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Old Jan 24, 2013, 06:46 PM   #1
vandrv
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2011 or 2012 mini

I have been seriously thinking about getting a new Mac Mini to replace my aging IMac. I have sort of been waiting for them to show up as refurbs with the SSD drive. Anyway, I found a used 2011 i7 with SSD and a discrete graphics card that looks interesting. My main uses for this computer will be photo editing using Lightroom and photoshop. Would this computer compare favorably with the new model or might it actually be better? Thanks for any advice.
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Old Jan 24, 2013, 07:39 PM   #2
G-Mo
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No USB3. I wouldn't buy a computer today for day-to-day use that doesn't have USB3.
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Old Jan 24, 2013, 08:11 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by vandrv View Post
I have been seriously thinking about getting a new Mac Mini to replace my aging IMac. I have sort of been waiting for them to show up as refurbs with the SSD drive. Anyway, I found a used 2011 i7 with SSD and a discrete graphics card that looks interesting. My main uses for this computer will be photo editing using Lightroom and photoshop. Would this computer compare favorably with the new model or might it actually be better? Thanks for any advice.
It might be better for you what is the price?

if this price is low you could get it. and if usbs is a big deal you could add this

http://www.macmall.com/p/LaCie-Hard-...37~pdp.iadgjgg


http://www.macmall.com/p/LaCie-Hard-...36~pdp.iadgjgf


these work with usb3 and thunderbolt they would allow easy movement of info from the 2011 mini via t-bolt and you could use its usb3 cable to go to other gear.
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Old Jan 24, 2013, 08:25 PM   #4
OS-SEX
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I recently went from a 2006 Mac Pro to a 2011 mid Mac mini with 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD (plus a large firewire external drive for data storage). I'm extremely happy with this machine so far and find it to be very adept at photo editing and everything else I do. Unless USB 3 is important to you, I'd say go for it.
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Old Jan 24, 2013, 08:46 PM   #5
vandrv
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Thanks for the replies. No USB3 was one thing that makes me hesitate, but as of right now I have nothing that takes advantage of it. They are asking $775.00 for this computer with 8 gigs of ram. It is still under warrantee as well. It is missing the power cord, tough. Not sure if this is a good deal or not.
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Old Jan 24, 2013, 08:52 PM   #6
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How long do you plan to own the machine? More than a few years? Not buying a machine with USB3 is being irresponsible to yourself. You might not need it today...

----------

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Originally Posted by OS-SEX View Post
I recently went from a 2006 Mac Pro to a 2011 mid Mac mini with 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD (plus a large firewire external drive for data storage). I'm extremely happy with this machine so far and find it to be very adept at photo editing and everything else I do. Unless USB 3 is important to you, I'd say go for it.
Why the FW800 external? Internal much faster... 2011 supports two drives, would have been better to put the second drive inside.
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Old Jan 24, 2013, 08:52 PM   #7
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Thanks for the replies. No USB3 was one thing that makes me hesitate, but as of right now I have nothing that takes advantage of it. They are asking $775.00 for this computer with 8 gigs of ram. It is still under warrantee as well. It is missing the power cord, tough. Not sure if this is a good deal or not.
$775 is more than you'd pay for a 2012 Mac mini refurb with the quad-core 2.3GHz i7 CPU. Those have integrated graphics, but the CPU will be much faster than the 2011. 8GB of RAM is about $45; the offer you've found sounds far too expensive.
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Old Jan 24, 2013, 08:54 PM   #8
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$775 is more than you'd pay for a 2012 Mac mini refurb with the quad-core 2.3GHz i7 CPU. Those have integrated graphics, but the CPU will be much faster than the 2011. 8GB of RAM is about $45; the offer you've found sounds far too expensive.
+1

16GB RAM about $95.
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Old Jan 24, 2013, 08:58 PM   #9
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Thanks for the replies. No USB3 was one thing that makes me hesitate, but as of right now I have nothing that takes advantage of it. They are asking $775.00 for this computer with 8 gigs of ram. It is still under warrantee as well. It is missing the power cord, tough. Not sure if this is a good deal or not.

That is expensive. Very expensive and not a good deal. Get a '12 2.3 GHz i7 for $679. Then get 16GB of RAM for $80. Throw in a 256GB SSD for ~$200 and you are set.

http://store.apple.com/us/product/FD...-intel-core-i7

Maybe if you need the discrete GPU, but otherwise the Intel HD 4000 has served me just fine.
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Old Jan 24, 2013, 09:06 PM   #10
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$775 is more than you'd pay for a 2012 Mac mini refurb with the quad-core 2.3GHz i7 CPU. Those have integrated graphics, but the CPU will be much faster than the 2011. 8GB of RAM is about $45; the offer you've found sounds far too expensive.
Thank you for this. I know ram is cheap, so that wasn't really a factor, but I thought already having a 250 gig SSD made it seem comparable. One thing I don't quite understand is how much faster is a 2012 2.7 gHz than a 2011 2.7 ghz? Thanks for the help.
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Old Jan 24, 2013, 09:11 PM   #11
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Thank you for this. I know ram is cheap, so that wasn't really a factor, but I thought already having a 250 gig SSD made it seem comparable. One thing I don't quite understand is how much faster is a 2012 2.7 gHz than a 2011 2.7 ghz? Thanks for the help.
2012 2.6 i7= 12815
2012 2.3 i7= 11682

2011 2.7 i7= 7538
2011 2.0 i7= 9426

Go with the 2012 i7.

http://browser.primatelabs.com/mac-benchmarks
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Old Jan 24, 2013, 09:25 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by G-Mo View Post
No USB3. I wouldn't buy a computer today for day-to-day use that doesn't have USB3.
I wound say he USB3 is important going forward.

I went through the same dilema before xmas when mum offered to help me replace my mac desktop, for something smaller, quieter and more energy efficient . In the end i decided the extra horsepower of the newer i7, coupled with usb3 and the HD4000 was a good mix.

And I have been more than impressed with this mini since. It takes everything i throw at it, quietly for the most part too.

Feels quicker than my old 2008 octo 2.8 with its 18GB RAM; that I used to consider my own super computer. I am certain this 2.3 i7 mini kicka its arse.

The only reason to consider the 2011 modelmis if you are looking at a very good price and/or want that discrete graphics for games.

I must say though that the HD4000 isnt too bad for games.

Well thats my bits of rambling advice (sorry if i go on too long but am still on morphine ..... )
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Old Jan 24, 2013, 09:27 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by 53x12 View Post
2012 2.6 i7= 12815
2012 2.3 i7= 11682

2011 2.7 i7= 7538
2011 2.0 i7= 9426

Go with the 2012 i7.

http://browser.primatelabs.com/mac-benchmarks
Thank you for all your replies, everyone. I guess I will just keep waiting until the new ones hit the refurb store again. I keep hoping they will show up soon with the SSD already in them.
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Old Jan 24, 2013, 09:42 PM   #14
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Thank you for all your replies, everyone. I guess I will just keep waiting until the new ones hit the refurb store again. I keep hoping they will show up soon with the SSD already in them.
Apple's SSDs are WAY overpriced (as is their RAM). It's not major surgery to add one internally if you're at all comfortable working inside a computer. Right now you can get a 256GB Samsung 840 Pro (faster than Apple's) for $199 from Newegg.
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Old Jan 24, 2013, 09:58 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by G-Mo View Post
How long do you plan to own the machine? More than a few years? Not buying a machine with USB3 is being irresponsible to yourself. You might not need it today...

----------



Why the FW800 external? Internal much faster... 2011 supports two drives, would have been better to put the second drive inside.
Well I already had a nice My Book Studio 2TB for one thing. And it's used to house my large photo and music collection. My apps are on the SSD. Not really noticing any speed hit.
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Old Jan 24, 2013, 09:58 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrfr View Post
Apple's SSDs are WAY overpriced (as is their RAM). It's not major surgery to add one internally if you're at all comfortable working inside a computer. Right now you can get a 256GB Samsung 840 Pro (faster than Apple's) for $199 from Newegg.
Wholeheartedly agree - I put my SSD and RAM in as I saved a bucket load by doing so compared to apple.

And it is pretty easy (certainly much better than the older white mini's) - plenty of youtube guides too.
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Old Jan 24, 2013, 10:13 PM   #17
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I'd say look for Photoshop benchmarks with the 2011 discrete 6630M versus the 2012 HD 4000. The 2012 i7 gets higher scores in geekbench in part because it has 4 physical cores compared to the 2011 dual-core. But I'm not sure how impotant multithreading is for Photoshop compared to your graphics card. I feel like most reviews found the 2011 model marginally better for graphics-intensive uses like games because of the card.

http://www.macworld.com/article/2013...eed-boost.html
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Old Jan 24, 2013, 10:32 PM   #18
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Thank you for all your replies, everyone. I guess I will just keep waiting until the new ones hit the refurb store again. I keep hoping they will show up soon with the SSD already in them.
The 2.3 i7 is in the refurb store. Not sure how long you would have to wait for the 2.6 i7 to hit the refurb store. Might be a long time.
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Old Jan 24, 2013, 11:31 PM   #19
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To be honest, considering how fast technology moves these days, buying old 2011 tech doesn't really make sense to me. Not worth it unless you have a very specific use case for it such as a HTPC, server etc.

If it's an everyday machine that you plan to use for the next three years, I would go with the latest.


Just my $0.02
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Old Jan 25, 2013, 06:39 AM   #20
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Not that I care either way, but I thought I'd offer a dissenting opinion here and say that the used 2011 deal doesn't really sound like a terrible deal. It's got discrete graphics, a RAM upgrade, and a 256GB SSD. The refurb 2012 is $680. So based on the prices others here have quoted, you're looking at close to $1000 by the time you add the $45 8GB RAM upgrade, $200 256GB SSD, and then the kit to install that SSD (or did that $200 price include that?).

I think you need to decide which features you really want/need. A lot of people here are saying the SSD upgrade is pretty easy, and maybe it is, but if that's important to you, you need to factor in your comfort level in doing that upgrade yourself. Lastly, is the seller's $775 price on that used one firm or can you talk him down even more?

Personally, I just got a base model (i5) 2012 open-box Mini from Best Buy for HTPC/media server purposes. The i7 would have been nice, but I wanted to squeak by as cheap as possible (got mine for $460). I like the idea of having the latest gen model and USB3. I won't be playing games on it, so the HD4000 seemed good enough (and I actually kind of like the idea of having less "stuff" crammed in that tiny box as I would think it might run a bit cooler than having a discrete graphics card). The i7 vs i5 for me was about whether or not the i5 would be good enough for Plex to do some on-the-fly transcoding of HD video content, as opposed to wanting/needing the extra CPU power for productivity purposes (I'm a laptop guy for my daily work). It sounds like you're going to use this for productivity purposes, so going with the i7 makes sense.

----------

Just reread some posts here and saw you mention that it's missing a power cord, which sounds a bit odd. Know that the power cord is pretty standard. If you have a newer Apple TV (and maybe even an older one?), that cord will fit. If you decide you want to buy that used one, make sure you boot it up and confirm that all of the features they claim it has are definitely there.
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Old Jan 25, 2013, 06:44 AM   #21
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Why the FW800 external? Internal much faster... 2011 supports two drives, would have been better to put the second drive inside.
A Firewire 800 external 3.5 inch will beat the crap out of any internal 2.5 inch drive. The drive itself is a way bigger bottle neck than the firewire controller. It will even deliver overall faster speed if you would boot from it instead of from the built in HD. And 2.5 inches only go to 1TB, whereas you can get 4TB in a 3.5 inch form factor.

For a regular 3,5 inch drive Firewire 800 or USB 3.0 will give no difference. Again, the drive is limiting, and FW800 can handle roughly full speed of most regular hard drives.

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Just reread some posts here and saw you mention that it's missing a power cord, which sounds a bit odd.
You WANT it to miss that. It comes with a fugly white one. Just grab one from your eighties ghettoblaster or buy a new black one for 1$.
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Old Jan 25, 2013, 07:19 AM   #22
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A Firewire 800 external 3.5 inch will beat the crap out of any internal 2.5 inch drive. The drive itself is a way bigger bottle neck than the firewire controller. It will even deliver overall faster speed if you would boot from it instead of from the built in HD. .
I would disagree that this is the best option.

For one having internals is far simpler and more power efficient. Also the difference between 2.5 and 3.5 drives of similar specs is not that great (even when comparing SAS 15Krpm drives the difference is around 20-25% so scale that down to 7200 or 5400rpm).

Having an external as main boot seems rather daft to be honest as you are relying on having this device to use the computer.

Using FW800 as external storage is good idea (as it is fast and cheaper than TB at the moment).

I don't have a spare drive right now, but when I free up one I will try my mini's boot from internal vrs FW800 and general usage speeds as I have a pair of identical disks).

If someone is concerned over disk access speeds on a small desktop, then they would be better off with a low end SSD than a FW external HDD.
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Old Jan 25, 2013, 07:23 AM   #23
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Not that I care either way, but I thought I'd offer a dissenting opinion here and say that the used 2011 deal doesn't really sound like a terrible deal. It's got discrete graphics, a RAM upgrade, and a 256GB SSD. The refurb 2012 is $680. So based on the prices others here have quoted, you're looking at close to $1000 by the time you add the $45 8GB RAM upgrade, $200 256GB SSD, and then the kit to install that SSD (or did that $200 price include that?).

I think you need to decide which features you really want/need. A lot of people here are saying the SSD upgrade is pretty easy, and maybe it is, but if that's important to you, you need to factor in your comfort level in doing that upgrade yourself. Lastly, is the seller's $775 price on that used one firm or can you talk him down even more?

Personally, I just got a base model (i5) 2012 open-box Mini from Best Buy for HTPC/media server purposes. The i7 would have been nice, but I wanted to squeak by as cheap as possible (got mine for $460). I like the idea of having the latest gen model and USB3. I won't be playing games on it, so the HD4000 seemed good enough (and I actually kind of like the idea of having less "stuff" crammed in that tiny box as I would think it might run a bit cooler than having a discrete graphics card). The i7 vs i5 for me was about whether or not the i5 would be good enough for Plex to do some on-the-fly transcoding of HD video content, as opposed to wanting/needing the extra CPU power for productivity purposes (I'm a laptop guy for my daily work). It sounds like you're going to use this for productivity purposes, so going with the i7 makes sense.

----------

Just reread some posts here and saw you mention that it's missing a power cord, which sounds a bit odd. Know that the power cord is pretty standard. If you have a newer Apple TV (and maybe even an older one?), that cord will fit. If you decide you want to buy that used one, make sure you boot it up and confirm that all of the features they claim it has are definitely there.
This was sort of my thinking as well. By the time I buy a refurb, add the memory and SSD, I am getting pretty close to a thousand dollars, so that made this one a bit more attractive. I don't really think I would have a problem swapping the drive in a new one, I'm just a bit uncertain as to the best way to go about moving everything to a new drive.
The lack of power cord does seem a bit unusual, but the guy who is selling it has great feedback on the forum, where it is posted, so I'm not too concerned that it isn't what it is supposed to be. But I think I will just go with the newer model refurb.
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Old Jan 25, 2013, 07:50 AM   #24
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A Firewire 800 external 3.5 inch will beat the crap out of any internal 2.5 inch drive. The drive itself is a way bigger bottle neck than the firewire controller. It will even deliver overall faster speed if you would boot from it instead of from the built in HD. And 2.5 inches only go to 1TB, whereas you can get 4TB in a 3.5 inch form factor.

For a regular 3,5 inch drive Firewire 800 or USB 3.0 will give no difference. Again, the drive is limiting, and FW800 can handle roughly full speed of most regular hard drives.

----------


You WANT it to miss that. It comes with a fugly white one. Just grab one from your eighties ghettoblaster or buy a new black one for 1$.
Sometimes I think you just make stuff up in order to disagree....

Moderm 3.5" mechanical drives can consistently put out well over 125MB/s (I've seen even almost 200MB/s) for sequential reads which if you are using an external you probably using it for Music and Videos and time machine (perfect for sequential reads/writes). Firewire 800 has a max theoretical bandwidth of only 100MB/s, but in real life it maxes out at about 80MB/s. Basically you would be depriving a fast 3.5" by at least 50MB/s (if not more). Plus Firewire 800 enclosures are considerably more expensive than Cheap USB 3.0.

Here's some benchmarks of "Modern" Mechanical drives:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/...ew,3368-2.html

Even the slowest drive averages faster transfer speeds than Firewire 800!


Now if one is just playing an MP3 or a video off of the drive, then sure whether it is Firewire 400, Firewire 800, USB 2.0, or USB 3.0 wouldn't matter because the bandwidth needed is minimal, but if you are doing any major file transfers then USB 3.0 is the way to go (or Thunderbolt).
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Old Jan 25, 2013, 08:06 AM   #25
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Even the slowest drive averages faster transfer speeds than Firewire 800!
The slowest is the WD green, avaraging 90MB/S sequential write. That is one of the most used large storage drives (all the faster ones are often 1Tb or smaller) together with the Samsung Spinpoint series (missing in the test). So that quite matches the speed of FW800, and it matches my real life experience between USB3 and FW: copying the complete content for backup (many mixed size files) is only giving 5% speed difference between the two (on the small stuff FW 800 also wins some times). Reading speed is not that important, again, big drives are mostly used to store a lot, and at read (serving movies etc) throughput is not so important.

And you know what is the fastest here on my 2012 mini: reading from the USB2/3 drive and write it to the FW800 drive. If write and read are on the same bus, it is much slower.

Last edited by blanka; Jan 25, 2013 at 08:12 AM.
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