Mac Mini = Old gaming PC?
May 15, 2010 3:02 PM   Subscribe

Mac Mini users, I need to know if a current-gen Mac Mini system is roughly equivalent to a 3 1/2 year old PC in regards to gaming.

I currently have a PC that's about 3 1/2 years old. It's got an AMD Athlon 64 X2 4600+ 2.40 Ghz CPU in it, with an nVidia 8800 GT video card (256 MB RAM) and 2 Gigs of 666 Mhz RAM. I'd like to know how this compares to a Mac Mini Intel Core 2 Duo, 2 Gigs RAM and the nVidia 9400M GPU.

The somewhat-long story: My wife and I used to game a lot. We each had our own systems for gaming that we bought in Dec 2006. When my wife got pregnant in early '08, she stopped gaming (she primarily plays D&D Online and Second Life). I basically stopped about a month before our child was born. A year passed, and I started doing some gaming again. Our separate systems became one as parts from each died and were replaced - the PC is her MB, CPU, and RAM, and my HD, DVD drive, and case. Now she's started gaming again and basically monopolizes the system between the time our infant goes to bed and we call it a night, about 3 hours. Not that I mind - my gaming had already tailed off considerably. I haven't played anything since January. We've talked about moving the PC to another room so she could have it to herself.

I really don't want another gaming PC and would prefer a SFF system like a Mac Mini or Dell Zino HD. I'm comfortable with both Macs and PCs but would prefer the Mini. But I'd like to do some occasional gaming on it as well. But I've been out of the loop so long that I really can't tell how the hardware in it compares to what I currently have.

Keep in mind this is a 3 1/2 year old system. I've played Oblivion, Fallout 3, and Dragon Age on it with no problems. The graphics aren't pumped to the max, but the PC has no problem handling them at medium graphics settings. How would these games look on a Mac Mini with Boot Camp + Windows 7?
posted by ChrisLSU to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you're willing to use Boot Camp, it's the same as a roughly equivalently priced PC for gaming; play any game you like. I haven't tried it with Windows 7, but with Windows XP it worked great! In fact, you can get reasonable gaming performance (equivalent to an older PC) in a VM such as Parallels or VMWare Fusion.
posted by TeatimeGrommit at 3:36 PM on May 15, 2010

I don't believe it's comparable, no. The weak point really is the videocard. I don't have benchmarks in front of me, but I would swear the 8800 beats the pants off of the 9400.

The C2D is definitely faster than that Athlon chip -in fact, quite a bit faster, I would guess... but I just don't know about that videocard.
posted by kbanas at 3:44 PM on May 15, 2010

The 8800 GT is a very good video card -- it's essentially identical to a 9800 GT, which is still selling today! The 9400 M is a much weaker card by comparison, and you can't upgrade it. On the other hand, it should play the games you mentioned just fine.
posted by miyabo at 4:01 PM on May 15, 2010

Response by poster: Small correction: the video card in the PC is actually an nVidia 8600 GT, not the 8800.

@kbanas: you hit it on the head - the biggest sticking point with me is the GPU in the Mini. I have no idea how it compares performance-wise to my current one. I also believe it shares RAM with the system instead of having it's own dedicated RAM.
posted by ChrisLSU at 5:01 PM on May 15, 2010

Best answer: Well, according to this page, the 9400M gets a rating of 138 to the 8600's 392. So that doesn't sound very good. I'm not sure what their methodology is, however.
posted by alexei at 6:03 PM on May 15, 2010

Hmmm, I guess I was wrong about the mini -- I thought it had similar graphics to the laptops. In fact, Apple is putting MUCH better GPUs in the MacBook Pros (GeForce GT 330M vs the 9400M). Most of my gaming is done on an older MacBook Pro these days. My 3 year old Macbook Pro has better graphics (Radeon X1600) than the current gen Mini. So my positive experience with gaming on a Mac probably won't translate to a new Mini. The cheapest Apple has with decent video is either the upgraded iMac 21", the 27" iMac or a 15" Macbook Pro, all hovering in the $1500 range.
posted by TeatimeGrommit at 6:33 PM on May 15, 2010

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