2011 mini - worth it today? Mac newbie...

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by mother-firefly, Mar 2, 2015.

  1. mother-firefly, Mar 2, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2015

    mother-firefly macrumors newbie

    Mar 1, 2015
    Hi everyone!

    I am new here and new to the Mac universe... I am looking to get my first Mac computer, but not looking to spend a large amount of money at this point in time. I came across someone selling a 2011 Mac Mini with 8GB ram, 500gb hdd, AMD RADEON HD 6630M graphics, a bunch of software (Microsoft Office 2011 & Adobe products) along with a magic mouse, wireless keyboard, and vga adapter. They are wanting to sell for $650 I believe... The question is, would it be worth it? I attend college and will need enough speed to operate certain products every now and again (most of which are included with it), but have no intention of doing gaming. I hope this isn't running this in the ground as it seems these types of posts are plentiful... but this seems like one of the most appropriate areas to get input from other experienced Mac users.
  2. thats all folks macrumors 6502a

    thats all folks

    Dec 20, 2013
    Austin (supposedly in Texas)
    probably not worth it, looks like that exact machine is on ebay for $625. So don't pay more than that. it is a worthwhile 2011 Mac Mini as it has the discrete graphics card. the built in Intel 3000 graphics on the lower spec are terrible. 8GB is the minimum you want. So this good to go out of the box. You may want to put in an SSD or 200RPM drive at some point.

    Question, do you consider that you are "buying" the software? I would guess its all pirated so consider that a free bonus, not something that should be part of the price. It is a useful machine, you will get work done on it. I would think that price is high but it seems in line with some used prices.

    If you want someone else to steal software for you, this is reasonable. If you want to steal (or buy) your own software, I would keep an eye one out for a refurb 2014 model.
    nothing to buy right now but that inventory changes all the time. You will end up spending a similar amount.
  3. mother-firefly, Mar 2, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2015

    mother-firefly thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 1, 2015
    Thank you for your honest input! I definitely came to the realization of the the fact that the software is likely pirated... I mean that is A LOT of software that is not "cheap" by any means.... :confused: As a student, I can get a great deal on legit software (especially Office) and pay monthly for when I need the Adobe products. I suppose I saw it and got my hopes up, ha.

    I have really been considering a refurbished '14 Mac Mini like the refurb Mac Mini 1.4GHz i5 with 4GB ram, etc. that is currently available from Apple... but it seems many people are not pleased with it due to being "stuck" with the components it comes with... I am worried it's performance will not be up to par for me. Sure, gaming is not a concern, but I do a large amount of multitasking and like to do so with ease.
  4. AtomicGrog macrumors regular

    Jul 25, 2011
    Couple of points...

    1. Why are you sold on a mac mini? is it because someone is selling it? for that price/age you'd be better off going imac or macbook imho.

    For me the mini is a shove it under the tv and stream or maybe as a server? it's lack of screen etc. means you have to run either an expensive apple one or a non matching (cosmetically) pc one.

    As for software? surely you're eligible for a cheap legal version as a student? my family benefits from a corp discount for M$ office... $25 per year for upto 5(4?) machines.
  5. mother-firefly thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 1, 2015
    I'm not necessarily sold on a mac mini, just like the idea of such a compact machine and having a larger monitor.

    I would definitely consider a MB or iMac, but I am so new to this so I am not sure what I should consider as far as used or refurbs are considered... I don't know what year I should avoid or is considered "too old" as far as performance is concerned. Price is another factor... I've seen some 2011-2012 MBA for anywhere from $500-800 on eBay, but don't know if that is a reasonable price. Same goes for MBP... I guess I'm not sure where to start. :eek:
  6. oneMadRssn, Mar 3, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2015

    oneMadRssn macrumors 601


    Sep 8, 2011
    Boston, MA
    I think 2011 Mac Mini is still perfectly fine today, and it will probably continue to receive OSX updates for a while. Other than USB 2.0, there is nothing slow or out of date about that machine.

    I think the same applies to the 2011 Macbook Air. Indeed, I would consider pretty much any second generation Core-i based Mac or newer to be perfectly suitable for modern day to day tasks.

    As for price, I suggest researching completed listings on ebay going back a few months. That should give you a good idea for what stuff sells for. Some seemingly insignificant details sometimes drive prices up, and you need to decide whether those details are important enough for you.

    For example, a used Mac that is still covered by AppleCare will sell for as much as $100 more than one without AppleCare. Personally, as a tinkerer, I am willing to risk having something go wrong out of warantee, so I am not willing to pay the AppleCare premium on the used market and thus will look specifically for macs without it on ebay to keep the price down.
  7. Rodster macrumors 68040

    May 15, 2007
    FWIW, I own a 2012 base Mac Mini with 4 GB of ram and the stock HDD. It's perfectly fine for all the basics and it runs Yosemite perfectly fine. A couple of months ago I went to Best Buy and played around with the 2014 base Mini and it was slightly quicker than my 2012 Mini. For internet, Youtube, email and office the base Mini is a good choice.

    My suggestion is to find either an Apple store or a Best Buy that sells Mac products and try the 2014 base Mini for yourself.
  8. Micky Do, Mar 3, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2015

    Micky Do macrumors 68000

    Micky Do

    Aug 31, 2012
    An island in the Andaman Sea.
    Seems a bit of a waste of a Mac Mini; they are good for much, much more than just that. Its lack of a screen is an opportunity to choose one that suits the situation.

    Personally I prefer a decent sized matt screen, which rules out the expensive Apple offering, a pokey little laptop, or an iMac. It makes the Mac Mini a good choice from my point to view, and an important reason I got one when it first appeared in 2005. Four years on I replaced it with the 2009 model, which I am still using. I replaced the monitor I bought in 2005, late last year.

    Another important reason behind going for the Mac Mini, and sticking with it, is it's transportability. I didn't (and don't) want day to day portability, but do occasionally take my Mini to work (on a bicycle or motorcycle) to use with a LCD projector. It takes only a couple of minutes to disconnect and connect; not much longer than it would take to do the same with a laptop. With an iMac I would need to have a car, and could not conveniently take it on public transport.

    Given the above, the Mac Mini does seem a good choice for you.

    The lack of upgradeability of the current (2014) crop of Mac Minis is not the biggie that it was made it out to be. Recent models could be upgraded with up to 16 GB of RAM. The 2014 model can be specified with up to 16 GB of RAM…. either way go for what you anticipate needing / fits your budget. S Same for choice of HDD / SSD / Fusion.

    2014 models perform at least as well as their equivalents from recent years, with the exception of the top end quad-core model, which is no longer available.

    Upgradeability is more of an issue for geeks who like to tweak than everyday users who just want to do stuff. While more RAM has been the go to way of improving performance over recent years, I reckon that is likely to level off now for most uses / apps, as it has for processor speeds.

    Still, perceived wisdom seems to be to go for at least 8GB of RAM. I muddle along just fine with just 5 GB, but doing more photography these days would probably go for 8 GB if I was replacing my present Mini.

    Stick with legitimate software; it saves any hassles. The shop "cracked" the preinstalled Office for Mac on my first (2005) Mini. I didn't know what they meant, but would happily have paid the cost of licensing it and getting support if I had understood.

    While a 2011 Mini will still enjoy a few years of support, a more recent model will have support going beyond that of an earlier model. My 2009 Mini is good for Yosemite, my guess is that it will be dropped for the next OS X update.
  9. wakinghour macrumors regular

    Jul 16, 2012
    I setup a 2012 mac mini (sandy bridge i5) with radeon graphics as a backup computer. I put 16gb of RAM in it and it seems to be able to work perfectly fine in Photoshop, Illustrator, and most common graphics tasks. I'm using a 2014 Macbook Pro with 8gb of ram as a comparison.
  10. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    You mean 2011 Mac Mini.

    2012 ones are Ivy Bridge without any form of discrete GPU.
  11. MCSN, Mar 3, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2015

    MCSN macrumors regular


    Feb 7, 2012
    i'm with atomic grog. are you confident that you will not be doing classwork, internet cafe homework, or otherwise in the park studying in glare free nooks?

    i got a try out on the mini, and I think it will do some chores like waking hour indicated above, there's a mini example. but you would have to be committed to the desk, unless you have another machine you use for travel. as far as space goes, it is a mini but you also have to attach a screen and a keyboard etc etc. and is your place secure for that, or kensingtonable? because though its portability is a plus its also a minus too in dorm or insecure housing situations. Like micky do says, its very cool to be able to take it places, as long as you are the one taking it. But the same is true with laptops, clamshell and thunderbolt to monitor.
  12. venom600 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 23, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    I use a 2011 Mac Mini daily. As long as you are ok with a dual core system, it's perfectly fine. Performance is as good or better than the current entry level Mac Mini. The discrete graphics are OK at best... they weren't great in 2011, but games like Civilization run great. I have a 180GB Intel SSD and the original 500GB drive acting as fusion drive, and I desperately want to replace them with one big SSD.

    The TL;DR is that if you can use a Macbook Air or the base Mac Mini today without feeling like you are lacking, you're more than fine.
  13. Che Castro macrumors 603

    May 21, 2009
    You can get a crucial 500gb SSD for $180 on Amazon
    The prices have gone down
  14. Neodym macrumors 68000


    Jul 5, 2002
    IMHO this disqualifies the entry 2014 mini due to its comparably slow Dual-Core CPU and the limited 4 GB Ram.

    A 2011 mini is not the worst idea, as it's still pretty capable, yet quite a bit cheaper to get than the 2012 models, partly due to being only USB2. The middle-tier models with Radeon GPU are still sought after (mainly due to a perceived advantage with gaming or the real advantage of supporting up to 3 monitors vs. only 2 with integrated GPU), which drives up the prices.

    Best compromise could thus be the 2011 server model, which has a quad-core CPU (albeit only with 2.0GHz) and can be upgraded up to 16GB Ram, which can help tremendously with massive Multitasking.

    Drawback: You are limited to slow (USB2) or a little less slow, but expensive (Firewire) external drives.
    Remedy: Getting a Thunderbolt dock with USB3 ports on it.
    Problem: Combined cost would probably allow for a faster/better 2012 mini directly (unless you get a real good offer for the 2011 and/or TB dock).

    Alternatives: The "usual suspects" (iMac/MacBook) have already be named, so I'll add Mac Pro: The old classic machines are still capable today and especially the first generations (1,1 - 3,1 / 2006 - 2008) are currently available for pretty little money in the market.

    • Solid construction with server-grade parts.
    • Quiet even under load.
    • Quad-core CPU minimum, upgrade to 8 cores easy and inexpensive. Can be helpful with multitasking (also think of potentially running Windows in a VM).
    • Lots of room for internal expansion (Ram up to 32GB, USB3 card, SSD, harddrives, optical drives, GPU's) to upgrade them according to money available.
    • Official support for older machines has been dropped, but you can still install the latest OSX (10.10 Yosemite) on even the oldest one (1,1/2006) with some tricks and run it smoothly.
    • Memory expansion in the older models (up to 3,1/2008) can be expensive due to the use of FB-DIMM's. Check amount of Ram in offered machines and Ram prices prior to purchase.
    • Only USB2 and Firewire, no Thunderbolt. USB3 ports can be added through an internal PCIe card, though.
    • They are big, so you need some dedicated space in your room.
    • They consume lots of power compared to e.g. a Mac mini, which may offset the initial purchase costs, so it depends on your usage profile.
  15. AppleFan360 macrumors 68020

    Jan 26, 2008
    The 2011 MacMini is a perfectly good machine. Try to talk him down to about $500 then throw an SSD in there. It will be lightning fast and work great for you.
  16. MattA macrumors 6502


    May 15, 2006
    Orlando, FL
    I've had my 2011 Mac Mini (i7/6630m) for 3 years. Last night I finally upgraded from the stock 4GB to 16GB of memory. I also have a 750GB 7200rpm drive in it.

    It is perfectly capable of running anything that I've needed without any trouble at all. The only time I experienced slowdown was during heavy multitasking with 4GB of memory (hence the upgrade). After putting in the 16GB, the thing runs faaast.

    I'll be putting in a large SSD at some point while using the 750GB drive for storage. The only downer of the whole thing is USB2, but even that isn't too big a deal if you aren't using a device that requires it.

    I can't see any advantage to getting a new one in my case (maybe the Iris graphics would show improvement, but even then, who knows?). If you are able to get a 2011 mini for a very reasonable price with some upgrades thrown in, I say go for it! :cool:
  17. frank4 macrumors regular


    Oct 17, 2011
    Still running a 2011 base version Mini as my only computer, it does everything I want and no need to replace it. The $650 price in the original post is a little high, although noting it includes Apple wireless keyboard and mouse which are still current and new value $138 USA.

    My 2011 is a little slow to boot up but I only need to do that every few weeks as I just put it to sleep when not using and it wakes up in a second or two. Sometimes a little slow in starting programs but not really a problem. Rune latest OS X, 2 monitors, and connects to Apple TV to play movies occasionally from the Mini.

    The 2012 Mini is probably the best used Mini to get, has USB3, faster CPU and graphics.
  18. JR007 macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2015
    If you're really interested in a mid-2011 Mac Mini, I'm in the process of selling mine. I have a Macbook for work, so unfortunately the Mini isn't needed anymore. I already did the 16 gig RAM and top of line 256 SSD (Samsung 840 Pro) upgrades. It works perfect and never any issues. Just let me know or PM me. Thanks!

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