2014 Mac Mini as family desktop in 2017

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by ohmbaz, Mar 26, 2017.

  1. ohmbaz macrumors newbie

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    Mar 26, 2017
    #1
    I am looking to purchase a desktop computer for family use. We only use a desktop for internet browsing, light word processing, and storing photos (we all have iPhone and most photos we save are taken by those). We use safari to browse, either Pages or Word to word process, and we only edit photos using our phones. We do not use a desktop for gaming or high end photo/video editing. This past week I saw that at least one major electronics retailer has discounted the 2014 Mac Mini base 1.4GHz by $100 - now available for $399. From reading around the forum I am aware that the hardware is a couple years old and somewhat outdated. However, I am interested in the Mac Mini given the price, the opportunity to keep integrated in the Apple ecosystem (we use several other Apple products and services, including Apple Music), and for simplicity (we are not tech savvy and we just want something easy to use/update).

    So, my question is whether the Mac Mini would be a good purchase given what we will use it to do. Any and all opinions are greatly appreciated.
     
  2. keysofanxiety macrumors 604

    keysofanxiety

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    Nov 23, 2011
    #2
    The problem with that machine isn't the age of it, the CPU, or the RAM. Even with light usage, the main bottleneck is the 5400RPM hard drive. The performance will be intolerable to live with on a daily basis. Everything will feel slow.

    Best thing to do is wait for the refresh to see if they make SSD/Fusion Drive standard. Otherwise you'll be looking to run macOS from a USB 3 SSD.
     
  3. sers macrumors regular

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    Jan 11, 2006
    #3
    I checked out the base Mini at an Apple Store recently and found it incredibly slow and sluggish. Even for your basic uses, I think you'll get frustrated with it. If you really must get a Mini, I would upgrade the memory, CPU and storage so that it'll remain useful for a few years as you can't upgrade the internals once you buy it.

    By the time I built the mini I wanted on the Apple store, I was looking at well over $1,000 Cdn. For less money, I bought an Intel i7 Quad Core Kaby Lake Windows 10 system that is fast and easy to upgrade. It still plays nice with my iPhone through iCloud and iTunes, so there's no worries there. I have to admit Windows 10 is not as elegant and easy to use as Mac OS X, but it does what I want it to, which is the important thing.

    It's up to you though - it's great to have different choices. Just thought I'd share my experiences with you.
     
  4. Altis macrumors 68020

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    #4
    Buying a 2014 desktop computer with ultrabook internals in 2017 is a bit questionable.

    $400 is better than $500, but you'll be short on RAM which can no longer be upgraded.

    The mid-tier model is really the one to get, with an SSD, but then the price is up high enough that getting 2014 components is unforgivable.
     
  5. tibas92013, Mar 26, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2017

    tibas92013 macrumors 6502

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    #5
    In June, 2015 I bought a Refurbished MM(Late 2014) 2.8GHz,8GB Ram, 256SSD along with Apple Care for around $1,000 from the Apple On-Line Store. I still remain one-happy Apple Customer regarding this purchase and Apple Care(AC) gives me "peace-of-Mind" for only the $99 price-tag. The AC has already paid-off in replacing a burned-out Apple Superdive last year which would have cost me around $135 here in Costa Rica.

    I am a "light user" like you and your family but never regretted paying a little more for a "beastly of a Machine" with a SSD.

    However, I am not recommending to buy a MM like I did as I follow the concept "Buy as much computer that one can afford and meets One's needs". I would not buy the MM described in your Post as it would not meet my needs.

    When I bought this MM it was to upgrade from a Refurbished MM(Late 2012), 2.5GHz, 4GB Ram, 500GB HD which I bought in the Year 2013.
     
  6. now i see it macrumors 65816

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    #6
    DO NOT THROW AWAY YOUR MONEY ON THE LOW END BOTTOM SPEC 2014 Mac Mini.

    That thing is an abomination. The spinning hard drive with 4 gib ram on Sierra makes it an unbearable beach ball spinning slug. It's horrible.

    That Mac Mini isn't worth $100. I wouldn't use it if someone gave it to me. That's how slow and painful it is to use.
    The only reason it's available is so Apple can say they have a $499 Mac Mini. But its purpose is to force people to buy the better units.

    The mid tier & upper specced 2014 Mac Minis are good machines. Those are the ones to get. They are more expensive, but they actually are usable.
     
  7. Count Blah macrumors 68030

    Count Blah

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    #7
    Are you going to use Photos/iPhoto? If so, the spiny drive will make you want to throw it out the window.
     
  8. Micky Do, Mar 26, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2017

    Micky Do macrumors 68000

    Micky Do

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    #8
    As expected all the geeks come out showing off their superiority by knocking the base model Mac Mini, that they wouldn't even consider owning. On the other hand, we have had more humble folks in these forums who actually do own the base model 2014 Mac Mini, and have found it adequate for their basic needs.

    My only computer is a base model 2009 Mac Mini, upgraded to 5 GB RAM. It was a considerable step up on the the original base model 2005 Mac Mini that it replaced. Far from being a means of "forcing me into being something better" as some would have you believe, the base model remains more than adequate for my humble needs, which are a little above the OP's. I do quite a bit of photography these days, using a Fujifilm X20 (go on, knock that one too, but it fitted my budget and requirements), and provide photos of sport for the local press. I just use iPhoto for editing.

    The 2014 would be a step up on that….. The CPU idles along efficiently at 1.4 Ghz under normal use, but can turbo boost to nearly double that for a bit when required. The HDD takes a while to boot compared to an SSD, but in use that is not a major for a light user, if left on 24/7, as recommended. In sleep mode it draws just 0.75 watt (compared to 0.29 watt when off, but still plugged in), and it wakes in an instant.

    I have checked out the base model 2014 Mac Mini in a shop, and from my point of view it would be an adequate replacement for my 8 year-old Mini, should should the need arise. It would be considerably cheaper too. With iWork the 2009 model set me back nearly 30,000 baht. The current 2014 base model is about 19,000 baht ready to go, the iWork suite comes as standard. I would expect it to see me right for half a dozen years or so, with a dust out every couple or three years.

    Still, I am in not any hurry to replace what I have. When the time comes, in a year or two, there will likely be new Mac Mini with a base model for superior minded geeks to knock
     
  9. ohmbaz thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Mar 26, 2017
    #9
    Thank you all for your input. Greatly appreciated!
     
  10. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #10
    I have one and I disagree. I only use it as an iTunes server, it just sits there and runs iTunes 24/7 with home sharing so I can access my library on two Apple TV's and two computers. It's fine for that, but for anything else it's just unreasonably sluggish.

    I previously used a base model 2012 mini for the same thing and it was noticeably faster. I wanted to give my daughter's family a replacement for their 10 year old iMac last Christmas and didn't want to spend a lot of money. So I upgraded the 2012 mini to 16gb (easy and it cost $65) and added an external 500gb SSD that cost about $250 IIRC. Now that is a very nice all around home machine for them. But I wouldn't have even considered giving them the base 2014 mini.

    Of course, everything is relative and it all depends on your expectations. But I do have first-hand experience and would not recommend the base 1.4ghz/4gb/512gb hard drive model as a family computer. You will find it very frustrating IMO, even for the most basic tasks. If you want a mini, go with one of the higher spec models.
     
  11. Count Blah macrumors 68030

    Count Blah

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    #11
    I see that you do mention iPhoto, Micky Do. But you said you only use it for editing. If you were using iPhoto as your photo repository, you would be HATING the base model 2014 mini. I don't think you'll see people bad mouthing the 2012 base model mini, because you could easily upgrade that one to an SSD. And it would make a fairly usable device, unlike the 2014 base mini, when it comes to iPhoto.

    So while you label those of us with less than glowing remarks about the 2014 mini, as geeks - Many of us also service the Macs of friends and family members. You know what I machine I tell them NOT to get - The base 2014 mini. It's 4Gigs of RAM and 5400 RPM spiny drive, performs less than mediocre on today's MacOS, let along with a large photo libraries, etc... I'll assume that people want to actually USE the mac mini for things like that, and not JUST taking the red out of people's eyes.

    Sorry for being angry, but I mistakenly spend the better part of this weekend consolidating a 100Gig iPhoto library spread across 4 machines, all on spiny drives. I want to throw every last spiny drive in the fires of Mount Doom, from the this unholy experience.
     
  12. jpietrzak8 macrumors 65816

    jpietrzak8

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    Dayton, Ohio
    #12
    I've gotta admit that for my own media purposes, I generally use external drives. Not only does this allow me to choose a drive most appropriate for the data being stored on it, I can also easily move the drive from machine to machine when needed. (Especially valuable, I've found, now that I'm migrating from Apple to Linux PCs.)

    I suspect the 2014 Base Mini would serve as an excellent iPhoto repository connected to a USB3 SSD drive. iPhoto generally doesn't require much RAM, just a really really fast storage device...
     
  13. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #13
    OP:
    As you may have gathered from the above responses, DO NOT buy a "low end" 2014 Mini. It "won't be enough".

    You need AT LEAST 8gb of RAM in ANY Mac you buy.
    You need AT LEAST a fusion drive in ANY Mac you buy.

    If you do not heed the above advice, you are probably going to be unhappy with your purchase.

    If you buy a Mini, heed these recommendations:
    1. "mid-range" Mini with the added option of the 1tb fusion drive. I believe this one comes with 8gb of RAM standard. If it doesn't, order that upgrade too.
    2. "top level" Mini. The standard configuration on this one is 8gb of RAM and the 1tb fusion drive. It will run fine right-out-of-the-box, and keep running well into the future.
     
  14. The_Interloper macrumors member

    The_Interloper

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    Oct 28, 2016
    #14
    As usual, Micky Do has turned up to hurl insults (I'm surprised he labelled people "geeks" twice - he normally throws his other fave, "dilettantes", in there too) at anyone who doesn't agree that it isn't okay to pay premium pricing for a neutered old clunker of a desktop. You'll have to excuse him - he's slightly deluded. He still thinks the Mac Mini is going to be updated, after all.

    The base model 2014 is an absolute dog. Straight from the old Macbook Air parts bin you get a puny 1.4Ghz Haswell (!!!) processor and an even more lamentable 4gb of non-upgradeable, soldered RAM. In a desktop. If that's not insulting enough, the 2.5-inch 5400rpm spinner is a disgrace. Apple users used to openly point and laugh at the poor saps who had those things in their $200 netbooks; to justify them in any way on Apple's current "premium" line-up beggars belief.

    If you enjoy self-flagellation as Safari takes 10 bounces to load and iTunes 20+, go for your life. I've used Atom-based Windows craptops that perform better for basic tasks, purely because they are using flash based storage. Even eMMC beats this thing.

    I've been an Apple user for over 20 years and there is no justification - none - for the current line-up. The Mac Mini in general (and especially the base model) is an insult to Mac users, first-time customers and the legacy of Steve Jobs. His vision of premium but elegant computing, where form and function can coexist perfectly, has been torn to shreds. Asking $400 for this piece of junk in 2014 was bad enough; in 2017 you would need a trip to the doctor if you're even considering it.

    Apple does not want to sell Mac Minis and this computer is proof. If that's their wish, do yourself a favour and oblige them.
     
  15. jpietrzak8 macrumors 65816

    jpietrzak8

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    #15
    What is your problem, man? :) Yeah, Micky Do is tired of all the people coming in here and saying the 2014 Base Mini is a device created by Satan that will corrupt your daughters and spoil your milk. He's not wrong; the posts in this thread are way, way over the top.

    Apple created a device that, while it sadly lacks the performance and the future-proofing of devices provided by other manufacturers, is still able to do work. Under modern macOS, you'll still have 2 GB of RAM available for applications, a decent CPU & GPU for common office-style work, and the ability to plug in a wide variety of devices via its Thunderbolt & USB3 ports (including one of those SSDs that you guys crush on so heavily).

    Are there problems with the base 2014 Mini? Of course there are! Does that make the devices unusable? Of course not.
     
  16. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #16
    Getting back go basics, this is exactly what the OP asked with regard to the base model Mini that Best Buy is selling for $400:

    "my question is whether the Mac Mini would be a good purchase given what we will use it to do?"

    IMO, the answer is unquestionably "no". Now if he had asked "is the Mac Mini capable of doing the things we will use it for?" then you could make a case for a "yes" answer.
     
  17. Altis macrumors 68020

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    Sep 10, 2013
    #17
    It's still a bad buy in 2017.

    Any computer post 2010 would do fine for what most people do -- but that doesn't make them good buys unless the price is right. The question was whether or not it's a good purchase, and the answer to that is pretty unanimously no at this time.
     
  18. jpietrzak8 macrumors 65816

    jpietrzak8

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    #18
    Which is why I didn't jump in until someone started badmouthing Micky Do's post. I agree, the 2014 update of the Mini was not Apple's finest moment. Apple is clearly trying to max out their existing investment into the Mini while minimizing any new R&D on the device.

    But yeah, if you want to run macOS, and you don't have significant application overhead to deal with, it can still get the job done. The thing is not a doorstop! There are not thousands and thousands of customers coming back to Apple and saying "this piece of junk can't run anything!"

    Apple has sold, and is still selling these devices. There are many many people now running base 2014 Minis every single day. Yes, they could have gotten a better machine by spending hundreds of dollars more on a higher-end Mac. Yes, they could have gotten a better machine by purchasing something not running macOS. But that doesn't mean that they can't get any work done using the machine they chose.
     
  19. now i see it, Mar 27, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2017

    now i see it macrumors 65816

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    #19
    I would rather buy a used $225 2010 Mac Mini & pay a shop $60 to install a $95 250 Gb SSD and me put in another 8 gb ram for $65 in it (total = $445) than buy the new base model 2014 Mac mini. It'll run circles around it.

    The base 2014 Mac Mini will have almost zero resale value. Nobody will want it after the next one (wishful thinking) comes out.
     
  20. Altis macrumors 68020

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    #20
    Sure, it can still do some basic computing... but Sierra is poor on an HDD, especially with 4 GB of RAM. Even web browsing is slow. Anyone considering buying one should know that.

    Honestly, it just needs a $100 SSD and it's an okay computer to use for basic stuff.

    Or just buy any computer from post-2010 and put an SSD in it. My old desktop from 2007 (Q6600 quad) with an SSD is way faster in normal tasks than the "new" mini. But a desktop with a 7200 RPM HDD would still be much better off than the 5400 RPM 2.5" Mini HDD.
     
  21. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #21
    Any computer without USB 3.0 would not make my list. ;)
     
  22. jpietrzak8 macrumors 65816

    jpietrzak8

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    #22
    Actually, Sierra is excellent on an HDD! Especially if you are low on RAM; memory compression allows you to get away with a lot more work than you'd be able to do on an OS missing that feature. And so long as you don't go over the RAM limit, web browsing on a base 2014 Mini is exactly as fast as browsing on a top-level Mini -- for most web pages, you'll spend most of your time waiting to download data over your internet connection, not doing any serious local processing of data.

    And now, it is my turn to once again turn our attention back to the OP's original question: would the base 2014 Mini be a good purchase for his intended usage. Of course, I would agree with you that there are better (albeit more expensive) options available! But for what he intends to do with it, sure, it should serve the purpose.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 27, 2017 ---
    Eh, the Firewire 800 port on my 2010 serves my needs just fine. ;)
     
  23. Count Blah macrumors 68030

    Count Blah

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    #23
    An SSD is absolutely required, if you are thinking of getting the base 2014 mini. I still don't recommend it. But I will say that an SSD in a USB3 enclosure is a nice combo on that used late 2013 base model iMac I just got for my son. This was the plan all along. But an ill-informed Apple customer, picking out the base mac Mini for family use and has no idea that external SSDs are a thing, are going to a REALLY poor Apple experience.
     
  24. Partron22 macrumors 68000

    Partron22

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    #24
    500GB USB3 SSD can be had for about $150. Plug it in, use it as boot drive.
    Use the internal spinner for music, vids and time machine.
    400MB per second read and write will keep you happy, despite the internal 5400 rpm spinner.
    Never noticed a need for TRIM, the drive has been running this fast for 3 years now.

    I would not waste money on a fusion drive. The tech is simply transitional. It'll be gone in a few years, when most everything is SSD. Why invite future exotic forms of trouble which no one can remember how to fix?
     
  25. twalk macrumors member

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    Apr 22, 2009
    #25
    I actually purchased one of the $352 open box ones from Best Buy

    I wanted to find out if it's as bad as reported and potentially use it for some light - medium stuff, since my mid-2011 is starting to die (the normal dGPU slow death for that unit)

    The good: For light stuff, it's actually pretty peppy once you get past the HD delay for loading everything. Memory compression works better than I thought it would. It's a Mac

    The bad: Once you start pushing it a decent amount, it starts running into serious trouble. Going to Yahoo and opening just 10 tabs (nothing else running) at the same time is "pushing it a decent amount". This isn't like the slowing down you normally see with a stressed and overloaded machine. Between the Activity Monitor and watching the processes it's pretty easy to figure out what's going on. The processor becomes stressed, dropping it down to the base 1.4Ghz speed, while it's still trying to compress memory like crazy. Memory compression starts failing, because there's no longer enough space to load things for compression. So then it's trying to swap out unused stuff out of memory to the HD to grab more space to compress what's coming in, but the drive is so... slow for that. Oh, and kiss goodbye the in-memory disk cache that's needed to make the HD tolerable because that's the first memory reclaimed. So... the entire computer basically becomes limited to the speed of the HD, which basically grinds everything to a halt

    The ugly: I've also got a 2010 Mini with El Cap, 8G ram, and a 120G SSD. Honestly, the 2014 base was better for light tasks... but just about anything is good enough for light tasks anymore. Even an iPad is good enough. When pushed, that 2010 ran dramatically better than the base 2014

    After using it for much of that night, I returned it to Best Buy the next day
     

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