How the iMac Can be a Better Deal than the Mac mini

The reputation Apple systems have for being overpriced has been a matter of perception for some time. When you purchase a particular brand or system, you’re purchasing a reputation and feature set. The amount you’re willing to pay for something should reflect directly your need for a particular set of features or services that comes with the purchase.

Let’s say you’re set on getting either a Mac mini or an iMac. The first argument for the Mac mini I’ve heard over and over again around the office and in chat rooms is price. It’s cheaper to get a Mac mini than an iMac. Their base prices certainly reflect this fact though when you consider exactly what you get with the iMac, you’ll be surprised to find out exactly how untrue the price advantage really is.

First, you can’t currently buy a Mac mini with the same generation processor you’ll find in the iMac. For this reason, we’ll bump the Mac mini from the lower 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor to the more powerful 2.66GHz one. This adds $150 to the $699 starting price bringing the total to $849.

Next, memory available on a base model iMac starts at 4GB while the Mac mini sports 2GB by default. To even this out, we’ll need to double the RAM which adds $100 to the asking price bringing it to $949. In a previous article, I explained how you can save a lot of money on this upgrade by doing it yourself without voiding your warranty.

Third, you’ll want to take a look at the hard drive. In a Mac mini, you’re started out with a 320GB drive that falls just short of the 500GB offered with the iMac. An upgrade from 320 to 500GB adds $50 to the Mac mini bringing the running total to a respectable $999.00. If you’re wanting to compare the Mac mini to a 27-inch iMac, you’re going to have to consider an external drive to make up the difference with the iMac’s 1TB starting drive capacity.

The Magic Mouse and an Apple Wireless Keyboard don’t come included with a Mac mini as they do an iMac. Adding these boosts, the running tally increases by $138 for a total of $1,137.00.

The final piece of the comparative puzzle comes in the form of a monitor. At this point, we’ve been comparing the Mac mini to a baseline 21.5-inch iMac. If you decide you absolutely want a 27-inch cinema display (built-in to the 27-inch iMac), you’re looking at $999 added for a total of $2,136 for your “cheaper” Mac mini. This exceeds even the price of an upgraded 27-inch iMac.

So unless you come with your own monitor, keyboard, and mouse, you’re going to be taking a slightly bigger financial hit than you would with an iMac in addition to a performance loss from less powerful components. The video card and processors available in the Mac mini are determinably less future proof than the slightly more up-to-date iMac. While this certainly isn’t an absolute comparison including all of the money saving tips you can use to knock down your end total, it is something to consider when deciding between the two.

Article Written by

Ryan Matthew Pierson has worked as a broadcaster, writer, and producer for media outlets ranging from local radio stations to internationally syndicated programs. His experience includes every aspect of media production. He has over a decade of experience in terrestrial radio, Internet multimedia, and commercial video production.

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  • http://twitter.com/BryceGeekNZ Bryce Beattie

    Awesome, but what do we do if we want to disable developer mode?

    • Angelo Carosio

      You can turn it off in Xcode, or just turn off the gestures because as far as I can tell, nothing else changes.

      • Test

        how do you turn it off on Xcode?

  • StealDragon

    This really suck! Now Apple request you to buy a freaking MAC to get new feature like “four or five-finger Multitasking Gestures”!! Sometime apple make good thing but surely doesn’t care about the customer if you are not APPLE FAN!

    • http://twitter.com/BryceGeekNZ Bryce Beattie

      no, these arent public release gestures yet, apple arent demanding anything. The gestures r in beta

  • bgkarma

    “Devices” is not at all showing showing up in the Organizer window. Am I missing something?

    • Bertrand Tan

      have you figured it out yet? cos im having the same problem.

    • Jeremy Clarke

      Add another person who sees nothing in the sidebar. I’m using the free Xcode3 from a free developer connection account, so maybe that is part of the problem for you guys too? Maybe it’s because I never actually used Xcode after downloading it.

      Please reply if you figure it out, I want those gestures!

      • Jeremy Clarke

        FWIW: I gave up on the old version and bought the new version in the app store. Took a long time to download but it is SO worth $5 for these new gestures, they are AWESOME!

      • Jeremy Clarke

        FWIW: I gave up on the old version and bought the new version in the app store. Took a long time to download but it is SO worth $5 for these new gestures, they are AWESOME!

  • Becalynn

    Awesome idea but what about for those of us that don’t have Mac computers can you still do it?

    • Angelo Carosio

      XCode and the iOS SDK will only run on a Mac. So your solutions are to use a friends/work/school Mac to do it or run an OSX VMWare image.

  • http://allaboutereading.com/ Bakari

    Thanks for this tutorial. Really like this functionality. So much quicker to switch between apps.

  • Jrj_66

    can this download be used on pc

    • http://twitter.com/dave_newton Dave Newton

      No.

  • Anonymous

    I am trying this with Xcode 3.2 (installed from Snow Leopard DVD) and iOS 4.3.1 on iPad 1G and Xcode just does not recognize when connecting my device. Is there anything I am doing wrong?
    I am guessing that the version of Xcode I am using does not include iOS 4.3 yet?

  • Anonymous

    I am trying this with Xcode 3.2 (installed from Snow Leopard DVD) and iOS 4.3.1 on iPad 1G and Xcode just does not recognize when connecting my device. Is there anything I am doing wrong?
    I am guessing that the version of Xcode I am using does not include iOS 4.3 yet?