2012 Mac Mini w/ SSD vs 2018

aaronpass

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Original poster
Apr 7, 2014
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I have a 2012 Mac Mini with a SSD and am thinking of upgrading to the new 2018 base model. I have it backordered from Adorama but am having some doubts. Using it mostly for a HTPC, Plex, Kodi, etc. Will I see a solid performance gain?
 

revmacian

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Oct 20, 2018
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I have a 2012 Mac Mini with a SSD and am thinking of upgrading to the new 2018 base model. I have it backordered from Adorama but am having some doubts. Will I see a solid performance gain?
The only thing I can think of is the performance of the CPU in the 2012 model. Is this component replaceable by the user? If not, how would an i3 stack up against the one in the 2012 (i5?). What about the ports on the 2012 versus those on the 2018?
 

redheeler

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Oct 17, 2014
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I have a 2012 Mac Mini with a SSD and am thinking of upgrading to the new 2018 base model. I have it backordered from Adorama but am having some doubts. Using it mostly for a HTPC, Plex, Kodi, etc. Will I see a solid performance gain?
I'm also using a 2012 Mac mini (dual-core i5) as a HTPC, and its replacement likely won't be a Mac given the price. But as long as the setup stays 1080p, it continues to work just fine.

Unless you're transitioning from 1080p to 4K, there likely isn't much to gain with the newer model.
 
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ElectronGuru

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Unless you're transitioning from 1080p to 4K, there likely isn't much to gain with the newer model.
Yup. The first question is where your current pain points are. My 2010 struggles with some 1080p and with aggressive transfers. So I’m considering a 2014 upgrade. But those are half price right now. To make 2018 at full price worth it, I would need a second role as workstation or widely available 4K content.
 
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redheeler

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Oct 17, 2014
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Yup. The first question is where your current pain points are. My 2010 struggles with some 1080p and with aggressive transfers. So I’m considering a 2014 upgrade. But those are half price right now. To make 2018 at full price worth it, I would need a second role as workstation or widely available 4K content.
I had previously used a 2010 Mac mini Server (2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo) before substituting my 2012, and it too was able to handle most 1080p playback fine. But certainly any 2012 Mac mini (dual or quad) should be able to play those heavier videos that stutter on the 2010.

Even my iMac (24-inch, Late 2006) is surprisingly capable when it comes to 1080p playback on its built-in 1920x1200 display. Only really struggles when attempting playback in the browser, in VLC even heavier codecs like VP9 play back smoothly with occasional dropped frames.
 
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ElectronGuru

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I had previously used a 2010 Mac mini Server (2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo) before substituting my 2012, and it too was able to handle most 1080p playback fine. But certainly any 2012 Mac mini (dual or quad) should be able to play those heavier videos that stutter on the 2010.
Yup. My pain points are high bandwidth 1080p, usb2 and lack of dark mode. 2012 only fixes two of those and 2014 are plentiful. So it’s Iris city for me. Also hoping it will handle 4K at movie frame rates when the time comes.

Btw, IINA includes a dropped frame counter so it’s easy to measure.
 

redheeler

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Oct 17, 2014
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Yup. My pain points are high bandwidth 1080p and usb2. 2012 only fixes one of those and 2014 are plentiful. So it’s Iris city for me. Also hoping it will handle 4K at movie frame rates when the time comes.
As I said, the 2012 should be able to handle high-bandwidth 1080p (Blu-ray quality H.264 or even H.265), but not 4K.

If you go with a 2014, just make sure to get the next model up with 8 GB RAM and Intel Iris. You may want to research if it can handle 4K playback at lower frame rates like H.265 at 24 FPS, the iGPU is faster but for the most part it's not vastly superior to the 2012.
Btw, IINA includes a dropped frame counter so it’s easy to measure.
Not compatible with OS X 10.8.5 Mountain Lion (max version with graphics acceleration on the iMac 6,1). VLC and Kodi are pretty much the only options for smooth playback of modern codecs on the older software, and the newest version of VLC is sometimes problematic as well.
 
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Juggar

macrumors member
Jun 6, 2016
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I have a 2012 Mac Mini with a SSD and am thinking of upgrading to the new 2018 base model. I have it backordered from Adorama but am having some doubts. Using it mostly for a HTPC, Plex, Kodi, etc. Will I see a solid performance gain?
The i3 is better than the best quad core CPU previously offered (i7-3720QM in the 2012 mini server/CTO).

The i3-8100 is equal in overall score to the 3720QM but is about 14.5% faster when it comes to single thread rating.

https://www.cpubenchmark.net/compare/Intel-i7-3720QM-vs-Intel-i3-8100/895vs3103

If you had the dual core i5 2012 mac mini the 2018 i3 (quad core) is more than twice as fast:

https://www.cpubenchmark.net/compare/Intel-i3-8100-vs-Intel-i5-3210M/3103vs815

Then theres the fact that the i3-8100 uses much faster DDR4 2666 MHz vs 1600 MHZ DDR3 in the 2012 mac mini. also the much faster SSD and the 4 thunderbolt 3 ports.

If I were upgrading from a quad core 2012 i7 model I would probably go with the 6 core i5 2018 mini but the i3 will be better in all cases as well. As far as plex is concerned, the raw power of the i3 and the quad i7 are similar so if you wanted a surefire upgrade go i5.
 

ElectronGuru

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Sep 5, 2013
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If you go with a 2014, just make sure to get the next model up with 8 GB RAM and Intel Iris. You may want to research if it can handle 4K playback at lower frame rates like H.265 at 24 FPS, the iGPU is faster but for the most part it's not vastly superior to the 2012.

Not compatible with OS X 10.8.5 Mountain Lion (max version with graphics acceleration on the iMac 6,1). VLC and Kodi are pretty much the only options for smooth playback of modern codecs on the older software, and the newest version of VLC is sometimes problematic as well.
Thanks. eBay doesn’t make it easy to tell iris vs hd5000 but certain models seem to have it standard. And 16gb are available but with MM18’s price change, are going for a premium. I built a Mojave config on the 2010 and ram usage hovers in the 5-7 range so 8 should do it.

I changed to lithium powered kb and trackpad so I’m stuck with el cap regardless. That may explain the unusefulness of hw decoding.

Looking around, this seems to be the epicenter of Mac htpc, so I’ll give them a read:

https://www.avsforum.com/forum/115-htpc-mac-chat/
 

brdeveloper

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Apr 21, 2010
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I had previously used a 2010 Mac mini Server (2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo) before substituting my 2012, and it too was able to handle most 1080p playback fine. But certainly any 2012 Mac mini (dual or quad) should be able to play those heavier videos that stutter on the 2010.
My 2010 Mini plays 1080p content (youtube, netflix, cable tv streaming) pretty fine, but I have Windows 10 as its main OS... it was hard to get all drivers working, though, but now it is a pretty decent Windows machine.