2012 Mac Mini vs 2018 Mac Mini..Which to get??!??

ShinRich

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 14, 2020
11
1
Hi folks,

I'm new here so go easy on this newbie..lol.

So I've been going back and forth for weeks between getting a used 2012 Mac mini or buying a new 2018 Mac mini and I really can't decide. The 2012 model is an i7 with 16gb Ram, 500gb SSD, 1 TB HDD, magic mouse, magic trackpad, apple keyboard, and 2 Newertech miniStack external FireWire/USB3.0/eSata HDD enclosures. He's selling it for $700 (might be able to get it a bit cheaper as it's been up for grabs for a while).

If I go with the 2018 model i was considering the i7 model, 8gm ram, and either 256/512 ssd. Roughly, I'm looking at $1800-$2000 after tax and depending on which SSD I go with.

For my purpose I don't anything too extreme: surfing, youtube watching, Excel/Word, occasional light video editing. The cost variance between the 2 is quite large in my opinion but at the same time I don't want to get stuck with something old and regret that I didn't buy the newer model epecially when the 2018 has more updated ports.

Any help you folks can send my way to help sway me in either direction would help soo much and would be appreciated.
 

Cookie18

macrumors member
Sep 11, 2014
54
41
France
I’ve been pondering the same scenario the last couple of days. I’m leaning towards the 2018 because I have a 4K monitor and the 2012 Mini won’t do 4K. I found a decent deal with a Thunderbolt Display which is tempting. That’s the only scenario I think I’d go with a 2012 Mini now but it’s too much when I can get a 2018 for less and I have the necessary accessories.
 

The_Interloper

macrumors regular
Oct 28, 2016
195
500
The 2012 i7 is still a decent machine but I don't know if I'd want to spend that much on something that is 8 years old. Those components are getting on now and could fail at some point.

From your use case, are you sure you even need the 2018 i7? It seems overkill as even the base model i3 is faster than that 2012 i7 and also benefits from significantly quicker DDR4 RAM. The SSD would be PCIe-based, too. I don't really see the 128gb SSD on the i3 as much of an issue as there are now Thunderbolt/USB-C ports to add as much fast external storage as you like.

Alternatively, the 6-core 2018 i5 would be cheaper and a significant upgrade over the 2012 i7. In all cases, I'd just get the base 8Gb and upgrade RAM yourself as it's much cheaper (16gb is the max on the 2012; you can go up to 64gb on the 2018).

Bear in mind that the 2012 models (and 2014) are effectively 1080p machines only. The graphics are pretty weak to say the least so forget using a 4k monitor now or in the future; the 2018 integrated graphics are decent enough for everyday use but at least you have the option of an eGPU down the line if needed.

Catalina could also well be the last OS version for the 2012. Just speculation, but it's something to consider. These threads might be useful: 1, 2, 3.
 

Boyd01

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 21, 2012
4,229
1,897
New Jersey Pine Barrens
I have a similar 2012 that I use for video/audio editing and web development. It's a great machine, and still meets my needs, so I'll probably run it into the ground. I'd agree that the graphics are the weakest aspect of the 2012, although they are still good enough to edit 1080p video. My primary screen is an ancient Apple Cinema Display (1920 x 1200) connected with an HDMI to DVI adapter and I have a Blackmagic ultraStrudio Thunderbolt interface connected to a Sony 1080p production monitor for video editing.

I would not buy another 2012, however - it's getting old and every day puts it one step closer to its grave ;). But then again, it sounds like your needs are more modest than mine. So it sounds like the 2012 would be fine for you, and the price is attractive. But I'd be realistic about it and accept that fact that it will probably only be good for a couple years, but a new Mini should last much longer (and has a warranty with AppleCare eligibility).

But if you go with the new Mini, I don't understand why you're looking at such a high-spec model. That's a substantial difference in specs between the 2012 and 2018, and sounds like overkill for what you need.
 

frou

macrumors 6502a
Mar 14, 2009
667
730
I mean this is Intel marketing psychology at work... feeling the need to spend on the prestige option but for no particular reason.

Definitely get a 2018 though. It has a long lifetime of being fully supported by macOS releases ahead of it. It's quite likely that the 2012 has just received its last supported release.
 
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Cookie18

macrumors member
Sep 11, 2014
54
41
France
Following on from my post earlier today, I just ordered the base 2018 Mini, it’s a hell of a lot of Mac for the money and I couldn’t pass up on a deal that popped up on the Apple refurb page.

The 4K was a must and after doing some research I’m quite surprised by the power of the base i3. I’m going to upgrade the ram myself and put an SSD in a usb c enclosure.
 

Reflej0

macrumors member
Jan 3, 2020
61
21
This is a general opinion but I think that the old high performance equipment, be it iMac, Mac Mini, PC, etc. were a good investment at the time of purchase because someone who bought them in this case a Mac Mini with i7 in 2012 could have an experience of use (that although it diminished with the years) good until today.
Today I would not recommend a 2012 Mac Mini versus the 2018 model is outdated in every way.
Nor would go for the latest model with i7 is very expensive, a "normal" purchase would go for the middle model the i5 256gb maybe upgrade the ram to 16GB.
 

Heat_Fan89

macrumors 6502a
Feb 23, 2016
517
441
I purchased a 2012 Mini and against my better judgement I purchased a 2018 Mini. I can run several apps just fine with 8GB RAM on my 2012 Mini. The 8GB of RAM on the 2018 Mini is way too low to do much, so you have little choice but to upgrade. The soldered storage is another minus for the new Mini because the i3 is barely enough to do much with and the base i5 model is just a slight improvement. Adding more storage and upgrading the RAM just adds to the cost.

The 2012 Mini is just real easy to upgrade compared to the 2018 Mini. The 2018 Mini's have bluetooth issues which should not exist given the price tag of the Mac. I'm having to use an HP wireless mouse because my Magic Trackpad 2 loses bluetooth connection everyday with my 2018 Mini. And yet I have NO issues with the same trackpad 2 on my 2012 Mini. I am running a basic wireless configuration on my 2018 Mini so dropouts should not be a problem.

So if in hindsight, I should have just stayed with my 2012 Mini and run it with 8GB of RAM and an internal SSD.
 

Reflej0

macrumors member
Jan 3, 2020
61
21
I purchased a 2012 Mini and against my better judgement I purchased a 2018 Mini. I can run several apps just fine with 8GB RAM on my 2012 Mini. The 8GB of RAM on the 2018 Mini is way too low to do much, so you have little choice but to upgrade. The soldered storage is another minus for the new Mini because the i3 is barely enough to do much with and the base i5 model is just a slight improvement. Adding more storage and upgrading the RAM just adds to the cost.

The 2012 Mini is just real easy to upgrade compared to the 2018 Mini. The 2018 Mini's have bluetooth issues which should not exist given the price tag of the Mac. I'm having to use an HP wireless mouse because my Magic Trackpad 2 loses bluetooth connection everyday with my 2018 Mini. And yet I have NO issues with the same trackpad 2 on my 2012 Mini. I am running a basic wireless configuration on my 2018 Mini so dropouts should not be a problem.

So if in hindsight, I should have just stayed with my 2012 Mini and run it with 8GB of RAM and an internal SSD.
The technical response and the comparison.
Let's say you have the best Mac Mini of 2012 (which I don't think is the case) and the worst Mac Mini of 2018
  • CPU Comparison (A general improvement of 25%, although it could be a little smaller)
  • GPU Comparison (An improvement of 170%, and technical improvements such as 4K video)
  • RAM (Regardless of the capacity of the RAM, it is a change from DDR3 @ 1600 MHz vs DDR4 @ 2666 MHz, this section is perhaps the least important.)
  • SSD Performance (It is the 256GB model, but the 128GB model has a similar performance of approximately 1GB / s compared to the maximum 600MB / s (theoretical of a Sata3 SSD that could be installed on a Mac Mini 2012)).
Regardless of the connectivity of the USB C ports (Thunderbolt 3) and other details.
My point is that you cannot ignore the improvements of 6 years, and with a thought of always the old is better.
I recognize that a Mac Mini 2012, 2014 today is still useful and people who own these computers are not required to upgrade to the 2018 model but today it is better to buy a 2018 computer.

And the difference is comparing the best Mac Mini 2012 against the worst model of 2018.
I recognize that for daily navigation and other non-demanding tasks, it is not necessary that much power but it does not hurt to have it by itself is needed.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
18,018
5,970
Get the 2018.
Hands down.
And I say this as having been an owner of a 2012 model as my "main Mac" for 6+ years.
The 2012 Mini is "the past". The 2018 is "now and going forward".

I would advise you to buy from the Apple online refurbished store. You get more for your money that way.

My suggested configuration:
- i7
- 16gb RAM installed from the factory
- 512gb SSD

Runs about 1,430 from the refurb store, but you have to be "watching for it" all the time, and be ready to BUY IMMEDIATELY when you see one, because it will be gone soon.
 

bigfatipod

macrumors regular
Sep 22, 2011
243
96
I have a pretty maxed out 2012 quad core i7 not recommend the 2012 for $700. It's a GREAT machine, but unless it came with dual (and large) SSDs, that's a pretty hefty price. I'm using mine until it dies, but I'm ready to pick up a 2018 model (or whatever hopefully comes after) as soon as possible. 1-2 years ago, sure, I'd say go for the 2012...but in today's world, I think the age and price are just not worth it. And it sounds like you went for the 2018 - so congrats!
 

ShinRich

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 14, 2020
11
1
I’ve been pondering the same scenario the last couple of days. I’m leaning towards the 2018 because I have a 4K monitor and the 2012 Mini won’t do 4K. I found a decent deal with a Thunderbolt Display which is tempting. That’s the only scenario I think I’d go with a 2012 Mini now but it’s too much when I can get a 2018 for less and I have the necessary accessories.
Thanks for that reminder about the 4K. I did forget about that and I am planning on getting a 4K tv to use as a monitor somewhere in the future.
 

ShinRich

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 14, 2020
11
1
The 2012 i7 is still a decent machine but I don't know if I'd want to spend that much on something that is 8 years old. Those components are getting on now and could fail at some point.

From your use case, are you sure you even need the 2018 i7? It seems overkill as even the base model i3 is faster than that 2012 i7 and also benefits from significantly quicker DDR4 RAM. The SSD would be PCIe-based, too. I don't really see the 128gb SSD on the i3 as much of an issue as there are now Thunderbolt/USB-C ports to add as much fast external storage as you like.

Alternatively, the 6-core 2018 i5 would be cheaper and a significant upgrade over the 2012 i7. In all cases, I'd just get the base 8Gb and upgrade RAM yourself as it's much cheaper (16gb is the max on the 2012; you can go up to 64gb on the 2018).

Bear in mind that the 2012 models (and 2014) are effectively 1080p machines only. The graphics are pretty weak to say the least so forget using a 4k monitor now or in the future; the 2018 integrated graphics are decent enough for everyday use but at least you have the option of an eGPU down the line if needed.

Catalina could also well be the last OS version for the 2012. Just speculation, but it's something to consider. These threads might be useful: 1, 2, 3.

Thanks for that nudge. That's what I couldn't decide about the 2012. I wasn't sure if that was a good deal considering all that he was including and knowing my daily use. In the back of my mind the thing that was holding me back was the age of the unit. Yes I agree in that i think the i7 2018 is overkill but I wanted to ensure that I was future proofing it otherwise i was originally going to stick with the i5. Also yes I was going to do the ram upgrade myself later on down the line. Thanks also for the links. I will check them out.
 

ShinRich

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 14, 2020
11
1
I have a similar 2012 that I use for video/audio editing and web development. It's a great machine, and still meets my needs, so I'll probably run it into the ground. I'd agree that the graphics are the weakest aspect of the 2012, although they are still good enough to edit 1080p video. My primary screen is an ancient Apple Cinema Display (1920 x 1200) connected with an HDMI to DVI adapter and I have a Blackmagic ultraStrudio Thunderbolt interface connected to a Sony 1080p production monitor for video editing.

I would not buy another 2012, however - it's getting old and every day puts it one step closer to its grave ;). But then again, it sounds like your needs are more modest than mine. So it sounds like the 2012 would be fine for you, and the price is attractive. But I'd be realistic about it and accept that fact that it will probably only be good for a couple years, but a new Mini should last much longer (and has a warranty with AppleCare eligibility).

But if you go with the new Mini, I don't understand why you're looking at such a high-spec model. That's a substantial difference in specs between the 2012 and 2018, and sounds like overkill for what you need.
Thanks for the info. I agree I did think the 2018 I chose was overkill. I just didn't have enough info or experience with it to determine if it was overkill or if I should bite the bullet now so i don't regret it later. They had nothing on display at the store for me to try so that I could test it out. For all I know the i3 would be more than enough for my needs but I have no way of really telling without being able to try it for myself. Believe me I didn't really want to spend $2K if I didn't need to. All that you mentioned are great points and exactly what i needed to hear. Thanks again
- - Post merged: - -

I mean this is Intel marketing psychology at work... feeling the need to spend on the prestige option but for no particular reason.

Definitely get a 2018 though. It has a long lifetime of being fully supported by macOS releases ahead of it. It's quite likely that the 2012 has just received its last supported release.
Lol..you're right and I fell for it hook line and sinker. I think getting the 2018 does make sense but I'll go with an i5. Thanks for the help.
 
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ShinRich

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 14, 2020
11
1
This is a general opinion but I think that the old high performance equipment, be it iMac, Mac Mini, PC, etc. were a good investment at the time of purchase because someone who bought them in this case a Mac Mini with i7 in 2012 could have an experience of use (that although it diminished with the years) good until today.
Today I would not recommend a 2012 Mac Mini versus the 2018 model is outdated in every way.
Nor would go for the latest model with i7 is very expensive, a "normal" purchase would go for the middle model the i5 256gb maybe upgrade the ram to 16GB.
Thanks! That's exactly what I needed to hear.
- - Post merged: - -

I have a pretty maxed out 2012 quad core i7 not recommend the 2012 for $700. It's a GREAT machine, but unless it came with dual (and large) SSDs, that's a pretty hefty price. I'm using mine until it dies, but I'm ready to pick up a 2018 model (or whatever hopefully comes after) as soon as possible. 1-2 years ago, sure, I'd say go for the 2012...but in today's world, I think the age and price are just not worth it. And it sounds like you went for the 2018 - so congrats!
THanks! I haven't actually got anything yet but I think the 2018 is the way I'm leaning now after reading all these posts.
 
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ShinRich

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 14, 2020
11
1
Get the 2018.
Hands down.
And I say this as having been an owner of a 2012 model as my "main Mac" for 6+ years.
The 2012 Mini is "the past". The 2018 is "now and going forward".

I would advise you to buy from the Apple online refurbished store. You get more for your money that way.

My suggested configuration:
- i7
- 16gb RAM installed from the factory
- 512gb SSD

Runs about 1,430 from the refurb store, but you have to be "watching for it" all the time, and be ready to BUY IMMEDIATELY when you see one, because it will be gone soon.
THanks for the tip about the reburb store. I will keep my eye out. Any reason you suggested those specs? Everyone is telling me the i7 is overkill...
 

Erehy Dobon

macrumors 6502
Feb 16, 2018
454
322
The T2 Security Chip in the Mac mini 2018 will do hardware decoding and encoding of both H.264 and HEVC video including 4K UHD.

The rest of your usage needs are utterly mundane and could be handled by the geriatric 2012 machine.
 

fuchsdh

macrumors 65816
Jun 19, 2014
1,498
846
THanks for the tip about the reburb store. I will keep my eye out. Any reason you suggested those specs? Everyone is telling me the i7 is overkill...
In most use, as well as longevity, the RAM and SSD are going to matter much more. If you have to skimp the RAM can be upgraded down the line, so I'd pump more into the SSD (which is soldered).

Processor performance has just not meaningfully improved in the last decade. There's a big jump from a 2012 mini to a 2018 mini, but the advantages of an i7 just aren't going to surface in your use case.

An i3 with 512GB is $1200. Even with 16GB RAM its $1400, and you'll be getting most of the performance you would for your use case out of a machine that cost an extra $600 more.
 

ShinRich

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 14, 2020
11
1
In most use, as well as longevity, the RAM and SSD are going to matter much more. If you have to skimp the RAM can be upgraded down the line, so I'd pump more into the SSD (which is soldered).

Processor performance has just not meaningfully improved in the last decade. There's a big jump from a 2012 mini to a 2018 mini, but the advantages of an i7 just aren't going to surface in your use case.

An i3 with 512GB is $1200. Even with 16GB RAM its $1400, and you'll be getting most of the performance you would for your use case out of a machine that cost an extra $600 more.

That's what I figured too. I was only thinking more along the lines of down the road. Although I don't see my needs changing all that much I wanted to keep my options open just in case. With out having a machine to acutally see the difference makes it so much harder to make a choice.
 

Willis

macrumors 68020
Apr 23, 2006
2,259
4
Beds, UK
As others have said, a newer Mac is certainly the way to go here especially if you find a great one on the refurb store. However, if you're not bothered about the latest and greatest, then the 2012 will serve you well and it is upgradeable for HDD and Ram which isn't the case these days on newer machines.
 

ShinRich

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 14, 2020
11
1
As others have said, a newer Mac is certainly the way to go here especially if you find a great one on the refurb store. However, if you're not bothered about the latest and greatest, then the 2012 will serve you well and it is upgradeable for HDD and Ram which isn't the case these days on newer machines.
yeah that's why I was still considering the 2012 at all but I think the 2018 may be the better way to go if I want to consider my options for the future.
 

honestone33

macrumors 6502a
I have a late 2012 Mac Mini with a Core i7 processor, 8 gig of Ram, and a Samsung 256 gig SSD. The machine has served me well these last 6 1/2 years, and it still works great. But given that (most likely) the next Mac OS will not be able to be used on it, I will (soon) be purchasing the 2018 model, most likely this one:


I also do not do anything "drastic" with ether of my Macs (I also have a 2017 Mac Book Air): check EMail, use Brave for surfing the net, watch some YouTube videos, once in a blue moon watch either a movie or an episode of a TV series, use the Writer Document and Calc Spreadsheet modules of LibreOffice, use Quicken 2017 to track my finances, run Onyx and Tech Tool Pro for cleanup/maintenance/repairs, and finally SuperDuper! for my weekly backups. I suspect the Core i5 processor of that 2018 model will be at least as fast (and maybe faster) as the Core i7 processor inside my current machine.
 

honestone33

macrumors 6502a
If I go with the 2018 model i was considering the i7 model, 8gm ram, and either 256/512 ssd. Roughly, I'm looking at $1800-$2000 after tax and depending on which SSD I go with.

Any help you folks can send my way to help sway me in either direction would help soo much and would be appreciated.
First, welcome to this site! You'll find a number of folks here who have a lot of knowledge about Macs, and also are helpful.

Secondly, as I mentioned in my post above, I plan on getting the 2018 model with a 256 gig SSD and 8 gig of Ram, but with the Core i5 processor. I believe that Core i5 processor will be at least as fast (and maybe faster) than the Core i7 processor inside my current late 2012 Mac Mini. And that model costs about $1100.

The Core i7 2018 model, with a 512 gig SSD and 8 gig of Ram, costs about $1600:


And the one with a 256 gig SSD costs $200 less:


But again, and especially with your processing tasks very similar to mine, the Core i5 processor should do you well.

Also, you can go with the 256 gig SSD, and if needed, add an external SSD later on. With my current machine, I am only using about 75 gig of space, and I have 3 external SSDs. Two of them I use for backups (along with storing some miscellaneous files (mostly movies and TV series)), and the third one I also store some stuff, but I also use it for testing a new version of the Mac OS (I did that with Catalina, and last year with Mojave).

One reason why the amount of space I am using on the internal SSD is not much is that I make a concerted effort to do as much cleanup as I can on my own, and also use two excellent programs (Onyx and Tech Tool Pro) for additional cleanup, plus maintenance (and rarely, if ever, repairs). Having that much free space has at least 2 benefits:

1. The machine runs faster and smoother, especially with some applications.

2. If I need to download a somewhat large file, I have plenty of space to accommodate such a download.
 

honestone33

macrumors 6502a
One important thing I forgot to mention was that when you purchase the machine, it is imperative that you make backups to an external device. Ideally, an external SSD would be the best in terms of speed. This is certainly true if you decide to use either SuperDuper! (SD) or Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC) to make a bootable backup/clone of your Mini's internal SSD. Time machine is OK for backups, but for recovery and/or installation of a new version of the Mac OS, using SD or CCC makes such processing so much easier and faster.
 
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