Is a late 2012 Mac Mini good enough by today's standards? And, is this a good deal?

testudoaubreii

macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 14, 2014
109
13
Hi there. I am in need of a macOS device for school. I am on a tight budget, so I went to Craigslist and found a late 2012 Mac Mini for $415. He is the only owner and used it for business, like payroll and invoices. Here are the specs:


* 2.3 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7
(Turbo Boost up to 3.3GHz)
* 6MB L3 cache
* 8 GB (two 4GB) of 1600MHz DDR3 memory
* 1 TB (5400-rpm) hard drive
* Intel HD Graphics 4000


Is this a good deal and is a 2012 Mac Mini still good today?

Thank you in advance for your help and response.
 

DYER

macrumors 6502
Oct 4, 2008
365
33
London, UK
Hi there. I am in need of a macOS device for school. I am on a tight budget, so I went to Craigslist and found a late 2012 Mac Mini for $415. He is the only owner and used it for business, like payroll and invoices. Here are the specs:


* 2.3 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7
(Turbo Boost up to 3.3GHz)
* 6MB L3 cache
* 8 GB (two 4GB) of 1600MHz DDR3 memory
* 1 TB (5400-rpm) hard drive
* Intel HD Graphics 4000


Is this a good deal and is a 2012 Mac Mini still good today?

Thank you in advance for your help and response.
I think they are still good machines for 'basic' computing - especially that quad core version.

If you buy it I'd suggest saving towards upgrading the Ram to 16GB (which shouldn't cost you more than say 50-60$ if you buy used RAM) and maybe - if you want a huge performance upgrade an SSD.

In-fact, up until recently that's the machine I used to edit work in Photoshop and even a little Premiere Pro, so it does have enough grunt if you need it, it just won't be tremendously fast.
 

testudoaubreii

macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 14, 2014
109
13
They are still decent machines. Just keep in mind that they are not the best at gaming, have a maximum of 16GB of memory, and may not be supported by 10.15 or 10.16.
Yes. For writing papers, web surfing, email, and such, it will be fine.
I think they are still good machines for 'basic' computing - especially that quad core version.

If you buy it I'd suggest saving towards upgrading the Ram to 16GB (which shouldn't cost you more than say 50-60$ if you buy used RAM) and maybe - if you want a huge performance upgrade an SSD.

In-fact, up until recently that's the machine I used to edit work in Photoshop and even a little Premiere Pro, so it does have enough grunt if you need it, it just won't be tremendously fast.
Thank you all very much.

Yeah, I won't be gaming, at all. I will be using it for webe/graphic design (Photoshop/Illustrator/Dreamweaver), school work (mostly word processing, with some graphical projects), surfing the web and Garageband (podcasting and making my own music).

I want to upgrade the RAM and the HDD to an SSD, for sure.
 

Boyd01

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 21, 2012
4,204
1,876
New Jersey Pine Barrens
"Good enough" for what? I use my 2012 quad i7 2.6ghz Mini exclusively for editing video and audio and it's still "good enough" for that. I work in 1080p30, 720p30 and legacy 480i60 in Final Cut Pro X and Logic Pro X. I use a Blackmagic ultrastudio thunderbolt interface to drive a Sony production monitor as a FCP external video device.

So, saying the 2012 quad mini is only "good enough" for "writing papers, web surfing, email" or "basic computing" is really selling it short IMO. The geekbench rating of my 2.6 quad is the same as the base model 2018 mini, and your 2.3 is only slightly slower.

Now there are many weaknesses - mainly the HD4000 graphics chip, but also only one thunderbolt 1 port, slow wifi, slower internal SSD interface. But it still performs well enough for my use, so I will stick with it for awhile and save my money. Personally, I would not buy one today, but my needs are different from yours. Since you are on a tight budget and don't seem to have any heavy demands, I think it would suit you well.

But it's always a gamble to buy a used machine from an unknown person. A new base 2018 Mini is $750 at B&H, so if you could find another $335 then I think that may be a better deal in the long run. They also have a new 2014 2.6ghz mini with the same specs as your 2012 for $550. That is going to have a lower geekbench rating than the 2012 quad, but still good for your kind of use, and you would have the advantage of a warranty plus several more years of support. B&H also has a 2014 2.8ghz Mini for $630.

But if your budget is really only $415, the 2012 quad is still a decent machine.
 

pl1984

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Now there are many weaknesses - mainly the HD4000 graphics chip, but also only one thunderbolt 1 port, slow wifi, slower internal SSD interface. But it still performs well enough for my use, so I will stick with it for awhile and save my money. Personally, I would not buy one today, but my needs are different from yours. Since you are on a tight budget and don't seem to have any heavy demands, I think it would suit you well.
I think we need to step away from this notion that everything is slow because it's not current. Unless one is routinely moving large amounts of data to / from the system the TB1 port, wifi, and SATA-II speed of the 2012 model is likely to be more than sufficient for most users.

But it's always a gamble to buy a used machine from an unknown person. A new base 2018 Mini is $750 at B&H, so if you could find another $335 then I think that may be a better deal in the long run. They also have a new 2014 2.6ghz mini with the same specs as your 2012 for $550. That is going to have a lower geekbench rating than the 2012 quad, but still good for your kind of use, and you would have the advantage of a warranty plus several more years of support. B&H also has a 2014 2.8ghz Mini for $630.
The new base Mini comes standard with 128GB of HD capacity. The system the OP is considering is eight times as much.

Having said that my recommendation to the OP is, if he should buy the system listed in his post then he should strongly consider changing the 1TB traditional hard disk with a SSD.
 
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teksurv

macrumors regular
May 25, 2008
114
13
San Diego, CA
I just upgraded to a 2018 mini, but my outgoing 2012 2.3 quad, 16gb, 256gb SSD primary 2tb Firecuda secondary drive machine was never slow for any task.
 
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loby

macrumors 6502a
Jul 1, 2010
852
607
My 2012 mini still holds good with 16 GB, SSD and on Mojave.

i7 Quad Core with 16 GB of RAM and SSD, why would anyone think that is slow?

Yes, the only issue is the non-dedicated GPU HD4000 (not bad for general stuff)...but mini's are not designed purposely to handle heavy GPU stuff, though surprisingly I drove the mini with FCPX for some years before upgrading to a Mac Pro 2013.

In my opinion, the Mac mini 2012 i7 is the best mini Apple has made concerning price to power ratio. Apple probably realized they over-did-it with that model, so they crippled the 2014 to make people buy the Mac Pro 2013 if they wanted at least Quad Core at the time.

The 2018 versions are nice...but for the price tag, not worth the hit unless money is not an option and you just want a new mini. I would buy one if I had extra money to burn.

Side note: All of the talk about upgrading the RAM in the new mini's is not so easy as people say and is quite a task. One small mistake and it is all over.

If someone can get a good price on the 2012 i7 Quad Core mini, grab it while you can. For a general all purpose desktop, it still holds weight for today. You can't drive a 4K monitor (or at least not well), but still good for general use.
 

Hessel89

macrumors regular
Sep 27, 2017
243
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Arnhem
well, it was faster than my Late 2015 iMac 5K (quadcore i5) if that should tell you something. 415 bucks is definitely a good deal.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,385
5,622
That will do fine.

IF you don't want to open it to install an SSD, just buy an EXTERNAL USB3 SSD and set that up to become the boot drive (with the OS, apps, and basic account).
I've been booting and running my late 2012 i7 Mini this way since the day I took it out of the box in January 2013. Still runs GREAT.
 

dandeco

macrumors 6502
Dec 5, 2008
295
40
Brockton, MA
I use a 2.3 GHz quad-core i7 Mac Mini as well. I bought it over three years ago at a now-closed used electronics/gaming shop in Boston. It cost me $500, and it even had the RAM maxed out to 16 GB! It's a really good machine for my purposes; I can even edit 1080-HD video on it really well, using Final Cut Pro X even! I also recently ordered a 960 GB solid state drive, to replace the spinning hard drive currently installed in my Mini, as lately it's kind of sluggish when starting up, and plus it should really boost performance in any other heavy tasking I do. I also have it hooked up to a Fideco USB 3.0 docking station with two SATA hard drive slots (both currently occupied by 3.5" 7200-RPM drives I use for video production) and three additional USB 3.0 ports, and I also use an LG external USB Blu-Ray burner with it. I'm going to stick with it for as long as possible, at least until Apple considers it obsolete and it won't run new MacOS versions anymore or if if fails to work in the future; THEN I'll buy one of the new Mac Minis to replace it, hopefully by then I have a better-paying job so I can afford it!
 
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dandeco

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Dec 5, 2008
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Brockton, MA
I use a 2.3 GHz quad-core i7 Mac Mini as well. I bought it over three years ago at a now-closed used electronics/gaming shop in Boston. It cost me $500, and it even had the RAM maxed out to 16 GB! It's a really good machine for my purposes; I can even edit 1080-HD video on it really well, using Final Cut Pro X even! I also recently ordered a 960 GB solid state drive, to replace the spinning hard drive currently installed in my Mini, as lately it's kind of sluggish when starting up, and plus it should really boost performance in any other heavy tasking I do. I also have it hooked up to a Fideco USB 3.0 docking station with two SATA hard drive slots (both currently occupied by 3.5" 7200-RPM drives I use for video production) and three additional USB 3.0 ports, and I also use an LG external USB Blu-Ray burner with it. I'm going to stick with it for as long as possible, at least until Apple considers it obsolete and it won't run new MacOS versions anymore or if if fails to work in the future; THEN I'll buy one of the new Mac Minis to replace it, hopefully by then I have a better-paying job so I can afford it!
I FINALLY installed the new solid state drive inside my Mac Mini (the physical installation went fairly quickly since I knew what I was doing, but system installation and migration took longer), and it really cut the booting time in half, and apps open way quicker now. I would've done this sooner, but money was an issue, plus I was able to find that 960 GB SSD for $100! (I'm not surprised SSDs are slowly getting less expensive, just like regular hard drives, though with those they get less expensive more quickly!) So far the Mini also runs more quietly and generates less heat, but I haven't done anything processor-heavy yet (like a big Photoshop project, or edit/transcode a video or run a virtual machine on VMWare Fusion); even then I'm sure there will be quite a speed difference.
 

Expobill

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Im installing mojave on my macmini as i type because maybe 2019 might be better for mac stuff since we all complained a ton last year. I will let ya know how things go.
In 54 minutes
 

pl1984

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Oct 31, 2017
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I FINALLY installed the new solid state drive inside my Mac Mini (the physical installation went fairly quickly since I knew what I was doing, but system installation and migration took longer), and it really cut the booting time in half, and apps open way quicker now. I would've done this sooner, but money was an issue, plus I was able to find that 960 GB SSD for $100! (I'm not surprised SSDs are slowly getting less expensive, just like regular hard drives, though with those they get less expensive more quickly!) So far the Mini also runs more quietly and generates less heat, but I haven't done anything processor-heavy yet (like a big Photoshop project, or edit/transcode a video or run a virtual machine on VMWare Fusion); even then I'm sure there will be quite a speed difference.
You won't notice any speed difference with processor intensive tasks. An SSD improves disk related performance, not processor performance.
 

Expobill

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Well im updated, mojave is running well but spinning on the macmini, i might splurge and buy some memory, or reboot with mountain lion and use that for an alt computer, Mojave is very responsive tho, hats off to apple!
 

oneMadRssn

macrumors 601
Sep 8, 2011
4,797
11,155
New England
My 2012 mini still holds good with 16 GB, SSD and on Mojave.

i7 Quad Core with 16 GB of RAM and SSD, why would anyone think that is slow?
Yea, all these comments that it may be good for basic tasks are BS. That is still a beast of a machine for all things not gaming. I said in another thread, with dual SSDs in RAID0 you can get 12Gbps file read speeds too, which is comparable to the latest and greatest PCIe SSDs Apple uses if that sort of thing is important to you.
 
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Expobill

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Yea, all these comments that it may be good for basic tasks are BS. That is still a beast of a machine for all things not gaming. I said in another thread, with dual SSDs in RAID0 you can get 12Gbps file read speeds too, which is comparable to the latest and greatest PCIe SSDs Apple uses if that sort of thing is important to you.
Would the macmini 2012 run faster in mojave with a new SSD drive instead of more ram?
The ball is spinning big time, but streaing screen is excellent!
 

bryanus

macrumors regular
Jul 19, 2005
104
3
Still a great Mac. I've been using one daily since 2012. Now it has 16GBs RAM and a 256GB SSD (boot) and 500GB HDD for files, etc. I use it for coding, running virtual machines, web design, everything. I have it running dual Dell U2412s at 1920x1200 and have no issues with graphics performance for my work. I have been thinking of getting the new Mini, but it's hard to justify the cost as I'm not sure I would see a huge improvement for my usage. It's really amazing to me how long I've had this Mac, as before I switched to a Mini, I was swapping Macs a few times a year. My previous one was a Mac Pro (cheesegrater) with 3.0 Xeons. Like many others, I think we tend to buy computers that are way beyond what we actually need to do our work. And yes, an SSD would be the biggest improvement IMO.
 
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pl1984

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Would the macmini 2012 run faster in mojave with a new SSD drive instead of more ram?
The ball is spinning big time, but streaing screen is excellent!
It depends on what is causing the beach balling. I would recommend you using Activity Monitor to attempt to determine what might be causing your performance issue.
 

Expobill

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It depends on what is causing the beach balling. I would recommend you using Activity Monitor to attempt to determine what might be causing your performance issue.
Everything is causing the beachball, from system prefences to mail, every app is very slow........oh well, no regrets!
But i just wanted to check out Mojave, seems fluid!
I will reboot clean install with mountain lion and move the macmini on a desk to use for graphic design and minimal web browsing. Or even just sell that!
 

oneMadRssn

macrumors 601
Sep 8, 2011
4,797
11,155
New England
Would the macmini 2012 run faster in mojave with a new SSD drive instead of more ram?
The ball is spinning big time, but streaing screen is excellent!
Faster than what? Mojave should run just fine with 4GB of ram, but obviously more ram allows more applications to run concurrently (to put it very simply). Mojave is certainly more optimized for SSDs, and frankly in 2019, I can't recommend any instance where the boot drive is a spinning disk and not an SSD.

For what you described in the above comments, it sounds like an SSD would be the first thing to upgrade.
 

Expobill

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Faster than what? Mojave should run just fine with 4GB of ram, but obviously more ram allows more applications to run concurrently (to put it very simply). Mojave is certainly more optimized for SSDs, and frankly in 2019, I can't recommend any instance where the boot drive is a spinning disk and not an SSD.

For what you described in the above comments, it sounds like an SSD would be the first thing to upgrade.
Yes i knew i was risking performance by installing the osx this morning, thanks for the reply tho!
I might get a mba 13 2017 instead, they look great!
 

pl1984

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Everything is causing the beachball, from system prefences to mail, every app is very slow........oh well, no regrets!
But i just wanted to check out Mojave, seems fluid!
I will reboot clean install with mountain lion and move the macmini on a desk to use for graphic design and minimal web browsing. Or even just sell that!
Something is wrong if that is the case. If I had to guess, and that's all I am doing here, you may have a failing hard disk.
 

Expobill

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Something is wrong if that is the case. If I had to guess, and that's all I am doing here, you may have a failing hard disk.
El capitan was working great 5 hours ago, im streaming the uefa match now to a hdmi tv no problems!