Advice on a Mac mini

mattdanielc

macrumors member
Original poster
Feb 17, 2015
31
0
Hi,

I'm considering replacing my dying PC with a 2.6GHz Mini. Bog standard - so 8GB memory
1TB hard drive
Intel Iris Graphics

But will it be powerful enough for Photoshop / Dreamweaver? I make websites in my spare time.

Do any mac mini owners have experience of playing games too? Is it powerful enough to play games like starcraft 2 or total war rome 2?

Thanks for any advice :)
 

Johnlpi

macrumors member
Feb 17, 2015
36
4
Advice sought/Photoshop/Gaming on Mini

f you're budget will allow, I recommend at least an upgrade to 16GB of RAM and a 1 TB Fusion drive. The i7 isn't really needed, because your program won't be taking advantage of hyper-threading.

However, I would recommend the i7 just the same - but not at the expense of the other two upgrades. You might need it in the future, depending on your use case.

The mac mini wasn't designed for gaming. I would recommend you get a nice monitor and hook up a PlayStation to it along with the Mini. Some people have had success with eGPU's; but that can get rather expensive for little gain.

The Mini is a rather powerful machine.

Here is an article discussing if/when an i7 is needed. If you scroll towards the bottom, you will see a bulleted list of use cases when an i7 may be necessary: http://www.macworld.co.uk/feature/mac/apple-mac-i5-vs-i7-processor-which-cpu-imac-macbook-buying-advice-3489917/

If you're into benchmarks, here is an article about the performance of a quad-core in the 2012 Mini and the dual-core in the 2014:
http://barefeats.com/macmin14.html

I hope this helps. Congrats on making the Big Switch. :)

-J.
 

mattdanielc

macrumors member
Original poster
Feb 17, 2015
31
0
thanks - I might be able to stretch to the fusion drive - but that's it sadly, I'm on a budget and it's hard for me to even get a mac at all (the same money would get a better PC specs wise) but I'd like to sync with my ipad and iphone.

I know the mini isn't built for gaming as such - but I hope it can play them without too much stress - this apple page mentions starcraft 2:

https://www.apple.com/uk/mac-mini/features/

Anyone out there who uses their mini for photoshop / dreamweaver - does it run ok??
 

Cassady

macrumors 6502a
Jul 7, 2012
552
124
Sqornshellous
If you can manage to get your hands on a 2012 quad-core, then you would at least have the luxury of upgrading both RAM and storage as you can afford to...

Cannot comment on Photoshop etc., but someone is bound to offer some clarity. Best of luck.

Ps - like you, started with iPad. Made sense to upgrade to iPhone, to sync with iPad. And then my laptop. I now have a iPhone, iPad, iPod, MacBook Pro, Mac Mini and an ATV. Careful! ;)
 

yjchua95

macrumors 604
Apr 23, 2011
6,725
230
GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
f you're budget will allow, I recommend at least an upgrade to 16GB of RAM and a 1 TB Fusion drive. The i7 isn't really needed, because your program won't be taking advantage of hyper-threading.

However, I would recommend the i7 just the same - but not at the expense of the other two upgrades. You might need it in the future, depending on your use case.

The mac mini wasn't designed for gaming. I would recommend you get a nice monitor and hook up a PlayStation to it along with the Mini. Some people have had success with eGPU's; but that can get rather expensive for little gain.

The Mini is a rather powerful machine.

Here is an article discussing if/when an i7 is needed. If you scroll towards the bottom, you will see a bulleted list of use cases when an i7 may be necessary: http://www.macworld.co.uk/feature/mac/apple-mac-i5-vs-i7-processor-which-cpu-imac-macbook-buying-advice-3489917/

If you're into benchmarks, here is an article about the performance of a quad-core in the 2012 Mini and the dual-core in the 2014:
http://barefeats.com/macmin14.html

I hope this helps. Congrats on making the Big Switch. :)

-J.
I agree on the Fusion Drive, but not the RAM upgrade. Because of how Yosemite handles RAM caching and compression, in simple words, 8GB actually acts like 14GB or more RAM.

The i7 is completely unnecessary because the core count and thread count is identical to the i5.

Only among desktops, the QC i5 and QC i7 have different thread counts.
 

BrettApple

macrumors 65816
Apr 3, 2010
1,098
375
Heart of the midwest
i5, 8GB RAM, and either fusion drive or what I'd recommend is a 256GB SSD. That will help more than anything real world performance wise. Obviously you'll probably need more space, but external drives aren't terribly expensive. You might even be able to take your old drive out of your PC and use it in an enclosure if it's still good.

I can't recommend any computer still using a spinning HDD in 2015 to anyone (as the boot drive anyway). Especially as SSDs are so cheap now. I've replaced lots of HDDs in computers from 2006 up to current models ditching the HDD right out of the box.

So middle model with fusion or full on SSD. Intel Iris is pretty capable for games. Don't expect to run everything on high, but it'll work for the most part. My 13" rMBP handles most things pretty well at 1080p.
 

Johnlpi

macrumors member
Feb 17, 2015
36
4
2012 mini vs 2014 mini

One more thing - I wouldn't get a 2012 mini due to Apple's obsolete product policy, which is five years.
http://support.apple.com/en-us/HT1752

I think you would still be serviced 'till 2018 - a year longer - under AppleCare, but after that, they may not be able to find a new logic board, even if you were to pay out of pocket.

So head's up on that.

-J.
 

Celerondon

macrumors 6502a
Oct 17, 2013
679
123
Southern Cal
From $699 to $1,399 In One Page Of Advice

Wow! Our advice urged the OP from $699 through $899 to $1,099 before we even took a breath. Then with that breath we blew him toward $1,399. The final 16Gb+SSD or Fusion Drive+i7 beast that the OP dodged would cost double the price for that original desired computer.

There is some good advice in this thread. A couple of folks provided tips on gaming and others counseled moderation on some of the upgrades. Because that Apple Vintage and Obsolete Products page says that their clock starts when the computer is discontinued, 2012 Mac mini computers should be supported until late 2019. By then anyone who needed a motherboard could simply purchase a used 2014 for less money or a used 2016 for a bit more.

We should try to take it easy on mattdanielc. After all, this is the OP’s first month as a Macrumors Forum member. That $699 computer is a fine machine. Although a Fusion Drive (my pick) or SSD would provide great value for the cost of the upgrade, $700 will get the OP a nice computer.
 

Attachments

yjchua95

macrumors 604
Apr 23, 2011
6,725
230
GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
Wow! Our advice urged the OP from $699 through $899 to $1,099 before we even took a breath. Then with that breath we blew him toward $1,399. The final 16Gb+SSD or Fusion Drive+i7 beast that the OP dodged would cost double the price for that original desired computer.

There is some good advice in this thread. A couple of folks provided tips on gaming and others counseled moderation on some of the upgrades. Because that Apple Vintage and Obsolete Products page says that their clock starts when the computer is discontinued, 2012 Mac mini computers should be supported until late 2019. By then anyone who needed a motherboard could simply purchase a used 2014 for less money or a used 2016 for a bit more.

We should try to take it easy on mattdanielc. After all, this is the OP’s first month as a Macrumors Forum member. That $699 computer is a fine machine. Although a Fusion Drive (my pick) or SSD would provide great value for the cost of the upgrade, $700 will get the OP a nice computer.
It's not nice at all if there is no SSD component in the Mac.

A 5400rpm HDD won't get you anywhere far, because everything will feel sluggish.
 

Celerondon

macrumors 6502a
Oct 17, 2013
679
123
Southern Cal
...

A 5400rpm HDD won't get you anywhere far, because everything will feel sluggish.
I would like to debate you but I can't. It's pretty much unanimous!

If possible, the OP should save up for a Fusion Drive or SSD.

I like FD for this situation because the smaller SSD may require still another purchase of external storage.
 

yjchua95

macrumors 604
Apr 23, 2011
6,725
230
GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
I would like to debate you but I can't. It's pretty much unanimous!

If possible, the OP should save up for a Fusion Drive or SSD.

I like FD for this situation because the smaller SSD may require still another purchase of external storage.
In most cases, I'd suggest a smaller SSD instead plus external storage. Better to have the most vulnerable part fail externally than internally.

But for the OP, he doesn't look like he needs pure speed, so an FD would be good enough.
 
Last edited:

DoFoT9

macrumors P6
Jun 11, 2007
17,518
31
Singapore
I agree on the Fusion Drive, but not the RAM upgrade. Because of how Yosemite handles RAM caching and compression, in simple words, 8GB actually acts like 14GB or more RAM.
I disagree with your statement, to be honest. I have seen extremely bad performance from Yosemite with the new caching options. This may be due to my workflow and aggressive use-case, but overall, I find that 8GB for this workflow (using some designer-style products) is insufficient. I suggest a 3rd-party upgrade to 16GB RAM every day.

Also, I don't really suggest Fusion drives. Do it manually, store your OS/apps on the internal SSD, buy an external hard disk and store everything else there. It's very easy to manage.

The i7 is completely unnecessary because the core count and thread count is identical to the i5.
Agree there - no real benefit in most use cases.

In most cases, I'd suggest a smaller SSD instead plus external storage. Better to have the most vulnerable part fail externally than internally.

But for the OP, he doesn't look like he needs pure speed, so an FD would be good enough.
Yup I think if the OP takes anything from this it's going to be this, keep the SSD internal, and have a mechanical external drive.
 

yjchua95

macrumors 604
Apr 23, 2011
6,725
230
GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
I disagree with your statement, to be honest. I have seen extremely bad performance from Yosemite with the new caching options. This may be due to my workflow and aggressive use-case, but overall, I find that 8GB for this workflow (using some designer-style products) is insufficient. I suggest a 3rd-party upgrade to 16GB RAM every day.
As a cinematographer, even 32GB isn't enough for me when I'm doing 4K work. That's what my 12-core, 64GB nMPs are for.

But for daily and medium usage, the OP would be fine with 8GB. It's not like he's going to be running a VM while doing Lightroom jobs.
 

mattdanielc

macrumors member
Original poster
Feb 17, 2015
31
0
thanks for all of the advice guys. If I do get one - I'll get the fusion drive upgrade but that's it. my wife will kill me otherwise! Although might get the SSD then instead and whack on my (current) external drive and use that. I've got a NAS for most of my files though.

I'm off to visit the apple store tonight to see one in person - looking forward to it!

I also need to save for a monitor - but won't be ale to afford an apple one sadly. My current one is from 2008, an old Dell one, so I'd like a full HD one to show off the mini properly.
 

yjchua95

macrumors 604
Apr 23, 2011
6,725
230
GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
thanks for all of the advice guys. If I do get one - I'll get the fusion drive upgrade but that's it. my wife will kill me otherwise! Although might get the SSD then instead and whack on my (current) external drive and use that. I've got a NAS for most of my files though.

I'm off to visit the apple store tonight to see one in person - looking forward to it!

I also need to save for a monitor - but won't be ale to afford an apple one sadly. My current one is from 2008, an old Dell one, so I'd like a full HD one to show off the mini properly.
I use a Dell S2240L and it looks great.
 

mattdanielc

macrumors member
Original poster
Feb 17, 2015
31
0
I use a Dell S2240L and it looks great.
Obviously I will try it first - but I know I didn't spend a lot on the monitor when it was bought, so I doubt it will look as great as it could. I know the ms is 13 for example - crap for gaming.

Does anyone know if the fusion drive boots up as quickly as the ssd drive?

Thanks
 

Celerondon

macrumors 6502a
Oct 17, 2013
679
123
Southern Cal

Attachments

Last edited:

DoFoT9

macrumors P6
Jun 11, 2007
17,518
31
Singapore
As a cinematographer, even 32GB isn't enough for me when I'm doing 4K work. That's what my 12-core, 64GB nMPs are for.

But for daily and medium usage, the OP would be fine with 8GB. It's not like he's going to be running a VM while doing Lightroom jobs.
IMO - 8GB is the new 4GB of 2012. Any new machines (PC or Mac) that I purchase for people will have 8GB of memory, this is the bare minimum to run. Skype, Chrome, Office (suite as a whole), any video/audio product - these essentially require 1GB of memory each to run (raw, not taking into consideration compression etc). At the high level, 8GB is merely sufficient for a medium workflow. Of course, most people aren't that 'fussy' about their responsiveness of the machine, so 8GB of memory should be sufficient for most. If the user is aware of their machine, however, they require more.

Congrats on the nMP BTW, very jealous.

In any case, the Mac Mini is user upgradeable so it's really all just a moot point.
 

unplugme71

macrumors 68030
May 20, 2011
2,749
714
Earth
One more thing - I wouldn't get a 2012 mini due to Apple's obsolete product policy, which is five years.
http://support.apple.com/en-us/HT1752

I think you would still be serviced 'till 2018 - a year longer - under AppleCare, but after that, they may not be able to find a new logic board, even if you were to pay out of pocket.

So head's up on that.

-J.
If you purchased today, you would have AC coverage until 02/17/2018. However, the 5 year mark will probably start around October 2019, maybe November depending on the official cut-off date.

The other issue to worry about is OS support. While the 2012 and 2014 don't differ much in specs, somehow Apple will manage to say the 2012 is "slower" and no longer supported.

I'm considering the 2012 Mac Mini Server still, but I am a little nervous about future OS support.
 

OldMike

macrumors 6502
Mar 3, 2009
396
76
Dallas, TX
If the OP hasn't purchased his Mac Mini yet, I would recommend the mid level Mac Mini for $699 (which can be purchased online for $669 without tax from several retailers for additional savings).

It does come with a 1TB 5400 RPM, which works excellent as a time machine backup drive.

In addition to this I would purchase the Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB SSD from Amazon for around $200 (I have seen it for $199, but todays prices show $205). This would make a very fast SSD boot drive.

For an enclosure you can go either Thunderbolt or USB 3 (get one with UASP support for the best speeds). For cost savings I would go with a USB 3 enclosure like this one for $18.99 - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00FCLG65U/ref=ox_sc_sfl_title_3?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A2QGX098CVHYJ7

In case you are wondering about what kind of speeds an external SSD can provide, a poster here on MR benchmarked both TB and USB 3 external SSD setups - and the USB 3 was very fast: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1712510

With this setup you would have the following:
Mac Mini 2.6GHz Intel Core i5 Dual-Core (Haswell)
8 GB RAM
500 GB SSD Boot Drive
1 TB Internal Time Machine Backup drive

The cost of this would be $892.99 and would provide the OP with an excellent system for his needs at a great price. If my 2012 Mac Mini were to die on me, I would replace it with this very system. I currently have a 2.3GHz quad core with 16 GB RAM, but I would be very happy with the above setup as well. For the OP's stated use, I would say that 8 GB RAM would be more than adequate...

As for monitors, Dell does make some nice IPS displays that can be found for a pretty good price on Amazon. I have a 21" Dell IPS display that I use as a second display in portrait mode for displaying documentation, that I purchased for around $125. They also make similar 1080P 24" IPS displays that are around $179.

Regardless of your decision, I think you will love your Mac Mini. I would be lost without mine.