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macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 5, 2015

I'm in the market for a new desktop. We currently have a 2006 imac Core 2 Duo that is quite slow, as you might imagine. We use our computer to do pretty basic tasks (streaming, surfing, iphoto, word processing and garageband) and want a screen larger than 21.5". The 27" imacs are a little outside of our price range, so I thought the mini could be a good fit. I plan on upgrading the RAM to 8 or 16 and hard drive to a SSD. My questions are these:

--I've read that lots of folks prefer the 2012 quad-core; I can find those on ebay with the specs I want at an okay price, but is it worth it to forgo the warranty and buy a 3-year old machine? I'd like to not have to buy a new one if a new OS renders the 2012 not upgradeable.
--Considering our usage, is there anything we'd be missing out on in the step down from imac to mini?
--In the 2014 lineup, I see a $300 difference between the mid and high models, but the only upgrade I see is a .2GHz processor bump. Am I missing something more significant?


macrumors 68020
Jul 5, 2002
On the 2014 models, the (internal) SSD upgrade is more difficult than on the 2012 and the Ram upgrade is simply impossible, so you have to estimate your Ram needs for the years to come and buy accordingly with the 2014 models.

The quad-core 2012 Mac mini should be plenty for your needs and it should be easily supported by several more OSX revisions. In general the mini is a pretty robust machine, so a warranty is not mandatory in my opinion.

Small drawback: SSD speeds are lower compared to the 2014 machines (SATA vs. PCIe) and 4k support is not available out of the box on the 2012 (although the 2014 only offers 4k@30Hz, so that makes both nearly equal again).

On the other hand the 2014 only has dual-core, so if you tend to multitask intensively or have software that makes good use of 4 cores (not sure about iPhoto and GarageBand, but in general both audio and video do offer suitable software using 4 cores), the 2012 quad has a distinct advantage.

Oh and one more thing: With an iMac that old you may currently use its FireWire port(s), e.g. for backup drives or some audio interfaces. While the 2012 mini has native Firewire 800 and would just need a cheap adapter cable to FW400, the 2014 mini requires a Thunderbolt-to-FireWire adapter, which may lead to unwanted compatibility problems.


Sep 28, 2014
We currently have a 2006 imac Core 2 Duo.

Neodym made a very good point. Your 2006 mini has only usb2.0 and firewire connections, while the 2014 minis have only usb3.0 and thunderbolt connections. The usb3.0 is downward compatible to 2.0, but thunderbolt is not downward compatible to firewire.


macrumors Penryn
Feb 20, 2009

You mentioned GarageBand above, are you by chance using an audio interface that connects via firewire?

If so, be aware that the 2012 Mini has a firewire800 port, but you'll need a thunderbolt-to-firewire adapter on the 2014 Mini. (Aside, if your interface is USB-based, there is no problem).

Having said that, unless you absolutely need "four cores", I think your best bet will be a 2014 midrange Mini, at least 8gb of RAM, AND (VERY important), the 1tb fusion drive option.

The new PCIe "blade-based" SSD that is used in the 2014 Mini is SIGNIFICANTLY faster than the SATA-based SSD of the 2012 Mini.
And, it's actually more cost-effective to get a new Mini with the fusion drive (or "plain" SSD drive) already-installed. You can't buy a new blade SSD that will fit -- the only source is used items from ebay, etc.
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