8 Replies Latest reply: Jan 12, 2012 3:52 AM by woodmeister50
lanstrad1 Level 1 (0 points)

I have a Mac mini (2011) for which I replaced memory (from 2GB to 4GB) (memory purchased on eBay at fraction of Apple cost).


I now want to buy another of these beasts, but I wonder if there is a huge difference between the ATI display and the Intel 3000 ? Easier to do dual monitors ? (if feasible at all)??


My rationale would go for base model, get it with a 7200 rpm HDD (I want to use it for digital audio workstation (Pro Tools) and occasional video (Fnal Cut Studio or Adobe CS 5.5). No serious gaming intended. Then I'd upgrade it with third party memory to 8GB. This would keep the cost barrier to $750 more or less.


If I go for the next model, adding the 7200 rpm HDD would add $150, bringing it to close to $900, and still, I would have paid for 4GB mem which I'd throw in the garbage for 8GB...


Only difference I can see is the display adapter, and... 2.3 to i7 2.5 (still core 2 ...)


Any insignts ? 

Mac mini, Mac OS X (10.7)
  • BGreg Level 6 (17,495 points)

    If you haven't already check out the 2011 mini benchmarks at http://www.macworld.com. There may also be benchmark data at http://xbench.com . That should give you some performance data to help your decision.

  • Ziatron Level 4 (3,830 points)
    and occasional video (Fnal Cut Studio or Adobe CS 5.5).


    I would get a Mac Pro. Very expandable, Very powerful.

  • woodmeister50 Level 5 (5,170 points)

    Video work will be aided with the discrete graphics. 

    It also depends on how intense the video work is

    going to be as well and whether the software leverages

    GPU acceleration for its work or CPU for its work.

    The audio will obviously be CPU intensive.


    Something you may consider, is the Mini Server.

    You would still need to get the RAM, but you get

    quad core i7 with virtualization (equivelent of 8 cores

    total) and a pair of 7200 RPM drives.  It does, however,

    have the HD3000 graphics.  Just don't enable any of

    the server functions.


    Having all those cores may help with the audio stuff

    if you use a lot of plugins as a "virtual rack".  Personally,

    I am using one as primarilly an engineering workstation

    and on the side some photo editing, some light movie

    work (just with iMovie, nothing fancy), and some audio

    work restoring some LPs.  I find it quite cabable at all

    the tasks and typically much better performing that

    my dual core, 2.7 GHz, i7 13" Macbook Pro.

  • lanstrad1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks very much woodmeister50 .  Indeed, I was at an Apple Store today and that guy made me realize I could even think of using Boot Camp and have Win and OS X on a Mac mini. Then with your reply, I went and saw I could even use one HDD for each on a Mac Mini Server (I guess ??) - which would avoid me to disconnect everything in my studio when I need to switch from Mac to PC and vice versa...(an audio Interface in Firewire, a USB midi interface, keyboard/mouse/monitors...


    Any additional advice on this ?


    You sort of brought the final drop on the cake in my decision: it's either the base model, or the Server ! And I'm falling more and more on the side of the server!


    One nebulous question for which I have not (yet) found satisfying reply: Can I use dual monitors (screens) with a Mac mini (server or else) ? (That is: in extended display mode) ? I read it works, it does not, it's difficult... It requires adapter on the Thunderbolt.... Is there an easy (and not costly) way ?


    Thanks again,


  • woodmeister50 Level 5 (5,170 points)

    I am pretty sure any pair of 1920x1080 displays would work.

    You will need a Display Port to whatever adapter and either

    direct connect HDMI or use the HDMI to DVI-D connector

    that comes with it.  Lion has some quirks with dual displays

    depending on the apps being used, atleast that is what I hear.

    With the HD3000, you will not be able to go to much higher

    screen resolutions and have dual displays, i.e. can only

    support 1 Apple Thunderbolt Display.


    As for the adapters for the Thunderbolt port, pretty much any

    Display Port adapter will work (Thunderbolt is backward compatible).

    These are pretty inexpensive, however, don't get the cheapest ones

    as they tend to be unreliable.


    One thing to note, if you plug anything into the audio out port on

    the Mini, it will disable all other audio outputs.  Not sure why, just

    the way it is.


    As to your Bootcamp question, you should be able to install

    on the second drive, although I can't verify that.

  • Coolmax Level 2 (195 points)

    I bought the base model and souped it up to 8Gb and installed 2 SSD drives for like $800 taxes incld.


    You can have 2 monitors, one from the HDMI to DVI-D cable incld and the other from the Apple mini display to DVi via the Thunderbolt port (I own 2 of these from my previous Macbook and Mini.  The ATI card benefits for games and perhaps some 3D stuff, but if you are just doing video and photo work, the base HD3000 is more than enough. 


    4Gb on Lion is not fast on your Mac Mini.  You need 8Gb seriously and if you are running 64bit specific applications.  I paid like $30 for 8Gb in a local computer store when it went on sale.  $39 should get you the same at Amazon.com.


    Once a SSD drive is installed, the mini runs like a Macbook Air.  All 2011 minis will take a 2nd hard drive, but you need to buy hardware for it, like screws, mounting gromets and a specialized Apple SATA drive cable from iFixit.


    Btw, I use iMovie 11, Adobe CS 5.5 (Photoshop mainly), Nikon Capture NX 2.3.0 (64bit) and Aperture very effectively.  The 2nd SSD is used as a scratch drive for iMovie 11 and Photoshop with effective blazing speeds.


    Hope this helps.

  • lanstrad1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Are you saying that both displays have to be same resolution?


    What if one is 1650 x 1080  and the other is 1920 x 1080 ?

  • woodmeister50 Level 5 (5,170 points)

    lanstrad1 wrote:


    Are you saying that both displays have to be same resolution?


    What if one is 1650 x 1080  and the other is 1920 x 1080 ?

    Just saying that the combination is probably the maximum that

    can be handled by the HD3000 graphics.  Anything less should be