Mac Mini advice?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
8O
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Mac Mini advice?

Post by 8O » Sun Nov 17, 2013 10:14 pm

Hi all,

I'm thinking about buying a Mac Mini as a dedicated music computer and wondering which one to get... Maybe second-hand with good enough specs should be fine (and save a lot of money).

Currently I'm using a MacBook Pro 15" 2.2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 4GB RAM and a 500GB 7200rpm HD, running OS X 10.8.5. Soundcard is first gen MOTU Ultralite (FW 400 connector). Using Live 8 and Logic Pro X and heaviest plug-ins are probably Reaktor ensembles. The laptop copes ok with that all, but a bit faster would of course be better, but don't think I need the absolutely latest and greatest, fastest machine out there...

But... if going for new, then quite fancy the €629 2.5GHz Dual Core i5 Mac Mini:

- Firewire 800 port to MOTU's 400 port is ok?
- HD is 5400rpm, but tbh I noticed the extra noise more than the extra speed when I upgraded my laptop from 5400 to 7200...
- I assume the Mac Mini is going to run as quiet as a church mouse, right?
- Any other weird stuff I should be wary of?

Any Mac Mini-experienced musicians out there?
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eddiex
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Re: Mac Mini advice?

Post by eddiex » Mon Nov 18, 2013 12:40 am

i actually thought about going the mac mini route last time i was computer shopping.
when all was said and done, i got the bottom of the line macbook pro. (2.4 GHz i5, 8 GB RAM, 5400 RPM 500 GB HD)
i liked the price for what the mini was offering, but.....i didn't have a monitor, keyboard etc. if you don't have those things, you will probably end up adding a lot of extra loot on top of what you pay for the mini. probably pretty close to the price of, say, a bottom of the line macbook pro or a imac. that being said, if you do have those things....the mac mini is money.
as far as if the mini will handle your rig....yeah, probably with ease
im rocking the 5400rpm HD. i rarely have issues in LIVE or LOGIC (my projects are usually smaller though (no more than 16 tracks) absynth and massive are my go to synths but i own reaktor and it does alright)
as far as firewire 800 to your 400 MOTU, you will be fine. plugging into a firewire 800 port wont change things for your MOTU. it will still be firewire 400, just with a different cable. one thing about that though, spend the money on a decent adapter cable. i bought a bunch of cheapies for my FW400 DUET (plugged into the 800 port), they would unplug all the time or not fully engage some of the time, it got frustrating there for a minute....i actually had a pretty tough time finding a cable in my local electronics stores as well and those that had it were, like i said, cheap-os that wouldn't work right all the time. (in the end i bought a G drive external HD which had a decent adapter cable with it that works great)
the other thing about the mac mini....it would probably be annoying to gig with....but your old rig should handle that.
anyhow.....happy shopping!
cloud>https://soundcloud.com/eddiexdarko
i love you,please don't die.

jbw
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Re: Mac Mini advice?

Post by jbw » Mon Nov 18, 2013 1:16 am

I recommend getting the fastest processor you can afford, and not worrying too much about RAM at the moment. RAM you can always upgrade if needed, and it's really easy to install on the Mac mini, while a processor you cannot.

On my previous desktop I made the mistake of getting one with a low end processor, and it really started to struggle with newer software. I upgraded the RAM on it but it didn't help much.

Earlier this year I decided to go with a Mac mini and got the late 2012 model with an i7. I have since maxed out the RAM to 16GB and even installed a Solid State Hard Drive, and the thing plows through anything I load on top of it, without a hitch.

Also, the other thing about RAM is you can save a good deal of money by buying third party online. I saved about $250 compared to what I would have paid if I had bought the RAM from Apple.

fishmonkey
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Re: Mac Mini advice?

Post by fishmonkey » Mon Nov 18, 2013 4:24 am

Firewire is not a problem. i would definitely get a quad-core i7 though.

dave999z
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Location: Washington, DC

Re: Mac Mini advice?

Post by dave999z » Mon Nov 18, 2013 4:33 am

The mini is awfully stale right now. I'd wait for an update before getting one.

But for the current mini this is how i would spec it out for a smoking machine:

Mac mini
--2.6 GHz quad core i7 $899
--swap in 16GB aftermarket RAM $150
--swap in 240GB aftermarket internal SSD (for the OS) $149
--add Other World Computing 2nd drive kit $33
--add 960GB aftermarket 2nd internal SSD (for your files) $499
Total = $1730

muthafunka
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Re: Mac Mini advice?

Post by muthafunka » Mon Nov 18, 2013 8:25 am

Excellent advice dave999, just stoned a couple of birds for me there!

8O
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Location: Berlin

Re: Mac Mini advice?

Post by 8O » Mon Nov 18, 2013 9:14 am

Cheers - all good stuff.

@eddiex - yeah, I have an external monitor kicking around, and can probably scrounge a keyboard pretty easily. Thanks for the confirmation about the MOTU too...

@dave999z - that reminded me to check http://whentobuymac.com/ and http://buyersguide.macrumors.com/#Mac_Mini and they say "neutral" & "Don't buy"... Though now I'm back in that eternal computer-buyer's conundrum: when to buy, and there's never a good time to buy :wink: Nice spec you listed there, but about a 1000 EUR overkill for me, I think.
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TomViolenz
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Re: Mac Mini advice?

Post by TomViolenz » Mon Nov 18, 2013 9:33 am

I know a lot of people are waiting on new Minis at the moment, so something might be about to drop.
I would go quad core and SSD in a new computer if I had money laying around for that. Whatch out that you can still change the RAM and Harddrive by yourself. Apple has been taking that from their computers left and right lately.
A development I REALLY don't like! :evil:

TomViolenz
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Re: Mac Mini advice?

Post by TomViolenz » Mon Nov 18, 2013 9:37 am

dave999z wrote:The mini is awfully stale right now. I'd wait for an update before getting one.

But for the current mini this is how i would spec it out for a smoking machine:

Mac mini
--2.6 GHz quad core i7 $899
--swap in 16GB aftermarket RAM $150
--swap in 240GB aftermarket internal SSD (for the OS) $149
--add Other World Computing 2nd drive kit $33
--add 960GB aftermarket 2nd internal SSD (for your files) $499
Total = $1730
8O
You want it all, don't ya?! :mrgreen:

Dragonbreath
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Re: Mac Mini advice?

Post by Dragonbreath » Mon Nov 18, 2013 4:25 pm

I agree with the others, get the quad core!

Dont worry about the Ram and HD for now you will have plenty of time in the future to upgrade those and the price will probably drop a little. You can easily change those in a mac mini.

jbw
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Re: Mac Mini advice?

Post by jbw » Mon Nov 18, 2013 8:26 pm

A few other things about SSDs:

1. They kick ass in my opinion. If they are out of your current budget, keep them in mind for a future time.
2. They are not so easy to install in the Mac mini; not hard, but not easy either. There are how to videos out there that you can check out for details.
3. You can take your old HDD and put it in an external enclosure. After that you can use it for backups, or do like I did and sell it on eBay to help reduce the cost of the SSD.

dave999z
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Location: Washington, DC

Re: Mac Mini advice?

Post by dave999z » Tue Nov 19, 2013 12:14 am

TomViolenz wrote:
dave999z wrote:The mini is awfully stale right now. I'd wait for an update before getting one.

But for the current mini this is how i would spec it out for a smoking machine:

Mac mini
--2.6 GHz quad core i7 $899
--swap in 16GB aftermarket RAM $150
--swap in 240GB aftermarket internal SSD (for the OS) $149
--add Other World Computing 2nd drive kit $33
--add 960GB aftermarket 2nd internal SSD (for your files) $499
Total = $1730
8O
You want it all, don't ya?! :mrgreen:
I just say it's almost 2014... why dick around with spinny hard drives and external hard drives. All internal. All solid state. One smallish drive for the OS (can even partition that one into two so you have one nice clean startup partition for just music production, and one startup partition for all other nonsense), and one biggish drive for your files. Done.

Compared to aftermarket external drives, this isn't that much more.

TomViolenz
Posts: 6854
Joined: Mon Dec 13, 2010 6:19 pm

Re: Mac Mini advice?

Post by TomViolenz » Tue Nov 19, 2013 9:18 am

dave999z wrote:
TomViolenz wrote:
dave999z wrote:The mini is awfully stale right now. I'd wait for an update before getting one.

But for the current mini this is how i would spec it out for a smoking machine:

Mac mini
--2.6 GHz quad core i7 $899
--swap in 16GB aftermarket RAM $150
--swap in 240GB aftermarket internal SSD (for the OS) $149
--add Other World Computing 2nd drive kit $33
--add 960GB aftermarket 2nd internal SSD (for your files) $499
Total = $1730
8O
You want it all, don't ya?! :mrgreen:
I just say it's almost 2014... why dick around with spinny hard drives and external hard drives. All internal. All solid state. One smallish drive for the OS (can even partition that one into two so you have one nice clean startup partition for just music production, and one startup partition for all other nonsense), and one biggish drive for your files. Done.

Compared to aftermarket external drives, this isn't that much more.
Why do people always assume criticism?! If you have 1730 bucks laying around, this is a very nice machine!

8O
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Location: Berlin

Re: Mac Mini advice?

Post by 8O » Tue Nov 19, 2013 3:40 pm

Ok, so you lot are gradually convincing me of the need to get a quad core. Current cunning plan is to wait until they announce the new models (soon, surely?) and then get a quad core of the previous gen (i.e. today's model) for cheap as chips. Save money and not risking some weird new issues with new hardware update... Sounds like a plan, right?
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102455
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Re: Mac Mini advice?

Post by 102455 » Tue Nov 19, 2013 3:42 pm

Apple products......cheap as chips? Does not compute!

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