Mac mini and 4k monitor or iMac?

Harry Styron

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I’m ready to upgrade my home office, where I spend 30 hours a week. I’m using a 2011 MacBookPro with a 15” screen (pre-Retina) and a Dell 27” second monitor that is at least five years old. My MBP has 16 gig RAM and an SSD, so it’s quick enough for my modest processing needs.

But my eyes need some relief, and I’m intrigued by the great improvement in displays. My office is full of guitars, amps and a piano, so my workspace is fairly small.

Should I buy a 27” iMac for about $1,800 or a Mac Mini and a real nice big HD monitor for about $1,500?

The iMac has nice camera and speakers, which would be nice, since I do a lot of video conferencing.
 

micpoc

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I would probably go with an iMac as well, UNLESS the mini has more external connectivity (I do not know) and you need as much as possible.
 

ZenGuitarist

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I went with a Mac Mini because I primarily use Windows computers and wanted to be able to use a KVM to save on desktop space. If I was a Mac only person I'd be tempted by an iMac but I think at the end of the day I'd still go with a Mac Mini just for the flexibility in connecting external devices and being able to easily (and cheaply) upgrade as needed without having to replace the entire computer. I always have spare monitors, webcams, speakers, etc. on hand so for me there was no extra outlay with the Mac Mini.

As a longtime Intel/AMD user I have to say I'm extremely impressed with the Apple M1 chip. So impressed that I bought a M1 MacBook Air to keep my M1 Mac Mini company.
 

Mjea80

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I would suggest going with the new Imac 24” with the M1 chip. I did this and I realllly like it!
 

KC

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I'm running an M1 Mini through an LG Ultrafine 5K 27" that I found as a refurb a few years ago. It's a great combo -- the mini is a beast for running Logic etc and the monitor is very crisp and clear and has lots of connectivity. Plus I already had the monitor so all I had to buy was the mini. Very pleased with this setup. The mini nestles under the monitor so it doesn't take up a whole lot of desktop space.
 

moosie

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I'm on my second 27" iMac. Got my first in 2012, after a MBP died. Generally quite happy, though more and more, I feel like I work around the OS rather than with it.

I run it with a fairly nice second Dell display. I'd love to have a Mac 2nd display, but too pricey for me. I use the Dell as the overflow desktop, and do any work where I appreciate the display, on the iMac.
 

buster poser

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Depends how happy you are with the iMac’s display. In general I always want a little more than is available on the iMac but I haven’t looked in awhile.

MBAir + a $450 Dell S3221 might be a third path I’d consider.
 

getbent

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Depends how happy you are with the iMac’s display. In general I always want a little more than is available on the iMac but I haven’t looked in awhile.

MBAir + a $450 Dell S3221 might be a third path I’d consider.

things may be different now... but, in my old world, apple got the screens that had the fewest pixels out.. I think the tolerance was low, like 3 or 4 on a 27" vs. the other providers who accepted numbers that were quite a bit higher. That, and the fact that apple controls the OS gave them the edge when providing monitors. I believe they got out of the external monitor business in large part to complaints from 3rd party makers who felt it just wasn't fair.

This may have changed, but it is the reason I'd recommend the device with the built in monitor in this case. It was part of the secret sauce back in the day.... and why mac monitors were so coveted.
 

BramptonRob1958

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Mini and monitor. Flexibility to upgrade your monitor(s) as Technical advances take place. The iMac 's are fantastic machines especially the M version.....

But (there's always a but), I've been down the iMac road (both were fantastic), however, as the the new models came out I always wanted to upgrade. Usually the upgrades were to the screen (resolution, size etc.)

So when Apple introduced the M1 Chip, I ended up with the Mini for home use and paired it with a 4K Asus monitor and I'm thrilled. Now when I feel the need to upgrade, I have options. One of which is not having to replace the entire system because I want a different screen.

If you find yourself running low on ports for either system iMac or Mini... use part of your budget for a docking station as well. When I bought my M1 MacBook Pro the docking station was my first purchase but I actually use it more with my Mini.

I don't think you can go wrong either way.

Good Luck
 

ZenGuitarist

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If you find yourself running low on ports for either system iMac or Mini... use part of your budget for a docking station as well. When I bought my M1 MacBook Pro the docking station was my first purchase but I actually use it more with my Mini.
I bought a CalDigit TS3 Plus Dock to go with my Mac Mini. Works great. What was really weird was that the cheapest price I could get it for in Canada was through Apple's online store. Normally I expect to pay more if ordering directly from Apple.
 

imwjl

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My thoughts from managing and supporting this stuff at some scale and having it in the family..... No matter what make your upgrade is one with "4k" or better display.

Right now only buy an Intel Mac if you need to do Intel type virtualization or depend on a program that's not M1 native. The 24" iMac is not exactly small.

Actually owning and working with the newer Max M1 and a fanless M1 Air, I believe lots of people underestimate just how capable the original M1 are.

Personally I have a 27" Retina iMac and I bought a loaded M1 Max but returned it waiting for next gen iMac and getting a custom Air with more storage. If I was not so mobile in how I work I'd have probably kept the new Pro with a dock and great display.

Edit: The right dock makes a big difference. For someone not wanting to wait you can consider a MacBook Pro with Max SOC and a vetted dock and if you just use productivity software that's mostly M1 native you'll probably be surprised by the power of an Air or Mini.
 

Old Deaf Roadie

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In my world, the mini is used almost exclusively by AV service providers to run a device, and the overwhelming majority of these people say they bought the mini based on size vs. space in an equipment case, but for productivity they sometimes lack resources. I have an iMac in the tech booth I seem to live in and it is powerful enough to do everything I gave asked of it so far. My vote is for the iMac.
 




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