Forum Question: Is the New Mac Mini Coupled With a 27″ Thunderbolt Monitor a Trully Viable Alternative To the New 27″ iMac ?

A friend told me that he was initially thinking about buying the new 27″ iMac and then decided against it. The reasons being (according to him):
For about the same price you can buy the new Mac Mini & 27″ Thunderbolt Monitor, giving you almost the same computing system as could be had with the 27″ iMac in addition of having the added bonus of being able to upgrade in the future without having to dispose of the display, which is a dramatic cost saving.(Can u perform upgrades on the new 27″ iMac ?)
Also if their is a fault with the iMac it would be very difficult to fix (although under warranty – Applecare I guess), that would be Apples problem, and not yours.
Comments & Feedback regarding the viability of this option is most welcomed.
Seasons Greetings…

Comments: 13 Responses to “Is the New Mac Mini Coupled With a 27″ Thunderbolt Monitor a Trully Viable Alternative To the New 27″ iMac ?”

    12/24/12 @ 9:12 am

    First, the computing power isn’t the same.
    The iMac has more processor options, up to a 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7. The Mac mini’s options go up to a 2.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i7. But there is a lot of overlap.
    With the video options, there is more of a difference. The iMac can come with a “NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX graphics processor with 1GB of GDDR5 memory” while the best the mini can do is a “Intel HD Graphics 4000.” That’s a big difference, especially if you are doing graphics or video work, or playing games.
    There are also differences in drives, memory and ports. There is some overlap, but just make sure you are comparing Apples to Apples (literally!) and not a lower-end Mac mini to a medium-end iMac. You can check the specs yourself at Apple’s site easily enough.
    As for upgrades, there really aren’t many options. You can’t upgrade much in either of these. And what you can upgrade, you can do in both. Technically you should be able to upgrade memory and storage in the long run, for a price, and within limits. So no advantages to either there.
    Same for repairs. I don’t see the Mac mini being easier to fix than the iMac, not at all.
    Now as for the screen upgrade issue. A lot of people mention this, but it really isn’t much of an advantage, if you think about it.
    If you are buying a Mac and only hold on to it in the short term (2-3 years) then you are probably going to want to resell it or pass it on (spouse, child, friend, etc). If you do that, then the machine without a screen isn’t worth anything — you would have to get another screen anyway. So you keep the screen for your next Mac, but you have to sell the Mac mini for less or buy another screen to pass the mini onto someone.
    If you keep the Mac for the long run (5+ years) then you have to consider the obsolescence of the screen. Do you really want to keep using the same screen 5 or 10 years from now? Think of the screens from 5 or 10 years ago? Think of how they will change in the next 5-10 years. For one thing, they will most likely become retina displays, but you’ll be recycling your old screen well into the 2020s. Something to think about.

    12/24/12 @ 9:33 am

    Yes that does make alot of sense, a truly comprehensive answer, and worth thinking about !!

    He commented that after purchasing the Mac Mini with 27″ Thunderbolt display he would upgrade to – 32GB RAM and two 512GB SSDs on it.

      12/24/12 @ 10:59 am

      He should check the specs a little more closely. The Mac mini only goes up to a maximum 16GB of RAM. And getting two 512GB SSDs is a puzzling choice. For much less money you can get the new Fusion drive.
      Would be weird to try to max out memory and hard drive speed, but then settling for the slowest video graphics chips.
      Seems your friend has strange ways of saving money — trying to save a few bucks by getting a Mac mini instead of an iMac, but then throwing money at two 512GB SSD drives.

    12/25/12 @ 4:49 am

    Thats what someone else commented……

    Another person told me that even if you bought a Mac Mini today and sold it in 3 years time, it would be in high demand in the UK, by itself without mouse, keyboard & screen. If you were to keep the Thunderbolt display it should hold value for considerable years.

    That person coincidently bought his first Mac Mini in 2005 with an Apple 20″ Cinema Display, he currently on his 3rd Mac Mini still using using the same display, and is thinking about purchasing his 4th Mac Mini in the near future to be used in conjunction with the same 2005 20″ Cinema Display. Money well saved I say

    (PS Thunderbolt Displays in the UK are very expensive min. £770 on Amazon)

    Anthony Burokas
    12/25/12 @ 9:13 pm

    IMHO, it comes down to GPU. If you’re doing something that could benefit from a good GPU (games, video editing in Adobe Premiere) then the Mini is a poor choice. If you’r eNOT doing these things, then I concur that swapping Mini computers out is the best way to upgrade an existing computing setup.

    12/26/12 @ 11:17 am

    Totally if you are contemplating playing games, or other graphically intense media forget the Mac Mini. otherwise its something worth thinking about…

    Mr Anthony Cotton
    2/12/13 @ 3:29 pm

    I am not alone in this. Their are thousands of people who would definitely not buy the iMac or the new one,because of the monitor.
    I will have to wait a bit,but i think i will go for the new Mac Mini,and buy the screen i want. I would not buy Apples monitor it`s way too expensive,and very unreliable.

    Mr Anthony Cotton
    3/4/13 @ 1:49 pm

    At the moment i am using a Mac Mini 2007 hooked up to a Packard Bell 19″ LCD Monitor with VGA connection. What I want to know is can you buy any monitor with a VGA connection for the New Mac Mini. I have been told has long has you have got a VGA port you can buy any monitor. I have looked at the new Mac Mini picture of the back,and it shows you a VGA connection has well has others. Since my first Mac computer i have always used a VGA connection. Can you enlighten me Gary.

    Mr Anthony Cotton
    3/4/13 @ 2:15 pm

    I have just looked at the back of the new Mac Mini,and it has HDMI connection,and not a VGA connection has i said above.
    Would this monitor specs suit the Mac Mini – 27″ HDMI Led Display- Connectivity -Audio in,D-Sub,HDMI,and VGA.
    Analogue input and Digital input.
    Speaker power 2×5 Watts RMS Thanks in advance Gary.

      3/4/13 @ 2:35 pm

      Most monitors will work with most computers — you just have to get the correct cable to connect them. If you have an HDMI connection on both, then obviously they will work together with just an HDMI cable.

    Mr Anthony Cotton
    3/5/13 @ 6:01 pm

    Thanks very much for your advice Gary.

    Mr Anthony Cotton
    3/22/13 @ 11:47 am

    Has mentioned above i was going to buy the new Mac Mini,but i have found out there is a fault with the connectivity HDMI. I have trawled the internet,and a couple of review editors say don`t buy until this is sorted out.
    I found out on the Apple site an issue EFI Firmware update 1.7 was supposed to have solved the HDMI Flickering screen on the Mini.
    I have read a lot of posts on the internet that this has not solved the problem Gary.

      3/22/13 @ 12:34 pm

      Anthony: Why would you be using the HDMI? As a second monitor? The HDMI is usually for either a second monitor, or if you want to use the mini as a device to watch video on your TV. Otherwise, you would use the Thunderbolt port to hook up a standard computer screen with a DVI or VGA adapter.

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