View Full Version : Of All Things: PowerMac vs. Mac mini?!?!?

2005-01-18, 00:10
Hello Everyone,

I've been around here for about a year now, since last year's keynote (when I bought my iPod mini and knew one day I would get a Mac). It is finally time for me to buy said Mac. I am one of those lucky bastards who works for a large company that is actually up front about when their employees get raises / bonuses and put them in writing, so I know I am going to get a big-ass bonus mid-March. That being said, here is what I THINK I have decided to get.

Drumroll please....

A Mac mini and a 23" Cinema HD display, which will probably piss off a lot people on this board. WTF????????

But hear me out.

A "nice" mini (1.42Ghz, 80GB, 256MB RAM, AE+BT, to which I can add / update to 1GB RAM, Wireless KB + Mouse, and AppleCare later in the year) will cost me ~$785 up front +~$1700 for the Display = ~$2500 with .edu discount for a KICKASS general use PC (read: little / light / no gaming) that I can use for word processing, web site and database development (which I do ALOT of for my job - will do through RDC or Virtual PC), video editing (iMovie HD and maybe FCE HD?), etc... Then in a year or so once I am firmly entrenched as a power OS X user and the wife gets interested in my Mac I can give the mini to her and get a low or mid-range PowerMac G5 and still have this awesome monitor to hook up to it.

Since this is a discussion board I'd like to hear what people think about my idea. Given my uses for a computer (again, little to no gaming, iTunes / iPod mini, love A LOT of desktop space, just getting in to video editing...) does anyone agree / disagree with my idea? Please bear in mind that I DON'T like the AIO nature of the iMac's (just a personal preference thing there), so my only choices are a Mac mini or a PowerMac. I think I am going about it the right way (i.e. capable machine that is still inexpensive and a good "window" into the Mac world, since this will be my first Mac, coupled with a beautiful display that will be useful for a long time due to it being a high resolution). I think the mini is the better machine for me at the moment because this will be my first Mac, and I can hand it down to the wife in a year or so and upgrade (she will be getting the 19" CRT display I currently have when I get the 23" HD).

What say you? KEEP IT PITHY BITCHES! (Hmmmm - I like that. Should I change my sig?)

Thanks guys. :)

2005-01-18, 00:15
I'd almost drop to the cheaper 1.25 model and save $100... there isn't going to be a big increase in speed and for 6 months or so 40 gigs wont be THAT bad... how much HD space do you envision yourself using?

But yeah, go with the Mac mini it is a real good machine for the price...

The only thing that you might want to think about is waiting to get the 23"er when you finally upgrade to a tower... if you buy the PM and the display on the same invoice the applecare of the PM will cover the screen as well... a nice perk. Sadly, this is NOT the case for the mini... just an FYI...

2005-01-18, 00:19
Thanks for the reply. That is a good point about the 23"er, and for most people, that would probably be good. I failed to mention that my present monitor is really starting to hurt my eyes. They are red and sore all the time (and I think I may have a cataract in my right one). I heard LCD's are easier on the eyes, and that is a reason why I would buy the 23" now - I have not backed that up with scientific fact - does anyone know if that is true? I can live with having only 1 year of support on the display vs. 3 - I wouldn't imagine something breaking on the monitor within 3 years that wouldn't have broken within one (though I could be wrong and would like to hear it if so).

2005-01-18, 00:26
Well, I mentioned in another thread that the mini is great if you want to spend very little money, but if you're buying an expensive display there are better options. If you can live with "only" a 20" display, the iMac G5 will be far more powerful and also far less expensive. The next cheapest option if you want a brand new machine with a 23" display would be the single 1.8 GHz G5, which is pretty expensive ($1500 + $1700 for the display = $3200). Another option is going for an older, refurbished PowerMac G5. It'll still be a ton faster than the mini, and it'll probably cost the same once the dust settles. The problem with that is finding one - Apple, PowerMax and SmallDog all come up empty when looking for something along the lines of a factory refurbished 1.6-1.8 GHz single processor G5.

Definitely explore your other options first, though. As I said, the mini is great if you want to not spend much. But all those options really add up and make it a poor value. It's stripped down for a reason - Apple may get really bad profits on the lowest end $499 one, but they're making up for it by cashing in on people going for all the extra features.

EDIT: Oops, should have read your first post more carefully! I still stand by my post, though, in saying that you may be better off finding a machine better suited to your price range. The mini @ $500 is a great deal, but a slightly upgraded one @ $1000 is not.

2005-01-18, 00:30
its a nice perk, but not really necessary... I just thought I would mention it...
and if you have applecare for the mini, you could just plead incompetence if something breaks that is covered... they probably would be generous, especially if you had the tower at that point as well...

2005-01-18, 00:43
Paul, thanks again for the info. Again though, I don't like the All-In-One iMac's, because if I buy a "CPU" and monitor, when I give the "CPU" to the wife in a year or so I will still have that nice monitor to use with my new machine (whereas with the iMac that would be tough to do ;) ). I have two months to stew on it a bit, but I won't subject everyone on this board to that (*ahem*, Mr. X).

2005-01-18, 01:05
Hey Paul,
I just realized that with the C.E. classes I have been taking at this community college nearby I can get the 1.42GHz mini I described above for $785 + tax (add wireless KB + mouse, applecare, and 1 GB 3rd party RAM later), and a 20" Cinema Display for $899 + tax. Total price WITH TAX would be about ~$1820 with the .edu discount. That is about $750 less than a similarly equipped single 1.8Ghz PowerMac + 20" display with the .edu discount. Do you think the mac mini + 20" scenario above makes better sense, bearing in mind the uses for the comp. and my need for an LCD in the near future?

2005-01-18, 01:18
Ooh... with those discounts in mind, I probably have to change my view. Go for the mini - it's a great deal, and if it's too slow you can always upgrade and keep the display. You probably won't even lose much money if you decide to resell the mini since you're getting it for such a low price.

You can also use an external Firewire hard drive as your main boot drive. That should improve performance. I'm sorry if I sound crazy with the whole hard drive speed business, but I noticed a huge difference a while back moving from an iBook to an eMac. They didn't have a big difference in CPU (800 MHz G3 vs. 1 GHz G4), but there was a vast performance gap partially due to the much faster hard drive in the eMac.

2005-01-18, 09:44
Thanks a lot for your reply. I see your posts in this forum all the time and a sign-off from an "expert" ;) makes me a bit more confident in my potential purchase. Anyone else care to chime in (after reading all the reasons and the specific situation I am in)? Thanks again!

2005-01-18, 11:06
Man, it makes me cringe that you would pass up a PowerMac... but that's just me :lol:

For a total of $1820, that deal is pretty good. With the 20-inch display, you really leave options open for the future, and, well you can stick the Mini anywhere. For video editing and such, I think you will find that the Mini will do just fine, provided that you use an external HD. The speed of the HD does make a difference, and the extra $50 I spent on upgrading my PB's HD to a 5200 RPM unit was well spent. My PB has been more than capable at any task I throw at it (Well no Doom 3 for me, but I can live) so I doubt that the Mini will give you trouble.

Good luck with your purchase!

2005-01-18, 11:09
Thanks for the reply - that makes two "Ayes". And yes, I will definitely get a speedy firewire drive sometime down the road to hold all of that DV goodness. :) Any other opinions out there?

2005-01-23, 09:48
I considered the same option using the 1.25 model, but worried about
the 32MB GPU.

My best advice would be to hang on just a bit longer to see if they drop the price on the G5 single processor 1.8 tower.
That unit SHOULD eventually be priced at around $999.00 as a headless G5 iMac.
Essentially that would offer you a solid base unit that allows for reasonable expansion.

IF! the Tiger mini comes with a 64MB GPU, then that leaves another option.

The downside of both 1.8 Ghz towers is that are LARGE
and they no longer offer PCI-X expansion.
For that you have to go to the 2.0 and 2.5 duallys.

I tend to agree that for a future hand me down that the G5 iMac
may be the better deal.

That should hold you for quite some time until the next generation
of PowerMacs come to market AND allow time for the flat screen
display prices to come down even further.

2005-01-23, 18:57
Since you can move the Mini to other duties later, that plus a great display sounds like a good choice. Have you looked at what it would cost to go with Benq FP231 or HP 2335? Both have the same panel as 23" Apple display, and you certainly don't need to change displays after that...

2005-01-23, 19:16
That's a good option for you Wraven. Just as an FYI, if you don't mind buying the 20" ACD separately, you can get it for $949 at Amazon w/free shipping and likely no tax, may work out about ~$20 less in your in case if your tax rate is 8%.

2005-01-23, 20:50
I think it's a fine idea, Wraven. That 23" Cinema Display is going to be something you can definitely use down the road (with a new, updated mini, Power Mac G5 OR even a PowerBook). A fine display that you can view as a long-term investment.

The mini is affordable enough that you could update it every year or so and not be too hard on yourself. And for the things you mention, I imagine it would be more than capable.

It's what I'd do, hands down (I hate towers - G3, G4, G5, Gwhatever - and don't want one anywhere near me...laptop, AIO or mini is the only route for me, so I'm a tad biased I have to admit).


2005-01-23, 20:55
I don't think you have been here for a year...

And the Mac Mini has more bang for it's buck.

2005-01-24, 14:15
I've been lurking for a year, but joined last summer. Excuse me. ;)

I bought the 1.42Ghz mini with the 80GB HD at the Apple Store in Plano, TX on Saturday morning. I love it! For my purposes though, I DEFINITELY need more RAM (the mini does not seem to like running Mail, iChat AV, iTunes, and iPhoto at the same time with 4000+ pictures in my library with only 256MB of RAM ;) ).

Thanks for the "Ayes" guys - I am very happy with my purchase. Going to get the 20" or 23" ACD pretty soon (probably in a month or so).

2005-01-24, 15:04
Congrats on the purchase.
I hope you love your 1.42 as much as I do!

2005-01-24, 15:23
I've been lurking for a year, but joined last summer. Excuse me. ;)

I bought the 1.42Ghz mini with the 80GB HD at the Apple Store in Plano, TX on Saturday morning. I love it! For my purposes though, I DEFINITELY need more RAM (the mini does not seem to like running Mail, iChat AV, iTunes, and iPhoto at the same time with 4000+ pictures in my library with only 256MB of RAM ;) ).

Thanks for the "Ayes" guys - I am very happy with my purchase. Going to get the 20" or 23" ACD pretty soon (probably in a month or so).
December is the summer?!

And congrats on your purchase! :D

2005-01-24, 17:45
Damn - you may be right - That is weird. I swear I joined earlier than December, but I know it says that on my profile. Oh well. Maybe I am getting this board and the old TS board confused...

Thanks for the congrats - I love my Mac mini! :)

2005-01-25, 21:25
Jan 25,2005 6:10pm PST

Well First after looking at it from a Hardware perspective, I would have to say that craming all those circuts and chips into the Mac Mini was a big job.
However, after taking both models for a test drive yesterday, this is what I can speculate on, and mind you I have alot of Hadware Experience, right down to the guts of those good ole Mac's.

1. Currently, I find the Mac Min Fan is way to week, I mean I can feel how much heat is comming of the processor and motherboard from the fan slots in back, with just OSX Panther running and no memory/processor intence applications, that would create more heat.
>Another important aspect here, is Apple has made the base to close to the unit mount pads. This is also part of the HEAT and a week fan problem, as the closer the Mac Mini is to the Table or desk the more heat on its Circuts, memory chip and Mother Board..I'll go into the HD issues next.
If you look at the bottom of the Mac Mini you see a very low profile bottom.
Now if you raise it up above it's pads about 2 - 4 inches, you would have much better cooling, and better cooling means faster processor power. When the Components get to hot they slow down under the heat, the machine actually slows down, sometimes you can tell when this happens. Other times folks are just used to running everything at Max Heat !!

2. Additionally, I noticed that the low end model 40 gig HD, had very little space left for other Applications and saved Music or Videos. The one I test drove (in Store Demo) had 34gigs worth of it's HD storage filled with all the preloaded apps.

My rule of thumb for hard drive preformance is 50% used 50% free.
Have you ever heard off the Hard Drive term: MTBF, "mean time between failure" all hard drives have a clock chip, the chip records how much time the drive has been used, Years, Months, Hours, Seconds. When the drive hits a certain usage period it begins to faiil, It could freeze or crash maybe even smell, but I have not seen that one yet.

3. Buying the 1.25 gig is a waste of good money, that is better spent on the 1.42gig model. That's just from the $$ aspect. I am sure you have heard about all the recalls of powerbook Mother Board and Battery burning up the units. Apple recalled lots of them. So did Dell. To small of space for to much power= diaster waiting to happen.

I agree with you about it being a handme down to the wife after a year.
Another word of caution, never buy brand new systems for at least 6 months, then any problems that occur will be posted in the MAc User Forums, which are many. I would watch the message boards about the new Mac Mini Users experiences. I am almost certain there will be some recalls or upgrades.
That Lil ole fan should be the first to replace with a faster model. And raising it up off it's mounting pads would look funny, so Apple would never make the model poistion higher up off it's bottom. Have you looked at the intake vents on the bottom of the MAc Mini...Maybe Apple could have called it MiniME :lol:

But if it was being sold as is by any other Computer Mfgr, I would not give it a second look. But it being Apple and how they stand behind what they make, I would not be worried. But think about it, the weakest link in the chain here is the Fan, Vents, Heat Buildup and distance from mounts to the bottom of the unit.

So, I for one will wait and see, hear and respond to all those who rushed out to buy a risky new Mac Mini model. I bet ya, we will hear complaints about Ram Failure, and hard drives getting way to slow from all that heat..not to mention some complaints about the internel CD or DVD Burner.

Otherwise Good luck to ya, and happy computing....