Buying a few ex-server quad i7 2012 Minis. Safe to buy high-hour Minis used previously as servers?

fs454

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Dec 7, 2007
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Hey guys,

I'm buying a couple used Mac Minis for an office I do IT for. Our eyes are set on three 2012 quad-core i7 models with 256GB SSDs and 8GB of RAM. They're in perfect physical condition but the seller states they came out of a climate controlled corporate server environment and while all three pass the Apple Extended Hardware Test, two of the three show a high number of "power off retract counts" in the SMART testing, which I have read to assume does not affect SSDs, but is indicative of many, many hours of server use.

On one hand, these have been in an ideal temperature environment, maintained and kept dust free and under watch for their whole life, but on the other hand they probably have many, many hours of powered-on use logged, and the SSD likely has lots of use.

Is it safe to assume these models will be fine in day-to-day office use (billing, calendar, word/excel/etc. Light stuff.) for the next year or two? Has there been any record of SSD or other component failures in Mac Minis used extensively as servers?


Thanks!
 

wlossw

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May 9, 2012
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it's all about the price. that being said i love my 2012 mini and its set to never sleep... i would say the dust thug would be my greatest worry, and you got that covered
 

fs454

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it's all about the price. that being said i love my 2012 mini and its set to never sleep... i would say the dust thug would be my greatest worry, and you got that covered
Yeah - I mean I've still got a 2008 Mac Pro that works great, but I guess my concern is reaching the EOL of the SSD's rated lifespan. All three models I'm looking at came out of the same environment and are sub $900. Feels like a decent deal.
 

estabya

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Jun 28, 2014
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I would assume that if they acted as servers then the were probably connected to external storage. I can't really imagine the SSDs have had a whole lot of data written to them then.
 

wlossw

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May 9, 2012
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Yeah - I mean I've still got a 2008 Mac Pro that works great, but I guess my concern is reaching the EOL of the SSD's rated lifespan. All three models I'm looking at came out of the same environment and are sub $900. Feels like a decent deal.
crazy that they are still going for almost a grand... that machine was what? 799 new? and it has a 150$ ssd inside... still better than 2014 mini .
 
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kwikdeth

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what you want to pay attention to with SSDs is the total amount of data written to them, that will be the first benchmark of life left on the SSD. that power off retract counts just means how many times the drive has been powered off and on. if its an area of legit concern just replace the SSDs, its not difficult and the cost for a 256GB is fairly low these days. otherwise the minis should be fine.
 

Larry-K

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Jun 28, 2011
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Yeah - I mean I've still got a 2008 Mac Pro that works great, but I guess my concern is reaching the EOL of the SSD's rated lifespan. All three models I'm looking at came out of the same environment and are sub $900. Feels like a decent deal.
How many Hours?
 

fs454

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How many Hours?
One SSD has 27,000 hours on it which seems absurd, but it passes all SMART tests and shows no performance issues. Is that nuts? The Late 2013 MBP 15" that I sold recently had 8,800 hours reported on the SSD and I thought that was a lot.
 

Larry-K

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Jun 28, 2011
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One SSD has 27,000 hours on it which seems absurd, but it passes all SMART tests and shows no performance issues. Is that nuts? The Late 2013 MBP 15" that I sold recently had 8,800 hours reported on the SSD and I thought that was a lot.
Nope, sounds reasonable.

My two oldest SSDs have 22 & 16K hours, they check out fine.

I think early warnings if SSD Frailty were spread by traditional Hard Drive manufacturers. I've seen nothing to indicate SSDs are a less than robust storage solution.
 

seismick

macrumors member
Oct 14, 2013
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Nope, sounds reasonable.

My two oldest SSDs have 22 & 16K hours, they check out fine.

I think early warnings if SSD Frailty were spread by traditional Hard Drive manufacturers. I've seen nothing to indicate SSDs are a less than robust storage solution.
This is my feeling as well. My mini server's SSD is at 18K hours after 2.5 years of 24/7 use, with no issues at all.
 

bplein

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Jul 21, 2007
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I love this model, I own 3 of them: One at MacMiniVault running Mac OS Sierra, and two at home (Sierra, VMware ESXi). I have an unnatural attraction to them despite their cost.

I'd get these for your office, and if you wish to be proactive, put in a new SSD in each. This way you aren't turning around in a few months repairing them (along with the requisite downtime for that user).

I gave my father an old Classic mini years ago to replace his PC. I put in a highly used Intel SSD. My father passed 2 years ago but my sister (who lives with my mom and helps take care of her) still uses it today. These things just keep chugging.
 

tibas92013

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Jun 2, 2013
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crazy that they are still going for almost a grand... that machine was what? 799 new? and it has a 150$ ssd inside... still better than 2014 mini .
For around the same price I bought a Refurbished MM(Late 2014), 2.8Ghz, 8GB Ram, 256SSD,Intel Iris Graphics with Apple Care from the Apple On-Line Store and is One-Beast of a machine.
 

Boyd01

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Feb 21, 2012
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For around the same price I bought a Refurbished MM(Late 2014), 2.8Ghz, 8GB Ram, 256SSD,Intel Iris Graphics with Apple Care from the Apple On-Line Store and is One-Beast of a machine.
I guess it depends on how you plan to use it. I have a 2012 i7 2.6ghz quad mini that I use for video. It is 75% more "beastly" than the 2014 2.8ghz mini when it come to processor intensive tasks, such as rendering (note the geekbench scores).

http://www.everymac.com/systems/apple/mac_mini/specs/mac-mini-core-i5-2.8-late-2014-specs.html
http://www.everymac.com/systems/apple/mac_mini/specs/mac-mini-core-i7-2.6-late-2012-server-specs.html

And with the soldered RAM, you will never be able to upgrade beyond 8gb. :(
 
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tibas92013

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Jun 2, 2013
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too bad it's not upgradable and only has 2 cores...
IMO a MM(Late 2014) Non-Pro will not miss the extra two(2) cores and 16GB+ Ram. Also, the Iris Graphics more than makes-up for these two(2) extra cores on this 2012 machine.

Oh, I also have a Refurbished MM(Late 2012), 2.5GHz, 16GB Ram, 500GB HD which I use as my Back-up when needed. For my Computer needs this is also a great little machine but is not a "Beast" due to lacking a SSD. Last year I upgraded this MM to 16GB RAM using a Costa Rican Apple Distributor at a whopping cost of around $225. They also quoted me a price of $350 to swap-out the HD to a 256GB SSD. So, Upgrading a MM 2012 here in Costa Rica does not come at a comfortable price.
 
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Boyd01

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IMO a MM(Late 2014) Non-Pro will not miss the extra two(2) cores
Like I said, it depends on what you are doing with the computer. I have a video project that takes 12 hours to render on my 2012 quad 2.6ghz. It would take 21 hours to render on your 2014 dual 2.8ghz. So yes, I would miss the extra cores. While this might be considered "pro" use, anyone who is using software like Handbrake to rip personal video would also benefit from the extra cores.

But I agree there are some improvents on the 2014 model - faster wifi, thunderbolt 2, better graphics, faster SSD interface. Too bad they messed up the rest. ;)
 
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SpacemanSpiffed

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Mar 27, 2013
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If you are thinking about using these guys for several years more, and feel technically up to it, consider doing a "refresh pass" on them.

SSDs and RAM are pretty cheap today, so opening them up would let you swap out the existing SSDs for newer, and perhaps, larger capacity ones, with 0 miles on the odometer (so to speak),. I've upgraded my two mac Minis with 1x SSD + 1x 2TB Spinning HDD.

AND..... While you are in there... replace the PRAM battery - to see how to do it look at:

https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Mac+Mini+Late+2012+PRAM+Battery+Replacement/11725

When the PRAM Battery starts fading out, the voltage will flutter above and below the acceptable line and your Mini can (usually will) start having all sorts of strange problems. If these Minis were originally put into service 2012-2014 and haven't had the PRAM batteries replaced, then you've got 3 to 5 year old standard 2032 Lithium batteries, that you want to stay rock stead for more years. Replacing them with new while you are in swapping out the drives is a REAL GOOD idea.

And, if you think you will need it, upping the RAM is dead simple.

My vote, assuming you want to get multiple years of trouble free use out of them, is to do the refresh pass. Putting fresh SSDs and Batteries in them should translate in to many years of trouble free use.

Disclaimer - I have had an SSD bought 6 years ago go bad and brick up. They do have finite life spans.