Is a Current Mac Mini a Bad Idea?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by prosty41, Apr 12, 2017.

  1. prosty41 macrumors member

    Jul 21, 2008
    I am thinking no mac mini refresh is happening anytime soon. I would like to hold out but I cannot wait much longer. Am I crazy for buying the machine below? I am looking at doing some medium intensity things and some minor image and video editing

    I am considering getting the mini with:
    • 3.0GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i7 (Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz)
    • 16GB 1600MHz LPDDR3 SDRAM
    • 2TB Fusion Drive
    • Intel Iris Graphics

  2. Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    I thought about getting one of those specifically for video editing, but I would have gotten the 256gb SSD instead, since I keep all my media on 5TB external drives and only need the operating system and apps on the internal drive. At that time, this configuration was selling for $1400, which seemed like a lot considering the GeekBench score. However it looks like a nice machine and I'm sure it could handle your needs.

    I ended up getting a used 2012 i7 2.6ghz quad mini with 16gb and original Apple 256gb ssd from OWC with 3 month warranty/15 day return period. It was $150 cheaper than the 2014 top end model and (more important for me) about 50% faster for CPU intensive tasks like rendering. That is pretty significant when I have a 12 hour render on the 2012 quad, it would take 6 hours longer on the 2014 3 ghz model.

    The downside of the 2012 machine is, of course, it's not new and doesn't have a full year warranty with ability to add AppleCare. And the HD4000 graphics chip would be a limitation for some new software (although FCP still supports all the way back to the HD3000). The internal SSD will be a little faster on the 2014 model and it has two thunderbolt 2 ports plus the much faster 802.11ac wifi.

    Now my machine is on gigabit ethernet, so I don't care about wifi. I like having the firewire port for my DVCAM/HDV tape deck. I'm still using legacy FCP, so a newer graphics card wouldn't make any difference, and I also have thousands of dollars worth of other legacy software that benefits from the ability to run MacOSX 10.8.5.

    So my own needs are rather specific, and I thought the 2012 quad fit them better. I suspect many other people would choose a machine like the 2014 that you are considering though. It's up to you. :)
  3. now i see it macrumors 68030

    Jan 2, 2002
    The top spec mini of today will definitely be faster at almost everything (but not all) than the lower spec mini of tomorrow.
  4. Tinmania macrumors 68040


    Aug 8, 2011
    You say that like there will be a mac mini, of any spec, tomorrow. :\

  5. jpietrzak8 macrumors 65816


    Feb 16, 2010
    Dayton, Ohio
    I think that the pretty much fully-specced-out 2014 Mini is a fine machine. It's got plenty of oomph to get some serious work done. The Iris graphics aren't bad (although they are getting a little dated now); if you're not trying to use the latest and greatest 4K/5K monitors, the Mini can drive just about anything quite well. There are folks here who will say that you'll find the Fusion drive somewhat lacking for tasks such as video editing, which can hit HDDs pretty hard. (Although you can get an external SSD to get around that issue, if you find it bothersome.)

    Myself, I think the only problem is the almost insane price you have to pay to get one of these Minis. :( The same level of hardware in the PC world costs half as much (if that). But, if you are wedded inextricably to macOS, and don't want to get an AIO machine, it's probably a good buy.
  6. krause734 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 30, 2010
    I have a mid range ($699) model and I'm happy with it. The hard drive is not slow, 8GB is fine, and the processor and graphics are more than adequate for me. The best part is it runs MacOS and it's affordable. I would buy as little as you absolutely need since you'll likely want to upgrade in a year or two.
  7. 49JC macrumors member

    Jul 11, 2010
    Personally if u have to start ur purchase with asking urself "if ur crazy" may not be the best of ideas.

    But if u do decide to sink ur hard earned dollars. I'd skip the fusion and go with the ssd.
  8. Easttime macrumors 6502

    Jun 17, 2015
    I got into a similar crunch last fall, similar use case. Went with refurb 2014 Mini
    2.8GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 (Turbo Boost up to 3.3GHz) with 3MB on-chip shared L3 cache
    1TB Fusion Drive
    8GB of 1600MHz LPDDR3 memory
    Intel Iris Graphics
    and have been very pleasantly surprised. Works just fine as my main desktop.
  9. sunapple macrumors 65816


    Jul 16, 2013
    The Netherlands
    I'd say buying any configuration of the current Mac mini is a bad idea. Of course it depends on what you consider to be a bad idea.

    How I see it is you're buying a three year old machine with benchmarks and prices comparable to the low-end non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro or cheapest iMac 4K. Of course, the MacBook and iMac are different machines, but when you compare them directly to your Mac mini there's a big difference what you're getting for your money. Even the new processors and the MacBook's SSD could make up for the difference in RAM and Ghz.

    Moreover, if a new Mac mini launches this year with updated specs it might be significantly (>2x?) faster for the same money while your Mac mini drops in value by half the price.

    So you would have to have a very good reason and a lot of love for that mini for this to be a good idea. To me, it's not. Get it at a huge discount, buy second-hand or get the 2012 model for cheap is what I'd recommend.
  10. Easttime macrumors 6502

    Jun 17, 2015
    In my case the refurb 2014 turned out to be a great choice to bridge until the new Macs. For a reasonable price I get all the performance I need. I was able to use all the peripherals I had (external hard drives, mice, trackpad, two large monitors, keyboards, USB hub -- just had to buy a webcam/microphone, which turned out great because it is far superior to the usual built in Apple gear); MacOS and USB 3. I plug in my work Windows laptop and switch the front monitor to it with a simple cable swap and run both systems simultaneously. And the Mini runs just fine, ample RAM and speed for my use case. The 2014 is two years newer than the 2012. Those types of considerations made the choice work for me; maybe the OP has a similar situation.
  11. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009

    Nothing wrong with the MIni you're considering, it will probably be a fast and snappy performer.

    For what it will cost, you're -almost- into a 5k 27" iMac refurb (8gb/2tb fusion with m395 GPU). Have you considered that?
  12. twalk macrumors regular

    Apr 22, 2009
    While the mid to high end 2014 Minis are hideously overpriced for what you get, they'll run fine for just about everyone

    That said, you're buying old technology. While people will brush this off by saying that the new chips are barely any faster, there's other issues (certainly missing some):
    1) The iGPU in Kaby Lake is MUCH faster than in Haswell. Haswell can barely support 4K @ 30Hz. Kaby can support 4K @ 60Hz and with some setups even a 2nd 4K @ 60Hz. Kaby also includes H.265 support
    2) Usb-c is the future of connectivity. Even Apple knows this, because they put only usb-c ports on the nMBP. The 2014 Mini doesn't have it and never will
    3) HTPC? 4K TVs are cheap now. The HDMI port on the 2014 Mini will only support 1080p output
    4) Production of TB2 port peripherals is starting to end and will be harder to find in the future

    If the 2014 Mini fits your needs, that's great. However there is a cost paid buy customers because Apple is shipping obsolete tech
  13. prosty41 thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 21, 2008
    Will I be able to run FCP X with this machine?
  14. Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    Absolutely, FCPX runs on any machine with an HD3000 or newer graphics chip. I ran the FCPX free trial on a base 2012 Mini for awhile and it worked very well. I only used SD footage, but I'm sure 1080p would also be fine.
  15. Richard8655 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 11, 2009
    My thought is Minis are always at the edge of being over-priced, but we buy them because we love them. But buying a 2014 means both over-priced and long in the tooth. I'd try to hold out for the next generation (if and when, but I'm of the opinion it's a matter of when).
  16. Midgetinabikini macrumors regular

    Aug 1, 2006
    I love this machine, but I wouldn't buy new one today (second hand, yes) Apple is way behind in hardware these days. I already have Kaby Lake running Hackintosh, cost me 1/3 of MacBook Pro and with much better hardware. And if there's no new MacMini until the end of the year, I'm going to Hackintosh a new desktop.
  17. skipjakk macrumors member

    Jun 24, 2004
    I've had both a 2012 quad core mac mini and the 2014 mid range dual core (which I currently own) and both have their strengths. In my personal experience, the 2012 quad core will finish any cpu intensive tasks faster, including video conversion via handbrake. The 2014 was slightly faster in everyday use, with much better graphics performance. I also found the 2014 to be significantly quieter and cooler, with a lot less fan noise. Unfortunately the 2012's go for such a high premium on eBay, a mid-range 2014 refurb unit from Apple is probably your best option if you really need one. If you can wait however....
  18. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    For minor image and video editing what software do you plan on using? If you mean Gimp and iMovie then yes that machine is fine. If you mean Photoshop and Premiere then it may leave you wanting more.
  19. sublunar macrumors 6502a

    Jun 23, 2007
    It's been pointed out in this forum that the money to buy this may be better off spent on a refurbished 5k iMac, up-specced 2014 Mac Minis make the least sense at the moment. You don't mention what monitor you have - could that end up being a factor?

    Here's my options:

    Knowing that we can expect refreshes on all desktop hardware by October whatever you buy will be out of date so I'd be looking at refurbished models.

    1. Look at refurbished 5k iMacs for the money - a 5k display and GPU would be really good for video editing. 4k iMacs are slightly pricey but would be far more powerful than the Mini. Base model 21.5" models are in danger of being turned into 4k models on the next refresh.
    2. If I had to buy a Mini I'd be looking at saving the i7 upgrade money and spending it on pure SSD with external HD storage.
    3. My gut feeling over the future of the Mini suggests a future 'lower' spec range based on the non touch bar 13" Macbook Pro to push people into buying what I feel to be a lower entry bar on the refreshed Mac Pro when it finally comes - this is probably way outside your window of opportunity though. Ironically, this could lead people to treat the 2014 models with more respect than they have been getting as opposed to the 2012 models because a 2017 model could end up 'slower' still. This is ironic because benchmarks may show the newer models to be closer than you'd think while using less power.
  20. GtrDude macrumors 6502


    Apr 17, 2011

    MBP just came out, didn't lower the prices on the previous MBP's or MB Airs either.
    They don't have a long history of lowering prices on previous products.
    Phones and ipads yes, but not the computer stuff.
    I didn't see the prices on the MacPros go down when that new TrashPro came out in 2013.
  21. sunapple macrumors 65816


    Jul 16, 2013
    The Netherlands
    At Apple? They don't really sell old products so I assume you mean all the other web shops and retail. End of life products often get a discount when the new models come out, even Macs. At least, where I live that is. Can't imagine anyone selling both a 2015 and 2016 model for the same price, that's not how you get rid of old stock.

    Second hand value is what I actually meant because you might want to sell your Mac mini if the new one is appealing enough. This value will drop a lot because the machine is from 2014.
  22. Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    How do we know that? I have not see any credible predictions of an upgraded Mini by October. Schiller said Apple had a "two prong" desktop strategy with the iMac and Mac Pro.
  23. Micky Do macrumors 68000

    Micky Do

    Aug 31, 2012
    An island in the Andaman Sea.
    Not a bad idea if you need a computer with MacOS now……. Not a good idea if you can wait.
  24. sublunar macrumors 6502a

    Jun 23, 2007
    By October the 2014 Mini will have been around as long as the Mac Pro 2013 model since it shipped. This time around Apple have had to say something regarding the future of the Mac Pro so either way we'll know what's up. Refresh, or killed off. It's not like the Mini has any fundamental flaw in its make-up like the triangular heat sink in the 2013 nMP.

    My feeling is the Mini lives on but with 15w CPUs because the high end buyers with $1500-$2k to spend on a headless Mac will be drawn towards a new base level Mac Pro. If the new (modular) Mac Pro is too far away then a 21.5" 4k iMac may be Apple's response to that price range - even with an unwanted screen.

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