Should I get a Mac mini?

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Should I get a Mac mini?

Postposted on Mon Nov 30, 2009 11:35 am

So my computer died and since I can't figure out what one component is causing all of the problems (I think my power supply got shot and then took everything else down with it except for the video card), I'm in the market for a new computer. While my just buried comp was a budget gaming machine (4850 and Athlon X2 7750), I don't really play PC games anymore, and certainly not demanding ones (I have Unreal Tourney 3 but rarely play it, so the most demanding games I have are Prince of Persia, Mirror's Edge, and the Orange Box/L4D). So rather than build the econobox on TR's system guide, I was thinking of getting a Mac Mini (probably the $800 one. While I know I'm getting a lot less comp for my money, I was wanting to make the OSX switch, and I love the small form factor. I looked at the baseline iMac, but I don't want to just throw away my 22" monitor and the extra cpu speed would be wasted I feel like without a faster GPU given what I use it for. So my question is, will the mac mini be able to run the my games with a respectable frame rate if I turn the settings down and play at 1280x1024 or 1024x768? Also, any have experience running DA:O on with the 9400M?
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Re: Should I get a Mac mini?

Postposted on Mon Nov 30, 2009 12:26 pm

If you want to play any of the games in your list again, the answer is no. The GeForce 9400 is "integrated graphics that don't suck", relatively speaking, but they're still integrated. I know from experience that Supreme Commander was painful on an nVidia-based Mac Mini.
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Re: Should I get a Mac mini?

Postposted on Mon Nov 30, 2009 1:44 pm

Yeah, thats what I was afraid of. It looks like I won't be able to make the switch then, since its double the price to get one with a 4670.
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Re: Should I get a Mac mini?

Postposted on Mon Nov 30, 2009 1:58 pm

If you're interested in taking a good look at OS X, you might want to scour eBay for used Minis with Intel CPUs for cheap. You could build a computer that plays games well enough on $500, I'd think, especially if you're keeping drives from your old system (surely they're not the problem, are they?)
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Re: Should I get a Mac mini?

Postposted on Mon Nov 30, 2009 2:16 pm

Or you could spend about half as much and get about the same form factor in a Dell Zino with a HD 4330.
Don't know how much luck you'd have trying to hackintosh it, however.
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Re: Should I get a Mac mini?

Postposted on Mon Nov 30, 2009 2:25 pm

not if he wants to play Dragon Age. Plus there are no OS X drivers for Radeons other than those used by Apple, so 4600 series and 4800 series only.
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Re: Should I get a Mac mini?

Postposted on Mon Nov 30, 2009 2:49 pm

Making a switch from windows to any OS will always have it's issues. I've found my own windows addiction very hard to kick when I moved to Linux and ended up having a dual OS where I rarely used linux because of lack of ease of use. I think going with a full desktop mac would make more sense to make the transition a little more easy. Then you can have dual boot of some type with decent graphics. IF you aint got the cash or your tight on money, I wouldn't recommend mac man. The mini is going to be a good amount of dough, applications tend to be more expensive as well, and any hardware you might need will have apple tax.
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Re: Should I get a Mac mini?

Postposted on Mon Nov 30, 2009 3:13 pm

UberGerbil wrote:Or you could spend about half as much and get about the same form factor in a Dell Zino with a HD 4330.
Don't know how much luck you'd have trying to hackintosh it, however.


I, too thought about purchasing a Mac Mini as well to replace my aging single core Aopen MiniPC which won't play HD content. Imho, the Zino with 4350 and dual core CPU can make a decent HTPC (in my case) or a good all-around desktop PC for the OP. Yes, some games won't play on it because it's not a speed demon but it's hardly slower than the Mini, it uses fast desktop hard disks and it's cheap to boot. And I bet in the next few moths somebody will hackintosh it.
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Re: Should I get a Mac mini?

Postposted on Mon Nov 30, 2009 3:22 pm

At a roughly equivalent $610 a 1.8GHz Athlon X2 is "hardly slower" than a 2.26GHz Core 2 Duo? Or if we're talking about comparing to an $800 Mini, a 2.53GHz Core 2 Duo? The GeForce 9400 is no slouch compared to the Radeon 4330, too.
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Re: Should I get a Mac mini?

Postposted on Mon Nov 30, 2009 9:31 pm

Yeah, the mac mini has a ton more CPU power than the Zino, but I can't justify it without the graphics bottleneck, so if I'm going small I might as well go Zino
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Re: Should I get a Mac mini?

Postposted on Mon Nov 30, 2009 10:50 pm

Don't do it, man - the fastest Zinio is not worth it if you want to play any of the games on your list. Seriously, we're talking about a Radeon 4330.

Since we're talking about mobile parts anyway, this seems reasonable to bring up:
http://www.notebookcheck.net/AMD-ATI-Mo ... 973.0.html
http://www.notebookcheck.net/NVIDIA-GeF ... 949.0.html

Yes, the nVidia graphics are slower, but you have to ask yourself - is the 4330 fast enough to play any of the games you listed in the OP? If you're going to give up gaming or move to a console, get the Mini because for things you'll be using it for, it's faster. If you want an HTPC with Windows, or need the tiniest computer with the most anemic performance get the Zinio. If you want to play games, get a real computer.
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Re: Should I get a Mac mini?

Postposted on Sat Jan 02, 2010 7:31 pm

If you want a Mac Mini/Dell Zino form factor, and if you're in the mood to DIY a machine, you could go for a mini-ITX machine. You'd get the form factor and performance you're looking for. Techreport had a guide for such a machine not too long ago:

http://www.techreport.com/articles.x/17102/10

They priced it out to $510 with the integrated graphics. The Zotach 9300-ITX has a PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot, so just throw a Radeon HD5770 in there and you can play anything under the sun at 1280x1024. I've heard a Radeon HD5850 can fit into the Sugo SG05-B case as well, but you'd probably want to wait for Zotac's new 450W mITX PSU to come out before trying that. Keep in mind that guide is slightly outdated, so you could probably do a bit better now component-wise (for example, the latest revision of the 9300-ITX is the GF9300-I-E which fixes several issues from previous revisions, like Wake-on-USB and lack of internal SATA ports). Also, because that uses the Geforce 9300 chipset (which is just an underclocked Geforce 9400 chipset), you SHOULD be able to Hackintosh the resulting machine.

DFI is also releasing a P55 m-ITX board soon (LANPARTY MI P55-T36) if you want something for LGA1156.
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Re: Should I get a Mac mini?

Postposted on Sat Jan 02, 2010 7:53 pm

UberGerbil wrote:Or you could spend about half as much and get about the same form factor in a Dell Zino with a HD 4330.
Don't know how much luck you'd have trying to hackintosh it, however.


Plus you can get one in bubblegum pink.
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