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Old 10-06-2007, 01:01 PM   #1
ktinkel
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Default Mac Mini: Getting serious

I will probably get this little thing. Trying to figure out my options.

My instinct is to buy the faster CPU and boost the Mac’s RAM but accept the 120 GB hard drive (the only option is 160 GB anyway), as I think it will just be the boot drive and 120 GB should be large enough. (I have only 29 GB on my G4 boot drive now, and haven’t done any serious housekeeping for a long time).

So it looks like this:
  • Mac mini 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo; 1 GB RAM (up to 2 GB); 120 GB hard drive; CD/DVD read/write [$800 plus more for more RAM]

Add ons:
  • Apple wireless keyboard [$80]
  • Apple wireless laser mouse [$70]
  • 24-inch Apple cinema display [$900]

And then a stackable external hard drive/USB & Firewire hub. But which one? I have dealt with all three of these companies in the past and still have faith in LaCie and NewerTech (not much in Iomega):
  • LaCie mini, 500 GB [$217 incl shipping from NewEgg]
  • NewerTech miniStack, 500 GB or 750 GB [$240 or $320 list]
  • Iomega mini 500 GB [$190 list]

It is at least theoretically possible to replace the slow (5400 RPM) hard drive in the Mini itself, but not sure it will matter (with the 7200 RPM drive in the stack) and it sounds like no task for the likes of me. Swapping out the RAM might be easier, but wonder if it matters enough.

So it is about $2,100, not too bad. The other flexible option is the Mac Pro, but set up similarly — though with more power and future possibilities — that would run over $4,000.

If the Mini would support it, I might consider the 30-inch cinema display, but it doesn’t. And it is probably too large to sit in front of anyway. Or I could just use the 24-inch I have now and attach the G4 to a CRT we have, but I need to do some things with the older Macs, and we are shy a monitor already. Besides, once used to this size and quality, it is tough to go back.

I also want to learn how to use the Wacom tablet. I have an Intuos 2 6X8-inch and just downloaded up-to-date drivers. Is the Intuos 3 better enough that I need to replace this one?

Any advice gratefully accepted!

   
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Old 10-06-2007, 01:24 PM   #2
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FWIW, I hate my apple cordless mouse. And it gave me neck and shoulder pain, so I went to a cordless Wacom instead. Just keep the mouse for when I travel with the MacBook Pro.

   
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Old 10-06-2007, 05:40 PM   #3
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FWIW, I hate my apple cordless mouse. And it gave me neck and shoulder pain, so I went to a cordless Wacom instead. Just keep the mouse for when I travel with the MacBook Pro.
I have one with the laptop, and do not love it. But I don’t know if it is a laser mouse; may not be.

   
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Old 10-06-2007, 08:27 PM   #4
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I have one with the laptop, and do not love it. But I don’t know if it is a laser mouse; may not be.
Mine is the Bluetooth one. Looks like a slug and has buttons on the side that I keep pressing by mistake.

   
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Old 10-06-2007, 08:40 PM   #5
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Hello KT, I really like the Mini, and I find the cordless mouse a real joy to use, with no constant (albeit nearly subconscious) tugging to free the cord. Do bear in mind, though, that it's particularly tricky to get into a Mini without having the right tools and experience (and a spare case for when you damage the one you're opening!), so yes, do buy the more expensive version and specify 2GB RAM.

I think it's a waste of money bunging in a larger hard drive, unless you can get the firm to install it for not much more than the cost of an external drive. If you go for an external data drive, I'd say choose the Lacie over the Iomega.

Don't forget that the Mini uses an Intel built-in graphics chip, which takes oompf away from your CPU and memory. Also, the Mini is fine as a small computer, but you want something big and powerful (oo-er, Missus): you'll get a better-performing machine if you buy an iMac instead. For example, over here, your proposed setup would cost £1375. If you bought a 24" iMac with 2GB and a 500GB internal drive, the whole caboodle would only send you back around £1100, and it has an ATI Radeon graphics card.

Rx

   
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Old 10-07-2007, 05:37 AM   #6
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do buy the more expensive version and specify 2GB RAM.
I intend to, though I may have to order it directly from Apple (haven’t talked to Apple’s rep at CompUSA yet to find out).

Quote:
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If you go for an external data drive, I'd say choose the Lacie over the Iomega.
I really only included the Iomega because I had a link to it. (It was the only one that turned up in Googling and on Amazon with complaints.) LaCie looks good to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Springall
Don't forget that the Mini uses an Intel built-in graphics chip, which takes oompf away from your CPU and memory. Also, the Mini is fine as a small computer, but you want something big and powerful (oo-er, Missus): you'll get a better-performing machine if you buy an iMac instead.
That was my first plan, but I cannot abide that shiny screen. I could look for a used iMac from the last generation, or buy the iMac plus a Cinema display, but that is what it would take.

How much graphic oompf do I lose with the Mini? I am struggling now with my G4 — Illustrator CS 2 takes forever to launch and usually refuses to quit without a Force Quit. Photoshop is also slow. A replacement must improve on these aspects or why spend the money?

   
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Old 10-07-2007, 05:39 AM   #7
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Mine is the Bluetooth one. Looks like a slug and has buttons on the side that I keep pressing by mistake.
Oh, dear.

Well, I plan on trying to resume my struggles with the Wacom, but must have a mouse too. We shall see how that goes.

   
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Old 10-07-2007, 08:15 AM   #8
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Bless you — once again my hero.

I spoke to the Apple consultant at CompUSA and asked him about the point you raised about the built-in graphics in the Mini’s Intel chip, and he agrees. He says if I am unhappy with my G4 and Illustrator, the Mini will be worse.

Sigh. But thanks for mentioning that, as I might not have discovered the problem on my own.

I will go to the store today and look at the iMacs; he has both G5 and Intel models set up so I can compare the screen qualities and can fiddle with the color adjustments.

   
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Old 10-07-2007, 11:44 AM   #9
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Oh, dear.

Well, I plan on trying to resume my struggles with the Wacom, but must have a mouse too. We shall see how that goes.
My bluetooth Wacom comes with a mouse. But it's an expensive way to buy a mouse if you don't like Wacoms.

   
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Old 10-07-2007, 12:00 PM   #10
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Bless you — once again my hero.
Forever thine, sweetheart!

I'm in two minds about these shiny screens: yes, there's more reflectivity and it annoys me, but many of my clients put up with it for the sake of a brighter image.

Anyway, see my other post today re G5 vs Intel Macs. Mind you, I'm running CS2 reasonably happily on two G4s (one 450MHz, the other 530!)

Rx

   
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