I’m finally replacing my 13 year old computer. It’s a Mac Tower that I bought back in 2008. It was their bottom of the line back then and cost me $3000. I’d like to buy a new Mac Tower but the bottom of the line for those is now over $5500. There is no way I can afford that. So I’ve been scoping out what to buy for months now and finally ordered a Mac Mini.

I’m an artist and a graphic designer. A Photoshop guy. It used to be that the Mac Towers were built for guys like me but not anymore. Now they’re built for people who process video. They’re built and priced for Hollywood studios. That’s not me for sure.

Most of my artist/graphic designer friends use laptops these days. They all seem to prefer the convenience of them but I don’t. I have a laptop (it’s from 2012) and am using it to write this piece but it’s not my main computer. I have so many peripherals hooked up to my desktop that I prefer everything to be stationary. Besides to replace this laptop is going to cost me about $3000. I don’t have that money to spend right now.

The Mac Mini starts out at around $850 but I knew that the bottom of the line one wouldn’t bee good enough for me. So I added more RAM (16 gigs total) and a bigger hard drive (1 TB total) and the price went up to $1200. That was my bottom line number but I knew it was going to cost me even more than that.

My old Mac Tower is great because it has four hard drive bays. I have four hard drives in these bays: an 8 TB hard drive, a four TB HD and two 2 TB HDs. I have to hook those up to my new computer or it would be useless to me. So I had to order USB hard drive docks to hook them all up. I found some docks that would hold two hard drives each for $40. That’s $80 more on my total.

The next thing I’d need would be USB hubs to hook up all of my peripherals. I have a printer, three scanners, speakers, two external hard drives, and probably a few other things I’m forgetting. I found a ten port USB3 hub for $40. I figured I’d also use the old USB2 hub that I have hooked up right now too but then I thought better of it. USB can be twitchy and cause weird problems so after a few days of thinking on it I ordered a seven port USB3 hub with a built in SD and Mini SD card reader. Another $40.

For another $200 I added on the “Pro Apps Bundle for Education.” That’s Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro. Apple’s professional video and music editing programs. I really waffled back and forth on this one because that’s a lot of money for programs I don’t immediately need. But I want to learn them ( I already know iMovie and Garage Band their consumer versions) and this was the only chance I will have to buy them for half their normal price. So I bit the bullet and added them on.

The next thing I decided to buy was an external hard drive for backing up the new machine. I use a backup service called BackBlaze to back up all my hard drives off site but I really could use one here. I used to always have an external hard drive that used Apple’s backup software “Time Machine” but I haven’t used that in years. My main hard drive in my Mac Tower is 8 TBs. That was an expensive hard drive (over $200) and the only thing that could back it up was another 8 TB hard drive. I never quite has the discretionary cash to get a second one.

With the new Mac Mini the built in hard drive is only a 1 TB SSD so I found a 2 TB external drive for about $50. I still can’t back up my big 8 TB drive (except off-site) but at least I’d have my new system all safely backed up. I’ve had to use Time Machine before to restore stuff so I’ll be happy to have it going again.

One more thing that I got was the Mac Mini Total Pro Mounting System. Right behind my monitor I have a bookshelf and on the underside of that shelf I wanted to mount the Mac Mini to keep it out of the way and in a safe spot. The shelf is just two brackets and a piece of pine board 8 inches wide and so it had a slight bow in it. I didn’t want to attach the Mac Mini to a bowed shelf so I ordered another bracket to put in the middle of the shelf. Mounting System $40 and bracket $6.

Then there is my Wacom tablet. It’s a 12 inch by 12 inch tablet that I got back around the year 2002. It barely works with my 13 year old computer. I had to do some workarounds to get it to function and some of its functions don’t work at all. So there is no way that tablet is going to work with my new Mac Mini. I didn’t have $500 to drop on a new Wacom so I got another brand. A Huion. It’s much smaller at about 11×6 inches but I got a refurbished one for only about $75. If I have to buy a better one eventually then I will but for now I wanted something.

I also bough some cables. I have one Firewire device I still want to use. So I bought a Firewire 400 to Apple Thunderbolt adaptor and a Firewire 800 to Firewire 400 Adaptor. $25 total for those two.

All told the $850 Mac Mini more than doubled in price to around $1756. That’s a big chunk of change but still a lot less than the $3000 it would cost me to get a new laptop. I’m a little bit sad that I will be retiring my old tower because it has served me well. Thirteen years is a long time to get out of a computer but its upgradeability served ne well. The Mac Mini isn’t upgradeable at all so I don’t expect it to last nearly as long. But long enough will be fine with me.