Best value Mac Mini for OSX server? New, or upgraded old?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by alexjholland, May 11, 2015.

  1. alexjholland macrumors 6502


    May 3, 2011
    Bali, Cambridge, Sydney.. anywhere.
    Hey, I'm getting a Mac Mini to act as my apartment's server, mainly for my iTunes library and my film library (via Plex server), as well as file access whilst I'm away travelling..

    I anticipate some home automation potential, further down the line?.. My apartment has an iMac, Macbook and Apple TV already.

    I think 8GB seems like a sensible RAM amount and promised I will only ever boot from SSD.. My media is on external disc drives, so don't need a big boot drive.

    I was looking at the second-hand mid-2010 model for just over £300 on eBay, but then thought £399 for a new model looks attractive, as I get a warranty.

    However, the inability to upgrade RAM or (without voiding warranty) the HD in the new model, seems to make buying new less attractive.

    Brand new, 2015 model option
    I could get the entry level Mac Mini for £399 (UK).

    But I have to buy RAM then and there, so that's £479 with 8GB.

    In terms of SSD, I can only see the Fusion Drive option, which at £200, takes it up to £679 - way beyond the attractive £399 initial price-point.

    (Adding an aftermarket SSD will void the warranty)

    Mid-2010, second-hand option
    Alternatively, I could buy a second-hand mid-2010 model, like this.

    That's £319.

    Max out RAM to 8GB for £50 from Crucial, taking it to £369. Add an SSD for £100, taking it to £469.

    So, for a Mac Mini with 8GB of RAM and an SSD, I can get a mid-2010 for £469, or the cheapest new option is £679 - £210 more.

    So I'm paying £210 to have a new model and warranty.

    What do you guys think of my assessment and what would you recommend? Any other options or considerations?
  2. cyclotron451 macrumors regular


    Mar 16, 2005

    Hi, there's at least a 3rd option in UK, a refurb Mini

    e.g. From here

    this brings the price down a bit...and refurbs have always been great deals for me, you have to keep checking as the stock varies from week to week

    Personally I'd never try & buy an Apple from eBay, maybe you'll be lucky...but some people might allegedly get sold a broken device, also Macs tend to be overpriced on eBay?

    I'm using a Late 2012 MacMini6,1 MD387LL dual core 2.5GHz core-i5 10GB 1600MHz DDR3, with user changeable RAM, as a home media server. There are a few "new" today for £474 on Amzn, posted from Greece of all places!?
    Used seem to go for £400

    Cheaper solution might be to shop with the strong pound at, where a quick look shows me the new Mini with quad core i5 for €458 = £330, but that soldered 4GB is annoying!

    And Amzn.FR have Mac Mini 2.6GHz quad i5 MGEN2F/A 8GB/1TB for £476, at least that's an interesting solution? Apple have the 2 year EU warranty wherever you buy it in Europe

    Good luck
  3. California macrumors 68040


    Aug 21, 2004
    That's way too much for a 2010 Mac Mini Server. Plus the ram on the 2010 mini's max out at 16gbs, not 8gbs.
  4. gixxerfool macrumors 6502a


    Jun 7, 2008
    Another option is to add a boot drive via external. I just did this and it has impressive results. I bought my i7 2012 mini without any upgrades. It cost me around $200 to upgrade to 16G ram, external enclosure and the new drive. My 2008 mini now serves as my media server.
  5. alexjholland thread starter macrumors 6502


    May 3, 2011
    Bali, Cambridge, Sydney.. anywhere.
    Thanks for the tips guys.

    Given that an eBay Mac Mini could be dead shortly after arrival and I'd have no legal recourse, it does make sense to pay more and get a warranty, whether that's new or refurb, yeah?

    8Gb RAM should suffice for now and well into the future (five years), if it's just a media server, yes?

    This boot drive via external is an interesting proposition. It means I could buy a cheaper Mac Mini now, with a disc drive and upgrade to an SSD for boot later - thusly spreading the cost of the Mac?

    (BTW, do I need USB 3.0 for this to work? I ask, as my iMac mid-2010 could benefit from this too, but only has USB 2.0).

    So, I would therefore be looking for a new Mac Mini, with 8GB of RAM.

    Given that Amazon France sell the 2.6Ghz processor version with 8GB RAM for the same price (£476.99) as Apple UK sell the 1.4Ghz processor version with 8GB RAM added in (£479), it seems to make sense to order from France and enjoy the more powerful processor?

    I could then add external SSD for booting in a few months time, to spread the cost - and would end up with a brand new Mac Mini, with 8Gb RAM and an SSD boot, with its warranty protected?

    So buying the middle Mac Mini from Amazon France for £476.99 seems to be the one?!
  6. gixxerfool macrumors 6502a


    Jun 7, 2008
    New or refurb would be preferable. For warranty reasons alone.

    My 2008 is maxed out at 4G and it runs great. I added a hybrid SSD/HDD and that helped as well.

    Essentially yes. Obviously doing it earlier saves the trouble of moving that much more data later down the road. I use USB 3.0. I believe thunderbolt or FireWire are both viable options as the interfaces are much faster than USB 2.0.

    I would get the fastest processor you can. It will allow for future proofing. I'm sure some here would disagree, but it won't hurt to have it.

    Warranty would be in tact since you didn't open the machine. Worst case is you would have to do a clean OS install for trouble shooting purposes.
  7. alexjholland thread starter macrumors 6502


    May 3, 2011
    Bali, Cambridge, Sydney.. anywhere.
    After all that, I realised that as I'm about to setup my first business as a limited company, I could just buy the Mac Mini brand new, from Apple and pay no VAT?

    It will indeed be used heavily for running my business.

    Considering it's also a purchase directly from company accounts, rather than post-income tax, this would make the most sense of all, no?
  8. marclondon macrumors regular

    Aug 14, 2009
    Bear in mind that if you register for VAT your clients will have to pay 20% on your bills. If they are VAT registered that won't matter.

    Of course on any legitimate business expense you can reclaim VAT unless you go on the flat rate scheme (although in that you can reclaim VAT on a computer provided you spend £2,000 on IT stuff in one go).

    I'm VAT registered and also get another 8% off through my union, so Macs are a lot cheaper for me and my small business.


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