Mac Mini - worth a look or a bad investment?

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
I am pretty sold on an iMac, but I keep giving the $799 Mac Mini a look because I play my Xbox 360 through VGA on my 20" widescreen and I really don't want to have to put that somewhere else while I am on my iMac.



My problem is that websites like Appleinsider seem to maintain that the Mini is "dying" and when I see that it makes me wonder if it's a smart purchase or not.



Like I've said in other posts, the most exotic program I use is Photoshop so I am not worried about the overall power. I am mainly going to use it for regular things like web browsing, documents, home photos, home video editing, etc. If I were to get the Mini I would upgrade it to 2gb RAM for sure.



However, one thing I am concerned about is the video because I like to watch a lot of movie trailers in HD through quicktime.com and a 64mb video card makes me kinda nervous that they wouldn't play smoothly.



Thoughts? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 14
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Fletch View Post


    I am pretty sold on an iMac, but I keep giving the $799 Mac Mini a look because I play my Xbox 360 through VGA on my 20" widescreen and I really don't want to have to put that somewhere else while I am on my iMac.



    My problem is that websites like Appleinsider seem to maintain that the Mini is "dying" and when I see that it makes me wonder if it's a smart purchase or not.



    Like I've said in other posts, the most exotic program I use is Photoshop so I am not worried about the overall power. I am mainly going to use it for regular things like web browsing, documents, home photos, home video editing, etc. If I were to get the Mini I would upgrade it to 2gb RAM for sure.



    However, one thing I am concerned about is the video because I like to watch a lot of movie trailers in HD through quicktime.com and a 64mb video card makes me kinda nervous that they wouldn't play smoothly.



    Thoughts? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.



    The mini has a LAPTOP HD, CPU, RAM and the gma 950 that takes system ram for video and with Photoshop you want as much ram as you can get.

    Also the gma 950 will have a hard time with HD video on a big screen.
  • Reply 2 of 14
    fletchfletch Posts: 74member
    I will only be watching 720p trailers on it so I'm not too concerned about watching anything larger than that.



    And in Photoshop 2gb should be enough, no?
  • Reply 3 of 14
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,222moderator
    It should be fine for what you need. The Mini gets a bad reputation but it's almost as good as an iMac for the majority of programs. The slower HD and graphics chipset are the weakest points but for HD video playback and Photoshop, it's fine. I've watched 1080p trailers and it's smooth.



    I run all sorts of high end apps on a Mini and it runs very well overall. You can always get a 7200 2.5" drive to help out. 2GB Ram is enough for most things too.
  • Reply 4 of 14
    I recently bought a Mac Mini to use as my entertainment system. It works great playing HD content and as a DVD player, much more reliable than ANY other DVD player I have used. I have had several SONY dvd players that skip and crash and just get hung, or jump halfway across the movie or start over from the beginning halfway through.



    It's a good system, buy it. It would be a lot better with desktop components used in a Mac Pro, but apparently there are too many haters for that to happen...
  • Reply 5 of 14
    vineavinea Posts: 5,585member
    I'm going to give the contrary opinion based on my looking at buying a mini vs iMac for my dad. He already has a Dell 20" monitor and keyboard.



    For an additional $400 I get him:



    A mac keyboard...which is nice for him since any instructions will talk about Apple keys that won't be on the Dell keyboard. This will result in a phone call to me. This is worth the $50 to me not to get the phone call. This is probably less of a deal for you since you're likely computer savvy. But still...the new keyboard is nice looking.



    802.11n...which he doesn't NEED but would be nice so when I get him the Airport Extreme and USB drive he can TimeMachine wirelessly via Draft-N rather than G. AND I can get him an aTV to watch the videos of the grand kids via Draft-N vs G. This is worth $50 to me not to have to hassle with getting a N card of some kind later for the mini.



    The chimpy Radeon is STILL a lot more future proof than a GMA950. Not that my Dad will ever game but it's still nice. Worth $50 to me not to have to worry about because my Dad will keep this thing 5 years.



    250GB HDD vs 120GB HDD. Worth $50 to me. Less really but $50 is a nice round number.



    Memory. There's no way I'm cracking open the mini to install ram. I'm just too damn lazy and I'm afraid I'll break something or at the minimum scratch the danged thing as I putty knife the case. I WILL open the iMac to install ram because its easy. I can stick in 1GB RAM much cheaper on the iMac in this scenario...worth $100 to me since the Crucial part is $50 and Apple wants $150 for it.



    So for $100 he can dual screen 20" monitors. Well, that's not so bad. For you the math may be a little different depending on how willing you are to crack open the mini. It's not THAT hard.



    But dual screen and the vid card are likely more useful to you than my Dad. There will likely be a point where there's some PC game you wish you could play that simply wont run at all on the GMA 950. You can leave your 360 connected via VGA and use DVI to the iMac.



    Vinea



    PS Forgot all about the iSight. That's worth a little bit so I don't have to find a webcam for him. $10-$20.
  • Reply 6 of 14
    progmacprogmac Posts: 1,850member
    well, the imac also has a laptop processor.



    let's not forget: no computer is an investment. they are depreciating assets. buy what you want! either will do fine for you imho.
  • Reply 7 of 14
    gongon Posts: 2,437member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Joe_the_dragon View Post


    The mini has a LAPTOP HD, CPU, RAM and the gma 950 that takes system ram for video and with Photoshop you want as much ram as you can get.

    Also the gma 950 will have a hard time with HD video on a big screen.



    The GMA950 does not matter. I'm not sure if Apple's HD gallery's 1080p stuff is in H.264 or not, but they play fine for me. I read someone has tested H.264 1080p on one of the slower Core 2 Duos and it was a success with practically no dropped frames.



    You get problems if you try to watch something in .ts containers with VLC or other player, because the ffmpeg library used by most of these doesn't have a great h264/AVC codec. Apparently not even a threaded one, so it's dead certain not to utilize graphics cards for acceleration either. Thus, you run out of CPU power. My Macbook could still show a H.264 1080p movie about 70% of the time - when only a small portion of the picture was showing movement at a time. When there was a large picture area of movement, the video went into a standstill and picked up some seconds later, with sound still rolling.



    A 2.4GHz C2D *might* be able to brute force its way through even with the crappy nonthreaded codec.



    HTH.
  • Reply 8 of 14
    fletchfletch Posts: 74member
    Thanks for the responses, gents. One more thing - Would a Mac Mini 2.0ghz with 2gb of RAM run Final Cut Express HD well?
  • Reply 9 of 14
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Fletch View Post


    I will only be watching 720p trailers on it so I'm not too concerned about watching anything larger than that.



    And in Photoshop 2gb should be enough, no?



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    It should be fine for what you need. The Mini gets a bad reputation but it's almost as good as an iMac for the majority of programs. The slower HD and graphics chipset are the weakest points but for HD video playback and Photoshop, it's fine. I've watched 1080p trailers and it's smooth.



    I run all sorts of high end apps on a Mini and it runs very well overall. You can always get a 7200 2.5" drive to help out. 2GB Ram is enough for most things too.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Fletch View Post


    Thanks for the responses, gents. One more thing - Would a Mac Mini 2.0ghz with 2gb of RAM run Final Cut Express HD well?



    With Core2Duo 2ghz, 2gb of RAM, Adobe CS3, FinalCutExpressHD (not FinalCutStudio2 of course), an external FW400 7200rpm drive, then yes, yes, and yes, respectively to the above quotes.
  • Reply 10 of 14
    vineavinea Posts: 5,585member
    Heh...regardless of what I posted above I just got one of the older Mini's (the 1.8 SuperDrive one) for $500 closeout from CompUSA today (2nd to last one they had). The equation changed a bit...and what the heck the old Core Duo is fine for web surfing...and its not actually that much worse than my Rev A 2.16Ghz Core Duo MBP anyway.
  • Reply 11 of 14
    kennethkenneth Posts: 832member
    I'm on the same boat.



    I have a MDD G4, Rev. A G5, and iBook G4 sitting around. Is it difficult to make a Mac mini 'headless'? Recently, I set up my G5 without monitor, keyboard/mouse. I strictly use it via Apple Remote Desktop. It would be great to get a Mac mini and replace the G5 since it would be a waste to have a Radeon X800 XT card and not using it.
  • Reply 12 of 14
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Heh. Mac Minis will inspire your inner server admin...
  • Reply 13 of 14
    iposteriposter Posts: 1,560member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kenneth View Post


    I'm on the same boat.



    I have a MDD G4, Rev. A G5, and iBook G4 sitting around.



    Well, if they're just sitting around, I'd gladly take a donation!
  • Reply 14 of 14
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Fletch View Post


    I am pretty sold on an iMac, but I keep giving the $799 Mac Mini a look because I play my Xbox 360 through VGA on my 20" widescreen and I really don't want to have to put that somewhere else while I am on my iMac.



    My problem is that websites like Appleinsider seem to maintain that the Mini is "dying" and when I see that it makes me wonder if it's a smart purchase or not.



    Like I've said in other posts, the most exotic program I use is Photoshop so I am not worried about the overall power. I am mainly going to use it for regular things like web browsing, documents, home photos, home video editing, etc. If I were to get the Mini I would upgrade it to 2gb RAM for sure.



    However, one thing I am concerned about is the video because I like to watch a lot of movie trailers in HD through quicktime.com and a 64mb video card makes me kinda nervous that they wouldn't play smoothly.



    Thoughts? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.





    Definitely worth a look today!



    Thank dog the mini's not dead!!!
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