I apologize in advance if this is a dumb question. I've been a post production recording engineer and sound editor for 20 years, but for the last 4 I've been on disability because of arthritis and Crohn's Disease and so I haven't been keeping up on the technology. I'd like to start trying to at least do a bit of freelance work but my MacBook Pro 2.2GHz Core 2 Duo just doesn't have the muscle any more.
Keeping in mind that cost is absolutely a consideration, I'm looking at a Mac Mini 2.3GHz i7 Quad Core 4GB RAM (or 2.5GHz i5 Dual Core 8GB RAM) and a 24" Dell IPS HD monitor or an iMac 2.7GHz i5 Quad Core 8GB RAM 21.5". I know both monitors would be the same resolution and the iMac monitor would probably look better, but I don't know which computer is better suited to my current needs. At least for now I'd be running Pro Tools 8 and FCP Studio. I know I'll have to learn FCPX at some point...but one thing at a time. I don't need to have both programs open at the same time, so multi-tasking isn't a big consideration. For the most part, data would be on external USB 3 drives. But a couple of other questions. Would I need to add RAM to the Mini? Will the Mini support an IPS monitor and ALSO an HDMI monitor as a preview screen? How much difference is Dual Core vs. Quad Core? I could get the 2.5GHz Dual Core Mini for only $600, and then add the extra RAM.
I'm one of those rabid Apple lovers so I'd obviously prefer the iMac, but I can't spend an extra couple of hundred dollars just because it'll look better on my desk. However LONGEVITY is as big a concern as cost. I'm likely going to need this computer to do the job for quite a while! So I know that for now the software I'm using doesn't really make use of multiple cores, but newer software will right? Other than security, is there a big difference between the i5 and i7? Also, I don't need to start tomorrow, so what is the rumour mill saying about new release dates? Will new iMacs have Retina displays? I've checked a bunch of rumour sites but nobody has any RELIABLE information.
I'm sorry, I know it's a very loooong question and it seems like I've done no research on my own. I have done some, but the answers vary greatly. So any advice would be GREATLY appreciated. If I can spend $900 dollars instead of $1300 I can eat next month (that's a joke - it's not THAT bad). But I don't want to regret the purchase a year from now!