I haven’t had a desk since we got our previous house ready to receive our son. Instead, I tried to do work anywhere I could, which usually involved sitting on the couch in front of the television. Let’s just say that situation was not conducive to production.
With the new house came a new office with a new desk and a blank canvas for a new computer workstation. In putting together my requirements for the new system, I had a few hard requirements. First, I knew I wanted a Mac. I use both at work, and find that the Mac lends itself better for my creative workflow. I also knew that I wanted a desktop. I have an older MacBook plus my iPad for portability, and I wanted the feel of a real desktop and a place I had to go to work.
Most of the work I do on the computer involves a few different categories: general home-office activities (e-mail, document management), photo and light video editing, and some software development. The biggest use of the system resources would likely be required by the photo and video editing, and I wanted to make sure that whichever system I went with would not be an immediate bottleneck to my workflow.
I gave up building computers from scratch 10 years ago, so I was not interested in a Hackintosh or any other form of assembling a computer from components; I was looking for an off the shelf-solution. That meant the iMac, a Mac Pro, or a Mac Mini.
I ruled out the Mac Pro both because of price and because it’s too much computer for what I do. That left the iMac and the Mac Mini, an option I actually didn’t consider until a coworker brought it up. As I researched that option more, it became the preferred option. You can get practically the same machine in a Mini that you could as an iMac for much less. The configuration I looked at had an iMac priced more than $600 more than the configuration I chose, simply for the “cool” factor.
In the end, I’m a week in but very happy with my system choice. Here are the details [affiliate links]:
Mac Mini (2.6 i7, 4 GB RAM, 1TB HDD) – The fastest i7 processor available in the Mini today with a respectable 1TB of disk space. With the iMac, there isn’t a clean way to upgrade the memory. With the Mini, however, upgrading the memory couldn’t be simpler, so I ordered the bare minimum RAM and saved $200 by doing the upgrade myself.
Corsair Vengeance 16GB (2x8GB) RAM – This RAM was $99 compared to the $300 price tag of upgrading to 16GB via Apple, and it took 3 minutes to swap out.
2 x Dell S2340M LED-Lit Monitor – I was looking at both the 21″ and 27″ iMac. The 27″ was too big, but I like the real estate that 2 monitors offers. These Dell monitors were well rated and reasonably priced.
Logitech HD Webcam C310 – Relatively inexpensive, but very high quality webcam for FaceTime and some recording.
Logitech K810 Keyboard – The beauty of this keyboard is that it allows me to sync with up to 3 devices, so I can pair with my computer, iPad, or iPhone, all from one keyboard. The layout is more Windows-centric, but it is fully functional in the Mac world.
Super Drive – This would have been necessary even with the iMac. Apparently, no one uses DVD drives anymore.
Magic Mouse – A mouse! And it’s magic!
Wacom tablet – This is an old, old Wacom tablet, but I still use it occasionally for precise touch-ups.
iPad 3 – I still plan on using my iPad as a portable extension of my desktop, and I’m continuing to explore new ways to do so.
Note: Amazon affiliate links used above.