Advice on Parent's Mac Mini

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by jbyun04, Aug 10, 2010.

  1. jbyun04 macrumors 6502a

    jbyun04

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2008
    Location:
    Canada
    #1
    2 years ago I introduced my parents to the world of Mac by picking up an 07 Mac Mini for them (1.83 ghz). It was an upgrade over their previous computer and I figured 1GB ram and 80GB would be just fine for what they use a computer for.. basically surfing, checking emails, watching videos online and using iPhoto.

    Well, 1GB Ram just isn't what it used to be so as you can imagine the computer now chugs and it's painful to use especially after using my MacBook Pro. I've gone ahead and ordered 2GB ram for them from OWC and a hard drive upgrade is next in my sights.

    I guess my question is, is it worth it to even max this thing out? I know with their Mac Mini I could buy a T7X00 chip and up their GHz but it's a hassle. Their monitor is dying as well so I need to get them one of those.

    Is it better to just sell this thing and get a used 06 Intel iMac?
    There's 2 years of warranty left on it (Future Shop, crap...) and I really don't know what I would fetch for this on craigslist.

    Also they're running Leopard, should I bump them up to Snow Leopard?
     
  2. opeter macrumors 65816

    opeter

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2007
    Location:
    Slovenia, EU
    #2
    I don't know, how much cash you have, but I personally would go for an 2009 Mac mini (used or refurbished) or an 2008 iMac (2,4 or 2,66 GHz?) with 20" LCD and Radeon 2400, 2600 or better (and also upgrade the RAM to 4 GB, if it is not already).

    These TN paneled LCDs in these older iMacs are nowhere near as a good quality, as today's 21,3" iMacs with iPS panels, but for that money ...

    For the upgrading of the Mac mini, you've got already ... hmmm... you could upgrade the RAM, but you must know, if this computer has a Core Duo or a Core 2 Duo CPU inside. Why? Because the chipset in the Core Duo models don't support more than 2 GB RAM, the Core 2 Duo models with GMA950 can use up to 4GB RAM (3 GB is usable trough).

    For the CPU upgrade, if it is worth or not. I don't know. If you get the T7400 for let's say 80-130 $ price range, than maybe yes. But if it is more expensive, than definitely not.
     
  3. mrfoof82 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 26, 2010
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #3
    Mac Minis have the highest residual value of any Mac. Your Mini (MB138LL/A) is worth ~$325-$350 on eBay, which would clear ~$300-$310 after final fees and PayPal.

    I believe the 2007 Mac Mini is SATA (I have one at home I'm selling, oddly enough). My recommendation for your parents, for speed/price is a 250GB Seagate Momentus XT. That should run ~$99 (500GB is $130). Latest general 7200rpm for usual stuff, but with an adaptive 4GB SLC NAND cache. After a few boots/application launches you'll see the boot times collapse to ~20 seconds and most apps should launch in a single bounce thereafter.

    For memory, honestly, I would've dropped in 4GB since Safari hearts memory. Granted, the chipset can't address all of it since it only has a 32-bit memory controller (needs other address space for memory-mapped IO, video aperture, etc). I did this with my 2007. It can address 3.25GB of it, although System Information only reports it as 3GB (Activity Monitor sees the 3.25GB).

    Mobile CPUs aren't cheap. Not worth doing.

    No real reason to give them Snow Leopard. What would they get out of it?

    -----

    If you want to consider a new iMac, wait until Black Friday sales in November. There are also Late-2009 21.5's on eBay for as low as $900 shipped. Selling their old Mini would get that in your hands for ~$600.

    TL;DR Spending $600 on a newish iMac makes a lot more sense than pushing $350 - $600 in upgrading an old Mini and getting them a new display.
     
  4. bluedevils macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    #4
    Did the mini slow down over time or does it just seem slow compared to newer macs?

    I have a leopard core solo mini with 1GB RAM and run it without any slowdown compared to the first day I got it. I used as a server and desktop. Graphics card performance has been my only complaint.

    Do they have so many photos in IPhoto as to eat up all the RAM?
     
  5. DannySmurf macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2005
    #5
    The 2007s will only address 3GB of RAM (chipset limitation).
     
  6. mrfoof82 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 26, 2010
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #6
    I know. I pointed out in the very next sentence that it'll address no more than 3.25GB because the memory controller is 32-bit.
     
  7. 4JNA macrumors 68000

    4JNA

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2006
    Location:
    looking for trash files
    #7
    depends on you and how much money you are planning to spend. for cheap, upgrade the ram, install a fast/new/big hard drive, and then find a cheap LCD.

    for more money and less work, ditch the mini and buy a used/refurb iMac. faster, better screen, no putty knives... i have a similar mini that i've maxed out, and it's a totally usable machine for stuff above and beyond your parents use list.

    yes, cheap upgrade, and lots of improvements IMHO. the one exception is if they are using wireless on the mini to access the internet. for some reason, after upgrading several 06, 07, and 08 systems to SL, the wireless will not reconnect after coming out of sleep. easy as turning off the airport, and then turning the airport back on, but parents and wives and brother-in-laws don't seem to be able to handle that without phone calls and emails. :(

    best of luck.
     
  8. DannySmurf macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2005
    #8
    Must have missed that, sorry. My point, though, was that he should upgrade to 3GB, not 4GB, since it's cheaper and no memory will go unused. That extra 1GB that disappears when you put in 4 isn't being used by something in the background (if it were, portions of memory would be invisible if you put 1GB or 2GB or 3GB in the machine, but that's not the case).
     
  9. jbyun04 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    jbyun04

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2008
    Location:
    Canada
    #9
    my budget is very small, at the moment i was stingy to buy them the ram which cost about $40 (living on a student budget here :p)

    i suppose in the long run i've always wanted to get them an imac and i figured it's just not worth plunking down more cash for 4gb ram when i could eventually put that towards something else.

    didn't know that the older imacs had a tn panel but to be honest, what they're using it for, they probably wouldn't notice anyway

    don't think i would get them a momentus xt either, going back to putting money into something i would rather put towards a different computer.

    looks like the best option in the future is to keep it at 2gb ram for now, maybe upgrade to SL (they use wifi so that could be problematic) and sell it eventually and put the money towards a refurb imac or mac mini.
     
  10. skipriverstone macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2010
    #10
    Advice on Parent's Mac Mini

    I bought a Mac Mini 3,1 new with 120GB of HD and 4GB RAM (2x2GB) for $800 a year & a half ago. I just upgraded the HD to 500GB and the RAM to 8GB (2x4GB) for $300 (Aug 2010). I use a 42" LG 1080 TV ($300) for my monitor. We use Mac's wireless keyboard & mouse. We use the Mac Mini to watch HD movies, surf the net, use open office, use CS5, use Final Cut Pro 7 and use Aperture 2 all at the same time.
     
  11. MacSince1985 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2009
    #11
    Is it painful for you or for your parents? A 3-year-old Mini should handle the use you describe well. Before spending $, I would run Disk Utility to repair permissions, and repair the disk if necessary. Update all the programs and empty the browser cache. Defrag the drive too.

    Note: using SuperDuper to clone the HD to an external, then back to the internal, tends to defrag drives pretty well, with the additional option of reformatting the internal HD in between.

    Those steps should rejuvenate the Mini for one-app-at-a-time use. To run apps simultaneously, memory should help. OWC will guide you on what to get.
     
  12. jbyun04 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    jbyun04

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2008
    Location:
    Canada
    #12
    painful for me and my parents notice it is slow as well
    i'm gonna have to do some serious cleanup on the drive
     
  13. DannySmurf macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2005
    #13
    2GB is a perfectly usable amount in that machine. My wife was using a similar configuration until recently, and she didn't have any complaints about speed.
     
  14. jbyun04 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    jbyun04

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2008
    Location:
    Canada
    #14
    Yep. Just upgraded the Mac Mini with the 2GB I got from OWC Garage Sale ($33 or so) and it's 200% more usable now. Much much much faster! :D
     
  15. jbyun04 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    jbyun04

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2008
    Location:
    Canada
    #15
    Instead of making a new topic thought I'd just bump this back up..

    2GB Ram did great, sped everything up.. but my parents have been bitten by the Cityville bug which I thought was going to die about 2 months ago. Nope. Their cities are massive now and the Mini just pants for air.

    Now Flash is a GPU heavy thing right? So would you think it's time to upgrade them from that crappy 64MB Intel GPU or would upgrading their 5400RPM to 7200RPM be fine?

    Almost certain it's going to be an upgrade altogether but just wanted to double check.
     
  16. YanniDepp macrumors 6502

    YanniDepp

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    #16
    Flash is an absolute beast on Macs. Even my Core2Duo MacBook Pro and Mac mini (both with decent nVidia graphics and 8GB RAM) struggle with complex Flash games (although I will NEVER admit to playing Evony or Farmville or anything like that).

    Flash does seem to fare better under Windows (on both Macs), but that defeats the point of getting them to move to a Mac, doesn't it?

    Anyway, to answer your question, I'm not sure if you'll get much better performance out of the machine. Certainly the newer Macs will benefit from better graphics, faster processors and the newer version of Flash (which is supposed to be better).

    You could recommend a non-Flash alternative (like SimCity 3000 or 4000). Avoid CitiesXL, it's buggy as hell.
     

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