2014 Mac Mini virtual environment

Abdulhaq

macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 23, 2013
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Kindly let me know the performance of the basic 2014 model Mac Mini (with 4GB Ram) by when using Yosemite and Windows 7 in a virtual environment.
 

Meister

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Oct 10, 2013
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It completely depends on what apps you have running, as performance is directly impacted by workload. Generally speaking, you may wish you had more RAM than 4GB.

This should help: How much RAM do I need in my Mac?
This is the correct answer. 4gb could not be an issue at all when running Win7 in VM or they could be a massive issue. This completely depends on the apps you are running. Also the 1.4ghz cpu could be an issue and obviously the standard hdd should be exchanged for an ssd in every case.

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Generally, pretty bad.

You should aim for at least a mid-range Mac Mini with 8GB of RAM and a 1TB Fusion Drive.

At the very least, get a Fusion Drive.
This is good advice. If your plan is to always run VMs, the mid range mini with a fusion drive inside would be a much preferable option.
 

paulrbeers

macrumors 68040
Dec 17, 2009
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Kindly let me know the performance of the basic 2014 model Mac Mini (with 4GB Ram) by when using Yosemite and Windows 7 in a virtual environment.
Your biggest bottleneck will be the RAM. Yosemite will be happiest with 4GB of RAM which means 0 RAM for the VM. You need 8GB.
 

yjchua95

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Apr 23, 2011
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This is good advice. If your plan is to always run VMs, the mid range mini with a fusion drive inside would be a much preferable option.
Forgot to add one more thing.

If the OP is going to run databases and some pretty heavy stuff in more than 3 VMs, 16GB might also be in the equation as well, but this isn't a really common case.

Myself, I run about 12 bare-metal VMs on one of my nMPs (vSphere ESXi), and it utilizes almost every bit of the 64GB of RAM the nMP has.

But then, my use case is pretty rare.
 

yjchua95

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Apr 23, 2011
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Since you don't give the usage, I'll give you some real-world scenarios.

My hardware is a base 2014 MacBook Air, so the hardware is nearly identical to the base Mac Mini, excepting that your screen may use more or less resources, and it uses an SSD. 4GB RAM, 1.4GHz i5, 128GB SSD. (You could easily fit a 120GB SATA SSD to the base model for under $100 and get pretty much the same performance.)

I run several industrial control, diagnostics and repair documentation software that utilize large databases (40GB), talk through serial ports (USB->serial adapters), and over the network. I generally use VirtualBox and Parallels for these. VirtualBox for VMs that I copy back and forth between varying hardware platforms, and Parallels for ones that live permanently on this MBA. I generally allocate 2GB RAM and 2 CPUs to the Windows VMs, and also give the VM better performance settings where applicable. These VMs were copied from PC laptops that generally had Core 2 Duo or 1st gen Core i processors. These systems are legacy that seem like they were ported from older mainframe apps, although they have been continually updated every quarter to use newer technology.

When running just a single VM, performance is great. It easily exceeds the performance of the original machines, and allowed me to consolidate several machines into one MBA, and gain more screen area and MUCH longer battery life.

However, running more than one VM at a time will cause somewhat jerky performance. I usually leave a few Mac apps running and they are pretty low CPU and memory usage (Terminal, Mail, Calc, etc.) Even running a VM and a higher utilization app, like Firefox with complex websites open, will cause a little lag which is noticeable but not unusable. Even more apps cause more lagging but it doesn't become intolerable for a while.
Keep in mind that OP is thinking of a Mini with a HDD.

Yours will perform nicely on 4GB of RAM because you have an SSD.

The OP won't get that performance without at least a Fusion Drive upgrade.
 

Abdulhaq

macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 23, 2013
126
3
2014 Mac Mini virtual environment

Thanks for your feedbacks. I realize that 4GB would be a limitation for virutual environment. I may settle for an older 2011 or 2012 Mac Mini which will allow me to upgrade the memory as and when required. I just hope than an older generation of cpu and an older version of graphic processor will not cause much performance problems.
 

yjchua95

macrumors 604
Apr 23, 2011
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GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
Thanks for your feedbacks. I realize that 4GB would be a limitation for virutual environment. I may settle for an older 2011 or 2012 Mac Mini which will allow me to upgrade the memory as and when required. I just hope than an older generation of cpu and an older version of graphic processor will not cause much performance problems.
Note that 2011 and 2012 models have far slower graphics performance - the Intel HD series are just crap compared to the Intel Iris in the current ones.

Get a mid-range 2.6GHz i5 with 8GB RAM and a 1TB Fusion Drive (or 256GB SSD for even more pure speed), and off you go.

Also look for refurbs for such a configuration.
 

unplugme71

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May 20, 2011
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I would definitely get 8GB memory min for a virtual environment. 4GB will be eaten up just by the two operating systems.

And if you do the 8GB, might as well bump up from the 1.4Ghz to the 2.26Ghz - you'll get better clock speed and the 8GB comes standard. Plus a 1TB HDD.

The next performance upgrade would be a SSD. That'll help out with i/o for the VMs.