Our New Baby

No, not that baby. This one:

ppp|New Baby|ppp

(You can see all of the photos here.)

We purchased a Mac mini Core Duo on Saturday at the Rockingham Park Apple Store in Salem, NH (no sales tax!). We were originally thinking of getting the new iMac, but we opted to get the mini for several reasons:

  • We don’t need or want the built-in iSight that comes with the iMac.
  • We already have a good keyboard, mouse, and monitor.
  • I don’t like the mouse that comes with the iMac, anyway.
  • The mini is almost as fast as the lower end iMac we were considering, and way, way, way faster than the 450 MHz PowerMac G4 that was our main machine. For proof, check out the XBench comparison of these two specific machines.
  • We were able to get more RAM and hard drive space for the mini than we would have been able to afford with the iMac, due to the cost savings of not having the iSight, keyboard, mouse, and monitor.

We bought just the base model (512 megs RAM, 80 gb hard disk) at the Apple Store, so that we could buy less-expensive add-ons elsewhere. You can definitely feel the pinch with only 512 megs of RAM. When running several applications at the same time, for example iPhoto, Safari, Adium, and Mail, there is a bit of lag when switching back and forth, because the system has to take one application out of RAM and write it to disk, while reading another application off of disk and into RAM (also known as swapping). That should be solved, however, when the 2 GB RAM upgrade arrives from OWC later this week. More RAM means less swapping and less waiting when switching applications.

Beyond the lag when switching applications, performance is quite impressive. Most of the typical tasks like email, instant messaging, and web browsing aren’t dramatically faster than they were on the G4/450. It’s in the multimedia applications that the mini really shines. I haven’t had much chance to use iMovie, but iPhoto is extremely impressive… the speed is just amazing. I’m really looking forward to playing around with iLife ’06.

We’re also getting a miniStack v2 with a 320 gb, 7200 RPM hard drive, which will give us plenty of storage space, not to mention a faster disk than the mini’s included 5400 RPM model. It also provides some extra USB ports and extra FireWire ports (handy, since the mini only has a single FireWire port).

I’m pretty excited about this purchase, because it’s the fastest Mac we’ve ever owned. I started with a Mac clone in 1997, running with a 180 MHz PowerPC 604e processor. Then I bought a PowerBook G3 400 MHz in 2001, just after the first PowerBook G4’s were introduced. Most recently, we purchased a PowerMac G4 450 MHz to replace the Mac clone. Jumping up to a Dual Core 1.66 GHz is a huge step.

7 thoughts on “Our New Baby

  1. Digital Ruler

    Very interesting. I am looking for a new system, and this provides a look into a system I was considering. I have all the needed items also, so I just need a new box.

    I have never owned a mac, but if it seems to work for you well, I might look a bit more at the Mini..

    Reply
  2. RK Bentley

    Congrats on the new purchase.

    Once the tax check comes in probably be buying one of those myself.

    And, hopefully be buying it at the Providence Place Mall Apple Store once it opens…

    Reply
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