Which Mac Desktop; Mini, iMac or Pro?

Jul 29 10

Which Mac Desktop; Mini, iMac or Pro?

Paul Weinstein

This week, while trying to edit some video I took with my iPhone 4, I was reminded of how out of date my Mac Mini G4 is. To be fair, my Mini hasn’t been my main computing device for a few years now, for that I’ve been using a Lenovo ThinkPad R61i running Fedora. I have a few nitpicky issues with Fedora and traditionally Linux distributions are not super laptop focused. But, again, to be fair running Linux on a laptop today is nowhere as painful as it was say 10 or even 5 years ago.1 In any case, the Mini for the most part has become something of aniTunes dedicated machine, providing a home for my iPhone at night as well a place to manage tunes to listen to via AirTunes.

Which brings me back to my video issue, even before the new iPhone 4 my Mac was the machine I preferred to use to manage video and photos, along with music. The new phone of course adds lots of reasons why to continue and even expand using my Mac, but, alas, the G4 just isn’t up to the challenge anymore. Of course, I knew this day was coming. In fact, given that Apple is no longer supporting OS X on the PowerPC chipset, I’m kind of surprised they haven’t “gone native” with iTunes by now.

So the obvious, cheap and easy solution would be to replace my Mini with the 2010 model Apple released in June, right?


It is, but I recently purged a whole lot of papers from my desk in the home office and while there are still a few boxes laying about the place, the desk actually looks inviting again.2 The problem now isn’t miscellaneous papers, it’s miscellaneous computers: the Mac Mini, the Lenovo ThinkPad and a Dell Optiplex 320.

It just so happens that Apple this week completed their desktop updates for 2010. So now I’m wondering if I want to move on and do a little digital consolidating as well.

As I previously stated my Mac is my media station right now, my Lenovo is my workstation and the Dell is a home server running SuSE Linux and handles fileshare/backup, website development environment and virtual machine host duties.

So the main question I find myself asking is do I go whole hog with a Mac Pro or do I go for the high-end Quad Core 27” iMac?

Nor, am I the only one apparently asking this question. John Gruber suggests this is “a really good question” when quoting a blog post by Marco Arment.

Interesting, Gruber stops there and doesn’t note that in Arment’s own post he comes to the conclusion that while the Pro is priced with a ” $1200 premium” over a similarly configured iMac, the Pro has a higher resell value on Craigslist and eBay. More important to me,3 the Pro provides greater flexibility, since obviously, the Pro is not a consumer focused machine with a limited upgrade path.4


In Arment’s own words, “while the Mac Pro costs a lot more up front, high-performance users also get a lot more value and versatility over its lifespan, which is likely to be much longer and end much more gracefully.”

Wait did I just talk myself into getting a Mac Pro? Great, now how am I going to afford the damn thing?

1 Yes, really I tried using a version Linux on a laptop over 10 years ago…

2 And not just because the chair is no longer playing host to escapees

3 I hardly ever end up trying to resell any of my old computers. I either repurpose them, whole or in parts or store them for later.

4 Again that whole reuse/repurpose thing

Images Courtesy of Apple