Help choosing/waiting on my new Mac

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by justinTlME, Jul 21, 2014.

  1. justinTlME macrumors 6502


    Jul 21, 2014
    Hi guys. I'm a long time reader of the forums, but never registered, until now. I just graduated with my bachelors degree a couple of months ago, and started a new job recently. These are two things I was waiting on before I bought myself a new computer.

    The computer I used during college was:
    2.0GHz MacBook (late 2007)
    2 GB RAM

    Computer is older, and obviously slower, but I still use it on occasion for daily tasks and what not. I just hate that I can't upgrade to the newest OS and take advantage of newer software.

    So that's why I am here. I always imagined I would go iMac, but I can't justify the price, and I already have a 32" 1080p monitor I could use with a mini etc.

    I've been waiting and waiting on a Mini update, but the more I read the more I am afraid. I fear a new mini will eliminate some of the things I love and use: firewire port, and the ability to expand RAM on your own. (in lieu of flash on motherboard, flash memory...etc)

    For the most part I imagine I will only use the mini for everyday tasks. The most intensive tasks I imagine I would impose on the machine would be some video converting, Photoshop/ImageReady/InDesign use, and using as a Plex server from time to time. Other than that its just going to be a man cave desktop.

    What I want help on is, will the late 2012 mini be ok for me? I want it to last me at least 4 years, and not "feel" slow or clunky.

    This is the machine I was imagining creating:

    Mac Mini 2.6 Quad Core i7
    1 TB fusion drive
    and then upgrade the RAM to 16 GB myself.

    Any help would be appreciated. I just can't decide. Like I said, I want to wait, but I am sick of waiting... and I fear the upgrade will actually take away things I want, and not increase the machine's power for what I need it for anyways. (and being that I want to create this machine on apple, because I can't get a 2.6 quad with Fusion at Best Buy, or other stores...once the new one is released the old one is no longer customizable to order from apple....)

    Thanks again guys!

    P.S. And oh, I imagine it HAS to feel MUCH better, but how much better would the 2012 Mini feel in comparison to my 2007 Macbook?
  2. fastlanephil macrumors 65816


    Nov 17, 2007
    That's the configuration I bought last January for my DAW set up and I use with a Dell 30" display. It boots up quickly and is pretty snappy compared to my 2011 27" iMac.

    With the Broadwell delay it could be the first quarter of next year before Apple comes out with a new Mac Mini.
  3. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    OP wrote above:
    [[ I've been waiting and waiting on a Mini update, but the more I read the more I am afraid. I fear a new mini will eliminate some of the things I love and use: firewire port, and the ability to expand RAM on your own. ]]

    Pick up an Apple-refurbished i7 2.3ghz Mini. It has 2 drive bays and you can add RAM yourself.

    I realize the Mini's design is 18 months old, but I don't expect to see a "fresh" one until early 2015 (if at all).

    A late-2012 Mini bought now will serve you well for at least 3-4 years into the future, perhaps longer...
  4. justinTlME thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jul 21, 2014
    Awesome, and it is a serviceable machine for what you do? Do your tasks seem similar to what I had listed?

    That's the rumor I was hearing as well, and I definitely don't want to wait until then. And like I said....I am kind of afraid of the update because I don't want to be stuck with SSD memory (I love that its fast, but the capacity is small) and I guarantee Apple will start soldering its RAM which would SUCK!

    I really want to pull the trigger and just order it, but I definitely love hearing more opinions and views from people who are a little more knowledgeable than myself. Hell.....I'm only running a 2007 Macbook with



    I like the idea of buying refurbished to save a little more, but wouldn't the 2.6 upgrade as well as the fusion drive be worth my time?

    I really like the idea of fusion and I don't want to fiddle with that upgrade myself. (watched the video and it seemed a little above me)

    However, I am completely confident in doing the RAM; being that I have done it in every other machine I have owned.

    2.6 Quad not much better than 2.3 Quad?
  5. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    Just get it. Waiting will not be of much benefit.
    I would get the plain version, install a bigger SSD yourself for less than the price of a fusion. 840 Pro 256GB for example. I would not fusion it. Just keep the 1GB as file storage volume, or even as TM backup of the SSD.

    What will a new mini bring:
    - Broadwell: benefit: power saving, irrelevant for a Mini. Broadwell will come in more core versions IN THE FUTURE, but the first batches will only be a die shrink of the Haswell, so as fast as Ivy only with underclocking.
    - Iris Pro.... GPU is WAY OVERRATED. We have tens of years of promises that the GPU will be used for lots of calculations. The reality in 2014 is that CUDA/OpenCL like stuff is living in the margin. And for games... forget it. A Mac is dick for games anyway, let alone the Mini.
    What you will loose on a new one:
    - Firewire
    - Dual SATA 600 slots
    - Less supported OSX versions (10.10 and up instead of 10.7 and up)

    The reality is: The Mini 2.6 Quad IS THE BEST COMPUTER EVER MADE, AND STILL IS SO TODAY IN 2014. An AMAZING FEAT for a 2012 machine!
  6. justinTlME thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jul 21, 2014
    By plain version you mean the base 2.3 Quad Core? Or the upgraded 2.6 Quad, but with no additional upgrades?

    I work at a University so I can get the education discount. I looked up the SSD you mentioned and that is over $180 on its own...and is only 512 GB.

    I can get the Fusion upgrade for $180 and still have the TB HD, which I want for all the massive I wouldn't have to worry about messing up the would be delivered complete (other than the RAM which I would do)
  7. fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2008
    If you do it Blanka's way, you'll have the 512 GB SSD and the TB HD.
  8. justinTlME, Jul 21, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2014

    justinTlME thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jul 21, 2014
    Oh................ok. I thought he meant remove the TB and install the SSD only.... I guess this is an option. I'm just very leery of installing the SSD myself. I would be so mad if I messed up the airport card, or the fan, by unplugging it, or putting it back together incorrectly.

    I am definitely going to weigh my options.

    However, with the few responses I have in here so far I am very quickly being swayed towards the purchase button. I was just a little undecided on paying top dollar for 18 month old tech......but I really think it's going to be exactly what I need/want, and really want to customize the machine from apple (plus get education discount).

    I have a feeling a new mini will end up being out of my price range (because of the removal (guessed rumor) of the DIM slots). I wont pay Apple for 16 GB of RAM!

    P.S. Would the addition of the 512 SSD operate exactly like the fusion drive does? Or would it just be two volumes?
  9. ColdCase, Jul 21, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2014

    ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    You know, some of the minis come with the internal drive in the top hard to reach location. Its pretty easy to buy a kit (cable) and put a second drive in the bottom position. Some come with the drive in the bottom and is easy to swap. Its a crap shoot which configuration you get. Makes a difference if you really want to fill both slots. Many here put a SSD in an EXternal USB3 enclosure an boot from it, leaving the internal(s) for file storage. Performance seems to be the same, and no need to open the mini for HD modification.

    The server version comes with two drives (there is one version with a single SSD). If you buy a server you are guaranteed to have two drives and can swap out the bottom one easy for a SSD. You can chose to combine the two internals (via OS software) into one fusion drive, if fusion turns you on. Or keep them separate. If you fuse, you could think about using a smaller less $$ SSD.

    I know, more choices not less, but many here that want SSD, buy the base model and upgrade (either swap or add), others buy the base server with ITB drives and swap out the bottom for SSD (thats what I'm doing). Just a little more money, but more straight forward to modify.

    If you notice, the 8GB RAM update from apple education is $90, about what you will spend on separate RAM. So you can think about just getting RAM built in from Apple. Makes a difference when buying refurb as available configurations change daily :)

    See for installing or replacing the bottom drive.

    Bottom line is buy now whatever config makes sense to you and adapt...
  10. justinTlME thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jul 21, 2014
    I definitely wouldn't do the server addition. I understand how it would make life easier for the install of the 2nd drive, but the extra cost kills the deal for me. I would LOVE to install myself and save money but I still think I may just pay for the Fusion and have that done and delivered complete.

    I will however upgrade my own RAM to 16 GB.

    I just can't decide if I want to stick with the 32" 1080p TV I have on order (got a great deal). Or if I want to get two 22" monitors and use them both. Just can't decide if 32" is going to be HUGE on my desk as a monitor! lol

    The one reason why I love the TV option is that I can just use HDMI and it will carry the audio to the speakers for when I watch a video or something.

    Hopefully I will be up and running within the next couple weeks. I am probably 70% on the purchase side of things right now.
  11. Crosscreek macrumors 68030


    Nov 19, 2013
    IMHO, wait if you can and get one that has a processor that is up to date. You will be paying top dollar for a 2 year old machine.

    If you need one to wait, get a I5 refurb and throw a external 250 gb SSD to boot from and 8gb of ram will get you by.

    You can resell the I5 when the new ones come out and keep the SSD.

    You will be totally amassed by the speed of the I5 with SSD over your old laptop.
  12. justinTlME thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jul 21, 2014
    Yea I mean I really wanted to wait originally, but I am afraid that the update is going to be a machine I do not want.

    I do not want a mac mini with the RAM soldered, and I will actually use the Firewire port, which is rumored to also be removed.

    I don't like the prospect of paying top dollar for a machine that is 18 months old….but it still seems like a great little machine, that will do EXACTLY what I need it to do.

    If they released a new mini and took out features and soldered the RAM I probably wouldn't get one altogether. I do not want an iMac, and I don't have Mac Pro money...
  13. Crosscreek macrumors 68030


    Nov 19, 2013
    It may or may not be soldered Ram. They may offer Haswell in September-October in the same enclosure with Broadwell or Skylake mid or late 2015-2016.
    As far as firewire you can buy a thunderbolt adapter for that.
    You may get PCIe or better with increased bandwidth.
    Soldered ram is more reliable than socketed ram and will not cost that much more to increase.

    Youre right that it is a good machine but still not worth top dollar but good luck with your future. :)
  14. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    You know a server with two 1TB drives is the same price as a base with fusion drive.... right?

    If you only need 8GB RAM, it probably costs less to just get it installed, with education discount. If you have to have 16, then it pays to do it yourself.
  15. justinTlME thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jul 21, 2014
    Right, but then I would still need to pay the $185 for the SSD... The fusion is the exact HD configuration I would need. I don't want two 1 TB HDs inside. I want the one and the additional SSD fusion space.

    I'm would buy my 16 GB ram from Amazon for $140.
  16. COrocket macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2012
    I actually also used an 07 MacBook for high school and into college. Upgraded to the mini when it came out in 2012 and it has been great. I opted for the 2.3 processor because the $100 for the 2.6 didn't seem worth it to get an additional 10% performance boost. Even the 2.3 is way overkill for general usage but I like having it anyway. I decided to go with a straight DIY SSD and the machine is really fast. Last I checked the apple fusion drive uses a samsung 830 SSD. I installed a 830 myself and get 430/330 read/write. If you wanted to add a more recent drive like the 850 you could be pushing 500 read/write for a little more speed. Either way it is a fast computer that should last you at least four years, probably longer.
  17. justinTlME thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jul 21, 2014
    Awesome. I really appreciate your input. The way its looking I will probably be placing my order by the end of the week. Maybe early next week. I really think (even though its older tech in terms of the release) that it is the perfect machine for what I need and do.
  18. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    Is that apple certified RAM and burned in? For most its a don't care, but I'm hard on RAM and I've always had quirks show up when using uncertified RAM. An extra $25 is well spent if you intend to keep the machine several years

    The SSD in the fusion drive from apple is 128GB, currently ~ $50-$70 on newegg. If you wanted more SSD capacity you can spend ~$185 if you want.

    When you swap out an internal drive you end up with an extra 1TB drive to use for external TM backups (or one of the alternate backups). Worth about $70... then you would need an enclosure.. $10-$20.

    Not trying to sell you, just suggesting you data is a little tainted if that is at all important in your decision. The difference is not as much as you may think for equivalent hardware. Once you start swapping, however, you may want to increase capacity which can lead you to spending much more $$... but then you have a much more capable machine.... if you need/want the capability of course.

    If you have your heart set on a single fusion drive installed by Apple then thats what you should get and enjoy it for years to come. There is nothing wrong with that.
  19. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    Dont upgrade drives at Apple and NEVER get the server.

    position of HD does not matter:
    If it is in top, just slide in the ssd in bottom.
    If it is in Bottom, it is easy to remove and put in top (just put it back in without side mount screws)
  20. justinTlME thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jul 21, 2014
    It's the crucial kit that I've seen everyone on here talking about. I assumed it was certified.... Is there a place I can find that out?


    So maybe you can help with my question from before that no one had answered yet....

    If I were to install my own flash SSD with the existing 1 TB would it act EXACTLY like the apple fusion drive? Or would it just be a separate volume I move around things on myself?
  21. AlexMaximus macrumors 6502a


    Aug 15, 2006
    A400M Base
    a low cost alternative

    Reading your post, there is one option that I think is worth mentioning.

    If your hardware requirements are not that big, you might get by very comfortable with a used mini form 2011 with the AMD chip. (not the HD3000)

    In my opinion that is the only interesting used mini out there, that still has reasonable power and a great resale value. This model was the only mini in the history with a dedicated gpu chip. Many people say its gpu is at least on paar with the HD4000 or even better. Unfortunately the CPU is only a dual core. However,
    if you could find a used i7 model on crags list or on ebay for 400 or less, you would be in great shape with a significant lower investment.
    Maybe another forum member can chip in and tell you first hand. I am in similar position like you and maybe the i7 2011 would work great.
    Anybody out there that can confirm that alternative, what do you think?

  22. justinTlME thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jul 21, 2014
    Hmmmm……something to consider. Like you said, I would just have no clue what number would be worth it…. Under $400 would be nice, but then I would would question why not just getting new and better for more. The GPU isn't a huge concern for me since I won't be playing games. I think I may go to an apple store in the next few days and play with a mini again to see how it feels with what I would be doing.
  23. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    OP asks above:
    [[ 2.6 Quad not much better than 2.3 Quad? ]]

    I -have- the 2.6ghz i7, which I paid extra for in January 2013.

    Considering the speed increase is relatively small, and
    Considering that the product is getting a little long-in-the-tooth,
    ... I don't really think it's worth the extra $100 or so now....
    ....Unless you could find one "as a refurb" (which is unlikely).

    For that reason, I'd pick up a 2.3ghz refurb when they are available and be done with it.

    The refurbs come up for sale, and then disappear, VERY quickly.
    If you want one of these, you have to make up your mind that you DO want it and buy IMMEDIATELY when notified that they have become available, because they'll probably be gone in a few hours.

    The place to keep an eye on this is:

    I believe you can enter an email address, and the site will send you an email when the items you want come into stock. This will enable you to jump on the product quickly.

    The base model (4gb of RAM, 1tb HDD) shows out-of-stock with a price of $679.

    Actually, that page shows the 2.6ghz i7 with 16gb of RAM and a 256 SSD available NOW, but the price is $1,359 -- overpriced for what you're getting.

    Also be aware that the "2tb option" you see on that page is the "Mini Server", which comes with 2 1tb HDD drives installed. Probably not what you want.
  24. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    Just buy the Crucial RAM. If it meets the specs, it will work fine.
  25. justinTlME thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jul 21, 2014

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