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Switcher Hangout The place for switchers to discuss their new machines, and how to work with OS X. General support can be had here for newbie stuff, like "How do I restart my new iMac?" :)

comparison and compatibility


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ablehands

 
Member Since: Mar 06, 2010
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I currently have a PC with a Pentium D 2.66 Ghz and 4 gigs of ram. Darn thing thing seems slower than the first 486 I had ions ago. I would like recommendations on the minimum Mac Mini I should consider to have at least the same, if not better, performance. Also, I obviously have a ton of windows apps (Adobe CS4 suite, MS office suite, and Quickbooks 2008 pro) that I'll still need. Can I somehow create a virtual drive or something from which I can load windoze and run thee apps? This will be my first venture into MACville so I am a noob personfied. Many questions to follow I'm sure!
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Jamie-Jamie

 
Member Since: Feb 25, 2010
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You can get Parallels and run your Windoze apps side-by-side with Mac ones, but I'd suggest replacing them. You'll have a better experience. MS Office can be replaced with iWork or even Office 2008. If you're really hard up for something, there's always OpenOffice. :/ If all you need is a word processor the way 99% of people do, there's Bean ( http://www.bean-osx.com ) and it's an excellent app.

Photoshop can be replaced with Pixelmator ( Pixelmator ) while web developent can be done with Coda ( Panic - Coda - One-Window Web Development for Mac OS X ).

As for which one to get?

Well, they're all better than your PC to start with, so you could get any of them and be doing better.
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CarpathiaMan

 
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Location: Michigan, USA
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Mac Specs: Mac mini | Core 2 Duo @ 2.26 GHz | 4 GB RAM | 160 GB HD | ASUS VH238H 23" LCD | OS X 10.9.x

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I think I can comment a little bit on that. I currently own a Mac Mini that I purchased just before Christmas. It's actually the "entry level" Mini -- in other words, I settled for the default specs and didn't load it up too much on options. So it has the 2.26 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2 GB of RAM, 160 GB hard drive, etc. But oddly enough, for the most part, I can honestly say that I am happy with its performance. It does a respectable job of running the bundled applications like iLife and iWork, and there's little to no sluggishness while browsing the Web and doing other things. I will admit that there have been a few occasions when I've had to exercise patience while I performed certain heavy tasks, but those moments do not occur very often. I think the point I am trying to make is that if you do end up investing in a new Mac Mini, you should probably consider upgrading to 4 GB of RAM and maybe the faster processor (and the larger hard drive if you think you need the space), but even if you don't, I'd be willing to bet that your new Mac Mini will be more than competitive with that machine you are replacing, even if you settle for the basic package.

I wish I could comment on the gaming aspects ... it comes with an Nvidia GeForce 9400 GPU, but I don't do any serious 3-D gaming on this machine. I do play some less-intensive games and they run perfectly fine, and I'd be willing to bet that with a GPU like that you could probably play many of the current (or at least relatively recent) titles at medium settings.
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Jamie-Jamie

 
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It's honestly so funny to think that a dual-CPU computer with 2+GB of RAM has "little to no sluggishness" for something like looking at the internet. If there ever gets to be a time when web pages require so much computing power that you need real muscle to look at them, I'll be DONE with the information superhighway :p

Cloud computing is for the birds
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CarpathiaMan

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie-Jamie View Post
It's honestly so funny to think that a dual-CPU computer with 2+GB of RAM has "little to no sluggishness" for something like looking at the internet. If there ever gets to be a time when web pages require so much computing power that you need real muscle to look at them, I'll be DONE with the information superhighway :p

Cloud computing is for the birds
You make a valid point. I think I just wanted to emphasize that sometimes it's easy for me to tell that my machine is entry-level. Applications sometimes don't always load blazingly fast, and when you want to do something like render a movie with iLife or something similar, you might have to be a little patient. But it can respectfully handle all of the basic computing tasks, including browsing the Internet (but hey, let's face it, even a lot of websites these days are pretty loaded with content).

Just wanted my advice to be realistic.
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vansmith

 
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You might be able to transfer your CS4 license to your Mac. I've heard of some people contacting Adobe and having them ship you the Mac copy if you can prove you destroy the Windows copy. I'm not 100% sure on this (don't use it) but contacting Adobe might be an option to consider.

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ablehands

 
Member Since: Mar 06, 2010
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OK, let me clarify...

Machine specs are as stated above plus dual 160GB HDDs. Dual boot machine: XP on both drives (primary is a stock Dell load, secondary is a majorly modified version of XP), both act the same way with the secondary drive being slightly quicker. Primary drive is for "business use". Secondary is for, well let's say, adult use? I also use an external 640GB HDD for bulk storage so neither of the OS drives have more than 50% usage

My most often used apps are, in order of frequency:

Browser: Firefox 3.5.8 (more often than not I have at least 2-3 browsers open each with several tabs going), takes 2-3 minutes to load on fresh boot seems to stay slow, flash apps are horrible even with high speed connection.
Email: Thunderbird, can take a minute or so to load on fresh boot and then is OK.
Email: MS Outlook, loads quickly on fresh boot.
QuickBooks Pro 2008, takes FOREVER to load, performance fine once running.
Dreamweaver CS4, loads "quick enough", but performance can be lacking with multiple apps open.
Photoshop & Illustrator CS4 take a little bit to load and then run quite slow depending on what I am doing. Horribly slow with multiple apps up and running (Multiple browser tabs, email x2, Pandora in separate browser, etc).

Apps that run at boot time (both boot partitions):
Trend Micro AV
CyberPower UPS utility
Brother Printer utility (takes forever to load)
SnappyFax fax utility (takes even longer to load)

If/when I upgrade to a MAC I'd like it to be a performance upgrade, as well as a usability/security upgrade. I know "once you go MAC you'll never go back" so I expect future upgrades, but I also can't afford to drop $600-800 now, and then another $200-300 to get it workable.

So, given what I have outlined, what would be the minimum specs you would shoot for. And I mean minimum specs not a dream machine... I can create a dream machine, I need a MAC "for now" and when I can afford it I'll buy another bigger, better, badder version.

Lastly I realize this is a subjective question/post, but imagine your a relatively low income family with a newborn.
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Rottie

 
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ablehands,
I seriously think that you will be happy with the base spec Mac Mini (2.26GHz), but as the above poster has said, an upgrade to 4Gb RAM would be advisable, as you already have external storage, which you can make use of, so the internal hard drive is mostly irrelevant, in your case.

The only "add-ons" that you would need, would be a USB keyboard and mouse and also a monitor, although I'd hazard a guess that you already have these available from your PC.

What I'd ultimately suggest is that you visit your local Apple Store/retailer and test drive a Mini, to see for yourself, whether or not it would suit your needs, after all, you're going to be the one who has to live with it on a daily basis.

Just my 0.02

Mid 2011 i5 2.5 GHz iMac 21.5"
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CarpathiaMan

 
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Mac Specs: Mac mini | Core 2 Duo @ 2.26 GHz | 4 GB RAM | 160 GB HD | ASUS VH238H 23" LCD | OS X 10.9.x

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I think all of the suggestions here are true. The "starter" Mac Mini is $599, and even that model is most likely going to perform better than your Pentium machine. At that point it's all going to depend on what you think you can afford. If you want to go with the slightly faster Core 2 Duo or max out the RAM at 4 GB, more power to you, but of course each upgrade is going to increase the overall cost bit by bit. And like Rottie said, don't forget about the keyboard, mouse, and monitor.

If you want to use Boot Camp or Parallels to run Windows and your associated programs, maybe at least one of the bigger hard drive options would be a wise choice, since you'll be managing two operating systems along with your heavy-duty applications.

Check out Apple's website -- they do an excellent job of outlining all of the technical specifications of the machine and what it comes with.
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