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Is the Mini more powerful than the 21.5" i5 iMac?

6358 Views 9 Replies Latest reply: Mar 22, 2013 3:18 AM by woodmeister50 RSS
ether28 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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Mar 13, 2013 9:48 AM

In need of a new home desktop for the family, media, projects, etc.  I have been doing a lot of research on the i7 Mac Mini and the 2.7Ghz 21.5" iMac.  All of the numbers actually suggest that the Mini is more powerful.  Does anyone have any further numbers or anecdotal info that suggests otherwise.  I don't want to necessarily search for a reason to spend more money but want to get the best future proofed machine while spending no more than $1400.

iPhone 4s, iOS 5
  • mende1 Level 10 Level 10 (89,490 points)
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    Mar 13, 2013 9:53 AM (in response to ether28)

    There are important differences between the Mac mini you want and the iMac. First of all, both Macs have got a Quad-Core processor, but the Mac mini has got a Intel Core i7 instead of the Intel Core i5 of the iMac. In this case, the Mac mini has got a better performance.


    However, I don't think that you can avoid talking about other important features. The iMac comes with 8 GB of memory (but it's not easy to add more after buying the Mac), and it comes with a dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M that makes the difference with the integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000. If you are going to use games or even watch HD movies, buy the iMac because the Mac mini won't be able to run them.


    If the computer is for a basic use, then buy the Mac mini. It will be cheaper and the upgrade possibilities are bigger

  • mende1 Level 10 Level 10 (89,490 points)
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    Mar 13, 2013 10:28 AM (in response to ether28)

    You can watch HD movies with that graphic, but it may be slower than with the graphic of the iMac. In my opinion, games are decisive to choose between the iMac and the Mac mini. Also, as you want to use AirPlay Mirroring, I think that the iMac is the best option. Anyway, it's up to you

  • edex67 Level 4 Level 4 (3,235 points)
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    Mar 13, 2013 12:02 PM (in response to ether28)

    Mac mini all the way. HD movies run fine on the Mini, as does light games (Civ V, Civ IV, Portal) but I do most of my gaming on the Xbox 360.

    AirPlay, again, runs absolutely fine on the Mini. I would say that the base iMac is really only a good option if you need a new display or for some reason you need it to be AIO. Although, mende1 is correct in stating that the iMac does have 8GB of RAM, but the Mini is more expandable.

    You will be sacrificing overall performance in terms of the CPU with the iMac.

    I just checked on the US Apple Store (I'm in the UK) and the cost of a Mini with a 2.6 i7, 1TB Fusion Drive and bluetooth keyboard & trackpad (or mouse) is £1075/$1287. This would be a very fast machine.

  • woodmeister50 Level 4 Level 4 (3,690 points)
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    Mar 14, 2013 3:45 AM (in response to ether28)

    The only issue with the integrated graphics is if are

    going to do things like advanced video editing, complex

    3D development work, or heavy duty gaming.  For use as

    a general purpose computer or home theater computer

    it will perform quite well.  It will also work quite well for

    any type of application that does any heavy duty number



    So, if gaming is a concern, just Google HD4000 and gaming

    and what sort of performance is seen and what sort of level

    of gaming you could expect to see.


    As a music/video entertainment center, go with the Mini for

    sure.   Personally, I am using an old 2010 Mini for that purpose

    and it handles any 1080p HD content I throw at it.  So the new

    ones should be more than adequate.

  • Silly rabbit Level 4 Level 4 (2,980 points)
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    Mar 14, 2013 8:38 AM (in response to ether28)

    I used to have a 2009 24" iMac and now have a 2010 Mini hooked up to my 42" TV. For general use the performance is very compatible, but you cannot get a 42" iMac. Of course, both computers support duel monitors. I had my iMac connected to a 37" TV, but the graphics were maxed out and it used to shudder a little watching movies on one display and surfing the net on the other. However, I have the mini connected to a larger TV and a 24" monitor, but don't get the graphics issues. I'd go with the Mini.

  • woodmeister50 Level 4 Level 4 (3,690 points)
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    Mar 22, 2013 3:18 AM (in response to ether28)

    There is much more to graphics performance than just having

    more graphics memory.  The discrete GPUs are designed

    specifically for graphics performance.  Also, the memory

    is dedicated to the GPU.  Integrated GPUs, such as the HD4000,

    share system RAM and such have their ultimate capabilities

    limited by system RAM bandwidth.  Also, there are design

    limitations of integrated graphics because they are, well, integrated

    on the same chip as the CPU.


    So, as far as graphics, discrete GPUs will almost always outperform

    integrated GPUs.


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