen - 1920 x 1200 - 400 cd/m2 - 1300:1 - 3000:1 (dynamic) - 6 ms - 0.27 mm - HDMI, 2xDVI-D, VGA, DisplayPort - black - with Height Adjustable Stand by Dell from: $350.00



    as well as:

    Dell 2408WFP UltraSharp 24-inch Widescreen + High Definition Flat Panel Monitor by Dell Buy new: $949.99



    This gets more and more confusing. Both have the same model number.

    What's the difference between the two?
  • Reply 17 of 38
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,672member
    I would just get the iMac and call it a day. It's a nice machine and does quite well for many people. Yes, it sucks if the computer goes bad because you need to take the whole thing to get fixed. If you had to take the Mini in to get fixed it would be no different. Your data would still be at the shop while it gets fixed. In any case you should back up your data. It would also be beneficial to get AppleCare which covers the Mac for 3yrs. Its well worth the money. A logicboard alone would cost a little over $1,000 out of pocket if you had to fix it out of warranty. I'd rather spend $169 for AppleCare than $1,000 for a logicboard plus the cost to have it installed.



    IMO, the MacMini is no significant deal if you have to purchase everything. By the time you get what you need, you're damn close to the price of the iMac, if not spending more.
  • Reply 18 of 38
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,195moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sequitur View Post


    Out of curiosity, I checked out the Dell Ultrasharp 2408WFP on the Dell site.

    It showed 178°/178° (typical). Does that 'typical' mean that Dell may give you something else without telling you? How would you know?



    There will be differences in manufacturing so it's just legally above board to say 'typical'. Apple say the same thing:



    http://www.apple.com/imac/specs.html



    "Typical viewing angle 20" TN = 160/160, 24" IPS = 178/178"



    You know that the viewing angles on a glossy screen are nowhere near that except in an absolutely pitch black room or defining what constitutes 'viewing' to be very vague.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Sequitur


    This gets more and more confusing. Both have the same model number.

    What's the difference between the two?



    They are just 3rd party resellers selling that display at a higher price. Although Amazon sells things themselves, they also act as a front-end market place for 3rd parties. Sometimes you have to be careful with Amazon because 3rd party sellers don't always have the same warranty and delivery times that Amazon themselves would have and it looks like you are buying from Amazon.



    The $350 one is a refurb.



    For a price comparison, you can use google and hit the shopping link and type in 2408wfp. Buying direct from Dell is probably the best option if you want that display though.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by macxpress


    If you had to take the Mini in to get fixed it would be no different. Your data would still be at the shop while it gets fixed. In any case you should back up your data.



    That's right but not if it was an issue like dead pixels or broken backlight or any number of display problems. Displays are much more likely to become defective over time.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by macxpress


    A logicboard alone would cost a little over $1,000 out of pocket if you had to fix it out of warranty.



    On a $1500 iMac it could. On a $650 Mini, not so much. At worst, you'd buy another Mini. I don't bother with Applecare on the Mini because the risk of a motherboard failure is pretty low and I can fix Ram and HDD problems myself (unlike with the iMac in case of the latter).



    It's still more piece of mind if you intend to keep it for 3 years though. But I would buy it later on in the year and you can pick these up cheaper from 3rd parties:



    http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listi...&condition=new



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by macxpress


    IMO, the MacMini is no significant deal if you have to purchase everything. By the time you get what you need, you're damn close to the price of the iMac, if not spending more.



    If you get the parts listed earlier, you still save $400 (what you said about buying what you need is important) and the cost of ownership is less. An iMac will drop to half its value in 2 years. Even if a Mini did this, it's only $250 vs $750.



    My friend recently sold his iMac for 40% of the original value after 2 years and I sold my 2 year old Mini (it may have been older actually) for 67%. Respectively, mine dropped £150, his dropped over £800. People don't usually weigh this up at the time of purchase and is probably why people still buy cars brand new.
  • Reply 19 of 38
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,672member
    Hmmm..funny I've always sold my iMacs at about $300-400 less than what I paid for them. Typically I own a Mac about 2yrs.
  • Reply 20 of 38
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,195moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by macxpress View Post


    Hmmm..funny I've always sold my iMacs at about $300-400 less than what I paid for them. Typically I own a Mac about 2yrs.



    If you sell it privately or with Applecare you could get more for it but on ebay it's harder. These are 2 year old Core 2 Duos:



    iMac 1



    iMac 2



    Those had IPS displays in them and sold for £1200, upgraded versions (more Ram, VRam, HDD) sold for £1500. When the aluminium ones came along, Apple dropped the 17" and put a TN panel in the 20" and brought it closer to the 17" price point.



    They are now priced at £600 - half of what they were 2 years ago. I'm sure you could sell it higher but usually you are competing with Apple's refurb prices.



    A 2 year old Mini is:



    Mini



    £329 - that was £599 originally. People really like to buy up old Minis for media centers.



    As with most things, mileage varies but the general rule is that you lose more actual money on a more expensive item. I sold a G5 tower not too long ago for about 1/5th of what it was bought and that lost nearly £1200. No matter how long you keep a Mini, the worst amount you can possibly lose is about 75% of the value - around £350.



    Speaking of refurbs though, there is actually a 24" iMac with $200 off the price:



    http://store.apple.com/us/product/FB...mco=MjE0NDk5Mw



    This would go some way towards addressing the price difference between it and the Mini setup. For $200 more, you get IPS vs PVA, 4GB Ram vs 2GB and 640GB HDD vs 120GB.



    The advantages of the Mini setup still stand but that deal is ok.
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