2012 2.3GHz Mac Mini Server or 2014 2.6 GHz mid range Mac Mini?? HELP!!

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Jabar18, Feb 23, 2015.

  1. Jabar18 macrumors member

    Feb 8, 2015
    Hey folks, I'm looking to get a Mac Mini and can't decide which direction I should go.

    I'm not a power user.
    I am currently using an old MBP with a 320gb 7200RPM HD. I've filled it up and am averaging about 280-300gb in use. Don't worry, I have time machine backups on a 1TB external drive. It's got 4gb of RAM.

    Here's what I use my MBP for:
    - Web Surfing (usually leave at least six tabs open)
    - Apple's mail client
    - Streaming video from the web to my HDTV via VGA to HDMI cable.
    - iTunes
    - iPhoto
    - Microsoft Office Suite
    - Occasionally having 2-3 other apps open at the same time, Evernote, Dashlane, etc.

    I have about $1000 to spend. I need this Mac Mini to be my primary computer for the next 4-5 years.

    I am looking at the mid-range 2014 Mac Mini (8gb) with the 1TB fusion drive. I've read that you can't upgrade the RAM or the Hard Drives later, and I know I need at least 1TB of RAM so a smaller SSD won't do it.

    But then I stumbled upon the 2012 Mac Mini OSX server with dual 1TB HDs (5400rpm). So it seems like I should go for the 2012 server, and upgrade the RAM to 8gb. (Maybe upgrade to 16GB down the road.)

    The price of the mid-range 2014 Mac Mini with the Fusion Drive is similar to the 2012 Mac Mini OSX server I've found, after upgrading the 2012 mini with 8gb of RAM.

    I've read everywhere that the 2012 Mac Minis are much superior to the 2014s. Should I pull the trigger? I'm intrigued by the possibility of swapping out one of the 1TB drives in the 2012 mini and putting in an SSD as a OSX boot drive. Is that possible to do and then store my data on the other drive? Would I need to do that when I first purchase the 2012 mini or could I do it later? How would I do that?

    Any downsides to getting the 2012 mini? Am I correct in thinking that I have 2TB of storage total? I don't really get how the dual-installed hard drive thing works. Why would I want that? Storage is a BIG deal to me, I want as much storage as I can get. Would the 2012 mini be a better machine for my needs? I'm thinking it will need 8gb of RAM asap. Is the 2.3 GHz in the 2012 mini comparable to the 2.6GHz in the 2014 mini?

    Remember, I'm not a power user. Having the best machine to use as streaming media is also key. I plan on using whichever Mini I get to stream A LOT of media to my HDTV via HDMI. That's why I can't get an iMac. So I also need a graphics card that is reliable. Which one is better?

    I'm not super tech savvy, but I did manage to upgrade my 2007 MBP to 4gb of RAM and swap out the OEM hard drive to the one I'm currently using, a 320gb 7200rpm WD Scorpio.

    Will I see a HUGE downgrade in speed if I buy the 2012 mini because it utilizes a 5400rpm drive? Why would I want the 2012 mini server if I'm not really going to use it as a server? Which one will last me for five years?

    They basically seem like the same price, and I'm wondering if there will be a huge decrease in performance if I get the 8gb 2012 mini vs. the 8gb 2014 mini with fusion. Everything I've read seems like the 2012s that are left are the way to go. Will I ever need 16gb in the next 5 years as a light to medium Mac user? I'm definitely not a power user.

    Also, if I buy it from a third party vendor, do I still have up to one year to buy the Apple Care? Would it still work the same way if I bought it from the Apple Store?

    Any and all information would be very helpful. THANKS!!
  2. Celerondon macrumors 6502a


    Oct 17, 2013
    Southern Cal
    Your huge speed deficit would not be the difference between the 5400 rpm HDD and your 7200 rpm HDD. That 7200 is faster than some drives but it is no longer considered fast. Instead you would miss out on the snappy performance of a PCIe enhanced SSD. Get the 2014 mid model and enjoy it. It does not sound like the quad core i7 in the 2012 would benefit you as much as the multiple virtues of the 2014.
  3. Jabar18 thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 8, 2015
    Am I going to regret getting the 2014 8gb Mid-Range Mini 3-4 years from now when 16GB of RAM is standard? What are these "multiple virtues" you speak of? Plus, can't I buy an SSD for the 2012 to use that as the boot drive?
  4. kaibob, Feb 23, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2015

    kaibob macrumors regular

    Jun 21, 2010
    Prescott, Arizona
    The advantages of the 2014 over the 2012 Mac mini include faster Intel Iris graphics, an additional Thunderbolt port, faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and faster PCIe-based SSD.

    You can buy an SSD and use it to boot a 2012 Mac mini. The SSD can be installed internally or in an external USB 3 or thunderbolt enclosure, although in both cases the SSD would be a bit slower than the factory installed SSD in the 2014 Mac mini.

    If memory is a concern, you can get the following Mac mini online with free shipping for $1,069: 2.6GHz i5 processor, 16GB RAM, and 1TB fusion drive. This is only a few dollars above your budget.
  5. Celerondon macrumors 6502a


    Oct 17, 2013
    Southern Cal
    Will you regret having an 8Gb mini in four years? I doubt it. There are no guarantees but as you said you are "a light to medium Mac user". If it came to that, you could fund an upgrade by getting a decent price for your much newer 2014 mini.

    Some of the virtues are PCIe storage, faster single core performance, better graphics, AC WiFi, a (factory)Fusion Drive, and dual Thunderbolt 2 ports.

    Yes you can purchase an SSD (or two) for the 2012. Then it would be a real screamer. Do you need this? The upgradable RAM is a real plus for the 2012 but the two slow hard drives are probably just placeholders for the SSD(s) that you would eventually purchase. Do you need 16Gb of RAM? Right now you are living in 4Gb.

    A few other points:
    You heard incorrect information about the storage. You can upgrade the hard drive (and or SSD) in that 2014 mini.

    Apple care should be an option on any new Mac. What do you mean by third party vendor?
  6. Jabar18 thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 8, 2015
    Great info. Thanks. The third party vendor is B&H Photo. I was really leaning toward the 2014 Mini as of a few days ago but then I saw that there are some 2012s still available. I probably don't need 16 GB of RAM but am concerned about the lasting power of a 2014 Mini that's not upgradeable. How would one upgrade the hard drive down the road if you can't remove the RAM?
  7. Celerondon macrumors 6502a


    Oct 17, 2013
    Southern Cal
    You can get AppleCare from B&H. They are a legitimate vendor but you should make sure that it is the correct package for your particular computer and you will need to register it yourself. When you purchase directly from Apple, they preregister it for you. Simply Google "B&H AppleCare" to find purchase information for this product.

    The hard drive and the RAM are two different issues. The reason that RAM upgrades are impossible is because the memory is soldered rather than plugged in. Both types of storage are plugged in. The PCIe and SATA interfaces will both accept replacement drives. The mini does require a special Apple PCIe SSD but they are available.
  8. OldMike macrumors 6502


    Mar 3, 2009
    Dallas, TX
    I have to also vote on the 2014 Mac Mini being best for your needs. Nothing that you are planning on using the Mini for would benefit greatly from the additional cores in the 2012 Mac Mini.

    The fact that you would be getting the Mac Mini with 8GB RAM makes the 2014 being non user upgradeable a non issue. 8GB RAM for your intended use should be all that you need for the usable life of the machine.

    The fact that one of your stated uses was:
    Streaming video from the web to my HDTV via VGA to HDMI cable

    Also makes me feel the Mac Mini 2014 is the right choice for you. If you were planning on doing a lot of encoding with Handbrake to prepare movies for watching on the Mini - that might have made me recommend the 2012, but since you are planning on streaming most of your media from the web, I have to lean towards the Mac Mini 2014 for the better graphics and Wifi performance.

    So my vote is for your original choice the Mac Mini 2014 with the Fusion drive. I'm assuming this is the exact one you were looking at:

    I'd say that would be a great Mini for your use!
  9. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    One more vote for the 2014 mid-range Mini with a fusion drive. It's worth noting that the 2014 Minis now have PCIe based SSD's -- MUCH faster than SATA3. This should be quite noticeable even with a fusion drive (as distinguished from a "pure" SSD).

    Your only real "decision" here should be between 8gb of RAM, or 16gb.

    I have no crystal ball, but I sense that 4-5 years from now, 8gb "tomorrow" will be as useable as are 4gb are -today-.

    That is to say, "acceptable" and "good enough", but not necessarily "optimal"...
  10. ea9 macrumors regular

    Mar 14, 2011
    From everything you said, you won't need more then 8GB.

    I would go with the mid range 2014.
  11. spatlese44 macrumors 6502

    Dec 13, 2007

    At some point in history, OSX support for the 2012 is going to drop off and I don't think it's going to make a difference about the ram. 4GB I would definitely worry about, but not so much with 8GB. Also, I don't think you want to mess around with all the issues of adding an SSD, which include lack of TRIM support and workarounds associated with that. Given the nature of what you're doing, I would expect the 2014 will a) actually be faster and b) you wouldn't be able to tell the difference if you had the two side by side. It's going to be very snappy and potentially supported longer.
  12. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013


    I would definitely get an ssd and use an external hdd for storage.


    I do exactly what you are doing there + some Lightroom and Photoshop on the 2012 base configuration.




    For your usage scenario 2gb RAM still work fine when an ssd is installed.
    16gb RAM will certainly not be standard in 3-4 years. Where do you get those crazy ideas?
    :apple: sells mbas and minis with 4gigs standard, do you seriously think they are going to be obsolete in 2 years?

    I would worry about other things like:

    - 4k capability
    - ssd
    - cpu
  13. Jabar18 thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 8, 2015
    Ok so I'll probably end up going with the 2014 mini. What's the difference between the fusion drive and the pcl flash storage? I could really use the space of the 1TB fusion. How much slower will it be than the 256gb flash SSD drive? I'd like to avoid having an external drive for media because it seems like it would be a hassle to back that drive up as well as using time machine for my Mac mini.

    If I went with the SSD drive, how would I back up an external drive used for media storage? Can you utilize time machine on an external drive? I.e using time machine to back up an external and internal drive?
  14. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    OP asks above:
    [[ What's the difference between the fusion drive and the pcl flash storage? I could really use the space of the 1TB fusion. How much slower will it be than the 256gb flash SSD drive? I'd like to avoid having an external drive for media because it seems like it would be a hassle to back that drive up as well as using time machine for my Mac mini. ]]

    There's no question that a "straight" SSD will be faster than fusion.
    BUT.... it WON'T BE all that much "faster".

    Disclaimer: I don't have a fusion drive running my late 2012 Mini (I do have an SSD sitting in a USB3/SATA docking station that serves as my "external booter").

    But other users proffer that the fusion drive typically offers about 80% of the overall speed of an SDD, in most circumstances.

    The PCIe bus of the 2014 Mini offers speeds of around 710+mbps working from an SSD. By comparison, the SSD I have reads at about 470mbps (no fusion). I'm willing to -guess- that you are going to enjoy VERY pleasing disk speeds with the standard (i.e., "1tb") fusion drive upgrade in a mid-level 2014 Mini.

    BTW, I believe that the fusion drive will actually contain roughly 1.125tb of storage space, as it represents the "melding" of a 128gb SSD and a 1tb HDD.

    When fusion was introduced by Apple, I was "cold" towards it. But since the PCIe bus drives have come out, it looks to be the best compromise between speed and capacity.

    I don't think you'll have any regrets about getting one...
  15. BeatCrazy macrumors 68000

    Jul 20, 2011
    This is the right choice. Get the 1TB Fusion for the 2014 Mini, it is fast. I have 256GB PCIe flash in my 2013 Mac Pro, and the Mini w/Fusion is just as fast.

    I could have bought the 2012 server and done plenty of upgrades. But the mid range 2014 version is very fast, and has the benefit of TRIM support on the installed SSD. Not gonna happen with those 2012 models, unless you stick with Mavericks, which would suck, in 4-5 years!

    8GB is plenty of RAM, even for the next 5 years. I dare anyone to show me how you're maxing out 8GB of RAM with Yosemite, and not running at least 1-2 VMs.
  16. itsOver9000 macrumors 6502


    Mar 29, 2013
    B.F., KS

    Samsung SSD 840 PRO Series:

    TRIM Support: Yes

    That's on OS X 10.10.2.
  17. BeatCrazy macrumors 68000

    Jul 20, 2011
    Ya, if you disable kext-signing. No thanks... caused instability on my system.
  18. itsOver9000 macrumors 6502


    Mar 29, 2013
    B.F., KS
    No problems for me.

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