Difference between 2011 and 2012 Mini?

jerryk

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What is the difference between these two? Also is the i5 a big upgrade from the core duo in my 2009 unit?
 

jpietrzak8

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Feb 16, 2010
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What is the difference between these two? Also is the i5 a big upgrade from the core duo in my 2009 unit?
I think the most obvious advantages of the 2012 unit are that it has USB 3 ports instead of USB 2 ports, and that the HD 4000 graphics are a fairly nice step up from the HD 3000 graphics in the 2011 units. I think Fusion drives started appearing at this point too, if you're into those. However, one of the 2011 models did feature a Radeon 6630M GPU with 256 MB of dedicated RAM, an option that was dropped in the 2012 lineup.

The i5 is certainly a decent step up from the Core 2 Duo in the 2009 model, but I'm not sure how much of an impact it'd make for you; I guess it would depend on what sorts of applications you are running. If you're doing something today that consumes 100% of the CPU, you should see significant speed gains (of the 2x to 3x kind).

BTW, the Wiki entry for the Mac Mini has a whole slew of great info on the various models, if you want more details. :)
 

jerryk

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jpietrzak8

Thanks for the very through answer. The most CPU intensive thing I do is IOS programming with XCode. That seems to struggle on my mini. However, I am not sure if that is because of the CPU, memory (4GB), or disk (256 GB SSD). I suspect it is some combination of the 3.

Anyway, maybe if I can find a 2011 model cheap I will get one. These seem to be much more reasonable than the 2012 models on eBay.
 

jpietrzak8

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Feb 16, 2010
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Dayton, Ohio
The most CPU intensive thing I do is IOS programming with XCode. That seems to struggle on my mini. However, I am not sure if that is because of the CPU, memory (4GB), or disk (256 GB SSD).
I think you can rule out the SSD. :) If the Mini is really struggling, it is probably the CPU or RAM, and it's actually not hard to find out -- the Activity Monitor (found in the Utilities sub-directory of the Applications folder) will show you if either CPU or RAM (or both) are being consumed when your machine is struggling. (Personally, I'm betting that you really need more RAM; recent versions of OS X have been consuming more and more memory. I've upgraded my own 2010 Mini from 4 to 8 GB of RAM in order to run apps comfortably under El Capitan.)

Anyway, maybe if I can find a 2011 model cheap I will get one. These seem to be much more reasonable than the 2012 models on eBay.
Yeah, I've gotta agree with this; the 2012s have the advantage of being known as the most powerful Minis ever produced (as the 2014s were something of a downgrade). Thus, their popularity has not gone down at all. The 2011s aren't all that much different than the 2012s, but being in their shadow, I would imagine you can find much better deals on them...
 

treekram

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Nov 9, 2015
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jpietrzak8

Thanks for the very through answer. The most CPU intensive thing I do is IOS programming with XCode. That seems to struggle on my mini. However, I am not sure if that is because of the CPU, memory (4GB), or disk (256 GB SSD). I suspect it is some combination of the 3.
When I started doing iOS development at the time that the first iPad came out, I was using a 2005 iMac with Snow Leopard. It was OK - definitely usable. As new versions of Xcode were introduced, the 2005 iMac was getting slow. I got the 2012 2.6Ghz quad-core Mini (HDD, 16GB) shortly after it was introduced and it was once again OK. I haven't done much on Xcode in a year or more except for some C programming but recently I wanted to update my iOS app. I still have the 2012 Mac but now with an SSD. I must say Xcode is starting to get laggy. Whereas the simulators used to be decent in running my app (an audio app), as long as a couple of years ago, the simulators on my 2012 Mac with 16GB and SSD couldn't play typical CD-quality files without constant stuttering. I haven't run a simulator on the new version yet - I'll have to see how my app runs on the larger iPad Pro - but I'm guessing it won't be pleasant.
 

Fishrrman

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Feb 20, 2009
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If you have a choice between a 2011 or a 2012, get the 2012.

No comparison.

USB3 is a "world ahead".
 

jerryk

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Nov 3, 2011
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When I started doing iOS development at the time that the first iPad came out, I was using a 2005 iMac with Snow Leopard. It was OK - definitely usable. As new versions of Xcode were introduced, the 2005 iMac was getting slow. I got the 2012 2.6Ghz quad-core Mini (HDD, 16GB) shortly after it was introduced and it was once again OK. I haven't done much on Xcode in a year or more except for some C programming but recently I wanted to update my iOS app. I still have the 2012 Mac but now with an SSD. I must say Xcode is starting to get laggy. Whereas the simulators used to be decent in running my app (an audio app), as long as a couple of years ago, the simulators on my 2012 Mac with 16GB and SSD couldn't play typical CD-quality files without constant stuttering. I haven't run a simulator on the new version yet - I'll have to see how my app runs on the larger iPad Pro - but I'm guessing it won't be pleasant.
Well this is scary. I wonder if I should just wait until the new MacBook Pros are announced. If it is pretty soon my 13 MacBook Pro is getting kind old (2011, 16GB, 512 GB SSD) and maybe the new processor and 16 GBytes of RAM would be enough. The xcode simulator used to be so fast. Now I think the Android emulator is just as fast.
 

jpietrzak8

macrumors 65816
Feb 16, 2010
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Dayton, Ohio
Well this is scary. I wonder if I should just wait until the new MacBook Pros are announced. If it is pretty soon my 13 MacBook Pro is getting kind old (2011, 16GB, 512 GB SSD) and maybe the new processor and 16 GBytes of RAM would be enough. The xcode simulator used to be so fast. Now I think the Android emulator is just as fast.
It's nice to have a decent emulator, but does it really need to run in real time to get work done? I normally only use emulators to test out hardware configurations for which I don't have test devices. For the most part, when testing, I usually find it easier to just deploy the app straight to the phone (or tablet). (Then again, I haven't developed iOS apps in a long, long time, so I may not be up with current practice...)
 

Osty

macrumors 6502a
Jul 15, 2008
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Melbourne, AU
I have the 2011 with AMD graphics and it handles everything I throw at it, including gaming at moderate resolutions and settings. I don't game much though and mostly use it as a development workstation but it's nice to know I can play Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3 when I want to.

When I need USB 3 speeds, I use a thunderbolt adapter. Works enough.

One thing to note is that Metal and handoff aren't supported by Apple even though the hardware is capable of it on the model I have.
 

treekram

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Nov 9, 2015
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Honolulu HI
So I got a chance to run the iPad Pro simulator in the current Xcode and it's pretty good - like the old days. Snappy response, audio plays in my app without stuttering (tried it out for only a few minutes, though). But Xcode is still doing a lot of stuff in the background as you edit your code and for that, it's not as responsive as it used to be.
 
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