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dragon2611

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 19, 2004
156
4
Just wondering what the base spec Mini is like for day to day use, main concern is that 4GB ram would be to limiting?

It wouldn't be my only mac as I have a 2015 base spec 13" pro (Upgraded from a 2011 air which only had 4gb ram and it did run low on memory at times).

Thing is the laptop I tend to do some light gaming on and occasionally need to run a Virtual machine where as I already have an I7/16gb pc desktop I can do that kind of stuff on, the Mini would just be for browsing/ listening to music, skype.etc

Windows 10 is kind of irritating me in places so was tempting to get another Mac instead as whilst I did run linux for a while on the PC the app compatblity for commercial apps is a bit rubbish (I.e skype is still on 4.3x and I use that a lot.)

Edit:

Also Am I right in thinking OSX can run of an external drive? Might stick a 120GB ssd in a USB3 caddy to speed things up (USB3 Is fast enough for several hundred MB/s and doing that avoids voiding warranty taking the mac apart)
 

keysofanxiety

macrumors G3
Nov 23, 2011
9,539
25,302
Base spec Mini will run pretty poorly mainly due to the 5400RPM drive rather than the RAM limiting it.

You can definitely run OS X off an external drive, or install it to an external drive by holding Cmd+R on startup to get to OS X Utilities, formatting drive through Disk Utility, and clicking 'Install OS X' to the external drive. If you need to boot into the external drive, hold 'Alt' on startup and boot into that.

The SanDisk Extreme is a great drive at a great price and runs very quickly like an SSD, so it may be a cheaper option compared to the external 120GB SSD in a USB caddy - though the 120GB SSD would run a little quicker.
 

dragon2611

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 19, 2004
156
4
Base spec Mini will run pretty poorly mainly due to the 5400RPM drive rather than the RAM limiting it.

You can definitely run OS X off an external drive, or install it to an external drive by holding Cmd+R on startup to get to OS X Utilities, formatting drive through Disk Utility, and clicking 'Install OS X' to the external drive. If you need to boot into the external drive, hold 'Alt' on startup and boot into that.

The SanDisk Extreme is a great drive at a great price and runs very quickly like an SSD, so it may be a cheaper option compared to the external 120GB SSD in a USB caddy - though the 120GB SSD would run a little quicker.


A proper SSD would probably better endure the number of write erase cycles that running an OS from it on a regular basis would cause, Looking at about £35 - £40 for a cheap 120GB SSD (probably the sandisk or kingston) and £5 - 8 for the caddy.
 

keysofanxiety

macrumors G3
Nov 23, 2011
9,539
25,302
A proper SSD would probably better endure the number of write erase cycles that running an OS from it on a regular basis would cause, Looking at about £35 - £40 for a cheap 120GB SSD (probably the sandisk or kingston) and £5 - 8 for the caddy.

Yeah matey, either or will be fine. Just thinking in terms of portability with that gentle recommendation about the USB thumb drive, but you're absolutely right that the 120GB SSD and a SATA>USB3 caddy will be a little better if you're not going to move the drive often. :)
 
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dragon2611

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 19, 2004
156
4
I wouldn't buy ANY Mac for ANY usage today UNLESS it had a minimum of 8gb of RAM...

To late...

Also had the fun of dealing with Pcworld (They had £50 off otherwise I wouldn't have bothered going there).

Other than the slowdowns when it's waiting for the spinning rust (Hdd) the thing seems reasonably snappy, I've shrunk the boot partition to just over 100GB to make it easier to copy it to the SSD when it arrives (Annoyingly I think the SSD will arrive tomorrow but the Caddy probably won't as it's presumably coming from a different warehouse)
 
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robotica

macrumors 65816
Jul 10, 2007
1,256
1,412
Edinburgh
Hello

Thanks for posting all this info -
Would you be able to keep this thread updated with your experience of this Mac mini?

I am thinking of buying the same one as its so cheap. Would be great if you could update this with your opinion after a few days :)

Was it £349 in Pc world? It's about that on Amazon.
 
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Meister

Suspended
Oct 10, 2013
5,456
4,310
Good choice!

There are great deals here (germany) for the mini, too.
It's usually sold for 399€!

That's an excellent deal and if you slap in an ssd it makes an awesome home computer.
 

c8rlo

macrumors 6502
Sep 1, 2015
377
167
FL
Just wondering what the base spec Mini is like for day to day use, main concern is that 4GB ram would be to limiting?

the Mini would just be for browsing/ listening to music, skype.etc

if you're talking about the newest MM, it should run fine w/ the 4GB ram to do what you mentioned. still i would maybe upgrade to an SSD, furthermore the RAM is now soldered and can only configured at the initial time of system purchase.
 
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myrtlebee

macrumors 68030
Jul 9, 2011
2,677
2,242
Maryland
Bought one during the summer after reading lots of horror stories and warnings. Completely blown out of proportion. Very happy with my purchase, especially for the price I got it at MicroCenter.
 

aajeevlin

macrumors 65816
Mar 25, 2010
1,427
715
Bought one during the summer after reading lots of horror stories and warnings. Completely blown out of proportion. Very happy with my purchase, especially for the price I got it at MicroCenter.

What do is your specs? Just curious.
 

aajeevlin

macrumors 65816
Mar 25, 2010
1,427
715
2014 base model.

I see. Personally, I think these machines are fine. My biggest concern is that how long can they hold out before you have to upgrade them. But since you can't upgrade them, you are looking at a new machine.
 

Celerondon

macrumors 6502a
Oct 17, 2013
683
125
Southern Cal
I see. Personally, I think these machines are fine. My biggest concern is that how long can they hold out before you have to upgrade them. But since you can't upgrade them, you are looking at a new machine.
You said it aajeevlin, these machines are fine. The other stuff is just our computer enthusiast hype. :rolleyes:

We seldom have to upgrade computers. Rather some of us choose to upgrade our computers. Unlike some machines, computers retain the ability to perform their intended tasks throughout their functional lifespan. Despite our feelings, they don't really turn into useless piles of outmoded parts when new models are released.

Also, these 2014 minis are upgradeable. Despite the soldered RAM fiasco, the storage on a 2014 is more flexible than that of any prior mini. :cool:
 

dragon2611

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 19, 2004
156
4
Right SSD and the Caddy I arrived today, was about £35 for the SSD (Sandisk ultra2) and £11 for the Caddy (could have got one cheaper but was able to amazon prime this one to get it quickly ;-) )

I'd already resized my OSX partition to 105GB using disk utility when I got the Mini yesterday (Disk utility will let you do it even with OSX running)

All I did was plug the SSD into one of the USB3 ports boot into recovery (CMD +R) and use disk utility to create a single partition on the SSD.

Once done I used the "Restore" option in Disk utility to copy the OSX partition to the SSD, I then erased the internal HDD since it didn't have anything on it I needed and repartitioned that as a Single partition so I could use it for storing data.

Before exiting recovery I set the external drive as the startup disk.

Appears to be working fine, OSX seems not to care that it's running off a USB3 attached drive and the slowdown's/pauses that I had waiting for the HDD to keep up are gone :)

Edit:

Also seemingly no problems enabling filevault2 on the SSD or encrypting the Internal drive either.
 

Celerondon

macrumors 6502a
Oct 17, 2013
683
125
Southern Cal
Appears to be working fine, OSX seems not to care that it's running off a USB3 attached drive and the slowdown's/pauses that I had waiting for the HDD to keep up are gone :)

Also seemingly no problems enabling filevault2 on the SSD or encrypting the Internal drive either.

Great dragon2611, you just pulled off a quick upgrade with no drama. Your warranty is intact and your new mini has never been "under the knife"! :apple:

Would you be able to keep this thread updated with your experience of this Mac mini?

I am thinking of buying the same one as its so cheap. Would be great if you could update this with your opinion after a few days :)

I hope that robotica is still watching. Dragon2611 just pulled off a textbook SSD upgrade for minimum cost and with minimum risk. :cool:
 
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dragon2611

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 19, 2004
156
4
Seems to get about 130MB/s write and 251MB/s read according to Blackmagic, not sure if that's being slowed down by file-vault encryption or not.

No where near the 500/550 that Sandisk claim on the packaging and no idea what it would do if it was connected internally, Tried the force trim command not sure if it Did enable (because it's an external drive)

Not that I really care tbh, the Sequential read/write speeds on SSD's are largely academic for desktop/laptop use in most use cases. It's the Vast improvement in random IO that an SSD gives that makes the actual difference in performance that most people see when upgrading to SSD.

Besides Didn't buy that particular model of SSD for it's claimed read/write performance anyway I bought it because it was one of the cheapest options from a known decent brand.
 

dragon2611

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 19, 2004
156
4
Does copying this way (or can you) include the recovery partition?

I don't see any "recovery" partition as such, I didn't think that was stored on the HDD/SSD on a modern MAC but rather on a flash chip in the logic board which contains just enough to get the mac to go online and load the full recovery from apple's servers.

Edit:

Looks like it's hidden/shows up as another drive in Disk utility so it probably doesn't
 

Meister

Suspended
Oct 10, 2013
5,456
4,310
Right SSD and the Caddy I arrived today, was about £35 for the SSD (Sandisk ultra2) and £11 for the Caddy (could have got one cheaper but was able to amazon prime this one to get it quickly ;-) )

I'd already resized my OSX partition to 105GB using disk utility when I got the Mini yesterday (Disk utility will let you do it even with OSX running)

All I did was plug the SSD into one of the USB3 ports boot into recovery (CMD +R) and use disk utility to create a single partition on the SSD.

Once done I used the "Restore" option in Disk utility to copy the OSX partition to the SSD, I then erased the internal HDD since it didn't have anything on it I needed and repartitioned that as a Single partition so I could use it for storing data.

Before exiting recovery I set the external drive as the startup disk.

Appears to be working fine, OSX seems not to care that it's running off a USB3 attached drive and the slowdown's/pauses that I had waiting for the HDD to keep up are gone :)

Edit:

Also seemingly no problems enabling filevault2 on the SSD or encrypting the Internal drive either.
Thanks for sharing :)

I am planning to do the same, but I am looking for a reasonably priced thunderbolt enclosure.
External thunderbolt gives trim support. Also usb3 puts strain on the cpu.
 

dragon2611

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 19, 2004
156
4
Thanks for sharing :)

I am planning to do the same, but I am looking for a reasonably priced thunderbolt enclosure.
External thunderbolt gives trim support. Also usb3 puts strain on the cpu.

Shout out if you find one, I did have a quick look but we were talking 8x the price of a USB3 one easily, also CPU didn't appear loaded when speed testing the SSD and that's even with filevault on.
 

997440

Cancelled
Oct 11, 2015
938
664
I don't see any "recovery" partition as such, I didn't think that was stored on the HDD/SSD on a modern MAC but rather on a flash chip in the logic board which contains just enough to get the mac to go online and load the full recovery from apple's servers.

Edit:

Looks like it's hidden/shows up as another drive in Disk utility so it probably doesn't
Thanks. And, thanks for posting your experiences. I'm considering doing something similar.
 

Micky Do

macrumors 68020
Aug 31, 2012
2,207
3,150
a South Pacific island
I see. Personally, I think these machines are fine. My biggest concern is that how long can they hold out before you have to upgrade them. But since you can't upgrade them, you are looking at a new machine.

You said it aajeevlin, these machines are fine. The other stuff is just our computer enthusiast hype. :rolleyes:

We seldom have to upgrade computers. Rather some of us choose to upgrade our computers. Unlike some machines, computers retain the ability to perform their intended tasks throughout their functional lifespan. Despite our feelings, they don't really turn into useless piles of outmoded parts when new models are released.

Also, these 2014 minis are upgradeable. Despite the soldered RAM fiasco, the storage on a 2014 is more flexible than that of any prior mini. :cool:

True….. And there have been several posters on various threads expressing satisfaction with an off the shelf 1.4 GHz Mini with 4 GB RAM and a 500 GB for their needs.

As to longevity….. My first Mac Mini, the base model 2005 original, came with just 0.25 GB RAM. I had to have it up graded to 0.5 GB when I first got on-line with a "mobile broadband" dongle a couple of years later. My next Mini, the base model 2009 which I am still using, came with 1 GB RAM. I had an extra 4 GB added when I upgraded to Mountain Lion, which requires at least 2 GB RAM, as do Mavericks and El Capitan.

My guess is that the days of exponentially increasing RAM requirements to run an OS, App or hardware are past, and that 4 GB will be adequate for basic use for some time ahead, thus obviating the need for upgradeable RAM.

The need for more RAM and / or other hardware is more likely come from what a computer is used for. Stumping up an extra 40% for the second tier off the shelf Mini in the current range gets double the RAM (handy for some use, but not essential for all) double the HDD plus some other perks, but is it really going to increase its longevity?

If in a few years you find your needs are for more grunt, storage or whatever, are you likely to be better served with a computer using current tech? Or that more expensive model you bought several years ago on the premise that it might have greater longevity?
 

aajeevlin

macrumors 65816
Mar 25, 2010
1,427
715
If in a few years you find your needs are for more grunt, storage or whatever, are you likely to be better served with a computer using current tech? Or that more expensive model you bought several years ago on the premise that it might have greater longevity?

Very well put, I think I will pull the trigger on the next one regardless (okay okay with "some" reservation). I'm also still rocking my 2009 Mini, upgraded from 2, 4, and eventually to 8. It's a bit slow, but it's smooth as far as I consider. It's a good machine, I'd say is my favor machine. Good discussion guys, let see what Apple decides to dish out in the next update.
 
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