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The new Mac Mini as a Komplete 8 playback unit?

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  • The new Mac Mini as a Komplete 8 playback unit?

    The new Mac minis seem to be amazing little computers. It's possible to get a unit with a 2.7 GHz dual core Intel i-7, 8 GB of RAM and 7200RPM 750GB hard drive for under $1,500. Thunderbolt interface and Lion included.

    http://www.apple.com/macmini/

    This strikes me as a great solution for hosting the massive amount of samples and apps in "Komplete 8 Ultimate". At this price it also seems like a true Receptor-killer, although I'm still not certain what the best audio interface would be for this little guy. I would only want two sets of stereo outs, and wouldn't even care about audio ins.

    I'm thinking I would have the Mac-Mini just serve as a sample/synth player, perhaps hosting everything in "Mainstage" while running Logic from a MacBook Pro.

    Has anyone here picked up one of these? Are there disadvantages in this approach I'm not seeing?

  • #2
    I bought the first generation Intel MacMini back in late 2006 (or early 2007).

    It started out as a 1.5 GHz Core Solo processor with a 5400 RPM hard drive. Then I maxed out the memory to 2 GB. I got decent performance with Ableton Live but couldn't run more than a handful of synth plug-ins simultaneously (Reaktor, Absynth etc.).

    Then I read that it was possible to upgrade the processor so I bought a 2.33 GHz Core 2 Duo and while I was installing that I slapped a 7200 RPM Hitachi drive in there and I'm still using that machine today. Never really felt the need to upgrade as I can easily run several instances of Reaktor without it choking.

    The new ones look pretty slick and I'd love to buy one with 8 GB of RAM and a solid state drive. I bet those bitches fly! Seeing how I owe the Illegal Rapist Syndicate several grand in back taxes I'll have to see how long this one holds out.

    I use a little 7" LCD touchscreen for taking it out of the house. It's been a great system and I hope they never discontinue the Mini. It's an ingenious design and one helluva bargain.

    Comment


    • #3
      Actually with the quad core i7, 8 GB RAM, a 750 GB 7200 RPM drive, an external optical "super drive" for $79 (versus $19 to $21 for an internal OEM ESATA - mean easy as heck to install - DVD/CD burner from Newegg), and the $19 remote it is showing as $1847. The main deal is the size really - so very small.

      Let us check out deals at Newegg. How about this deal for $679.99? Add Windows 7 Home premium (which is all you need) for $99.99 and you have a system that is less than half the price with a faster processor, larger hard drive, and a DVD burner. If you must have HDMI out then you can add your choice from a large number of passively-cooled 1GB graphics cards for under $100 and still have a system that beats the Mini hands down in terms of performance. It can also makes a perfectly fine gaming system. The case here is a good case and not insanely huge (18.30" x 8.10" x 18.00"). You have plenty of room for expansion so you can add more features as needed. In face I daresay this is a very nice option... and I am starting to think about it as a way to replace our icky old family room Dell computer (bleah).

      I am assuming of course that you are OS-neutral. Also you have to put the system together yourself. For me this is a plus because I am one of those insane people who actually enjoy doing that for fun. Also you could probably upgrade any one of the components in that system outside the Newegg deal and still keep yourself under 1/2 the price of the Mini. Maybe one thing you could add to boost your boot time would be a 128 GB internal solid state drive ($200 to $250 depending on the brand) for your OS and programs.

      Edit - yeah the size is the main thing. You could build a computer using a media center or rack mount case and take it in a standard 19" rack case though. You won't be able to pull it out of your briefcase or backpack though.
      <div class="signaturecontainer">Gribs<br />
      <font size="3"><br />
      <font size="1"><i>...Music can be used to stimulate mass emotion, while mathematics cannot; and musical incapacity is recognized (no doubt rightly) as mildly discreditable, whereas most people are so frightened of the name of mathematics that they are ready, quite unaffectedly, to exaggerate their own mathematical stupidity.<br />
      </i><br />
      G.H. Hardy in A Mathematician's Apology (London 1941).</font></font></div>

      Comment


      • #4
        Since Komplete 8 is OS neutral I am too in this case. I do like Mainstage for hosting VSTs, but there's alway Brainspawn Forte in Windows.

        Your $1,847 package is based on the quad-core "server" model. Starting with the dual-core I can get a 2.7 GHz processor, 8GB of memory, 750 GB 7200RPM hard drive, a VGA adaptor cable and an Applecare plan (I wouldn't buy anything from Apple without that) for $1,427 directly from Apple. Probably some money could be saved by not getting gouged for Apple RAM.

        The package you linked to on New Egg is compelling, but in my case size is a factor, I'd like to be able to use this unit live. It would be worth looking into rack mountable versions of the sort of Windows super computer you suggested.

        One thing that is puzzling me is that the minis only have Fire Wire 800 ports, but all the Fire Wire audio interfaces I'm aware of only support Fire Wire 400. At some point I'm sure there will be Thunderbolt audio interfaces.

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        • #5
          You have to pick the server Mini to get a quad core i7 in the Mac Mini. Otherwise you get a dual core i7. Up until now I didn't even realize there are dual core i7's (I checked Intel's web site here to make sure). The dual core, besides having only 2 processors has a smaller cache (but cache/processor is the same which may or may not matter depending on the code). In addition, the quad core provided with the new Mac Mini is a lower end quad core. It clocks at 2 GHz and has only a 6 MB cache instead of 8 MB found on the higher end processors. Either the Xeon E3-1235 or the slightly more expensive i7-2600K are far superior processors. It is probable that the Mini is limited by cooling restrictions in such a small case. However I just need to point out that you *do* need to pick the server Mini to get something that starts to approach the system I linked, and even if you do choose it the processor is still inferior in clock speed and cache size (and on board graphics too if you care). The processor is not bad and is in fact great when compared with previous generation dual cores, but the specs for the Mac Mini server system are clearly inferior for the price. You are paying for the size, design, and choice of OS. If I were in need of something *really* small, didn't care about OS and lack of internal optical drive I would be interested, but for a home computer there are, at least for me and my corner of the universe, far superior options.

          What I have not checked is whether larger Mac computers have a better price/performance point in a reasonably-sized case. For my wife and younger kids an Apple would be a very good thing actually. Wife is computer-illiterate, refuses to invest any time learning anything, and is always doing something bad to our family computer.

          Edit - Okay I just checked the other Mac desktops. The closest thing in performance to the <$1000 Newegg system with the same amount of RAM is a quad core Mac Pro that comes in at $3724 with a processor that is still inferior. So even if I go with an insane tower case and serious upgrades to the processor, MoBo, PSU, and graphics card I will still be less than half price. The iMac might be a viable option, but I already have a decent monitor, KB, mouse, etc for the family room computer (and nice speakers too), and the iMacs are available only with Core i5's. I know other people have probably been yacking about this stuff for centuries, but I honestly had no idea the price/performance curve was this far off between what I can build vs an Apple desktop. I thought it would be maybe $500 at most.
          <div class="signaturecontainer">Gribs<br />
          <font size="3"><br />
          <font size="1"><i>...Music can be used to stimulate mass emotion, while mathematics cannot; and musical incapacity is recognized (no doubt rightly) as mildly discreditable, whereas most people are so frightened of the name of mathematics that they are ready, quite unaffectedly, to exaggerate their own mathematical stupidity.<br />
          </i><br />
          G.H. Hardy in A Mathematician's Apology (London 1941).</font></font></div>

          Comment


          • #6
            Of course the application is critical whenever choosing a computer. What I'm looking for is a separate machine just for hosting softsynths and sample libraries that will save me from having to constantly freeze tracks in Logic. There also is so much stuff in Komplete 8 that I would like to have it all in one place. I would also like to be able to easily take the unit to gigs.

            The minis have a 1/8" audio output that doubles as an S/PDIF optical out. Since I'm only going to need stereo outs would I be able to get some sort of outboard DAC with audio jacks, connect my keyboard controller via USB and just not bother with an audio/MIDI interface?

            I took another look at the "Server" mini. New Egg sells an 8 GB upgrade kit for $75 (as opposed to Apple's $200). The quad-core server comes with two 500GB 7200 RPM drives standard, so I wouldn't need to upgrade to a faster hard drive and could have separate sample/OS drives. If I upgrade to 8 GB elsewhere the computer + AppleCare will cost $1,223.00!

            Comment


            • #7
              I was thinking of doing just this - just for Komplete and iOS dev - not sure about the CPU (Xcode doesnt require ****************) Cost and size are the main concerns - no windows machines, don't care about the graphics card as I have a PC for games. I know I'd want the biggest hard drive I could. Would Komplete run OK off an external 1 or 2TB drive?

              Also I thought its be kinda funny to mount it into a Komplete box with a knobby controller and an audio interface.
              http://soundcloud.com/liliththekitten

              Comment


              • #8
                Your $1,847 package is based on the quad-core "server" model. Starting with the dual-core I can get a 2.7 GHz processor, 8GB of memory, 750 GB 7200RPM hard drive, a VGA adaptor cable and an Applecare plan (I wouldn't buy anything from Apple without that) for $1,427 directly from Apple. Probably some money could be saved by not getting gouged for Apple RAM.


                One thing that is puzzling me is that the minis only have Fire Wire 800 ports, but all the Fire Wire audio interfaces I'm aware of only support Fire Wire 400. At some point I'm sure there will be Thunderbolt audio interfaces.


                I'd go with the smallest harddrive and RAM and do my own upgrades. Cheaper, easier and it will not void your Apple Care plan.

                Firewire 800 will support Firewire 400 devices. It's just a matter of buying the right cable. Thunderbolt is intriguing since Apple claims that it will support USB and Firewire devices. We'll just have to wait and see.
                <div class="signaturecontainer">What I lack in quality I make up for in volume...<br />
                <br />
                ...When I became bankrupt, a guitar was something that you patched into an Evolver so it would go mmmrrreeeeeeploploplop....</div>

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