Mac Mini Render Node

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Old 10 October 2012   #1
Mac Mini Render Node

To my surprise Apple have pulled out the stops with the Mac Mini.
You can now get the Intel Quad Core i7 Ivy Bridge 2.3 GHz without having to specify the server model, and you can upgrade it to 2.6 GHz BTO, throw in 16 GB RAM and you've a pretty good little render node that takes up very little space

Mac Mini US
Mac Mini UK
 
Old 10 October 2012   #2
Huge waste of money for a render node. With a 2.6 GHz quad core and 16 GB of memory it'll run $1,200 before tax and shipping. That's a fair deal... five years ago.
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Old 10 October 2012   #3
The Mac Mini probably has the following CPU:
Intel® Core™ i7-3720QM Processor
(6M Cache, up to 3.60 GHz)

Max Turbo Frequency is 3.6 GHz.
Estimated CINEBENCH Score of 6.4.

If you price up a Dell T1650 workstation to a similar specification (with Intel® Core™ i7-3770 (8M, 3.4GHz, w/HD4000 Graphics) the price is around USD 1199.

The Mac Mini is $899.

Yes the Dell has a faster CPU, but its unlikely to be more than 10% faster and it costs 1/3 more. You could fit a few Mac Minis into the same space .
 
Old 10 October 2012   #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by penboack
If you price up a Dell T1650 workstation to a similar specification (with Intel® Core™ i7-3770 (8M, 3.4GHz, w/HD4000 Graphics) the price is around USD 1199.


Also a terrible choice for a render node but at least it has four memory slots and can accept a discreet graphics card for tasks that can utilize OpenCL.
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Old 10 October 2012   #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by olson
Huge waste of money for a render node. With a 2.6 GHz quad core and 16 GB of memory it'll run $1,200 before tax and shipping. That's a fair deal... five years ago.


You can save about $200 by buying the RAM aftermarket and dropping it in yourself.
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Old 10 October 2012   #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by fig
You can save about $200 by buying the RAM aftermarket and dropping it in yourself.


I see your point and I do that with laptops (because there's no alternative) but if I was going to disassemble a render node right off the bat and change the hardware I would just go with a barebone system and get to pick the hardware I want without having to pay a big premium for it.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...N82E16816101378
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...N82E16819117285
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...N82E16820233269
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...N82E16822145304

Throw in a copy of Windows 7 or 8 Professional and the cost is still under $1,000 including shipping. Besides being a lot more powerful than a Mac Mini it is a lot more expandable (four memory slots, PCI Express x16 slot, 500 watt power supply). There are other options that are a bigger bang for the buck but Super Micro has exceptional reliability and is worth it.

The same could be said for Apple products, but I just can't see past the limitations of the Mac Mini. Even if it was cheaper than alternatives (which it isn't) it still has glaring hardware and performance limitations which make it a poor choice for a render node no matter how you spin it. It would be nice if they made a Mac Medium that used desktop components instead of mobile components to fit somewhere between a Mac Pro and a Mac Mini. That might make a decent render node for Mac users but too bad it doesn't exist.
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Last edited by olson : 10 October 2012 at 10:55 PM.
 
Old 10 October 2012   #7
I am a Mac guy but I wouldn't buy a mini as a render node. It's a nice low-power server (11Watts idling) but I would just build another cheap i7 3770k and overclock it.

That said, Apple needs to hurry up and take my money with the next-gen Mac Pro.
 
Old 10 October 2012   #8
yeah those new 12-core mac pros look pretty sweet
 
Old 10 October 2012   #9
heh. no, I'm talking about the Ivy Bridge Xeon revisions coming around January.
 
Old 10 October 2012   #10
yeah, I'm already in line for them. Rumor has it they're magical and insanely great -just kidding


intel sure is slow at releasing chips these days
 
Old 10 October 2012   #11
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