PDA

View Full Version : 2012 mac mini - a capable 3D machine?


Saladbowl
11-11-2012, 06:32 PM
Hi guys,

first off - I am a Mac user, I have been for several years, I have nothing against windows, I use it for work every day and it does the job. Privately I prefer Mac OS, more importantly, over the last years I have spent money on Mac Software like Photoshop, Final Cut and lastly Maya & Mudbox which I have been learning to use during the last months. Therefore, my barrier for switching OS is rather high.

Working and rendering with Maya/Mudbox on my mid-2009 MacBook Pro (2.53 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4 Gigs of Ram, NVIDIA GeForce 9400M 256MB) is pretty much maxed out making it a real pain to work with. Almost unusable. For a quick visual break, here's an image of my first ever Maya result (WIP)

http://imageshack.us/a/img13/8832/render2copy.png

not too bad for a first?

Now I want to get more into it and I can no longer stand the poor old MBP about to burst into flames. I was waiting for the new iMac, but I am turned off by the focus on form factor, higher pricing and the way it can be configured. To get a 2GB dedicated GPU one needs the biggest 27" model which will set you back some 3000 bucks. Not sure that is what I want to do...

But along comes the new 2012 mac mini.
1500 bucks gives you:

2.6 Ghz Intel Quad Core i7
16GB 1600Mhz DDR3 SDRAM
1TB Fusion Drive
Intel HD Graphics 4000

To me that machine is a real beast with very good benchmark scores.
However, I am concerned about the graphics which are not dedicated, but share memory with the CPU.

You pros in here - I ask you - for a beginner who is looking for a reasonable priced solution (yeah, I know.., good look looking at Apple...) and is not earning his living with 3D modeling - do you believe the mac mini is a suitable solution or is the rather weak GPU going to be a huge bottleneck?

Thanks a lot for your help!
Cheers
Chris

dan1el
11-15-2012, 11:45 AM
I have the 2011 Mac Mini and it's performance is quiet good, considering the Intel GFX.

The new version with 4000HD should be much better, but there are reports of bad drivers or sth, sth that Apple and Intel can't fix, so I would wait until this is solved.

In the old days you had to stay away from the Intel chips, but these new 3000HD and 4000HD seems to offer quiet good performance, though I think my next mac will have a more powerful graphics
(At the time of purchase I just wanted something that didnt use as much electricity as my old mac pro, and a small increase in performance, a huge drop in electricity costs drove me to the Mac Mini, and with a SSD as main storage it's hard to beat this machine on overall performance)

cgbeige
11-15-2012, 01:46 PM
I'm a Mac guy and I would never recommend a Mac mini for 3D. It's fine for DTP and Photoshop but it's just not a good machine for 3D. You'll get a lot more issues without a discrete GPU. At the very least, you should get an iMac if you want a cheaper 3D-capable Mac, but the new one only has 512MB of RAM on the video card unless you get the top option.

ThE_JacO
11-16-2012, 03:57 AM
Using mudbox on anything that isn't nVIDIA with at least a GB or two of ram is like taking a shovel to your own testicles; Repeatedly, and enthusiastically.
Maybe AMD cards work too these days (I honestly wouldn't know, haven't had one at home in a couple years), but definitely not the onboard intel non-dedicated units.

Maya you could get away with some things, while others will be glitchy, and others again downright painful, but mudbox is a strongly GPU centric application.

dan1el
11-16-2012, 07:50 AM
Well considering you are moving from a 9400m and considering you wanted to get a better spec at a low price.
I just wanted to confirm you can easily run Maya on the Mac mini with 3000 HD, esp. if you use high speed RAM (1866) an SSD etc.

You'll get around 9-10.000 points on Geekbench the iMac would be around 12-15.000 but costs so much more and now reports of delays.

The integrated graphics have gotten a lot of attention from Apples side lately, I would say since ATI and nVidia GPU hasn't...

Of course a dedicated GPU with dedicated RAM is to be prefered, but the price jump is a tad too high IMHO.

as I mentioned earlier I am on the previous Mac Mini, and I'm very satisfied.
But I am considering my next system, which will probably be a MacBook Pro, because of the graphics.
But the biggest game changer these days for me (What I can't give up on) would be SSD (Samsung 830) and 16 GB RAM (couldn't go back to 8 GB anymore :-O )

penboack
11-16-2012, 09:03 AM
The Mac mini is great as a Render node for running render clients, but it is not suitable for interactive 3D work, because it does not have a discrete GPU.

A BTO iMac with NVidia 650M or higher and Intel QuadCore i7 (NOT i5) would be a better choice.

You may want to consider this taken from Apple's iMac marketing:

"Individually calibrated for true-to-life color.
None of these innovations would matter much if the iMac display didnít deliver vivid, true-to-life color. Which is why we put every single display through an exacting color-calibration process using three state-of-the-art spectroradiometers: one to measure gamma, one to measure white point, and one to check the work of the other two. This equipment is tuned to meet color standards recognized around the world for precision and accuracy."

All the software with the exception of Final Cut will run on either Windows or OS X, so there would be no barrier to switching.

But why switch? it is quite possible to use both OS X and Windows 7 computers together and have the flexibility that having both systems offers.

vlad
11-16-2012, 02:23 PM
...
You may want to consider this taken from Apple's iMac marketing:

"Individually calibrated for true-to-life color.
None of these innovations would matter much if the iMac display didnít deliver vivid, true-to-life color. Which is why we put every single display through an exacting color-calibration process using three state-of-the-art spectroradiometers: one to measure gamma, one to measure white point, and one to check the work of the other two. This equipment is tuned to meet color standards recognized around the world for precision and accuracy."
...

One could respond :
None of that highly touted and thorough color calibration process matters much if it's not repeated on a regular basis, ie every 3-4 months... ;)

olson
11-16-2012, 04:18 PM
The Mac Mini would make a terrible 3D workstation (and an equally terrible render node). The lack of dedicated graphics is a biggie but it has other issues as a workstation like only two memory slots. If you're after more performance and that's the budget you'd be much better of with something not made by Apple. Most software vendors will transfer licenses to another platform free of charge (even Adobe will). If you want to stick with Apple get at least an iMac, preferably the 27" model which has four memory slots. Good luck with whatever you end up getting.

penboack
11-16-2012, 08:53 PM
For a render node a CINEBENCH CPU score of 6.8 for the BTO QuadCore 2.6GHz i7 is pretty good for the money compared to comparable vendors (Dell / HP / Lenovo) and with very low power consumption when idling thanks to the use of mobile parts.

ThE_JacO
11-17-2012, 07:01 AM
All the software with the exception of Final Cut will run on either Windows or OS X, so there would be no barrier to switching.

Not quite.
Unless on a current version, some Adobe products can't be platform swapped, and some (such as elements) often can't be swapped at all.
http://helpx.adobe.com/x-productkb/policy-pricing/order-product-platform-language-swap.html

Autodesk products, as of 2010, unless you bought the network license (which an individual is unlikely to have done) require LTU between boxes, and unless you're under maintenance that can some times be annoying or leave you out of a license for a while. That said, the stand-alone is meant to allow for two (non concurrent) boxes, and I don't think it's platform tied, so it shouldn't be an issue.

Some other softwares he might have might very well be platform locked, it's not uncommon at all.

If you have non maintained, non networked suites, you can actually have to fork out a fair chunk of change to change platform.

penboack
11-17-2012, 10:24 AM
Adobe Creative Cloud licensing:

"On how many computers can I install the software I download from Creative Cloud?

You can install the desktop applications available in Creative Cloud on your primary computer and one backup computer, as long as they are not running at the same time. You will have access to both the Mac OS and Windows versions, so if you have a Mac at home and a PC at work, for instance, you can install your applications on both. See the product license agreements page for more information."

Autodesk's license agreement for Maya is 90 pages long!

ThE_JacO
11-18-2012, 10:22 PM
Again, that's only true for the latest version.
Some people stick to the older one if they have it because it costs a fair chunk of change less per month, but you won't be able to install on a new mac address (you will have to upgrade and pay full price every month) once a new version comes out (I literally just went through this as we had to do a full re-install on a box at home where ram and a drive died disastrously).

Anyway, in general it's not a huge deal, but it is annoying, more so than it should be.

If you make decent enough money not to worry about a few bucks here and there you can take it just fine, but if you're on a budget it can add up to more than the difference than the OP seems concerned about quickly, so it's a valid enough concern.

CGTalk Moderation
11-18-2012, 10:22 PM
This thread has been automatically closed as it remained inactive for 12 months. If you wish to continue the discussion, please create a new thread in the appropriate forum.