5 Replies Latest reply on Mar 23, 2016 5:01 AM by CarlSchwarz

    Mac Mini beefy enough?


      Good morning all and I am hoping you could give your opinion advice on the following.


      We currently run FMS12 on a HP Server which is getting long in the tooth and we are currently looking to update and at the same time move over to FileMaker Server 14 and FileMaker Pro 14 for the users.


      Our current databases are accessed purely on the internal network (ie no instant web and no plans for webdirect going forward.


      We have a max of 30 users connecting at any one time, and the databases are on teh data seperation model with a 6gb data file and a much smaller front-end file. There are also a couple of other stand alone database files.  All containers for stored pdf's are references only with the actualy pdf's stored on a network drive.  We have 4 daily backups that run whilst users are connected and then a further overnight backup which is then pulled accross onto a Drobo drive at night.


      We have looked at a new Windows server system and are now looking at the possibility of a (much cheaper) mac mini.


      Given the above, would a mac mini (maxed out) be beefy enough to run our FileMaker solution - bear in mind this is business critical and is a CRM system with notes being added constantly (currently 1.6 million notes records and growing by around 1200 records per day) as well as new clients records, stock(inventory) deals etc.


      I fully appreciate that different solutions will give different results on the same hardware given the vast variations in databse designs and optimisations, but would really apprecaite the groups thoughts, opinions and suggetions.


      Many thanks

        • 1. Re: Mac Mini beefy enough?

          I would not use the Mac Mini here, not enough processing horsepower.  The top-end model only has dual-core which with HyperThreading gives you 4 virtual cores.  I would not go below 8 for your numbers and possibly 12 to leave some room for growth (and the use of things like PSoS and server-side schedules).

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          • 2. Re: Mac Mini beefy enough?

            +1 Wim.  I tried replacing a 4 year old HP database server which was very high specced with a mac mini and it underperformed too much (this was 3 years ago but the difference in hardware is still similar).

            The performance of the server is possibly the least of your worries with 30 users if this is server has anything to do with staff productivity. The Mac Mini isn't going to have the same sort of warrantee support and repair times as the HP server has and it doesn't have the same level of reliability as a machine with proper server parts and redundant hardware so the chance of failure and down time is higher.  If you opt for a standard hard drive in the Mac Mini and don't swap it for an SSD then failure within 3 years is inevitable because the consumer hard drives can't handle that load (depending on the solution).  So you would want 2 Mac Mini's anyway so that when one fails you can put your databases onto the backup Mac Mini and continue running.


            If you are arguing cost to management then you could say that one high specced server costs a fraction of the price of the hardware that the 30 users costs yet serves all of them (a tad more than the cost of one users set-up per year).  It is worth getting something reliable and well performing since just one single event of lost productivity over three years over 30 staff is going to cost much more than the extra price of a decent server.

            • 3. Re: Mac Mini beefy enough?

              Not by any definition of "beefy" that I know. I also have been researching Minis for smaller clients. I had been haunting eBay for 2012 i7s and am shocked at how expensive they are. I finally just picked up a 2009 Xserve with twice the [hyperthreaded, turbo-boosted] cores, twice the power supplies, and twice the raw Geekbench score. I can put more drives in it (including a wicked-fast PCI SSD), more ethernet ports, and waaaaaay more RAM in it. And after a couple drives, SSD, 32 GB of RAM and a 6 port ethernet card, I am still way cheaper than a 2012 Mini with 16 GB of RAM and an SSD goes for on eBay. Ask again how "beefy" a Mini is? And don't get me started on the underpowered, expensive and non-upgradable jokes they released in 2014. I'm with Wim: you need more. I'm also with John May: Xserves still rock.

              • 4. Re: Mac Mini beefy enough?

                Thanks for your replies so far.  I think we are going to go down either the Windows server route, or maybe even Mac Pro (which certanly could be configured to be more than beefy enough )

                • 5. Re: Mac Mini beefy enough?

                  If you do go the Mac Pro route then it's not a choice based pricing because you will be paying $1k+ for the inbuilt Mac Pro video cards which will do nothing for FMServer since FMServer doesn't use the GPU's for processing.

                  For the same price as a Mac Pro you can server that is better specced for running databases by using that money on other server upgrades.  Also there is the redundancy and service times to consider.  The Mac Pro has server grade hardware which is great but it doesn't have inbuilt hardware redundancy (the xServe was the last Mac to have this) and it will be hard to find same day repair times, let alone the phone support + 4 hour onsite response you may already have been getting from HP.