Similarly, Apple remains unmoved in its determination to make just one aspect of the Mac mini swappable, and that would be the unit's expandable memory. Despite the obvious pitfalls associated with HDDs i.
Mac mini shootout: Quad-Core i7 versus Dual-Core i5 and i7 | MacRumors Forums
The rest is inaccessible unless you're the DIY type, in which case, have at it! However, should you require monstrous amounts of RAM, the mini now supports up to 16GB -- so, there's that to smile about. Consumers with more basic computing needs can opt for the base unit with a dual-core i5 CPU and a GB hard drive. Since the model Apple shipped us for review is designated as the top-end consumer configuration -- what with its quad-core core i7 and hybrid FusionDrive -- we decided to stress it to the utmost and use it as our daily workstation.
From a cold boot off the SSD, it took the system 12 seconds to reach the startup screen, which is on par with the MacBook Air last year's Sandy Bridge model, even. What we were more keen to test out was its stamina when stressed with an Engadget editor's daily workload.
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On any given day, we keep roughly 10 applications running at all times e. Our jobs depend on this level of multitasking and we're pleased to say that the mini managed that processor strain with a graceful silence. In all instances but one, the unit remained relatively cool to the touch and surprisingly quiet. The only time we ever heard a peep from it was when we added Steam and Blizzard game downloads to the active processes load.
Even then, the sound of the whirring fan barely registered above a whisper. On the gaming front, it should go without saying that Macs aren't necessarily the go-to platform for the latest and greatest studio efforts. Indeed, we've noticed incompatibility with most newer titles thanks to Apple's choice of graphics chip, but for the sake of this review we fired up Diablo III to get a sense of how the Intel HD GPU fares.
With every quality option set to high Texture, Physics, Shadow, etc. Note, we didn't have the time to engage clusters of baddies about 50 to 60 onscreen at a time to truly tap out the system, but with more than a dozen characters onscreen, we observed a frame rate that peaked around 42 fps. Benchmark testing backed up our anecdotal assessment: the machine nearly doubles the model's scores. As you can see in the table above, it yielded average overall Xbench scores of , with an average CPU score of and an average thread score of 1, In Geekbench, meanwhile, it delivered a result of 10, Don't call it an HTPC.
Mac mini (Late 2012) - Technical Specifications
Not because we disagree with that moniker, but because Apple vehemently denies its applicability here. And, because it still lacks an optical drive and you know how we feel about that. Yet, regardless of what Apple says, we can't shake the feeling that this little box will inevitably make its way into users' living rooms at some point in its life cycle -- it was born this way, people.
In fact, this editor couldn't resist the urge to take the mini chez lui and hook it up to a palm-sized 3M projector. Using the easily accessible HDMI port, we had no trouble connecting the device to the projector, and mirroring the contents of our external Thunderbolt display. We did, however, encounter Bluetooth audio sync issues with our Jambox, forcing us to depend on the mini's able, but far-from-powerful internal speaker.
Of course, you can always go the more traditional route and attach it to your HDTV, but if you're aching to make use of that vast DVD library sorry, Blu-ray owners , then prepare to spring for a SuperDrive. At that point, though, you may as well just enter the MacBook fray. Apple's quite pleased with the mini's newest feature, the FusionDrive, even though hybrid storage solutions have been in use for quite some time now.
So, what is it exactly? It works like this: from the moment you take it out of the box and start it up, your Mac mini will boot, run and store files using this volume, lending every action that surface speediness. But as time progresses and your storage begins to spill past the SSD's GB limit, the FusionDrive kicks in, analyzing user-level actions based on algorithms to determine commonly used files and then allocating them accordingly.
Say, for example, you're a photo editor who makes heavy use of Aperture, but rarely bothers with iPhoto. Well, over time, the system will acknowledge this usage pattern and relegate iPhoto to the hard disk's slower volume, so Aperture will continue to launch and run quickly from flash. What's more, all of this is done behind-the-scenes when the mini is idle, so users won't notice any changes taking place.
In fact, there's no real way to monitor or edit how the system arranges the storage -- it's made to appear as one unified volume.
It's fair to say the Mac mini occupies a special place on the consumer spectrum. Consider it a 3 on our appropriated Kinsey scale of tech-to-consumer affiliations. It's the perfect bridge to all things Apple. Designed, initially, to help make Windows users feel at home within the Mac ecosystem, the mini was offered up as an elegant solution -- a compact desktop that would play nice with people's existing peripherals. But as time wore on, this "appliance Mac" as one rep put it took on other uses in enterprise and among power users.
Eventually, it wormed its way into all manner of server-based applications: digital signage, airport arrival displays and so on. Whether you really need the added boost of the 1. In fact, that latter option might be more than enough for most. So, where's the rub? Well, that's just it. If you fit the sort of user profile we've been describing, we aren't quite sure there is one. At the end of the day, the mini is destined to sit outside of Apple's public limelight like all the models that have come before it. It's the company's jack-of-all-trades, but a shining star for those in the know.
Buyer's Guide. It would be all too easy if Intel's mobile lineup followed the same rules as the desktop chips, but they don't: Mobile Core i5 processors are all dual-core parts with Hyper-threading, rather than quad-core parts. Core i3, Pentium, and Celeron processors in both desktops and laptops lack this feature, but all of the i5s and i7s have it. The answer to that question varies depending on what kind of Core i7 processor we're talking about. If you're jumping from two cores to four as you do in the Mac Mini , you'll probably be happy if you spend the cash.
Apple doesn't list Intel's CPU model numbers, but if you're buying from another manufacturer you can usually tell the difference by seeing whether the processor has a Q for quad-core in its name i. If you're simply getting a slight clock-speed bump and maybe Hyper-threading out of the deal, as is the case in the new iMacs and the 13" Retina MacBook Pro, your money is going to be best spent elsewhere unless you regularly do very CPU-heavy tasks like video editing and transcoding or very heavy Photoshop work, and the minutes and seconds you'll save with a marginally faster CPU are important to you.
For most general-use workloads—browsing the Web, word processing, checking e-mail, infrequent or light Photoshop or Premiere usage, and even gaming —most applications simply don't use more power than is afforded by a modern Ivy Bridge CPU most of the time, especially if we're talking about the quad-core models already shipping with every iMac. In the new iMacs, the 21" models now come with slow-spinning RPM mechanical hard drives, which is actually a downgrade from the RPM desktop hard drives in the models—there, your upgrade cash would be better spent on a performance-enhancing SSD or Fusion Drive.
Things are even better on the PC side, where prices for SSDs have fallen under a dollar per gigabyte and clearance sales can get you nice, fast, high-capacity drives for even less. It's not that CPU upgrades are totally without merit, or that there aren't people who would benefit from upgrades to either of these new Macs. However, if your upgrade money is limited, CPU upgrades simply don't provide the best bang for your buck.
You must login or create an account to comment. Skip to main content Apple's new Macs mostly come with Core i5 processors—should you spring for the Core i7 upgrade?
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I consider myself a reasonably heavy computer user, and this is what my quad-core processor spends most of its time doing. I had no idea that the i5 vs i7 thing was quite this confusing.
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The genius that came up with this naming scheme at Intel must have a PhD in marketing.
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