Considering Replacing 2012 iMac with Mac Mini

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by CRX, Aug 12, 2019.

  1. CRX, Aug 12, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2019

    CRX macrumors newbie

    Aug 12, 2019
    Hi all,

    first-time poster but longtime forum lurker. Nice to meet you.
    I purchased a 2012 iMac, a 27-inch model with a 3 TB Fusion drive and maxed-out processor (I believe i7 3.4 GHz?), shortly after it launched. It's served us faithfully over these 7 years as our main computer but that drive is starting to show its age/wear and the display now suffers from some rather intense image retention.

    Anyhoo, I figure it's time to change things up. I'm considering making the switch to the new Mac Mini, the 3.0 GHz 6-core model with 1-2 TB of storage. I work as a full-time writer now and want to set up a separate monitor (LG's 49-inch ultrawide model is very tempting), so this fits the bill. Plus, a good opportunity to declutter the desk and create a much more minimalist setup.

    Main uses:

    - Writing long-form content
    - Research and analysis with multiple tabs open
    - Spreadsheets, filling in PDF forms, etc.
    - Backing up our DVDs with MacXDVDRipper/Converter Pro (personal use only, obviously)
    - Basic tasks (social media, YouTube, etc.)

    Would you recommend it for our use case? I've seen that it can apparently run quite hot so just a little concerned about long-term performance and durability. Thanks in advance for your help.
  2. iluvmacs99, Aug 12, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2019

    iluvmacs99 macrumors regular

    Apr 9, 2019
    Nice to meet you too! :)

    Most of the time when the Mini gets quite hot, it usually is because people buy them in place of a proper professional computer like the Mac Pro or iMac Pro where cooling and ventilation were design considerations for sustained high CPU/GPU and I/O throughput. The Mini wasn't meant to be designed for this type of throughput, but the horsepower it provides needs to be managed. So it'll run hot but for most people who use it, the higher temperatures are quite safe as long as your room is well ventilated and has good airflow, because the Mini is designed as a giant heatsink and your room acts as a passive/active cooling system rather than relying on the active systems of fans in the Mac Pro and iMacs.

    I think that as long as you are not doing video editing and audio editing that require 100% sustained throughput for hours/months and years, then you should be fine with your needs. However, it looks like you will be opening a lot of apps all at the same time, or at least most of the time so having plenty of RAM is helpful and also keeps the Mini cooler. How much RAM do you have in your iMac and that would give you some ideas in how much RAM you need to have installed in your new Mini.
  3. Ledgem macrumors 68000


    Jan 18, 2008
    Hawaii, USA
    I would think that the iMac would represent a more minimalist/decluttered setup. The iMac is everything all in one, whereas with the mini you'd need to place the mini on your desk alongside your monitor. Its footprint is small but it's still an added box and cables.

    Either way, for your uses the mini should be just fine. As you're probably aware, you'll need to buy an external DVD drive, but that would be the case even if you chose to upgrade to another iMac.
  4. macdos macrumors regular


    Oct 15, 2017
    Dunno if you understand this, but the current MacPro is a thermal nightmare. Mac Mini is not, but designed with that experience in mind. So is Imac Pro.

    Coming Mac Pro is designed for expandability, nor primarily for good ventilation…

  5. iluvmacs99, Aug 12, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2019

    iluvmacs99 macrumors regular

    Apr 9, 2019
    The Mac Pro 2013 comes with 2 workstation class GPUs. The Mac Mini 2018 "does not" come with a workstation GPU; it's a consumer class Intel iGPU which is pretty weak and to have a real GPU, you need to attach an eGPU which is totally separate and cooled. The Mac Mini has zero part in cooling an eGPU. In fact, an eGPU like an Akitio Node or a Razor has a massive desktop class fan plus fans from the GPU card itself like the Sapphire RX580 or the Vega64.

    Let's be clear that Apple designed the Mac Pro 2013 thermal workload in expectation of 2 GPUs being used by professional video/imaging rendering software, but never fully materialized to Apple's expectation. Instead it made the Mac Pro 2013 GPU underpowered, underutilized and ineffectively cooled because the 2 GPUs aren't running concurrently. Apple admitted this mistake and went on to re-design the 7,1 to accommodate 1 larger GPU and CPU and back to the slightly newer cheese grater design with lots of ventilation holes.

    Having said that, I failed to see how this has anything to do with the Mac Mini 2018 thermal re-design though. It has similar design features like my old Mac Mini 2011; though the vents design are better for improved venting which they improved upon supposedly from the older Minis. I think this is probably due to the fact that the Mini 2018 is using a desktop class CPU.
  6. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    I don't recommend "ultrawide" displays, except for watching cinemascope films or perhaps gaming (which I simply don't do).

    A display with a "normal form factor" will probably serve you best.

    Be aware that the MacRumors home page shows 2019 27" iMacs on sale right now at various places... just something to consider. And I agree with Ledgem above that the iMac represents a more "minimalist" approach than would a Mini (I personally don't care about such things, what works for me, works).

    Having said that...
    I'm very happy with my 2018 Mini (i7, 16gb RAM, 512gb SSD).

    It actually seems to run cooler than the 2012 Mini I was using before.

    You can save a little $$$ by waiting until the model/configuration of your choice shows up in the Apple refurbished store.

    For a larger display that still uses a standard form factor, have you considered the several 32" 1440p displays out there?
  7. CRX, Aug 13, 2019 at 12:52 PM
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2019 at 1:23 PM

    CRX thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 12, 2019
    Thanks for everyone's input! To clarify, I'm really open to anything and appreciate the advice here.

    I was thinking it would be a less-cluttered desk layout as I had planned on mounting the monitor on an adjustable wall-mounted arm (our desk isn't that deep so it would work just fine), but I agree, the iMac is a wonderful design if a bit dated-looking in my opinion. The ultrawide display is still tempting (aside from price) but I've also been looking at alternatives that allow me to rotate into portrait orientation when writing long-form content. I like the idea of being able to swap out the display if it conks out after 4 years or something. Plus, matte options.

    It could just be that I'm wanting something with way less bezel - who knows, perhaps that's what I mean by de-cluttering lol!

    Definitely not interested in the Mac Pro / iMac Pro as we just can't justify the exorbitant prices for what we'd use either for (stating the prices as exorbitant in itself likely indicates I'm not the target demographic).

    I already have the SuperDrive from when I purchased the iMac in 2012 and it still works just fine, so that's not a concern. The keyboard and trackpad failed years ago but this thing is still chugging along without an issue.

    At the moment I'm debating between a Mac Mini (just love that compact size and the space grey really is a plus tbh) or perhaps a new Macbook Pro plugged into a monitor when at home once they release a 13-14 inch model with the supposed upcoming scissor-switch keyboard (16-inch might be too bulky to travel with). So far, pretty much sold on the mini - I prefer to use my own ergonomic keyboard and other equipment so honestly just need the computer itself. After experiencing image retention on my iMac I'm still hesitant to get an all-in-one again (I'm sure displays are better now but still, easily replaceable if separate from the system itself)

    All in all, thanks again! I hope they announce some new Macs later this year or early 2020 - gives us time to save up, anyway. Who knows, maybe a mini upgrade to the Mini (can't think of anything at the moment other than adding a better GPU, but then there are thermals to consider). Going to look at different displays to see what's available. Quite partial to LG panels but will look into others as well.
  8. smetvid macrumors 6502

    Nov 1, 2009
    I have that same 2012 iMac and the new Mac mini 6 core i7 and have absolutely no regrets.

    It only runs hot when under full load for rendering animation/video or heavy gaming. Even gaming the Mini itself is not running load but my Vega 56 eGPU is.

    For day to day use, writing and the occasional DVD backup you will hardly ever task the system enough for it to get hot.

    While getting another iMac is always a good decision I decided against it this time because I hate having a perfectly good experience monitor I can never use with anything else. I would rather invest in my own monitor that I can use with the Mini, with my work MBP or any other system in the future.
  9. marclondon macrumors 6502

    Aug 14, 2009
    The 2018 6 core i7 Mini is a beast that copes brilliantly with the load that having a lot of browser windows/tabs open, which a 2012 system will struggle with, plus having also a lot of other apps open.

    My Mini has a 1TB SSD and I've put 32GB ram in it myself - don't go for anything less than 16GB ram.

    If you want to save money look for a nice config on the refurb store.
  10. SpitUK macrumors 6502


    Mar 5, 2010
    East Yorkshire, UK
    It is a fantastic computer, you will have no regrets.
  11. DonCarlos macrumors regular


    Dec 14, 2009
    Las Vegas
    I have wrestled with the idea of buying the low end 2018 with the i3 and all, but I realize that it’s something that can’t be changed, like the drive. So for a $$$ grand, I am going to pass.

    So for now, my 2012’s do the job very very well, and are paid off.

    I thought this interesting and completely agree with this guy’s assessment. Not trying to start a flame war.....Just passing it on.
  12. SpitUK macrumors 6502


    Mar 5, 2010
    East Yorkshire, UK
    I cannot run my setup with a 2012, it is too outdated. I waited alone time for the 2018 version and its great.

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11 August 12, 2019