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Old December 31st, 2013, 02:50 PM   #1
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Mac Mini: Upgrade Suggestions

Hey Folks,

I've been a PC user all my geek life but I'm looking at picking up a Mac Mini in the next few weeks. Reasons for a Mini are cost and size and I want to give Final Cut a go. I travel a lot and want something I can take with my in my VW when I'm on the road that doesn't have a huge footprint or draw a lot of power from my aux batteries. I will be editing for the web mainly using a combination of Canon HD cameras and GoPro's. I will also be running Windows 7, not sure yet if it will be under Parallel or Boot Camp.

I'm looking at the Mac Mini with 2.6GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7. I wanted to upgrade the RAM to 16 GB's and I also wanted to add an SSD drive for the OS, leaving the 1 TB drive that ships with the unit in place as a data drive. My questions are:

1) Is this reasonable and workable and is there anything I should be cautious of when performing these upgrades?

2) Can someone recommend RAM for the upgrade? I understand Crucial is an affordable upgrade.

3) Can someone recommend an SSD drive (240 GB or more) for the OS's?

Any other suggestions would be most welcome. Thanks in advance and if I've posted in the wrong section please feel free to wag a finger at me and point me in the right direction. I looked for a specific Apple thread but this is the only one that seemed to be entertaining these types of questions.

Scott
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Old December 31st, 2013, 06:23 PM   #2
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Re: Mac Mini: Upgrade Suggestions

The MacMini is a great starter computer but is it the sort of computer you would want on the road? It still needs a standard computer monitor, so unless your VW is a VW bus, wouldn't a laptop work better? If a MacMini is good for you then look at this: OWC DD1MMSSDE240 DIY Kit: Data Doubler + 240GB... in stock at OWC it's an extra drive kit that you can install yourself. You can get RAM memory here as well.

MacMini computers are essentially MacBook laptop computers re-packaged as a desktop unit. The one thing you should be aware of is that depending on the nature of your video work Final Cut Pro works better with a decent video card. Unfortunately we are stuck with what Apple installs in the computer for most of their models. A MacBookPro laptop will have a better card in it but for basic editing with modest effects, the MacMini is fine. Most filters and effects will work but plan on longer render times and potential playback slow downs before rendering. An iMac has better video cards installed as well but those are a little hefty for travel.
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Old December 31st, 2013, 06:54 PM   #3
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Re: Mac Mini: Upgrade Suggestions

Thanks for the response William. Much appreciated and that kit is exactly the sort of recommendations I'm looking for. I will probably grab that kit and the RAM from them as well.

I do own a VW bus which is why I'm looking at the Mac Mini. It has more power than my laptop and can take more RAM but it's size is still quite small. I can easily tuck it away when it's not in use. I would use the laptop for daily chores but when I'm parked for a few weeks or renting an apartment then it would be a nice tool to pull out for the bigger jobs. It's also a very low draw on my aux batteries. I do have a nice, portable monitor as well as an LED projector. The bus is old school on the outside but geek on the inside. :)
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Old January 2nd, 2014, 02:23 PM   #4
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Re: Mac Mini: Upgrade Suggestions

I just edited 5 videos for customers on a Mac Mini while my MacPro was crunching on some larger stuff (noise reductions etc), and honestly it's a perfectly workable solution.

My only complaints about the mac mini are the fact that it renders around half the speed of my MacPro Or my MacBookPro 17". Other than that, it's a perfectly useable system.

I bought the 4GB version, tossed out the apple ram and fitted 16GB of crucial ram myself. It took just a couple of minutes since the bottom of the MacMini pops off (no tools) and there ram is right there.
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Old January 2nd, 2014, 03:17 PM   #5
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Re: Mac Mini: Upgrade Suggestions

Thanks for the info Dave. I think I'll go ahead and order the kit plus RAM that was previously mention and then order the Mac on the 15th. How's that for backwards? :) Get the upgrades first.
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Old January 2nd, 2014, 03:44 PM   #6
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Re: Mac Mini: Upgrade Suggestions

That's OK - my upgrade arrived before the Mini too ;)
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Old January 2nd, 2014, 04:02 PM   #7
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Re: Mac Mini: Upgrade Suggestions

Got all my peripherals for the new MacPro already. They'll sit around for at least a month before the actual computer shows up.
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Old January 6th, 2014, 06:18 PM   #8
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Re: Mac Mini: Upgrade Suggestions

The mac mini should be fine. But like William Hohauser has said, why not get a Macbookpro?

I have edited on 2009 Mac Pro tower, and on my MBP. I did upgrade the ram to 16gig. I have the 7200rpm drive, but wished I would've gone with the SSD.

If $ is the issue, get the mini. For web delivery, you will not really need anything else. If you were shooting 4k footage and everyone that was watching your footage all had 4k displays (the answer to that is "no") then you would need something else.

BTW I second the OWC opinion! OWC is badass.
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Old January 6th, 2014, 07:28 PM   #9
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Re: Mac Mini: Upgrade Suggestions

Thanks for the feedback. There are a couple of reasons for the mini and $$$ is one of them. If I have a few K to spend I would have gone with something else but for a first time Mac owner I think the mini is decent. 2 internal drives and 16 GB of memory help too. Most of all I dig the size of it. :) No need for buyers remorse now. It's all been ordered and should be arriving in the next week or so. I'll let you know what it's like compared to editing on an older PC laptop. :)
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Old January 6th, 2014, 08:41 PM   #10
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Re: Mac Mini: Upgrade Suggestions

oh, one last thing...

I have a 1tb lacie little big disk drive. It holds about 11 hours of 1080p video. So one 240g SSD and another 1tb drive in the second spot should be ok. But if you start storing all your videos, pics, music etc...then it may get small.
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Old January 7th, 2014, 12:42 AM   #11
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Re: Mac Mini: Upgrade Suggestions

True Caleb. I have another 4 TB of external storage. I'm thinking of grabbing a couple of 2 TB drives mirrored just for video. The other storage is for 1300 movies, 100 TV shows and about 300 GB's of music. I need an intervention, I'm a digital hoarder. :)

Actually I travel a lot in a 1973 VW bus and I keep all of these movies and TV shows for entertainment on those rainy days. They never get watched cause there's always something to do but it's nice to have them in a bind.
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Old January 13th, 2014, 12:07 AM   #12
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Re: Mac Mini: Upgrade Suggestions

Well the Mac and the upgrades all arrived. Putting in the RAM was no big deal but I certainly wouldn't recommend someone with shaky hands installing the extra drive into the Mini. Once everything was setup I formatted the 240GB SSD and reinstalled a fresh Mac OS on it. Then, using Bootcamp, I split the drive and installed a Windows OS on there as well. That left me with the 1 TB drive that the unit shipped with for data. Very snappy boot up in both of the OS's and everything is running nice and clean.

I did some speed tests on the 1 TB internal vs. the 2TB USB3 external and the external was a hair faster but not by much. I'll use the external for video editing and the internal for everything else if that makes sense. Now I haven't done any video editing on it but I do have a copy of FCP so I'm going to give that a go even though I've been using Premiere and the Adobe Suite for years. Garage Band looks fun too.

Thanks for the help from the resident Mac crew here for pointing me in the right direction.

Cheers,

Scott
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