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Old Dec 26, 2012, 08:46 PM   #1
visim91
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Post Late 2012 Mac Mini Prosumer Review

I bought a:
  • Late 2012 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 Mac Mini w/
  • 16 GB Crucial RAM
  • 1 TB (5400-rpm) hard drive
  • Intel HD 4000 w/ 768 MB VRAM

+
  • Mediasonic Probox 4-Bay USB 3.0 HDD enclosure w/
  • (2) 3 TB (7200-rpm) hard drives

Coming from a:
  • Late 2008 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Unibody MacBook
  • 8 GB OWC RAM
  • 160 GB (5400-rpm) hard drive
  • NVIDIA 9400M w/ 256 MB VRAM

I use it for:
  • Safari Surfing with dozens of tabs
  • Packing/Unpacking hundreds of archives (RARs)
  • Ripping vinyl albums to .Wav
  • Encoding those albums to ALAC through XLD
  • Ripping a DVD collection with Handbrake
  • Transferring the music and movies to the external HDD
  • Digesting all that media

Bottom Line:
0 regrets.

Maybe I'll upgrade to a DIY Fusion Drive sometime in the next year; but, ignorance is bliss and, having never played with an SSD before, the supplied HDD isn't even close to holding me back from a great experience.

This is the greatest Mac I have ever had the pleasure of using. It is amazingly fast, and burns through my encodes I'd say at about 4x-5x the speed of my previous Mac. I can encode four albums in the time it would take my old MacBook to encode just one.

I connect the Mini to my monitor with a mini-displayport to HDMI cable, which, surprisingly, also transfers audio! So for casual watching/listening I can just use the monitor's (crappy) speakers, and then switch to my Focals when I'm jonesin' for some high-fidelity.

All in all, a great buy and I believe the beginning of a smooth transition away from laptop computing, wherein my Mini serves as a base station and an iPad (potential March 2013 purchase) provides mobility. Laptops no longer have any utility to me.

The Mini ($799) + RAM Upgrade ($79) + 6 TB External HDD ($320) + base model iPad ($499) = $1697 or 1 13" MacBook Pro Retina or iMac

I've done the math and, for my usage, this package is far better than the rMBP and iMac.
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Old Dec 26, 2012, 11:03 PM   #2
randy98mtu
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To be fair, you haven't included a display in your price comparison.

How do you like the Mediasonic box? I have (3) 2TB drives in WD MyBook enclosures. I've been considering getting the Mediasonic or the Vantec 4 bay USB 3.0 box.
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Old Dec 26, 2012, 11:03 PM   #3
mfram
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I would do the SSD as soon as you can. It makes a huge difference in the performance of the machine. And now with Fusion technology built into Mac OS, it's really a no-brainer to integrate an SSD.
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Old Dec 27, 2012, 12:58 AM   #4
visim91
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Originally Posted by randy98mtu View Post
To be fair, you haven't included a display in your price comparison.

How do you like the Mediasonic box? I have (3) 2TB drives in WD MyBook enclosures. I've been considering getting the Mediasonic or the Vantec 4 bay USB 3.0 box.
Too true, didn't count the display because I had one hanging around. In fact, given people's varying tastes in displays (some use TVs, while others use Apples') I'll still elect to leave that out.

Mediasonic's Probox is great. I'm glad I waited a bit before I bought mine as I heard there were a lot of problems with USB 3 implementation. Fortunately, no problems for me:



As a point of reference, my old USB 2 external HDD:

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Old Dec 27, 2012, 12:25 PM   #5
mspringer
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Thanks for the great review. I've one question - during any of your use, especially the encoding, did fan noise ever become audible?
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Old Dec 27, 2012, 12:36 PM   #6
August West
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Originally Posted by mfram View Post
I would do the SSD as soon as you can. It makes a huge difference in the performance of the machine.
+1

If you like the mini now with the slow stock HDD you will absolutely love it with a SSD. I've swapped everything I own over to SSD and wouldn't even think about going back.
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Old Dec 27, 2012, 01:11 PM   #7
visim91
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Originally Posted by mspringer View Post
Thanks for the great review. I've one question - during any of your use, especially the encoding, did fan noise ever become audible?
the ambient noise of the world outside my window drowns out the fan of my mini and probox, and I live in a rural setting. so nope, fan noise is a non-issue.
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Old Dec 27, 2012, 01:25 PM   #8
mspringer
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Thanks! That settles my decision for choosing the i7 quad core over the base mini.
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Old Dec 27, 2012, 02:05 PM   #9
chrise2
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I have the 2.6 i7 and its super fast. I was worried about it being a laptop processor, but the thing is a champ. I couldn't believe how fast it handled processor intensive tasks compared to my older 1st gen i3 iMac.

I'm also surprised at how well it handles the 27" Thunderbolt display with the built in video. I don't play games, but I've seen choppiness in the OS (moving windows around, etc.) with my 2010 Macbook air when connected to an external display.
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Old Dec 27, 2012, 05:14 PM   #10
RG129
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Originally Posted by mspringer View Post
Thanks for the great review. I've one question - during any of your use, especially the encoding, did fan noise ever become audible?
Fan noise is definitely audible when using handbrake. I was surprised at how powerful the fan was spinning. I was a little surprised at first, since my iMac was pretty quiet, even when using handbrake.
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Old Dec 27, 2012, 05:46 PM   #11
visim91
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Originally Posted by RG129 View Post
Fan noise is definitely audible when using handbrake. I was surprised at how powerful the fan was spinning. I was a little surprised at first, since my iMac was pretty quiet, even when using handbrake.
I can't comment on handbrake encodes, but encoding music (~10 albums at a time) = no fan noise; ripping dvds with Handbrake = little fan noise that is drowned out by a madly whirring makeshift superdrive.
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Old Dec 27, 2012, 08:40 PM   #12
mspringer
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I really want a quiet machine and had some concerns from other threads where people found that i7 processors under heavy loads generated sufficient heat in a mini to increase fan speeds and noise levels to the point of it getting loud. So I was somewhat torn between choosing between the i5 and i7. My use will be entirely music, no Handbrake, and from what I read in this thread I'm unlikely to have appreciable noise issues with the i7.
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Old Dec 29, 2012, 12:16 PM   #13
Pie Chips Salad
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mspringer View Post
I really want a quiet machine and had some concerns from other threads where people found that i7 processors under heavy loads generated sufficient heat in a mini to increase fan speeds and noise levels to the point of it getting loud. So I was somewhat torn between choosing between the i5 and i7. My use will be entirely music, no Handbrake, and from what I read in this thread I'm unlikely to have appreciable noise issues with the i7.
Get the i7. If you get ssd mac will stay super cool. Ive only ever heard the fan once so super silent!! I use the 2.6 i7 for music production.
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Old Dec 29, 2012, 04:34 PM   #14
mspringer
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Ordered the 2.3 i7, should arrive on Wed. Will add memory and an SSD after making sure everything works properly. Again want to thanks folks in this thread for helping me make the decision.
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Old Dec 29, 2012, 05:28 PM   #15
AC Rempt
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Quote:
Originally Posted by visim91 View Post
Mediasonic's Probox is great. I'm glad I waited a bit before I bought mine as I heard there were a lot of problems with USB 3 implementation. Fortunately, no problems for me:
Good to hear the Probox is a solid product. I had been thinking about getting one, but the user reviews on Newegg really turned me off. Now I'll have to reconsider.

Just a couple of questions, if you don't mind:
Is the Probox loud? I know you said ambient noise drowns out most everything else, but do you hear the Probox? Does it have a noisy fan?
How close is the Probox to your Mini? Any issues with Bluetooth interference?
Thanks.
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Old Dec 29, 2012, 09:41 PM   #16
visim91
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Originally Posted by AC Rempt View Post
Just a couple of questions, if you don't mind:
Is the Probox loud? I know you said ambient noise drowns out most everything else, but do you hear the Probox? Does it have a noisy fan?
How close is the Probox to your Mini? Any issues with Bluetooth interference?
Thanks.
1) In my room, on quiet days, the Probox fan will certainly be audible, but not so much that I want to tear my hair out. It is louder than my Mini, which I have never heard, but I can't describe Probox as "noisy." It doesn't intrude on me, my music or movies. I'm never disturbed by the fan's noise.

There are three fan levels, "1" being the loudest and "3" the softest. I have the fan set on "auto," so Probox regulates temperatures on its own. While transferring 2 TB of data to one of my drives, the fan never switched away from 3; the box remained cool to touch, while the drives were properly cooled. It was great.

2) Probox is three inches to the left of my mini. I use Apple's Bluetooth keyboard & mouse... so, no.
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Old Dec 30, 2012, 12:07 AM   #17
ctyrider
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Originally Posted by visim91 View Post
I can't comment on handbrake encodes, but encoding music (~10 albums at a time) = no fan noise; ripping dvds with Handbrake = little fan noise that is drowned out by a madly whirring makeshift superdrive.
Handbrake encodes drive up the fan to ~4500 rpm, which results in unbearable (at least to me) noise on all Sandy/Ivy Bridge Minis. That's a well documented fact in many other threads on this topic.

I personally cannot stand to be in the same room as my Mini, while it's encoding. For that reason, I schedule my Handbrake encodes overnight.

Outside of the noise issue, Mac Mini is indeed a fantastic little machine. Mini + iPad is a perfect combo.
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Old Dec 30, 2012, 11:13 AM   #18
AC Rempt
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Originally Posted by visim91 View Post
1) In my room, on quiet days, the Probox fan will certainly be audible, but not so much that I want to tear my hair out. It is louder than my Mini, which I have never heard, but I can't describe Probox as "noisy." It doesn't intrude on me, my music or movies. I'm never disturbed by the fan's noise.

There are three fan levels, "1" being the loudest and "3" the softest. I have the fan set on "auto," so Probox regulates temperatures on its own. While transferring 2 TB of data to one of my drives, the fan never switched away from 3; the box remained cool to touch, while the drives were properly cooled. It was great.

2) Probox is three inches to the left of my mini. I use Apple's Bluetooth keyboard & mouse... so, no.
Thanks for the responses. I may have to give this another look.
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Old Dec 30, 2012, 11:26 AM   #19
BigMa
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Question Good for playing Blu-Ray movies?

Hello everybody!

Going to purchase

• Late 2012 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 Mac Mini w/
• 16 GB RAM
• 1 TB (5400-rpm) HDD

to play Blu-Ray movies (I have them stored as ISO files on my DASDs) using VLC media player (http://www.videolan.org/vlc/) or Mac Blu-Ray Player (http://www.macblurayplayer.com/).

Will I have a good quality (smooth in action movies or sports) picture on Panasonic TC-P65VT50 (http://shop.panasonic.com/shop/model/TC-P65VT50)?

Will the above Mac Mini run cool and quiet under such load?

Please chime in and Happy New Year!
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Old Dec 30, 2012, 11:52 AM   #20
COrocket
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Originally Posted by BigMa View Post
Hello everybody!

Going to purchase

• Late 2012 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 Mac Mini w/
• 16 GB RAM
• 1 TB (5400-rpm) HDD

to play Blu-Ray movies (I have them stored as ISO files on my DASDs) using VLC media player (http://www.videolan.org/vlc/) or Mac Blu-Ray Player (http://www.macblurayplayer.com/).

Will I have a good quality (smooth in action movies or sports) picture on Panasonic TC-P65VT50 (http://shop.panasonic.com/shop/model/TC-P65VT50)?

Will the above Mac Mini run cool and quiet under such load?

Please chime in and Happy New Year!
Yes it will do fine. If ur just watching videos then the lower end model would do fine as well because a quad core processor is overkill for a HTPC. They have the same graphics capabilities
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Old Dec 30, 2012, 12:45 PM   #21
BigMa
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Thumbs up Thank you!

Intel HD4000 iGPU must be REALLY good if it provides for high quality Blu-Ray movies experience on such big TV screens!

I assume the same goes for High-End 30” LCD Monitors like, e.g., HP ZR30w, Dell UltraSharp U3011 or NEC PA301W. Am I correct here?

How cool and quiet will Mac Mini run under such load?

Last edited by BigMa; Dec 30, 2012 at 01:00 PM.
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Old Dec 30, 2012, 01:03 PM   #22
Darby67
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Intel HD4000 iGPU must be REALLY good if it provides for high quality Blu-Ray movies experience on such big TV screens!
The HD3000 was more than adequate for BD. Really anything beyond the Intel GMA 950 was sufficient; for low bitrate or 720p HD even that could potentially suffice. So yes, the HD4000 is more than capable.
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Old Dec 30, 2012, 01:53 PM   #23
BigMa
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Cool & quiet?

Thank you very kindly Darby67!

Could you please also comment on the “How cool & quiet?” question I asked?
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 01:34 AM   #24
Darby67
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Thank you very kindly Darby67!

Could you please also comment on the “How cool & quiet?” question I asked?
Neither temperature or fan noise will be a problem for you. As long as there is nothing processor intensive, the fans won't need to work hard to keep the processor cooled.
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 04:45 AM   #25
Stitch30
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I'm receiving my mini on Jan 2nd and can't wait to play with it. I ordered an 27'' iMac i7 from a reseller but since they kept telling me that the delivery would not be before the end of January, I cancelled the order and went for the mini straight from the Apple Store. I'm in a desperate need for a desktop computer :-)

From what I'm reading here, I couldn't be happier with my choice. I will use it mainly for blu-ray ripping and Handbrake encoding.

Here's my setup :

- Mac Mini with the 2.3 ghz processor
- 16 gig ram from Crucial
- 24'' display from Samsung (might change it for a 27'' display)
- ASUS usb 3 external blu-ray burner (use it on my 2012 Macbook Air already)
- Drobo external HDD enclosure
- Logitech K750 wireless solar keyboar for Mac
- Magic track pad

One question : I've connected my Macbook Air on the Samsung display via HDMI. I cannot have the picture to fill the whole screen if I choose the 1080p setting. I always have black bars on each side of the screen. I need to choose the 720p setting to fill the entire screen but then, the image is a little bit blurry. Any suggestion on how to do it in 1080p ? Will I have the same problem with the Mini ?
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