In my last post about this, I had heralded a flash based Mac Mini as the ultimate Photo Editor. Whilst I still think there is merit to that setup – and may still be – I went another direction.
Apple didn’t update the Mac Mini in the last big system update. I thought for sure they would but they didn’t. Instead, they rather secretly released a new iMac as indicated in this fstoppers article, back in September. I looked at the new specs but have been waiting for the new Mac Mini. However, my old iMac crashed a very slow and horrible death. I didn’t lose any data thanks to my gong show JBOD backup system. But I’m safe for now. I’ve been operating of a Macbook Air (painfully) for editing photos and other work related activities. So I decided that I can’t wait any longer and pulled the trigger on a new iMac.
Here’s the specs of what I got and why. I basically got the identical setup recommended in the fstoppers article. 27″ screen and I got the 3.5Ghz i7 with a 256 SSD. I got 8GB of factory RAM but have since ordered a 32GB upgrade from Amazon for less than half price of Apple’s factory installed $600 magical RAM made of unicorn horns. And, I upgraded the GPU and got the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M 4GB GDDR5. I’m not sold that Lightroom will actually make use of this. Photoshop will and Aperture 3 will. But Lightroom currently won’t. Perhaps in the future the program architecture will make more use of it. But I thought I would get it just in case. But by maxing the processor and the RAM I think I will see more gains from Lightroom.
So essentially that’s that. Fastest available everything and it should smoke! But the missing component is still the storage/backup solution. I have decided to once again pass on Drobo. I’m sure they make great products. But their proprietary beyond-RAID thing bothers me. If the enclosure ever dies, you have to get another to resurrect your data. That has never set well with me. So, I went with a 6TB LaCie 2Big Thunderbolt drive enclosure. I’m going to RAID 1 that puppy for redundancy. The best thing ever is that it’s super fast to copy data and, if a drive ever calves I can go get another from a local store and rebuild the RAID. Or, take the remaining drive and copy the data from it to some other drive in the interim. Not so with Drobo. So the LaCie seems to be a good solution for my needs. I’m going to store all my photos on it and maybe even edit from it as the connection bandwidth should be more than capable.
So that’s that. I’ll post an update on this article in the future to let you know how it all performs. Sometime next week I should be receiving the goods. More to come. 😎
Lately in computing there have been a couple pretty major technology jumps. By that I mean, we’ve got USB 3.0, Thunderbolt, and SSD technology all becoming more and more available. The speed upgrades are a big improvement over USB 2.0, FireWire and normal hard drives. I remember when Mac first brought out USB in their blueberry iMacs. Nobody used USB! And then, it became standard for like 10+ years. hehheeheh… 😉 And now, we’ve had another big tech jump offering never before seen speeds which really help the overall computing experience, especially when it comes to editing photos. I was blown away by the performance of my i5 MacBook Air with 128GB SSD, especially in comparison to my aging Core Duo iMac. So before going to sleep last night I started wondering about the ultimate photo editing computer. Could it be done on the cheap?
Ideally, when you say “ultimate” everyone thinks MacPro tower. But they are 1) expensive, 2) seldom updated, 3) physically huge. So what other options exist in the Mac realm for maximum grunt computers? The new iMacs are nice but a 27″ i5 1TB old school HD with 8GB of RAM is 2 grand. You could always nab a MacBook Pro too. But you’ll be spending the mad scratch getting a pimped out model with all the bells and whistles too. What’s left? MacBook Air. Yep, doable. But if you want a desktop option, all that’s left is the Mac Mini. Is it a contender?
Check it out. You can buy the best Mac Mini with 2.6 GHz quad core i7 processor with 4GB RAM and 1TB of old school HD for $899. Canadian. Not too overwhelming. BUT, the ability to kick the mini up a notch is pure awesome. RAM is cheap. You can get 16GB of RAM for the 2012 MacMini from CanadaRAM for $137 bones. But what about the old slow HD? You can pull it out of there and replace it with an 256GB SSD for $219.99. It will require a bit of hacking on your part, but there’s tonnes of good tutorials on YouTube about how to make the switch. So, you get a smoking fast chip, blistering SSD hard drive and a fat 16GB of RAM for a grand total of: $1255.99 before tax and monitor. Not too shabby!
You can buy Apple’s Premium $999.99 monitor or, wait until an updated Retina versions come out. In the mean time, you can nab a sufficient 24″ ASUS HDMI connection monitor for $199.99! 😎 So, for the complete cost of $1455.98 before tax, you are well ahead of the top iMac for $600 less, minus 3 inches of screen real estate. Not bad!
Maybe in retrospect, this little Mac Mini build isn’t the “ultimate” setup. But it’s pretty darn close for a whole pile less money! Who doesn’t like that?! 😀 I think the performance of this little suped-up setup would sizzle for photo editing. The integrated intel 4000 graphics will be fine for Photoshop/Lightroom/Aperture apps. Plus, you get scads of ports for external storage solutions from promise pegasus to drobo to g-technology in one tiny little footprint. I think it’s a killer setup!