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Mac Mini: to Buy or to Wait


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Mac Mini: to Buy or to Wait
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Krientle
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
 
2005-03-18, 15:31

Hey folks, got a buying advice question...

I want to start developing for OS X(Cocoa and Objective C look interesting), so I've considered a Mac Mini to complement my iBook. Would the current 1.42 ghz edition with say 512 mb be a good deal? My iBook can run xcode and everything just fine, but I'd like a bit higher of a resolution on my 19" monitor.

So two questions:
1) Should I buy a 1.42 ghz version now or wait for Tiger?
2) Should I wait for the next revision (when they might have more bugs worked out of the hardware)?

Thanks,
Krientle
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Wyatt
On twitter: @bwyatt
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Near Indianapolis
 
2005-03-18, 15:51

I'm not sure I'd buy the mac mini with development in mind. The minimum desktop I'd do development on is an iMac. The mac mini is designed to bring switchers onboard with Apple. It's not really intended to be a development machine. I suppose if you max out the RAM, it would be acceptable, but you would be better off with at least an iMac (which have beautiful displays, imo).
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Brad
Selfish Heathen
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Zone of Pain
 
2005-03-18, 15:59

Quote:
Originally Posted by fcgriz
I'm not sure I'd buy the mac mini with development in mind. The minimum desktop I'd do development on is an iMac.
I have a five-year-old G4 on my desktop that's a great "development" machine. You don't need a supercomputer to write good code!

Unless you absolutely need the fastest compile times possible, the Mac mini will make a wonderful little dev box. Just be sure you install a lot more RAM than the stock 256 MB.

The only case for which I'd recommend against the Mac mini would be for someone planning to develop a high-end game or other very computationally intense software. As a beginner to Mac programming, it doesn't sound like this is Krientle, though.

As for waiting, unless you need it now, it's always good to hold out just a little longer. There are rumors that Tiger will be released next month; so, you might save some money by buying later and getting Tiger for free.

There aren't any outstanding bugs in the current Mac minis. Apple usually doesn't update products more than twice a year; so, it'll probably be several months before a faster Mac mini is released.

The quality of this board depends on the quality of the posts. The only way to guarantee thoughtful, informative discussion is to write thoughtful, informative posts. AppleNova is not a real-time chat forum. You have time to compose messages and edit them before and after posting.
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Kickaha
Likes his boobies blue.
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Hell
 
2005-03-18, 16:06

Quote:
Originally Posted by fcgriz
It's not really intended to be a development machine. I suppose if you max out the RAM, it would be acceptable, but you would be better off with at least an iMac (which have beautiful displays, imo).
I disagree, I do programming language research on a 1.25GHz G4 PB with 512MB of RAM, and it does the job just fine. A Mac mini will offer the same sort of performance, at much less cost. Heck, if I were handed $2k right now, I'd get 4 minis and make a little Xgrid cluster out of them, over buying a G5 tower. (The fact that my research *SCREAMS* for gridding is the reason I'd do it. )

My other brain is hung like a horse too.
#IRC isn't old school.
Old school is being able to say 'finger me' with a straight face.
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Luca
ಠ_ರೃ
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Minnesota
 
2005-03-18, 16:23

Well, are you sure you even need a mini? They're great machines once you add some RAM to them (I just got one two days ago and between the RAM-starved stuttering it's pretty fast), but you said you have an iBook and you just need to run your 19" monitor at a higher resolution. Well, there's an easy hack out there that lets you run external monitors at higher resolutions on the iBook.

If all you need is more screen space, the spanning hack should do the trick. But if you need an actual second computer, then the mini sounds like a good choice. I'm not sure if you'd really need the 1.42 GHz, seeing as how it only has a 14% clock speed increase over the cheaper model. But get whichever you want. Also consider installing the RAM yourself - a 512 MB RAM module is around $50 now, and a 1 GB is about $130. The savings is small if you go with 512 MB, but it's huge if you decide to jump to 1 GB.
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torifile
Less than Stellar Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Durham, NC
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2005-03-18, 18:24

^^ What he said.
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octavist13
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: IL
 
2005-03-18, 20:18

I think the Mac Mini would be a fine development machine and if I were you I'd wait until Tiger comes out before buying one. Definitely through some more ram in that thing though...
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FFL
Fishhead Family Reunited
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Slightly Off Center
 
2005-03-18, 20:20

^^ What he said.
And Luca.
And Brad.
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Krientle
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
 
2005-03-18, 23:44

I think I'll buy the Mac Mini, later. Seems like the best solution. I don't want to do the iBook hack, cause I don't want to take any risks with it. The hard drive on it has already gone out (not faulting apple, toshiba's fault on this one, though the fact that it was sent in on tuesday and the repair place has it already is rather cool).

My iBook is more than enough for my needs development wise for now, I just want something that I can sit on the little shelf on my desk next to my pc and KVM into when I'm not working on Windows/Linux stuff.

Thanks for the info folks =)

~ Krientle
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Koodari
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
 
2005-03-19, 11:13

Whatever disclaimers people throw around when mentioning the spanning hack, as much as I websurfed before doing the hack I don't think I encountered a single actual case of a new iBook going sour because of it. So I think it's a non-issue. The operation is one mouse click, you don't even have to type commands into OpenFirmware anymore. It's even reversible IIRC.

I'm now happily running spanned 1600x1200 on a 12" iBook.

Minis are nice but the main potential benefit of desktop-spec components is not there. So there's no great performance/capacity advantage compared to a laptop...
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foo
New Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
 
2005-03-19, 22:09

Quote:
Originally Posted by Koodari
Whatever disclaimers people throw around when mentioning the spanning hack, as much as I websurfed before doing the hack I don't think I encountered a single actual case of a new iBook going sour because of it. So I think it's a non-issue. The operation is one mouse click, you don't even have to type commands into OpenFirmware anymore. It's even reversible IIRC.

I'm now happily running spanned 1600x1200 on a 12" iBook.

Minis are nice but the main potential benefit of desktop-spec components is not there. So there's no great performance/capacity advantage compared to a laptop...
But they're cheap. At $499, it's inexpensive. And if you get a Microcenter Visa card, they'll give you $100 off of that, so it's $400. Add tax, and you're out the door at $500 + 8% = $530 or so, minus $100 rebate, $430.

$430's hard to beat for a Mac. Add $150 for a gig stick of RAM, and at $530 you've got a nicely equipped Mac Mini.
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