Resolved How much longer will this last?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by ardchoille50, May 23, 2016.

  1. ardchoille50 macrumors 68020

    Feb 6, 2014
    I have a Mac mini, late 2012, base model, it's my first Mac and the first time I've used OS X. This machine is labeled as an entry-level machine. I use it mainly for web surfing, email and documents - nothing really heavy. What is the expected lifetime of this machine (I bought it new from Best Buy)? Is there anything I would have to replace to keep it running? I assume the hard drive won't last forever, so that is one item I'll likely need to replace. I'm really enjoying this Mac and, if this is typical of Mac mini's, I'm willing to keep buying them if Apple keeps making them.
  2. Micky Do macrumors 68000

    Micky Do

    Aug 31, 2012
    An island in the Andaman Sea.
    It has many years left in it. While some folks like to keep up with changes, others keep the same machine for many years, as suggested by this poll, albeit with a small sample at the is stage.

    Yes, the HDD will fail eventually, and support for new versions of OS X will be dropped at some stage. It comes down to how up to date you like to be with tech.

    My first Mac Mini was the 2005 G4 original. When the HDD and power supply failed after 4 years in 2009, replacement seemed more cost effective (to me) than repair. The move to Intel had been made, and there were significant advantages in moving to the the latest OS, Leopard at the time, with Snow Leopard (with no G4 support) coming a couple of months later.

    The base model early 2009 Mac Mini I have now has been up graded with an extra 4 GB of RAM and Mountain Lion. I am still on the original 120 GB HDD, supplemented by an external HDD. Updating to more recent versions of OS X, although free, would bring no significant benefit to me at present. Maybe I'll another couple or three years out of it, with HDD failure likely to precipitate the repair or replace decision. So too could a change in what I want to do with a computer.
  3. ardchoille50 thread starter macrumors 68020

    Feb 6, 2014
    Thank you for the link to that poll. Reading through that thread, I'm beginning to understand how robust the Mac mini really is. Instead of planning for a new Mac mini next year, I'm going to work toward upgrading the HDD to an SSD and increase the RAM. People can say what they want about the Mac mini, but this little machine has been amazing so far and I still find it difficult to think of it as "entry level".
  4. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    Since you bought the base model, it has only a platter-based HDD inside.

    You ought to consider adding an SSD.
    You will be AMAZED at the performance increase -- it will transform the Mini.

    The easiest and fastest way to do this is to plug in an EXTERNAL SSD via USB3 and configure it to become your boot drive.

    You could do this in two ways:

    Buy a ready-to-go SSD like this:
    Just plug it into the USB3 port and use it.


    Buy a "bare" 2.5" SATA SSD, and put it into an external USB3 enclosure that is specifically stated to support "UASP".

    Then use CarbonCopyCloner (free to download and free to use for the first 30 days) to "clone over" your OS, apps, and accounts.
    Note: you would probably want to leave large libraries of stuff (such as movies and pics) on the internal HDD, and access them that way.

    Either way is easy to do -- much easier than opening up the Mini, and less risk of breaking something inside (from reading posts on this board, that's quite a common problem).

    I've been booting and running my own late-2012 Mini for 3 1/2 years this way, and it runs today as well as it did at the beginning.
  5. Micky Do, May 24, 2016
    Last edited: May 24, 2016

    Micky Do macrumors 68000

    Micky Do

    Aug 31, 2012
    An island in the Andaman Sea.
    Some folks go the SSD way as an amazing improvement the time taken to boot the computer and open apps, as well as saving and recovering data is what they are after, for whatever reason. The OP seems to be in this camp.

    When it comes to processing data, CPU speed and the amount of RAM available are more important factors. SSD or HDD, there will not be a huge amount of difference, though the SSD will make the computer seem more snappy.

    Others are OK sticking with the HDD because it is still more cost effective for storing large amounts of data, albeit forgoing the performance benefits of the SSD. For me that that is more important.

    Each to their own; there is not one answer for all.
  6. ardchoille50 thread starter macrumors 68020

    Feb 6, 2014
    Yeah, I'm going to increase RAM first. Then, I'll add an SSD - though I had no idea we could use the external SSD as our main boot disk. I'm learning so much from the great folks on these forums! :)
  7. LorenK macrumors 6502

    Dec 26, 2007
    One question I have is, do you have your mini lying flat or on its side? While there is a fan, when it is on its belly, the air flow can get impeded and the unit will run at higher temperatures, which reduces the lifespan of the electronics inside. I know because I burned mine out after less than a year of use, a lot, but still. Mine now is vertical in a cradle and I have not had an issue since despite its high use. Good luck, it is an elegant little machine, even without an SSD.
  8. jpietrzak8 macrumors 65816


    Feb 16, 2010
    Dayton, Ohio
    On RAM -- the great thing about the (pre-2014) Minis is that it is beautifully easy to upgrade the RAM on these devices. So, I argue that you should only use as much RAM as you really need; you can find out what your machine is using quite easily by running the Activity Monitor (an application found in the Utilities directory inside the Applications directory). If you select the "Memory" tab at the top of the window, you'll get a list of processes sorted by how much memory they are currently using, along with some statistics at the bottom. Probably the most important two entries are the "Compressed:" and "Swap Used:" numbers. If these numbers are zero (or very small), you really won't see any performance improvement from additional RAM. If the "Compressed:" number is large (in the gigabytes), you will see a modest improvement in performance (and possibly a drop in CPU temperature, as less time spent compressing will mean less use of the CPU). If the "Swap Used:" value is large (especially if it is in the gigabytes), you will see a huge increase in performance by adding RAM.
  9. ardchoille50 thread starter macrumors 68020

    Feb 6, 2014
    Forgive me, but I'm having difficulty understanding this. I have been building my own PC's for years before coming to OS X, having learned from people who operate PC repair shops, so I understand temperature exchange and airflow. The bottom of my Mac mini has no vents, and I always make sure that the vent at the back of the machine is not blocked. Could it be that your machine suffered higher temperatures due to accumulated dust on the inside or the vent at the back of the machine became blocked for some reason? The components used in a Mac mini are designed for a laptop environment - enclosed in a small space - so I feel confident that temperature exchange is something that Apple took into consideration during R&D. I do open the bottom of my Mac mini and ensure there is no dust/dirt accumulating inside.
  10. SpacemanSpiffed macrumors regular


    Mar 27, 2013
    Pacific NW

    All good advice here. In general, Macs are built for more longevity than most PCs, and there's no reasons to feel that a 2012 mini won't serve you for years. FWIW: I have 2 in current use: a 2012 and 2011 mini.

    The i5 2012 Mini is quite respectable for the tasks you are using it for. It will also handle less intensive games just fine. The two things you are more likely to hit limits on - RAM and disk space, are upgradable. The CPU is a 35 TDP model, and the Mini Chassis & Power Supply were designed around 45W TDP, so heat stress is not likely to be an issue. Just make sure not to block the ventilation and depending on your environment, I'd blow the dust out the fan every year or two.

    As others have said, an SSD will make a very noticeable difference. Dropping seeks times to 0ms does wonders for making it feel more responsive. And upgrades are cheap now! One piece of advice - you probably only want to upgrade (open it all up, take things apart) the hard drive(s) once, so consider putting 2 drives in at the same time (SSD + big HDD). Right now, you can get a 500GB Samsung 850 Evo SSD for $150 and a 2TB Samsung M9T 2.5" HDD for $100. $30 for the drive doubler kit from iFixit and you are looking at about $280 for 2.5TB of space, and you can opt for Apple's fusion drive setup if you like.

    16 Gigs of RAM for your mini (the max it can handle) is just US $55, so it's practically a no-brainer, and makes it nice to keep lots of apps open, etc.

    I haven't tried it myself, but the 2012 Minis apparently can drive a 4K monitor, but just at 24 or 30hz. Some fiddling and apps like SwitchResX may be required.

    So with all that, you should be able to get years of good use out of your mini, if that's what you want.
  11. jbarley macrumors 68040


    Jul 1, 2006
    Vancouver Island
    Not quite true...
    The cooling air enters the mac mini from the bottom and exits at the rear, as show in this photo from Apple's patent application.

    Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 12.14.03 PM.png
  12. ardchoille50 thread starter macrumors 68020

    Feb 6, 2014
    I understand what you're saying, but I believe Apple would have changed the form factor if overheating were a widespread problem - or the advertising graphics would show the machine being held in a cradle. I could see the machine overheating if the mini were placed on a table cloth, rug or other surface that would allow the bottom of the machine to "sink" enough to inhibit the intended air flow.
  13. MultiFinder17 macrumors 68000


    Jan 8, 2008
    Tampa, Florida
    What fixes this, and what I do to all of my minis, is a set of $0.50 small stick-on rubber bumpers.

    As for the original point of this thread, your mini can last as long as you want it to mate. I have my old 2009 mini set up at my parents home as a small home server for them, and I have my own 2012 at my home as a home server. I expect that the 2009 will last them many years to come, as they just use it for iTunes. I further expect to get at least another 4-5 years out of my 2012 before it starts lagging behind. I have it souped up a bit with a 256GB SSD + 500GB HDD inside, an external 2TB HDD, and 16GB of RAM. Here's to the long life of our minis!
  14. MysticCow macrumors 6502a

    May 27, 2013
    Well, I honestly own the 2011 model with the Radeon graphics card. I expect probably one more OS release or *maybe* two if I'm lucky before I'm no longer "current." It makes sense as it'll be falling into Vintage status.

    I'm not mad over this either, provided 10.12 or 10.13 isn't a piece of junk OS. If it is, I'll simply expand my Windows 10 partition and enjoy it instead. Hell, I still enjoy my PowerPC Macs and get some good mileage out of them! They're only obsolete if you designate them obsolete.
  15. ardchoille50 thread starter macrumors 68020

    Feb 6, 2014
    That's a very good point, and a lesson from which we can all benefit. Thank you.
  16. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    For intensive purposes that it wasn't really designed for, like FCPx or gaming, maybe 2-3 years

    For general computing purposes, I'm guessing 4 years. Maybe 5-6 years if you aren't picky and/or do upgrades.

    Officially according to Apple, it is vintage after 5 years and obsolete after 7 years.

    If you are running out of RAM, then RAM is by far the most important upgrade. If you are not running out of RAM, then adding additional RAM will result in no noticeable increase in performance and an SSD would be a much better choice. Therefore, I strongly endorse jpietrzak8's recommendation to check with Activity Monitor before making a decision about RAM, unless of course you are already certain you are running out of RAM.
  17. jpietrzak8 macrumors 65816


    Feb 16, 2010
    Dayton, Ohio
    Just to be clear, this is describing the ability of the machine to support up-to-date software. My 2007 Mini is not supported by the current version of OS X, but I still use it every day as both a file server and an HTPC...
  18. ardchoille50 thread starter macrumors 68020

    Feb 6, 2014
    Understood, an SSD will be first on the list of things to upgrade. I don't seem to be running out of RAM, according to Activity Monitor, so I may put that on the "we'll see" list.
  19. Andres Cantu macrumors 68030

    Andres Cantu

    May 31, 2015
    Rio Grande Valley in South Texas
    It's always refreshing to read comments that explain how the base models works for them.

    I'm using a base model 2014 Mac mini, and for my needs, it works quite well. I know many people give so much hate to this model, but since all I use it for is to browse the web, read emails, and send iMessages, I have no need for more RAM nor an SSD.
  20. Flynnstone macrumors 65816


    Feb 25, 2003
    Cold beer land
    My original Mac is a G5 Power Mac. Its still running. Bought in '04.
    G4 mini bought in about '05. Likely still runs , but lighting took out the power supply.
    Still use my '09 24" iMac. Runs great. (But i'd like to upgrade to 27" 5k iMac.)
    2010 MacBook. upgrade to SSD drive. Still running great.
    I'm on a 2014 13" MacBook Pro. No surprise, running great.

    Keep your mini backed up. I has many more years in it!
  21. ardchoille50 thread starter macrumors 68020

    Feb 6, 2014
    Thank you for this tip, it has shown me that I don't really need to upgrade the RAM yet - I tested it by running dozens of apps simultaneously. The Mac mini continues to amaze me :)
  22. MysticCow macrumors 6502a

    May 27, 2013
    The only real test:

    In the Finder, hit Command-Shift-A, Command-A, Command-O.

    You'll hate me for this later.
  23. ardchoille50, May 25, 2016
    Last edited: May 25, 2016

    ardchoille50 thread starter macrumors 68020

    Feb 6, 2014
    Doesn't that open everything that is highlighted? I can just see my mini screaming: "WHYYYYYYYY?!"

    Nah, I wouldn't hate you.. I've learned to not perform commands from strangers without first researching exactly what the command does :)
  24. MysticCow macrumors 6502a

    May 27, 2013
    QUIET YOU! You just completely ruined the trap.

    I used to do this sometimes with my PowerPC Macs. While everything ground to a screeching halt, everything did eventually open.

    I even made an AppleScript for this a long time ago...

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