Help with 2012 purchase?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by sammyman, Mar 16, 2015.

  1. sammyman macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 21, 2005
    #1
    I know refurbs are getting slim in the Apple store. I want to find one before they are gone for good.

    It may serve as a temporary computer as we slowly transition from a 2009 Mac Pro to a new Mac Pro setup for my wife's photography business. Don't want to spring on a new Mac Pro, new Monitor, and new Thunderbolt RAID drive all at the same time.

    I'm kind of tempted by the server edition, but is it worth the extra cost? Can't you hook up two hard drives to the non-server edition? Which is the best value? I'm hearing everyone rave about the i7. Other than that, I don't know where to start.
     
  2. sammyman thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #2
    Forgot to mention one thing.

    Once we transition to a new Mac Pro, this will either become a home media center running Plex, or it will go to my parents who are old and computer illiterate. Plex runs great on a Roku, so it would most likely go to the parents. The only reason I shouldn't get a base Mac Mini is that I'd like to future proof them and also be happy with Photoshop performance for my wife. I'd guess we'd own it for at least a year or two as we transition.
     
  3. MRrainer macrumors 6502a

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    #3
    For your purpose, get the 2012 i7 2.3GHz or 2.6GHz.
    Base unit is enough.
    Get the iFixit "Late 2012 Dual Hard Drive Kit"
    Get a 3 TB harddisk
    Get a 512 or 1TB SSD (Crucial or Samsung Pro)
    Get 16 GB RAM.

    Follow the various guides to remove the built-in drive and fit the hard disk and the SSD, create a Fusion-drive of the two.
    Fit the RAM and you've got yourself a very nice machine that comes in not too far below the 4 core nMP:
    http://browser.primatelabs.com/mac-benchmarks
    in terms of raw CPU-performance.
    GPU is a different story, of course. But it should not be such a huge problem unless you do video.

    As your wife's business depends on it, I would invest in an external, FW-connected RAID-array for time-machine backups.
    Not sure, how many of those are still available - the choice in pro-level external TB-arrays is much larger and of higher quality but you need the TB-port for the display, most likely.
    So, it's either FW or USB3 (which you need to sacrifice an USB port for).

    The MacPro doesn't have FW ports, so you would later need to sacrifice one TB-port for an adapter.

    The Mini (2012 or 2014) doesn't do 4K, so you can watch from the sidelines while the various DisplayPort and HDMI-standards over 5K and 8K video mature and actual products come to market at reasonable prices.

    The 2012 Mini was probably a bit to "open" for Apple's taste, so we got the more locked-down 2014 Mini last year ;-)
    The only real advantage of the 2014 Mini (apart from its much faster PCIe-SSD) is its ability to drive two 2560x1600 displays (30 inch). The 2012 can only drive one of these and then a 1920x1200 via HDMI.
    If your wife needs those extra 440x200 on the 2nd display, or you just need a 2nd TB2 port because you want/need to attach an external 8-disk enclosure, it's a tough decision ;-)
     
  4. Joelburman macrumors regular

    Joelburman

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    #4
    I haven't seen a 3tb 2,5 inch drive or are you referring that he gets an external 3tb drive? I'm getting the 2TB Samsung Spinpoint thats only 9mm thick for my 2012 mini as storage disk.
     
  5. sammyman thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    If you plug a TB display into the Mac Mini, you would be able to daisy chain a TB RAID drive, right?

    Mac Mini TB > TB Display > TB 4 Drive RAID

    Definitely not getting a server. Thanks for telling me about the iFixit part!
     
  6. MRrainer macrumors 6502a

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    #6

    You are right, it's not yet available.
    Toshiba has announced one, though: product code: MQ03ABB300
     
  7. MRrainer macrumors 6502a

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    #7

    It should work, yes.
    http://www.macrumors.com/2011/09/16/apple-thunderbolt-display-with-multiple-monitors/

    I guess if you only use it for backup, it's not a big deal. ISTR that the bandwidth available for the storage-device is a bit limited in case it's daisy-chained after a display.
    I'd rather connect a 2nd TB-display to the 1st one, rather than connect a storage device. That TB-port is so precious ;-)
     
  8. Joelburman macrumors regular

    Joelburman

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    #8
    Thats a 15mm drive, it won't fit in a 2-drive setup on the minis. As a lone disk it might work.
     
  9. Celerondon macrumors 6502a

    Celerondon

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    #9
    Once More Unto The Breach!



    Either 2012 i7 mini would be fine with that 16GB RAM upgrade. However MRrainer, unless you know sammyman(?), telling any given forum user to tear into a freshly refurbished Mac mini armed with little more than an iFixit kit and some “various guides” is almost impish. I expect that some of our fellow forum users are surgeons while others pay techs to change the wiper blades on their cars. Is it reasonable to assume that any random forum user has the required skills and experience to pull off a Mac mini two-drive installation with a probability of disaster so low that you don’t have to bother with a caution statement? You could at least warn sammyman to search the Mac mini forum for terms like “broken connector”, “broken ram clip”, and “sensor wire” before sending him into the breach. (I just did those three searches and the results contained more hard-earned wisdom than pages of our advice.)

    If sammyman doesn’t have the experience or feel comfortable about installing drives in the mini I suggest that he should pay a professional to do the deed.
     
  10. Joelburman macrumors regular

    Joelburman

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    #10
    I wouldn't encourage anyone to attempt the 2-drive install without having switched out a drive in a mini before. I the hdd in my old 2010 mini for a SSD and it was harder than the DIY video I watched while doing it. But after doing that replacement I feel comfortable attempting the 2-drive install on my current 2012 mini.
     
  11. Celerondon macrumors 6502a

    Celerondon

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    #11
    Right, I hope the OP is experienced, careful, or better yet, both!

    What do you think about recommending a FW commitment in 2015? I know that it still works for legacy hardware but TB and USB 3.0 left it behind years ago performance wise, didn't they? I did not comment on the FW issue because I was confused by the Time Machine reference. I also thought that reducing the risk of yet another drive swap tragedy was more important.
     
  12. Joelburman macrumors regular

    Joelburman

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    #12
    Relying on firewire stuff is not a smart idea. If anyone have hard drives that only have fw I'd recommend they move that material to a more recent disk that has USB3.
     
  13. MRrainer macrumors 6502a

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    #13

    To be honest, I didn't install a 2nd drive in my 2012 either.
    Too much hassle and I didn't want a Fusion Drive, anyway.
    And the only thing I can do on my car is re-fueling. And vacuuming it.
    For the rest, I need to pay someone to do it (and living in a country where cheap labor doesn't exist, that means it's pricey)
    But I was assuming his wife, making pictures for a living, has a bit more active data than myself.

    One can also pay somebody to do the work. But then it's more pricey.
    He hasn't said how large he estimated her active dataset to grow.
     
  14. MRrainer macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    The 2012 Mini has FW800. Why not use it?
    I don't see a reason to write-off FW800 any more than writing off the 2012 MacMini.
    As it's only for backup, I don't think performance is a big issue. Disk-write speed is probably the limiting factor.
    In the meantime, OP has commented that he's planning to get a TB display (or two).
    This will give him an additional FW800 port, a TB port and three more USB 2.0 ports.
    So he could connected most/all the low-end devices (mouse, keyboard, DVD, camera, scanner) via the TB-display and connect his backup-device via one of the main USB 3.0 ports (not sure if the TB port daisy-chained to the TB-display is still faster than the USB3.0 port - I think I'd rather use that port to connect another TB display).

    Hey, it could be worse: I could have recommended building a NAS and then connecting it via GB-ethernet.
    ;-)
     
  15. Celerondon macrumors 6502a

    Celerondon

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    #15
    Because It Is Slow - Really Slow! (2012s Are Not Slow)

    Why do you keep focusing on backup? It is true that he needs it, but I think that the OP plans for his wife to work off of that large external disk array. Her files will live there! FireWire is slow! People on these forums are grieving the loss of quad core i7s in the mini line and they were only twice as fast as the i5 processors. Here are the numbers for FW versus TB & USB 3.0. Read em and weep!
     

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  16. MRrainer macrumors 6502a

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    #16
    OK, but then he doesn't need a fusion drive, either.
    He can just fit a 512G SSD in the upper slot and that's it.

    It also seems that the performance penalty for having one display between the TB-storage device isn't that bad, actually:
    http://www.macworld.com/article/116...vices_affect_each_other_on_a_daisy_chain.html

    Yes, TB is much faster, I didn't despute that.
     
  17. Celerondon macrumors 6502a

    Celerondon

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    #17
    Yes I agree, the magnitude of that performance penalty is something to consider before deciding on an interface method.

    And yes, it would not make sense to debate the speed of FW versus USB 3.0 or TB. After all the newer standards are 6X and 12X faster respectively than FW 800. My main beef with your advice centered on the idea of suggesting an investment in technology that Steve Jobs declared dead in 2008. Planning to intentionally place an adapter on a new Mac Pro to choke down the scorching Thunderbolt 2 data rate (24XFW?) to FireWire speeds seemed wrong. Sorry. :)
     
  18. sammyman thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 21, 2005
    #18
    I had a 2010 mini that I took apart and upgraded. I'm not worried about that.

    After adding up the refurbished mac mini:

    mini i7 - $589 + tax
    kit - $29 + tax
    SSD - $100 + tax

    That is almost $800 before RAM.

    I can get the server edition with 2 x 1tb hard drives for $899 and I have a $100 gift card = 799.

    I may go that route because of the gift cards.

    And yes, I'm headed towards all TB drives. I'm thinking of the OWC TB 4 x Raid drive. I might do a mac mini and that until new apple cinemas come out and the Mac Pro gets another update....
     
  19. scottyy macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2015
    #19
    I purchased a 2012 mini with the 2.6 quad core i7 then before ever plugging it in I tore it down and tossed in 16gb of ram and a samsung 840 pro ssd then moved the standard 1tb disk drive to the secondary bay.

    I run my entire sign business from it.
    I have two samsung 23" 1080P monitors hooked up to it and it powers them fine.

    I run parallels with win 7 for my shipping software etc and run illustrator and photoshop in OS X at the same time for 8+ hours a day.

    I bought it to hold me over till purchasing a 5K iMac but it runs everything I need very well so I may wait for a refresh before upgrading.

    Long story short just buy the quad core 2.6 i7 version and upgrade the rest of the specs yourself.

    I can post some benchmarks if you would like.
     

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