View Full Version : Mac Mini anyone?

06-07-2010, 10:16 PM
Is anyone using a Mac Mini with lightwave?

06-08-2010, 12:37 AM
I tried to... G4 1.42.... It was really slow. My primary comp was G5 2.0, so mini was useless.

But! If you plan to get a new one it might be just fine for modeling, texturing etc, but as a render node it would still be slow. I use my macbook (which is basically identical to minis) now&then, when I have to work out of the office and I get things done. Display is painfully small, but ... :)

Personally i think that mini has a low price/performance ratio. I'm waiting for new mac pros, if that doesn't happen till september, I'm getting an i7 iMac. Seems best buy at the moment for 3D. On a limited budget I'd go for 21 inch iMac.

06-08-2010, 04:31 AM
I seem to remember the much missed Chilton (who used to be Newtek's friendly neighborhood Mac guy) said that the graphics of the more recent ones were perfectly up to the job.

So that being the case I can't see you running into any problems other than of course you'll be limited by the ram depending on what you want to do and a core 2 duo processor is only going to render so fast.

While Accom is correct that it has a low price/performance ratio it also has other benefits such as being tiny and very low power. You can even run two large displays off the current ones using optional adaptors

Recent stock shortage rumors have suggested that they may get updated in the near future so might be with waiting in case they upgrade core i3/i5 like the imacs. What I'd quite like them to do is somehow jam a quad core i7 into the server version and rather than put in the extra hard drive just leave room for extra cooling. No idea how likely that is though. Probably not very! Apple seem to like to keep the spec of the mini pretty low so as not to steal sales from their imacs or macbooks and they don't upgrade it nearly so often.

Also I've been playing the waiting game myself with the next Mac Pro for way too long so it all depends on what you need and when.

06-08-2010, 07:00 AM
i use the mini as a backup system for my desktop g5..
it is usable ,but slow in render, etc..fan goes on, on long renders.
sometimes i think it might burn up..?

06-08-2010, 01:59 PM
i use the mini as a backup system for my desktop g5..
it is usable ,but slow in render, etc..fan goes on, on long renders.
sometimes i think it might burn up..?

actually my macbook (oldish core 2 duo black plastic one) gets pretty noisy on a render too whereas my imac hardly makes any difference even when I leave it going at full throttle for hours on end. More room to breathe I guess

06-11-2010, 05:16 AM
For my deprtment, I purchased 3 Mac Minis to use to drive videos at events. They're obviously much smaller than laptops and PC towers. I develop my video content on Mac, so I don't have to worry about any Windows format issues.

As a bonus, I decided I was going to leverage these as LW render nodes when not being used at events. I haven't got there yet, but I've used them individually for Lightwave modeling and rendering.

For modeling, it's perfectly fine. Rendering is significantly slower than my 4 year old MacBook Pro. The minis are the latest model (late 2009).

How much slower? I'm not quite sure with LW. But as a reference point, I render out more After Effects vid. And I find that the mini takes twice as long to render an AE frame than my MB Pro.

I find this odd. I believe the Mac Mini has a much faster intel core duo processor, but less RAM and a slower harddrive (5400 rpm -- that shouldn't affect individual render frame rates). I suspect the RAM and L2 cache makes the difference.

06-11-2010, 01:42 PM
so what are the processors and RAM in each of your mac mini and macbook?

(click on the apple in the top left of the screen and select "about this mac")

If the scenes you are rendering are greater than the RAM on the system then they'll use hard drive space which would significantly slow down the render

06-16-2010, 02:43 AM
I can't believe they gone and upgraded the Mac mini with a new enclosure and faster graphics but STILL haven't moved on from Core 2 duo.

Price has gone up too. 649 for only 2GB ram and an elderly processor is way too much regardless of how small the case is. Disappointed. Hope the next Mac Pros and Imacs are less of a letdown.

Richard Hebert
06-26-2010, 12:36 PM
I've been using an older single core Mac Mini while learning the fundamentals of LightWave and I'm also considering using a few networked together to create a render farm. The one I'm using is only 1.5 GZ and 1GB of RAM. I've found from the start that using a faster external hard drive as the startup disk significantly improves performance over the provided internal hard drive when rendering or opening project files (at least on this machine). The latest mini's can support up to 8 GB of RAM and are much faster than what I've been using so I'll be upgrading in a couple of months. Love to have an 8 core machine but can't do it just yet.

06-27-2010, 06:21 PM
Core 2 Duo now:

06-28-2010, 01:23 AM
Core 2 Duo now:

now and since August '07. would have been nice if they'd gone with something a little more impressive in the last revision.

07-19-2010, 09:27 PM
I am also considering of getting Mac Minis as a render farm. How much do you see difference between 2.44 and 2.66 configurations what comes to it as a Lightwave Render node?

07-20-2010, 01:29 AM
i wouldn't buy a minimac for using it with LW. the newest ones are overpriced, the older ones still have a serious RAM limitation for running large projects. if you don't need a 'miniature' mac (which indeed can be handy under certain circumstances), any recent imac would be the better deal, actually. for serious work, the entry point would be a quad core imac, imo.

still, macpro's are the best option, but sure those are relatively expensive. however, their build quality is superb and the reselling value largely compensates the initial investment. there's a very good alternative to build a so called 'hackintosh': it can be a deal to buy an old 2006 2x2 core xeon macpro (you will get it for around 7-900 USD with some luck) and fit in a cheap 2x4 core xeon combo - you can get a nice 8 core machine for around 1200 USD (for example with 2x4 xeons @2.33 ghz) that way. i'm doing this in the next weeks with my oldest macpro, there are many instructions on internet about how to do it. one of the most complete sources is http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=745426. the replacement is quite easy, as those xeons are all on a socket. as for the replacement CPU's, you will have to watch out on ebay for them to get a good deal.



07-20-2010, 04:47 PM
Last year I invested into the current latest generation Quad Core Mac Pro 2.66. Other than buying more of these machines or Mac Mini, I dont see that I have so much options what comes to adding render power to the mac Screamernet.
As others pointed out in the PC thread, mixed Mac and PC Screamernet nodes can sometimes render procedurals differently. More than that, having a PC system requires some maintenance tools like Anti-Virus, etc. And here in Japan, the bundled Windows means Japanese Windows. In Windows (other than the Ultimate version) one can't change the language on fly. So I would have to buy another license of Windows 7 Home Premium. For these reasons I don't feel confident of investing into mixed Screamernet farm.

So I want more Mac nodes.

I dont need iMac because I do have a good calibrated screen and Mac Pro under my desk. Also currently, space is an issue. So, I'm tempted to buying couple of Mac Minis. Although they are expensive when looking at the clock speed, they are very energy efficient, silent and take a little space. Two of the entry level models would give me four cores.

And one of these machines could double as a media machine, connected to a flat screen TV in my "preview room".

But well.

Some mentioned in Apple Discussions and noted that Mac Mini's dual core processor can't really be compared to things like Xeons. Mac Pro's processor is a workhorse that is designed to run constantly under a heavy load.

I wonder how well Mac Mini can take the constant heavy load of rendering?
But then, there is Mac Mini Server model. Can they just break if we use them 100% all the time?

What do you guys think?

07-20-2010, 05:49 PM
I use a Mac Mini as a pseudo render farm. I send my scenes to it from my iMac and that free's up the iMac for other things wile the Mini renders on it's own.

Works great.

07-20-2010, 10:13 PM
Oh that sounds great! How is the heat or fans in Mac Mini after a render session?

07-21-2010, 01:22 AM
Well the heat is no problem, although its very hot outside at the moment. Just take care that the Mini has enough room to breathe freely.

Maybe you can get some of the "old" Minis for a lower price, here at our shops you get both, the new and the old one. But sadly they still haven't lowered the price for the old ones yet.

07-23-2010, 01:32 AM
I just got my Mac Mini (2.4 Ghz base model).
It does render a scene a bit faster than my Macbook Pro 2.4 Ghz, but not much.
The machine is indeed suitable for some lightweight render tasks, maybe to render a preview while working with another machine.
Mine also does run very cool and it's almost silent.
Excellent stuff for media center, isn't it?