Base 2014 Mac Mini with External SSD

EightyTwenty

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Original poster
Mar 11, 2015
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Will this be suitable for the next 3 years or so? Only thing I'm worried about is only 4GB of ram. Will that prove to be a bottleneck that will render the system unusable in the next 3 years?

External SSD to start, but could always install it internally if I build up the courage.

Thanks!
 

Boyd01

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Feb 21, 2012
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New Jersey Pine Barrens
I had a 2014 base and 2012 base mini and wanted to give one to my daughter's family at Christmas. Just couldn't give them the 2014 4gb machine, for some reason it just feels slower than the 2012. Upgraded the 2012 to 16gb which only cost $65. Put the system on an external Samsung t3 500gb SSD and they love it. I think it should be good for a number of years for their needs, they use their iPhones and iPads mainly. It replaced an iMac I gave them 10 years ago. :D

i kept the 2014 and only use it as an iTunes server, works fine for that and doesn't a fast cpu or more than 4gb.
 

EightyTwenty

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Original poster
Mar 11, 2015
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I had a 2014 base and 2012 base mini and wanted to give one to my daughter's family at Christmas. Just couldn't give them the 2014 4gb machine, for some reason it just feels slower than the 2012. Upgraded the 2012 to 16gb which only cost $65. Put the system on an external Samsung t3 500gb SSD and they love it. I think it should be good for a number of years for their needs, they use their iPhones and iPads mainly. It replaced an iMac I gave them 10 years ago. :D

i kept the 2014 and only use it as an iTunes server, works fine for that and doesn't a fast cpu or more than 4gb.
Man, I hear such horrible things about the 2014 mini.

The other option is to wait until a refurbished model becomes available with 8GB of ram (those run $609 CDN compared to $499 CDN for the base). The mid-level is $719 CDN.

My needs are very modest. Just looking for a web surfing machine that can play YouTube. My current PC is from 2009 and if perfectly fine for everything I need, except it can't do 1080p @ 60Hz (stutters) and it runs windows instead of macOS.

Is the 8GB or ram worth an extra $109 over the 4GB. It makes a huge difference? I only plan to use it for 3 years before upgrading.
 

Andres Cantu

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May 31, 2015
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Rio Grande Valley in South Texas
Man, I hear such horrible things about the 2014 mini.

The other option is to wait until a refurbished model becomes available with 8GB of ram (those run $609 CDN comoared to $499 CDN for the base). The mid-level is $719 CDN.
To be honest, the machine would be perfectly fine with an external SSD, but I would be worried about support for a 2014 machine in 2020. It probably wouldn't get the macOS version that would be released that year.
 

tibas92013

macrumors 6502
Jun 2, 2013
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Costa Rica
In June, 2015 I purchased a Refurbished MM(Late 2014), 2.8GHz, 8GB Ram, 256SSD from the Apple On-Line Store and I continue to be "one-happy-camper". This MM boots-up in Seconds for this "light" MM User. I paid around $1000 which included Apple Care.
 
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Fishrrman

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Feb 20, 2009
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OP wrote:
"Will this be suitable for the next 3 years or so? Only thing I'm worried about is only 4GB of ram."

NO. It will not be.
Don't buy ANY Mac with only 4gb of RAM.
The very least you need today is 8gb.

The other problem with the base Mini is the graphics. The midrange and top-level Minis have the better GPU.

Also, an internal fusion drive (or SSD) will be somewhat faster than ANY external SSD (even though an external SSD will be quite good).

Your best bet (money-wise and with an eye on the future) would be:
1. Midrange Mini with 1tb fusion upgrade.
or
2. Upper-end Mini (comes with 8gb and fusion standard).
 

Boyd01

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Feb 21, 2012
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New Jersey Pine Barrens
Also, an internal fusion drive (or SSD) will be somewhat faster than ANY external SSD (even though an external SSD will be quite good).
Wouldn't the speed of the fusion drive be dependent on how full the SSD is, how many unique large files you work with, etc? Just curious, have never used one.

I have both 500 and 1TB Samsung T3 USB 3.0 SSD's and they tested the same. This is what I get on a 2012 mini




And this is the original Apple sm256e internal SSD in my 2012 mini server.





The 2014 ssd should be even faster, I get over 700MB/sec with the SSD in my 2013 MacBook Air for example.
 

FlyingTexan

macrumors 6502
Jul 13, 2015
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Lets talk system maintenance first. Right now I'm showing 172 processes and 740 threads. Anyway i could lighten that load? Any other diagnostics or what not I could run to unclog?
[doublepost=1490387469][/doublepost]Looking at my memory usage simply using chrome is using almost 2.5GB. Google Chrome Helper alone is using 2.3GB. Doing some searching now.
 

Boyd01

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Feb 21, 2012
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New Jersey Pine Barrens
My 2014 base mini is showing 217 processes, 771 threads and 2.59 GB memory used - pretty similar. The only thing running on it is iTunes. I have turned off all notifications and don't have e-mail, iMessage or any of those things running. Wifi is off and it's on a gigabit ethernet network. Not sure how I could strip it down any leaner. :)
 

jpietrzak8

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Feb 16, 2010
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Dayton, Ohio
https://elanmorgan.com/blog/slow-mac-it-might-be-chrome

Not joking. Ending Google Chrome just turned this into a new machine. WTF
Actually, you might want to check what websites you're visiting. Modern website design seems to be "create the most inefficient, bloated, poorly-coded pages possible, and then load them down with dozens and dozens of ads, all trying to run their own independent interactive scripts at the same time".

Really, it doesn't matter what browser you choose these days. :(
 
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FlyingTexan

macrumors 6502
Jul 13, 2015
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well safari ran much better. I like chrome the most but with mac it uses much more resources than windows. Safari unfortunately just can't block popups as well.
 

jaeb0922

macrumors 6502
Jan 25, 2012
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Rhode Island
I have a Mac Mini 2014 base model. I use it at my office for light web design and mostly browsing the net. Lately, it's been dreadfully slow and the beach ball turns for hours at a time, at some points. I do use photoshop CC which KILLS it at times. CS 6.5 ran flawlessly though.

Thinking of getting a 240 gig USB 3 SSD and adding that to solve some of the issues. Anyone recommend one that's semi inexpensive?
 

jpietrzak8

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Feb 16, 2010
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Dayton, Ohio
I do use photoshop CC which KILLS it at times. CS 6.5 ran flawlessly though.

Thinking of getting a 240 gig USB 3 SSD and adding that to solve some of the issues.
Hmm. Honestly, the SSD may help to some extent, but my guess is that Photoshop is consuming all available RAM. Adding an SSD won't fix that problem; Photoshop will still end up swapping to the drive, and even though an SSD is miles faster than an HDD, you're still going to see some nasty slowdowns.

A machine with sufficient RAM to run Photoshop would be a better investment, in my opinion...
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
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jaeb0922 -

An external SSD -WILL HELP-, a great deal.
It will even help because of the lack of RAM in the Mini, by speeding up VM swap operations.

You don't have to spend much to get what you need -- a 240gb SSD will do. It can be either a "ready-to-go" model (just plug it in and use it), or you could buy a "bare" drive and an enclosure for it. IF you buy an enclosure, BE SURE that it's SPECIFICALLY STATED to support UASP. You need this feature to obtain the fastest speeds that an external USB3 drive can deliver (generally, about 430mbps read speeds).

Set it up to have the OS, apps, and "basic" accounts.
By "basic" I mean that large libraries (such as pictures, music, and movies) are left on the internal hard drive. They don't require the speed of the SSD.

You want to keep the SSD "lean and clean" for the best performance.
 
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