Become a MacRumors Supporter for $50/year with no ads, ability to filter front page stories, and private forums.

JMGinATL

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 27, 2024
7
0
Atlanta GA
Hello there everyone,

First post here, I'll try to make it as concise as possible. I've got a Late 2014 Mac Mini that has served me well for almost 10 years, but it's time to get a new one as this thing is starting to lag. To save the rookie explanation of what my current system specs are, see below:
Screen Shot 2024-03-27 at 7.00.53 PM.png Screen Shot 2024-03-27 at 7.02.17 PM.png
I've got a 1TB SATA for internal storage, with ~140GB free. This computer works mainly as a Plex server, as I can do almost everything else from my iPad or iPhone.

I know the Plex server is the biggest load on the machine, and I'm wondering if I can get by with a minimal 2023 M2 Mac Mini with 8GB unified memory and the 512GB SSD (or even 256GB SSD) and move all my Plex content to an external 5 TB drive and still experience the benefits of the M2 and still run a fairly decent Plex server (only 6 users currently). This Mac has served me for almost a decade and I can still get things done, but the age is showing.

Kind of on a budget and looking to spend $800 on a refurb or certified pre-owned M2 Mini with the above specs, and I'll get the external HD or NAS separately. Currently searching for answers as to whether it is best to get an external HD with Thunderbolt4 connection or if I can get by with a USB-C connection. I'm not a gamer, I do most of my graphic design on my iPad, so I don't need the absolutely highest performance connection.

Any thoughts or experiences would be greatly recommended. Hesitant about the 8GB Unified on the M2 and whether it would be better to get the 16GB. Not going to be running Final Cut Pro, ProTools, Adobe CC, Bluebeam or anything else on the new computer; it would serve strictly as a media server with access to the web.

Thanks,
Justin
 

BeatCrazy

macrumors 601
Jul 20, 2011
4,948
4,131
Until recently, I also ran a Plex server on the same 2014 mini that you have.

I upgraded to the M1 iMac 8CPU/8GPU w/ 2TB external SSD, and it flies.

8GB memory is plenty for Plex.
 

JMGinATL

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 27, 2024
7
0
Atlanta GA
Until recently, I also ran a Plex server on the same 2014 mini that you have.

I upgraded to the M1 iMac 8CPU/8GPU w/ 2TB external SSD, and it flies.

8GB memory is plenty for Plex.

Thanks for the response and reassurance. I'm resigned to the fact that I'm going to have to drop at least a grand on the M2 Mini alone, but in context that's still a great value. I paid ~$750 for my current device, so I'd say I've gotten better value for my Mini than any other PC / Laptop / MBP. Much appreciated!
 

JMGinATL

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 27, 2024
7
0
Atlanta GA
I was using a 2014 mini and now an M1 mini both with 8GB RAM as a NAS/file server. both did/do well with only 8GB RAM.
Great news, I've been having to learn about how Unified vs DDR RAM functions. Unified memory is really an interesting invention, as it can do so much more than the same amount of DDR. Thanks everyone for your answers!
 

Basic75

macrumors 68000
May 17, 2011
1,924
2,226
Europe
Hesitant about the 8GB Unified on the M2 and whether it would be better to get the 16GB. Not going to be running Final Cut Pro, ProTools, Adobe CC, Bluebeam or anything else on the new computer; it would serve strictly as a media server with access to the web.
As you could easily verify from my comment history in this forum I am usually very quick to recommend getting more RAM, but in your case 8GB is more than enough. If your media server were running Linux you could probably get away with 2GB. An M2 Mac mini is overkill now, it should get the job done for many years.

Btw, this has nothing to do with unified memory. Unified memory is just the CPU and GPU sharing the same RAM. This is nothing new. My Amiga 500 (w/o "fast RAM") had a unified memory architecture with pointer passing between the CPU and the "GPU" in 1987.

Final note, Apple uses the same DDR-SDRAM technology for its unified memory that PCs use for their main memory.
 

JMGinATL

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 27, 2024
7
0
Atlanta GA
If price is important, you could get an Apple refurbished Mini from the online store...
Yeah, I check daily but they don't stay up for long. I finished a design project early this month for a chain of hotels and a few exposition centers so I'm thankful for the unexpected windfall. I'll keep looking at Apple's refurb section of the site, but may just pull the trigger as soon as my invoice is paid and get a new one. An M1 would serve the job, but an M2 would help me justify the expense : )
 

JMGinATL

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 27, 2024
7
0
Atlanta GA
As you could easily verify from my comment history in this forum I am usually very quick to recommend getting more RAM, but in your case 8GB is more than enough. If your media server were running Linux you could probably get away with 2GB. An M2 Mac mini is overkill now, it should get the job done for many years.

Btw, this has nothing to do with unified memory. Unified memory is just the CPU and GPU sharing the same RAM. This is nothing new. My Amiga 500 (w/o "fast RAM") had a unified memory architecture with pointer passing between the CPU and the "GPU" in 1987.

Final note, Apple uses the same DDR-SDRAM technology for its unified memory that PCs use for their main memory.
I used to run Plex on Ubuntu and had a ton of problems that I didn't have the time to properly troubleshoot (artwork, subtitles, mis-identification, non-detected content, etc) but I'm sure a lean Linux machine would work in a pinch

Still though, considering the Mac Mini because I have my current one hooked up to my main 42" TV with wireless keyboard and mouse, essentially I consider my computer my entertainment / web browser hub in the living room. I can get away with running the resource intensive programs on my work PC, but I'm all Apple all the time when it comes to personal equipment. Thanks for the tips about the RAM, I know 8GB on a PC won't get you far at all, 32GB is what I've got on the obnoxious work PC and it's still a headache : )
 

Alameda

macrumors 6502a
Jun 22, 2012
912
537
Hello there everyone,

First post here, I'll try to make it as concise as possible. I've got a Late 2014 Mac Mini that has served me well for almost 10 years, but it's time to get a new one as this thing is starting to lag. To save the rookie explanation of what my current system specs are, see below:
View attachment 2363116 View attachment 2363115
I've got a 1TB SATA for internal storage, with ~140GB free. This computer works mainly as a Plex server, as I can do almost everything else from my iPad or iPhone.

I know the Plex server is the biggest load on the machine, and I'm wondering if I can get by with a minimal 2023 M2 Mac Mini with 8GB unified memory and the 512GB SSD (or even 256GB SSD) and move all my Plex content to an external 5 TB drive and still experience the benefits of the M2 and still run a fairly decent Plex server (only 6 users currently). This Mac has served me for almost a decade and I can still get things done, but the age is showing.

Kind of on a budget and looking to spend $800 on a refurb or certified pre-owned M2 Mini with the above specs, and I'll get the external HD or NAS separately. Currently searching for answers as to whether it is best to get an external HD with Thunderbolt4 connection or if I can get by with a USB-C connection. I'm not a gamer, I do most of my graphic design on my iPad, so I don't need the absolutely highest performance connection.

Any thoughts or experiences would be greatly recommended. Hesitant about the 8GB Unified on the M2 and whether it would be better to get the 16GB. Not going to be running Final Cut Pro, ProTools, Adobe CC, Bluebeam or anything else on the new computer; it would serve strictly as a media server with access to the web.

Thanks,
Justin
Why not put the external drive on your old machine and continue using the old machine as your Plex server? Then, just use your new machine for your everyday computing?

And I’d get 16 GB of RAM if you can budget it.
 

JMGinATL

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 27, 2024
7
0
Atlanta GA
Why not put the external drive on your old machine and continue using the old machine as your Plex server? Then, just use your new machine for your everyday computing?

And I’d get 16 GB of RAM if you can budget it.
I plan on giving this old Mac Mini to a cousin who is going to college and needs something very simple to hook up to her TV. If I don't use Plex, the machine runs MS-Office / Zoom / Mail etc at a blazing speed. Also, the USB ports on here aren't really great for transferring / streaming media. I need USB-C / Thunderboldt4 for transferring data from several old external HDs / thumb drives. The current machine sometimes fails to recognize external USB storage (not an NTFS and AFS issue, still figuring it out).

I'm going to try to swing 16GB if possible, it really sucks everything is soldered on to the board making future upgrades impossible so I'm getting as many upgrades as possible when the time comes.
 

Supermallet

macrumors 68000
Sep 19, 2014
1,866
1,799
As a counter point, I got a base M2 Mac Mini and run Plex and Roon on it, with all files stored on external drives. Running those two services and hooked up to one 4K 144hz monitor, my M2 had significant slowdowns when using just a few resource intensive websites. Granted, Roon itself is resource intensive, but just letting you know that you can hit the limits of RAM on these 8GB models more quickly than you think.

I ended up getting a MacBook in addition to the Mac Mini to use for productivity and the Mini is now just running Plex and Roon.
 

JMGinATL

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 27, 2024
7
0
Atlanta GA
As a counter point, I got a base M2 Mac Mini and run Plex and Roon on it, with all files stored on external drives. Running those two services and hooked up to one 4K 144hz monitor, my M2 had significant slowdowns when using just a few resource intensive websites. Granted, Roon itself is resource intensive, but just letting you know that you can hit the limits of RAM on these 8GB models more quickly than you think.

I ended up getting a MacBook in addition to the Mac Mini to use for productivity and the Mini is now just running Plex and Roon.
I read up on Roon after hearing about it on this discussion board. While it would be nice to have, my living arrangements are more like a mother-in-law suite so I guess Plex more than gets the job done for my current setup. I'm planning on keeping the same 1080p OLED HDMI connection because while I find 4k amazing up-close, from where I'd be watching Plex there's hardly any noticeable difference.

Been around this days and days with my tech buddies who are trying to get me to purchase a 4K monitor and ruin my existing kitchen / day room setup just because they'd rather have it look "the best", and in no way does their proposed setup strike me as the "the best" for the situation I'm in. I don't want to move a squeaky couch and find a new home for my monitor when all I want is a simple upgrade where everything pretty much stays in the exact same place. I guess I'm not a fan of change when I like what works just fine me. My girl and I can cuddle on the couch, and the wireless keyboard and mouse do a great job. Also the TV remote comes in handy for quick volume adjustments.

I've got 4 bluetooth speakers (Sony's) that make the house rumble. Just not big into making a new setup that's overkill. My work machine is a great Dell XPS that runs all my work stuff (Ajera, SAP, BlueBeam, AdobeCC, Abobe Photoschop, MS Office, etc) without any issues. Macs are strictly for my at-home entertainment. Thanks for reading my rant, just wanted to get a few things off my mind : )
 

ewitte

macrumors member
Jan 3, 2024
39
22
I gave plex something like 4GB in a container on my server and I believe it uses 2GB. It does however chew through disk writes, careful with drives that aren't replaceable. I have the container running off of an Optane 905p drive which can handle a whole lot more than NAND flash. The media is on a NAS.
 

phrehdd

macrumors 601
Oct 25, 2008
4,311
1,311
Are you doing any type of transcoding on the fly? If not, then a Mini M1 with 16 gigs RAM might be a reasonable option. I did a similar exercise on a 2012 Mini i7. Incidentally, some version of the old Minis had options for either "on board" graphics (Intel Iris) or separate GPU graphics. The former used "shared memory" with the CPU. Unified memory has had various incarnations over the years. I was using XBMC (Plex was a derivative of this project now called Kodi) and did reasonably well with DVD and BluRay level playback on a 1080p plasma. Later, as I was using NAS, I opted for an Nvidia Pro Shield with XBMC on it. It honestly gave better results hooked up to both plasma and LCD. If had today to use a Mini, I would rather get an M1 with 16 gigs RAM over an M2 with 8 gigs and if transcoding is of value, then M2 with at least 16 gigs.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.